Pedalling to poetry
The radar showed a blanket of blue, green and yellow with sprinkles of red, pulsing in a six frame loop on my iPhone screen. It was early Saturday evening and a text arrived: Lotsa rain on way! Do you want me to come past and pick you up in the van? We were soon to ride out to meet a friend so we could all ride over to Dust Temple for a Bleach* Festival event. The rain was west of here and with only three kilometres to ride, I reckoned we’d be undercover before the rain fell. No we’re okay, we’ll meet you there.
I fitted my bike trouser clips neatly around each ankle, clamping the faded red cotton trouser legs to avoid grease marks from the bike chain. The trouser bike clips are a simple mechanism, an old accessory in the world of bike-riding, that has seen little innovation other than plastic construction and reflective strips.
My dynamo light, generated by pedal power, cast a bright light on the footpath ahead. Above, flashes of sheet lightning lit up the sky. We pedalled faster. Down the road, over the footbridge across Currumbin Creek, around the bike path along the river and onto Currumbin Creek Road. We arrived at Dust Temple just before the rain, only to find our friend parking her bike not her van. “Well, I thought if you two are going to ride, then I can too!”
Dust Temple is a creative space for artists and their art. Tonight, it was poetry.
Some of the poets were young high school students from Robina, Varsity Lakes, and Somerset, fresh from the Somerset Festival of Literature which had been running for three days prior. Others were local poets who are regular performers at Dust Temple’s “open mic” poetry nights on the last Thursday of each month. All were encouraged enthusiastically by the audience, the MC and each other. And all had come to see and learn and be inspired by the Australian spoken word and Hip-hop artist, Luka Lesson.
I’d first seen Luka Lesson perform at the 2013 Byron Bay Writers’ Festival where he delivered a memorable performance of “The Confluence” which left me with no doubt that I wasn’t going to miss this poetry slam.
In an old warehouse with polished concrete floors, a ceiling of exposed roof trusses and a corrugated tin roof, the seats were full, the walls lined with people. As the rain poured itself silly and made the tin roof thunder, we watched, listened, applauded, laughed and felt the potency of poetry to deliver themes that cross age, gender and all differences. Poetry connects us to truths. It acknowledges that which we all have in common, be it our own condition or one we care deeply about.
We heard poems of ecology, economy, love, loss, ancestors and aspirations for what could be a better way for living in this world.
And to add the finishing touch, this event was held on World Poetry Day. Since 1999, the 21st March has been designated by UNESCO as World Poetry Day. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO gave this message for its celebration:
“Poetry is the universal human song, expressing the aspiration of every woman and man to apprehend the world and share this understanding with others.”
Last Saturday evening, that universal human song was in good tune. The rain fell, hearts were warmed, spirits lifted and we rode home with lights shining.