THE WALNUT TREE
Poems by Tim Slade
Published by Bright South, Tasmania, 2021.
Book cover image by Robert McDonald of Arve Gallery.
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September 2, 2022... The Poetry Archive has broadcast to YouTube the video of my poem, 'Thylacine'. I read this poem in the myrtle forest of the Blue Tier, in Tasmania's north-east. Here is the link:
July 15, 2022... 'Thylacine' was broadcast on ABC Radio National this morning. Thanks to Patricia Karvelas for including poetry in her program. Here is the audio link to 'Thylacine': Friday poetry with Warwick Hadfield - ABC Radio National
May, 2022... The Walnut Tree has arrived to the Orkney Islands, Scotland! In Stromness, home of the late poet George Mackay Brown, The Walnut Tree is now available to borrow at the local library. On the harbour in Stromness, the view from this library is perhaps the most picturesque in the world. The George Mackay Brown Trail | Orkney.com
December 2, 2021... The Walnut Tree. Mayoral Reception - Celebrating Tasmanian Writers in 2021 - City of Hobart, Tasmania.
Commendations for The Walnut Tree...
DAVID MASON, a former poet laureate of Colorado, author of 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.'
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.
'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.'
ESTHER OTTAWAY, poet author of Intimate, Low-Voiced, Delicate Things and Blood Universe:
'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.'
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.'
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.'
GINA MERCER, poet author of 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.'
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.'
POEMS from The Walnut Tree...
At the biggest moon I have ever seen,
I remember the words of a young friend
who an hour or two earlier, roadside,
told me that his chemo will never end:
he was being factual; and with no hint
of drama, neither comedy nor tragedy.
I was having trouble hearing him
over the rolling trucks. He is ready
like no man I have ever seen be.
Ready. As one who returns from a walk
with his beloved, along the quiet track
through bush and a ghostly farm where talk
does not need to be, and so to learn –
as the waning of the moon that will not return.
'Supermoon' was published by Jane Williams and Ralph Wessman in Communion, 2021. Link to 'Supermoon': Tim Slade – two poems, 'Supermoon', and 'Thylacine' (walleahpress.com.au)
‘As an invisible spirit of All-life
the clear water is all-clear forever.’
Jim Everett (puralia meenamatta)
and Jonathan Kimberley, ‘Water’.
You are looking without seeing.
Myth, cocoon of stripes, pouch,
ungula prints of this rainforest’s endling…
A blind jaw traps: encapsulates two million years.
Masked owl, white goshawk, is she the last?
Remember her, sun-sifted into freedom
at this sweet-tasting river of the Blue Tier.
In the golden pouch of night, is it a dream –
rope-tailed, curious – if downstream
a white man at the coming of the dawn
by the river, shivers in the All-life
of this mirror? In morning’s sunroom
a butterfly: winged with light the all-seeing river,
mirror to a papier-mâché sun.
* The word thylacine comes from thylakos, the Greek word for ‘pouch’.
*Audio link to THYLACINE: Friday poetry with Warwick Hadfield - ABC Radio National
*Link to THYLACINE, published in Communion Arts Journal: Tim Slade – two poems, 'Supermoon', and 'Thylacine' (walleahpress.com.au)
This poem is on display at Weldborough Hotel, Weldborough, Tasmania.
Teacup of the Rose
The rose is painted red. There is no other
teacup of the rose unbroken. I bring it to my mother.
She cries, for her mother's rose garden
once tended with love. When my mother sleeps, please pardon:
she is an orphan now. Her father, long of the sea, mute;
or could not say, I love you. Cold hands shall not refute
the strike of a match. Her mother and father's ashes
this day scattered. Teacup of the rose; moist lashes.
Hobart’s roses: Blossom Time, Happenstance; Alchemist, First Crush –
Moonlight, Awakening; New Dawn, Gold Blush –
Yellow Butterfly, Compassion; Quietness, Sea Breeze –
and the rose of her mother’s name – Margaret. On her knees
a shelf of mysteries, thorny as any rose; and blood rows
of family photographs, framed. Petal conscious, my mother knows
the perfume of cut roses in a vase, and the five pinnate leaves
of a secret – to be under the rose. A rose window weaves
a wheel of sunlight; beyond, the card of a mariner’s
compass is called a rose. Navigating imagined silk, secateurs
cut the bush back hard at the last frost. A rosedrop of blood.
May this ward away the grief of the rose beetle. For rosebud.
Mother brings the teacup to her lips, a red rose
painted upon each cheek. It is my love for her, I suppose.
'Teacup of the Rose' received an Honourable Mention in the 2018 Margaret Reid International Poetry Prize, edited by Soma Mei Sheng Frazier.
Link to TEACUP OF THE ROSE: https://winningwriters.com/past-winning-entries/teacup-of-the-rose
A seagull buries beak into feathers to sleep…
Now is the time to anchor
our hearts. My grandfather sails
into unchartered waters. The church –
shiny shoes shuffle, and the logbook
turns back this old salt's pages
to the first of his life. Today,
nailed sternwards from the mast of a cray boat:
No Salesmen, Religious or Otherwise...
We would see him last at the funeral
for his wife, Margaret. Walking down the aisle
go I. Then starboard, toward an unknown
horizon. We are now at the mercy
of the current of the church…
'The Funeral' was published in Grieve Volume 5, edited by Ross Gillett and Judy Johnson, 2017.
The Green Religion
You swoop to kiss the manicured green
as if you'd just tamed an eagle…
Playing with faith, here's your torn
glove, a palm-sized Bible of Golf;
the wedges, irons, slammers, Sunday.
Still as a prayer the summoned shadow –
putter, prone. Your lucky Pinnacle.
In the lower zip-pocket, echidna coins –
an otherwise solitary train of males
through rough, along fairways, nose-to-tail,
evolved to seek the single soft-shelled egg
and the hole of Monotremata.
Perhaps religion is an animal’s constellation
of flag positions, and here, beneath a raven-black
umbrella: proof-in-pencil of a hole in one.
Now the innocence of Spring’s first tee-off
at dawn. Round an Amen dogleg
the headstone reads: Life Member.
'The Green Religion' was published in The Weekend Australian, edited by Jaya Savige, March 23-24, 2019.
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 our other family members, and even other grandfather's, 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.
April, 2022... It was a lovely surprise this week to see my book of poems displayed at the entrance to Petrarch's Bookshop in Launceston. The Walnut Tree is shelved beside Tongerlongeter, by Henry Reynolds, and Tense Past, by Julie Gough. Thank you, Petrarch's!
December 3, 2021... Tasmanian Disability Festival Awards. I am a finalist in three categories: Excellence in the Arts, Volunteer of the Year, and Excellence in Advocacy.
The Walnut Tree is now available at the following stores:
LINC Tasmania ~ Borrow from your local library.
MELBOURNE ~ Readings, Carlton.
HOBART ~ State Cinema Bookstore, Fullers Bookshop, Hobart Bookshop, Black Swan Bookshop (New Norfolk), Ozus Café (Battery Point).
LAUNCESTON ~ Petrarch’s Bookshop.
NORTH-EASTERN TASMANIA ~
Pyengana Dairy Cafe, Roses Newsagency (Scottsdale), Weldborough Hotel, Scottsdale Art Gallery Café, Pink Shop Antiques, Scamander Post Office, St Helens Bookshop, Life Buoy Cafe, St Helens Visitor Information Centre and History Room, Gladstone Store, Purple Possum Wholefoods (St Mary’s).
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