In order not to have to email everyone who has asked about it, I will tell here about the poetry awards.
On the weekend between the camping trips (14th October), Justin and I went up to Darwin with our friend KB (a.k.a. Kibby) to attend the NT Literary Awards. I was invited because I had submitted a few poems back in May or June. I was told (in August maybe?) that one of my poems was a finalist for the Dymocks Red Earth Poetry Award, the winner of which would be announced at the Awards night.
I already felt satisfied because my poem would be published in the little journal, as all the finalists in all the categories would be. I was looking forward to getting my copy of the book. Although I haven't pursued getting published much, each time I have submitted something somewhere and had it published, I feel happy about it. Despite my laxness in pursuing an audience, I do in fact write for an audience.
Anyway, my poem won the prize of $1000 (that's US$750)! The big cash prize seems especially funny since poetry is so notoriously not something anyone does for money. Here is the poem:
Each delicate strip carefully positioned,
layers of colours held in place
by the glue of your conviction
Invention is easier than
the person C. hates “doesn’t exist anymore”
past is shrugged away
You construct yourself
from Robert Anton Wilson,
Freud, and superheroes;
the old you disappears under
acid, long hair, macrobiotics;
in public you read Burroughs and Starhawk
while sipping mulled cider
I’ve never heard you laugh with joy
or at your own folly, only snicker
at people mistakenly satisfied
with ordinary lives
Still, I like how you notice beauty
in surprising places, how your fingers
are kind, sometimes your smile is fragile.
You dance with clumsy abandon.
Beneath sandalwood and goldenseal,
I smell some sweetness.
Your colourful tissue-paper shell
makes me wonder what kind of stick I would need—
whether I could do it blind-folded—
how hard I’d have to swing—
and whether I’d do it for the candy
or just for the pleasure
of breaking you open.
You'll notice the Australian spellings. Some of you may recognize the idea in this poem from an earlier draft. Like many of my poems it sat for a long time because I was unsatisfied with it. Suddenly I looked at the poem in a new way, focusing on the speaker rather than the subject, and it came together in a way that satisfied me. There are, of course, still lines I don't quite like. In saying that the poem "satisfied" me, I mean that the poem became more effective and more interesting than it had been, it came to have a reason for being, and that was enough to let it go.
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