Volta – a Turn for Poetry

Poetry’s Turn in a Pandemic!


Dr June Perkins, Sam Wagan Watson, Kylie Thompson

Images Courtesy for Queensland Poetry Festival,

It’s been 10 months, since a live poetry event for the Queensland Poetry Festival (QPF). So, it was perhaps this that led to such anticipation and a within minutes booked out venue for the first Volta (an Italian term for the ‘turn’ in thought or argument in a sonnet, although we weren’t required to perform sonnets) at the Brisbane Square Library.

Thankfully a move to a larger venue at the same library was possible, and that was again rapidly booked out.

Covid 19 has altered so many art events, festivals, performances and pushed them into adaptations which include an expanded use of online performance and workshops.

Panacea Poets, was one such innovation of the QPF, and involved 46 poets recording their performances and sharing them in an online curated youtube channel.

Yet the…

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What can Citizen teach me about Poetry?

Been digging deep for the next poetry collection. Filling a purple notebook with ideas, often written in prose.

Sometimes lines just spin out like poetry.

Then I type them up. During type up sometimes words and lineation change.

Sometimes metaphors are born.

Sometimes phrases that surprise HAPPEN!

Then I revisit them with what I have been discovering in my mentor texts. These texts suggest experiments. Things to try that I might not have done before. Or I see that I do something that poet does already.

Had some positive feedback from my mentor recently (and a new question) and the journey continues!

This is my reflection on Citizen and I have written some new poems based on this reflection (those are top secret for now).

Citizen by Claudia Rankin – Devices/Observations.

There are no titles only sections I – VII.

There is often a use of the second person you – to put reader in the shoes of the narrative speaker- the reader, you must inhabit the body of a black person.

Her series of vignettes is very prosaic at times but then there are these massively poetic metaphorical lines that just pop out at you

‘the sky is the silence of brothers'(p. 89 in citizen- very moving )

‘a novelist with the face of English sky’ (p. 115)

that said the work progressively becomes more and more poetic to express a depth of sorrow and critique of society that is indeed lyrical.

She mixes memoir, essay and the poetic. There is the mention of other texts and citations, like from James Baldwin. Something about the way she quotes them makes you want to read those intertexts.

There is the integration of photographs, surreal art works, multimedia scripts and more.There is an engagement with popular culture / tennis/ academic texts/ everyday life, news.

By referring to you I sometimes feel like the poet is in dialogue with herself, trying to understand herself, or the person she is embodying.

She deals very deeply with the objectifying of the ‘black body.’

She has great compassion that does not judge for the black person that rebels and responds to prejudice in the ways they have access to.

So what next? What do I read next after the mentor texts?

Remembering my Father in Law

Following the Crow Song

Memories of Howard Perkins, from Daughter in Law June Perkins

Howard Perkins pictured with his dear wife Helen, and my three children (his grandkids from Queensland).

15th February 2021

The very first time I met Howard Perkins, after visiting the Perkins’s house after a teaching service trip with his son David, he said, ‘You know he’s a good catch,’ about David, with David standing there and blushing, much to his embarrassment. His Dad was keen for him to be married and figured I might be the one.

At the time David and I were friends, only having just met, but a few days later David knew we would be married. His Dad had picked it before he did though.

We lived with Helen and Howard for two years in Melbourne about one year after we married having moved from Tasmania my childhood home.  During which time several other people…

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