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“Hi, my name’s Ross Donlon. I’m going to read you a couple of poems from my latest book, The Blue Dressing Gown and Other Poems. The first one’s called The Blue Dressing Gown and the second is called In Praise of Washing … for all those people out there who like washing.
The Blue Dressing Gown
It hung in my boy’s wardrobe,
an army regulation item
no one could throw out.
And it would be hard, wouldn’t it,
to discard the only thing left
in something like the shape of him.
It hung on a wire hanger,
skeleton of his shoulder
cutting across collar bone,
the drape of it swinging side to side
if nudged into a shy dance,
or if asked up by a breeze.
I used to wear it, with no sense
of feeling weird or spooky,
alternating with a practical flannel,
yet at night sometimes woke
frightened by its doorway shadow,
a man hanging on the moon’s hook.
I never realized I’d outgrown him
walking tall through one summer
while his shoulders rode my back.
The tassels swung like incense
as I walked in his shape
trying to sense the being inside him.
In Praise of Washing
I like the sound
of a machine washing,
the pulse and hum,
the snoring slosh,
the steady beat,
the butterfly murmur
of something being done,
of a completed cycle.
I like the fairground thrill
of clothes spinning,
the vicarious excitement
of domestic life
possibly out of control;
blowhole in the sink
cyclone in the hallway.
I like the taking out and untangling
of wet clothes,
the soaking puzzle,
the thankful flap of a shirt or singlet
rescued from drowning.
I like the shaking, hanging and pegging out of garments,
joining others who bow their heads
then stand with arms upraised
to hail the line
with clothes, flags, prayers or words,
a day’s offering to the wind and sun.”
ABOUT ROSS DONLON:
Ross Donlon’s poems have been published widely in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. His work has been broadcast on Radio National’s Poetica and community radio. He appears on the CD of a live reading, You Have Been Chosen. The Blue Dressing Gown has recently been published by Profile Poetry.
In 2010 Ross was awarded the Wenlock Festival Poetry Prize within the Arvon International Poetry Competition by chief judge, Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Ross’s winning poem The Blue Dressing Gown is the title poem of his new collection of the same name published by Profile Press. It will be launched in Sydney, 7pm Wednesday 26th October 2011 at Live Poets @ Don Bank, 6 Napier St North Sydney.
“I have been to Varuna three times since winning the Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship in 2009 when I benefited from the mentorship of Deb Westbury.
The project I brought for the fellowship eventually resulted in the writing of a poem which won an international poetry prize, the opportunity to read at a poetry festival in England and the publication of a book, The Blue Dressing gown and other poems. Recently I have been selected to spend a month at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland on a Varuna exchange scholarship … so I am always indebted to Varuna for the opportunity to work and meet other writers, encouraged by such a supportive team led by Lis Bastian.” Ross Donlon
The Attitude of Cups, Melbourne Poets Union, (ed.) Susan Stanford (forthcoming 2011)
Poetry at the Pub, Poetry at the Pub, forthcoming 2011
Land Lines: Anthology of Regional Poets, Melbourne Poets Union, 2011 (ed.) Sue Gillett
2010 Arvon International Poetry Competition Anthology, Arvon Foundation, 2010
Writing Western Sydney, University of Western Sydney, 2011
Artlines, Mark Time Books, 2009
Voices from the Meadow, Five Islands Press, 2007
Kickers and Knockers, Melbourne Poets Union, 2005
ur-burbia, Melbourne Poets Union, 2003
Said the Rat, Black Pepper, 2003
Voice Over, Five Islands Press, 2003
Poems for All Occasions, Five Islands Press, 2002
Wild About the Roof, Five Islands Press, 2001
Inside the Words, 1999
Kickstart Poetry Books 1 & 2, Blake Education, 2007 (with Tric O’Heare)
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