Review Blog

Jun 12 2014

Opening the windows to catch the sea breeze by Geoff Goodfellow

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Wakefield Press, 2014. ISBN 9781743052952.
(Age: 15+) Recommended for mature readers. Poetry. Working-class life. The marginalised. Mental illness. Work. Cancer. A biographical poetry collection in blue-collar attire.
This is a delightful exploration of the beauty of simple words and the power of poetry to patrol the parapets surrounding other worlds, and to open the gates for us to enter. Geoff Goodfellow is earthy and connected to the world of the working class worker. His words bring to life the ordinary and the extraordinary as the child of a war veteran with alcohol-infused memories. He travels as paid poet into the workplace and speaks for the people who make big business wealthy, and who give their health as payment for their right to a wage. He tells his own struggles with relationships, work and jack dancer (Cancer). He sees the world with the eyes of a wordsmith with the opportunity to forge a different understanding from the raw materials of humanity.
One of the powerful elements of this anthology is the detailed explanation given at the beginning of each chapter. This places the poetry within the historical context of the life and experience of Goodfellow himself. This opens the reader to his world, and the historical Adelaide that he is describing, and also gives us a glimpse into the life of a poet, and not one that lives in the hallowed halls of academia.
Note: For those considering this text within a school context, it does contain some down-to-earth and colourful language (some words of four-letter origin!), which is not surprising given its context, but may require some care. Despite this, the opportunity of hearing the voice of the marginalised, the 'blue-singlet' worker, the jail inmate, the Semaphore-hostel dweller, the struggling single mother or the public hospital patient is potent.
Carolyn Hull

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