Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dot to the Rescue (once again)

The following arrived in my inbox this afternoon. Few greater poets, nor few greater causes, could I imagine for this sun-kissed, rain-drenched yuletide, in an otherwise smoky, fireless, Ashes-less country. 

Spears is a valedictory poem for someone I imagine to be a long-lost family member (they cross your mind when death crosses your path, believe me), and the draft is on auction in Melbourne (details below). The poem in question forms part of what I consider to be Dorothy Porter's most  succulent collection, an effect for which I suspect she was always aiming, but perhaps held in abeyance with one eye on the husk-eyed drones who ran the show throughout her long and electric career.
Drafts of a late poem by Dorothy Porter titled, Spears, will be auctioned as part of the Collected Works Bookshop Christmas Benefit at the Nicholas Building on Wednesday 8 December between 5:30pm-7pm.
‘Spears’ appears on page 64 of Dorothy Porter’s posthumous collection of poetry, The Bee Hut, which was published by Black Inc. in 2009.
Generously donated by Andrea Goldsmith, the auction item consists of:
* Draft 1: Original hand-written version from notebook, initialled and dated 17 August 2008
* Draft 2: Original hand-written version from notebook, initialled and dated 20 August 2008
* Draft 3: Original typescript, initialled and dated 20 August 2008 with editorial comment from Andrea Goldsmith
* One copy of The Bee Hut
Goldsmith said, “Spears is a particularly personal poem. It was written not long after the death of Dorothy's uncle, Hal Porter, and it is dedicated to him.
“The poem recalls a gift of spears presented to Hal by a group of Papua-New Guineans with whom Hal worked closely during the war. It was a gift of which he was rightly proud. On his return to Australia, the spears were burned,” Goldsmith explained.
“Sixty years later, as he was dying, he said: ‘I want my spears.’ Dot found this incredibly moving,” Goldsmith said.
Known for her passionate, sensual and edgy poetry, Dorothy Porter was one of Australia's truly original writers. She was twice short-listed for Australia's premier literary award, the Miles Franklin, and her verse novel The Monkey's Mask is a modern Australian classic. The Bee Hut, her fifteenth book, brings together the poems she wrote in the last five years of her life. By turns expansive and intimate, effusive and contemplative, these poems roam widely: there are journeys into history and to sacred places both mythic and deeply personal.
This generous donation will help to keep Collected Works Bookshop alive.
Plus, customers who spend $25 or more at Collected Works Bookshop between 1-8 December 2010 will go in the draw to win a fabulous range of literary feasts, including:
* Annual memberships with Australian Poetry and the Victorian Writers’ Centre
* Delicious hampers filled with wine, nibbles and books generously donated by publishers and writers
Lovers of literature are also invited to celebrate the importance of Collected Works Bookshop as a part of Melbourne’s literary heritage on Wednesday 8 December 2010 (5:30pm-7pm).
Collected Works Bookshop is a much loved Melbourne institution, which specializes in poetry and literary fiction from Australia, the USA, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Europe, Japan, China and other regions. Founded in 1984 Collected Works Bookshop is a home for readers and writers, a home for little presses, and a venue for launches and readings.
Collected Works Bookshop
Nicholas Building, Level 1, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne
T: +61 3 9654 8873   E: collectedworks@mailcity.com

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