15 October 2016:
I was a NSW State finalist in the 2016 Australian Poetry Slam
Image design: Christina Lewanski
What a great night! I met up with twenty one very talented poets at the State Library of NSW. We had all won local heats (I was given a spot from Albury). We performed for the two minute limit that Slam gives you and in between we were brilliantly entertained by Sunil Badimi, and music by uber cool John Maddox…he was awesome! A special thanks to poet Naomi Higgins from Coffs Harbour who helped me get ‘home’ to my motel room. Naomi was bursting with baby and Naomi, I wish you all the very best for the impending birth (if it hasn’t happened already!) Congrats to Wil Johnston from Albury and Zoe Beaumont from Wagga who went through to the next level which was the National Final held at the Opera House the next night. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to that. Performance wise I’ve got a lot to learn and unfortunately Parkinson’s impacts upon my capacity to do so but watching the clever performances at the Slam was so uplifting. (I think that I spied actor Marcus Graham in the crowd as a spectator too!)
I love bush style poetry I guess; rhyming and meter, which I still work at. To me (now remember people, this is my blog and opinion only!) slam poetry is more like rap music. It’s got a different rhythm and I can no more recite in this style than fly to the moon! Besides, I think I’d look ridiculous. My style is the bush poet of old, in a story style. From what I’ve seen slam often has a very powerful political message, but it doesn’t have to. I’m pretty sure it was Elliot Cameron from Wollongong who slammed his life using gaming as an analogy. How funny was it? Apparently he’s stuck on the wrong level because he didn’t read the instructions properly! Other favourites were Bhupen Thakker or “Mr Sparkle”; Vince Stead who very cleverly used the letter A to his advantage; Derek Motion whose heartfelt writing left an deep mark on my heart; hell, they were all good! I think my personal pick of fellow slammers was Ursula Da Silva from the central coast who reduced me to tears with her powerful words on reconciliation and our need to move forward. Bottom line, she was saying let’s not keep focusing on the horrors of yesteryear but move forward to preserve heritage, stories, family values and most importantly culture. By this, I took it to mean any culture, civilization or race. Hate and blame don’t move us forward. This chick gets it.
Why don’t you get involved in Slam Poetry? To find out more go to: www.australianpoetryslam.com or find the Australian Poetry Slam on Facebook.
Did you know that Dalmatian puppies are born white? When they are first born and they are still wet from the mother’s birthing process, you can see the spots on their skin but as they are licked clean by the mum and they start to warm up, the fur brightens up and the spots disappear into the coat. Except of course for patch puppies. A patch is a big spot, mostly located on the head of the pup; the pup is born with this big spot and it is there forever. Sometimes puppies can have a double patch! Patch puppies are not able to be shown as a patch is considered to be a ‘fault’ in the show ring. They usually sell first though! The spots begin to appear through the coat and by the time the puppy is about two weeks old you can see how nicely spotted it is.
I bred and showed Dalmatians in Australia for twenty years (1981-2001) although I wasn’t very good at showing! My Kennel name was Luckywood Dalmatians and I registered 38 puppies during that time.
Remember the Australian Soldier
I am an Australian soldier; I stand tall and proud and true
I train and fight for freedom; I honour my country and I protect you
Tradition back to Sudan and Boer where I’ve always served you well
As National Servicemen, volunteers and conscripts we’ve often been through hell
Right back to our fateful landing upon the ANZAC shore
The mateship that we honour is for company, regiment and corps
To the Aussie soldier courage, teamwork and initiative are barely but a start
For professionalism, loyalty and innovation are clearly in our heart
Since World War I where Australia mourned the loss of so many fine young men
And the role of women forever changed as we stood in support of them
From World War II and wars beyond, from Vietnam to peace keeping today
Australian soldiers are deployed around the globe from their families far away
And I know each soldier joins the ranks because they feel it too
It’s the spirit of the Aussie digger; it’s what we call true blue
But contact front can take a life; a new name to cast upon the wall
In bronze to forever commemorate another loss too great to call
In Afghanistan we lost Russell, Pearce, Locke and Wood, McCarthy, Lambert, Marks
And forty-one names for me to recite; please keep them in your hearts
For green on blue is not the way a soldier is meant to die
As any loss of life through war is hard to justify
And those returning still live the hell, the smell, sights sounds and fear
That follow them in thoughts and dreams- some take it to despair
Sadly the number of soldiers affected by PTSD who are taking their own lives
Are far outweighed by the names cast in bronze, those men we highly prize
This growing toll also sacrifices so that we may live in peace today
Please stand tall and proud to honour that gift; God bless their souls I pray
And give strength to those who loved them best as we remember them always
We will honour their ANZAC spirit to the very end of days
But in life’s passing their mateship is here with you; I believe it’s standing by your side
All I ask is that you remember the Australian soldier with love and hope and pride
In appreciation to those who serve
Note: If your loved one’s name appears in my poem, I have done so with the greatest of respect.
RIP fine soldier.
I would be honoured if you read my poem at any ANZAC Day service, Remembrance Day or other service as appropriate. Click to download a PDF copy.
A few years ago I wrote to Mark Knight requesting permission to reproduce his cartoon with my poem, and he posted back to me that it was fine to do so. His incredible cartoon represented exactly what I was trying to convey in my poem. Mark, if ever decide you no longer want your cartoon here, please let me know and I will remove it.