Not Quite the Man for the Job

“When Ford hits the nerve, the head jumps.”

— ∏.O. (24 hrs, Fitzroy: The Biography)

Not Quite the Man for the Job was my second poetry collection, published by the lovely folk at Allen & Unwin in 1998.

It’s 96 pages long, full of poems about space-whales, superheroes, bicycles, frisbees, talking grapes, fucked-up goldfish and concrete fairies. It also has its own subject index.

It won the 1998 REACT Top Young Adult Read award (the prize was a box of Guylian chocolate truffles, $50 and a certificate). It was also nominated for Age Poetry Book of the Year in 1998.

You can  read some sample poems below.

I Must Destroy the Space-Whale

I must destroy the space-whale
for too long she has blocked the sun
her cetacean shadow covers this whole town

I’ve got the perfect weapon
a rocket with a robot brain
I’ll point the warhead directly at her heart

I’ll watch the flame recede
and listen for the sound that says
“The path is clear once more for satellites”

The smell of burning whale-meat
will fill the air as she comes down
I’ve got a hole dug deep to hold her tight

the darkness will be lifted
the earth will shake with her defeat
I’ll pack the dirt around her smouldering bulk

I’ll wipe my dirty hands
and walk from where the space-whale lies
my mortal enemy finally put to rest

millions will thank me for what I have done

no-one will miss the space-whale

Nostalgic for Now

Garlic sauce from the two fifty kebab
makes its way through the paper bag
to collect in the bottom of the satchel
strapped to my shoulders.

Down the back streets on my grownup BMX.
I’m remembering all the old moves:
foot down to turn a corner,
swaying as I stand on the pedals.

I’m a self-powered projectile fueled
by two pubs and two bands.
No money changed hands over the bar,
but I’m high on something tonight.

I cut through the Edinburgh gardens,
past ghosts of Fitzroy full-backs,
riding by touch over asphalt
pushed aside by trees that got there first.

Casting double shadows under streetlights,
hearing the buzz of tyres
and the click of spokes
and the chunk of changing gears.

Through Piedimonte’s carpark,
past places I could have had my first kiss.
Along freshly-minted footpath,
pulling leaves from the trees as I pass.

This night is a free game of pinball,
a fresh bagel, the smell of her skin,
an answering machine filled with good news,
dimples on the head of a Guinness.

I’ve forgotten my longing for things past.
They’re gone. They were good. That’s enough.
Tonight there’s no need for “remember when?”.
Tonight, I’m nostalgic for now.

Where to find Not Quite the Man for the Job

You can download Not Quite the Man for the Job as a FREE ebook from:

28 thoughts on “Not Quite the Man for the Job”

  1. I have been trying to get my hands on a copy of “Not Quite the Man for the Job” for about 10 years. Everyone tells me it is out of print.
    Do you know how i can get a copy. Im happy to pay costs.
    Eagerly awaiting you reply.

    1. Ah, yeah, it’s very sold out, I’m afraid, Maxine. The only book of mine that’s in print right now is The Third Fruit is a Bird. Sorry about that.

  2. Hi Liam!

    I don’t really know what a bind up is, but if you mean all of my poems in one collection then no, there isn’t, but that doesn’t mean there will never be!

    Um, at the risk of shilling too hard, The Third Fruit is a Bird (see “Pages”, on your right there) is a collection of all of my poetry from The Third Fruit is a Bird…

    I know. It’s not the same thing. I know.

  3. Hey i have to analyse your poems ‘CHrist goes fishing’ and ‘If i could be a book’. could you please sum up what each of those poems are about in a sentence please. VERY URGENT!!!

  4. I was there as a high school student in 1998. Together my friend and I single handedly ensured it was given the (joint) prize. It made an excellent year 6 oral I understand, laced with profanity as it was. I have the book still.

  5. I stole this book from my high school library the year I left because I knew it was out of print. I took it back a year later. The guilt was unbearable.

    1. haha. I wish I had stolen my high school library’s copy. I would live with the guilt my whole life as there is no way I would have given it up.

  6. I used this book as a means of getting the lowest Year 10 English class to enjoy poetry! It was a boys only class and they just loved your poetry. Thank you so much. I am retired now but I still expound the virtues of your poetry to anyone willing to listen.

  7. Just another fan of Not Quite the Man asking if you will ever get it re printed?
    I loved this book, I carried it with me where ever I went, I knew most of them by heart
    and just yesterday I told someone about you and Recited Sweet Revenge to them.
    Forever in my heart Mr Ford :)

    1. I’m blushing. Sadly there’s no chance at this stage of a reprint, I’m but there is an ebook out that let’s you carry the sucker in yer pocket wherever you go. The link to buy it is up at the top of this page.

      Still blushing btw.

      1. Well electronic may not be all that tactile but you can Pick up an ebook version these days – maybe that’ll scratch the itch?

  8. Yes I’ve got the ebook just working out all the platforms now. Did you know that readmill is closing down?

    3am wow I had forgotten 3am :)

  9. Hi Adam, I just wanted to say a big thank you for your poems – particularly this collection. My husband received it as a gift and loved it. He passed away several years ago, and my son now enjoys your poems as much as he did. … I’m pretty sure the book hasn’t left my son’s room since he discovered it in year six, and he has managed to use one of the poems each time he has had a poetry assignment for school (he’s in year 8 now).

    So, thank you, not only for providing many hours of poetry readings at the dinner table for our family, but for helping my son find a link to his father who he lost far too soon.

    Sam :)

  10. I will be talking about poetry in two weeks’ time and will use one of your poemas. This is a portuguese version of your response to WCW:

    Resposta a Só queria dizer-te de William Carlos Williams

    Estou a ficar farta
    de me comeres
    o pequeno almoço.

    Na semana passada foram
    as peras.
    Na semana anterior,
    os damascos.
    E hoje,
    as ameixas.

    Não penses que
    deixares um
    poeminha giro
    na geladeira
    te livrará
    de problemas.

    Se não deixares
    de comer as minhas coisas
    vou –me

    Adam Ford

    Many thanks.

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