Stuart Barnes is the poetry editor of Tincture Journal. His first collection Glasshouses (UQP, 2016) won the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, was commended for the 2016 FAW Anne Elder Award, and was shortlisted for the 2017 ASAL Mary Gilmore Award. He’s translating Imma Tubella’s Un secret de l’Empordà into English. He tweets @StuartABarnes.
In last issue’s editorial, Daniel Young wrote about his “recent preoccupation with landscape metaphors”, and while writing this editorial it was impossible for me not to be preoccupied with landscape: Tropical Cyclone Debbie made landfall as a category four system on 28 March near Airlie Beach, approximately 480 kilometres north of Rockhampton, where I live. Subsequently, the Fitzroy River flooded, peaking on 6 April at 8.75 metres.
In the wake of the cyclone and the flood it was (and continues to be) impossible for me not to think about expressions of kindness: Rockhamptonites’ (with the exception of those who broke into empty riverside homes after residents had been evacuated); tenderness in Thom Gunn’s The Man with Night Sweats, which I reread not long ago (“[You] perceived that he / Had to be comforted, // You climbed in there beside him / And hugged him plain in view, / Though you were sick enough, / And had your own fears too”, from ‘Memory Unsettled’); freelove in a novel I’m yet to finish reading, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (that which Willem, Harold and Andy, among others, lavish on Jude).
Daniel also mentioned that while we don’t publish themed issues of Tincture Journal, themes do emerge, and the prevailing ones in this issue’s poetry seem to me to be skeins of landscape and kindness.
In his poem ‘Kindness’, Yusef Komunyakaa writes:
we know the moment kindheartedness
Sometimes a sober voice is enough
to calm the waters
Liam Ferney’s ‘Apology’ is a proclamation, but rather than walk, kindness strides soberly from the poem’s opening line “it’s sam cooke in harlem hot” to the final phrase, where the conciliatory partner texts “couplets / a gift crafted from my regrets”.
In Andrew Galan’s ‘Corymbia / Evergreen’, kindness is more of a saunter: a guided tourist viewing painter Albert Namatjira’s house passes “folds of slick cream bark / echoing folds of soft red stone”.
It’s exciting to be able to include, for the first time in Tincture, poetry by Liam and Andrew, Jill Jones, Rozanna Lilley (whose ‘The Lady in the Bottle’ is from a manuscript in progress which pays homage to the television series I Dream of Jeannie, which I watched tenaciously as a child), and Felicity Plunkett.
And it’s a thrill to be welcoming, again, poetry by Peter Bakowski, Benjamin Dodds, Dave Drayton, Catherine Vidler (her ‘Objects’ is a self-created quadruple sestina; to achieve this, Catherine applied the structure of a Philip Sidney–style double sestina to a Swinburne-style double sestina), and Mark Ward.
Tangible in every poem is a preoccupation with language: Peter Bakowski’s ‘Reality Check’ scrutinises proverbs; in ‘Property of Holloman Aerospace Nautical’ Benjamin Dodds interrogates dualities of space and sea, motion and fixedness, danger and playfulness; Dave Drayton’s ‘Judith Arundell Wright’ lipogrammatically honours the Australian poet and activist after whom the venue for the fabulous annual Queensland Poetry Festival is named; in ‘Ode to Mortality Composed on the W90’ Jill Jones asks “Was Sylvia / really riding a horse called Ariel?”; Felicity Plunkett’s ‘Volta do mar’ urges us to “Unstring the ocean’s grammar. Worry / the beads of its clauses. Let [our] fingertips find each verb’s pulse”; Mark Ward, in ‘Conjugate’, interprets being.
Thanks not only to these ten poets but to all who submitted to this issue for which I read well over six hundred poems, the most that we have ever received. I’m thrilled that so many writers want to see their work published in the journal; unfortunately, I can select only ten per issue, which means many terrific ones aren’t accepted.
Thanks, too, to Daniel Young, for his literary landscape, his kindness, his language.
I hope you’ll enjoy Issue Eighteen.
Finally, some lines from Cathy Song’s ‘The Kindness of Others’:
The kindness of others
is all they ever wanted,
the laughter of neighbors
prospering in the blue light of summer.