A Present of Poems

Most people may have considered the 21st of March to be just another ordinary day…but behind closed doors at Centre for Stories we were preparing a special surprise for early morning commuters.  A present, in the heart of the City.

With the help from our volunteers, in partnership with WA Poets Inc., we celebrated World Poetry Day.  Attaching hand written Haikus composed by West Australian poets to 1000 roses we headed to the city in order to surprise Monday morning travellers. The event, supported by the City of Perth, gave local West Australian poets the opportunity to showcase their work and introduce people to, or reignite their passion for poetry.

‘Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into and make something out of.’ – Mary Oliver

While the genre may have lost its widespread use over the centuries, there are those that are passionately determined to invigorate, innovate and grow the art form.  Even as we have developed into a generation that uses hashtags, emoticons, and the acrynomised, elements of poetry continue to have strong influences on contemporary life. The rhythms and rhymes that get stuck in our head, courtesy of musical lyrics, tv commercial jingles, the word plays of politicians, of rebellions and romance pay homage to the poetic form. World Poetry Day, created by UNESCO in 1999 celebrates and acknowledges the talented people who teach, read and continue to write poetry around the globe while according to their website also asserting "poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art, but one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity."

Our event last month, held in both Hay Street and Murray Street Malls, prompted an array of responses from the crowds. While we were able to pass out flowers faster than anticipated, and despite each interaction ultimately ending in delight, it may have started with a hint of apprehension, a pinch of suspicion, a sprinkle of avoidance.  People would never expect an unconditional gift.  And why would they?  They were used to being an audience to marketers, lambs to evangelical Christians, a coin to the poor.  More than that, it was unexpected, many of the responses started with "why?"  By ‘flower bombing’ the City we hoped to draw attention to UNESCO’s significant day and provoke self-reflection of people’s personal interactions with the poetry, with the act of receiving and giving gifts.  

If you missed out on the chance to read the poems, then check out a few examples from talented authors below. Alternatively visit our Facebook page for pictures of the day.

one umbrella
the only shade
on the beach
- Jan Napier

love note
another fold
 in my origami
- Cynthia Rowe

a rose –
on each petal
a heart
- Gary Colombo de Piazzi

train tunnel –
the sudden intimacy
of mirrored faces
- Beverley George