Luke Davies is an Australian contemporary poet, acclaimed novelist and screenplay writer. Born in 1962, and raised in Sydney, NSW, he became interested in reading and writing at a young age; and at thirteen, he decided he wanted to be a poet and a novelist. When he finished school he attended the University of Sydney and earned a Bachelor of Arts, publishing his first book of poems, Four Plots for Magnets (1982), while still a student.
Davies has worked as a truck driver and teacher.
His more recent poetry collections include Absolute Event Horizon (1994), Running With Light (1999), Totem (2005), a collection of love poems, and Interferon Psalms (2011).
At the time of reading Luke Davies, Interferon Psalms, it was my all-time favourite of all his books. (I’m back to loving Candy, all the more these day.) Interferon Psalms has thirty-three poems of varied length and concentration; the language is archaic and modern at the same time. Davies describes the book as thirty-three psalms on the face of god, used as a medi-evil reference. He underwent interferon treatment for his liver, where the side effects from the treatment were really awful; this book of poetry was his way of making something good out of something horrible.
The poems in this book contain metaphors relating to physics, space and time. On first reading, I thought most of the poems were about religion and god, but I think they’re the opposite of that, in that, the poems appear to be about the big bang theory, quantum physics, and the structure of the earth, all interrelated with the themes of lost love, the redemptive power of medicine, and the rebellion of one’s own body.
My Complete Analysis of Interferon Psalm 25
The title is interesting because ‘interferon is a protein released by animal cells, usually in a response to a virus, and it has the property of inhibiting virus replication’. ‘Psalm’ is a sacred song or poem. So, to me, the title suggests irony because even though interferon, itself, is produced naturally by the body, and interferon treatment saves lives, the treatment can also produce awful side effects, so ‘interferon’, and ‘psalms’, which are poetically soothing, sit at odds with one another.
The first line is strong, as it tells the reader that it’s about a poem.
To me, the poem is about the narrator, a poet who finds refuge in poetry.
Images used are poems, notebooks, syntax, words: all elements of writing. As well there is blood, matter and light: all elements of life. Also there is the image of a cutlass, which is a machete, or a short naval sword, scything the air for words to use in poetry.
The theme of the poem is poetry, the one true place of refuge. And perhaps, pain, and finding peace in one’s writing.
The blood is a metaphor for the use of grammar, which the narrator has had a lot of experience with.
The last two lines: the ‘Waving my cutlass, I scythed the air. (God bless this notebook and all who sail in her.), suggests the narrator slashing the air and snatching precious words out of the air, and being thankful for the treasure of a notebook to keep them in. And the idea that people can ‘sail’ in a notebook suggests that there is a story in there that will take the reader on a journey!
I really like this poem; I love the way it is written, and the use of language and poetry. On first reading, I felt that Davies had slashed open his heart and bled out his feelings for the love of poetry, out onto the page. He is a gifted poet we could all learn from, who has a way of writing about love, life and pain without coming across as overly sentimental.
Mostly though, I’m in love and awe of the way Davies paints with words.
GoodReads: View all my reviews
Miche@The Labyrinth: That Time I Tried to Emulate Luke Davies
Poetry Library: Luke Davies