Progress – Jane Arthur

Jane Arthur’s Progress is published in the latest issue of Sport magazine, which I am currently working my way through.  

This is a poem best read aloud, with a kind of ever-increasing breathless pitch, which slows. right. down. on the last two lines.

Jane is currently studying for an MA at the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington. She has a dog and enviable writer’s empathy. She once posted me a yoga mat. The card that came with it said Namaste.


I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

She says: “Think of how many times you have opened a book, read one line, and said, “Yes!” and thought “I want to give people that feeling too, of connection, communion.”

I hope that’s what Jane intended, because that’s what happened to me with all the lines. A wonderful, painful communion of anxiety, paranoia, and the deepseated pleasure that I only experience when I read really, really good writing.

It’s the realness here that makes it work. The sociopathic sparrows, the anecdotes, the adjectives – the vulnerability.

Anne Lamott basically says unless you’re going to tell the truth in your writing, go home. It’s possibly the hardest challenge for any writer, and the least we can do.

Thank you for not going home, Jane.

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