Poetry explores what is best in our language, its images, word patterns, rhythms and sounds. It is the distillation of language to produce the most intense, vivid and emotional writing. By choosing this genre in which to express their ideas, the young poets published in Primo Lux 2022 have had to grapple with language and the discipline poetry demands. They have met that challenge with considerable success.
When I started Primo Lux, I did so because I wanted to recognise and share the writing of my students beyond the classroom. Marks have come to equate with value in our world and I firmly believe that the creativity required to write a poem is beyond that boundary. I wanted their creativity to mean more than a mark contributing to assessment. Nineteen years later, I still believe publishing and celebrating their poetry allows that to happen. The testimony supporting that statement is apparent in the poetry contained within Primo Lux 2022.
On Monday 5 December, Clancy’s Fish Pub of Fremantle, once again hosted the launch of this poetry anthology. Poets from years ten through to twelve are eligible to submit poems for consideration. This year over 300 poems were sent in from across the state. Poets from Eneabba, York, Denmark, Bunbury, Dunsborough and Katanning, as well as local suburbs, attended the actual launch to read their work and receive their copy. Giving voice to young poets is the bonus for producing Primo Lux, and hearing their voices reflect the joys and darkness of our world is incredibly moving.
Here are three poems from John Curtin High School students.
If people were words
mine would be mellow.
As comfort is found in buttercup yellow
faint among untamed weeds
next to trimmed beds of tulips and roses
nurtured from seeds.
Mellow like the morning moon
so the sun gleams bright.
Mellow, easily swayed
by a cunning fellow.
Stupid in an eagerness to please
a life spent adapting became a disease.
Boxing myself into strangers’ thoughts,
So my soul and stories can be packed neatly
into the generic box
of a five-foot grave.
To rest as I have lived,
A goodbye wave.
– Lily Williams
squid ink sky,
the salt misted planks
of a jetty edged with bronze lamps.
charred mullet smokes
on a bush campfire,
crusted toes curling in warm pindan.
pearl shells and cockle middens
dot the foreshore.
Why are you late?
Dinner starts at 5:45.
egg white walls
peeling like sunburned skin
with discarded blue tack
scattering silverfish seeking refuge
in the swollen cracks
of the timber floor.
You’re on dishes.
We won’t tolerate lateness.
underneath a blush smeared sky
a sagging clothesline adorned with
brittle plastic pegs
thinking of home.
Can’t be waiting for stragglers.
We need to start announcements.
an Indigenous boy
solitary on the angular steps
of our home that isn’t home
listening to his songs in tiny earbuds
dreaming of another time.
Are you listening?
indented silvery concrete
licked by amber light.
rows of rosemary bushes
on blue benches.
neon lit evenings
– Catherine Morris
Figs and Olives
I met my Grandad in Australia when we moved here.
The man on the phone materialised and for a year I lived in his home.
The house was simple;
Small farm life in Ireland left indifference to the luxuries of today,
Compensated for in the most lavish garden ever cultivated,
Rich and lush giving humble bounty year-round.
He would give me his largest, smooth porcelain bowl
And we would walk on the parched grass.
The child and the grey-haired man,
Me barefoot and him in brown leather shoes,
Until we reached the grandest tree in the garden.
I would climb with monkey feet to the highest branches
(Although there were soft fruits to reach from the ground,)
And pick the ripe figs for Grandad to put into the bowl.
Wrinkly hands outstretched divulging a lifetime of summers,
Freckled skin unequipped for the intensity of this country.
Some we would eat right away,
Breaking through the deep purple skin to the pink flesh
Sweet and cold, leaving the rest to make a sticky brown jam
That would simmer for hours on the stove making molten bubbles
That pop and sigh and in the warm winds of the sunken sun
We would eat it with a slice of plain bread.
When the mist turns to rain to soothe the desiccated land,
We venture again into the garden with the porcelain bowl.
Velvety tendrils of snow peas twinkle and the rain awakened
Flowers strike with rejuvenated colour.
I would climb into the labyrinth of his crooked olive tree
While he worked patiently at the branches near the floor
Shakily plucking the blackened olives
Until we had a heaping mound in our bowl.
He would pit countless olives while I stirred the salty brine
And in a mismatched assortment of jars he had collected over the years
They would sit until plump and flavorful to hand off to anyone in the family
Who would like to taste the fruits of our labour.
I don’t live with Grandad anymore, but each time the figs are ripe
Or the olives go from green to rosy black
He will take me into his garden with our porcelain bowl;
The grey-haired man and I, to pick the ample fruit to share.
– Caroline Wilson
Every year I say to myself, I am not doing this again, and then I see the young poets’ faces lighting up, hear their voices as they read, listen to the words they have crafted and know I must continue to provide this avenue of expression. Next year will make it twenty editions. Bring it on!
* By Veronica Lake. Veronica is the founder of Primo Lux and herself a published poet. You will find the poetry of Fremantle poets and interviews with them, including Veronica, here on the Shipping News’ Poets Paddock feature.
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