Ken Bolton

Rating: 4.33
Rating: 4.33

Ken Bolton Poems

'Beyond the sunrise
where the black begins' -
& the lights of the city, we
imagine, twinkle or blaze . . .

I wonder how
Gregory does this
these three line

weekends here
are the best: beautiful, quiet
I sit in Caron’s & my chair
the one we share, at the desk

What to do

when the day’s heavy heart,

the ice in my glass goes crink!
as it adjusts to the tequila — keying in
that sophistication — the feel of it — I associate

Does all art aspire to the condition
of music? — While someone

is always prepared to say so I put on

Looking back,

on my recent past,

In the 14, 15th &
16th centuries it was
all happening in Italy
artistically tho by the 17th

Ken Bolton Biography

Ken Bolton (born 1949) is an Australian poet and art critic. Bolton was born in Sydney and studied fine arts at the University of Sydney, where he also tutored. In the late 70s he edited the poetry magazine Magic Sam and began the small press Sea Cruise Books with Anna Couani. His first book of poems, Four Poems, was published in 1977. In 1982 he moved to Adelaide to work at the Experimental Art Foundation. He has since edited the literary magazine Otis Rush and collaborated with poet John Jenkins on a number of books of poetry. His Selected Poems was published by Penguin in 1992 and he edited Brandl & Schlesinger's Homage to John Forbes. His criticism has appeared in Photofile, Art and Text, Art Monthly and Art & Australia among other periodicals; and Wakefield Press has published his monograph on the contemporary sculptor Michelle Nikou. His latest collection (At The Flash & At The Baci, 2006) has been described as "prov[ing] to us that Ken Bolton is a prime example of a poet breaking new ground in Australian poetry.")

The Best Poem Of Ken Bolton


'As a people we are now called Australians because a vast & lonely land
has touched us with her differences'
- George Ivan Smith, 1953 preface to For The Term Of His Natural Life

'it's noble to refuse to be added up or divided'
- Frank O'Hara

'In this dawn as in the first
it's the Homeric rose, its scent
that leads on'
- Frank O'Hara, Ode to Willem de Kooning

'Beyond the sunrise
where the black begins' -
& the lights of the city, we
imagine, twinkle or blaze . . .

the horizon line here
a curve of butter yellow,
slightly oxidized - lined,
at its rim, by olive-green 'natives' -
hides a city that if I am
facing the right way
must be doing its afternoon trade
relaxed this last few days after December 25th
but ready nonetheless for the big push
at night, the raid on
fun desire release -
selling mostly coffee, wine,
Michael / rolls a joint has one
then rolls several others children
contemplate navels - the girls their own
with quiet pride, the boys the girls'
with longing puzzling as it is strong
Mary paints her nails, reads, Cuban music
playing. What of Margaret, of Crab? they do
those things normative in a utopia
a cork is popped, Marg plays
fado, the soulful music of Portugal
or Crab practises on sax
reads some politics, some mayhem, reads
the poems I gave him. I
try to seize upon that greatness
which is available to me
if it is available at all
(am I facing the right way?)
thru art.
The view is
quintessentially Australian, which is its
problem - for me - tho not classical
& in its particulars
is information (where the classic typically presents
only sign). The essays of
Meaghan are to hand which might
stiffen my resolve or form it: not to be
inimitably weak & picturesque myself
but standing forth a subject not a spectacle.
There are daisies nearby & a shin-high wall
of loose but flat-laid shale or slate twelve feet
beyond - a standard country wire fence; the
field of grass; on the horizon a distinct
curve of hill three hundred yards away, a
water tank nestles in to the furthest reach
of the olive 'natives' -
can I dropp the scare marks from
that word now, hasn't it
done enough? &
I rest their case
'for now
a long history slinks
over the sill',

& with it history's ironies, reversals
sarcasms so de rigeuer. I never wanted to be postcolonial
or colonial just modern which is
the joke on me - but who wants to be a category?
Many would be right - it will do me to be interested - &
one accepts the truth like a tired disguise handed out
for the party - is this me? - & joins the crowd
as the brave must always ascend, always the musts:
the Eiffel tower, the flight over London, the café
table - in Rundle Street or rue de la Rocquette
where Lorraine lived & we stayed tho for me, today,
this hill is my focus, the clouds - (for I must ascend) -
are beautiful & white & echoing fluidly the hills'
shape, the splotches of green that mottle the yellow
& remind of �Minor Moderns of South Australia'
a line I join of precursors - Horace Trennery,
Dorritt Black - pondering a relation
to the minor English, Europe, the
universal - & its status as 'the wrong question'
which strolls now & then into a field
& sits down like a forgotten rock
while 'we' walk on
to an horizon line, that's beautiful, keen,
precarious, & doesn't tug - not 'rose', but
serene, & melancholy, & joyous, all at the same time, a kind
of benediction that says, I'm free & I'm gratuitous
why not feel better? & since you do you do
return: into that inanimate world of voices cross-
questioning you, no longer like your father, a man
in an open necked shirt eating an icecream (& just,
perhaps, 'going for a walk'), but in a shirt I bought in Melbourne
made by migrant Vietnamese late at night, yet in which
I feel Australian, whatever that is
- a point mapped by shifting co-ordinates
you momentarily 'keep your eye on' or don't being
yourself or a moving target (do the hills you climb as
no one count? The hostess explains,
As we leave administered life
there is a slight discomfort - the tug of
gravity on re-entry returns, you may
feel tired. Where, the open neck shirted men, women in
thongs & sandals, ask is our shimmering ideal? If O'Hara
had such timing John his last move suggests he blew it
Tho exits are notoriously hard to make. 'I live above a
dyke bar & I'm happy' - I might too for all I know.
Am I? Occasionally, occasionally very. The female
of the tiny blue jay or 'wren' appears, bouncing,
across the grass outside then some of the 'men'
move across my field of view from left to right . . .

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