Late Nights in the Desert: SWF appearances 2011

Published : Saturday, May 21, 2011 | Label:

Not a moment too soon, a note on my appearances at this year’s (2011) Sydney Writers’ Festival.

1. Desert Flowers
This afternoon (Saturday 21 May), I’m honoured to chair a session, Desert Flowers, in which four Indigenous Australian writers share some recent work and speak about the politics of intervention, the loss of first languages, the poetics of grief and hope, and the role of poetry in raising rates of literacy in Indigenous communities. The session is sparked by the appearance of The Country Anytime Anywhere, an anthology of new Indigenous writing from the Northern Territory (IAD Press). The writers on the panel are Ali Cobby Eckermann, Rosemary Plummer, Marie Munkara and Lionel Fogarty. We need poetry precisely because it refuses the discourses of politics and commerce; it speaks for the real worlds of the human heart and the human body and the habitats we make home. We need all the voices and languages and poems and stories we can get: diversity, as Barry Lopez has written, is not just a joy of nature, it is the precondition for its, and our, survival.

Come along: Philharmonia Choir Studio, 2:30, Saturday, 21 May.

2. Late Night Poetry at Number One
Tonight at 9:30, I read poetry, with Johanna Featherstone and my friend Peter Boyle, at Tony Bilson’s Nuber One Bar on Circular Quay.

Poetry is like jazz. Like jazz,
it works best late and in the dark.
Poetry, like jazz, is heartbreak
shrugged off at daybreak,
the sad amplitude of dusk.

It is emotion enjambed and
played into thought and
surrendered in imagery
stolen, in the first place,
from everyone else,

From everyone who ever felt
how hard it is to live
in the sorrowful beauty
of it all, but couldn’t
ever find the words.

Come hear what that sounds like tonight, some blue notes, closer to midnight, closer to home: Number One Bar, 1 Alfred Street, Circular Quay. Under Goldfields House.

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