A Poet for the Silver City

Sydney Opera House 1975, image by Gregory Melle, via Flickr

Sydney Opera House 1975, image by Gregory Melle, via Flickr

Sydney is appointing a city poet to sing the virtues of the city in verse. For $20,000 over 12 months, the poet will be required to write six publishable poems. The poet will be based at the University of Technology Sydney in the inner-city suburb of Ultimo. Here’s the call for expressions of interest.

Australia’s most famous city has already been the subject of much poetry, including this by Les Murray. Peter Boyle’s ‘On Sydney’s South-West Line’ is a neat summation of that unique blend of dazzle and tack so emblematic of the silver city.

We applaud the scheme and hope it will be extended. We envisage a poet for every city, every town and even every suburb, or at least selected suburbs (we imagine suburbs like Carlton and Brunswick are already well-versed). However, we do fear the appointed poet will have their work cut out finding words that rhyme with Sydney: other than kidney, the alternatives are pretty much all proper nouns. The Oxford Rhyming Dictionary lists them as Rodney, Sidney (the alternate spelling, probably ruling it out), Adeney (a Shropshire village, very hard to include in a poem about Sydney, although maybe Sydney’s city poet will relish the challenge), Evadne (the name of some rather tortured Greek mythological characters, and also of Wonder Woman’s cousin) and our favourite Ariadne. Good luck!

Incidentally, if Melbourne has an unofficial poet laureate, it may well be Chris Wallace-Crabbe. Congratulations to Chris for his AM, announced on the Queen’s birthday honours list last weekend.

Here’s a video of Les Murray reading from his collection, Taller When Prone, at the Wheeler Centre.

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