Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Hockey and the Armidale poets

I started watching my girls play sport in Armidale when they were very young. I still watch when I get the chance.  
This piece was written in 2009 after watching Clare play at Little Bay , a Sydney suburb. I have included it here because I like it, it brings memories back. I have included it too because it introduces the Armidale poets. 

Push, girls, push: Hockey call.

I finished Sunday Essay - obsessions with reading - wondering just what book I would select next. As it happened, I had to take Clare to hockey at Little Bay. To pass the time, I grabbed a few small books of poetry off the shelf.

No shots, girls, no shots. Don't let them in.

The three books I chose were all published in Armidale in 1980 or 1981. I read them in breaks in the hockey. It was quite an exciting match.

Slow it down, girls, slow it down.

Next hockey match I am going to take a note pad. I really need to get the cadences down. Hockey is visual, but this was poetry in action.

Talk to her girls, talk to her.

As I said, I read the poems in breaks. These are very short books. I read each a number of times.

Fuck! That was our ball.

As I did, patterns emerged. These are generally expatriate poets brought to Armidale by circumstance. Their poems reflect the circumstances of the time. There are memories of different homes, of local life, of their opposition to Sydney.
Feeling posthumous in Bondi
After tablelands' dawn and the death of poetry
Sydney existential and drear,
I decide to remember friendships
Rather than renew them here

Greg Shortis, First Ode
This was the time the Armidale poets were challenging what they saw as the intellectual dominance and pretensions of Sydney’s Balmain push. They did so through writing, readings and their own small presses.

Keep with her girls, keep with her.

You will not find an entry in Wikipedia on the Amidale poets. They were and still are. Their poems appear in anthologies. The dream of creating an alternative view still, I think, continues. Yet their presence as a collective seems lost.

The game ends. Clare has done really well as goalie in keeping it to a draw.

I come home and in the midst of lunch preparation wrote Introducing the Armidale poets, the first in a possible series. You see, I know these poets. I was there at the time these books were published. One is signed by the author.

The problem the Armidale poets face is the one that influenced some of their writing in the first instance, the difficulty in this country of providing an authentic alternative regional voice when so much is controlled by and set within cultural patterns dominated by metro cultural elites.

My own writing may not have much impact. But at least I can review their work for my own pleasure.
Note to readers: Every Wednesday I am bringing up one draft chapter of New England Travels, the book I have been working on. Each chapter is self contained and varies in length from 500 to 3000 words. I am not including images. I will add those later. This chapter forms part of a bigger section tentatively entitled writers and writing. 

No comments: