The Poetry Object: Nicholas Powell

The Poetry Object: Nicholas Powell

by Tamryn Bennett on December 15, 2012

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in Red Room

Cassette Sonnet

You gaze through a little window
at brown wound around two circles
and with a pen, straighten curlicues.
A circle shrinks as a circle grows
a half-drawn curtain in a rectangle.
Fading names, epitaphs, hits.
Dirty heads and the diva quits.
All wow and flutter, the lyrics are mangled,
spilling their guts which the machine eats.
Unkempt brunette, cold on the shoulder,
“You’ll dig it less when you’re older.”
The cases break and melt in heat.
They’re second-hand for 20 cents,
yet the catch amid the kitsch
is the write-protected glitch:
You turn into your parents
and it’s curtains. Stop/Eject, kaput!
You dozed off to Gordon Lightfoot.

A note on the poem
These 18-line pseudo-sonnets are a hybrid of the English and Italian. Four enclosed Italian quatrains (abba), tailed by a rhyming English couplet. I settled on this form almost accidentally, but it suited the purpose of these poems, which was to say a lot about an object in fewer than 20 lines. They were fun to write. Although these objects are precious to the speaker, the poems are unsentimental, and hopefully convey something about our often-complicated ways of relating to objects, as well as to ourselves and to others. We crave and worship things for various aesthetic reasons, we identify through things, we accumulate them, they let us down, become obsolete. They change and so does our perspective to them, reminding us of our lives at different points in time.

Nicholas Powell’s first full-length collection, Water Mirrors, winner of the 2011 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize,is published by the University of Queensland Press. In 2007, he received a Young Australian Poets Fellowship, and a small chapbook, of Fallen Myth, was published by the Poets Union. His poems have appeared in various journals and newspapers, and he has reviewed poetry for Cordite Poetry Review. Born in Armidale, NSW, in 1979, and raised in Queensland, he has also lived in Melbourne and Finland, where he is now based.

 

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