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This report is taken from PN Review 239, Volume 44 Number 3, January - February 2018.

Letter from Canberra
Poetry on the Move
Vahni Capildeo
The planet was waiting for whatever life form inhabited tall buildings and ultra-wide boulevards. At night the temperature fell to minus six, dryly; by day it touched thirty, in this neighbourhood of lakes. I walked half an hour and met one other soul walking in the opposite direction. I say the planet because the city felt round, like an embrace. Perhaps that warmth was from the welcome at IPSI, the International Poetry Studies Institute at the University of Canberra. Seventy-five poets had gathered for the ‘Poetry on the Move’ festival, which ran from 14 through 21 September. The theme of the festival’s third iteration was ‘Boundary Crossings’. There were emphases on migration, ekphrasis and multilingualism. A number of significant prizes were awarded, including the Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize. All events were free. The full listing remains online.1

Glyn Maxwell and I were poets in residence. So, even standing in a lobby or sitting in the audience, one would be ‘in residence’? It is odd to inhabit the singular figure of Poet when the truth of our condition is variable and primarily invisible. ‘Poet’ simultaneously may be decomposed: cortisol, perfume, crumpled linen. ‘Sister, where is your spirit?’ asked Paul Collis, a creative writing academic at the University and a Barkindji man with deep experience of community development, sensing a disconnection. Like a Peter Minshall thermally-heated inflatable giant, my spirit arrived bobbing super-fast across land and sea. I wanted to do well and repay my hosts; to attend to this occasion of co-presence in thinking which, being ephemeral, can never be ...


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