best australian poem 2023!

By | 15 February 2023

this was the year i changed my bio from writer to poet
this could be our year we said
id won a prize and youd come into form
so we submitted two poems each to the anthology
best australian poems 2022
there had been an open call
three poems each was the limit but we were being humble
we waited to hear back
we were chill about it
the top 100 poems in the land
a big deal
but no big deal
we are just upstarts
we really want to get in tho
someone said theyd received 5000 submissions
thank u editors for your labour
5000! G-WHIZ
either poetry is back! again
or a malicious state-based actor launched a cyber attack
on australianpoetrys servers
laugh all you want BUT
some regimes, those with long memories, know that
poetry is a weapon
know that the revolution is linguistic
know that poetry fractures regimes
plato knew
and the despots know too
i often think of
turkeys national poet nazim hikmet
a communist in a nato country
he died in soviet exile
turkey used him up for the secular revolution then jailed him and jailed him and drove him away
revoked his citizenship then restored it after hed died
fifty years later
i sat and wrote in a cultural centre named in his honour made of stone and timber
there was a drama school
a tea garden under tall trees
they sold books in turkish, russian and spanish
people were always writing there, studying, pondering, speaking and listening with their whole
bodies, wielding big ideas everyday
they talk now of journalists in jail
but no one mentions the poets anymore
remember Lorca, Neruda and others
somewhere poets still go to jail, get killed
here they send poets to university
poets as tinkerers and bureaucrats
poetry as pathology, as ornate junk, poetry not seen at all
since settler capitalism, in its plunder
could not be bothered to take it, to absorb it
to list it on the exchange
and so WE pick it up, use it, our weaponry
poets as guerillas
waiting for our acceptance emails
i can attest
that the mobilisation is linguistic
riffs poems chants graffiti are the oxygen of revolt
solidarity is sung and punned into minds and lands
it happens at home, in schools, in work, in publics, tea gardens, mountains
i was there in istanbul at the siege of gezi park
in the crowd that resisted then seized bulldozers
dodged water canons and withstood tear gas
we sung of revolution, we practiced it
a newfangled oneness
that disastered the legitimacy of the government
and opened a horizon of possibility
that ten years later becomes the end of not only a tyrant
but the tyrannical mode
all ours liberations are bound up in one another
when we are not killing we might be healing
believe me when i tell you that i found my voice then
a mass movement refusing the authorities that govern everyday life
saying we can do it ourselves
by the people for the people we the people
i think that
best australian poems 2021 was a bumper year
cos it had that energy
we love that edition
you bought it for my birthday but i already had it
we sung its praises to all
at the bookshop i sold dozens
wrote a shelf-talker saying
‘to everyone who reads or wants to read poetry
this is the place to start
100 poems from all walks of the continent
theres radical stuff going on’
i say this now because i felt proud for poetry!
for us
strange to say it but honest
no document i can imagine would speak to the state of this troubled nation better
and so when you were in melb housesitting my place
and i was at the salvos in alice springs
i lit up when i found 2009 and 2013 for two bucks each
leni shilton written in blue ink on the first page
i read them right away, loved them
thought of leni, thank u leni
ill buy your book too
there was something special about encountering 2021
dedicated to my friend and teacher the great Ania Walwicz
the editors did an excellent job
the poets of course did too
and maybe it came at the right time for me, morale was high
or maybe poetry is the technology that generates joys and agonies most freely and directly now
the marginalised poet can storm the top 100
difference in the charts
in a way that the sculptor, the film director, the musician
might not
we feel like were in permanent crisis
its post-truth and plato changed his mind
called us back
the social body exhausted
the earth in arrears
poetry is needed
a jolt straight in the vein
poetry, my friend

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