Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Poem: To Say

Emma McCleary, <i>First Flutter</i>, Woodcut, hand stitching and pencil on 300 x 300 mm paper, from an edition of 9, 2009. NZ$310 incl GST.

the first flutter of fledgling on the grass -
feathers new, askew, softly now,
ungainly thing

the first flutter of pencil on the page, to say
what the fledgling asks to be said, softly
now, ungainly thing

the first flutter of knife on wood, to say
what the fledgling asks to be said, softly
now, ungainly thing

the first flutter of needle on linen, to say
what the fledgling asks to be said, softly
now, ungainly thing

the first flutter of fledgling on the grass, ungainly - soon
to be gainly - thing, feathers new, askew, softly
now, so says the fledgling

                                                     mary mccallum

As part of the Tuesday Poem Secret Santa this week I am paired with Emma McCleary who is the webmaster for Booksellers New Zealand. A poet appreciator rather than a poet herself, Emma posts work by NZ poets on the website every Tuesday. So this Tuesday, in our Secret Santa swop, Emma is posting a poem of mine - and I have no idea which one it will be... (exciting!)

For my side of the bargain, I decided that rather than use one of the poems by NZers Emma has stashed away for her website, I would use something of Emma's. She is a wonderful printmaker and craftswoman, so I decided to use one of her prints here - and write a poem off the back of it.

Like Emma, I am very partial to birds, and with the birds nests full of cheeping young at the moment, and fledglings hopping in an ungainly fashion through the undergrowth (the word 'fledgling' alone is so evocative, and such mouth-filler),  I couldn't go past Emma's print 'First Flutter' pictured above and available to buy at Solander Gallery. The poem that goes with it is about art and how we try in our various media - Emma and I and others - to evoke that thing we see, or at least the thisness of the thing. But how any evocation is only ever that, and not the real thing at all.

A great way to end the Tuesday Poem year. For more Tuesday Poems go here or click on the quill in the sidebar. James Brown is featured at the hub and then there are 30 poets from all over with poems on offer....

Merry Christmas to you Emma and all the other Tuesday Poets and all my loyal blog readers. See you again in 2011.


susan t. landry said...

a dance a deux! and so lovely...
brilliant, emma & mary!

Elizabeth Welsh said...

What a beautiful piece of artwork from Emma! Your poem captures that constant effort to express the seemingly inexpressible, Mary. It flutters so delicately. Lovely. Thank you so much for being such a patient and tireless Tuesday Poet organiser, Mary! And Merry Christmas!

Catherine said...

You really created a lovely thing from your "first flutter". The poem and woodcut echo each other beautifully.

Rachel Fenton said...

A lovely tribute to Emma's art, Mary.

Merry Christmas! I've really enjoyed reading your blog this year.

Helen Lowe said...


Mary McCallum said...

Thanks everyone. It's been fun writing a poem inspired by an artwork. Emma's work is just lovely. And thanks Elizabeth for your comment about TP - I have to say it's been a highlight of 2010 for me: the inspiring, stimulating poems and poets.

Eileen Moeller said...

Beautiful marriage of poem and print, Mary. I like the way it resonates to the Christmas story too. I'm not religious, but a God becoming human would probably result, at first, in an ungainly thing, wouldn't it? It is a revelation to a Northerner to connect Christmas to fledglings coming out of the nest. Thanks for this! Cheers, Eileen

Melissa Green said...

Dear Mary, thank you for this exquisite poem and how beautifully it links with Emma's work. The Tuesday Poem has been great fun--thank you for all the hard work you did to keep the wheels in motion. Thank you for your perceptive and generous remarks on my blog. All good things for 2011, Mary. Love, Melissa