Cardiff International Poetry Competition

First Prize Winner - Mark Tredinnick

Mark Tredinnick has been described as “one of our great poets of place - not just of geographic place, but of the spiritual and moral landscape as well” (Judy Beveridge). The winner of many Australian poetry awards, including the Blake and Newcastle Prizes, he last year won the prestigious Montreal International Poetry Prize. His eleven works of poetry and prose include Fire Diary (winner of the WA Premier’s Book Award), The Blue Plateau (shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, winner of the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award), The Little Red Writing Book, and Australia’s Wild Weather. Mark lives with his family on the Wingecarribee River, southwest of Sydney. A second volume of poetry, Body Copy, will appear in 2013, along with a memoir, Reading Slowly at the End of Time.

 

 

Margaret River Sestets

There's a continent between us now, taut
                                                    with distance. I'd rather lie in the poem of your hand,
but your hand's somewhere and I'm somewhere else, so I take the red road, instead, to Sheoak Drive.
The grasses thrum like a squadron of spitfires, a sound so palpable
I wait for it to come in a cloud across the early summer pastures,
                                                     but nothing's troubling them except a little light weather
                                                               and nothing's bothering the grey blueblood mare, either,
or the purple-hooded parrot at its post-pastoral repose, but me. The country between the road and the coast
has got busy clouding its mind these past five years with bad ideas – big ones, but no better for that –
                                                      yet still there are eucalypts that stand and bow their heads


And, in the offseason, drop seed cases fat as artillery shells
                                                      onto the recycled Cambrian geology, bombs almost big enough
to shelter in if things get rough at home. Still, the trees we don't call blackboys anymore hang out
along the fenceline, mobsters in grass skirts, black glasses (you know the routine),
weapons bulging; it's still the same old bad old days, the way they look at things.
                                        Walking west, past them, I eat around the bruises in a peach and toss
what's left of it for the hell of it to the parrot in its wired field. None of the boys turns a hair.
But when I cross the road and find a log to sit on and log this stuff
                                                                   on my phone, it takes a full ten seconds


For a troop of ants to storm my boots and find places under my jeans
                                          my jeans are meant to keep unfound. Because of the vines, I guess,
and the olives, the lavender and the limestone and the languid yellow light, they tell you it's like Provence here,
but that would ignore the jarrah and the marri, the black roos and the butcher birds,
                                                   the wattlebirds and white-faced herons, the nasal mutter
of the honeyeaters, the Australian tripthongs of the frogs in the pond, nights,
the black ducks in their black thongs, the throngs of roadside lizards.
Hell, I don't care what they call it – this is landscape that wants you for lunch.
 

My whole life an addiction to country, falling forever for places
                                             that were never going to be any good for me. We carry our countries
into the world with us and through it and sometimes out again. Undiscovered. Undisclosed.
Just the other day, for instance, I watched a whale
                                                     hump its country down the coast from Cape Naturaliste
to Smiths Beach, breaching and hopping the sky and waving, not drowning,
not by any means, breathing its longing out and taking my long looking back in.
Sometimes you eat the landscape back.
                                                     There's a place near here where every day


The day dies in the sea, and that night, the one
                                                      after the afternoon of the whale,
                                                                                           I turned and watched the moon rise full
from the Yallingup ridge, birth split from death by no time at all and a meagre 180 degrees. They'd told me
everything would be new this time, and this seemed a promising start.
                                                       But later on, the same stars came up, and in the soak, the same
banjo rehearsed the same songs, strings loose as a gossip's tongue. My life is a secret I'm sick of keeping.
Orion bends in the northeast to tighten his sandals. Nothing to say, nothing to show for his love-hungry hunt
through all time. Maybe the beginning begins in the morning,
                                       when the sun rolls the stone away in the garden, pulls on her shoes.
                                                                                            pulls up my socks and starts running.