Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Poet At My Table; A Chat With Poet Anthony Lawrence

Today in the cafe... a customer who likes his double espressos asked me, randomly, if I read poetry. I said I read a bit of poetry and write a little of it. He said Oh really? He then showed me me some poetry that he was reading, an intriguing poem by an Irish poet, someone Muldoon.

We started talking. There were clues. He was reviewing this book because Australian Book Review had asked him to review it. We talked a little about reviewing. He mentioned that he was an academic. He said something about students. I asked what he taught. He said he teaches creative writing on The Gold Coast, and he hates The Gold Coast. I told him that I hate The Gold Coast too. We talked about why we both like Melbourne so much. Far better place in so many ways, we agreed.

We started talking about creative writing and I gave him my card with the info about my e-book of short stories, told him how I had given up creative fiction years ago because of a rejection letter from Overland. They had said they have a policy of the three editors needing a unanimous acceptance from all three and on this occasion two liked my story a lot but the third was unsure, so no cigar. The customer said that sucked and said that he also didn't like how this particular litmag operated, said something about how they preferred to publish their mates' experimental work. Said something about how people like him were considered by them to be The Gatekeeper.

I wisely didn't say anything more about my own writing. I was more curious now about who he was, because it seemed like he was Someone.

I asked if he had stuff published and said sorry but I don't know who I am talking to. He said he had had about 15 books published. We chatted some more and I asked what his name was. Anthony, he told me. Okay, Anthony who? I asked. Anthony Lawrence, he told me.

I Googled. Oh, so he's kind of like the David Bowie of Australian poetry. There's all the awards, the critical acclaim, a novel and a stage play... we said goodbye, and he left telling me that we could talk about my stories next time he comes to the cafe.

He is all the writing success that I have not been. A properly humbling experience. Thank fuck my radar was up and I didn't talk myself up. Pretty funny, all in all. Kind of wish I hadn't mentioned my writing at all.

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