Coastal Poetry from Sydney’s East
Recently Irene and I attended a poetry reading at the Waverley Council Library. Two poets, Libby Hathorn (LH) and Elizabeth Cummins (EC) read from their book entitled Coastal Poetry (Pacific Ocean Press, 2023). It covers that wonderful stretch of eastern suburbs beaches and clifftops that we thought we knew so well. But to hear it from a poet’s perspective makes you wonder just what you know. We felt very privileged to hear them recite some of their poems. Libby kindly wrote in our copy “May you enjoy diving into the oceans found in these pages and strolling along the pathways of new and familiar places”. The following extracts are provided here with their permission. I do encourage all interested in poetry of the coast to obtain a copyof the book.
From Sea Senses (EC)
Of all my senses, best of all,
I taste the freedom that comes
from being by the sea.
From Coastal Boardwalk (LH)
Just nature wild and sea surrounds
in all its moods and changes,
grateful walkers, sensual walks,
lifetimes of sea exchanges.
Maroubra beach break
warm tide, carry me to shore!
I gasp, rip-swept south.
The Surfer’s Lament (EC)
The wave was so good
I almost had it mate.
I took it too soon!
I rode it too late!
Dogs on Parade (LH)
Dogs on tight leases
ever training to escape
plodding human pace.
From Many Moods ( EC at Clovelly)
How is one day so different from the next
and yet the same in this sparkling,
rocking, lapping, treacherous bay?
The rough waves might reach to grasp my limbs
to draw and tumble me around,
other times enticing me to float
languid amongst armfuls of tropical fish
contemplating the pleasure
of just being here.
McIver Ladies Baths (LH)
A tidal pool sheltered
against the cliff face
known to be a special birthing place for
First Women here long, long ago,
despite remonstrations and discrimination bills
it still remains exclusive
for women and babies, for girls
The Bogey Hole (EC)
Waves hopscotch on rocks
Holding safe the swimmers
The dippers the toe-tippers
Cold and warm
Old and young
Corralled and cleansed
White on blue Dark corners light edges
In and Out
Of Bronte’s Bogey Hole.
Mackenzies Beach (i) (LH) Mackenzies Beach (ii) (EC)
Jagged rocks are bar Azure lace ocean
heft and hump of sand and there mystical Mackenzies beach
once again a beach. once in seven years.
Bondi Supreme (LH)
Your moods flow as ours
as push and pull of tides.
Faces to the wind,
waves to the beach,
horizon to the sky,
ours for the looking.
The bathers, the surfers, the board riders,
the watchers, the listeners, the learners,
the mish-mash of the sun adoring
strewn across pale sand.
The dip, the plunge, the shock, the dream.
Timeless exuberance, Bondi Beach supreme.
From What are the Wild Waves Saying? (LH & EC based on a poem by John Glover 1859)
What are the wild waves saying?
They surge, they churn and they roar
and a voice inside keeps urging me
calling me from this shore…
From The Gap (LH) From Watson’s Bay Seascape (LH)
The cliff’s stern prow Fly down the hill to Watson’s Bay
the sea’s chewed remorselessly, past the stalwart lighthouses
a disparate tree clings. to a seascape wide, generous,
thrashes, holds on liberal chunky cliffs to tiny beaches,
despite ill winds. to harbour glimpses and beyond.
Words by Prof Bruce Thom. Please respect the author’s thoughts and reference appropriately: (c) ACS, 2023. For correspondence about this blog post please email email@example.com