Poetry was how I started in writing. My primary school teachers and a couple of wonderful high school teachers, encouraged it in me. My parents did too, and bought me a beautiful typewriter when I was 14 or 15. It was my pride and joy. I used to get together with my friends Will and James to read and write poems. This wasn’t the ‘done thing’ at the rugby-obsessed private school we went to. My parents were renovating the house and dragged an old gypsy caravan onto the property for me to stay in. It was the perfect place to listen to Pink Floyd and The Doors, secretly smoke Indonesian clove cigarettes, drink mulled wine and write poetry with like-minded north-shore neo-bohemian teenagers who hated the conservative suburbs we lived in. My aim at sixteen was to get my poetry into important literary journals, the ones only the best adult poets got published in. I used my pocket money to subscribe to as many as I could. I studied other Australian verse, and had that required beat poets and Bukowski phase, before getting hooked on spaniard Federico Garcia Lorca, a good friend of Salvador Dali. I began submitting my own verse to journals, magazine and newspapers, never letting on my age. Soon I had a box full of rejection slips. They kept pilling up, but it never discouraged me. Then, to my surprise, one of the most respected ‘lit journals’ Quadrant accepted one of my poems. I could hardly believe it. This was soon followed by Meanjin, Going Down Swinging and Island, all publishing my work. At 21 years old in 1998, Newcastle publisher Peculiar Press released by first anthology of poetry, The Song of a Hundred Miles. The collection was full of poems of unrequited love (there was a lot of that going on back then, still is) and general wonder at the beauty and heartache in this world. I have a few copies left, if anyone’s interested. DM me, as they say.
My wide open heart / caught your waterfall / of pain…
Why can’t you bare / a whisper / of my sadness?
Over the last two decades I’ve not written much poetry, focussing instead on non-fiction books and films. But from time to time I’ve scribbled down a poem, sometimes even after a paramedic case. Recently I collected as many of these poems as I could find, some of them almost illegible, and typed them up. It’s a small collection of only 35 poems, and some are short. But a book of poems is like a chocolate shop, in my opinion. You best not eat them all at once. Go easy. One-a-day is recommended, or a few at most, otherwise they loose their potency and you’ll get a tummy ache. Poetry isn’t something to pig-out on, that’s what I think anyway.
So, here it is. Night Swim. Have a taste.