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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 4. 1969.

Annus Mirablis

Annus Mirablis

The literary scene got swinging with the belated revival of the Literary Society last week. There were about twenty interested people who gathered quietly in the W.C.R. seeming rather embarrassed by the whole business and yet anxious to produce some sort of society which could avoid the frivolities of the Pooh Club but retain some degree of humour. They read Dylan Thomas.

Ushering in the new literary era was the revival of the defunct Poetry Broadsheet now rechristened (so as to leave no doubt as to proprietorship) Argot Broadsheet. The format was a very pleasing improvement on all that we have seen before with an attractive grey tinted paper, a good heading and an interesting sketch by Barry Linton. The general appearance and standard augers well for this year as it obviously provides another good encouragement for student poets.

As regards the poetry I'm much less (and I suppose predictably) enthusiastic. I really wonder if Peter Bland's Train Home is a poem at all. It's certainly fun to read with a lively quality that maintains interest. Perhaps there is more than I am aware of but I think it generally hackneyed and the enthusiastic use of slang not making the poem progress any better. The same thing (moral) idea could probably be said just as well in a sketch for a story rather than to attempt a poem at that level of style.

The poem by Dennis List I cannot really understand. He's working on a level that I'm just not "with". I wonder how many people can honestly say that they understand his poetry? Or, alternatively, if that's asking too much, do they receive, or feel, anything at all when they read it?

Somebody's lost innocence lies,
in the black forest.
If it rusted, the same colour
as the undergrowth–grey–
If they come looking for it
how will they find it?

Does this really mean anything? If he is saying that lost innocence lies somewhere and is difficult to find, because it becomes coloured with experience then so what? Where's the poetic impact? Is it so superbly said that we feel there is a particular quality in the poem which means it is significant? If this is so then it has entirely escaped me and I salute those who are so perceptive as to value this poem highly.

In this poem, "Crow in December" by Michael Neill ..

Old crows strung on a washing line
Strangely bunched and tattered:
One hangs head down, its skeletal pinions
Fork like winter trees, shreds of old clothes
On its neck, damp wisps around its
Dried-up feet grasping at the sour air.
The others do not regard it
Rising and dropping back onto the line,
Growing suddenly plump as shrouds,
Dust falls from their wings
And a smell of hen-coops.
People rush at the line,
When they walk away the crows
Drop back into place,
Flopping like moths. No-one knows
Why they have come or when
They will go.

I'll be interested in getting reader's opinions of the poem. I think that the writer is striving after some imagery which falls rather flat in the last stanza when he tries to go beyond the image to the purpose. However if you think otherwise, or anything ... write.