After months of touring, followed by a well-timed succession of writing and editing projects, I find myself stumbling into Christmas, bewildered by Time’s fickleness. Somehow January led hard into December by condensing 10 months into what felt like 10 minutes. It's like we open little chip packets of time, not knowing how much is in each one. Then, as we gaze distractedly at a screen, we wolf down that bag of time, barely noticing the handfuls of it we shove into our mouths, and before you know it, we’ve eaten several months and still haven’t done our tax return!
I have been lucky enough to travel a little this year. As well as the OA tour that like a beautiful alternate reality, I recently travelled to Mt Gambier in South Australia for a family funeral. Although it was a sad occasion, it was balanced with the joy of seeing family again after so many years. It was not only the delight of seeing young cousins now grown from funny kids into terrifically successful adults, but also to see and share all the changes, renewals and new beginnings that mark out the episodes of our lives.
I think travel also brings us much more into the present – into the now. This was something so desperately missing from the static experience of time during lockdown (‘Is it the weekend again already?!’). Unfamiliar environments literally bring us to our senses (smells, sounds, sights), taking us out of autopilot and into a true experience of the world around us. For me, the experience of my senses is very often the starting point for poetry. Underlying mental states or emotions usually reveal themselves in a poem through those perceptions. As Anaïs Nin said: ‘We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.’ The idea that we are constantly projecting as well as receiving through our senses makes... well... it makes total sense to me!
Wind Farms Near Mount Emu
Blades plough low slung clouds,
heavy herds traverse the plains –
wind farms in the mist.
Sweep up and dip down,
steamboats paddling into white,
the beasts churn onward.
Rock-flanked, grass-skinned slopes,
the morning thick with memory –
Mount Emu looming.
Dusk at Fairy Meadow Beach
Cast your eye to the horizon,
as long as the Illawarra twilight,
the surf leaping at you in dumping thrusts.
Something pops and scuttles across
sand too cold for toes; fluttering
in the dune scrub, tentative
tweets and creaks.
Floating cities offshore pass by
while static industry blinks back,
stentorian sentinel, pressing
its hard geometry against the evening.
The middle finger of a lighthouse –
the city crowding behind like sullen tough boys, says
Fuck Off. This Is Ours –
repulsing resurgent tides that will
claw this land without ceasing.
And hear the sea sing.
Sun-tide receding, revealing a reef of stars
that overleaps the mass of solid grey
now crowding at the earth’s curved edge.
Night slips through between mountains
that don't quite reach the sea.
And surrounds me.
I wrap my scarf against it –
turn from sea-dark wind
to lurid yellow shelter
and head for home.
Forest Collective has just finished an extraordinary week of filming for our upcoming online event Pierrot Lunaire. I was utterly floored by the creativity and spirit of all involved. Ashley Dougan’s dance is haunting, the cinematography from Underground Media is exquisite, and the music and musicianship shakes you to your core. And I love Evan Lawson’s idea to commission a DJ set remixing parts of Pierrot. Something that feels utterly left-field, but works spectacularly. The final result, created by DJ Pixlpixi, is original, brilliant and banging! Get your tickets now for this truly modern Gesamtkunstwerk.
The new year will bring some extraordinary projects, including Shifting, Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella - all of which I promise to write about in due course. But for now, what a delight it is to be back in theatres and concert venues where every show feels precious, vulnerable and transient. What better reminder to be present and to treasure what we have.
Have a great festive season, dear friends, and see you all in 2022!