Launch of “Voices from the Fire”

Voices from the Fire

When I was Convenor of Friendly Street Poets earlier this year, I initiated a project to get a collection of John Pfitzner’s poetry published. John was a poetry friend, a member of Friendly Street and in particular a fellow member of the Poetica group which met every month in Glenelg under the guidance of Krishan Persaud.

John died suddenly in January this year, having attended a poetry evening at Poets Corner, spending the last evening of his life listening to the great poetry of Alison Flett and Jennifer Liston.

John entered a manuscript entitled “Voices from the Fire” into the Friendly Street Single Poets competition, the prize being the publication of a full collection of work. John didn’t win the competition (that honour went to John Brydon). But nevertheless, the manuscript is the work of a top class poet. So it is only right that it be published, and that it will stand as a tribute to a much loved and multi-talented man.

Cathryn Charnock has done a beautiful job of laying out the book and getting it ready for printing.

I will M.C. the launch on Thursday December 12th 2013 at 7 pm at the Effective Living Centre, King William Road, Adelaide. There will be readings from the book and Sean Gilbert, a long time friend of John’s will give it its official launch. Above is a preview of the cover.

John spent several years in Aboriginal communities and learned to speak the local language. This poem by John, “Tracks”, demonstrates his huge respect for the people he met there:


In the late afternoon

as the low desert sun

contours with shadow

the settlement’s red sand

patterned with footprints,

I walk past the Aboriginal man

standing alone

then turn back to ask

if he needs help.

He’s waiting, he says,

to see the storekeeper.

‘This is where he lives,’ I tell him,

‘it’s after knock-off,

he should be home.

Have you knocked?’


‘You can knock,’ I say,

wondering if he knows this custom

or if maybe he’s too shy.

‘He’s not home,’ he says.

Above us, in a gum tree, a crow laments.

‘How do you know no-one’s home,’

I’m drawn to ask,

‘if you haven’t knocked?’

He looks at me,

a hint of a smile.

‘No tracks.’

copyright the Pfitzner family 2013


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