Welcome to my first blog for Overland. This poet will not be posting poetry here. I’ll let you know if I post something half worth looking at on my own page: taramokhtari.wordpress.com, if you seek toilet reading material (I know you all take your iPhones to the loo with you for Tweeting purposes these days).
I’ve banned myself from distractions lately while I try to write up the final few chapters of the verse novel I’m working on. Mind you, last weekend I reverted to my groupie-former-self and drove up to Maitland, NSW for a reunion with my beloved Toohey’s Old which is oh so hard to find in Victoria and to see Pinky Beecroft play songs from his band’s new album (The White Russians – Pretty Black; if you like heart-on-sleeve rock’n’roll, stripped back to its most intimate skin, played by a tight Oz super-group: Get thee to an iTunesery)…
Anyway, rock-adventures aside, I’ve been diligently writing like a maniac. Not just for the verse novel, either. I decided to start sending out poetry submissions to U.S journals – you know, to find out if their rejection letters are the same as the ones we get here.
To reward myself for my effort this last few weeks, I walked fifty miles, or so, in the pouring rain up Bourke street last night to The Paperback Bookshop to peruse their fine poetry section. If you’ve ever been in there, you’ll know it’s the only part of the shop where the fiction shelves overlap a row of ceiling-to-floor poetry anthologies, and the only way to get into the nook is if you’re a mouse or a yoga proficient. Nonetheless, I found a new (2007) John Ashbery book, A Worldly Country, and a Faber Poetry collection of Robert Lowell’s poems. Perfect! I thought. These are two poets I like. A lot. I feel my own poetry swings a bit between confessional (Lowell) and the observational style of the New York schoolers (Ashbery). So my plan is to read the two books simultaneously and see what happens to my brain and to my work.
This may seem like a harmless exercise in indulgent procrastination from Ph.D. Land, but I can be extremely psychologically altered by good poetry, potentially to the point of paralysis. What I’m reading so impacts my day to day life that I have to watch myself. Bukowski makes me drink, for instance. Sexton brings out my inner scarred feminist. Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate made me rhyme half my verse novel. It may happen that Ashbery will finally convince me I’m the fraud I always suspected I was. I may never write another word. If that happens, this first blog post will be my last, thus justifying how damn long it’s become. Thanks for reading.