Jennifer Maiden in the SMH

With some notable exceptions, the Art Student hates poetry. So this conversation that happened as I was cooking breakfast on Saturday morning was a moment to be savoured.

Art Student: There’s a poem by Jennifer Maiden in the Spectrum. [That’s a supplement to the Sydney Morning Herald.]
Me: Really! Read it to me.
Art Student: You know I can’t read poetry.
Me: (wheedlingly) Go on, please …

And she did. She read ‘My heart has an Embassy’. Beautifully. Whether it was the short lines, the brevity of the poem, or the way it makes metaphor out of a situation from the headlines – Julian Assange’s seeking asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London – the poem slipped effortlessly past the poetry-hating guards.

I couldn’t find ‘My heart has an Embassy’ online. Sorry!

[Added later: In a Me Fail? I Fly! exclusive, Jennifer Maiden’s daughter Katharine has posted the poem in a comment!]

6 responses to “Jennifer Maiden in the SMH

  1. Katharine Margot Toohey

    Showed this to my mum (J.M.) and she said many thanks to you and the Art Student. As the poem is in fact not online anywhere, she suggested I might like to include it here for you. It’s from her new Giramondo collection, Liquid Nitrogen, due out in November, but she has full copyright on anything before that’s published, and after if she’s placed it beforehand:

    My heart has an Embassy

    My heart has an Embassy
    for Ecuador where I will seek
    asylum. Earthquakes
    and aftershocks undermine
    my hope and my means to work
    and the Americans
    have wormed into my psyche
    with their black knack at fear.
    My heart has an Embassy
    for Ecuador as rare in air
    and sumptuous as the Andes,
    as clear as the Equator. There
    will be in it waterfalls
    and jungles like salvation.
    There will be friends
    whom I owe nothing, no
    famed bail, no knotty
    knowing sexualities. My heart
    has an Embassy for Ecuador
    where there will be no secrets
    and the truth falls down like water
    from giant granites of despair.


  2. Thank very much, Katharine! A Me Fail I Fly exclusive! I’ve added a note in the post drawing attention to your comment.


  3. Wonderful to hear! Could it be that you are attracted to poetic forms for their inherent beauty, and she is attracted by a potent story? As a visual thinker, the stories may conjure images that connect her deeply to their meaning.


  4. Maybe more cooked breakfasts are in order!


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