Brendan Ryan

‘The first forty years of life furnish the text, while the remaining thirty supply the commentary,’ Arthur Schopenhauer remarked in The Wisdom of Life and Counsels and Maxims. While the timespan is different, the proportions are similar. Brendan Ryan’s Walk Like a Cow, which focuses predominantly on the poet’s first twenty-five years, has been written over roughly two decades. The memoir features twenty-seven largely self-contained chapters and nine previously published poems, in a roughly chronological narrative.

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Were you with a girl at the footy?
my father asks while weighing down
on a milker. His large, freckled hand
like a stone on the claw of the machines
draining a back quarter of an old Jersey
reluctant to give. I lean against a post
darkened and polished by our shoulders.
No, I was just going for a walk. He looks
at me, adds, I saw you beh ...

‘The things they carried were largely determined by necessity.’
Tim O’Brien

The beeping of horns, the relentless waves of scooters –
a whine that spirals to a high-pitched roar
scooting down alleys and footpaths
flowing like oil around taxis, through roundabouts
across bridges. Nob ...

Cracks in the clay, locusts flittering over bleached stalks
old couches in the herringbone, ribbons of bird shit down the walls.

She married into the district, thin as a whisper
a woman who was summoned to the front rows at Mass.

Each day the wind passes, paddocks of rye grass sway.
She smiled through luncheons, gatherings

made the small talk that fertilis ...

In memory of Max Richards

Somehow you found the articles and poems
I needed to read.
Your key word searches driven by connection,
of passing it on.
Whether it be through the nodes of ADSL2
or the poetry of Heaney, Murray, or MacFarlane’s
nature writing,
whether you be in Doncaster or Seattle
or your shelves of books and manilla folders< ...

Lights over the rail yards are sparklers
that never die down. Every day
is a drug test day. All that’s left at Ford
is the security lights, shadows on the pedestrian overpass.
George Pell is refusing to leave Roma
where girls were once named after their fathers
who could, if so desired, sell them at fourteen
into slavery. George is cantank ...

Brendan Ryan grew up on a dairy farm at Panmure in Victoria. His poetry, reviews, and essays have been published in literary journals and newspapers. He has had poems published in The Best Australian Poems series (Black Inc). His second collection of poetry, A Paddock in his Head, was shortlisted for the 2008 ACT Poetry Prize. His most recent colle ...

In ABR's fourth 'Poem of the Week' Brendan Ryan discusses and reads his poem ‘Outsider Pastoral’

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Camellias by Brendan Ryan

by
April 2014, no. 360

I take a straw broom to the damp leaves on the side path.
The concrete pavers are stained and dirty as they have been
for much of the year. Stooping allows me to see

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Fire Diary by Mark Tredinnick

by
September 2011, no. 334

Mark Tredinnick’s much-anticipated first collection of poetry, Fire Diary, is an examination of place and how to respond to it. The title provides a clue to the form of the book; many poems chart the daily exigencies of living within nature. More importantly, the collection explores the moods and aspirations of the self ...

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