Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fitzroy High School
Overload Poetry Festival

The day after your arrival
is a high school reading.
We agree as poets it’s been a long time
between classes. Our eyes are pressed in
outward glances at closed doors,
Headmaster's office, a walk in the past.
Fear means we’ve survived school days,
a hijacked front seat, the less kind
at assembly, sports-day in F-team.
Yet here, school bags and lunch boxes
are full of tomorrow. It’s spring and everyone
is a new leaseholder in this estate. Waves
of green-grey-cobalt assuage otherwise old red brick.
In the front office, a ceramic bowl, toilet paper,
flowers, lighthearted verse; an assemblage
of nature prints as if this is an animal ready
to breakthrough from the past.

In the corridor there is friendly chatter,
boys swaying in sync, jovial song,
a guitar thrumming the air with every step.
Now we enter the sphere of year 8’s writing
prose, Year 10’s, pens on the Beats. Thank you −
Mr. Ginsberg − they hear your Howl.
An applause comes after our spill of words.
We wrestle the page in an attempt to hold them
in fierce syllables; gather enough faith
when James from Overload has them
in a rhythm of fountain pens. We uphill
shoulders, expiring breath from a ribcage
of doubt. ‘Is the struggle over to keep awake?’
‘Is poetry boring?’ Hands diminish in the count.
We pack up and go.
Unanswered questions remain,
At least, we concur, poetry has imprinted two hours
on young writers’ minds.

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Helen Hagemann's first literary collection, Evangelyne & other poems, was published by the Australian Poetry Centre in their New Poets Series 2009. She has two e-books, The Joyous Lake & Par écrit: poetry of the feminine @ http://issuu.com/evangelyne/​​docs/joyous_lake/

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