23 November 2013

Dig the rhythm

It’s no surprise that Geoff Page was a teacher in his previous life. It was clear as he spoke of anapaest in the poetry of Melinda Smith. Geoff and Melinda were doing a dual poetry launch and each was introducing the other’s collection before the other read a few poems. Poetry is “metrical writing”, or at least that’s what one quote suggested, although it’s valued for more besides, not least imagery and concision in emotion. I was perfectly comfortable with Melinda speaking of iambic pentameters. Isn’t that standard Shakespeare? It’s also the base of Geoff’s unpretentious poetry. Anapaest was not something I recognised, although it’s easy enough when I looked it up (anapaest has stress-unstress-stress; iambic has unstress-stress). Geoff spoke of Melinda’s poetry as of a women’s sensibility and experience as well as of another generation. She even wrote in Twitter-verse of 140 characters, which must be an amusing challenge. Geoff’s iambs seemed more informal and conversational, less concerned with women’s issues (pregnancy was an obvious one) but equally concerned with issues of seriousness. But there’s also humour here. Geoff welcomed it in Melida’s poetry and lamented that humour is a missing element in much poetry today (and also elsewhere in society, as I thought while watching Keating’s reminiscences and wit on TV shortly after the launch). I remain a neophyte in poetry but words like this could touch this steadfastly practical realist. Geoff Page and Melinda Smith introduced each others’ poetry and each read a few lines at the Civic Library mezzanine. The collections were: Improving the News / Geoff Page and Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call / Melinda Smith, both published by Pitt St Poetry, 2013.

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