Saturday, 28 November 2009

A new poet! Emma Jones is a poet to watch, we're advised by Peter Wilson writing in The Australian. A few things stack up to make the claim credible, the most important of which is that she's had a book published by the legendary British press for poets, Faber.

It's called The Striped World, and it's available now if you can tear your eyes away from the wide-screen in the lounge room and its images of Tiger Woods swinging his clubs. Didn't you know? The world's No. 1 golfer has had a minor traffic accident in Florida.

And don't get distracted by reports from the rugby field that the coach of the Wallabies is to front the board of the Australian Rugby Union to justify himself in the light of the team's poor on-field performance.

Don't get distracted by the myriad foibles and glories of professional sport, because Emma Jones - from Sydney's grimy inner west, no less - has nabbed the privilege of spending a few months sojourning in a cottage not far from where the king of Romantic poetry, William Wordsworth, lived and wrote 200 years ago. Yes, she has been "chosen ahead of 30 other applicants as this year's writer-in-residence at the Wordsworth Trust at Grasmere in the Lake District", writes Wilson.

Are we up-to-date on poetry? Are we awake to the dynamic of the regular reading circuit in Sydney and Melbourne? Are we aware that Jones won the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2005?

Do we care that she has now won the Queensland Premier's Literary Award as well as Britain's top award for debut poets, the Felix Dennis Prize?

While we're kept informed of the minutiae of professional athletes - their groin injuries, sex pecadillos, drunken car crashes, DUI charges, and marital troubles - the poets beaver away in complete obscurity until one day they are brought to light.

Hopefully, at this point, they don't just fade into the ink-stained background of the struggling publishing sector in Australia. No wonder Germaine Greer was acerbic when asked about Jones. Greer knows that Australians care not a fig for high culture, or the accolades those hoity-toity poms heap on our best and brightest.

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