“A glowing, truthful collection to read and re-read”: Barbara Boyd-Anderson shares her thoughts on ‘Open & Unfold’ by Cecilia Morris

cecilia morris book coverWhat a pleasure to travel with Cecilia in this newly released collection, Open & Unfold. Here we share her gift of language, the singing depths of complex thoughts explored, sculpted and shaped into clear-voiced, accessible poems, all documents of a singular, personal, Australian life.

The poems show courage as they reveal some harrowing early testings – a young woman vulnerable, at risk as in ‘Don’t go Home’, but equally they travel across rich observations of a full life to a time of deeply felt, sturdy understanding in maturity and age, with lines and codas that imprint, like these in ‘Travel’:

The wisdom of knowing where
something begins how it will end

Face to face with what I leave behind,
face to face with what is taken with me.

However, there is also the pure joy of certain poems like ‘Colette’…those fabulous last lines building towards her death, the last moments of final transcendence: ‘look, look’.

A glowing, truthful collection to read and re-read, to share among your women friends and with all the people you love.

-Barbara Boyd-Anderson

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Barbara Boyd-Anderson is a poet with a long and varied career whose poems have been published both online and overseas. She was the winner of the Best Poem in the Brighton Bayside Poetry Award in 2011. A former teacher of literature, Barbara pioneered Media Education within the secondary curriculum of Victoria, which was also utilised at university levels. In addition, she wrote film reviews for the then prestigious Cinema Papers. Subsequently, she turned to writing and directing documentary films. Barbara also co-wrote and directed the Australian feature film, The Still Point (1985). Now retired, she continues a passionate interest in poetry and a more recent hobby of photographing the beautiful beaches of the southern Gold Coast in Queensland.

Les Wicks launches Open & Unfold by Cecilia Morris.

A selection of poetry from Open & Unfold by Cecilia Morris

Open & Unfold is available from Belgrove Press: contact salescm@belgrovepress.com

“humour, pain, judgement, and celebration”: a selection of poetry from ‘Open & Unfold’ by Cecilia Morris

Don’t Go Home

The practice of giving patients the psychedelic drug, LSD, was used in Newhaven Hospital in the 1960s and 1970s

At Newhaven hospital Kew,
I curl up deep in the bed.
A neat little psychiatrist, pebble glasses,
grey striped suit, sinks a needle in my arm.
The scent of ammonia and sheets cold as stone.
I hear only his soft voice bedside, questioning.

He interprets my hallucination of
my father hiding behind tree trunks.
Laid out eulogies.
Mouthfuls of dark memory, beat
like bogan moths around my head.

Elwood park, scuffed dust of the playground,
touch of cold metal, my hands on the swing chain
pushing and catching unable to stop.

My mother on a broomstick,
swoops low, beating air too close.

I should have gone mad,
but continued treatment as his gold-plated tongue
demanded more telling.
Six weeks, six overnighters.

He said, at five your father knew you too well.
That’s not how I remembered my father.
I stopped treatment.

Little by little school lunches were made again.
My two children played on bikes.
The husband continued his external life.

 

Wharf 3 Moama

This is where we learn stop.
The houseboat moves alongside
red river gums as old as the taste of olives.
Beside strands of limbs, an interwoven
past written in Braille.

The river is a caretaker of openness.
Travellers converse.

Night sky is pitched against brilliance,
no movement inside the river’s arms.

Three painters wash colours
gold and brown, elbows of river.
White backed swallows weave alongside.

From the stern of the houseboat,
hold a long silver slotted spoon
scoop mottled gums lit by Venus
turn your eyes upwards, a feast.

Breathe into exhalations of the Murray River.
The temperature is 40 degrees.
We lie on dampened white sheets listening.
An occasional fish a sharp splash.
The air smells of baked earth.

 

We’re in a rain shadow

you’ll spot the roundabout by the scribbly gum tree
turn to your right
along an almost invisible path
just after the boom gates
then turn sharp left
beyond an overhanging fig tree
leaves as large as a human hand

keep clear headed walk tall past
a lemon tree heavy with globes of light
increase your pace to strides
curse the road you have to cross
from asphalt to coarse yellow grains

be wary of jellyfish between the lisps of wave
a kite flies overhead in this soft mouthed bay

a shaft of magnolia moonlit across the skin of dark water
feel the closeness to miraculous
so strong that you will bend at the knees

 

Beachworth Abandoned Hospital

As I stand here
I feel my way back
to a hand in the door
of my mind
where a white lily beckons.
I taste childhood like sweet sharp
crushed mint,
hear my father’s sound long drawn out.

The little town below breathes,
the murmur of turned down beds,
church bells clamour for attention.

There are some things we don’t talk about ever.

I belong in the opening archway
of this abandoned building,
nobody knows I am here,
and no one will know when I’m gone.

 

– Cecilia Morris

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Launch CM

Cecilia Morris. photograph by Lexi Johnston

Cecilia Morris is a Melbourne poet whose work has appeared in Quadrant, The Age, Reflections on Melbourne, Poetry d’Amour, Suburban Review and Australian Poetry Collaboration. Her third collection of poetry, Open & Unfold, was published by Belgrove Press this year. She has also co-authored three books on relationships, lectured in sociology at Monash University, and hosted a talkback radio show on 3AW.

Les Wicks launches Open & Unfold by Cecilia Morris.
Barbara Boyd-Anderson shares her thoughts on Open & Unfold
Open & Unfold
is available from Belgrove Press: contact salescm@belgrovepress.com

 

“veracity, agility, ferocity, and novelty”: Les Wicks launches Open & Unfold by Cecilia Morris

Les Wicks launched Open & Unfold (Belgrove Press) by Cecilia Morris on Sunday, 21 May at the Brighton Library, 14 Wilson St, Brighton, Victoria.

cecilia morris book coverI’ve been a part of this community of poets for too many years. We are continually moaning the difficulties of access that we suffer, always sure that it can’t get any worse but somehow it still does. There’s a number of reasons why, certainly including some that is our own fault and a failure over time by government to support us in our efforts to get our work out there.

I say this because us being here to launch Cecilia Morris’ Open and Unfold speaks to the way we can turn this around.

With commercial publishers having long vacated the field of poetry, Belgrove Press is a shining indication of the way forward. Motivated, intelligent writers coming together – utilising each other’s strengths to create an imprint with a clear vision. I’m certainly keen to support this new player in any way I can and I urge you to do likewise.

Launch CM

Cecilia Morris reading from Open & Unfold. photograph Lexi Johnston

Secondly, there is Cecilia herself. Over the past ten years she has turned her considerable, sometimes awe inspiring, energy to the development of her own craft, that of others through Coastlines, U3A, etc., and finally working to enhance the placement of poetry in the broader community both Bayside and elsewhere. I love this woman’s ferocious capacities. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

For my sins, I regularly find myself in the role of competition judge or editor. I’ve kind of distilled what I look for in a poem or book into four ‘ities’ – veracity, agility, ferocity, and novelty. Cecilia’s book has all these in spades.

Veracity – the mining for fundamental truths and the transmission of same. Open and Unfold comes from a multifaceted life lived and examined fearlessly. From the deeply upsetting Don’t Go Home to the explored vulnerability of Left, we are privileged to be allowed into Morris’s garden of experience.

Agility – the best writers need to have both a love of language, commitment to perpetual exploration alongside a capacity to be somewhat ruthless in editing. There are so many marvellous expressions in this book. I’ll read you just a few:

‘I’d rip off your body if I could.
You have a fishtail’, floating fabric says

Dali Exhibition Melbourne Two Voices

unpacking mackerel sky

The Cloud Spotter’s Guide

there was a green border of longing

Colette

There is an age when you are most yourself,
you feel as large as Russia

Timetable

When I use the phrase ferocity I’m not talking about axe murderers (though there are some pretty tough moments in this book). It could just as easily be a ferocity of empathy, of love, of grief. The energy of real emotion is evident throughout this book whether it be her first kiss on page 77, great lines like “skies fell fears” (Visitor’s Rights) and the lovely poem to her mother Ruth.

Novelty can really make a collection memorable. We all write about relationships, death, ageing, et cetera and there are many fine poems around those themes in this collection. But what makes it particularly memorable are the pieces where new subjects are explored, the reader finds themselves embedded in the poetic experience completely unfamiliar to them – you must read This Chartered Accountant, Dining in the Wolf’s Lair and Branau Am Inn. In many ways, the whole section titled These Biographies is a wonderful kaleidoscope of character exploration. Creating fresh imagery after centuries of literary tradition is not easy, but Cecilia can describe a swing going to and fro as buttering sky. The moon has been subject to so many descriptions, how can you go past to describing it as opal? How about an aphorism I wish like hell I had written “the forgotten tap still runs”?

The first section titled Don’t Let Them Sit embodies that restless energy we’ve come to know and love in Cecilia. One of her great passions is for colour and the second section flows across the spectrum in an entirely unforced way. Customers Arrive Naked starts with that confronting proposition and explores it masterfully. Breaking Bread covers quite a lot of temporal ground and gives us a glimpse of what makes a 21st century Jewish woman. The Timetable section explores travel, Wait is replete with moments of lucid quiet whilst the last section Surrender concerns letting go and departures.

Lovely, lovely poems throughout this collection – humour, pain, judgement, and celebration. A clarity of language makes each poem a genuine moment that the reader will feel honoured in which to be emplaced. I declare this book duly launched.

cecilia morris launch photo

Audience members at the launch of Open & Unfold, Brighton Library, Victoria. photograph by Lexi Johnston (2017).

-Les Wicks

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Les Wicks has toured widely and been published in 28 countries and 13 languages. His 13th book of poetry is Getting By Not Fitting In (Island, 2016). His 12th, El Asombrado, is a selection of poems from the previous fifteen years in Spanish and English translated by G. Leogena and published by Rochford Street Press in 2015. He can be found at http://leswicks.tripod.com/lw.htm

A selection of poetry from Open & Unfold by Cecilia Morris
Barbara Boyd-Anderson shares her thoughts on Open & Unfold
Open & Unfold
is available from Belgrove Press. Contact: salescm@belgrovepress.com