Young Lochinvar, asylum seeker


lochinvar quoteAs university students and recent graduates protest the abhorrent notion of contributing a little more and a little sooner to the cost of their educations, S.L. writes to update fellow Quadrant readers on one of the things the taxpayer dollar is buying. The memo below went out this week to University of Technology Sydney students.

…I’m writing to invite you to contribute to the Empathy Poems, a new project in support of the asylum seeker and refugee crisis that affects Australia and its humanitarian responsibilities, as well as other parts of the world.

The idea is simple: choose a poem that you love — it might be a classic, a childhood favourite, or by a contemporary poet — and rewrite it using the themes of refuge, dispossession, and seeking asylum. That poem and its original (or a link to it) will be included in the Empathy Poems website, to raise awareness and foster understanding amongst readers.

The idea for this project came from Ian Syson’s moving poem ‘Beach Collection’, inspired by Kenneth Slessor’s famous ‘Beach Burial’. You don’t need to be a poet, simply someone who supports this idea. Other poems of inspiration so far have included ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, Primo Levi’s ‘If This is a Man’, a Shakespeare sonnet, and Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’…..

…. I look forward to hearing from you and reading your poem!

 best wishes,
Debra Adelaide

While it is true that the literary height achieved by The Owl and the Pussycat is a daunting prospect to emulate, empathetically or otherwise, let it not be said that supporters of open-border immigration policies are the only folk capable of going from bad to verse.

With a nod to Sir Walter Scott, who is long dead and cannot sue, here is our entry in regard to leaky boats and open-door immigration policies. It is perhaps a little less empathetic than the project’s architects might wish.

Mohammad Fahfour floats in from the west,
Right up to the border his boat was the best
Save Centrelink forms he papers had none
They went overboard lest his tale be undone.
Bound for Lakemba, of wives he had four
You’ll never know nights like Mohammad Fahfour

The original and un-tampered Young Lochinvar can be read via the link below.

— roger franklin

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