Peak Crossing pumpkin patch inspires tribute to Foote family

Quiet moment on Ipswich farm immortalised in prose

A photo of an Ipswich man who lost his life in Egypt as a member of the 2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment has inspired the winner of this year’s Ipswich Poetry Feast International Writing Competition.

The awards were presented at the Metro Hotel Ipswich International on Friday night, closing the book on the 15th annual Ipswich Poetry Feast.

Cashmere resident Vanessa Page won two awards for her poem, Norman Foote Among the Pumpkins, including the competition’s top honour.

Norman Foote Among the Pumpkins

She tears each day along careful perforations, to the anniversary of his death.
Today, it is April. The air is muddied with heat, and from her kitchen
window, Glebe Road has slowed to a Saturday afternoon trickle.
She’s cleaving a knife through a Queensland blue’s rippled form
until it aches open: the buttery-gold flesh tumbling into cubes for the pot.
Smoothed out on the bench before her, the map of sequences that carry her on.

Thirteen years ago, Norman Foote crouched in the fields at Peak Crossing,
among the pumpkins: giant orbs dropped as if by something other-worldly,
the lean, mottled bodies of the working dogs, weaving around him.
Captured in a candid moment, before the distant peaks of the Teviot Ranges,
on the paddock-flat, in the piercing gaze of summer, weeks before sailing out.
At Newtown, the boiling water steams, lifts the photograph’s sellotaped edge.

She often pictures him, between fitful wake and sleep, looking out at the
distant tips of the pyramids from Heliopolis. Those great, other-worldly wonders,
chevrons cut into the sky – the sands lit by glow, as golden as Rockdale Farm fields
the dusk slowly advancing: bringing its cummerbund of delicate colours,
as around him, soldiers shuttle between tents with industry.
The sounds of him coughing and hacking, rising steeply into the night.

At home, streets and days stretch on.
Timber and tin blocks fade out to scrub. A herd of cows lumber slowly to the west.
His mother’s pot bubbles over again on the hob.

Vanessa Page

Competition garners entries from across the globe

Ipswich Poetry Feast Committee Chairman Councillor David Pahlke said Vanessa’s poem paid tribute to Norman Foote, the brother of Rockdale farm owner Herbert Marshall Foote.

“Vanessa won the Picture Ipswich Theme, a category that encouraged people to draw inspiration from an archive of more than 14,000 images, along with the overall award and Babies of Walloon statuette,” he said.

“Norman is pictured in the farm’s pumpkin patch with two dogs, it’s a touching photo and shows a quiet moment of self-reflection.

“This year’s competition attracted 1,319 poems with entries coming from as far afield as Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, South Africa, New Zealand and the US.”

Launched in 2002, the Ipswich Poetry Feast was inspired by literary legend Henry Lawson’s connection to the region.

In 1891 he wrote The Babies of Walloon after the tragic drowning of sisters Bridge Kate and Mary Jane Broderick in a waterhole at Walloon.

A memorial to the sisters takes pride of place at Walloon’s Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park.

All the winners from this year’s writing competition
  • 5 to 7 Years: Eels, Freddy Davey (Redbank Plains, Queensland)
  • 8 to 10 Years: Why Willows Weep, Abby Jennings (Woodend, Queensland)
  • 11 to 13 Years: Red Dress on the Hill, Olivia Priddis (Bray Park, Queensland)
  • 14 to 15 Years: Beat Highway, Emerson Hurley (Brighton East, Victoria)
  • 16 to 17 Years: Zipper, Sonya Frossine (Success, Western Australia)
  • Open Age Bush Poetry: The Cynic Route, Kate O’Neil (Wombarra, New South Wales)
  • Open Age Other Poetry: Flying to Ipswich in the Company of Saint Jackie Howe, Roger Vickery (Freshwater, New South Wales)
  • Open Age Local Poets: Easter at the Coast, David Gagen (Silkstone, Queensland)
  • Open Age Picture Ipswich Theme: Norman Foote Among the Pumpkins, Vanessa Page (Cashmere, Queensland)
  • Chairperson’s Encouragement Award: Past, Alyssa Tang (Butler, Western Australia) and Birds Can Heal Through Water, Robert Chapman (Springfield Lakes, Queensland)
  • Chairperson’s School Award: Springfield Central State High School (Springfield Central, Queensland)
  • Overall winner and recipient of the Babies of Walloon statuette: Norman Foote Among the Pumpkins, Vanessa Page (Cashmere, Queensland)

The Eel can slide from side to side.
They’re really big, and like to hide.
They have long bodies, but no hair.
They use their eyes to see with care.
They taste your scent if you are near.
And spark a threat for you to hear.
It’s wise of you to clear their way
So you do not have an awful day!

Freddy Davey

5 to 7 Years

Easter at the Coast

We begin the day
Huddled along the shore
Waiting for the Resurrection.
Bodies bruised
We plunge through Perigean waves
Wet with suffering
From the ocean’s pull.
Air tight in veins
We drown for a moment
A bug in a jar,
A frog in formaldehyde,
Before the deepest breath,
And we rise to the surface
The sun in our eyes
Wild with wonder.

A mountain’s green
Hovers high over Maleny
Its shadow inches
Across the town,
People verandahed
In the hinterland
Of quiet years.

We will sleep tonight
Under Eumundi stars
And dream a storm,
We’ll touch the wound,
See the empty cave,
And then tomorrow
The traffic.

David Gagen

Open Age Local Poets

Why Willows Weep

Oh ancient wise one what have you seen?
The world when it was new and green
Where creatures roamed about the land
Free from harm at human hands
Oh king of the forest what have you heard?
The gentle flapping, the wings of a bird
War and guns, violence and greed
Words of hatred that grow like a weed
Oh tall majestic one what have you felt?
A gentle breeze, the snow at its melt
Smoke, fire, the feel of the saw
Acts ignoring nature’s law
Oh ancient wise one what do you know?
That man will reap, what man will sow

Abby Jennings

8 to 10 Years


She arrived in a suitcase
Neater than the third shot of whiskey
Curled up in a carved-out corner
Arms folded like laundry

Ironed flat, dried by the pressure
The tea-leaves hanging from her hair
Were uninterested in the semantics, the oxygen masks
After the flight over forty-four fallacies

She left a trail of beach-burdened fingertips in her wake
Reddened like ripe, raw cherries
Half-bitten and left to burst
Like spores filled with blood

They would, at a moment’s hurriedly scribbled notice
Burn and drown like candle wicks in wax
Alight, the zig-zag of lost lovers
Formed a constellation through a handprint of countries

They were the residue, really
Of a juggernaut thundering through
Built from a body, somehow unthinking, unwishing
Surely never, ever stopping

Someone small enough to slip into the stomach of a suitcase
Worldly enough to wait with the watches

Sonya Frossine

16 to 17 Years

Celebrate Ipswich success stories.

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