Happy birthday Banjo!

February 18, 2015

For yesterday, that is.

I just drove back from Orange, about three and a half hours from Canberra. Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson was born here, and the 17th February is his birthday. I went courtesy of a competition offered through Australian Poetry Ltd and attended a poetry competition, a birthday breakfast, a dinner, and undertook my own Banjo-related activities.

Soon I’ll write something about the Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Festival for Australian Poetry’s website. (There are too many similar words in that sentence, but that can’t be helped!) I’ll talk about how much I enjoyed this experience in Orange, but for now I must rest, having eaten about as much as I eat in a week over three days. Here is a photo of a bust of the poet, erected just near his birthplace. It can be found in a park dedicated to him:


And what other Australian poet gets jokes made about his or her birthday by coffee shops? (Yes, that is rhetorical…)

coffee banjo

Tuesday poem: Sausage haiku

November 19, 2012

Could not be more Australian

This poem was written on the spot at a recent event at my daughter’s school, where the students presented their explorations on themes of social inequality and discrimination to the assembled masses. As at most things I go to these days, there was a sausage sizzle.  As a vegetarian, I feel somewhat redundant at these things, even where vego items are provided. All weak and salady and wilting. But give me something to write on, and I’ll write.

I recently saw a wonderful poet who composed a much more impressive and less sausagey poem on the spot, based on words called out from the audience. Khairani Barokka, known as “Okka”, is an Indonesian writer, performer, artist, producer and researcher. She is definitely one of the most exciting performance poets I have ever seen, and her appearance at the ANU School of Music, organised by the group of poets who meet there and by Australian Poetry Limited, was something I will remember for a long time. Particularly her poem about being asked to rate pain on a scale of 1 to 10. She combines the highly personal and historical and political aspects in her work, without any of the seams showing.

Here she is at the recent Canberra performance. Not the best photo, but I’ll blame Okka for not standing still!

Local poets also read their work, and Indonesian Butet Manurung spoke about her experiences with marginalised jungle-dwelling people in Indonesia. She read from her non-fiction book The Jungle School. The book is already available, but will be launched in Australia and New Zealand next year.

All round, it was an exciting event. And not a sausage to be seen. Or smelt!

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