Get Drunk on Blue Dog

How many people went out and bought the latest Blue Dog? How many people even know what it is? Sounds like a good name for a beer, and if it was, they’d be selling them by the dozen. Not many looking to get drunk on poetry these days. The blur of words and easy slur of pubs, smoke-free of metaphor or rhyme, is a lot more comfy. But a poetry anthology never was a beaded glass of beer during a rave about the footy final. It was always more of a contraband. Something you needed to walk narrow alleys for, into rooms wrestling with shapes in the smoke, laughter and weeping through the floorboards above or below. Disordered rituals of ingestion as well, a flame and a sugar cube for the absinthe high of a poetic vision. Easier just to get that cold beer with your mates.

Blue Dog is a distillation. More single malt scotch than the careless chuck of hops. Editors around Australia choose from nameless stacks of hand crafted poems the finest examples of poetry they come across. They send these to Grant Caldwell in Melbourne and he chooses from over a thousand good possibilities. Some thirty poems find the pages of these Blue Dog spirits. The Australian Poetry Centre’s finest, but thousands more will read the throwaway programme guide for the Grand final this weekend. At least Blue Dog won’t litter the ground as just so much rubbish a few hours later.

In twenty years from now there will be people reading this issue of Blue Dog. In thirty years they’ll look at the Café Poets and take in a few moments in the considered life of Graham Nunn as he sat at the Cosmopolitan Café in Fortitude Valley, Queensland. In forty the poetic hyperventilation of Jessica Cook at the Fair Trade Café in Glebe, New South Wales. Some time after that, there will be readers of Nathan Curnow and a Ross Donlon sonnet, Judy Durrant’s first published poem, or, a translation of a Tang Dynasty poet called Wen Tingyun. They will be readers of Amelia Walker and Max Ryan, of Josephine Rowe and her visions of poetry through the work of Sarah Holland-Bart. In the next week or so, a few copies of the latest Blue Dog, Anthology of Autralian Poetry, might be sold. Cheers to them.

Alec Patric

AS Patric is the award-winning author of The Rattler & other stories (Spineless Wonders, 2011), Las Vegas for Vegans (Transit Lounge, 2012) and Bruno Kramzer (Finlay Lloyd, 2013).

More by Alec Patric ›

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  1. Love the BlueDog – and congrats again Alec on your inclusion. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, however, even if they had heard of it. Takes a bit of cognitive effort to dissect a lot of poems and people often just want to relax (and watch the footy) and who can blame them. On the other hand I think we underestimate the love of poetry that most people have (but aren’t conscious of or who deny it). It is instilled in us from an early diet of nursery rhymes, songs, the bible etc., Even advertising! We need to promote poetry (not that obscure old fashioned stuff) at school, in a manner that children can relate and contribute to.

  2. Thanks Maxine. Point taken, but my Bio on this site mentions it, as does the one on my blog. I’ve posted the poem itself and reviewed the Blue Dog launch, because where would grassroots Aussie writing and independent publishing be, if it wasn’t for the support of contributors, family and friends?

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