Meet poet, Frank Prem, and learn his thoughts about poetry

Treasuring Poetry

Today, talented poet, Frank Prem, has joined me to share about his favourite poem, why he likes it and what it means to him. His thoughts are very inspiring.

Frank shares a lot of his wonderful work on his blog here: https://frankprem.wordpress.com/.

Now, over to Frank.

What is your favourite poem

Usually when I’m invited to contemplate personal favourites among poets and their poetry I hark back to contemplate what the godfathers of Australian poetry (A.B. (The Banjo) Patterson and Henry Lawson represent for me. I feel great affection for both these writers as communicators and storytellers in their work.

While I admire their work very much and often refer to Patterson’s Clancy of the Overflow (http://www.wallisandmatilda.com.au/clancy-of-the-overflow.shtml), or Lawson’s short story The Drover’s Wife (http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/DrovWife.shtml) as examples of work that inspires me in my own storytelling efforts, today my contemplations have led me toward more contemporary writing and more personal inspiration.

Some years back, when I was in the first flush of joy at recognising myself as a poet – that experience of looking into a mirror and seeing a different self gazing back – I spent all my free moments pursuing the threads and trails of writing and learning what it meant to be a writer. I haunted the spoken word poetry scene of Melbourne at the time (around 1999, or thereabouts), to learn and to hone and develop.

The great and acknowledged master of Australian poetry at that time (and right through until his death in 2019) was Les Murray. He was a big man in every respect and it happened that he was visiting Melbourne to speak and to do some readings of his own work in a range of locations across one weekend.

I didn’t much about Murray at the time, but made it my business to haunt his footsteps from venue to venue, and to be in every one of his audiences. Maybe to ask a question.

It was quite an experience and one of the poems that he read had a huge impact on me, as a budding and aspiring writer. Watching and listening to Murray read it was a marvellous experience, and one that I still reflect back on from time to time, and wonder if the way that my writing has evolved owes more or less to that occasion.

The poem that so involved me is called An absolutely ordinary rainbow. My source for the poem (below) is http://www.lesmurray.org/index.htm

An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

The word goes round Repins,

the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,

at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,

the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands

and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:

There’s a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can’t stop him.

The traffic in George Street is banked up for half a mile

and drained of motion. The crowds are edgy with talk

and more crowds come hurrying. Many run in the back streets

which minutes ago were busy main streets, pointing:

There’s a fellow weeping down there. No one can stop him.

The man we surround, the man no one approaches

simply weeps, and does not cover it, weeps

not like a child, not like the wind, like a man

and does not declaim it, nor beat his breast, nor even

sob very loudly—yet the dignity of his weeping

holds us back from his space, the hollow he makes about him

in the midday light, in his pentagram of sorrow,

and uniforms back in the crowd who tried to seize him

stare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their minds

longing for tears as children for a rainbow.

Some will say, in the years to come, a halo

or force stood around him. There is no such thing.

Some will say they were shocked and would have stopped him

but they will not have been there. The fiercest manhood,

the toughest reserve, the slickest wit amongst us

trembles with silence, and burns with unexpected

judgements of peace. Some in the concourse scream

who thought themselves happy. Only the smallest children

and such as look out of Paradise come near him

and sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons.

Ridiculous, says a man near me, and stops

his mouth with his hands, as if it uttered vomit—

and I see a woman, shining, stretch her hand

and shake as she receives the gift of weeping;

as many as follow her also receive it

and many weep for sheer acceptance, and more

refuse to weep for fear of all acceptance,

but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing,

the man who weeps ignores us, and cries out

of his writhen face and ordinary body

not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,

hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea—

and when he stops, he simply walks between us

mopping his face with the dignity of one

man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.

Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street.

Les Murray- The Weatherboard Cathedral, 1969

What is your interpretation of this poem?

This poem, in my interpretation, at least, is describing a kind spiritual awe and fascination bestowed on the most commonplace event. Someone (a man) weeping in a public place.

Every moment of every day someone – so many someone’s – is weeping. When might that be an event worthy of attention from a passing stranger, intent on personal business, and important matters?

When is the commonplace worthy of wonder?

The poem has me holding my breath, as I view the scene and watch the spectators thronging to worship, or condemn or simply to gawk before discussion at another time. Perhaps over dinner in the evening.

An ordinary event (rainbow) on the walkways of the main business centre in Sydney that no one can ignore.

What emotions does this poem invoke in you?

In reading, or listening to this poem being read, I feel the emotions swirling through the crowd – the curiosity and the wonder, the incredulity and intolerance. The wondering of what it could be about, how to stop it. Why did he stop weeping just when he did?

I am caught up in the narrative and inclined towards grief, but I don’t know quite why. Like the children, this poem caused me to sit at Murray’s feet.

If you could choose to write like any well-known poet, who would it be?

I go to some lengths, nowadays, to avoid reading any well known poet’s work too deeply. I feel so overfull of my own stories and writing imperatives that I fear, a little, being too influenced by any other powerful storyteller.

This work of Murray’s and some other of his material speaks to me, particularly when read aloud, as though it came from my own pen, in small ways and through small familiarities. Murray tells stories and peppers them with layers of meaning, or of question. He can be read at many levels, while retaining a lived contemporary feel within the work.

Literature without the excess baggage.

That is the kind of writing that I aspire to. Storytelling that can be spoken as conversational tale, and read as meaningful verse.

What is special to you about this poet’s writing style?

The power of Murray’s free verse is inspirational. There is no question that he is giving us capita ‘P’ poetry, but it is in a free verse form. There is such art in achieving the sharp brevity of ‘show, don’t tell’, within the confines of a fully fledged short story, as the piece above is.

Murray’s death (29 April 2019) is a huge loss to contemporary literature, I think.

Vale, Les.

A Kiss for the Worthy – Poetry book

Book review

A Kiss for the Worthy is the second book in a trilogy of poetry books, each inspired by a poem by a well-known and loved poet. In this, Book 2, Frank selected Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and used each line to write a poem of his own creation and inspiration.

I enjoyed this book very much and found the poems to be of a lighter tone than those included in Book 1. These poems revolve very much around the I, of the poem, and his interaction with nature and the world around him. The poems about with energy and his joy in what he sees and hears and also in the strength and endurance of his own body.

An example of this physical joy in nature is illustrated in this extract from be this (with kisses):

“turn your face

up

to feel the sun

pouring

warm and light

and good upon it”

And also in this beautiful extract from inhale (my heart):

“and where I strode

I raised

with salt flecks

in froth

and in the bubbles”

I really recommend this book of uplifting poetry to lovers of this genre.

Purchase A Kiss for the Worthy by Frank Prem

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


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50 Comments on “Meet poet, Frank Prem, and learn his thoughts about poetry”

  1. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    Today I am featuring talented poet, Frank Prem, for my Treasuring Poetry series over at Writing to be Read. Thank you Kaye Lynne Booth.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Always enjoy Frank’s work. Excellent interview, Robbie and Frank.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Excellent interview and great to find out more about the inspiration for Frank’s work.. thanks Robbie.x

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Lovely to see Frank here Robbie. x

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Toni Pike says:

    A wonderful interview, Robbie – it was also great to see Frank’s reading. Toni x

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Frank Prem says:

    Reblogged this on Frank Prem Poetry and commented:
    It is my great pleasure to share a link to an interview I had with Robbie Cheadle, a while back.

    Robbie is a talented author of novel and poetry and picture book forms in her own right, and in this interview was exploring some of my poetic influences, as well as reviewing the middle book of the A Love Poetry Trilogy – A Kiss for the Worthy’.

    I commend her writing to be read series to you. Take a moment to check this one out and to have a little exploration.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I greatly enjoyed your interview with Frank, Robbie. I am a big admirer of his work. (And you asked some good thought-provoking questions!) I loved the favorite poem he chose. I, too, was holding my breath as I read it.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I loved reading about why An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow was so moving for Frank. I could feel it. Frank is a wonderful poet. Thanks for helping us get to know him better, Robbie and Kayelynne. Great poetic interview. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. dgkaye says:

    I enjoyed this interview. A key line from Frank – he enjoys the conversational style of poetry and read as meaningful verse. I think that’s a good description of what I get from Frank’s poetry, maybe because I’m also a conversational style writer. Fab interview Frank and Robbie. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  10. olganm says:

    Thanks, Robbie. I’ve read plenty of reviews about Frank work and really enjoyed his choice of poem and his explanation of the way he feels about it.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Loved Franks Unique brand of poetry and the interview Robbie… You can say so much in poetry format which is why I enjoy writing it myself… It gives you freedom of speech to say out-loud your thoughts..
    Many thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  12. acflory says:

    -waves at Frank- Great reading, Frank, and a great post Robbie. Well done both of you. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Thank you very much, for the interesting interview, and the recommentation, Robbie! Very appreciated. Michael

    Liked by 1 person


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