A critique of the art world

I got to thinking today, (which always leads to trouble of some kind), about the fine arts. You know, the highly perfected & theoretically sound works that are destined for greatness. The reality is that very few people can make a living doing truly unique and imaginative work – most art has to be “commercial”, which is deemed to be of lesser merit and worth than the ‘fine art’ produced by purists.

Another aspect of mainstream art that is clearly obvious is the continued absence of people of colour, people with a disability, and women. I can’t help but think that NFTs are the next iteration of exclusion, and of the Dutch Tulip Bubble.

What do you think? Art is always about eliciting a reaction! Please share your reaction in a comment.

Art through the ages
In antiquity it is said that
Polygnotus depicted men as nobler than they are,
stretching the truth stroke by stroke
on canvas.
And Pauson drew them as they stood,
revealing the flaws and scars
needed to understand us.
But each found their way to
the wine and fruits
of a slave picked harvest.

In modernity we have seen
Warhol a recreational liar
convince us the mundane could be rare.
And Pollock, maligned genius
or someone who just didn't care?
Each found their way to
white gallery walls
and covers of Vanity Fair.

All the colours spilled
onto board and smeared into shapes
to convey hidden messages, truth
Don't speak to me
in a language that
most people think that they do.
For I cannot connect with
the ancient or modern
and all they exclude.
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Broken earth

This poem has been a little while in the writing. The idea for it came from a conversation I had with my friend Kate Creatif in which I mentioned the Australian mining town Broken Hill. https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/broken-hill-nsw

Broken Hill
If you drive far enough
you will arrive at the Silver City
built on eight hundred deaths
and promises of riches aplenty.
It's the kind of rugged place
where opportunity rubs shoulders
with a history of malice
that at times still smolders.

It is a dug up place, a Broken Hill
where both earth and souls are rendered asunder
and a full pouch of silver brings thrills
but is spent before the next day rolls under.
Yes, it's a mining town
now limping along
trading on past renown
and a half forgotten union song. 

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

The law of the jungle

This poem is a critique of human hubris and our ability to fool ourselves into thinking we are at the top of the pyramid (spoiler alert: there is no pyramid, we’re just another mammal).

What we could learn, if we listened
I've been told that all the things
that are wrong in the world
can't be helped because
"it's just the law of the jungle".
That it's dog eat dog out there
too little time for too much care.

We are so overly proud of our 
opposable thumbs
we've convinced ourselves
that it's the animals that are dumb.
But it's time we started to listen
to the ecosystem's wisdom.

Have you ever seen a lion
kill more than they need?
Or a herd of wild buffalo
shit where they eat?
What do we waste resources for:
So the rich can profit from war?

Have you seen a shark outsource
the killing of its dinner 
to an underpaid migratory fish
so it can feel like a winner?
We like our food factory farmed
minimal care about who's harmed.

Drinking your coffee is easy when
you're delusional
(the cost of cheap fast
fashion is not beautiful)
Human overconsumption
causes deforestation.
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A tanka for your Tuesday

This tanka was inspired by my experiences of participating in poetry slams. This style of performance poetry is one I struggle to master as it doesn’t come naturally to me…we are like oil and water (both absolutely valid and wonderful, but just not a good match).

For those of you not familiar with a tanka, it is a style of short poetry from Japan. The poet writes a 31 syllable poem that consists of line 1 (5 syllables), line 2 (7 syllables), line 3 (5 syllables), line 6 (7 syllables) and line 7 (7 syllables).

Congratulations, you aren't progressing to the next round
What defines style
the unwritten rules of form
that I cannot read:
they award merit where it's due
then remove my microphone.

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For one of my cats

If you have a pet you will know how much personality can be bundled into seemingly small beings.

This poem was inspired by my darling 5 year old Esme, a felonious feline and bringer of both joy and lizards.

A warm afternoon
She is stretched out
to sleep but
her eyes are half open.
A sigh as
she realises I know,
but I am happy
to keep her secret.

She of sharp mind
doesn't often come to
me for comfort,
Independence is her
middle name
so I take this moment
as treasure.

We are a team
of individuals,
I cannot do what she
does, nor muster
her poise.
And she needs me,
or at least my
opposable thumb.

Happy Mother’s Day

For the all mothers, and mothers-at-heart, and the people who love them…this one’s for you.

Do you remember the smell of our first rain in years?
The way it hung with organic promise in the air
as the temperature fell?
Initial drops were fat and heavy –
dive bombing the powder dry soil
beating on the old tin roof.

The small water tank quickly filled
we ran for shampoo
to wash our hair under the overflow spout.
Hot water and no two minute count.

Our jeans were sodden and our feet
stained like pecans by the mud.
Our laughter came from a deep unspoken relief,
relief that long prayed for rain had come.

We stood, our arms outstretched, faces to the sky
feeling the rain wash over us,
carrying away the cares of the day.
The taste of clean water dancing on our tongues.
We looked at each other with such joy,
our eyes sparkling.
Your face shed the lines of years passed
and I saw your most beautiful smile.
My mother and I - young, alive and carefree.

Finally we came to our senses
And ran from room to room
In our underwear:
closing windows, shutting doors.

That evening thicker clouds rolled in
Bringing long rolls of thunder and blankets of light
illuminating the land like daytime.
I feel asleep to a chorus of desert frogs
and a promise of new life.
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Memory triggers

This poem was inspired by an image that came to me of someone opening an old cupboard and seeing a blue jacket. In writing the poem I put myself in that person’s shoes.

A “manrobe” is a half-height wardrobe with a small set of drawers, which were very popular through the first half of the 20th Century.

Thoughts of you
I finally cleared a path
to the back of the store room.
The old oak manrobe
was right where we had left it.

I opened the drawers first,
there was nothing much in
any of them,
except newspapers
now yellowed and crisp
with age.
Reading them sent
me down memory lane,
to a time when milk was
a dollar.

The key was still in the door,
brass hinges as
tarnished as when your eyes
last saw them.
There was a single hanger
on the rail.
An old blazer clung to it
in suspended animation.
I held one of the sleeves
in my hand and breathed in.

It smelt of dust and
stale moth eggs:
not how I remembered you.
shoulders back
proud of the new blue jacket
as my youthful hand
held the camera
and captured the moment

Such a long time ago now,
a lifetime of years.

The dusty fabric in my hands
My thoughts are lost
in a maze of memory lanes.
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Free form Friday

This poem was the product of hearing the first line in my head and then letting it tumble from neuron to notebook.

My thoughts
are running wild
falling over themselves
as they trip on hidden
becoming dunk
on self congratulation

My emotions 
are complexities
woven into
the strata of 
an archeological dig:
objects appearing
larger with retrospect

My body is
bloated with emptiness
that feels in
a simultaneous
both dense and

A cigarette
burns itself out
as the ice
further dilutes
the drink 
I will not finish.
Photo by Marcelo Jaboo on Pexels.com

Uncontainable lust for life

This poem is freshly lifted from the notebook. It was written after I’d had lunch and was looking at my back garden – it is a place of pride and shame. Pride because it can feed my family and shame because we do not give it the attention it deserves while at the same are more than happy to exploit it for food.

Garden life
The neglected garden
is thriving with an
uncontainable lust to live.
Self-seeded marigolds
rub shoulders
with invasive vines.
Coloured chard
reach up to the autumn clouds
trying to divert attention
from the dying leaves 
in the branches above.
Lost amongst the roots,
forgotten carrots and potatoes
have become home to 
microbes and earthworms.
Last season's strawberries
are like all 
of us fighting valiantly 
in a war against 
a hidden foe.
Flowers of wild fennel
spray out like crowns
in search of fairy queens.
Photo by SN.CHE on Pexels.com

The anti-list poem poem

Speaking only for me and my writing, I tend to write list poems when I am feeling stalled and need to just start pushing my pen across the paper to unblock. Perhaps this is why my list poems tend to be rants about how messed up the patriarchy is…you have agree it generates a LOT of inspiration and content for poetry!

I have an long running joke about list poems with the producer I work most closely with- Creatif Kate. We have both written them, she has a very wicked sense of humour and timing. You can check out Creatif Kate’s amazing work here: https://creatifkate.com/

Today’s poem was inspired by a conversation I had with Kate over brunch, when I announced quite confidently that bananas are an abomination. It sparked me to think about other things that should be called out.

I performed it for the first time at an event in late April.

Things that are an abomination, or should be 
Things that are an abomination, 
According the Book of Leviticus, Volume 2. 
Musicals are an abomination 
for they weave together an unholy trinity of 
The singing and the acting and the dancing -  
Causing me much angst and commotion. 

The banana is an abomination: 
Being both a fruit and not a fruit!? 
My people must avoid such Schrödinger confusion. 
And thou shalt not partake of the feijoa 
For it doeth bring such perfumed sadness upon me. 

And I proclaim to my people 
That hypocrisy is an abomination: 
One shall not pretend to hold family values 
whilst having cheated on all three wives
and grabbed lady-folk, without their consent,
by their
pussy cats 
on the other hand, are a most
true and noble creation.
Bow down in obedient servitude, meow. 

And finally, let my people know that there is an 
even greater abomination of all abominations, 
The one that will require the greatest penance 
And exile...one from which can come no joy. 
Thus, let it be known that the list poem 
is also something I will never condone. 
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