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“Hi, I’m Dael Allison.
The poem I’ll read is from my series on the iconic Australian painter Ian Fairweather.
Fairweather died in 1974. A wanderer, he travelled through a great deal of Asia and Australia in the 1930s and 40s, painting and living rough. The impetus for him to settle was his epic raft journey, made in 1952 at the age of 60 from Darwin to Timor: 16 waterlogged days on a craft so small he couldn’t stand.
Two notes of explanation:
Fairweather called his craft Lit Bateau, a name stolen from Collette.
Reckitts Blue is an old fashioned laundry whitener Fairweather used as paint.
This poem is based on Fairweather’s painting (Lights, Darwin Harbour ) 1957.
men teeter on your edges darwin. strung to night’s ebb-tide filament-tight, cockle eyes attune to nuance of fish, their dangling legs sway to the lurch and wash of wave. you have no authority darwin. your pier lights do not arrest the dark, your static starbursts are as blind as mangrove mud. only prescient larrakia see lit bateau’s shadow slip across the sandbar away from fanny bay and scuttle quick as cuttlefish into the channel’s inky narrative of crocodiles and moonfish, barramundi, bombed ships, downed planes, disintegrating men. your strangling chrome-green, chrome-yellow outpost hell of people scumbles black behind me. wind squalls like a fretful child. water streams fluid as slapped paint out and out the ever-stretching gulf past east point past mandorah beneath charles point’s baleful lighthouse stare. flung like a skipping stone into the timor current, flotsam shadow random arrow sucked into distance, released from land’s tether into rising weather, freed from strangling green and suffocating kind, leaving Australia behind to face the empty seas. and they will be as deep and true as reckitts blue.”
ABOUT DAEL ALLISON:
Poet, essayist and novelist, Dael Allison won the 2007 Wildcare International Prize, 2008 Northern Territory Literary Award for Essay and 2009 LitLink/NRWC Award for an unpublished manuscript (a novel). Her Masters in Creative Arts at UTS (Sydney) interprets, in poetry, the 1952 Darwin to Timor raft trip by artist Ian Fairweather. The poems will be published by Walleah Press in 2012. Dael will be working in Kiribati, in the middle of the Pacific, for the foreseeable future.
“I am an alumni member and am lucky to have stayed at Varuna three times due to being awarded the 2009 Varuna LitLink/NRWC Award for an Unpublished manuscript (residency Feb/April 2010) and a 2011 Varuna Retreat Fellowship (poetry) (residency in Jan 2012)” Dael Allison
Shock Aftershock, Picaro Press, 2010
Adrift, poems responding to Ian Fairweather’s raft journey, NT Writers’ Centre, 2010
Semaphore Dancing (ed.),2009,Poetry At The Pub, Newcastle anthology
Secrets beneath stones (ed.), 2008, Poetry At The Pub, Newcastle anthology
Heart-weather (ed.), 2007, Poetry At The Pub, Newcastle anthology
(Note: as I will be out of Australia this will be my only reliable contact for a year or two)
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