The night sky over Parkes puts on a spectacular show for free every night, but when was the last time you looked up to enjoy it? Two star-gazing Parkes residents have been creatively inspired by this majestic wonder with their writing included in a collection of poetry and prose in the newly released Dark Sky Dreamings anthology.
The night sky has been a source of inspiration to both Sarah (Sal) MacKean and Braam Smit and when the Skywriters Project was launched they both embraced the opportunity to take their writing a step further.
“I liked the idea of writing about the sky because Parkes has these fantastic sky scapes,” said Sal, who moved here in 2015 from the UK. “I don’t know of any other place with such magnificent night views. It is one of Parkes’ strengths.”
For Braam, who moved to Parkes from a polluted city in South Africa only last year, it was an opportunity to embrace two of his passions: poetry and astronomy. “You can’t miss the night sky in Parkes, it is just spectacular. I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry, and as an amateur astronomer I enjoy spending time behind my telescope.”
Sal and Braam both ended up contributing poems to the anthology that includes the work of 48 other writers from inland NSW and beyond.
“I’ve given up being a lawyer hoping to become a writer,” said Sal, who now works in special education at Parkes High School. She took the bold step of writing poetry for the first time. “Seeing my first work in print is a positive thing for me. I feel very good about it.” She hopes this will bring opportunities to get more of her work published. She has written four novels and some short stories since arriving in Parkes.
Braam has had his Afrikaans poems published in South Africa and the Netherlands, but seeing his very first poem written in English and published in Australia is exciting for him. “It was a very rewarding project. I liked the idea of writing about the sky. It feels good to be in the company of other poets who all experienced the same thing and wrote about it.”
He said making the switch to writing in English has not been that difficult, although he felt he was a lot more cautious in his writing. He hopes to do a lot more writing and eventually have enough material for a collection of his own.
The Dark Sky Dreamings anthology was launched in Tamworth last week, and editor Merrill Findlay plans to have a launch in Parkes too in the near future.
By Maggi Barnard