AUTHOR & POET
Andrew’s latest posts
Two of Andrew’s poems have been included in the Puncher & Wattmann anthology, Contemporary Australian Poetry, edited by Martin Langford, Judith Beveridge, Judy Johnson and David Musgrave.
Andrew’s poems in the anthology are “His Free Hand” and “Meditations on Pain“, selected from his books Fontanelle (Five Islands Press, 2004) and Inadvertent Things (Walleah Press, 2013).
According to the publisher’s website:
“In the past 25 years, Australian poetry has reached a remarkable level of achievement. Never has the quality been stronger, nor the number of distinctive voices greater. The best poetry produced in this country is world-class.
“Australian poetry has become both self-sustaining – a major source of inspiration and dialogue for Australian practitioners – and also a vital part of the larger conversation in the English speaking world. Puncher & Wattmann has now published Contemporary Australian Poetry, bringing together this extraordinary accomplishment.
“The four editors are poets of longstanding achievement. As editors they have had extensive exposure to the variety and scope of Australian poetry over many years. Martin Langford is an anthologist, essayist and poetry reviewer for Meanjin. Judith Beveridge has edited numerous anthologies and was poetry editor at Meanjin 2005- 2015. Judy Johnson was Managing Editor for the Wagtail series of chapbooks 2000-2011 and David Musgrave has been publisher and editor of Puncher and Wattmann since he founded P&W in 2005.
“What was the criterion for considering work for the anthology? Firstly, that the poet should have published at least one book during the period under investigation. For a decade, the editors researched and read exhaustively: collections, chapbooks, anthologies, journals. There was no unqualified acceptance of particular opinions or preferences. The editors read every poem brought to the table for consideration. Each poem included in the anthology has been approved by at least three out of four editors. Nevertheless any selection, as the forward states … ‘can only be made through the unstable lenses of competing poetics and claims.’ Contemporary Australian Poetry is not intended to be an end in itself, but a starting point for the competing opinions which might emerge.
“The most rewarding result of the editors’ reading was the growing estimation of how many quality poets are practising in this country. They came to the conclusion that thirty or more poets are capable of producing not only a single stunning poem, but of sustaining a high level of accomplishment over many years. These poets have the capacity to control every nuance of tone and meaning in their work and to finely calibrate implication against the complexities of context.
“One of the purposes of Contemporary Australian Poetry is to provoke any public narrative which dismisses such a remarkable number of fine poets and leaves the genre itself in a small, airless cupboard under the stairs of our literary culture. While no one was looking, our poetry has become too large for the space set aside for it, too important to be quiet, and too insistent to be ignored. It has evolved into one of our country’s greatest cultural achievements. But this too is merely a claim. Perhaps it is better for the reader to pick up a copy of Contemporary Australian Poetry and draw their own conclusions.”
The March 2017 issue of Quadrant contains one of Andrew’s poems. Titled, “Dearly Departed“, it is reprinted below:
So much of it, my childhood,
departed this world with you.
Though I lived it, I can bring back
only brief moments of it:
candle-smoke and a blue trike,
a Band-Aid on a skinned knee,
your bosomy hugs during
nights of dread dreams about … what?
Mother, I meant to ask you
so many things about me,
so many whens, hows and whys
that can never now be known.
The loss of both your presence
and my history presses on me
as an ever-present absence.
© Andrew Lansdown
The Review magazine, published by and distributed with the Weekend Australian newspaper, published two of Andrew’s poems last weekend, 25-26 March 2017. Both poems, “Kilter” and “Untrousered Tanuki” , are gunsaku, sets of haiku linked by common subjects/themes.
“Untrousered Tanuki” is a set of humorous haiku about the ceramic racoon-dogs called tanuki (pictured below) that abound in gardens and doorways in the Kansai region of Japan. Andrew has seen (and photographed!) hundreds of these scoundrels in Kyoto and Nara during several visits there with his wife, Susan.
Photograph (above): Tanuki in Arashiyama © Andrew Lansdown
Concerning the ceramic racoon dogs of Kyoto
did you model your bulges
on a sumo’s?
Your bamboo hat’s
tremendous, tanuki, but
where are your daks?
‘Have some decorum,’
a sumo tells a tanuki—
‘cover your scrotum!’
‘privates’, tanuki, is common
for good reason.
Even a flasher,
tanuki, doesn’t expose
Joe Cocker’s jaunty song, ‘You
can leave your hat on.’
© Andrew Lansdown
Two of Andrew’s poems have been included in The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry. As the title indicates, the anthology is published by Fremantle Press, a press that has published three collections of Andrew’s poetry–Homecoming (1979), Windfalls (1984) and The Colour of Life (in Two Poets, 2011).
The anthology has been edited by Australian poets John Kinsella and Tracy Ryan.
Andrew’s poems in the anthology are “Between Glances” and “Emergence“.
Five of Andrew’s poems have been published in a special issue of St Mark’s Review (No. 238, December 2016), which is published quarterly by St Mark’s National Theological Centre in Canberra.
The special issue, titled Poetry and the sacred, was guest-edited by Australian poet, John Foulcher.
Other poets represented in the magazine include Alex Skovron, Michelle Cahill, Robert Gray, Kevin Hart, Anne Elvey, Judith Beveridge, Mark Tredinnick, Alan Gould, Geoff Page and Bruce Dawe.
Andrew’s poems in St Mark’s Review No. 238 are “Sakura Haiku“, “Sheep“, “In Transit“, “Black Bamboo” and “Sehnsucht“.
Andrew has won the 2016 Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Prize. The $1,500 prize was awarded to him for his poem “Kyoto Autumn Maples“, which is a sequence of six tanka.
In his Judge’s Report, poet John Jenkins expressed great admiration for “Kyoto Autumn Maples“. His opening comment was:
This winning poem is a model of clarity and economy, of descriptive facility and finely wrought imagery. It is about a foreigner who visits maple groves on the hillsides around Kyoto, Japan.
After offering detailed comments on each of the six tanka comprising the poem, Jenkins concluded:
Thus the maples and maple walk register a range of human senses and modes of perception, all accreting into an elegant whole; though not in an over-studied way, but with a light, almost casual hand. In spite of its exotic setting, the poem has an unforced familiarity, that of a traveller simply describing a journey, someone on holiday who is simply looking on – yet a traveller who, as it becomes increasingly obvious – also has a clear-minded ability to deeply enter and appreciate other cultures.
The January-February 2017 issue of Quadrant contains two of Andrew’s poems: “Heron” and “Splendid” . Both poems are three-haiku gunsaku. The third haiku in “Splendid” is:
If not in colour,
at least in shape—the female
splendid blue wren.
© Andrew Lansdown
USA publisher, Cascade Books (Eugene, Oregon), has included four of Andrew’s poems in an anthology of Christian poetry titled The Turning Aside, edited by Canadian poet, D.S. Martin. Poems by Andrew in the anthology are: “The Colour of Life“, “Prayer“, “Kangaroos” and “Black Bamboo“.
Editor D.S Martin comments,
The Turning Aside is about stepping out of our routines–like Moses turning from tending sheep, like a certain man selling his everything to buy a field–to take time to consider the ways of God in the company of some of the finest poets of our time. Turn aside with such established poets as Wendell Berry, Les Murray, Luci Shaw, Elizabeth Jennings, Richard Wilbur, Dana Gioia, and Christian Wiman–and respond to their invitation for us to muse along with them. Walk with poets from various parts of the planet, even though some of them are less known, whose words have been carefully crafted to encourage us in our turning aside.
The Turning Aside is a collection of Christian poetry from dozens of the most spiritually insightful poetic voices of recent years. It is a book I have long dreamed of compiling, and it has grown beyond my mere imagining in its fulfilment.
Reviews and endorsements of the anthology (posted on the publisher’s website) are encouraging:
“D. S. Martin’s The Turning Aside offers a marvelous harvest of serious Christian poetry–an unusually rich and various representation of spiritual as well as poetic excellence. This is a treasury, a volume for the bedside table, there to be savored slowly–read as a prompt to meditation, prayer, and a deepened devotion to Scripture.”
–David Lyle Jeffrey, FRSC, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Baylor University
“I have been waiting for this collection for thirty years, literally. I am almost speechless. In this company of poets, lifters-of-the-veil between heaven and earth, I have no need for my own words. I only want to borrow theirs. And I shall–in worship, in church, in literary company. I am certain this magnificent collection will turn many aside from our mechanistic tromp through our days into the wondrous, piercing reality of God-with-us right here, right now.”
–Leslie Leyland Fields, poet, speaker, and author of Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas
“The Turning Aside is a spectacular collection bringing together under one roof the finest Christian poets of the age. Its pages provide awesome, inspiring, even mystical reading, with lines to linger over in meditation.”
–Ron Hansen, author of The Kid
“This collection brings together an expansive, idiosyncratic, and intriguing group of poets, some you’ll know well and others you’ll be thankful to discover. Their work forms a rich banquet that is often surprising and, in the end, supremely artful. The book has the power to (paraphrasing Tania Runyan) ‘singe the edges of our silent lives.'”
–Daniel Bowman Jr., author of A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country; Editor-in-Chief of Relief: A Journal of Art & Faith; Associate Professor of English, Taylor University
The Tuning Aside can be purchased via the publisher’s website here.
Two of Andrew’s poems — “Recollections of Dread and Deliverance” and “Comfort” — have been published in the December 2016 issue of Quadrant. “Recollections“, written for Andrew’s wife, Susan, is reprinted below:
Recollections of Dread and Deliverance
Dearest, when you haemorrhage
(I am of a sudden with hurt and horror
recalling it these near-three decades on),
when back in the ward after the birthing
the nurse drew down from your white face
the bedcover to uncover that swamp
of blood from your wounded womb,
that crimson saturation of nightdress
and sheet, I plunged to pleas and please!
and when they wheeled you on the trolley
away to the theatre, not now for new life
but for your life, I feared you’d gone for good
but by the doctor’s good hand the Hand
of God touched you, staunched you, spared you
for me and our newborn daughter and all
the other loved ones who loved you
as I loved you and love you still with kisses
and wide wishes and everlasting longings.
© Andrew Lansdown
From time to time Andrew receives encouraging comments from school teachers and children about his fantasy trilogy, The Chronicles of Klarin (comprising the novels, With My Knife, Dragonfox and The Red Dragon, all published by Scholastic Australia under the Omnibus Books imprint).
Recently a New Zealand teacher emailed Andrew to say she had been reading the novels to her students. With her permission, her kind letter and the delightful notes from her students are reproduced below:
Dear Andrew Lansdown,
I am a teacher in a small rural school on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. There are 22 students in my class aged 8 and 9.
This term I have been reading your trilogy of fantasy novels The Klarin Chronicles, to my class. They are totally captured by them and asked to write to you when they found your website. They want to show you the cardboard box portal we made. It is a very popular quiet place for reading and writing in class time. I have attached a photo. The children all wanted to write too so I have copied their letters below.
Thank you for your inspiration and imagination.
Margaret Gibson (Teacher Room 4 Whenuakite School)
The children’s notes to Andrew follow:
Dear Andrew Lansdown,
Your books are so interesting. The dragonfox is scary but the red dragon looks cool. We made a cardboard box with a triangle opening. Is the circle an opening too?
Yours sincerely Courtney. I am a girl.
Dear Mr Lansdown,
I loved your story With my Knife but The Red Dragon is even better. I like the way Yasni is bossy to Colyn.
To read the rest of the children’s comments (along with Andrew’s responses), click here.
Andrew’s website was hacked several weeks ago. However, thanks to the work of an expert webmaster, the website has been cleared of viruses and malware and is once again operating as it should. Security on the site has been upgraded, too, reducing the likelihood of another hack. Apologies to anyone who has experienced trouble accessing the site in recent weeks.
Andrew’s poem “Incidentals“, a 4-haiku gunsaku set in Kyoto, was published by the Canberra Times, in the weekend Panorama magazine, on 27 August 2016. The last haiku in the set is:
Blocking a water
trickle—a little levee
of cherry petals.
© Andrew Lansdown
Earlier this year Andrew was invited by Poetica Christi Press to judge the press’s annual poetry completion. Andrew completed the judging in early October. His judge’s report contains some helpful observations about the art of poetry writing and is reproduced on this website below:
I was honoured to be entrusted with the task of judging the Poetica Christi Press 2016 Annual Poetry Competition. There was an excellent response to the Competition, with 190 poems entered.
While the quality of the entries was uneven, many fine poems were submitted. The poems were wide-ranging in subject and theme, touching on family relationships, the natural world, international terrorism, biblical characters, and personal experiences. There were love poems and nature poems, laments and narratives, dramatic monologues and personal lyrics. While the majority of the poems were free form, many included rhyme, and some included regular rhyming couplets or quatrains. It was pleasing to see poets experimenting with some traditional European and Japanese forms: sonnets, villanelles, rondeaux and haiku. While these experiments were not always successful, the poets are to be commended for their endeavours to understand and master the poetic craft.
It was also pleasing to note that most of the poems were cogent and accessible. There were very few poems that were confused or, worse, deliberately ambiguous.
I noticed that two flaws kept recurring and it may be helpful to mention these. [continue reading]
Seven of Andrew’s poems have been published in the September 2016 issue of Quadrant. The poems are: “Thinking of You”, “The Festooned Pine”, “Omikuji Blossom”, “Pact”, “Travelling”, “Winter, Wisconsin” and “A Little Herd”.
“The Festooned Pine” also appears in Andrew’s latest book, Kyoto Sakura Tanka, which is composed of poems (tanka) and photographs of Kyoto in the cherry blossom (sakura) season. “The Festooned Pine” is reproduced below, with the photograph that accompanies it in the book:
The Festooned Pine
At a Shinto shrine,
white paper slips, omikuji,
knotted to a pine—
sacred ballots of the kami,
forming a strange origami.
© Andrew Lansdown
Andrew will be heavily involved in the Words in the Valley Readers and Writers Festival in Bridgetown on the weekend of 30-31 July.
On Saturday 30 July, he will run a poetry workshop and give an author talk. On Sunday 31 July, he we announce the winners of the Blake in the Blackwood Poetry Prize and give a poetry reading.
Festival details from the Proximity WA website:
Bridgetown – Words in the Valley Festival
Saturday 30th July, 2016 @ 9:00am to Sunday 31st July, 2016 @ 5:00pm
Bridgetown Regional Library will be hosting a Words in the Valley Readers and Writers Festival, which will incorporate the inaugural Blake in the Blackwood Poetry Prize. Prose and poetry workshops will be $25 each and there will be an author talk with Andrew Lansdown (gold coin donation) at Bridgetown Regional Library. Payments can be made at the door and registrations begin at 8.30am
For further information, please contact Kathy Matthews at Bridgetown Regional Library (08) 9761 2503 or Sarah Evans (08) 9761 2156.
Andrew was invited earlier this year to judge the Blake in the Blackwood Poetry Prize. He will announce the prize winners at the Words in the Valley Readers and Writers Festival in Bridgetown on the weekend of 30-31 July.
Andrew’s poem, “The Spider Orchids” , has been published in Little Book of Australian Orchids, published by the National Library of Australia. In addition to poems by various poets, the beautifully produced book contains colour illustrations of Australian orchids painted by various artists in the 1800s and early 1900s.
“The Spider Orchids” was first published in Andrew’s award-winning collection, Between Glances, published by William Heinemann Australia in 1993.
Andrew has had poems published in five of the National Library of Australia’s Little Book series. The other collections that include his poems are Little Book of Cats, Little Book of Butterflies, Little Book of Trees, and Little Book of Banksias.