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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 4. 1969.

Prayer, Prose and Poetry with Trevor James

page 6

Prayer, Prose and Poetry with Trevor James

Annus Mirablis

The literary scene got swinging with the belated revival of the Literary Society last week. There were about twenty interested people who gathered quietly in the W.C.R. seeming rather embarrassed by the whole business and yet anxious to produce some sort of society which could avoid the frivolities of the Pooh Club but retain some degree of humour. They read Dylan Thomas.

Ushering in the new literary era was the revival of the defunct Poetry Broadsheet now rechristened (so as to leave no doubt as to proprietorship) Argot Broadsheet. The format was a very pleasing improvement on all that we have seen before with an attractive grey tinted paper, a good heading and an interesting sketch by Barry Linton. The general appearance and standard augers well for this year as it obviously provides another good encouragement for student poets.

As regards the poetry I'm much less (and I suppose predictably) enthusiastic. I really wonder if Peter Bland's Train Home is a poem at all. It's certainly fun to read with a lively quality that maintains interest. Perhaps there is more than I am aware of but I think it generally hackneyed and the enthusiastic use of slang not making the poem progress any better. The same thing (moral) idea could probably be said just as well in a sketch for a story rather than to attempt a poem at that level of style.

The poem by Dennis List I cannot really understand. He's working on a level that I'm just not "with". I wonder how many people can honestly say that they understand his poetry? Or, alternatively, if that's asking too much, do they receive, or feel, anything at all when they read it?

Somebody's lost innocence lies,
in the black forest.
If it rusted, the same colour
as the undergrowth–grey–
If they come looking for it
how will they find it?

Does this really mean anything? If he is saying that lost innocence lies somewhere and is difficult to find, because it becomes coloured with experience then so what? Where's the poetic impact? Is it so superbly said that we feel there is a particular quality in the poem which means it is significant? If this is so then it has entirely escaped me and I salute those who are so perceptive as to value this poem highly.

In this poem, "Crow in December" by Michael Neill ..

Old crows strung on a washing line
Strangely bunched and tattered:
One hangs head down, its skeletal pinions
Fork like winter trees, shreds of old clothes
On its neck, damp wisps around its
Dried-up feet grasping at the sour air.
The others do not regard it
Rising and dropping back onto the line,
Growing suddenly plump as shrouds,
Dust falls from their wings
And a smell of hen-coops.
People rush at the line,
When they walk away the crows
Drop back into place,
Flopping like moths. No-one knows
Why they have come or when
They will go.

I'll be interested in getting reader's opinions of the poem. I think that the writer is striving after some imagery which falls rather flat in the last stanza when he tries to go beyond the image to the purpose. However if you think otherwise, or anything ... write.

Hoax[unclear: ed]

Last week's "mystery" poem "From Elizabeth" has finally been identified as having more than merely accidental and derivative affinity to Canto CVIII of Pound's "Cantos". Yet some mystery still remains, Who is Elizabeth? Surely not a transvestite in Poet's clothing?

Editorial policy seems to be maintained. True to "Rags and Bones" manifesto in Salient I, there has, as yet, appeared no absolute rubbish (as regards [unclear: poetry] there have been plenty of [unclear: butions] from "other [unclear: sour] not from students. Let us [unclear: the] Elizabeth".

[unclear: This] a rumour circulating in the [unclear: s] that there were other [unclear: poet] [unclear: ences] at work in Salient week. The whispers [unclear: origin] from the Apollinaire Fan Club [unclear: await] the results with [unclear: inten].

[unclear: M] [unclear: ile], do we hear any [unclear: cirtic] [unclear: f] last week's poetry?


She was walking home one day
when she saw a camel
throwing up by the roadside.
He looked up at her and smiled and said hi
She liked that camel
and she wanted to reply but she just walked on
because she knew it wouldn't do to be seen
Saying hi to a camel
throwing up by the roadside.
She kept on walking along that road
but she took off her shoes because she thought
what bloody use are shoes anyway
And that was when she saw the magpies
sitting primly on the barbed-wire fence
Discussing life in a very philosophical manner.
And as she passed them by, one called out to her and asked
Her what she thought it was all about
But she said she ddin't know
And she didn't think anyway.
So she put her shoes back on like everyone else
And trod only in the footsteps that
Everyone else had used.
She stepped into a footstep which closed up on her foot
And she got her foot stuck in it
and she couldn't get it unstuck
and nobody stopped to help her get it unstuck either
So she stayed in that footstep
Wishing that she'd left her shoes off
Until she died.



Every time I strolled near that place
I felt contentment, gaiety, relaxing
My neck glowed warmly as I hear
Sensual music, peaceful and plain
Shall I meet you there again?
I rest now upon this rock,
Flat it is, I watch your flock
coming and going to the toll of [unclear: the]
not one thinking of Satan's home,
Not one thinks of "if I fell?"
Every time I see those people,
enter the church with the lonely
I think once more of
you and how you are not here beside me now,
and how unsuited we are without [unclear: feeble] dreams.


page 7

Postcript On A Letter From An Editor

The impressive letterhead
tells its own success story,
nothing I would say will
ever be printed in two colours.
Is the presumption correct
that publication is the end
of the drive to write?
I think not to appear like
that represents a failure,
a kind of damnation, as
though one were setting fire
to oneself on a street corner,
to die and be remembered
not as a person but an event.
Is it any wonder then that
I fled to a bookshop to buy
the latest Penguin Modern
Poets as a reparation for my
sing of style? But poets are
more aware of their failures,
and that is why when emerging
from the darkness of Mason's
Lane to cross the Quay I
stumbled on the guttering it
seemed a logical conclusion.

P. F. Ireland