I remember Professor Elizabeth Webby at Sydney University teaching Australian poetry. I had lived and worked in a remote mining town as well as traveled extensively through the outback of Australia before I got to Sydney University, so in some ways I was interested to see whether there were representations of the tension I had experienced between city and country life.
In Kalgoorlie, the world of academic argument, fashion trends and political correctness were, for the most part, irrelevant. I lived in this hard town until I fell in love. I taught and read and wrote and watched my infant daughter survive my inability to cook or do laundry or housekeeping, for that matter. From Kal, she and I and her lovely dad, would travel for long stretches at a time to explore the outback.
And it was when traveling the Canning Stock Route and the Gunbarrel Highway or when exploring the Mitchell Plateau and the Kimberley, I began to see the ways in which landscape outside of the city was intensely meaningful. It had its own body and psyche.
Placed within that landscape I too seemed to become a different person; someone without radio static because the dial had now located the exact station of who I was.
The exact station: I am washing my two year old daughter by moonlight on the other side of the old Toyota High lux. It’s late in the evening but warm. No one tells you about desert skies. Thick and primeval; the desert night sky is enormous and bedecked with stars of such luminosity! My daughter stands in a small plastic container and I douse her in warm water, chatting and giggling.
Then behind me, down the sand dunes a herd of wild camels charge. I stand up and she presses into my leg. The smell and sight and sound of these huge animals is stunning. They come as one and weave their way with such grace and beauty that I don’t speak.
I don’t call out.
I don’t move.
There is moonlight above them and it is the most incredible spectacle I have ever witnessed. Their power. Their nonchalance. Their noisy quiet. They veer to the left and run past where we stand. On and on they run but slower now until we cannot see or hear or smell them.
And it is at this moment my daughter says: “Camels.”
Elizabeth’s first book, The Alchemy of Poetry, is available now! It would make the perfect gift for someone who is interested in the world of art and poetry and history and politics and love and death and war and the sublime – because the 160 poems selected in The Alchemy of Poetry succinctly and pitch perfectly offer all this and so much more!
Get your copy and send Elizabeth your review!
The Alchemy of Poetry by Elizabeth Guy
Published by Dreaming Big Publications
Paperback; 470 pages; ISBN-13 : 978-1947381414
Genre: Ancient, Classical and Contemporary Poetry; Education and Teaching; Non fiction