Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Kelburn Park by Harry Ricketts

The grass shaggy already,
white lines partitioning the field
to other codes, enigmas.

The square is invisible.
A huddle of grey-backed gulls,
a hunch of slips and short legs.

The nets look deserted, but if you squint
there's Hamish just taking guard,
Tony sidling up to bowl.

posted with permission 

Harry Ricketts is so many things - English Professor and poet and anthologist and biographer and cricket lover. Born in England, a student at Oxford University, he moved to NZ via Hong Kong and teaches up at Victoria University which is within spitting distance of Kelburn Park.

I studied English Lit at Victoria University when Harry was young and blonde and carried his small children on his shoulders. Now one of them is a drummer for the Phoenix Foundation and Harry, as of this year I think, is a Professor.

Just Then (VUP 2012)  is his latest poetry book -- full of poems that are playful, fun, nostalgic -- about his family, poets he knows,  other friends, places, poems, paintings, cricket.

Here are some of the other poems from the collection: El Prado, Phoenix Foundation and Polonius:Old Poet - all, I am proud to say, posted on Tuesday Poem blogs. And here's another cricket poem by Harry on Mark Pirie's fabulous Tingling Catch blog.

This poem, ah, well it's very Harry Ricketts -- the lovely playfulness of 'codes, enigmas', the yummy mouthful of language in the huddle of gulls and the 'hunch of slips and short legs', then there's that thing he has for cricket -- and memory -- and then, for me, there's the way the poem evokes so wonderfully one part of my memory about my time at Victoria University. The shaggy grass, the gulls, the deserted feel - like Narnia, my memories of Vic are (in the nicest way) always winter.

After the post went up here this morning, Harry emailed me with the background to 'Kelburn Park':
In case it's of interest, I made up 'Kelburn Park' while walking back up to Vic from the Terrace and past Kelburn Park, after reviewing Bill Manhire's collection "The Victims of Lightning" on National Radio's Nine-to-Noon programme. My head was full of Bill's poems and winter.
Which seems perfectly apposite. Thanks so much Harry for the email and for the poem.

Now poetry readers, do head to the Tuesday Poem hub asap to read terrific Australian poet Sarah Rice.


AJ Ponder said...

Nice. Feels iconic New Zealand every field to me, the seagulls, "the grass shaggy already," as the cricket season has drawn to a close.

Ben Hur said...

Ah, Kelburn Park. In a past life I knew it well.

Penelope said...

I like huddle and hunch and Hamish; a hint of the new season to come, breathing just out of sight?

I truly appreciate a good sporting poem.