Dear Inner Circle,

Dreadful weather didn’t stop about 40 people from attending our Slam Poetry session last night. Such rare and priceless gifts were generously offered by a range of poets. Some people with whom I’d only exchanged brief greetings suddenly revealed themselves as masters of technique in the delivery of their poems. Some stood before us, spiritually naked, sharing their deepest struggles in poetry form. I was often on the edge of my seat as someone opened their heart, not in the safety of counselling, but in the safety of an audience who listened and affirmed every offering. At Wayside I sometimes think the greatest riches in life are freely given, never more so than last night.

Do you think we might have overdone the ANZAC thing this year? I’m sure it's true that WWI did wake up a sense among us of being Australian. Before that war, we thought of ourselves as British. My Dad was an army nurse in Darwin when it
was being bombed. Dad didn’t talk about his war, not because he was traumatised but I suspect because he regarded his role as insignificant. Yet, he and I loved to discuss the battles of WWI and the strengths and weaknesses of various Generals. Dad sometimes went to ANZAC services but always in emotional turmoil. Dad hated anything that glorified war. His favourite ANZAC Day story was when in Sydney, after speeches by high ranking people in uniforms, a moment of wreath-laying took place. It was solemn. The silence was broken by an old drunk who sang at top note, “Hallelujah I’m a bum”. Police ran to shut the man up. Dad loved the outburst. He liked to think that the drunk was an old soldier who had the courage to protest against all the fine speeches that tried to convince the crowd that all the death, particularly that of Gallipoli and the Western front, was anything other than an unspeakable waste of life.

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