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Shadow
Poet

Recipient of major national awards across the last four decades, Alan Wearne is now a major figure in Australian poetry.

Editor & Critic

The 1980s-90s saw Alan Wearne’s distinctive poetic voice in Poetry Reviews for Australia’s major newspapers and literary journals.

Publisher

Alan Wearne’s Grand Parade Poets published 14 volumes of Australian poetry including new poets as well as Selected Poems from more established poets.  

Performances

Archived highlights of Alan Wearne’s performances reading his own works; being interviewed for radio; and appearing in podcasts and documentaries.

LATEST RELEASE

NEAR BELIEVING: Monologues and Narratives 1967-2021 represents  selections from Alan Wearne’s previous collections and is already acclaimed as a remarkable achievement.

POEM OF THE MONTH:

DID I MISS ANYTHING?

Question frequently asked by students after missing a class

by TOM WAYMAN

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

   Everything. I gave an exam worth
   40 percent of the grade for this term
   and assigned some reading due today
   on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
   worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

   Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
   a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
   or other heavenly being appeared
   and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
   to attain divine wisdom in this life and
   the hereafter
   This is the last time the class will meet
   before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

   Everything. Contained in this classroom
   is a microcosm of human experience
   assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
   This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered
   but it was one place
   And you weren’t here

Alan’s Notes:
I first heard of Tom Wayman in 1973 when I saw his premier volume Waiting for Wayman on sale in a London bookshop that somehow specialised in Canadian publications. Having a friend in Alan Wayman I thought both title and book too good to pass up. Getting to know Tom and his poetry over the decades since I’ve wondered on occasions how he would’ve fitted into the 70s/80s/90s Australian scene. Certainly, his devotion to poetry centred on workplace experiences would see him in a tradition that included π. o’s as well as the magazine π coordinated, 925. Yes, I can imagine Tom being present as the pages of that publication were assembled, often in a stoned, Friday night party-like atmosphere. Yet I can also imagine Tom at other events of Melbourne’s literary mayhem, such as those sessions at Percy’s Bar featuring like likes of Dinny O’Hearn, Jack Hibberd, Peter Craven etc. etc. whose cultural visions were hardly those of the 925 crowd. And since I was able to straddle both of these worlds, I’m sure Tom could have as well.
Yet I’m digressing for I really want to know… Did I Miss Anything?
Though there’s a dopey veneer to this question, yet I can conceive it being asked by one processing a certain kind of low key, gee-whiz arrogance, one which they have employed ever since childhood. Notice how different the question could have been were it prefaced with ‘Sorry, but…’ Though of course they would never preface thus, being of the kind who would rather fudge than apologize. Having said the likes of this before they’ll sure be saying such again, knowing how plenty out there thrive on glib dagginess. One can imagine a certain kind of politician thriving on this approach, or even better those in the junta behind the coup, knowing how great it could be having such a dumbo for a front man. For, as with many of the kids in class, so much of the populace would be entranced [as they are with Trump]: ‘Oh no, he’s said it again…don’t you just love him!’
Of course, there remains the teacher aka the foil aka the poet. And it certainly doesn’t have to be just in English classes. Tom’s vision may well be mirrored by many in the teaching profession from kindergarten through schooling and onto university, though doubtless those in early schooling would be counselled out of having such attitudes.
Meanwhile, due to such a poem, the above junta might have Tom purged, for it shows how sarcasm can still be art, a pretty dangerous art.
And now…here’s Tom!

‘Did I Miss Anything?’ by Tom Wayman, comes from Did I Miss Anything?: Selected Poems 1973-1993 and appears with permission of Harbour Publishing, www.harbourpublishing.com and the poet.