Emerging poet Vanessa Jones is based in Adelaide, although I met her in Melbourne at a workshop I was delivering there.
It’s heartening to meet younger poets in my travels. There’s nothing worse than looking around a gig and realising that most of the crowd are middle-aged. If we’re not engaging younger writers and readers, Australian poetry will be in trouble in the future.
Vanessa, who is in her twenties, is currently working as an ambassador in the SA Writers’ Centre’s youth program. This clever program sees young ambassadors appointed to manage events and publishing opportunities for other young (and younger) writers. Through this scaffolded approach, the program attracts and maintains younger readerships while developing younger writers and giving them publishing and performing outlets. Overall, the program contributes to building a future for Australian writing.
Anyhow, here are two poems by Vanessa Jones. It might be relevant to tell you that Vanessa is a few weeks older than Amy Winehouse …
Are those sirens for you?
Have you finished resting?
Did it work this time?
Will anyone grieve?
Can I come too?
(To) All Those Girls
Laying rusty carnations
at your Spanish door,
parting my gypsy skirt,
kneeling to the dirt,
wrapping her tighter
so she thinks she’s in my arms.
My tears are washing her stillness.
This time, I’ll walk away,
yearning to trade places.
The first three steps are the worst
and the rest unbearable.
She caused me white pain
as her flesh was ripped from my flesh
but resentment isn’t the carriage she came on
for there’s no point holding onto perfection
unless you’re standing at the same altar.
Answer the door, lover,
your daughter is waiting.
And woven into her delicate shawl
is my soul.
And so I became an empty carcass,
visiting each village,
peering at each raven-eyed lovely,
waiting for the strike of recognition,
each village turning into the one before
and all those girls belong.
I’ve learnt two lives of suffering
are the same as one
and tomorrow my head will grieve
that my daughter is waiting.