The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 27, 2013

August 27, 1924

David Rowbotham (August 27,  1924 to October 6, 2010)  was a writer from Toowoomba, Australia and his countrymen count him one of the great poets of his country.  Of course he taught and worked as a journalist for years, while accumulating 18 books of poetry and a family with two daughters, and more grandchildren. 

The Fight For Sydney: A Memoir has some interesting comments on the literary scene in Australia. I quote:
And it does not matter that some of the literary figures of my youth were exactly that – figures, more than poets whose work would last. They helped sustain the craft and the eminence of the masters they were not. ... [Regarding anthologies, and their division of the selections into identified eras and schools, Rowbotham thinks they should]

....never have sanctioned the laying down of innumerable stakes as if a period, like a territory, could be claimed by some feverish lot who felt chosen.

None should ever register such a claim. But I do not think I am being extreme when I say that most of today’s anthologists do it. It flattens, it renders tediously tampered with and supine, as most introductions to anthologies do, a poetic literature notable not for “this leads to that” – because it doesn’t – but for standing pillars.

Rowbotham's words I think attest to the burden of not just writing poetry, but founding a national literature. And here is a selection from his poem, 
"The Creature in the Chair."

"Let some of the tranquility of the cat curl into me." 

The guy is good: Here's another excerpt from "American Fall":

Make the night a little darker
Take out a star or two.
In the eye of Big Cat Mountain
two blind spots descend
and the animal in the cave
moves in its sleep disturbed 
by loss.

     For the man, awake
and aware of being lost,
two blind spots on the sights
leave aim invisible. 
To him, when the nights are clear, 
myriad are stars and not
as  the animal's are his eyes;
not made as quick to see
how caves hide constellations,


Well one more excerpt, of a more occasional nature, from "The Decade of the Cat:"

What has a cat to do with politics?
Unless the high prime minister rubs fur
with a tabby under the table


As it sat of a Sunday morning 
habitually beside me
its body obliterating obominable news -
in the headlines I'd shed
about the sun-room reading chair -
"Governments disgust me," I think it said,
looking like old Voltaire provoked.

Of course I was at such times, I admit, 
half dreaming...
of a world released from the necropolis
 of politics and the overpowering
stench that can cling to the hair
of even the cleanest cat.

Plenty more poetry from David Rowbotham at Australian Poetry Library.

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