Cover of ‘Celebrate: The End of Year Reciter’

Ever since I was a child I have written stuff – stories, poems, essays, reports. I have used writing as an outlet and an input. For me it has been a way of releasing anger, recording moments of great joy, clarifying my thought or explaining complex emotions. It has been my go-to method of releasing life’s tensions and solving problems.

I am a prolific story writer, but poems are rare gems and always come to me at times of heightened emotion. The last one I wrote was for my mother’s funeral in 2012. Like most authors I am a magpie, picking up ideas from everywhere, constantly searching for new ways of making sense of the world and different ways to describe what I find. Sometimes a poem delivers the words to capture an experience or an idea so perfectly that I’m totally blown away. As a child of the Wheatbelt, growing up in small country towns, I was particularly gob-smacked by this line from the poem ‘Return’ by Gregory Day, ‘… the town’s an ashtray always being emptied and refilled.’ It so perfectly encapsulates the way the population of a small town swells and ebbs away on a regular basis, taking some people with it, leaving others behind with empty spaces to be refilled.

On that note of praise for poetry I might just go and write a poem. I’ll have to do it quickly though, before someone comes along and empties the ashtray of my mind.

Elaine Forrestal’s poem published in ‘Celebrate’

(‘Return’ was published in Review, The Weekend Australian, May 25-26, 2019)


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