\u201cWho do you write for?\u201d\r\nA couple of days earlier, I had sent Rhiannon a list of more than 15 questions. She sent me her response shortly after. It totalled over 2,000 words.\u00a0As we walked through Wollongong\u2019s Botanical Gardens, I realised this question had been missing.\r\n\u201cFor myself,\u201d she answered.\r\n\r\nImage Credit: @Doug88888 via Flickr Creative Commons.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThree things came to mind.\u00a0The first was an earlier conversation with Rhiannon. I had asked where she got her inspiration. Her response came in the form of a short story about a man and his goat.\u00a0There was once a man who regularly came into the butchers where Rhiannon previously worked. Each time, the man told her the same story: his goat was driving him mad. So he tied it up. He got it under control. At first, she dismissed the story as idle chat. But the man kept coming into the butchers. And he kept telling her the same story. He had a goat. It was driving him mad. So he tied it up.\r\n\r\nHe had a goat. It was driving him mad. So he tied it up.\r\n\r\nHe had a goat. It was driving him mad. So he tied it up.\r\n\r\nEventually, when she didn\u2019t know what else to do with the man\u2019s story, she made it into a poem.\r\n\r\n \r\nA Retiree and Goat\r\nfor alex\r\n\r\n(First appeared, in an earlier version, Seeking the Sun: Australian Poetry 2012)\r\n\r\n1\r\n\r\nCombat in our final years, assembling the fence. Spying\r\n\r\nthe goat contriving, flaunting her power,\r\n\r\nto expose frailty,\r\n\r\nkicking up her heels.\r\n\r\nWatching wearily, tomorrow I will toil\r\n\r\nwith fence posts and wire.\r\n\r\n2\r\n\r\nWatching from the window she remembers a time\r\n\r\nwhen I was attentive to other passions. Snagged on a nail\r\n\r\nyellow dress slipping\r\n\r\noff pearly shoulders.\r\n\r\nA time when fencing could wait, just to\r\n\r\ntouch breast, navel, thigh.\r\n\r\n3\r\n\r\nRetirement meant more time embracing our passions.\r\n\r\nTime that we dreamed of. We found novels, movies,\r\n\r\nindividual lounge chairs.\r\n\r\nI fight with the goat.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThe second thing that came to mind was another earlier exchange we had. I had asked which of her poems was her favourite.\r\n\r\n\u201cDemokratizmi,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nI asked her what it meant.\r\n\r\nShe told me the title is Georgian for democracy. The poem was written in response to an imprint created by Gela Samsonidse. She explained that the imprint was Gela\u2019s attempt to express his identity and explore language. He starts by writing words in Georgian script, and then scribbles over them until he can longer make out the words.\r\n\r\nRhiannon wrote Demokratizmi by looking at the imprint, allowing words to flood her mind, and then cutting out words until she was left with the small number that make up the poem. She never did decipher the actual words that Gela wrote.\r\n\r\nI re-read the poem.\r\n\r\n \r\nDemokratizmi\r\nafter an imprint by Gela Samsonidse\r\n\r\n(First appeared South Coast Writers Centre website, July 2012)\r\n\r\n\u10d3\u10d4\u10db\u10dd\u10d9\u10e0\u10d0\u10e2\u10d8\u10d6\u10db\u10d8\r\n\r\n(democracy) drums,\r\n\r\nchanting from the people\r\n\r\nmouths widen, marching\r\n\r\nmi to the ballot box,\r\n\r\ncurving in a crescendo\r\n\r\nclimaxing in October 28, 1990\r\n\r\nstriking the floor, blood \r\n\r\n(\u10e1\u10d8\u10e1\u00ad\u10ee\u10da\u10d8) blood shed on canvas.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nI asked her if she showed Gela the poem. She said she hadn\u2019t. He wouldn\u2019t like it, she explained. He doesn\u2019t like his artworks to be made political.\u00a0I also asked her how she felt about people misinterpreting her poems and she laughed.\r\n\r\n\u201cI misinterpret people\u2019s poems all the time.\u201d\r\n\r\nWe continued walking through the gardens.\u00a0I reminded her of the two stories she had shared and repeated her answer to the question of who she writes for.\r\n\r\n\u201cSo you write for yourself?\u201d\r\n\r\nShe laughed softly, \u201cYeah, I guess\u2026\u201d\r\n\r\nWhen we finished walking through the gardens and parted ways, I re-read over her responses to the questions I emailed her. When asked why she writes, her desire to create comes through strongly.\r\n\r\n\u201cI love the feeling I get when I know that I have written something half good. I feel like I have really achieved something. Having a creative outlet has been really important for me, particularly while I was doing my honours research last year. I can\u2019t dance, paint or sing, so writing is the only form of creative expression that I get a real buzz from.\u201d\r\n\r\nShe went on to talk about her process.\r\n\r\n\u201cOften the words appear in more of a trickle than a splash. But, there is always something that stimulates and inspires me, like a painting, a piece of writing, an event, my surroundings, or a combination of these things.\u201d\r\n\r\nA sense of silence and space came through strongly.\r\n\r\n\u201cI need a lot of time to write. I have to be able to slow down and forget about work and uni for a bit. It is kind of like a meditation, once I am calm, I can devote myself to pondering over the ideas that have been bouncing around my mind. I always have ideas for a poem. I pick ideas up from work, uni and everyday life, but it is not until I am able to remove myself from these things that I can concentrate on one image.\u201d\r\n\r\nRhiannon\u2019s responses seemed only to further the idea that she is a woman who very much writes for the other, cares for the other, wants to observe and understand the other.\r\n\r\nOne of her poems in particular, Caf\u00e9 Rosso, paints a picture not just of women with windswept hair, lovers leaning across tables, cocky men and stout women waiting to pay, but of a woman, sitting in the background, immersed in observing and understanding what is going on in the world around her.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nImage Credit: Danie van der Merwe via Flickr Creative Commons.\r\n\r\n \r\nCaf\u00e9 Rosso\r\n(First appeared Sotto, August-September 2012)\r\n\r\ngrey thunders Bowral skies\r\n\r\ntwo women with windswept hair\r\n\r\nwarming over cannelloni, their cappuccinos cupped.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nLovers lean across tables, faces almost touch;\r\n\r\nOrder seafood - Grigliato Misto, white wine.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nBig men, cocky as\u00a0 sunshine yellow parrots,\r\n\r\nchucking back macchiatos; riffling work schedules,\r\n\r\nenvy\u00a0 every casual diner.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWaitresses flitting across the room,\r\n\r\nenjoying sweet meringue aromas,\r\n\r\nthe delicate perfumes\r\n\r\nof stout women waiting to pay.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThe poem speaks loudly of the quote Rhiannon has posted at the top of her blog homepage:\r\nTo be a poet one needs the six P\u2019s \u2013 the pencil, the paper, the perception, the passion, the persistence and the unshakable persuasion that the poem is in fact possible and attainable."\u00a0- Grace Perry\r\n \r\n\r\nThe third thing that came to mind when Rhiannon said she writes for herself was a quote by George Steiner.\r\nThere is language, there is art, because there is the other.\u201d\r\nI mention the quote to her and she shrugs, \u201cI guess I have never really thought about it before.\u201d\r\n\u00a0***\r\nRhiannon Hall was a caf\u00e9 poet with Australian Poet and has been published in Seeking the Sun: Australian Poetry 2012, Sotto, the UOW LitSoc Zine, Tertangala, Unfolding (an art exhibition catalogue) and on the South Coast Writers Centre's website. To read more of her work, visit her blog here.