Tim Slade is a poet from lutruwita / Tasmania
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THE WALNUT TREE, by Tim Slade.
POEMS / Published by Bright South (2021, Tasmania).
Longlisted for the Tim Thorne Prize for Poetry, as part of the 2022 Tasmanian Literary Awards. From this collection, Teacup of the Rose was shortlisted for the Margaret Reid International Poetry Prize. Tim Slade's poems have been published and broadcast widely, including for the ABC's Radio National, The Weekend Australian, The Koori Mail, Cordite Poetry Review and Australian Poetry Anthology.
Commended by Professor David Mason, Robert Adamson,
Pete Hay, Dr Gina Mercer, Esther Ottaway, Jim Everett ~ puralia meenamatta, Karen Knight, Soma Mei Sheng Frazier and Lindsay Tuffin.
Commendations for Tim Slade
Professor DAVID MASON ~ a former poet laureate of Colorado, author of Pacific Light, Sea Salt and The Sound.
'Real poetry involves not only a love of words, but also a vulnerability to life, an ability to feel its power. Tim Slade is a real poet who honours his island home with the sensitivity and sense of his attention. And he honours poetry by the acuteness of his reading, the depth of his vocation. The Walnut Tree is a fine debut, appealing to lovers of Tasmania, and to anyone interested in Australian poetry.'
ROBERT ADAMSON ~ poet author of Reaching Light ~ Selected Poems.
'It's a terrific book!'
Dr GINA MERCER ~ poet author of Watermark and Weaving Nests with Smoke and Stone.
'Tim Slade lives and writes in a remote part of Tasmania. And it shows in his work. Isolation has allowed him to develop a highly distinctive and intriguing voice. At times as elusive as the mist on a distant mountain range. I found I wanted to re-read each work, to immerse myself in that shimmer (as Karen Knight describes it), dwell a little longer with the intensity of this inner landscape. Bright South have done us all a service in bringing this original and complex voice out of the shadows. And as a physical object it is a beautiful book to hold.'
ESTHER OTTAWAY ~ poet author of Intimate, Low-Voiced, Delicate Things, winner of the 2022 Tim Thorne Prize for Poetry, as part of the Tasmanian Literary Awards.
'Tim Slade’s poems are finely honed in subtlety, rich in implications. They are funny, and sad, and smart, and most of all, loving. These are poems of presence and of absence, of delight in people and places, of linguistic pleasure, by turns luminous and pragmatic. Often they come in portraits, sometimes strikingly spare with pristine enjambment; at other times they command form, tone, and sound-music, transcending these with delicate emotion. Tim’s is a true and strong voice in Australian poetry.'
PETE HAY ~ poet author of Physick, Silently on the Tide, Last Days of the Mill and Forgotten Corners. In the book I Shed My Skin ~ A Furneaux Islands Story, he contributed poems as part-collaborator with the author, Jane Giblin.
'At a time when the use of rhyming poetry has become deeply unfashionable, Tim uses it with extreme deftness. I might even say he resurrects rhyme and half-rhyme and demonstrates how effective they can still be in the service of high poetry. But to describe Tim as a poetic formalist is to do him an injustice. He defies poetic pigeon-holing. Much of his work is gloriously inventive, breaking free of all literary parameters. Some of it is cut down and precise. Some of it is expansive and intricate. There's a new world on every page, a surprise and delight on every page. He is emotionally challenging, often humorous, sometimes delighted, sometimes sad but never maudlin, never piteous. He looks out from his tin miner's cottage in Pioneer, and he sees a world of wonder ~ and he writes it.'
JIM EVERETT ~ PURALIA MEENAMATTA ~ poet, playwright, film-maker, community elder.
'Reading through Tim Slade’s poetry, one finds a poet’s philosophy that like all philosophy brings even more questions. Tim has his poet’s ‘refuge’ in Pioneer, a small town in north-east Tasmania with a history of Aborigines, Chinese miners, and colonial development. He lives a life of the humble poet in a miner’s hut, with a wealth of local poetry sources, and understanding of a world that many never know. To me, Tim finds the inner-side of a place, person or event, he understands the natural world, what I call the All-life, and he has a unique way of presenting it in poems. His collection has a touch of reality for everyone, an inkling into how he, as a poet, sees the world around him. Enjoy the reading, lose yourself in Tim Slade’s poems, find his poet’s philosophy, I commend this art to all.'
LINDSAY TUFFIN ~ Owner / Editor of Tasmanian Times, 2002-19; News Editor for News Corp, 1986-2009.
'Tim is a proper, albeit undiscovered, journalist. He did a series of absolutely wonderful articles on Pioneer [2013-2023] regarding lead (Pb) in the drinking water. Tim is a proper journo.'
KAREN KNIGHT ~ poet author of Postcards from the Asylum and Renovating Madness.
'Tim Slade’s poetry has a refined and personal approach. The poems resonate both in thought and expression with a sustaining strength of quality, rewarding in their poetics.
In his tin-miner’s cottage, Tim writes believable and colourful poems relating to the beauty around him – family, friends, penny-farthings, postmen, tiger snakes, the last thylacine, wombats, the moon and Aussie icons – Clive James, the game of cricket, a Torana, gum leaf players and the Hills Hoist.
Tim has the ability to convey original insights in a sincere and refreshing way allowing the reader to explore some of what the poems may mean besides physical words on the page.
This poet has a certain shimmer to his writing and deserves to be read.'
SOMA MEI SHENG FRAZIER ~ Judge of the 2018 Margaret Reid International Poetry Prize.
About Tim Slade's Teacup of the Rose... 'It's not every day that a poem of rhymed couplets, infused with traditional imagery and symbolism, intoxicates the modern reader. But the delicate heirloom Teacup of the Rose serves up aroma and alchemy; triggers recognition, memory, connection. Here is a rich blend of new flavors and old knowledge—steeped in grief, sweetened with tenderness.'
TWO POEMS from The Walnut Tree...
'Teacup of the Rose', shortlisted for the Margaret Reid International Poetry Prize: Teacup of the Rose - Winning Writers
'Thylacine', broadcast on ABC Radio National and YouTube:
Friday poetry with Warwick Hadfield - ABC Radio National
The Walnut Tree was launched by Pete Hay on May 27, 2021. The launch was hosted by Petrarch's Bookshop, Launceston, Tasmania. Here is the transcript of Pete Hay's speech:
I want to talk about Tim's book as a physical object, because it's an absolutely beautiful artefact. And this is a tribute to the artwork of Robert McDonald that adorns the front cover, and to the publisher Bright South which has done an absolutely superb job in producing such a viscerally, pleasing object. I really should say who, rather than which, because Bright South is really a single person and that's Daniela. And she is to be commended for having the foresight to take on the publication of such a fine poet. This is her second publication of poetry, and it's much to be preferred than her first published book of poems [Pete Hay's 'Girl Reading Lorca'].
But I should talk about Tim's poetry, because Tim has produced and presented a body of work of a standard to match the manifest qualities of The Walnut Tree as a sublime artefact. Tim's poetic interests are many and varied, though a lively and insightful engagement with his home range shines through all. This can be the north-eastern town of Pioneer where he has pitched his stumps, or the Hobart working-class suburb of Lutana, where he spent his formative years, though, his place concerns are not so narrowly circumscribed. For instance on page nine, he visits his grandfather in Dunalley, where:
upon the forgetful
Tim’s poetry is shot through with jaw-dropping one-liners such as that. He opens that poem with the unforgettable image of, and again I'm quoting:
‘My grandfather's smile
at the handsome shore’s
Tim's grandfather, indeed, living out his final years inside the fog of dementia is prominent in the book, as are other family members, and even other grandfathers, as well as certain non-familial characters, these often encountered in and around Pioneer. There's the postie. But when you read the poem, ‘Postie’, he turns out to be but a raft of local characters, all of whom ride postie bikes. And there's ‘Skeet, the Woodman’ who collects antique chainsaws. Tim concludes this marvellous poem:
'I imagine these towns, with their humble cottages, cold
if not for the warmth from the honest within our fold.'
That's great! This is an affirmation of community, and in Tim's case it's impossible to read his lines without wanting to drive out to Pioneer and to pitch a tent in a nearby paddock and to immerse in the rhythms and sounds of this one tiny town. Or indeed, of the North- East more generally....
At a time when the use of rhyming poetry has become deeply unfashionable, Tim uses it with extreme deftness. I might even say he resurrects rhyme and half-rhyme and demonstrates how effective they can still be in the service of high poetry. More of us, I think, should be adept in its usage. Here is Tim in the poem 'Factory at Risdon Cove':
‘A mother above all, of temperance, hums;
the clerk of accounts safeguards the sums.
Kids in the dust crawl to their mums;
the boss in his Jaguar, jarosite runs.’
Or this, from 'Teacup of the Rose':
‘The rose is painted red. There is no other
teacup of the rose unbroken. I bring it to my mother.’
Now you have got it from these excerpts that there's a certain formality to Tim's writing. The two poems cited are among my favourites. And another of these is the second poem in the collection called 'Supermoon'. Also formal, it's a sonnet and it's not the only sonnet in the collection.
But to describe Tim as a poetic formalist is to do him an injustice. He defies poetic pigeon-holing. Much of his work is gloriously inventive, breaking free of all literary parameters. Some of it is cut down and precise. Some of it is expansive and intricate. There's a new world on every page, a surprise and delight on every page. He is emotionally challenging, often humorous, sometimes delighted, sometimes sad but never maudlin, never piteous. He looks out from his tin miners' cottage in Pioneer, and he sees a world of wonder, and he writes it. And not always poetically. Much of his writing is concentrated activism as he battles unresponsive authority over heavy metal pollution in drinking water. Well, that's a story for another day ...
Right now, following Jane's lead, it's my privilege and honour to welcome The Walnut Tree to the world, to congratulate Tim and Daniela on its realisation and to insist that if you haven't already done so, you reach for your wallet and buy a copy. You certainly won't regret it.
Transcript generously provided by Ralph Wessman.