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Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

Martin at Waddi*

by Jacqueline Buswell

His star shone in a nearby constellation

but I only saw Martin once, he said

he´d failed to consider his translator

with whom he then worked for hours


on the rendering of “Patterson´s Curse”.

He had not used “Riverina Bluebell” –

an easier term for a wordsmith

with its markers of botany and place.


I don´t know how the poet and the translator

fared through skirmishes of noxious weed,

pretty flower, purple haze, malediction

and the question, did Patterson matter?


In the past when I saw Riverina plains

overwritten in mauve, I´d see the spectre

of a thin man with a hoe limping across

the paddocks of a soldier-settler block


cursing the weed, the war that led him there

while his wife never dared brighten

their table with bluebells in a jug.

Now I see those paddocks and imagine


the purple ribbons in ideograms

under different skies

I see Martin and the translator

pitching ideas over the boards


in agitated swings from the local

to the universal

vowels rising and falling

with the breath, finding their voice.

* Clouds Near Waddi by Martin Harrison  from Wild Bees, 2008

Published: August 2015
Jacqueline Buswell

was born in New South Wales, and studied at Australian National University before working as a journalist in Sydney. She lived in Mexico for more than 20 years and currently works as a translator. She completed a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Sydney in 2011. Ginninderra Press published her first book of poems, Song of a Journeywoman, in 2013. Jacqueline met Martin at an event discussing poetry and translation at the University of Technology Sydney.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.