I’m really pleased to announce the publication, by Bright South, of Tim Slade’s debut collection of poetry, The Walnut Tree. This has been a labour of love for both Tim and myself. It’s the culmination of many years of work for Tim, and for me – this is why Bright South publishes – to showcase top quality poetry by established and emerging Tasmanian writers, and to bring this work out in beautiful book form.
I am also really pleased to be, in actual fact, launching Bright South poetry publishing with this particular book. Tim’s writing speaks so strongly of the experiences and knowings of my own people – smart, creative, observant, conflicted maybe, but ordinary enough people of the towns, countryside and bush of this island. People who love the island. Tim is also a voice of my generation, X. I have often felt us to be a silent generation – first overshadowed by the bulk and power of the baby boomers, who were still at their height when we should have been emerging (and ’emerging’ wasn’t really a thing back then, or not that I ever noticed) – and then by the later generations, who had energy, anger, no fear of speaking out, and support systems, and just grew into a very different world to the old one we gen xers saw fading out.
But that’s enough about me and Bright South – The Walnut Tree is fantastic writing. You should read it. The book is lovely enough, with a mesmerising cover image, kindly supplied by Robert McDonald. It’s called ‘A Quiet Place’. And then there are The Poems – they are so diverse, and they are ambitious – Tim often engages with the great and famous – musicians, and poets like Les Murray and Clive James (and others from around the world). Tim’s observations about them are fearless and frequently funny, and it’s a humour that appears elsewhere in his works too. You will find it vignettes about the strange-ordinary things that can happen in Tasmania – snake catching, wombats under the house. Sometimes the poetry is bitingly ironic – as in ‘A Lotus of Lawyers’, previously published in Cordite Poetry Review. Some might seem simple, even easy, like the little ‘Untitled’, and ‘The Wrecking Yard’, yet they are poignantly observed and valuable works to have in print because they are so accessible. These poems, and others about Tim’s friends and family, about mountain bikers, about the Bridgewater Jerry, tell stories that are instantly recognisable to the average Tasmanian. The poems often present stories about a boys, and a young man’s growing up in the island (and off it). For this reason, I think that they would be engaging for young adult readers, especially that difficult demographic – teenage boys.
Tim grew up in the industrial suburb of Lutana. His teaching career was curtailed by multiple chronic diseases – you will find poems about these subjects. He then moved to the little town of Pioneer, to buy “the cheapest house in the State”. But in this quiet corner of the far north east Tim found himself embroiled in a long term battle to secure safe drinking water for the town. He came to know and love the people and place there. He engages deeply with these, in a way that I think echoes the Vandiemonian spirit James Boyce has written of – of a kind of inhabitant of this island who listens to the place itself, and shows an openness to an Aboriginal spirit of Country and way of being. This, too, I think is of great value in this publication – I would like us people of the island to be able to see ourselves as able to live in harmony with this beautiful place. Writing like Tim’s brings the ways of being of those who do closer to the mainstream. Maybe his poem Thylacine is emblematic of this. I will leave you with it.
Tim will be reading from The Walnut Tree, with Jane Williams and Joy Elizabeth (three poets with new books out recently), at Seasonal Poets, Hadley’s Hotel, Hobart, on the 17th of May 2010, 6-8 PM. These are pandemic times – RSVPs are essential. Please contact me to RSVP. There is a $10 entry fee, and a light supper will be provided.
For northerners, a book launch – reading will be held at Petrarch’s, in Launceston, on the 27th of May from 6pm. This will be a joint launch with Esther Ottaway, author of Intimate, Low-Voiced, Delicate Things. Details here.
And you can find out more/buy The Walnut Tree right here.
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Poems copyright Tim Slade. Social media sharing is fine – we want people to know about the poems and the book! But please seek permission for other uses.