2023 CREATRIX HAIKU AWARDS
Selected by: Coral Carter, Rose van Son, Barry Sanbrook and Gary De Piazzi
— first alone
— in a crowd
— one red gumleaf
— — Gavin Austin Creatrix 61
— paperbarks shed
— their shadows
— — Jaya Penelope Creatrix 59
— the winter sky
— bare branches
— — Gavin Austin Creatrix 58
— new year’s day
— clouds moving
— in opposite directions
— — Matt Hetherington Creatrix 60
— wind in bamboo
— the lisp of a flute
— almost heard
— — Hazel Hall Creatrix 59
— mother’s visit—
— the part of me
— she never knew
— — Alvin B. Cruz Creatrix 58
2023 CREATRIX POETRY AWARDS
Selected by: Kevin Gillam
WATERCOLOURS from NOONGAR BOODJA by Warren Flynn Issue 59
The Floor by Ann Gilchrist Issue 58
Lorraine in Scintillating Lipstick Pink by Allan Padgett Issue 58
The Cemetery Visit by Coral Carter Issue 61
Returned to Port by Ross Jackson Issue 60
East of the Western Ocean by Virginia O’Keefe Issue 61
CREATRIX AWARDS 2023 JUDGE’S REPORT
There were 162 poems included in editions 58 through 61 of Creatrix, once again demonstrating the depth of interest and talent within the West Australian poetry community. The subject matter of the poems was as diverse as the botany of this vast state, but an overarching theme was the landscapes and environment in which we dwell. My initial reading of the poems was in search of those that spoke off the page, that embraced both the external and humanity, that had some poetic intent to resonate and reflect and gel the experienced with thought and mood. The short list was never going to be short and coming up with a final 6 award winners was never going to be easy. That said, I would like to recognise the authors of these very fine poems that made the longlist of 10 and in contention for an award – “Bibra Lake”, “Swan River Suite”, “A day in June, 20 always” and “dualisms”.
And so now to the award-winning poems, beginning with the 2 Commended:
“To Port” – a thoughtful and incisive poem with very strong imagery. The concise use of diction coupled with excellent enjambment and structure lifted the poem to another level. The slightly detached and cynical voice was employed deftly, with hints at deeper social issues used without becoming overly didactic. Wonderful lines such as “the only romance may remain/ in a vessel’s name” enhanced the reading experience.
“East of the western ocean” – a poem with a very strong environmental message coupled with brilliant imagery – “the land an Arnott’s brown“ – and precise diction. Historical references throughout added to its profundity. Taut and at other times stretching lines created a visceral sense of protest. Very well thought out and crafted prose.
And now the 2 Highly Commended poems: “Lorraine in Scintillating Pink Lipstick” – imbued with brilliant imagery and diction, this poem literally sparkles with verve and life. For example, “grown its vast armoury of thorns/ and buds bursting open in pursuit of constellations of gasp and wonder”. The structure and form are very well thought through. The link between the subject matter and poetic voice is never overtly revealed, and the closing lines leave the reader with duplicitous amounts of wonder and ponder.
“The Cemetery Visit” – very strong and emotive imagery and diction through all of this poem. The details are never dealt with in a cloying or sepiad manner, the poem being reflective but also flowing and not indulgent. Lines such as “it was just us/ the day we visited/ a willy wagtail/ and the dead” amply show the care and craft in all the lines. A poem to be read and then immediately reread.
And to the 1st and 2nd Prize winners:
2nd Prize – “The floor”. The beguiling image of using ‘the floor’ as the thematic glue in this poem is what makes it such entrancing reading. The poem is extremely well structured in terms of stanzas and imbued with wonderful diction and imagery, Lines such as “then the floor is school day quiet” and “like a spoon, a cup, a toy, a tantrum/ a toddler hangs over the edge of his high chair” create both rhythm and poetic flow. The text embraces both the past and present in a visceral and emotionally convincing manner. A wonderfully crafted piece of verse.
1st Prize – “Watercolours from NOONGAR BOODJA”. Here is a poem employing stunning sensory imagery, and the linked stanzas describing three separate bodies of water within WA makes for immersive reading. To quote from three lines – “the dawning water is a black and white photograph”, “Gums scratch against a young sun rising fast” and “the dipping paddle breaks a mirror of limbs”, the poem makes for remarkable reading. The link between scenes described and human interaction is dealt with in an artful and careful manner, and the closing 4 lines create a very strong binding between present and past. A standout poem in a very strong field.
WATERCOLOURS From NOONGAR BOODJA*
i. Waijin (Norring Lake)
the dawning water is a black and white photograph
six kilometres across silver-grey and flat
reflecting black bush on the other side,
jet sound slip-stream from a mountain duck
heading for the mirror’s middle skiing feet slice the grey
i hear the white shlussh!
In front, the algaed waterand close behind, farm fence
constrain the breathing whea
hard worked, the land left nothing to chance except poisons.
By the shore, old men’s faces in the granite remember another time
while the foaming scum licks at their lips like sullied ice.
Gums scratch against a young sun rising fast.
ii. Kwakoorillup (Nornalup River)
our hull slipstreams sliding glass
crisp eyes nose numbed sniffing
last night’s camp in hair and wool
cold karris crackling like fire
the dripping paddle breaks a mirror of limbs,
our wake wobbles foliage, folds it gently to the bank.
it’s called The Monastery
this space where every quiet rock of our craft is kept
in shafts of light that move each moment grace full.
iii. Torndirrup (May Day Parade)
No megaflags or goose-stepping robots
No Handmaids’ white bonnets red cloaks protesting Trump’s nastycism
just a silent squadron of silver gulls sweeping with stall turns
snowboarding slaloms snatching flying ants above the emerald curve of swells and
curling crump of shorebreak
Seaweed turbans the only buried warriors here
strands of seagrass, lines scrawled in sandskrit.
Far away Phil and Ruby disappear into the saltlight of Mistaken Island.
my body’s long shadow wefts and warps across the shallows
touches toes, shakes hands of those who have known these shores
before jet skis before diesel before steamer and sail
before words perhaps
when dancers’ shadows echoed these shining waves
in firelight on this precious shore.
* Images of Wilman and Menang land, Western Australia.
I have lain on the floor
with sickness, grief and pain
and the floor brought comfort
the cool tiles soothing my fever
carpet cushioning the pain
stillness steadying the nausea
an infant worms his way across
then crawls, totters tipsy on milk
and the floor is a magnet to him
to his peas, potatoes, porridge
spoon, cup, plate, tantrum
toilet trained potty spills and bleach
then the floor is school-day quiet
sanitised nine to five
between puppy walks
and kitty litter chalk dust
a dying fly spinning a frenzy
bouncing off the skirting
the floor becomes a distant thing
and mats curl with sly smiles
waiting to reconnect us with the floor
like my mother’s head
blood puddling into crisscross grout lines
paramedic tread marks
and the scent of rust staining the towels
my father in law lay down on the floor
next to his bed in quarantine
Alzheimer’s isolated him
from lost routes and passages
he died quietly on the floor in his care home
my mother fell six inches from bed time
softly alerting the pressure mat to her presence
aged care nurses picked her up
like a spoon, a cup, a toy, a tantrum
a toddler hangs over the edge of his high chair
he drops his sipping cup
and apple juice dribbles along the grout lines
Lorraine in Scintillating Lipstick Pink
Trailing up and over a raggedy old-style kind of picket fence,
its armour frightening butterflies and caterpillars and all,
thankfully, sap-sucking and bud-chewing arthropods. Flaming
lipstick pink in Winter and beyond, arching its strength
into adjacent palms and wisteria, blazing on the coldest,
darkest and wettest of days, so bright it seems to be signaling
life itself to our various worlds. Its extravagant beauty, its bounteous
comfort, its stupendous, irredeemably perfume-drenched scent,
far more and deeper-piercing than and from a bottle of Chanel
or related other could imbibe from rose petals harvested
in their multi-thousands from the fields of Provence or wherever.
It is so dense it nearly cloys, but at the last moment it rears back,
pulsing, there are waves of radiant light and perfume tracking
through our backyard skies, in scintillating haste, yet pausing
long enough, just enough, to settle on my vagrant lips, my hungry
nose, penetrating hard into two flaring nostrils, like breath, like
nature pushing oxygen deep to lung and absorption. This rose, so
pinkly bright and mood-changing, is Lorraine Lee – and it made me.
It, this sumptuous, voluptuous, climbing rose, has followed me all
my days, it has been there as needed, grown its vast armoury of thorns
and buds – bursting open in pursuit of constellations of gasp and wonder.
Bees suckle at its tenderness as birds and cabbage-white butterflies
pause for thought. I grab a visitor, take him down there, declaim at its
power and beauty. Clearly, it does not need my spluttered exclamations.
At other times I pick a stem, place in a long-necked vase, pause to admire.
It looks back, weeping, bends its neck within a day or two. Rejecting my
secateured needs, it says to me, I prefer to be exactly where and how I was.
The Cemetery Visit
Went into the sandhills
to pick a bunch for Dad’s grave—
into the hills he walked daily
where he collected discarded toys
from the modern plastic middens.
Brought them home for a second chance
organised them in the shade house
dinosaur herds mingling with farm animals,
a showcase of Disney characters,
a toy caryard,
my little pony and friends,
arranged to peer into the fish pond
shelter under the monstera deliciosa,
perch on pots of aspidistra
gather around creek-bed stones.
wattle, daisies and grasses,
feral hops along the rail line,
saltbush and blue bush,
sandhill cane grass and
its tiny cream flowers
enticing yellow berries.
I tied the bush bunch with
a bit of twine recycled from somewhere
thought he would probably say—
What are you bringing me this rubbish for?
Mum thought not.
of the same man.
It was just us
the day we visited
a willy wag tail
and the dead.
Mum was reflective:
Well, here you are down there,
in your Westies’ jumper.
I’m coming down too.
You’re not getting away
I had decay thoughts.
I hoped for a hole
in the plastic coffin liner,
so Dad’s juices could escape.
Maybe the deep red
flowering gum nearby
would send a root
down and lift him up.
Returned to Port
mandatory subject for Perth poets
convict cut limestone bones
a blunt arrowhead of one-way streets
points to the harbour
where steel cuboids clutched
from oceangoing boats
no streamlined silhouettes
against sea horizons anymore
only boxed incomers, charmless
floating multi storey storage units
which swallow hundreds of cars
and in an act of profitable defecation
discharge them from their rears
on to a concrete apron
gone are smoke stacked freighters
there’s nothing to flag thoughts
of exotic ports like Aden
no jute sacks or tea chests
swung in slings, no bunches
of bananas manhandled
by swarthy lascars
the only romance may remain
in a vessel’s name
take that ship unloading at E berth
a flowery name for a ship
weighted with doomed sheep
soon to be dashed out to sea
dark shadows coming and going
in the swell of Gage Roads
gifted by the breeze
East of the Western Ocean
Three hundred and sixty degrees in all sight lines,
the land an Arnotts’ brown.
On a crest, the howling east wind scarifies eyes,
shoes implant in sticky tar, hat blows away.
In grain paddocks remnant ringbarked posts of York
or salmon gum crisscross; painfully stitching up scars.
No water softening greens, just tan.
No sheltering branches, just vast incomprehensible expanses
of biscuits, porridge, bread, flour, a morning croissant.
At what price the refuge hidden between sheoaks, melaleucas,
shivering in the heat, its waters glaring skyward,
the ducks gliding in scant rushes?
Long ago the fledgling township drew its water from this pool,
sailed boats, had races, learned to swim.
Eons ago other women birthed beneath its trees,
gathered mussels, crays and yams. Sang to the waters.
Once there was a chain of pools, feeding veins,
sinuous snaking beneath softer light cradling long necked turtles,
swamp rats, tiny bats, antechinus, wallaby, waders.
Now further out. Salt.
Creeping upward. Nothing to diffuse this poisonous inevitability.
In a year or three all will be white, crystalline and briny.