Today we are looking at iconic and award-winning Australian poet Geoff Goodfellow for our Poem of the Week blog series. The poem is ‘An Uncertain Future’ taken from the very interesting textbook and teacher’s resource The People’s Poet Transformed (also by teacher Rebecca Bond).
Post written by Poppy Nwosu
Last year I attended a lovely Wakefield Press book launch as a bookseller for the evening, and was introduced to poet Geoff Goodfellow, also published by Wakefield, who was in attendance.
Geoff was handing out postcards with printed poetry on them and I remember standing aside to read one. As I did, the smile slowly fell from my face. Not because the poem wasn’t good (it was very good) but because it was gritty and dark and powerful in a way I hadn’t really expected.
Those readers already familiar with Geoff’s poetry will understand exactly what I mean.
There is something very raw about Geoff’s work, as described in the following quote:
‘It’s real. I liked how he was completely honest and open about his life.’
Year 12 student
The more I learn about poetry, the more I begin to believe that honesty is quite often the key ingredient in creating poems that really stay with a reader, that creep beneath your skin.
I chose to feature a poem from Geoff’s collection The People’s Poet Transformed this week, without realising exactly what this book is.
I believed it to be a straight poetry collection, but in fact it provides a poet’s note and breakdown (by Geoff) for each poem contained within the collection, as well as an analysis and exercises on transformation (by teacher Rebecca Bond) that link with the school curriculum.
For me, this makes The People’s Poet Transformed quite a unique and fascinating read, whether you are a student, teacher, or simply a fan of poetry.
First, here is our poem of the week by Geoff Goodfellow, titled ‘An Uncertain Future’.
Below I have also included some insights and breakdowns about this poem, from both Geoff and Rebecca.
Here is an excerpt on the story behind this poem, about Geoff Goodfellow spotting a young pregnant woman in the city one day.
‘While we were waiting on a change of lights she raised her hand and took a drag on a cigarette. She blew out the smoke as she passed in front of my car and I noticed her teeth were blackened and broken. She was heading in the
direction of the Magistrates Court and I thought with teeth like that she might be on her way to face drug-related charges. Her future and that of her unborn baby seemed so uncertain.’
Analysis of the Poem:
‘In ‘An Uncertain Future’ Geoff is shocked by the choices the woman is making. His account of how this poem came about reveals a number of assumptions he has made about her from his position of relative privilege (as a male). The
situation may look and feel very different from the woman’s point of view.
Geoff’s commentary about the woman’s choices is turned on himself with his final line ‘i moved off slowly/into my own uncertain future’. Sometimes observing or writing about others can lead us to examine our own choices and points of view. Writing from a perspective other than your own requires imagination and empathy.’
Next in the book are three transformation tasks, designed to engage students with the text, and below is a passage I found particularly interesting.
I always find it fascinating how many different ways readers can engage with poetry.
You can read for pleasure and feel the emotion a poem conveys, or you can dig deep to understand the meaning and intent behind the words. You can pick apart the themes or spend time examining the word choice, writing styles or skills of the poet.
No matter how you enjoy reading poetry, I hope you found today’s Poem of the Week post interesting, and if you would like to delve deeper into Geoff Goodfellow’s vast collection of poetry there is certainly a lot to choose from.
And remember, the best way to show your support for writers, poets, publishers and booksellers is to buy books!
Support Wakefield Press by buying our beautiful books! Visit our website or contact us on 08 8352 4455 for more information, or to purchase a book (or three!). We can post your purchase to your doorstep!