Thursday, December 8, 2005

Rhythms of the mind

Driving home this afternoon, I caught a bit of Ramona Koval's interview on Radio National with WA poet Fay Zwicky, who's this year's winner of the Patrick White award. What an old poppet he must have at least partly been to think of such a thing: this prize is for writers of mature years who haven't received as much recognition as they deserve.

Zwicky was talking about what a poet is and what a poem is, and used a wonderful phrase: 'rhythms of the mind'.

I was reminded of something Vincent Buckley said to me about twenty years ago in the Melbourne University English Department tea-room, when he too used the word 'rhythm' to describe the way he thought poets or any kind of artists needed to arrange their time; artists, he said, need big chunks of time in which to do nothing much apart from mooch and moon about. (The context of this conversation was how bad he thought the academic life was for writers.) There go the chances of every woman writer on the planet then, I thought but opted not to say.

Zwicky's observation was about something quite different: the way we think in words and images, and the way we fit them together. What was interesting was the notion that two such different poets, talking about different things twenty years apart, should have both have chosen as a metaphor a quality so central to their common practice.


  1. Having spent one of my two child-free days this week "mooching and mooning" rather than writing, I quite like the idea that this isn't wasted time. There's Buckley's of it happening with any frequency, though.

  2. Well, Vin Buckley was of both an age and a temperament (and of course a gender) not to have much idea about what women's lives are actually like!