Boonah World Environment Day in July



My family arrived in Boonah last Friday night, and stayed at the tranquil home of my friend Elizabeth who is a local resident and greatly involved in her local community’s efforts for sustainability.  After enjoying a beautiful misty sunrise and breakfast, we headed up the next day to the World Environment Day festival which was being hosted by BOSS (Boonah Organisation for a Sustainable Shire). The most striking thing to attract our attention when we first arrived was the Vomitor, made from recycled materials and warning us what will happen if we don’t stop littering!


At tenish the traditional welcome from the Ugurapul people happened, conducted by Douglas James, his wife Denise and others from their community.

This was full of ceremony and quite moving.  It included a reenactment of what should have happened when new people arrived on these shores, and a smoking ceremony.



After the traditional acknowledgement I gave a short  official welcome speech and shared a poem especially written for the festival and dedicated to its themes.  I spoke about how poetry is in everything, the totems that many of the Indigenous people’s of the world have and shared that my family totem from PNG is the Bird of Paradise.

I remembered my youth growing up in Tasmania and working with others to in my community to make sure the Franklin stayed wild river.  I read out some statistics on the state of the environment in Australia and read ‘River Song’ from Magic Fish Dreaming.  I focused on the power of unity and collective action from everyone in whatever capacity they can to bring about change in the world, and mentioned the story of Jadev Peyang.


My dear children shared three songs, and it is so good to see them continue to build their confidence performing in public!

This one is Courtesy festival photographer (I was videoing)

There were more things happening throughout the day in the main stage area, but I mostly spent my time in the sheltered area on my book stall, selling books and was treated to some lovely chats with locals, visitors and other stall holders.


We encouraged people to contribute to a group poem, with about 15 people stopping to participate in this.  You can read  FROM LOVE – HERE.

Participants, all ages particularly liked the magnet play to create parts of the poem.    Here are a series of photographs on the poem in progress.


I managed to sneak up the top on a break to see the following dancers, due to having my dear family on hand to help me out.


Gypsy Caravan Tribal Dancers



The highlight of the day was making friends with Rebecca Brain (BOSS Vice President), also from PNG.  I was so delighted when she took a copy of the book home to read to her children, which I wanted to gift to her, but she insisted she had to pay me something,  and paid me the retailers price and presented me with a bilum as well.  Quigley the Quoll loved that bilum!



I met some other lovely stall holders, food van people, performers, and non profits as well as the singers of the day stopping by to say hello and offer encouragement to my kids for their music.  That was just lovely.  There was also a storyteller, or was it bush poet who came and told me a long joke about Salmon Rushdie and the Atlantic ocean, because my book reminded him of it… (due to being about a fish.)


Pictured  (above) are the not for profit Days for Girls  making a difference.  There was a whole range of workshops, films, face painting, and demonstrations going on, but I didn’t have a chance to capture all that as I was chatting with people at the stall, about poetry, totems, environment and more.


Dear Elizabeth dropped by a few times to see how it was all going.

I just loved meeting so many interesting people in Boonah.

A massive, massive thank you to the people of Boonah as well as my friend Norah who said hello.  May your festival go from strength to strength.

It was also a lovely surprise for my hubby to see the father of a friend from his childhood, who now lives in Boonah!


For more photographs of the day head to my FLICKR SET

You can find out more about BOSS on their facebook page. HERE

From Love – Creating a Group Poem


From Love

Saturday caterpillars are
climbing trees.

Saturday’s children sing
‘Caterpillar aeroplane.’

Six caterpillars begin
to grow.

In the yellow night
time is climbing &
purple bubbles of song
swing sticks about.

Saturday people
swim cobwebs of
blue people &
blue frogs.

Saturday’s stones know that
old love
forms in the leaves
falling from the trees.

Old women over June
are running free
red over black stones
time is climbing.

Old women over August sing,
‘be that dirt and mud
that grows these green forest trees.’

Butterflies flutter free
through the dragon grass

From Love,
old stones that are scattered
form the foundation
of all that is to come.

By Jennifer Hume,  Kylie Castle, Jessica Brain, Jackie Towell, Margaret Van Blommestein
Dominique, Christina and Ashleigh, David, Norah and 4 anons
& June Perkins  Drafted 15/7/2017

Edited by June Perkins   16/7/2017



  • Magnets,  mini white boards,  white board markers, phone cameras, magnets, and an SLR camera.
  • Special prompts on poetic form if they wanted to work on them, going with visual poems, acrostics,  the line, and haiku.
  • Due to it being an environmental festival we were avoiding using paper.


We laid out a table with the equipment, and some instructions and terms for participation, and they could also talk to me.

Participants were encouraged to connect what they had written to the person before them through either.

  • Image or Idea
  • Word
  • Phrase

They were drawn from passers by and people querying the book.

We kept what the person had written before on the slr camera, and also on a mini white board if we could.

Participants could chose to have their full name, or first name as authors, and leave emails so we could send them the final poem.

Special challenges

  • Participants were all ages, including children who couldn’t really write or read yet.
  • There was a large number of concerts, stalls and workshop based activities, as well as a film screening, and a sand pit to compete with and so the group poem struggled although it was introduced.
  • We had about 15 participants over the whole day.
  • The links between the phrases afterwards didn’t always make fluent sense.


  • People who did stop were intrigued by the idea.
  • It worked best when they mainly worked with magnets and enjoyed playing.
  • Drawing scaffold images like leaves to place words into was helpful.
  • The visual shape prompt was looked at a few times.
  • A lot more people stopped to watch others doing the activity than to do it themselves.
  • People who enjoyed it found other participants.
  • People did not read the written down laminated prompts.
  • The use of magnets avoided cliches and encouraged people to truly play and invent based on the magnet sets that I had.


When working with the words afterwards, rather than literally chaining them together with little editing I took the strongest lines and kept them intact and then worked with the other phrases as if they were magnet boards.

So the words were remixed and the stanzas were linked in a way that would make a poem that made sense, and less random.  Attractive phrases were repeated.

The resulting poem is above. Some lines were discarded for the first poetry mix above as they didn’t seem to fit well with the others.

Another mix may be done to include those if it is possible.


  • The magnet play aspect was great!
  • It might help to have a set full on workshop time, instructional talk, within the program to encourage people to participate in the group poetry followed by them creating their piece.
  • Might also help to have a poetry reading time and space next to the group poem creating space prior to a creating time.
  • Have the walk in create a group poem space set up in a more inviting way and be placed in a different spot within the venue that people are more likely to stop and dwell in.
  • Not be selling books at the same time.
  • Have more poetry helpers on board.
  • Think about using a large chalk board and some large white boards, or being able to chalk art people can write poems into on the ground (working with a chalk artist)
  • Have other participants who are keen to work on the editing process afterwards.
  • Collect more magnets!  Or make laminated plastic word pools with key themes of the festival and divided into word groupings in trays people can draw upon.
  • Work with Junk orchestra or others to use a beat to create some of the words of the poems.
  • Ask the Junk orchestra guy to gather young people to come participate in creating the group poem/art work as he was pretty persuasive.
  • It was fun sharing some stories about group poems, like how haiku parties can be held as well as talking about shape poems.
  • Have a laptop set up so people can view a photograph of what was written previously going back a few screens or have people work on post cards and pin the postcards up progressively (ie use paper); but also have people edit and shift postcards around (perhaps the coordinating artist/writer).

I would love to try this idea again, and using the experiences of Boonah, refine it until it is greater or as close to universal participation.

I’d like to especially think about the physical layout and how to make it more inviting, and talk to some artists about that, and invite the help of chalk artists and musicians to make it a more multidimensional creative space.

If you have ever worked on creating group poems within a festival space, please respond to this blog!  We’d love your feedback!

If you helped create this poem, do send us your feedback as well.

(c) June Perkins


Exotic haliconia
Stairway to heaven I capture
With my camera

I seek you at night time
The moon reveals you
To my lens

Morning clouds abound
Rain drops around
Now lapped up by the ground

Abundant rainbow garden
Tended with love and care
My fragrant desire

Does yesterday’s dawn
Shine more brightly
Than today’s?

Tomorrow’s evening knows not autumn
Brahminy kites up in the air
Ulysses butterfly everywhere

Cassowary’s hidden footprint
Underneath evergreen trees
Never ending summer

Tropical lushness
Our happiness
One with the world.

By the Licuala Writers

Appears in the Anthology Under One Sky.