Tuesday Poem: An excerpt from ‘Lostling and Foundling’ by Anne Kennedy

11. My 40,000-Word Thesis on Atonality in the bone people

Atonality is the absence of a pitch centre in music. Atonal music is
homeless. Poor atonal music. But wait! There is much research in
the field of music-in-literature. And lots of music in the bone people:
refs to existing music, allusions to tonalities, and use of sound (i.e., it’s poetic).
What I found: bp’s tonal music is often shattered by homeless pitches.
Do-Re-Mi – Take that! Fa-So-La – Arghh! To-Do – Mmph!
My thesis is accompanied by a CD I’m rather proud of. ‘the bone people’s
Found Compositions.’ Absolutely brilliant music. She loves her music,

Keri, I kid you not. Sea shanties, flamenco guitar, European folk songs,
waiata. What I wanted to say was, bp gets touted as a bicultural novel but
I think it’s a Maori novel. My thesis is soft-bound in the Victoria library.
No one will ever read it, but aha – here you are reading this poem!
I should have written my thesis in fourteen lines, shouldn’t I?
I just did. Signed, AK, B. Mus., ATCL, MA. Yay!

Anne Kennedy is a writer of fiction, screenplays and poetry. Her collection Sing-song was named Poetry Book of the Year at the 2004 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Kennedy followed up this success with The Time of the Giants in 2005, which was shortlisted at the 2005 book awards. An excerpt from that wonderful book (with commentary) can be found on the Tuesday Poem Hub. The poem that this excerpt comes from, “Lostling and Foundling,” is in fourteen parts and appears in Kennedy’s recent collection, The Darling North. The collection has been selected as a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Kennedy is one of my favourite New Zealand writers because her poems always surprise me in terms of their form and language. She’s also funny, as you can tell from this poem (which obviously strikes a chord with me as I’m coming to the end of my own 40,000 word thesis). There is more here than just humour, though. As the poet notes, the poem consists of fourteen lines which brings to mind a sonnet and the way sonnets open with a question that then needs to be resolved, which is the same structure as a thesis. The poem also describes the way writers can work on long and personally important projects that never get read, but then states, “aha – here you are reading this poem!” That suggests to me that the poet believes literature is more important – or at least more entertaining – than criticism.

For other Tuesday Poems check out the hub.


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