Now reading: Being Martha’s friend, by Meg Mooney

Meg Mooney, Being Martha's friendMeg Mooney, Being Martha’s friend (Picaro Press, 2015)

Land and people. Place and space. Searching and belonging. These themes resonate strongly throughout this collection (her third) of poetry that could come from nowhere else but out of the red sand of Central Australia. The poetics are subtle, the narrative spare but honest. Each poem cooks like a roo tail – first the hair is singed and scraped off, then it is buried and coals to cook. The taste lingers. The fatty globules adhere.

Meg’s greatest poetic treasure is her observation of the natural world and alluding how this collides or flows with the (non-natural/imposed) human world. ‘Birdwatching during the intervention’ – one of the best poems in the collection – is a great example, where ‘finches … chatter urgently in Pitjantjatjara’ and other birds call in ‘a gentle waterfall of sound … didyougetdrunk? didyougetdrunk?’

This collection was launched recently in Alice Springs at the Eye of the Storm writers’ festival (17-20 September 2015). The theme of the festival was ‘finding home’, a concept that many ‘local’ whitefellas grapple with because our concept of ownership and connection with land is so different from the blackfellas whose place and space we inhabit. Longing and belonging. In ‘Visiting the spring’, she shares what others, like me, grapple with in living in Aboriginal Australia:

…. the [Indigenous] rangers, having a quiet smoke
around the fire, are relieved to see us
don’t say we shouldn’t have gone there [to the spring] at night
maybe they understand that us whitefellas
need to look everywhere for what we’ve lost

More of what I have read can be found under INFLUENCES.