At the beginning of this year I was asked to read my poetry at The Woman Scream International Poetry Festival in Sydney. The festival is celebrated in March every year in many countries throughout the world, and seeks to bring attention to issues such as violence against women, as well as to support and showcase the voices of women in the arts.
It was an honour to be asked to take part, but it was also rather nerve-racking! I was punching above my weight with this one, reading my work alongside other Australian poets who are much more widely published and well-known than I am. Scary!
Happily, it turned out to be a wonderful night; everybody was supportive and gracious, and I even made a few new literary friends. 🙂
However, when I saw some photos of the event afterwards on Facebook, I was dismayed. Everybody else appeared so at ease and animated; I had tried so hard to look calm that I ended up looking completely expressionless: zombie-like in fact! The only clue to my anxious internal state — a very shiny (ahem, some would say sweaty, but we all know that ladies don’t sweat) face. Oh well! Poet Michelle Cahill kindly gave me some make-up tips for next time.
On a more serious note, the experience got me thinking about the dichotomy that often exists between our external appearance and our internal reality…and so, dear reader, I do what poets do — I wrote a poem. ‘Self Seen‘ was first published in the fabulous Blue Hour Magazine: read it there, or here below.
Impassive as a mountain
I sit, hands resting reverentially in
the infertile valley of my lap,
face glowing like the gibbous moon
and hair as vaingloriously glossy
as the Jewess’s wedding wig.
Others incline inquisitively
their thoughtful hands cup jutting jaws
their sharp eyes peck the gold from dross
and their hair like blazing halos
is conspicuously mussed.
Only I seem to sit
insensate as Vesuvius,
internally vibrating on the verge