It’s raining in Bulimba when we make our way to Riverbend. We struggle to find a carpark and end up running along the side streets, taking cover under outstretched branches as we rush to the deck. The sky is charcoal and heavy – it’s the perfect weather for poetry and the clouds hold nothing back. It doesn’t dampen the mood. The deck is brimming with the ardent, braving the impending wet for a taste of new work.
They call you a graveyard poet. It’s a sombre title – I see dark nights filled with dark birds, and shadows in every corner. Although, I’m struck with the image of beatnik poets, all black turtlenecks and dark lipstick, hosting soirees in smokey crypts with Simpsons jazz in the background. But you bound to the mic in teal with your purple hair, and read with a fervour that belies your designation. Your dress is amazing and your prose is striking. A certain melancholy mixed with longing and nostalgia. Voices of the dead fill Riverbend like mist. It’s a celebration, a lament painted in the warm glow of memory. Your prose is honest, open, and urgent, and there’s something intoxicating about the spaces you paint.
You share letters to your grandfather – wistful, but sunshiney; you take us through Toowong at night, and we explore the shadows and dark shapes of dusk with you.
Like you, I used to live near Toowong cemetery. The rolling hills and narrow streets were ample fodder for my insomniac wanderings and I often found my way to the Auchenflower side of Birdwood Terrace. The walk was steep and filled with unseen voices from dully-lit houses or nocturnal natives, and I’d stand on the hill imagining lives lived and left.
And you’ve given them voices. There are ghosts in the night, and they read poetry.
Your uncanny sensibility is beautifully shared by your cohorts. Anthony Lawrence with his dead fields and crows and cows, and Vanessa Page with offers from the domestic,and the familiar strangeness of Brisbane inThe City We Build with Julie Beveridge, Chris Lynch, and Carmen Leigh Keates (delivered in the form of Cindy Keong).
Thank you for taking us on that long dark walk through Toowong and giving ghosts poetry. And wearing teal at night.