Ever since I was a child I have written stuff – stories, poems, essays, reports. I have used writing as an outlet and an input. For me it has been a way of releasing anger, recording moments of great joy, clarifying my thought or explaining complex emotions. It has been my go-to method of releasing life’s tensions and solving problems.
I am a prolific story writer, but poems are rare gems and always come to me at times of heightened emotion. The last one I wrote was for my mother’s funeral in 2012. Like most authors I am a magpie, picking up ideas from everywhere, constantly searching for new ways of making sense of the world and different ways to describe what I find. Sometimes a poem delivers the words to capture an experience or an idea so perfectly that I’m totally blown away. As a child of the Wheatbelt, growing up in small country towns, I was particularly gob-smacked by this line from the poem ‘Return’ by Gregory Day, ‘… the town’s an ashtray always being emptied and refilled.’ It so perfectly encapsulates the way the population of a small town swells and ebbs away on a regular basis, taking some people with it, leaving others behind with empty spaces to be refilled.
On that note of praise for poetry I might just go and write a poem. I’ll have to do it quickly though, before someone comes along and empties the ashtray of my mind.
(‘Return’ was published in Review, The Weekend Australian, May 25-26, 2019)