Once a month I quiz the poets of this world and ask them why they do the thing they do that makes them poets. They answer in innumerable (thanks to John Tranter for picking up the misuse of ‘innumerate’) ways, as poets are wont to do.
Maria Takolander says:
When I was a child, I used to play a solitary game in which I imagined I was from a different world and that I was observing my earthly environment as if for the first time.
I see poetry as a kind of continuation of that game. I guess we could say that I was, from an early age, a spontaneous practitioner of Shklovsky’s defamiliarisation, using strategies to overcome the automatism of perception. However, if I played that defamiliarising game, it was probably inspired by an already extant, formative sense of perception not being automatic.
I think that this sense of the world not being ‘given’ had something to do with my being the child of migrants. In my preschool years I lived a secluded life, confined to a limited domestic sphere with my mother and sister (while my father went out into the new world to work), trapped within my family’s language, viewed as an alien by ‘Australian’ outsiders. I have a strong memory, as a young child, of secretly observing our Australian neighbours over one fence of the backyard and Italian migrant neighbours over the other.
When I started school, I lost my Finnish language – quite deliberately – in a misguided and failed attempt to fit in. After that I was no-one. Perhaps that experience of being ‘in-between’ (or ‘no-one’, as I put it more melodramatically in the previous line) has put me forever outside complacent ways of understanding things.
In answer to the question, then, I would say that I write poetry in a continued attempt to see things without allegiance and as baldly and boldly as I can.
Adam Ford was co-editor of Going Down Swinging issues #18–#22 and is author of poetry collections The Third Fruit is a Bird, Not Quite the Man for the Job, the novel Man Bites Dog and Heroes and Civilians (short stories).