We are both sad at the news that the poet and fiction writer Dorothy Porter died yesterday. It is hard to imagine Australian literature without her.
John: Dorothy once wrote that poetry was her “response to the delight and dilemma of awareness”. She was a poet always searching for the spark in language, and cared deeply about keeping her readers entertained and interested. She was a remarkably generous and energetic writer, and a very liked and respected person. I’ve read in public with Dorothy over the years and always found it an enthusiastic and mutually supportive experience. She believed that poetry and poets mattered. I first had contact with Dorothy after my book Night Parrots came out in the late eighties, when she wrote to say she had published a book entitled, The Night Parrot. For some years, she addressed and signed her letters to me, The Night Parrot. She had an incredibly strong and wry sense of humour, and was overwhelmingly good-natured. We also shared an interest in animal rights and conversed on issues important to the vegetarian (her) and the vegan (me). As a poet, she is unique in Australia for energising the verse novel form and writing a poetry of both immediacy and mythological depth, and also reinventing “genre” in a poetic context. She was one of Australia’s greats.
Tracy: I can’t come to terms with speaking of Dorothy in the past tense, such is her force and presence as a poet and woman. Here in Western Australia, as elsewhere, she made a huge impact with her dynamic performance and her memorable books. I’ve taught her poems to students everywhere we’ve lived, and they were immediately popular. Always down-to-earth regardless of her huge success and talent, always passionate about poetry and keen to revitalise it, bring it to new audiences – she will really be missed.