The next contribution to the Letter.Box.Stamp.Collect. project is from poet and performer Eleanor Jackson with her piece, Circle Work. Eleanor says of the connection between the project and the piece:
Originally, I started to lay out this poem in a circular design, hoping that the effect of reading it would mimic somewhat the experience of doing ‘donuts’ in a 4WD. Unfortunately, even I found it more nausea inducing than fun and knew that the stylistic change wasn’t really ‘me’, even if it would have reflected the piece somewhat better.
In the main, I wanted to take part in Letter.Box.Stamp.Collect for its reflection of the Queensland poetry community itself – there’s a wonderful sense of connection and community, a kind of ‘circle of colleagues’ that has been such a defining feature of my move to Brisbane. Seeing the works emerging has felt so tantalising, like watching a fun party from over the back fence of another house.
More generally, the piece is a reminder of a time when someone tried to teach me something of the Australian ‘country’, a place where I had nominally grown up, but never felt really a part of. For this person, there was a rite of passage to the teenage distraction of ‘circle work’, one that I had missed out on by being too much of a ‘girl’. It wasn’t for me; I always felt a square peg in a round hole.
As a member of the Queensland Poetry Festival Program committee, Eleanor will appear in various guises throughout the festival, such as MC for sessions or having work featured in The Star Folder session and you can find more of her work at her blog.
Because I have to learn to stop being such a pussy behind the wheel, he takes me to Lowey’s back paddock, to throw up plumes of dust from behind our ridiculous, oversized, faux-4WD. Gleefully, he removes the traction and the rental car, which was probably designed specifically for nipping between Chadstone and Carey in high-riding suburban style, curls dirty ribbons of ochre from its back wheels as I turn, panicked and then girlish-devilish, spirals. We’re in a bowl of dust and my hair whips into my mouth as one full turn threatens disequilibrium and nausea, pull it round, you’re not going to tip. There’s wreath after wreath of dust and that noise I can hear? That howl? That’s coming from me. After a while, three guys in a dinted silver Nissan lap the edges of the paddock, tooting their horn, circling their index fingers in the air, slapping the sides of the car: there’s shit-all to do in this town. Lowey’s wife, unaware of her husband’s offer for us to use the paddock, comes out and stands at one edge of the tussocky grass, hands resolutely on ample hips, until we sheepishly go over to explain the dissipating clouds of red dust and the terrified pack of galahs that just screamed and shat over her clothesline. She doesn’t look impressed but she returns to the little corrugated roof house with its big wraparound veranda, says there’s beer in the back fridge when you’re done.
© Eleanor Jackson