Cloudcatchers Spring Ginko # 55

Alstonville
Thursday 14th November 2019

As with so many fellow poets around Australia, Cloudcatchers, on the Far North Coast of NSW, have been experiencing the trauma and uncertainty of the drastic bushfire situation. Although we are thankful that none has been personally damaged, some have relatives fighting fires, or are housing valuables of friends in danger. Smoke haze has been intense, and the sun, in a uniformly grey sky, was witnessed as a vague fiery red ball (even safe for the eye to focus), as it slipped down at dusk.

The venue chosen once more for the ginko was Victoria Park, a rainforest remnant just outside Alstonville. However, two days prior to the date, we were made aware that ALL National Parks in NSW were closed until further notice. It was a major operation to make sure every members was aware of a change of venue, as Victoria Park is out of range for mobile phones.

So Bullwinkle Park, on the fringe of Alstonville, was re-visited. The previous luscious green grass is now dried and bare, and the small watercourse is very low and looks stagnant. Multiple camphor laurels have been felled, leaving hard crunchy chips underfoot. It was hot and the ambience was rather bleak. This was our ginko environment and we were in it.

Cloudcatchers resized
L to R: Quendryth Young, Norma Watts, Julie Taylor, Heather Matthew, Jocelyn Day, Helen Davison & Nathalie Buckland

However, haiku flowed! Eight dark rocks suddenly took flight as ducks; a goanna, looking exactly like the bark, just disappeared; an ant tried to climb up the slippery dip. We enjoyed the sharing of our first drafts, and then moved to the Federal Hotel for lunch together.

We missed Laurel Astle, in New Zealand at the time for the launching of the NZPS 2019 anthology, and she stayed for a walk through the Katikati Pathway. Laurel was placed fifth in the competition, and received a Judge’s commendation. Three other Cloudcatchers also had work chosen to be included in the anthology, the majority of these haiku having been written at a ginko.

One member who attended the ginko, Robbie Braithwaite, didn’t join us for lunch, as she was off to the launching of her newly published book: A Stroll Around The Block: Exploring Lismore CBD’s Heritage. She had written this on behalf of the Lismore Historical Society, with grants from various supporters. It is a guide to buildings, businesses and people from Lismore’s earliest days, starting with European settlers in the 1840s, though of course indigenous people have been inhabitants for thousands of years.

In spite of the distraction, Robbie did participate in the post-ginko Round Robin. This has now been completed, with comments on up to five haiku from the day returned to each poet.

Quendryth Young