Adam Ford’s poetry is young, open-hearted and generous; and, in spite of it all, it seems glad to be alive. In a depressed and deceitful world it declares and asserts itself with real strength and great good humour while still yearning deeply, here, there, and elsewhere, for grace and loveliness, with a persistent, sweet courage. There is also something of the irrepressible, spirited, folk voice here too: the timeless regenerative voice; the odd, funny voice that comes cheerfully out of some unlikely place, usually just in the nick of time, to awaken us from our moribund, world-weary sleep.
— Michael Leunig
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.
Not Quite the Man for the Job is currently unavailable, but I hope to have an ebook version available soon – stay tuned. Meantime 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.