Reading Notes:

Anthems of Artspace

This book is a poetic journey into experimentation, both linguistically and in terms of the life of poetry. Whether by means of picaressque narrative or minimalistic formalism the result is the same—the experience of ‘artspace’, a term borrowed from Michael Dransfield. Like Dransfield, Prince writes from a position defined by drug use, but the shortcomings of this position urge the poet to seek a balance that goes beyond recipes and the homogenisation of experience that the underworld and mainstream exhibit.
At times revelling in the music of language, the poet goes beyond self-examination and hints at a ‘poethics’ that places the modern-day writer in the midst of a wider community, a community of souls touched by ‘artspace; the ‘anthems’ are, in a real way, maps for the journey envisaged.
‘These poems combine an enthusiasm for the traditional pleasures of verse with a bold willingness to experiment. The lines, often carefully nuanced for the ear, seek a highly individual balance between pain and pathos, quirky humour and wry commentary’ (cover blurb by John Jenkins).
Rosemary Nissen-Wade states in her cover blurb that ‘Prince is at ease with various ways of making poetry—mining the nuances of his own psyche or sharing observations of people he has known: employing old or new verse forms; using intellectual word-play to illuminate deep feeling. Reminiscent of the metaphysical poets, the work is beautiful, thoughtful, and resonates at many levels. It makes me want to return to it again and again’.

About the Poet

Geoff Prince is a survivor of schizophrenia, whose poems reflect a healing vision and the sometimes confusion of altered states.
Living in the beautiful Dandenongs near Melbourne, with wife Nike and pet Princess, he occasionally teaches poetry. His first book of poems, Cartoons of Quietness, was Highly Commended in the Fellowship of Australian Writers Ann Elder Award in 1994.

Questions Raised by the Book

Extract from the Poetry

Reflections on a Journal (p.23)

In a cocktail of marxism
and in the first wild favour of the gods
I swam into fantasy
as rich as the poverty of my cunning.

In a dream of flight
I stood on the mountain
of my parents? toil
sensing my future home.

Looking out across a lake of small lights
beyond our valley
I live in expansive seconds
a wide wonderful shared life of thousands.

Inside, now, I rest my head
on my compliant tail
realising I am still a pup
amongst my myriad wills.

Sickbed Memories (p.45)

Only as I grasped the fever?s root
to turn the strained attention chord
from bitter self-contraction
to open-fisted blood-perception
the sweat compressed to rock beneath my brow

Only then did I see once again
the well-cracked ceiling
by the finger of infant eyes
to find the pattern of the sky

Where now the scene seems brittle
shadows become roadmaps
faces melt from their ritual borders
dissolving into recollections leached
from past but precious poison veins.

Minimalities (p.60)
7. Patterns

    Into brown sounds
    I weave round silence,
Within the metre and rhyme;
    Into brown sounds
    Both nonsense and nuance
Randomness spiralling time.

    Out of brown sounds
    I perceive round silence,
Throughout the rhyme and metre;
    Out of brown sounds
    We receive our licence,
Symbols from alpha to zeta.

    Over brown sounds
    I live a round silence,
Pause to reflect on a breath;
    Over brown sounds
    Our being has patience
Beyond the one silence of death.