Invasion (Derek Motion)

Posted on August 21, 2010 by in Heightened Talk




we’re phantasmagoric & over fed square (post eco parking post

an ill-thought dumplings ploy & the odour of spilling soy)

even to interiors breasting a ship’s plushie aspect, mounting

layer upon player so as to ply a drink with waving departure


one small glass. the slops still a veritable ambrosia

toes rocking above head level

still, you sleep.


a big steam breakfast the instinct to knowingness,

else timelessness, it’s all appropriate. only one image lures

you past alternate fog (westerly):


a ponderous sea dragon growing without effort.

(mottled pink & supreme in having time-to-think)

it’s so unlike us all, so worthy of permanent capture,

meditative study.


with such fitful poise I’d grace

any maccas carpark.






another fist of views means, erratically, you’re au fait

with the ice danger – ‘views’ lack speed indicators,

all twists & turns simply set to parallel all things,

all the time. I think in bytes. you know, inspired, irate,

worried, inspired… we crest a township to find a cottage &

drag the strip. come on! observe this stodgy boat ramp &

kids ranting lysergic fishing lore. (oh, later: the ethics

of fish & chips vs. local ale) slabs of information

dot each pier even through our coverage blackspot.


electric-blanket-land stirs a temporary love affair,

& this adam sandler movie set amidst ‘coastlines’,

only half dismaying in its todayness, its watchability.


get into the straightest of passages: tercentennial ferry

to a site of industry / brunch over the car & re-pack the run


rod slam & scooter blitz into the back of a good showering –

ample views of life, hills, unscrupulous poetry to an audience

fighting back dadaist southern life (hence the flagrant

repetition) shipping news vernacular like,

starboard over, & over, this

simply matters or doesn’t.


one comment is the renaissance (check out my website!)

but stake a base removal from the bar as effective, for kicks,

then beat the life out of a skate park. scour an Indian

restaurant for cricket memorabilia, or even candy coated

fennel seeds & the taste of your bed’s silly refusal of feet…

a noisome cat is far better than the ache, parsed as perpetual.


our chocolate coated lives: words exist for this process:

to ooze through when hot, our skins a foil, all presupposed

to hide a bitter patent of the colour purple (as it seems

in purple dreams). the blonde girl assures us / me / of her

addictions. no less confident with such things

impending. but cut from her

to botany / musical play equipment / the ways we name

living things / science / the arousal of suspicion…


I photograph Violet to isolate her as a growing thing,

txt it via pizza hut one mind on the powerful & loud

faux-teens. it’s a delight & absolute. a proud gourmet

variety of people kept in the cellar. there is always tv.


Hobart began with a block, two couples kissing,

frozen out the window by my glance. this place

of love, public beauty. suppose this.





memories of killing can only be stomached with food.

food again destroying your silly faith in Capitalism

(you plan to order the t-shirt) everything feeling

less systematic than it should. former towns are

pretty & uniformly un-guarded


suffice to say I’d play up the history of a place – as if

active agency were involved – but only if the mental gap

were appropriate. (like a 19th century pick axe to the skull

it’s barbaric but expected, though always worth putting your

hand up for, a tactile reworking of  ‘stickiness’,

an intellectual act of baravado).

Bryant taking to tourists so recently though,

this blooms disquiet. the recent ghosts are marginalized.

predictable. a tour through the genuine reality of the

solitary wing & I wish the group away, I feel,

quickly, what a sense of real feeling could be

(how you hate the others)






not bored with the scent of huon pine. repacking

in ever looser segments, clothes like the blots

of wildlife preserved out there. we spot-fish illegally,

again, parade past the eco-toilet, again,

just as ever-boggled as starfish on the bay.

like at the caravan park convenience store –

nobody wants what you have… with that

we rejoice. spiffy little carved train carriages,

all soon noted, even in the hazy laugh-pod of first class.

endless booze clarifies the mist.


I’m carrying a sassafras twig all day, by touch

mentally rechecking the memories, two by two,

placing the odour as a pivotal future crutch.


rememberance of scents past.


this sprung beach at nightfall, defies watering down.

we are shadows glazed in gold-pink, captured

by the correct aperture, & we are at times

worth the danger.


rainforest blues / countless photo ops.


you’d pan for gold perpetually, given the time.

I give you mine

& wind the bus home

all things a question of credit.






the hedge maze is the permission we all need

to run to flail (kids make friends / I don’t)

it casts into relief the world I wanted

to love (should have been a product of rigour)

it doesn’t follow, but alcoholism is studiously observed.

I’ll observe anything involving a boat. stumbling

past dubious deeds & the desire to meditate,

the lack of such follow through.


all you do is have the ability to know this.

service with a beep. armrest reading light.

the blackened essence of travel.

me pitching it at you.


SOLUTIONS: an interview with
Derek Motion

Posted on July 30, 2010 by in The Melbourne Review Interviews


A few weeks ago Overland awarded the Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets to Derek Motion, for his poem ‘Forest Hill’.  That’s somewhere near Wagga Wagga. The poet went to primary school there. Now, Derek Motion has appeared all over the place, both online and print, but there’s something about ‘Forest Hill’ that made begged a question to be asked.


A writer may have one essential Idea behind every story, poem or novel. It’s as though there’s one great problem in our lives and we’re endlessly searching for ways to understand it – and all that we write are solutions that vary in degrees of success. I’d like you to entertain that idea and ask yourself whether you’ve found any ideas coming back around through your work.


A writer may have one essential Idea behind a work. Sure. If he/she had one before writing though, it’s usually not the idea that will present in the finished work. So it makes sense to observe what emerges in your work, solutions or further complications. Writing as a means to discover things I suppose, rather than to articulate a pre-existing story, something you’ve moulded and fired in your head, a veritable pitch for a movie producer.

Although it’s been years since I read the book, and my exact memory of the book is fading, I find myself endlessly drawn to referencing Murakami’s Hard-boiled Wonderland and The End of the World. If you haven’t read it, I’ll give away the ending for you: there’s a split narrative, one strand seemingly happening in ‘real life’, and one that unfolds within the protagonist’s head, in his inner consciousness, where he is a captive. The narrator of the inner-consciousness tale has had his shadow taken from him. In the end a possible escape route is found (a way to get out of your own head perhaps, where the artist would be accused of spending too much time) but the protagonist backs out, leaves his shadow to that kind of practical stuff, saying in the end his hope is that he may discover the key to his own creation.

It’s a stunning rejection of the more normal human concerns. I need to figure things out, here inside my own head, rather than pursue food, shelter, sex, career, page-turner narratives…

You know what I’ve found continually resurfacing in my work? A similar concern with myself. This notion that perhaps I can fix things by writing. For instance, from ‘forest hill’: ‘all the reasons you would eye people, then look down…’ [I’ve developed a way of reading this where I eye the audience when I read the first line, then look down for the second. I like to think of this as ‘drama’.] but seriously, I’ve always been a pretty insular person, and always still had a dire need to connect with other people. Accordingly as a younger person I did overthink even the simplest of friendship gestures, tried to work through personal interaction like it’s some game of chess. I guess that makes me a tad autistic, but neverthless charming, extremely high-functioning…

I’m still sorting through that sort of self centred stuff continually. Like it or not. But as a corollary, I have found that my poetry often emerges directed at certain childhood memories. Certain objects or instances feel like talismans, with the story behind the magical potency blurred. (There’s a toy tractor I found in a compost heap when I lived in Melbourne, age 5; there’s a burnt out log that lay on a dirt track at Forest Hill, age 7). These things are perhaps tokens of change. Why do they remain and influence the way I represent imagery in my work? I don’t know. But something suggests to me that early childhood is a site of final formation, where you become who you are now. Puberty does nothing – it’s the societal yardstick that fucks you up at that age… And imprints of key moments remain in the form of images. Writing is a way of recapturing the imagery, recontextualising the events. So perhaps if I’m forced to draw something out of all of this.

I think personality is found in poetry. I look for it locally, and try to ‘solve’ myself. There’s something generally applicable too – people work like this. We all want to talk about our experiences. We’re passively theorising, making stabs at solving the boring old existence riddle. This is what people will maybe get from reading my work. They may connect. But only sometimes. (Interestingly Bantick recently labelled my poem ‘forest hill’, ‘an abortive attempt at self indulgence’. Really. I thought I had nailed the self indulgent aspect.)

I drove into a pool of sunlight recently in Tasmania, after having gone 50ks or so in icy fog. The change was so dramatic it made it feel like (to me) it was a sunny afternoon in NSW in the 1980s. These moments come to us sometimes – I guess in the 80s there was nothing to stop me lingering in the sun. Playing with the elements. This sort of thing recurs in my work. Or I hope it does.

Then again, having said all of this, there is never too much that is clear in the solutions. The portions of wisdom resulting from a poem are rare. But that repeated failure is valuable, personally. Donald Hall said in a recent article that ‘If our goal in life is to remain content, no ambition is sensible…’ And he’s right. Writing experimental poems, with an uncertain end, an end that may or may not lead you towards new ventures, this sort of activity may or may not help you solve things. It is sometimes rewarding, often unsettling. But there’s always something to do. And that’s important.