Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Resilience by Keith Westwater

Mathematicians      have worked out
how to calculate       the bounciness of a ball:

(the coefficient of this  x  the cosine of that)
+   the differential of today's weather     all ÷ by
a piece of string      (and the speed of the train)
=  the same as     dropping different balls together
and seeing which ball     has the longest bounce

Measuring how well     a person will rebound
after being dropped on     is still being worked on:

some believe     it has something to do with
the thickness of their skin           whether their stretching
reaches a breaking point     or results in       withstanding
whether they can fight and flee          how many times
the person has returned to a vertical position before

Keith Westwater 

                             Editor: Alicia Ponder

I love this poem and its real yet understated sense of drama.  The jumpiness reflecting not only the subject, personal resilience, but the metaphor itself.

The mathematical description of pain could, being so terrifyingly distancing, act to push the reader away, but instead it does almost the opposite, as 'a person' is brought into the equation.  Not blatantly a poem about Christchurch, it clearly has its roots in the work the poet has done there in the wake of their devastating earthquake, because the prose fissures even as it bounces.

Keith Westwater feels a deep association with New Zealand, its geography and history, and is proud to be a third generation Pakeha here.

He joined the New Zealand Army as a Regular Force Cadet (Parkinson Class) and spent the three years based in Waiouru.  After that he took to education like a fish to water, gaining a B.Sc in Geography, a Diploma in Teaching,  and a postgraduate Diploma in Education at Massey University.

Keith began writing poetry in 2003 while attending the 'Writing the Landscape' course at Victoria University of Wellington, and gained a Master of Letters in Creative Writing in 2009 through Central Queensland University, Australia. He is a Tuesday Poet and blogs here.

His work has appeared in Landfall, JAAM, Snorkel, Idiom 23, and other publications and he has received or been shortlisted for awards in New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland. His poetry includes an equal first place in the 2006 Yellow Moon Spirit of Place competition, and first place in the International Tertiary Student Poetry section of the 2009 Bauhinia Literary Awards.

Keith's debut collection of poetry, Tongues of Ash was published by Brisbane-based trans-Tasman publisher Interactive Publications and awarded the publisher's 2011 IP Picks Best First Book prize.

This week’s guest editor Alicia Ponder, loves poetry, speculative fiction and writing for children.  She lives in Wellington, New Zealand, is the author of Wizard's Guide to Wellington, co-author of two art books and an early reader, and has published short stories for both children and adults in New Zealand and overseas.  She blogs her poetry here at an Affliction of Poetry and other writing as A.J. Ponder

Remember to check out the sidebar to see some wonderful poems posted by Tuesday Poem's 30-strong team of poets.


Ben Hur said...

Excellent poem. I like the ways words like "stretching" are italicised to give them a sort of scientific ambivalence although dealing with a subject that is impossible to quantify.

Thanks for posting, Alicia.

Keith Westwater said...

Thanks for the posting Alicia and for the insightful critique.

Helen McKinlay said...

I very much like the way the mathematical metaphor is extended into a human predicament in this poem. it's very clever and also very poignant...there are no answers to some problems...Thanks for sharing this Keith and great choice Alicia!

Helen Lowe said...

Very cool--enjoyed!