Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Tuesday Poem - 'Townsville' by Catherine Bateson

Today's Tuesday Poem is brought to you with a difference! It both reflects where I am - Townsville - and what I'm doing - writer in residence at Cathedral School. This is a poem written to model an exercise loosely based on Lorca's 'Song of the Black Cubans'.

I set this exercise to alert students of the need to use all five senses. I ask them to pick a destination - it can be real or imagined, fantastic or prosaic. I then I ask them:
a) how are they getting there?
b) what will they see there?
c) what will they hear there?
d) what will they touch there?
e) what will they smell there?
f) what will they taste there?
g) who will meet them there?
I ask them not to rhyme, but to use elements of the refrain 'I will go...' as a spine-building repetition throughout the poem.

I wrote this to model this exercise last time I came to Townsville when they were experiencing unprecedented flooding. I'd come from Melbourne, where in the Dandenongs and other parts of Victoria, we were suffering the most devastating bushfires to hit Victoria for decades. Although I live in a fairly safe area, we are surrounded by by bushfire hotspots and, as I was seeing those black storm clouds bank up over Castle Hill, my family were watching black smoke plumes in the Dandenongs. It was quite surreal.


I will go to Townsville.
I will fly there on the wings of a black cockatoo
I will go in monsoon season to taste the rain again.
I will go to Townsville
where bruise-black clouds bank up against Castle Hill
and rainbow bee-eaters swoop and chatter near Ross Creek
down by the marina smelling of water weed and barnacles.
I will go to Townsville
to fill my hands with sweet clean water
and my eyes with endless sky.
I come from a place ringed by fire and falling ash
I will go to Townsville to meet you, the poets of rain.


Mary McCallum said...

ooh nice exercise - thank you, Catty - might try that on my kids... and I like the poem!

derek said...

i have relatives in townsville. they talk about the weather a lot. it seems to matter more there.

Helen Lowe said...

I really 'see' Townsville in this poem - a gift since I have family who live there but haven't made it there yet.

Cattyrox said...

Mary - hope the exercise served your kids well. Derek - I don't know, Melbourne people are obsessed with the weather, in my opinion. Mind you, we do have so much of it! Helen - I am pleased! Thank you.

Melissa Green said...

Lovely poem, Catty. I'm glad you posted it.