Saturday, September 02, 2006

New England Poets Present - 5th Annual Poetry Festival Sydney

I see from the September e-Bulletin from Regional Arts NSW that at least three poets with New England connections - Anthony Lawrence, Yve Louis and Michael Sharkey - are taking part in Sydney activities associated with the 5th Australian Poetry Festival:Between. Good to see New England bringing some culture to Sydney.

Born at Tamworth on 27 April 1957, Anthony Lawrence (and here) has written poetry and fiction. He left school at the age of 16, becoming firstly a jackeroo, and then travelling for several years before returning to New South Wales to become a teacher and writer. Anthony's poems have appeared in many Australian and international literary magazines, including Meanjin, Overland, Poetry Australia, LiNQ. He has won numerous literary awards.

Anthony now lives in Tasmania and is claimed by that state as its own. However, his approach to writing - "I write about nature to define my life", he said in an interview - means that his New England experiences have been an important influence on his work.

Whereas Anthony moved from New England to Tasmania, Yve Louis (and here) is an example of a reverse transfer. Born in Darlinghurst (Sydney) on 10 February 1931 of Jewish and Lithuanian heritage, Yve Louis' first writing was for the ABC's Argonauts' Club.

This actually gives her two linkages with me. I was also born on 10 February if somewhat later and, like Yve, I listened to the Argonauts, glued to the radio from 5 to 6 every week day. Then, if conditions were right, I could switch stations to South Australia and listen to the last half hour all over again!

Few younger Australians would realise just how important the Argonauts were in providing a link to the broader world in areas like New England. The Club began as a national program in 1941. By 1950 there were over 50 000 Club members. It encouraged children's contributions of writing, music, poetry or art and was one of the ABC's most popular children's programs, running six days a week for 28 years, until it was broadcast only on Sundays and was finally discontinued in 1972, a victim of television.

Returning to Yve, she went to school at North Sydney Girls' High School, afterwards working in advertising while also studying by night at Sydney's Independent Theatre. She appeared there in several plays directed by Doris Fitton. Later she worked in radio, and also toured with the Elizabethan Theatre Co as Bubba in a production of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

I am not sure when Yve moved to Armidale. She then lived in the Adelaide Hills for five years during the early 'nineties where she became a regular reader at Friendly Street (and active committee member) and was an early participant of the working group, First Draft. With Jeff Guess, she co-edited Friendly Street 18. In 1995 her first collection of poems, Silver from Black, was published in Friendly Street New Poets: One.

Returning to Armidale, Yve edited five editions of the New England Review as well as an anthology, Skylines: New Writing from New England. In 2000 she co-founded Poetzinc, a monthly open reading which encourages local poets, and warmly welcomes all visiting poets. Recent collections by Yve Louis are Lilith's Mirror (1999), Kardoorair Press; and Voyagers (2002), Five Islands Press. Yve's first collection, Silver from Black, may be purchased on-line from the Wakefield Press website.

Michael Sharkey is the third New England poet presenting in Sydney. I have spoken of Michael before, so will not repeat the details.

I do not have full program details for the Festival - there have apparently been some problems with the web site, but understand that Yve and Michael will be reading at the 'Big School' at Sydney Grammar-next to the Museum in College Street-from 1pm till 1.45 on Saturday 9 September. At some point, Michael will also be launching a book by Melbourne poet Simon West.

3 comments:

Neil said...

Argonauts, eh? I was Leda 37!

Jim Belshaw said...

Neil, while brother David became an Argonaut, I did not. I was too busy reading to want to write anything at that stage, I could not draw or paint, and music was beyond me!

But Leda 37 does nicely illustrate my point about the importance of the program.

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