I started with Oodgeroo Noonuccal, just because. She manages evocative images and emotions with a few spare words, and none of it needs deep analysis unless you want to spend the time with it. Her classic, Son of Mine, with its clear decision to focus forwards and not dwell on past wrongs always wrings the emotions in me. The Last of His Tribe is another favourite: such a casual telling of a life disregarded, but evoking the emotions of an entire race. Of course, as soon as I read Corroboree, I had to slip to We Are Going. Those two are linked like bread and cheese and must be read in that order. From there it was a short slide to Judith Wright’s Bora Ring.
The contrasts between the two poems highlight the contrasts between attitudes. Noonuccal feels the loss personally. Her people are gone; we’ve all lost something precious and we must acknowledge that. Wright feels it as something a little sad that happened to someone else and can’t be changed: Oh well, let’s move on now. Those two poems (three if we count Corroboree) together tell the tale of Australian history, and the attitudes prevailing, still, today.
From there I slipped into some Bruce Dawe and Thomas Shapcott; a different perspective of the country. Their work is known to me as well, still a homecoming. (I met Shapcott a lifetime ago when I first started uni. That was probably my first ‘fan-girl’ crush. It lasted all of three hours – the duration of his lecture, discussion afterwards, and the walk home to my reality.) I’ve been thinking about analysing the political and social environments at the time of their writings to see what correlations I can draw. Just because. It’s not as if I have nothing else to do.
So that was the comfort zone. Now it’s time for something a little different. I want to read some things by Luke Beesley and Kim Chen Boey. It’s not as simple as doing a search and downloading onto my ereader for them. I’ll have to buy an actual paper book to read them. I’ve searched the local independent and chain bookstores online. A couple of them have one or two books by Beesley, nothing by Boey. The only book I’ve been able to find by Boey is a travel memoir. Otherwise, I have one poem from a mixed anthology. Just one.
It'll be enough for me to read many different words, many different ways of putting those words together and many different ways of making readers think and feel differently. Some of it might even rub off on my writing. I can hope.