To coincide with Poets Paint Words II, the Newcastle Region Art Gallery hosted a poetry competition, inspired by the above painting by Tim Storrier. We received over 170 entries into the competition, and 11 winners were chosen by poet and University of Newcastle academic Maria Freij to receive book prizes courtesy of the Sydney Writer's Festival.
The winners were: David Swain, Amelia Filmer-Sankey, Jan Dean, Po Yu (Eric) Wang, Anne B Udy, F Lucero, Gail Hennessy, Caitlin De Pater, Claire Williams, Jake, and Robert Henderson.
Below is one of the winning poems.
An elegant fire, this, unspent
Assured and centre-stage
The log of ember extended
Bedded in calm landscape
Fire is the artist’s story
And I have my own to tell.
My fire was different, unseen and lacking beauty
Smoke only, silence, a monster sun
And just a clumsy girl to tell it.
First day of high school
Evacuated to the beach, we tried to breathe
Not home safe til evening, astonished by the world.
My father, not a religious man,
Sacrificed much (a nightly ritual)
Eyes bright, cheeks aflame, alone:
Newspapers, cartons, clothing
His wedding certificate, charred but saved
(My mother thinking it
Better to marry than to burn.)
In the shadow of Mt Wellington
Our house froze, and us in it
Save only the lounge room - Tierra del Fuego
Ablaze with roaring heat
Roasting, I disrobed, moaned, begged relief
No use – the Inferno forbade escape.
My friend, lately returned to Hobart,
Writes of drowned worlds
Recalling Lake Pedder and lost dreams.
School is gone now, and my father, and the house
But looking at this painting
I remember fire and know it still.