Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Distilling is an art, be it in whisky or poetry

I’m not sure if that title is a direct quote from poet John Wright but I do know it was about whisky that our conversation of many years ago first began. At that time John was eager to revisit Tasmania to sample the whiskey at the Lark Distillery, in his opinion the oldest and the best.

John has been to Tasmania on a number of occasions, he recalled memories of a conference he attended on the waterfront and another visit when he was asked by Andrew Sant for a review in Island Magazine. These visits to Tasmania have often been in conjunction with his work with the Public Guardian, an organisation that looks after those that require assistance.

Many of John’s poems have been inspired by his work as a psychiatric nurse and of his migration from England to Ireland to Australia.

One such poem of migration was that of Alf and Nell, a poem about two Lancastrians who sought a better life in Australia. ‘Always together, never apart’ until Alf becomes ill and his treatment requires them to be separated but not without some opposition as Nell is physically peeled off the locked glass door in the hospital which separates them.

His own journey from Cheshire to Sydney by way of Mayo Ireland and the time he spent on his grand dads farm in Mayo provides a juxtaposition of beauty, from chasing butterflies, symbols of eternity with another symbol of eternity the raw example of life preserved in the bog, versus a final expression of brutality, the innocence of a calf bred for a brutal end. The innocence lost of both the boy and the calf.

‘Promise of years before us I was ordered to bring you all big eyed and
trusting ready to for your first and last ride in a farmers truck’

Indeed Ireland continues to provide inspiration for John in further connections between his life in Ireland and new life in Australia. John recalls standing in line to enter a poetry and music evening, complete with a druid meeting a woman from the Central Coast, who wept at the mention of the word Ballyhaunis in a poem.

Another poem ‘Yellow Bird’ is dedicated to John’s mother and nurse Cassidy who delivered him. ‘Yellow Bird’ being dedicated to these two women who gave new life in a new year.

‘when a wrinked head appeared with signs of jaundice you said’
‘A yellow bird is here on New Year’s Day’

The poem juxtaposes both the yellow tinge of the baby’s jaundice with the yellow tinge of the other meaning of yellow bird, one who is much loved, referring both to the circle of love between the two women and baby.

In ‘Message 1960’ John has written a chilling poem of the messenger boy who didn’t like knocking on doors with bad news so would dance.

‘He didn’t like knocking on doors so danced’. Once again a brilliant example of juxtaposing two very opposing emotions, the celebration of dancing with the gravity of the message he delivers.

John Wright’s two collections of poems are:

Cheshire Born: A Collection of Albums


Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. John Wright

    February 26, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Oh Paula! How can I begin to respond to your wonderful work here? And here’s me wondering how to make up for the Christmas cards that never got to you, planning another Easter Surprise card. Your brilliant perceptive review is not only timely (just as I was thinking I’d never see such a thing ever again!), but also objectively represents the pinnacle of the art of the reviewer. The last time I was so moved and affected by a review was during the time Peter Kocan was regularly reviewing for (dare I say it?) Quadrant Magazine, when he was supporting Poetry Editor Les Murray against attacks made by faux poets on the other side. I’ve recently (since Christmas) had my nose buried in John Connell’s ‘The Cow Book, a story of life on a family farm’. Cousin Bill Kirrane sent it to me, as he has sent all the books that have come to be my favourites. I was in Mayo again in 2014 when during a visit to Cheshire to see my frail and failing Mum, he rang and said a ticket is waiting for me at Manchester Airport for flight number *** leaving at ***o’clock on *** (date). Back in 1981, Andrew Sant joined Bill and I on a never-to-be-forgotten tour in Bill’s car round Mayo and Galway. Anyhow, Bill and I met up again. This time at Knock Airport in the West and went in a car he had hired, straight to Cloonbulliban (he corrected me after all this time – the name is Cloonbulban, but don’t tell anyone). The view from Great Uncle Ned’s has changed, as the bog appears to have been drained, but the holy mountain Croaghpatrick is still a pimple on the horizon telling me where the coast looks out across the Atlantic. And Ned’s cottage is even more crumbled into the ground. Saddest of all, two donkeys abandoned in the deceased estate next door (John Maguire’s place) had eight hooves between them, curling out like Appollo’s sandals. I so wanted to stay with them and move in to the still-habitable farmhouse there. But we had to go. We told the landlord at the pub in Bekan, the village nearby. And went on to Claremorris where I met cousins and second cousins in their lovely farmhouse. The ex-police barracks in Westport is now a youth hostel. Being eternal youth, we stayed there as our base and the next day toured Achill Island, being most impressed by Grace O’Malley’s tower in the narrow bay (her secret hideaway). So impressed I was to be finally told the story of Grace the Pirate Queen. Almost as impressed and excited as getting your monumental review today! I’m so happy the magic link in our chain has been reforged. God bless You Paula and as they say in Gaeltach Dublin: “GUDLUK!”

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