September 13, 2012
The first was on the Poets Train from Canberra. Four leisurely hours to take in the scenery, to read, to compose a poem (we read out our efforts every hour). Arrival at the beautiful Central Station where we read to ourselves again, and a couple of punters.
The next day we read at The State Library. Here I am doing just that, in a photograph taken by K.A. Rees. (Note the staring into the middle distance):
And that night we read at the Friend in Hand pub in Glebe, where a cockatoo, George, chats to the customers. I chatted to Martin Langford, whose vocabulary is much greater than George’s. (No offence George!)
And in between, I enjoyed all Glebe has to offer. Interesting food, cheaper than in Canberra. The big vegan breakfast at Badde Manors, for example. Lying on a chaise longue that was used as a prop in the film Moulin Rouge, writing a review. Drinking wine. Longing for the ability to stay in that fair city. Sigh. As usual, I found myself looking at real estate agents’ windows, doing very unpoetic calculations.
Then four hours back, dozing and composing on the Sunday.
And today? (That’ll be yesterday by the time I post this.) Up to Sydney again in 23 minutes by plane. Barely up before you’re down; the landscape something to get over rather than through. State Library again, where I was lucky enough to pick up a third prize in the Society of Women Writers poetry competition, judged by Judith Beveridge, for my poem ‘A brief history of fun’. Judith gave a wonderful seminar focussing on sound in poetry, and although her ideas are quite different from mine, I left feeling inspired. There was a haiku/ haibun/tanka reading. There was Mark Tredinnick, although I had to leave his PowerPoint talk early to catch the flight home. A fire siren test provided the ideal moment for slipping out.
Throwing steel through air
We scorch the sky
Now I’m in pre book-launch mode! Radio interview on Friday on local station ArtSound. But I am haunted by a most beautiful spirit at the moment.
A ghost called Sydney
Lithe warm and lively
Winding me back home
Home that is, to a city I have never lived in. And against whose inducements I must block my ears, and tie myself to the cold mast of common sense.
Also known as Canberra.
I’ll love it again in a few days, but I have to learn to do so again.
August 20, 2012
From a Railway Carriage
Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
From A Child’s Garden of Verses
On 7th September, the Poets Train (aka Poetry in Motion) will be leaving Canberra, bound for Sydney. Now this is not a plan by the burghers of the ACT to rid themselves of the tiresome pox of poetry, but an initiative of Australian Poetry, the relatively new national poetry organisation.
We will be composing poetry on the train. A chapbook of poems will result. Countrylink, the NSW train people, will be donating a return fare to anywhere on their network for the best poem. (How that will be judged is something I do not know. But throwing the other poets off the train seems like a wise precaution.)
In Sydney we will read and/or slam, given our preferences. I think it sounds like fun!
I will give an update on the Poetry Train later on. If you’re interested in joining the train, here is the Countrylink page with the details. (Scroll down). It may already be too late, but possibly not. You will have to book accommodation in Sydney (Fiona McIlroy, the organiser, whose email appears on the Countrylink page, may be able to help with suggestions for reasonably priced places and don’t forget a return fare! Unless you decide to stay in that beautiful, comparatively WARM city.)
In the meantime, the feather below may be pressed in an emergency. Such as if you feel the need for more poems.