Poet Brett Dionysius visits the road side memorial to Andrew Bornen on Albion Street in Brassall. Brett has written award-winning poems about tragic deaths in the Ipswich area.
Poet Brett Dionysius visits the road side memorial to Andrew Bornen on Albion Street in Brassall. Brett has written award-winning poems about tragic deaths in the Ipswich area. Claudia Baxter

How tragedy inspired poetry

TRAGIC stories from across Ipswich have helped wordsmith Brett Dionysius win a raft of awards at this year's Ipswich Poetry Feast.

The Ipswich Grammar School teacher was announced the winner of both the Open Age - Local Poetry, and Open Age - Other Poetry categories at the awards presentation last Friday night.

Of Mr Dionysius' five award-winning poems, four explore the losses of local Ipswich people.

A piece about the 2009 death of 16-year-old Andrew Bornen, titled Albion Street, won first place in the Open Age - Other Poetry category.

Mr Dionysius won the local poetry category with Heartland, a poem about a similarly tragic 2009 event - the death of 78-year-old Margaret Wheater near Riverlink.

A second Albion Street piece titled Crossroads was highly commended and Pink Balloon, a tribute to a colleague who died from cancer, received a second place.

Mr Dionysius said he took the 'local' requirement "quite literally" .

"Entrants (in this category) must live in Ipswich, but I have written about events that have occurred in Ipswich," Mr Dionysius said.

"I believe that writers should explore their sense of place, and a part of that is the tragic sense of place, which is sometimes not covered."

Mr Dionysius said his latest poems tried to "make sense of the insensible; of senseless acts that occur in utterly tragic circumstances".

"It's not that Ipswich has a tragic history, it's just that I'm drawn to trying to make sense of parts of life," he said.

Mr Dionysius said he was personally affected by the death of Mr Bornen on Albion St, as he lived near the scene in a "tight-knit community".

"I remember the night that it happened, we heard the sirens pass our house," Mr Dionysius said.

"It affected a lot of people, and the effect rippled out into the Ipswich community."

Mr Dionysius said his Albion Street poem explored the event from the perspective of the natural environment and place, with monuments and statues being a major theme.

"In some cultures, battle and loss sites become sacred, and we've become obsessed with monuments ourselves," he said.

With the serious tone of Mr Dionysius' work hanging over guests of the Ipswich Poetry Feast awards presentation, the shared focus on Open Age Bush Poetry and playful children's poems was much appreciated.

Ipswich Poetry Feast Committee Chairperson said the awards night was enjoyed by all, with about 200 guests in attendance.



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