An Interview & Review: The Garden Black by Frank Prem

Hello, Frank. I thoroughly enjoyed The Garden Black and I’m wondering what the inspiration behind each piece was, and how you created the relived moment?

Frank: All the poems in the Garden Black collection come from the same root – an idea of fantasy and broader speculation. They are also rooted in a mood – melancholy for the most part – and a particular piece of music that I relied on to help drive each new inspiration. Music that I played over in my head all the way through the writing.

Just digressing for a moment, here. The image I used for the for cover of The Garden Black was the last rose of the season remaining on a wild rose bush growing on the backyard fence-line of my home, here in Beechworth.

I exercise little control (too little really) over the images I use for most of my covers, but play with them to see what comes up. I was extremely delighted to find when I looked up close to see the lines of colour that asserted themselves at petal boundaries. That had to be the cover image. No question.

An excerpt from: storm and the sea (bubbles of foam)

but the brilliant
shrieking song

of a wild wind

What this says to me, not only as part of the whole piece, but to a hidden memory inside my mind, is a reminder of the wiles of nature, of the powerful sound and fury of the world beyond my control, beyond all control. It is life, harsh and cruel at times, and a reminder to take care of the things that matter to us, to me. It reminds me of the need to reach out to others, to connect, or be crushed for not noting the warning of the shrieking song.

Image from Pixabay

Frank’s inspiration:

For the poem ‘storm and sea (bubbles of foam)’ I had in mind a sense of wonder at the wild majesty of storm. In my past I have lived beachside and thrilled to the sound and fury of wild weather. In my current home, far inland, I regularly have conversations with the whistling wind, to which my home is very receptive.

I imagine nothing remaining after such a close conversation with a wild wind. Only bubbles and foam.

An excerpt from: something

was it only
I had everything

Ah, that’s it, isn’t it? We don’t know what we’ve lost until it’s gone, and when it’s gone and we search for it, or think we remember that it was something important, something that mattered, and we can’t quite recall what it was, let alone where it went or why … that is sadness. For me, the supreme sadness. At a time I’d rather forget, I suffered a TBI and ended up with the loss of about two years of memories. It’s not like they were important parts of my life, but the hole is there, and it sucks at my mind, always, with the question – ‘where did you go? why?’ and this is what emerges from Frank’s poem of the loss of ‘something’.

Frank’s inspiration:

Regarding the poem ‘something’, well I am growing older. I am forgetting things. I contemplate my own dementia – do I have it . . . will I get it . . . will I know that I have it . . . will I know what I have lost . . .
Who will find me, keep me whole?

The great fear I generally keep buried deep is that I might lose control of my mind. What better subject to explore (as fantasy, of course. Only fantasy . . . )

An excerpt from: garden black

touch a petal
feel it
before it falls
[… ]
touch one petal
it falls

[end excerpt]

To know life so fully, to know it is only a season, a bright, benevolent season, and then it ends, always, it ends. What these words mean to me is a profound sense of life. Short, sensual, ephemeral. Make the most of your season. Live, give it all you have, be all you are, for the time in the sun is brief.

Frank’s inspiration:

Death, I think, is a kind soul who gets a bad reputation due to the job he/she/they carry out.

I think that in such leisure time as Death might have, that a garden would be likely. A flower garden, which would have to contain roses. A place to find ease from the cares of the job.

The flowers could only be coloured black. No choice there.

But Death, is Death. In my imagination I see the desire to caress fleeting beauty, but the very effort of touching brings about its demise. It is something of an unfortunate paradox.

Excerpt from: a song for the (chosen) horizon

is such a wild thing

And it goes so well with the last line (which you’ll have to read for yourself). These few words forge an emotional connection to a man alone, so alone that he can acknowledge that breathing is a ‘wild thing’. That’s magic and music all wrapped up in one parcel. Breathing is such a wild thing, so why not seek the wild, the far, the extremes?

Frank’s inspiration:

The ‘horizon’ poems are all – in their way – studies of isolation, claustrophobia, fear of inadvertent death. Death by mistake.

How can a person who is emotionally marooned – perhaps suffocating from loneliness – find the air to breathe?

Can a second breath be relied upon to follow the first?

Will there be a way back?

In such circumstances, what is the taste and feeling of a breath of air? The sound of it as you take it deep within yourself?

These were the kinds of question this cycle of poems was presenting to me as I wrote.

What is the view of this from space?

Well done, Frank, on another in a long line of amazing poetry in your latest book.

The Garden Black Universal Link:

Author Site:

14 thoughts on “An Interview & Review: The Garden Black by Frank Prem

Comments are closed.