I went to a fab community event on Friday night after work – the launch of a local poetry collection. The Ochre Coast Poets have been meeting down south for 10 years now, reading and critiquing each other’s work and producing/developing/encouraging some really good poets and poems. Kylie, who has featured previously in this blog (for example here and here and here) is one of the poets, and she invited me along to the launch.
It was a really good night – held in the Seaford Library, with all covid procedures in place, but still a good turn out. The book was introduced and launched, the editor spoke and then the poets read. They went, as the book does, in alphabetical order, and it was just terrific to hear their work – moving, funny, poignant, true in the particular way that good poetry can be. The poets mostly read poems that feature in the book – so we could follow along as they read. Of course hearing things out loud is a particular pleasure with poetry too, and now I associate their voices with the words that I read to myself. At half time we had a great supper and a chance to talk and mingle a bit, then more poems.
What was really striking to me was the beauty that comes from really paying attention to what is around us – poems about birds (as you can imagine the “parrot feather” in me, likes them particularly), about pets, about students in classrooms, about the pain and challenge of daily life, about music, about getting older, relationships, even social commentary made vivid by the attention paid, and the crafting of the words. The ability to see things freshly and from another angle was striking – to “tell the truth but tell it slant” as Emily Dickinson says so memorably. And what the poets were seeing is often life down south, places that are familiar to me (like Colonnades shopping centre and the Aldinga Scrub), lives that I recognise. It was wonderful.
I got to thinking about the idea of looking at things from different angles, and that combined with a sort of shyness about asking people I don’t know for a photo, meant that I got a whole lot of shots of the backs of people’s heads! Different hairstyles, sometimes faces of those they were talking to, sometimes side shots. I did take a photo of Kylie, and have also included one of her poems, a really lovely one about kids getting older, growing up (you may have to click to enlarge to be able to read it). It was a terrific night, the book is excellent, and I was so happy to be there.