Sydney, Monday 28 March 2023: Hot on the heels of World Poetry Day, the Ramsay Centre last week hosted two of Australia’s most respected poets, Geoff Page and Mark Tredinnick, for its second Ramsay Writers event.
The Ramsay Writers series is a new initiative for the Centre. Designed to showcase established Australian writers, the series treats audiences to readings of their work, as well as their perspectives on influential works from the past.
Geoff Page OAM is based in Canberra and has published twenty-five collections of poetry as well as two novels and five verse novels. His recent books include In medias res (Pitt Street Poetry) and 101 Poems: 2011-2021 (Pitt Street Poetry). Geoff reviews Australian poetry extensively and has held residencies at Edith Cowan University, Curtin University, ADFA, and the University of Wollongong. He has spoken about Australian poetry all around the world, and is the poetry reviewer for ABC Radio’s The Book Show.
Speaking to a packed audience, Geoff named American poets Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Theodore Roethke and Robert Frost, as influences on his writing. He also made special mention of Australian poets David Campbell, Judith Wright, Bruce Dawe and Les Murray.
Geoff then read two poems by Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird and Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour. He also recited a selection of his own poems from 101 Poems: 2011-2021; including Not Quite Nothing, Late August in the Baltic, Basso Continuo, Saturday Morning, A Commination and Complaint.
In between reciting the various poems, Geoff defended ‘obscurity’ in poetry, arguing that it was perfectly valid for poems to be obscure, so long as there was enough ‘prelimary music’ that might draw a reader back 4 or 5 times or even twenty, so they discovered something new in the poet’s (and their own) observations each time.
The second speaker at the event, Mark Tredinnick OAM, is an internationally celebrated poet, essayist, and teacher. His many works of poetry and prose include Walking Underwater, A Gathered Distance, Almost Everything I Know, Egret in a Ploughed Field, Bluewren Cantos, Fire Diary, The Blue Plateau, and The Little Red Writing Book. His latest book is his fifth collection, A Beginner’s Guide (July 2022, Bird Fish). Mark has been awarded two of the world’s foremost poetry prizes, the Montreal and the Cardiff, and a number of major Australian awards. He teaches poetry, literary journalism, creative writing, and creative nonfiction at the University of Sydney.
In the beginning of his address, Mark quoted a line from his poem Before the Day: “We live downstream from the past; we fish/ our phrases from the stream. They are not ours./ We finish stanzas long ago begun.”
He said these lines “…recognised that all literature carries on a long conversation, carries it forward from the past to the future, and makes it new in the present. But all we have read and experienced and inherited, from so many sources, is the choir one of whose voices is the work we write.”
Mark named Australian poets Judith Beveridge and fellow speaker Geoff Page as influences on his poetry, as well as William Carlos Williams and Dante Alighieri, who he has named his spaniels after. Alongside many well-known Western poets, he named Persian poets Rumi and Hafez, Hindu poet Mirabai, and Chinese poets Li Bai and Du Fu as influences.
Mark recited lines from Mahmoud Darwish’s No More and No Less and Emily Dickinson’s Hope is the Thing with Feather and Wild Nights. He also read Dickinson’s There is a Solitude of Space which is the epigraph to his own poem With Emily in the Garden. From his own collections, Mark read With Emily in the Garden (Bluewren Cantos 2013), A Short Story of Flying (Walking Underwater 2021), Flatrock, September (A Beginner’s Guide 2022). He also read his poem Lines for Late Winter, a new and uncollected poem.
If you wish to be invited to future Ramsay Writers Events email firstname.lastname@example.org
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