Arts / Poets in motion celebrate train-driven muse

“WHEN I see my baby/ What do I see?/ Poetry/ Poetry in motion”, the old Johnny Tillotson song went.

Noonee Doronila officially launches “Poetry in Motion”

Noonee Doronila officially launches “Poetry in Motion”

It’s not exactly what Canberra poet, mover and shaker Fiona McIlroy had in mind when she devised the “Poetry In Motion” project back in 2010 that sees our poets travel by slow train from Canberra to Sydney each year in search of the muse, but it’s a good pun.

Last night McIlroy’s regular group of poets, who meet each Wednesday afternoon at Cherryripe Brasserie in Watson, turned out in force to see local literary luminary Noonee Doronila officially launch the chapbook, “Poetry in Motion” over wine and tapas.


McIlroy outlined to those present the democratic process which saw 15 sturdy local poets set off for Sydney on September 2 this year in the 5th “Poets’ Train” project.

Doronila, for her part, regretted that she had missed out on this gathering of the poetic cognoscenti, but not to worry, she’d been during 2016 on a slow train from Madrid to Granada and commended train travel to everyone as a way of capturing “the smells that you smell and the sights that you see”, suggesting that slow travel acted as a kind of meditation. “More power, more train rides,” she advised.

There followed readings by the 2016 contributors to the book are dominated by impressions of rain on train windows but also including memories of train rides from yesteryear. The problems involved in ordering a pie on the train and the question of finding “the right seat for writing poetry”.

Poet David Turbayne took a swipe at “Row upon row of radiata pines/slashed to the ground/the earth barren and stark/beholden to an economic god.”

MC for the night, Laurie McDonald, confessed with scarcely a blush that he admired the good taste of Canberra poetry mentor and judge Kathy Kituai, who had chosen his own poem, “Trains are for dreaming” as the winner of the New South Wales Trainlink travel prize for the best poem, with Christopher Dorman’s “My Train” as runner-up.

“We slip back into our own dreaming with the poet,” Kituai said of McDonald’s poem.

McIlroy told those present that she was considering a different direction for the 2017 train journey, perhaps to Dubbo or Albury, where they could meet up with some Melbourne poets.

The important thing however was, in her view, “to keep these nice slow trains going so we can write poems.”

Fiona McIlroy will continue to be at Cherry Ripe brasserie in Watson shops of a Wednesday afternoon throughout the festive seaon, where poets of all inclinations are invited to meet her before Cafe sessions officially resume in mid-January. Inquiries to


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