Since 2016, WA Poets Inc (based in Perth, Western Australia) has conducted the Ros Spencer Poetry Contest. Having run the contest for several years, the organisers produced an anthology in late 2019 containing poems from all four contests to date.
Brushstrokes, the Ros Spencer Poetry Contest Anthology 2016-19, presents poems selected by Dennis Haskell and Rose Van Son. Rose and Dennis were the judges for 2018 and 2019 respectively.
In choosing some 12 per cent of the contest entries for inclusion in the anthology, the editors say they have deliberately sought to showcase the range of good poems submitted over the years. In the process, they were struck by the breadth of poetry on offer, in terms of both subject matter and form. Together, these poems provide a very readable and enjoyable selection of contemporary Australian writing.
The Judge’s report and winning poems from the 2019 contest can be read here.
I was pleased to have two of my poems included in the anthology. Below are the final two stanzas of my poem titled A Pelican On Lake Eyre:
Did the local finches, having drunk
from the newly filled saltpans,
pass the news, beak to beak
over the bush telegraph until it reached
a broody pelican in the Coorong.
And having found this inland paradise,
will her unsuspecting chick learn to fly
or will its partly feathered carcass
lie wasted in the drying mud, one eye
pointed toward an unrepentant sun.
Quite a number of poems in the book describe Australian scenes and Australian life, but many of the poems relate to other parts of the world.
My second poem is titled The Thing about Islands (Beau Vallon Beach, Seychelles). The idyllic Seychelles in the Indian Ocean are home to the giant Aldabra tortoise which is similar in size and lifespan to the Galapagos tortoise. The final stanza of the poem reads:
But I guess that’s the thing
about islands. On an island
a tortoise can pass two hundred
years, stirring or not stirring, as it
pleases; impassive as a lighthouse
or a stone totem. On an island
it’s not just time that stand still.
If you would like to read the full collection, you can purchase a copy of Brushstrokes here.