Cutting the Clouds Towards

BookCutting the Clouds Towards

Cutting the Clouds Towards

1998

May 1st, 1998

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The poems in this fifth collection of his poetry were written before, during and after Matt Simpson’s two-month period as poet-in-residence at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston, Tasmania. Most of the poems are responses to encounters with the work and life of the mid-nineteenth-century writer and artist, Louisa Anne Meredith, who spent the first part of her life in Birmingham and who was already established as author and artist before, at the age of twenty-seven, she married her cousin, Charles, and emigrated to Australia. The Merediths were subsequently to spend most of the rest of their lives in Tasmania. Simpson follows Mrs Meredith there, creating an imaginative relationship with her and in his poetry (in the words of John Lucas in his Foreword to this book) ‘exploring in different ways his sense of engagement with a person, a place, and, more remarkably, of hers and it with him. For among the most astonishing features of this intensely creative engagement is the way Mrs Meredith herself emerges as a full and complex character, witty, resilient, keenly observant, even able to rebuke the poet for his “arrogance of hindsight”. At the same time, Matt Simpson engages with the familiar theme in his previous work, now a personal quest of following his seafaring father to the other side of the world. All those who know Simpson’s poems will see this as a continuation and some sort of resolution of what much of his work has been concerned with to date. He completes a sort of odyssey though his arrival in Tasmania, a journey which began many years earlier with his father’s tales of Tasmania. John Lucas again: ‘It takes a rare poet to risk weaving into his own work moments from and allusions to The Tempest, that most authoritative and mysterious of plays, but his poems triumphantly surmount that danger. That they should do so helps us to recognise how assured and compelling is Matt Simpson’s achievement.’

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page3
Contents5
Preface7
Foreword9
Prologue11
Ship in a Bottle13
To Tasmania with Mrs Meredith15
At Sea with Mrs Meredith17
What Mr Meredith asked the Ship’s Owner about Dick18
Mrs Meredith looks about her19
Mrs Meredith and Hobart Culture20
Mrs Meredith and Hunting21
Flora and Fossil22
Mrs Meredith goes a-Gypsying and enjoys a Barbecue23
The Merediths attend a Ceremony24
Mrs Meredith speaks of the Good Old Days of Privatisation . . .25
You Rambling Boys of Liverpool27
The Call of the Genes28
Dear Mrs Meredith29
Dear Mr Simpson31
On the Right Side of the Earth33
We meet at last35
I’ve been wanting to ask . . .37
Dear Mr Simpson39
Taking things in40
A Bummer41
Swanport43
And for the Record44
Fax from Launceston to Michael45
A Hasty Rejoinder46
Something you can’t deny47
The Interview49
In Mount Field National Park51
News of a Death52
On the Answering Machine53
In Flowerdale54
Hadn’t we the Gaiety?56
About as far as we can go58
Your art Mrs Meredith59
The Princess Theatre, Launceston, 18th October, 199561
Threads62
Journal entry forTuesday, 31st Oct.64
Dangerous I know65
A Poem for Wybalenna Chapel on Flinders Island66
Making an Exhibition68
A Last Glimpse70
Epilogue71
Melbourne Central Cemetery73
Select Bibliography76