There was only one time that I did it as an intellectual rather than spiritual choice. That was in a mood of defiance. A woman in the Melbourne Branch of the Poets Union took a dislike to me. I'm still not sure why, but I think she was jealous of my friendships with people she saw as the 'in crowd'. Eventually she became so unpleasant that it was no longer a joy for me to attend the PU meetings.
'The trouble is,' said Bill, 'You and she both need the Poets Union.'
'Oh do I?' I thought. 'I don't need anything so badly that I have to put up with being treated like that.' And I resigned immediately – which left me free to accept an invitation that happened to come at the same time, to join a poetry theatre group. Perhaps Spirit was guiding me after all, with a big push. Word of Mouth Poetry Theatre turned out to be one of my most exciting experiences in poetry.
Anita Sinclair – poet, artist, mask-maker, puppeteer and theatrical presenter – was our director. The others were performance poets Ken Smeaton and Malcolm Brodie. Anita had a performance space called Living Room. We would meet there every Monday, Anita would give us a topic, we'd all think, 'I haven't got any poems about that!' but because they were all archetypes, we'd then go through our work and find we had dozens on that. We'd select, craft a theatre piece around our selections, rehearse all week, and present it on Saturday night, complete with costumes and props. We always played to full houses! We also took some of the shows out to fairs and festivals, or presented them as street theatre.
It was wonderful for its own sake, and the bonus was that it didn't look as if I'd crept away from the Union licking my wounds. Rather, I'd gone on to better things.