David Mortimer, ‘Magic Logic’ in Lip Verse

Lip Verse: Magic Logic

Bronwyn Lovell, Lip Verse, 19 Aug 2013


When reading a poetry collection, if I’m lucky, there might be one or two moments that catch my breath—when a poet’s particular insight or phrasing is so profound that it invokes a special kind of magic—delivering a rush of emotion that makes me gasp. I might describe this sensation as a literary orgasm, and David Mortimer’s Magic Logic as linguistically arousing. It consistently surprised and delighted me. I was oohing and ahhing at almost every second page.

Mortimer says that this book “represents six years of starting poems, and nine years of finishing them”. The precision of language, the artfulness of each word choice and line break, is testament to the time that Mortimer has spent with these poems. The book contains pieces that have been shortlisted for the Blake Poetry Prize, the Newcastle Poetry Prize and the Montreal International Poetry Prize, while others have appeared in Best Australian Poems and prestigious literary journals.

In cold wet frozen, Mortimer describes seeing a father and daughter kicking a soccer ball around a drenched oval early one winter morning—she in her school uniform and he in a business suit:

And who cares if her socks will be wet all day?
If he gets a cold?
Here’s memory being made, laid up, forever
Brighter than rinsed sunlight

Male voices is a lovely tribute to the way that we adopt the expressions of our parents and grandparents and find ourselves voicing the same phrases they used to say, invoking their memory through language:

While the spirit of our grandmother
hovers in the darkening street
over our lives and everything we do
with short imperative sentences

Romantic passion is particularly visceral in practical aesthetics, which proves that writing can be highly erotic while also treating feminine sexuality and the female body with utter reverence and respect:

I kiss your intimate architecture
In a movement away and a moment returning
Relish and cherish the cleave of you
Where our babies came from

I believe that Society is also noteworthy from a feminist point of view, as a deceptively simple description of the patriarchy in which we live. Despite being just six-words long, it is as powerful as it is disturbing:

I hunt her
She gathers me

Bronwyn Lovell

Read the review in Lip Verse

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