Tuesday Poem: Steady State, by Hugh Isdale

The machines took over.
We devised them
To do
Then we retreated
Into sterile pornography,
And disappeared.

They are very efficient.
They do not discuss guilt,
Or souls.
They have turned the planet
Into a garden
That grows
Very well.

Credit note: “Steady State” by Hugh Isdale is previously unpublished and is reproduced here by permission of the author. My thanks to Mark Pirie for bringing Hugh’s work to my attention.

Tim says: As well as his own poetry, Mark Pirie continues to be a very active promoter and historian of poetry – not least in bringing both new and neglected poets to light. With Niel Wright and Dr Michael O’Leary, he founded the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa, which publishes Poetry Notes, and is also the publisher of broadsheet – Issue 17 of which has just been published.

Hugh Isdale is a Christchurch poet whose work is featured in in Poetry Notes, Summer 2016 (Volume 6, Issue 4) . When Mark and I co-edited Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand in 2009, we made a valiant – and I hope largely availing – effort to consider work by every published NZ science fiction poet we could find as well as some then-unpublished ones, but we knew there must have been poets we missed – so it’s good to be able to publish this thought-provoking poem by Hugh.

In less good news, it was sad to hear of the death of poet Ruth Gilbert (1917-2016). There’s a fine obituary for Ruth on the PANZA site, which details her long and distinguished career as a poet:

Chief among her works is The Luthier sequence first published by Reed in 1966, a remarkable work detailing the musical appreciation in her family between the poet and her father, a maker of violins. The sequence shared the Jessie Mackay Memorial Prize for 1968 with James K Baxter. Three times Gilbert won the award.

Her other works such as her Lazarus sequence from Lazarus and Other Poems(1949) were widely acclaimed in New Zealand poetry circles. She also wrote poetry on her experiences in New York and Western Samoa.

The PANZA site has Ruth’s full obituary.