I am the glass
Penny Drysdale is a Darwin-based poet, lawyer and policy adviser working to reduce domestic violence. She has led social justice and cultural projects in Central Australia, including editing Arelhekenhe Angkentye: Women’s Talk, an anthology of Arrernte women’s poetry. Her latest collection, I am the Glass, was published just last month. NT Writers’ Centre caught up with the multi-talented wordsmith for a chat.
Congratulations on your latest poetry collection! Can you tell us quickly what I am the Glass is about?
I am the glass captures those moments in life when things start to change. Someone is falling in love. Someone is falling out of love. There’s a big shift and you don’t know where things will end up.
What was the inspiration behind the work?
The work was inspired by my relationship ending in Alice Springs. There’s a lot of beauty amongst that pain. I wanted to honour the ending, and to relearn how to love. The book is not all about that one relationship, but that’s what prompted me to begin.
What do you love most about poetry?
I often write from the anxiety of not understanding something. I try to write my way towards understanding. A good poem enables you to talk about difficult topics more truthfully – and to see the beauty.
You work on an incredible range of projects – what’s next for you creatively?
It’s a great pleasure for me to work with Arrernte poets, so there will be more poetry workshops in Central Australia. I am writing some short stories and poems. My projects often grab hold of me and don’t let go, so I will keep writing small pieces until I am grabbed!
If we were to take a peek at your bookshelf, what kind of books would we find there?
The books sprawled across my bed at the moment are poetry: Jordie Albiston, Charmaine Papertalk Green and oodles of love poetry. My secret vice is self-help books – the latest one by Martha Beck mirrors Dante’s Inferno. The book of the year for me is George Saunders’ A Swim in the Pond in the Rain – a cross between a Russian literature class and a self-help book. That’s my kind of book!
Any Territory authors you’re enjoying at the moment?
Dani Powell’s, Return to Dust is one of my favourite books. I am in awe of Songspirals by the Gay’wu Group of Women in North East Arnhem Land. Spoken word has really captivated me lately – Darwin poets Melanie Mununggurr, Alexandra Steffan, Johanna Bell, Clare Bizley, and Parker Black – gave incredible performances at my book launch, along with Jacqui Malins from the ‘other’ territory, the ACT, who launched her book F-words at the same event.