Sunday, 4 September 2022

I Appear In Australia

I appeared in Australia last Friday. Having reduced my university teaching hours so that I have more time for creativity, I said 'Yes' when invited to read my poetry at 9am here, 6pm there, on screens in and around Castlemaine, near to Melbourne. I appeared in Australia last Friday at Ross Donlon's online event, marking my first poetry touchdown Down Under. 

My preparation for this reading was admirably early. I refer you to my geography project, compiled in LIV26 (when I was twelve and there was no national curriculum). Given a free hand by Miss Smith, I made the most of having cousins in Western Australia. These cousins, never having met me (not then, not now) posted samples of Australia over to London (postcards, tourist brochures, leaves, pressed flowers, merino sheep's wool). I included them in my Australia project. This photo of the 40-something-year-old leaves demonstrates why professional conservators don't use Sellotape:

I also did my research about audience far in advance: I worked out (due to my laptop screen having an area of approximately one square foot) that, in order to read to read to at least one person, it was important to appear in one of Australia's more densely populated areas. Here's my 1976 illustration of population distribution which I used as a guide:

I'd also liaised with my friend Darren Mason in the matter of making sure I was ready for this important debut. During the first 2020 lockdown, I wrote a poem about my bicycle and the freedom she gave me in those first strange days, which Darren went on to animate beautifully. The advantage of the reading being online was that I was able to share it with my audience 10,577 miles away. See the film here: Shrewsbury, Friday Morning 27th March 2020 

All-in-all I was well-prepared for my appearance in Australia. I am grateful to Miss Smith, a kind and generous teacher, for enabling me to find out about the world by starting to explore and write about a place to which I already felt something of a connection. I'm grateful to my cousins for giving me that help, packaging up what could be sent across all those miles, and to Friday's audience for receiving my poems: letting me (in some small way) return the favours. 

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