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Beacon Breaker celebrates landscapes of natural beauty, isolation, childhood & adolescence, adult & family lives and that of the poet’s musings . Greenacre colours our perception with images drawn from the everyday and the playful and sometimes wistful eye of memory.
‘Norseman was big in the ’50s, old timers swear, the place was breathing as a living thing - streets packed like Saturday mornings, everyone too busy to miss the quiet of country towns.’
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" I had a great time at 'Voicebox' at Clancy's Fish Pub on Monday 14th May.
I told little anecdotes about how the poems came about and read 10 or so
poems from 'Beacon Breaker'." - Mike G.
Comments on Mike Greenacre’s first poetry collection,
‘This is one of the best collections about living in Australia that I’ve read in quite a while. Greenacre knows his people and the land. His poetry is thinking through every utterance with a compassion that is rare in most social commentary.’
Richard Hillman, Editor, SideWaLK, 2002.
‘Thank you for the lovely book. It is just right for the poems and the poems themselves are so well written and deeply felt by the writer and his readers.’
Elizabeth Jolley, 2002.
‘With titles like ‘Applecross High’…’From Clancy’s To Love’ … and ‘Rottnest Journey’, the poems in Mike Greenacre’s recently released collection Kimberley Man are sure to catch local eyes. And those who linger will not be disappointed. His works are evocative and his observations crisp.’
Les Everett, Herald Books, 2002.
In his second collection of poetry, Beacon Breaker, Mike Greenacre paints vivid word pictures of people and places he has known over the years. Both the title and Graham Husband’s original painting ‘Norseman from Beacon Hill’, featured on the cover, prepare the reader for Mike’s celebration of West Australian life in settings that include Norseman, Kalgoorlie and areas surrounding Fremantle, Blackwall Reach, Applecross and South Coogee, names so familiar to West Australians. Not only do his poems commemorate places, but they are imbued with a deep empathy for the people the poet has known there.
In giving poetic form to events from his own life, Mike shows how ‘memory’s wheel turns/freely through conversations/that twist and dive….’ (Thirst for Words) And there are many past conversations threaded through these poems, some of which are dedicated to a particular friend or relative. One I particularly loved is Boomerang Man: for Roger Perry, who ‘appeared from nowhere, swooped silently in/as if he’d always been waiting for another challenge…’ Mike celebrates the boomerang man’s success in teaching unemployed youths in Norseman ‘the arts of/making and throwing like apprentice craftsmen…’ ending with the evocative image of ‘the sky a maze of laughter and twirling ambitions/that light the shafts of mateship once more.’
The poems published in Beacon Breaker share a strong sense of place, but not all are located in Western Australia. Suddenly in the midst of the familiar landscape, Mike inserts a poem set in places such as Niagara, Stonehenge or San Francisco, where the poet finds other metaphors, other memories. In San Francisco, ‘itself a metaphor-/a union of unlike things..’ the poet’s memory uncovers the Miwok nation, traces of the American Civil War, Ginsberg & Kerouac and the Beat Generation. Both at home and overseas he is vividly aware of the layers memory weaves over a scene, just as he employs the poet’s sensitivities to recreate the experience. Thus snow falling on Niagara becomes: ‘like a sudden invasion,/a rapid take-over of minds -/the sweep of a writer’s hand,/ seeking all before it/in unforgiving style.’ (Snow – In the Niagara Escarpment) Writing of the Wray Street café, Mike finds himself thrown ‘back to the limestone/backstreets of colonial life feeling/like an intruder a ‘ticket-of-leave’/prisoner let out for the day.’ (Wray Café & Bookshop) As he drives down Ardross Street, in Applecross, ‘the past echoes like voices…’ (Applecross Jetty).
But Mike is more than a poet who lives among the voices of memory. He writes evocatively of the writer’s daily struggle to extend time and make space for writing within life’s other demands. As he questions: ‘Family life or poetry?/There is no real choice-/I sleep on a bed of poems,/tossing with their murmuring.’ (Out Of Time) Sometimes the poems have their way and ‘I am up before the sun/struggling with word’s unflinching/arms gripping me like a child.’ (Rival) All writers will empathise with the anguished wait for the postman after sending out one’s work for publication: ‘wanting & not wanting to know.’ (Post Out)
Mike writes with a sure feel for the rhythm of words and the ability to create striking images. Some of my favorites are: ‘Woken by magpies/swoop of voices’ and ‘Divitini’s …where lives/are passed to and fro/across the counter like loose change.’ (Norseman Still)
‘At this point the Swan River/narrows as a throat swallowing/the distance between shores’ (Blackwall Reach)
‘I’m up late moonlight/with the things I know:/bookcase journals/kitchen table or lounge floor/surround me as lifelines/just waiting to be called.’ (Nocturnal Visit)
And: ‘Like the magpie in the bush/I throat the air…’ (Norseman: Wings Of Hope)
This second collection confirms Mike Greenacre as a poet with much to contribute to Western Australia’s rich literary culture.
Mike Greenacre is a Western Australian poet who has had his poems published in literary journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas.
He developed an interest in writing through listening to the lyrics of popular and rock songs as a teenager. He learnt to play the guitar in high school and wrote his first poems while attending Applecross Senior High.
Mike studied at Murdoch University and completed two teaching degrees. While studying, he did some drama units and acted in a number of amateur theatre productions.
After graduating, Mike began writing more seriously and attended some writing groups run by Elizabeth Jolley at the Fremantle Arts Centre. He had his first poems published in journals in these years.
Mike did his country teaching service in Kununurra and Norseman and met his wife, Tracy, while teaching in Rockingham. They have a son, Jonathan (22) and a daughter, Jaime (19).
Mike has worked at a number of Perth metropolitan primary schools and some of his students have won prizes in ‘The Young Writer’s Contest’. He has been teaching Music and Performing Arts in the last two years.
Mike published his first collection of poetry, Kimberley Man, in 2002.