13 April 2010

Tuesday Poem: A Left Hook, by John O'Connor

A Left Hook

an early experience
of the left hook (admirably

tight if open-handed) came
at the beatific hand of

Monseigneur O'Dea - too
old to be a parish priest - who

about to impart the very
body & blood of Christ found I

was not holding the paten
correctly. a few years later

an equally irascible boxing
coach imparted impeccable

advice on how to throw it,
though he didn't know the bit

about feinting with Jesus.
when the good monseigneur

had his final photo taken
he bestowed a copy on our family

- old friends should be so blessed -
for a decade it sat on the mantelpiece

between a bunch of plastic grapes
& a glass bowl that snowed if shaken.

This poem is from John O'Connor's recently published Cornelius & Co: Collected Working-Class Verse 1996-2009 (Post Pressed, Queensland, 2010). I will review this collection in my next blog post.

The NZ distributor is: David & Wendy Ault, Madras Café Books, 165 Madras Street, Otautahi/Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand 8011; Phone 03 365 8585, Fax 03 365 8584, Mobile 021 284 8585, email info (at) madrascafebooks.co.nz

Mary McCallum's Tuesday Poem initiative now has its own Tuesday Poem blog. Check out the poem posted there, and other Tuesday Poems via the links on the left of this page.

Poetry Reading Series - Christchurch and Dunedin

The autumn poetry reading series in Christchurch is well underway, and fortnightly reading sessions in Dunedin are about to start. Check out this post for the remainder of the Christchurch series, and Kay McKenzie Cooke's blog for details of the Dunedin series (and a really good SF poem!).


maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

Oh yum, 'A Left Hook' - as an ex-Catholic (no, not lapsed, just ex), this poem resonates. Ah, the Monseigneur and feinting with Jesus - such rich stuff for poetry. Thanks, Tim - I love this poem.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Maggie - though the credit should go to John O'Connor rather than to me.

For better or worse, being an ex-Methodist doesn't give me quite the same range of material to draw on for poetry!

maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

No, we ex and lapsed Catholics get all the fun with men in frocks, incense, guilt, confession, and more guilt. Oh guilt is simply wonderful and most of us were colonised, not by Shakespeare, or Truby King, but by the first born sons of pious Irish Mothers, who sent their handsome boys out to NZ in the 50's and 60's - hunks, some of them, but there's nothing quite like a Monseigneur to bring out the goosebumps.

Kay McKenzie Cooke. said...

I have the book this poem comes from! And love it. SO much in the book resonates with the commonality of the human experience; John is brilliant at reflecting and reporting reality.

Mary McCallum said...

Maggie! (she says admonishingly) - looking forward to the review, Tim. Loved your blog interview with Bryan Walpert - linked to it from Tuesday Poem.

Tim Jones said...

Kay: when I saw "Collected Working-Class Poems" as the subtitle, I thought "this could be a bit polemical" (which is odd, since I'm frequently polemical myself - but rarely in poetry). Not so! It's a very enjoyable book, and I intend to say so.

Mary - thanks for the link. I have more interviews with poets on the way - I'm waiting for responses from a couple of interviewees at the moment.