Peter Porter 2004
by Tony Clark (b. 1954)
synthetic polymer paint and permanent marker on canvas
Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2004
and the closing of the door
a little stone slips from a pocket
tumbles down each stair-step
leading from the darkened room
and comes to an uncertain rest,
returning the equilibrium of eternity.
The potential energy is held fast,
a gold vein in the inviolate rock
and the voluble voice of a virtuoso
lives on in volumes.
Never one for self-proclamation,
though other notables now aptly state,
without any washing of words, -
‘A King of the Stay-Aways’.
And on the other side
after the taxation of text,
and beyond all insinuation
perhaps there is a certain song of satisfaction
and wry smile.
Richard Scutter 25 November 2010
Note ... Permission was obtained from both the artist and the National Portrait Gallery to include the above image against this poem. This image not to be copied without the caption and not without the said permission of the above
Sharing some context …
I never had the privilege of meeting Peter. I help co-ordinate a U3A Poetry Group in Canberra and one of the sessions last year looked at his poetry. I have read some of his poems and details about his life including those from Clive James.
The text of the poem is based on my reading of him from above; a rather depressive person who had to cope with the loss of his first wife under tragic circumstances.
I have used words in association with some of his poems - in particular from his poem ‘What I have written I Have Written’ with obvious reference to the source of those words. He was also known to have regarded poetry as potential energy. In that regard any energy release will be dependent on future readers of his work – and the same goes for all art I suppose.
I liked the expressive depth in Tony Clark's portrait and of course the use of colours. He must have been a very engaging subject, never short of a word, and by all accounts very responsive to those who met him.