The Life Righting Collective runs courses to encourage self-exploration through life writing, raises funds for course fees and brings people together to share their stories and grow community.

At the heart of the moon poetry festival in McGregor

Lucy Alexander

This week, a small band of LRC members attended the McGregor Festival Weekend (23-25 August 2019). Themed The Heart of the Moon, this festival celebrated the 7th year since McGregor Poetry Festival’s inception and its survival in spite of funding constraints. We missed our ’15-strong-company-of-LRC poets-from-2018’, in part the result of the LRC’s own funding constraints, in part because we didn’t have a new anthology to launch. Next year, let’s hope we’ll have one, and a stronger presence of LRC poetry-life writers. And by the way, some of us concluded that most poetry is life-writing.

That’s not to say that the LRC was invisible though – with Dawn at the helm, and Giles Griffin and Hani du Toit by her sides, the LRC was out there celebrating our achievements and our potential. For some of us, the festival began in creative connection with Dawn’s poetry workshop - a fundraiser for the festival - which drew 20 participants, some well-established poets and a good smattering of LRC members. From the beautiful verandah of festival co-ordinator Jennifer Johnson’s home, with the sounds of peacocks, horses and bird twitter, the special value of communities gathering to write and hear each others’ work came home again. The poems ranged widely in voice and topic, and offered a remarkably sentient way to kick off the festival.

At the Connect session the following morning, the LRC was also strongly present. This poetry performance created by Dawn, Giles and Hani was a wonderful compilation of poems of ‘disconnect’, with the three presenters ‘triangulated’ across the venue, backs turned, reading their own and others’ work; then gradually they moved towards ‘connection’ in front of the audience and read a series of ‘connection’ poems. And at the end, LRC details were distributed via a pamphlet with a gift poem from Hani, and a request to sign up to the Woolworths My School fundraiser for the LRC. Naturally we were so absorbed that we forgot to take photographs!

So what else did the festival offer? To start with - a windless and sunny McGregor, a hard-to-choose-from programme of poetry from some well-established poets, some brave and new; a tantalising selection of books, mother-tongue open mike sessions, awards to young poets from nearby schools, and some adult poets who presented at last year’s festival; not forgetting the sponsorship by Clemengold  Citrus Gin which flowed freely between sessions. Some poets touched on the moon as a theme, others just used it as a springboard, but love, earth in crisis and heart were strong themes across the festival.

mcgregor combo2
Scenes from McGregor Photo credit: Hani Du Toit

And driving home, we explored possibilities for 2020, amongst them, to call for help from our membership to plan the LRC gig to McGregor early enough to make it happen, and to urge our poet-membership to keep writing - and submitting their work for a future anthology. Any offers of help to ‘Get LRC poets to McGregor’, for example, each one, sponsor one  – please contact Dawn!

And having been to the moon, Giles sent us a touch-down poem of his particular experience of the weekend. The photos tell the rest.

Back to base, to earth

After pointing to the moon

No more clear blue air.

Apprentice poet

Newly inaugurated

On festive programme.

Time gone so quick

Bitter-sweet experience

A taste of something.

Like guava crumble

From the boys at 51

Options come tumbling.

Buoyed by poet-friends

To seek out new connections

I find a ‘reader’.

Identity shifting

Poetry as mind-soul-food

Please keep feeding me.

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