Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Poem: A Shout, by Michael Harlow

A Shout

      That wakes the fine calligraphy
of trees; the dark-beaked birds
      that have wintered over,
stitching up the air, waiting
      for that shout of green; and here
this mariner's star, rose of the
      winds, bright flower of sun,
like a stunned bee, in the small
      hours of your hand - waking
from its hive the gold the dark
      has been keeping, the mind's
tenderness to the heart, waiting
      for that shout of green, we
are because love says as much.

- Michael Harlow

Michael Harlow's book, The Tram Conductor's Blue Cap, was a finalist in the 2010 New Zealand Post National Book Awards. At the time, I was very drawn to the poem, All About the World and considered asking Michael if I could use it as a Tuesday Poem. However, it was included in the set of poetry postcards that were widely distributed for National Poetry Day last year, and so I picked up my copy of the book to re-read, and see what other poems I might consider.

We've had a hard year here in Christchurch, and I found that Michael's luminous poems really lifted my spirits. In "Canticle", he speaks of two children who "do no less than risk delight". And in "A Shout" we read of "waking...the gold the dark has been keeping" and of "a shout of green". "All About the World" (which I find is already on the internet at the link above) we read "Poetry is when words sing". Michael's poems certainly make words sing, and deserve to be better known.

Michael Harlow was born in the United States but arrived in New Zealand in 1968. In the 1980s, Harlow was an editor of the Caxton Press poetry series and poetry editor of Landfall. He is a practising Jungian psychotherapist and lives and works in Alexandra, Central Otago. He has published numerous poetry collections including "Today is the Piano's Birthday" (1981), Giotto's Elephant" (1991) and "Cassandra's Daughter" (2005). He has written libretti in collaboration with composer Kit Powell, and prose including "Take a Risk, Trust Your Language, Make a Poem" (1986).

For more Tuesday Poems visit the main hub site.


Kathleen Jones said...

I really love this poem - the images are such a delight.

Mary McCallum said...

A Shout - yes, that's it! Terrific poem - I love the strong greens and blacks, the hint of gold, the 'sun, like a stunned bee' - could anything be more perfect? The way, too, the poem weaves in and out and opens out in the end like a shout to 'we' and 'love'. Thank you Catherine/

Melissa Green said...

Such a lovely, delicate poem, Catherine, and such a beauty. Thanks for posting in and introducing me to a new poet.