Ken Bolton’s A Whistled Bit of Bop begins and ends with poems that embrace the abstract through collage — working with pre-existing materials, the initial selection often arbitrary. ‘Double Trouble’ deals with time and timing, art, friendship; closing the collection, ‘Triumvirate’ works with similar elements but in a context that is political and historical. Bolton acknowledges parts of a particular pantheon (F.T. Prince, Tony Towle, Peter Schjeldahl, Ashbery, Berrigan, John Forbes) in the sequence ‘Late Night Reading’, which tips from satire to elegy and out again, while ‘Some Photos for Gabe’ takes the form of a letter, wondering at the recipient’s life in London and meditating on two images of domestic life in Australia. In a different register, ‘Australian Suburban Garden’ is spun out of the ‘everyday’ — art, time, Europe. Some poems are amusing tours de force, others are like spells. “The light changed? Must have.”
Ken Bolton is a poet, art critic, editor and publisher. From Sydney, since 1982 he has lived in Adelaide. He produces the Little Esther books series and edited the magazines Otis Rush and Magic Sam. There are a number of things he wishes to avoid in poetry (the cornily ‘poetic’, strong reliance on metaphor, and the supposedly ineffable and transcendent). More positively he writes to keep himself awake, & amused.
Ken Bolton, A whistled bit of bop
2010. 124pp . ISBN 978 0 9805113 5 2