Poems and drawings from Ferguson

2010-02-03 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Holding Pattern: Poems and Drawings

Gus Ferguson

Quartz Press

ON August 12, 2009, Gus Ferguson received, from the English Academy of Southern Africa, a gold medal in recognition of his enormous contribution to poetry.

Not only is he himself a celebrated poet and cartoonist but he has been responsible for publishing and promoting the work of numerous local writers and is the editor of the poetry journal, Carapace.

Holding Pattern is Ferguson’s eighth collection of poems. Characteristically the work is witty and playful, demonstrating the writer’s verbal agility, idiosyncratic humour, concision and experimentation with a variety of forms.

A number of the poems are about poetry itself and the business of publishing: what constitutes inspiration; how poems work, leaving “essential bits/ to the imagination”; what a publisher might ideally seek in submitted material. And in Stressed, ­Unstressed, Ferguson writes amusingly of giving a short talk on prosody — after considerable preparation — to a local writers’ club.

There are many references to other writers in the course of the work, most notably in Confession of a Rough Beast, which cheekily fuses allusions to both W. B. Yeats’s The Second Coming and Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. In Sonnet, which includes a long list of poets’ names deftly arranged to create the prescribed rhyme scheme, Ferguson highlights the familiar frustration of not being able to locate a particular name —

“O what’s his name, for goodness’ sake,

that Durban boy who fought in Spain?”

At last, in the couplet, the issue is resolved —

“The list above deserves acclaim

and, Royston Campbell. That’s his name!”

Potentially gloomy issues, like the dysfunctional memory and other symptoms of ageing, are lightly dealt with in several poems and drawings.

A keen cyclist, Ferguson includes “my precious bike” in the collection and there are references to the ­Argus race and to cycling incidents, encounters and sightings.

For the poet who established Snailpress and who edits Carapace, the signature poem in the collection might well be Suburban Epiphany, in which he observes, in a moist morning garden,

“a full-sail fleet of snails

tacking across the grass.”

Intelligent, original, informed, Ferguson’s work never fails to arrest attention.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.