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Young Writers Society
Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:39 am
I am after someone to have a look over my reflection and help me edit it. I need to add in more reflective language like I believe, I think etc and ensure that the end of each paragraph linked back to the question. I also need to use spoken techniques to signpost or link ideas together e.g. first, now, next, let me tell you about etc
Does Brisbane Inspire greatness?
Can Brisbane inspire greatness in me? Can greatness be achieved by remaining in Brisbane, or does one have to travel elsewhere?
When one thinks of the world’s greatest cities, Brisbane doesn’t naturally spring to mind. Having lived in Brisbane for the past 18 years, I am proud of my home city and share Matthew Condon’s view that Brisbane is a unique city that has come of age and is truly inspirational. Artists like the band Powderfinger and writers such as Nick Earls have also maintained their loyalty to Brisbane and are proud to say they achieved success without having to go elsewhere.
First by contrast, philosopher Alain de Botton a person who is paid to think asserted that Brisbane is one of the world’s ugliest cities born out of chaos, when he visited here recently. David Rowbotham’s poem Brisbane emphasised the negative aspects of our city from a purely historical perspective and Kevin Hart in his poem For Brisbane describes a dull, boring city in the last stanza.
Next to determine the answer to the question does Brisbane inspire greatness in me, I reflect on my childhood. As a nine year old boy, I spent many months lying in the children’s ward at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane, recovering from surgery on my hip. I felt immense frustration and longing to get out of bed to play sport like the other boys in my class. I believe one of my earliest memories of the city was looking out of the window of the Brisbane skyline from my hospital bed. I remember observing people going about their daily business and just sit there wondering where I would fit in when I grow up. I was in awe of the doctors and nurses and their incredible dedication. The hospital motto, “Exceptional people, exceptional care” was truly inspiring and one that I have always remembered. The medical specialists in the Mater Hospital inspired me to overcome the negative aspects of living with Pethes disease and get on with life.
Years later, as I am about to complete senior schooling, I am reminded of the words in David Malouf’s poem, Childhood Illness, which reflected on a child who wanted nothing more than to ride his bike once again and to be like everyone else.
But when at last the fever-chart restored him
to clear-eyed health, all things in their proper order,
the walls upright, the known faces near,
he stretched and smiled, demanded food, was eager
to have his bike again – forgetting how,
when light turned sour upon his lids, the mirror’s
depths had flowered with his vacant smile.”
As I read this poem I believe that David Malouf was born in South Brisbane. He has now become one of Australia’s most renowned and inspiring writers. I can relate strongly to the images that Malouf created due to my own personal experience as a patient in the world of medicine.
Having recovered from hip surgery I was inspired to take up running. David Malouf’s poem At a School Athletics Day brought back many memories of athletic club meets at QE2 stadium. The school competition at the large stadium is another exhilarating experience I share with the poet and can relate to personally.
The sky, the crowd’s breath catches
On the heel of a javelin thrower,
A boy as thick as two short planks who never
Will learn to distinguish
Between perfect past and past conditional.
As I have grown older I think I found great satisfaction in participating in all kinds of active sports that I could never have imagined as I lay marooned in my hospital bed.
On the far side of the field the crowd’s breath lifts
Away over our head, steel
Flies to nail its shadow in the grass
Falling, not out of sight but whee
Two schoolboys in sneakers
Run up snow-footed with a measuring tape.
Whilst this poem was written many years before QE2 was built, these excerpts remind me of the QE2 stadium casting shadows on the grass in the afternoon sun. The fact that Brisbane hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1982 at this stadium shows that even back then the city could inspire greatness and was ready to take its place on the world stage.
Matthew Condon points out in his book, Brisbane, that it was “drab and wowserish” with a “small town feeling”. Brisbane truly has come of age since then with the development of Southbank, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and numerous other world class venues that inspire excellence in the arts, sports and in other fields of endeavour. The “small country town” with its parochial nature has found its place on the world stage and continues to find its identity inspiring the pursuit of excellence.
Another inspiring memory is my first performance at the QPAC theatre as a member of the Australian Youth Choir - a memory that I will hold onto forever as it was so inspiring to be on the stage singing with such an accomplished group of young performers. It was an unforgettable experience which taught me that anything is possible with enough faith and belief in yourself. I believe now that some of the negative things that happened to me made me stronger, and all I needed in order to succeed was the confidence and the support of others. In the words of the song by Josh Groban,
You raise me up so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be.
Kevin Hart’s poem For Brisbane, provides an interesting historical perspective on our city from the 1960s through to the present. He describes the boredom of life in the suburbs where all entertainment stopped at six p.m.
The park is silent now,
There are no children playing, the bar has closed
And somewhere a train is burrowing through the dark.
In the words of the first stanza I was reminded of the humidity and extreme heat when arriving in Brisbane for the first time.
Where one hot day I stepped down from a plane
And grasped the metal rail.
And then the reader reflects on early childhood memories of Brisbane past:
Cool verandahed houses, quivering as I climbed to school with barefoot boys plodding flatly along.
This brought back memories of my primary school days running barefoot in the playground, playing on the monkey bars, sitting in old wooden desks and staying out of the hot Queensland sun.
The second stanza portrays the conservative aspect of Brisbane that resinates with many church going families of the 1960s.
In those days, most young people went to Sunday School, which provided most of the entertainment outside of school hours. In the conservative Brisbane society, church attendance played an important role in shaping the character of the young.
Each Sunday night I’d walk the mile to church, watching
The lights and stars click on, but differently:
It all escaped me then, but through the hymns I’d peer
Outside and watch the trains drag their weight
Into the station, empty themselves of men and then
Withdraw with slow assertion into the night, whistling.
The third stanza provokes the reader to reflect on where they are on their life journey: “What if these are my best years, now?” I felt a personal connection with the author as if he is reaching out to me scouring me to think about my past and my future in this beautiful city of ours. The fourth stanza highlights the contrast that is Brisbane today, with its modern buildings and old statues reflecting the past and calmly gazing into the future.
The poem portrays a bland Brisbane with dark, silent parks and closed shops. The writer describes a kaleidoscope from the historic past to the present in a city where some parts are truly inspirational and other are dull and boring, thereby reinforcing Alain de Botton’s belief that Brisbane is an ugly city in which not much ever happens.
Shane Brown’s City of Dreams on the other hand provides a uniquely different perspective. This futurisitic poem set in 2404 takes the reader on an exciting fanciful journey as to what Brisbane could be like in the future. The poem opens with “When Brian Delaney woke on October 2, 2404, he hoped the city of Brisbane was happy.” Brown envisions Brisbane to be a place of happiness and joy rather than being dull and boring. He continues with a positive vision of Brisbane today and in the future.
When he had gone to sleep on
Thursday night, Brisbane had been motivational.
Walking on Friday, her manner was confident achievement.
Weekends she was relaxed, and then Monday she was fresh and inspired again.
Upon re-reading Kevin Harts For Brisbane, what really impressed me was Kevin Hart’s view that “nothing is so beautiful as Brisbane at night, where back streets open like hands and pull you in”. I could not help but agree with this positive view of my home city that I have grown to love.
Rereading Shane Browns City of Dreams has further confirmed my view that Brisbane has indeed “come of age”. At the Queensland Museum, he observed old photos and maps that showed it had evolved from an age of primitive transport and dilapidated housing to a modern metropolis adapted to the present and serving the changing needs of a new generation of people.
Does Brisbane inspire greatness? There are many facets to Brisbane from its historic past to its modern future, from its country town beginnings to its international reputation as a world class city. From my own personal perspective and following my experiences in hospital years ago, competing at QE2 and performing at QPAC have in very different ways inspired a burning desire to succeed within me and the goal of achieving the best in life. Does one need to travel elsewhere to be inspired by greatness? I believe one just needs to look around in order to enjoy the greatness that this city has to offer.
No, Jack, don't. Jeez.
— David Letterman
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