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Monday, 13 April 2015

Why I like Sydney: poetry busking on George Street

It is late on a Saturday night on George Street near Bathurst Street and people are pouring down the pavement, pushing into eateries, draining out of the cavernous cinema, milling around the bus stops at the kerb. At a small table with an old, mechanical typewriter perched on top of it a woman is seated at the edge of the pavement right against the cinema wall. She has an A4 pad of lined paper on her knees and she is writing. Next to her, on another seat on the pavement, sits a young man waiting while the woman works on the poem he has ordered. A yellow cardboard sign stuck to the edge of the table says that you can ask the woman to write a poem for you on any topic.

The woman will work on the poem on the A4 pad for a while and then eventually get around to bashing it out on the mechanical typewriter that is placed centrally on the table. I don't know how much she gets paid for each poem but I recently read about a similar setup in New York. That story was in an online magazine. In the story the man who busked his poetry had set up his table in a subway tunnel. I thought the woman on George Street had found the ideal place to ply her trade.

Tens of thousands of people course along George Street on a Saturday night, making this surely the best place possible in Sydney to be selling poems to passersby. We saw the woman with a single customer but I imagine she had had many others during the evening. This is what I love about Sydney: the unexpected event that makes everything make sense. The casual encounter with the unusual. The strange. The out-of-the-ordinary. This is one of the reasons I came back, because I wanted to see this kind of thing again.

1 comment:

Brett said...

Hi Mathew,

A Lovely post capturing the appreciation of the unexpected and unusual...but when considered and pondered ....such a very Sydney/Melbourne thing to see and come across.

It is just as much the little,often overlooked things that help form part of the Gestalt of a place, a time or a moment...as much and often even more than the Big Icons we think define a Place and our place in it, under the Aussie Sun that defines us all. And for you and I ...it's also the personable, local things that we grew up and were raised by, with ,of and at. From that Jelly Fish cast upon Gibson Beach at low Tide and the the accompanying smells, to Phil Dunn our local Character, sailing the Sabot on a Saturday morning from the Cutty Beach Yacht Club and watching an easterly storm swell make Neilson Park turn into a surf beach. Catching the 327 to School... you know what I mean and know what they are and how they helped make us what and who we are, in ways we may never know and in some we will never forget. Sydney made and shaped us and was the canvas on which our lives were first painted onto to begin and get our first bearings on the journey that we continue on until we don't. It is hard to think of a better place to have grown up and been, to return back and to be in now or when it is we are here when we are back from whence we were.Because here is and always remains in many ways , for many reasons our Home.
For those that began here and call another place for whatever reason their Home, be it Temporary or Forever...here is still and always will be , even if just as a warm memory nestled in a corner of the mind that brings a smile to the face...forever and a day Home.
Regards,
Brett Courtenay who shared the same "home" as you did and often with you...