The Pure Poetry project was first staged in 2004 in regional NSW. Hosted by the Riverina Conservatorium of Music (RCM) in Wagga Wagga, the inaugural project celebrated the voice of women in contemporary Australian culture and was held on International Women’s Day. Australian composer Ann Carr-Boyd conducted masterclasses with young local musicians at the Conservatorium, and she also performed a selection of her works in the recital alongside other compositions for piano, viola, violin and cello. The program also included compositions Elena Kats-Chernin, Amadis Lacheta and Allye Sinclair with poetry by Riverina women and performances by Tamaris Pfeiffer (violin/viola) and cellist Anthea Cottee.

From 2008 to 2011, the project was presented in collaboration with Ballarat Writers Incorporated,
a not-for-profit organisation supporting writers
in regional Victoria. During this period, Bronwyn conceptualised a longer project aimed at encouraging and developing regional writers, composers and performance through workshops and mentoring.

Pure Poetry 2008 involved eight local emerging poets taking part in a series of poetry workshops with award-winning poet, Ross Donlon. Their poetry was presented in a program of Australian violin, cello and piano repertoire, which included new works by Ballarat composer Suzie May Camm and Melbourne’s Anthony Lyons. Both Suzie May and Anthony performed in the recital, making it a personal experience of contemporary music. The recital was presented to a full house at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. The poets, who came from in and around Ballarat, were: Jan Price, Myra King, Annie Gleeson, Stephen Pigott, Ursula Calderone, Richard Sullivan, Roger Clark and Sharon Howard.

Pure Poetry 2010, the first regional tour, fostered 19 emerging poets based in and around Shepparton, Ballarat and Castlemaine. Through a mentorship with Ross Donlon, poets developed their writing and presentation skills, and then read their work in one of three Pure Poetry Recitals held between March and May. The tour through regional Victoria had an enthusiastic following, with most recitals attracting capacity audiences.

The first recital in the tour took place in the SheppARTon Festival with poets: Pat Patt, Robyn Black, Barry Mitchell, Karen Parker, Vikki Bye and Gayle Cykner.

The second recital was held in the Art Gallery of Ballarat and featured poets: Marian
Chivers, Janette Dalgliesh, Eve Lamb, Rachel Flynn, Bronwyn Blaiklock and Penny Gibson.

The final recital in the 2010 Pure Poetry Tour was in the Castlemaine Art Gallery. Poets included Peter Fernon, Tru Dowling, Damien Hendrickson, Ellen O’Gallagher, Julie Gittus, Gail Oliver and Arn Thoring.

Pure Poetry 2011 was a departure from the early format, which centred around the performance of thematically sympathetic, contemporary Australian poetry and music. For the first time in the project’s history, Bronwyn sought creative integration of the two art forms through direct collaboration by selected poets and composers. New ekphrastic works were also commissioned, whereby poets wrote new works in response to compositions, and vice versa. The 2011 program included seven new works written either collaboratively or as ekphrasis by featured artists, composer Anthony Lyons and poet Nathan Curnow. Other guest poets were Lorraine McGuigan and Ross Gillett. Gillet’s poem ‘Trajectory’ was a reflection on Anthony’s piano solo ‘In a Close Orbit’.

Go to the Gallery page for sound and visuals from the 2011 recital. The poetry included works
by Marian Chivers, Bronwyn Blaiklock, Damien Hendrickson, Pat Patt, Ellen O’Gallagher
and Karen Parker, all of whom had participated in previous projects.