“I Wander lonely as a cloud” and a limerick about eating peas with honey “because it keeps them on the knife” is about the extent of my poetry.
If I’d been exposed earlier to the biting wit of West Perth local Helen Child’s Barbie Doesn’t Fart as a teenager I’m sure things would have been different.
“To keep us girlies placid,
“Coz Barbie has no body hair, no pubes
“And no vagina
“And her face is only painted on, with a pencil liner.
“Although she has no fanny, she dresses like a tart
“And Barbie has no anus, so she cannot even fart.”
The work of Mt Lawley poet Danny Gunzburg, however, reveals a softer, more lovelorn side in poems such as Her Name—penned to a love he’s too shy to approach.
“And in a scattered daydream
“I almost say her name, it comes to me in music
“And melts me in the rain. ‘She doesn’t have a boyfriend’
“I tell this to my head
“Then turn away forever
“And write her songs instead.”
His poems sing from the page and the musician/poet says often the music comes into his head first, then the verse.
Now in his 40s his love of poetry first blossomed at 13 when an English teacher set the class to studying ballads.
“It resonated with me and I wrote my own.”
Gunzburg and Child are amongst a swag of poets nationally taking part in the Perth Poetry Festival next weekend.
Now in its ninth year the local poetry scene is booming, coordinator Karen Murphy says.
Two years ago around 25 people turned up to events—last year that had quadrupled to 100.
“[And] we hope for shows to sell out this year.”
Penning verse has become fashionable, especially amongst young people, Ms Murphy says.
“Being literary has become cool.”
In the past Gunzburg played down his poetry because blokes looked askance at blokes writing poems.
“It’s hard in an Australian culture of heavy beer drinking, football and violence to be a poet…it’s seen as too sensitive.”
From an early age Fremantle’s Jaya Penelope was fascinated by fairy and folk tales, and her poetry flows from enchanted forests to the kitchen sink and back again.
“I composed my first poem on stars and fountains at three,” she recalls.
“Delicious words gathered inside me until they could do nothing but spill onto the page.”
This year’s festival covers a variety of styles from haiku to bush poetry, kicking off with readings by well-known poets, such as Child, Allan Boyd and Penelope, Thursday August 15, 6pm, at the Cheeky Sparrow, Murray Street, Perth.
The first heat of the Australian Poetry Slam takes place Saturday August 17.
“A chance to grab the mic and impress the judges with poetry, hip-hop, lyrics, monologues or whatever else you have up your sleeve,” the program says.
Part of the City of Perth winter series, the festival runs August 15–18, with readings, workshops, talks and discussions at venues across Perth.
Head to wapoets.net.au/wa-poetry-festival/2013 for the full program.
by JENNY D’ANGER