Poetry Readings In The Nineties

Sue Hicks, co-founder – with Danny Gardner – of Live Poets Society at North Sydney, now lives in the UK. She recently posted on Facebook that she’d made a photo-collage for Dulcie Meddows, a brilliant poet with several books to her credit. I was saddened to learn Dulcie has dementia, but pleased she lives in a place she enjoys, surrounded by caring people – including a priest who reads her own books to her – and I’m told she is up and about, busy with movies and activities.

Dulcie Meddows at the launch of her first book Poems, December 1992

Sue’s post catapulted me on another sentimental writer’s journey – reliving the wonderful poetry scene in Sydney and the Blue Mountains in the nineties.

I was somewhat of a novice and quite shy when I came to this vibrant hive of literary activity. Writing had always been part of my life; I’d belonged to writers’ groups and organisations, studied writing, written articles for local newspapers in various areas I’d lived and published short stories and poems. But the only time I’d read my work publicly was in small workshops with people I knew.

A friend invited me to Live Poets, saying ‘You don’t have to read your work if you don’t want to’. But I was seduced by the energy and camaraderie, and soon found myself delivering the poem I’d tucked in my pocket ‘just in case’. On that first night, I met stalwarts like Sue and Danny, and of course Dulcie. The sense of connection and freedom I experienced with that first reading of my work, gave me such elation I travelled from the Blue Mountains to the venue one night every month to participate.

Entranced by this new world, I established Poetry Plus, a reading and performance venue in Springwood in the mountains. Several North Sydney poets attended our Sunday afternoon sessions and many poets travelled down the mountain to share their work on a regular basis.

These were joyful and expansive times for me, personally and in the development of my writing muse. Despite working full-time, managing Poetry Plus and attending Live Poets, I attended other poetry readings – Poetry In The Park, Poetry Picnic, PIE, Poetry At The Parakeet, and Trevar Langland’s venue at Blacktown. I also attended regional poetry conferences and represented the Blue Mountains at a Sydney Writers’ Festival event at the Opera House in 1995, where I read from my then new book Family Matters.

Dulcie Meddows was the first Guest Poet at Poetry Plus in June 1992 and the last in late 1997.

 

Dulcie Meddows

at

Poetry Plus

 

Dulcie and I each hosted radio programs for writers, as did Don Saunders who was a regular participant at Poetry Plus. I was guest poet on Dulcie’s Australian Made Poetry on 2NBC-FM several times and on Don’s Pictures Of Poetry twice, and two other radio programs at 2BLU-FM… where my own Poetry Plus On The Air was produced.

These programs showcased one poet and their work for half an hour each week, then Dulcie took this a step further when 2NBC produced a longer (perhaps two hours) program at the top of Centre Point Tower in the heart of Sydney, featuring several poets. I was lucky enough to be one of these poets, and you’ll spot me waiting anxiously in the background for my turn… in this snap of Dulcie doing what she loved to do best – bring poetry to the world.

Dulcie Meddows hosting Poetry In The Air at Centre Point Tower Sydney, 1993

Along the way, there were articles written about poetry venues and published in entertainment magazines, inclusions in anthologies, book launches, play readings and productions, and congregating in cafes after Live Poets or my home after Poetry Plus, where there was fine food, more poetry and much joviality.

Rex Hockey and Dulcie Meddows rehearsing Aiding Others, a play I wrote and produced in 1993

Dulcie Meddows reading her work at my home after Poetry Plus, 1992

During the nineties, I blossomed from an unseasoned writer holding my work close to my chest, to an active member of the writing community and a facilitator of the exposure of other writers’ work.

Dulcie Meddows was with me all the way, as were Sue Hicks and many others. Twenty years later, they continue to stimulate connections between writers. Sue’s love for Dulcie, her collage gift and her posts about it, led to me seeking out several people I knew back then who have moved in various directions in the meantime.

My nostalgic exploration of those years has underlined the extreme value of friendships with kindred writers and of taking our work into the public arena. It has also prompted me to share this leg of my writer’s journey with you and I hope this in turn will give you the courage to take the next step on your journey… whatever that may be.

Danny Gardner still facilitates Live Poets Society at North Sydney and there are several other reading venues around Sydney and in country areas. I would encourage any writer who has not yet read their work publicly to attend one of these venues, even if as a listener initially – but don’t forget to tuck a poem in your pocket ‘just in case’…

Dulcie Meddow’s first book Poems was published by Gavemer Publishing in St Leonards, Sydney. Several of her other books are available from Learn-em Books Pty Ltd Sydney and Kindamindi Publishing at http://www.kindamindi.com.au/ and individual poems are on www.youtube.com.

 

This Blog relates to my Blogs Reconnections and Hidden Stories Lurk In Photograph Albums, Writing Tip #16, Writing Tip #17 and Writing Tip #18 and Writing Exercise #16~ Journey Into A Photograph.

 

Please share your thoughts in the Comments section…

 

8 thoughts on “Poetry Readings In The Nineties”

  1. What a lovely piece of history. Thank you for sharing your nostalgic walk back to poetry reading in the nineties.

  2. Big sigh …… What a lovely trip down memory lane! Thank you for your newsy blog, Kathryn. As a dear friend and colleague of Dulcie Meddows (who, sadly, went home to God at lunch time today) I enjoyed the reminiscing as I pictured, with my inner eye the faces of so many of the people to whom you referred. Dulcie was multitalented and much loved.

    1. Thank you Annette… I’m so pleased I wrote this blog when I did. Writing about one’s own journey inevitably leads to touching on the lives of others. As the person who was the first and last guest poet at Poetry Plus, Dulcie featured strongly in this piece. I am so pleased it turned out that way, especially as we have since lost her.

      Dulcie was indeed multi-talented and much loved… and this is my tribute to her. We will all miss her.

  3. Kathryn, thank you. I had to argue with Dulcie to publish her first book. Then when I’d done it there was no stopping her.

    1. Hi David… Yes, I remember Dulcie’s reluctance about that first book which you published for her. A lovely book… with such evocative poems as My Mother Played The Piano, School Days In The Country and The Farm Kitchen. And who could forget A Sound To Take Me Home Again, with the poignant ‘sound of a kitchen wire door opening and closing…’? This book is by far my personal favourite of all Dulcie’s work.

      And then you gave her wings. As you say, there was no stopping her… and her poems will live on, bringing enjoyment to many for decades.

      My nine-year-old great-granddaughter and some of my grandchildren are now reading Dulcie’s writings for children. Her creative inner child is stimulating theirs, and I’m sure this is true for many other children.

      We all loved her, and will miss her.

  4. Many years ago I did a reading on Dulcie’s radio program. I first met her at a poetry reading held by Trevor Langlands at Campbelltown Library. I read a poem – she liked it and invited me to attend her studio. I was gob smacked!! What a beautiful lady. So very sorry to hear that she is no longer reading her or our poetry. To me she is famous and I reckon in time to come she will become an Australian Icon with a huge following. Vale Dulcie. patrick duncan.

    1. Hi Patrick.

      Dulcie was an incredible woman, who (even as a new poet herself) supported many others. She was very good at recognising talent, and her influence lives on in untold ways. I only have to mention her name and stories come tumbling out from people everywhere. I love her work and (with her permission of old) share it whenever I can. Recently, I was privileged to say a few words in memory of Dulcie and read one of her poems at a session to honour her at Live Poets at Don Bank Museum (Nth Sydney).

      I’m sure I crossed paths with you at some stage, at one of the reading venues… your name sounds familiar… I sometimes travelled to Trevar Langlands’ venue at Campbelltown, and he also came to the mountains to attend Poetry Plus. I participated at Live Poets for many years, but no longer live in Sydney.

      Are you still writing poetry?

      Thank you for your message.

      Kathryn.

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