Poets on Wheels last night came to Coffs Harbour. Pam Brown, Philip Hammial and Rebecca May shared some of their poems with a small (predominantly old) audience at the Coffs Harbour Library. Philip Hammial and Pam Brown are heavyweights, skilled and confident in form and subject. Rebecca May is raw and promising and a wonderful contrast to the two more established poets.
Hammial read an eclectic mix of pieces – some humorous but with buried enlightenments, small flecks of pathos that some of the audience seemed to miss (bursts of uncomfortable laughter, explanations to company). I’m glad I went alone. His subjects ranged from political caricature (very clever) to a friend’s mental illness. Hammial himself was a delight to watch, moving with the words, comfortable in jeans and African beads. He admitted he was tired from the train but it didn’t take the power from his words.
Rebecca May was next. Her first poem reflected on a car accident. It was moving and dense with imagery. A brilliant poem was read which compared falling in love to tumbling into the mysterious vortex of the Bermuda Triangle. It was rich and (as Pam Brown later commented) her rhymes seemed effortless.
Pam Brown began with explorations of place. Straight away her poems reflected a true eye, a slightly ironic one that knows it sees too much, an all-encompassing one that floats from corners, to streets, to history, to the internal self. She also read a political poem, but her passion was evident even in the ‘lighter’ ones.
Three local poets were given a chance to get up and read. Rosemary warmed the audience with a reflection on her grandchild. Tom forgot his words, but when he did remember them they were traditionally rhymed and clever. Jessica was the surprise – a shy young girl whose vulnerability was present in her words. The poems reflected on light and beauty, but then they questioned the dark. A powerful burgeoning talent. She deservedly received a prize from the traveling poets.
Thanks to Arts NSW and The Coffs Harbour City Library for the event.