As part of the Museum of Water project, Westerly ran the ‘Westerly Festival Poem’ event over the course of the Perth Writers Festival weekend. Led by poet, Nandi Chinna, members of the public were encouraged to contribute a few lines of poetry on the theme of water. These written lines were then folded into origami boats and sailed across UWA’s iconic Reflection Pool.
The lines were collected both in person and from our Twitter hashtag. Some select lines were also live tweeted on Westerly’s Twitter feed to form an online ‘stream’ of water. With contributor permission, lines were collected and compiled to be used in our community poem. The following two poems were the result of a community effort, and were read live at the end of the festival.
Westerly would like to thank all of the participants who contributed a few lines of poetry. Please enjoy the wonderful lines created by you below. For the full collection of contributed lines, click here.
Grey suit; smart phone
on the train everyone still turns their head
to look at the water.
The water is coming, burning up
and drowning as it goes, twisting and running,
unlike her, it is not beautiful,
rushing, gushing, consuming
everything in its path;
The watery fluid of life is what I swam
Before I was born.
no water, no life, no joke.
When I was a child, my grandmother taught me
to float on my back with my toes
to the clouds, and never fear the waves.
Still but full of motion
black, green, grey becoming azure
blue with foaming white caves,
my soul is in the water
the ocean my great power
my spirit is connected to water.
Salt water keeps me buoyant
Keeps my spirits buoyant in life.
Water, the thing I was brought up in,
a part of me and everyone,
delicious droplets join the whole embrace,
immersion my elemental home.
water is life.
Water, folded paper scribbles,
memory’s whispers afloat.
To swim against the tide is
to gain in the dimension
the elixir of life and the tears of death
he cuts ribbons of my wisdom
and ties them to his boat.
If only he knew how fake I am,
he would set me out to sea instead.
The deepest, darkest depths of the ocean pull
me in, like an abyss of what has been and
what could be my solace and inspiration.
Oh water, water, water, water,
stay with us forever,
keep people from dying.
Sustainer and creator of life and beauty
washing through the ancient gorges of the Kimberley;
waiting, the water scores channels in limestone,
wandering fissures of reluctant life.
Water keeper of the secrets of the deep
flows in a beautiful ribbon to the sea.
I give thanks for this journey and this life.
By the back we asked of the shell to crash.
Water flows and carries life.
Inside and outside my body
you roll, roll keep baying
Waterfall under which I rest, like my dreaming self, to the ocean flows
the essence of life
the essence of me
and no doubt the essence of my soul.
Water my life, water my world.
Australia is melting, wipe me up with a tissue.
Its so hot its like soup;
my body can only wilt and droop.
Today you are inconstant –
all paper boats and underbelly,
will my words stick, dive deep?
Luke warm brown ripples
under ducks and wasps
her sedge footed step
her hesitance, pool reflection
and cloud image splinters.
Wasps can stand on water.
On its surface, the arches of Winthrop turn upside down.
A petal floats on rippled water as light
as a tiny newborn hand resting on mine.
May this long summer of sadness soon float away.
Sky water falling before stones, a forgetting.
The water of my childhood, back in Romania
north of the country in Cordareni;
It rained and rained and rained and rained.
It was heavy and warm and well maintained.
I thought I had lost you, but now I’ll set you free
And wait for you to return.
Sorrow can be art, even in a city like home; it’s people moving on…
at his death I caught my fathers last tear.
There is a reflected ring around my memory – inflated –
A pool of solitude on a toddling veranda. Pre-verbal
I bubble and gurgle.
Effortlessly my limbs move in motions undetected.
Instinctually I wander across the bank,
the water rolling over granules of sand
as emotions of time and history build
up until they roll through and burst out of me.
Shards from the explosion pierce the ones I love. I am sorry. Forgive me.
Beautiful water, source of all life.
Words float at the time of need and refreshment.
Like how threads unravel in water,
that is what I hope love feels like. (once I find it)
Drip, drip, drip, the pulse of water sups life.
Life-giving, soul-soothing, dream-weaving.
Quench my thirst, wash my face, hide my tears.
The drink of the wise, without water we are nothing.
From early morning to the death of day, to the moon
I leap and skip and run. The beams of light I’ll use to pray,
will birth the mood of my distant sun.
It was a lonely, lovely thing to see on the water;
being held by something bigger than me, wider than us all.
Water carries us
Water is wobbly and floaty.
Water comes from various places, such as lakes, oceans and rivers.
Ducks swim in water,
They don’t get wet because their feathers are their coat.
I like how the water reflects on you
It’s so hot. It’s like drinking soup.
My body can only wilt and droop.
I like swimming in my grandmas pool
with her, my uncle and my aunty
I like the feeling of water and the temperature.
Water is fun to play in and swim in.
Feels hard when you smack your hand on it.
Dinosaurs lived in the water a long time ago.
It keeps living things alive and animals
(including humans) hydrated.
Water, it’s the blood of the earth,
Covering it, engulfing it in cold, wet life.
Harsh, fresh life.
Water is amazing! Water is cool!
It covers 72% of the earth!
Water is the best. Water is life,
without water I won’t be healthy and fit.
Water is awesome, water is amazing
and cool and cold and I love it.
You can drink it!
It’s in the water that I feel truly free.
I like the fish. I can swim
I like to ride the waves and jump waves with my sister.
I like Bombies!!
I like water because I like unicorns,
And unicorns drink water and lemonade.
Sleep, sleep without the sheep,
They don’t like water.
I am water. I can hold up a boat but I slip through hands.
Water is a precious resource,
if we didn’t have water, I’d be dead
Water could mean life or death,
What would it mean to this boat?
Lovely thing to see in the water.
I love water because it is blue
and it keeps you cool.
I use water everyday
I like blue water. I like to put paper boats on water.
I like to do little splashes in water.
I like to drink the shower water when I have a shower.
I like the fish.
I like to ride the waves and jump waves with my sister.
I like water because you can float in it,
Unless you’re a stone and then you sink.
I dislike hot days. But when there is a beach around I love them-
When you jump into the cool blue sea you feel free,
black seaweed tickling my feet, bobbing in the coffee water,
I want it to pull me down.
It’s funny how something so fragile can float for so long,
Carrying gleams and streams of human hearts,
On that by which it beats.
I wish water could fly!
I love to play football in the rain.
Blue, blue, blue, I love you, beautiful blue water
Thank you for filling up balloons.
Without water nearly all life would be extinct
Water helps everyone,
Water is gold.
Thank you for the water
to drink, clear and clean.
Oh yes and Elsa says Hello!
Nandi Chinna’s first collection of poetry, Our Only Guide is Our Homesickness, was published by Five Islands Press in 2007, followed by the chap book How to Measure Land, which was joint winner of the 2010 Picaro Press Byron Bay Writers Festival Poetry Prize. Her latest poetry collection Swamp; walking the wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain was published by Fremantle Press in 2014. Her wetland poem ‘Cut and Paste Lake’ won the 2014 Tom Collins Poetry Prize. In 2016, she was the inaugural writer in residence at Kings Park and Botanical Garden in Perth, Western Australia.