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Body in a Sports Bag

I’ve never really known how to write about other people without imposing some kind of “treatment” on them. And I guess it’s not possible to completely avoid imposing a “treatment” – but there are “treatments”, and then there are treatments. I discovered a poem called ‘Holocaust’ by an Objectivist poet called Reznikoff which was composed
entirely out of cut-and-pasted transcripts from Holocaust survivors. Reznikoff’s artistic practice is one of selection – not invention. Or rather, invention through various selective combinations – sans commentary or explanation. And really, even when I’m writing from my own life, that’s what I’m doing. Transcribing the way I see the world is easy – what’s hard is knowing what shape what I see should take. So I’ve been building my Wayside Renga by transcribing conversations I’ve been having with five different regulars at Wayside from which I hope to build a layered poem that can capture the imaginative breadth of the place. Layer one will be the transcripts themselves, and the final layer will be a highly compressed mash up of phrases from all five interviewees. The final poem might also feature poems that the interviewees have written themselves.
– Pip Smith

Body in a Sports Bag – an excerpt from Wayside Renga
Pip Smith with Daniel

At about 1 am he is still up
long-thinking about
what to do next.

He goes to her work and stands
outside Bondi McDonald’s. It’s curves
are kind of like being on a rollercoaster.

So round about 6
she finishes her shift, comes out
turns around, and she sees him,

standing outside: baseball cap,
casual jeans. She’s standing
on the edge of Niagara. Can’t go

anywhere but down.
Turns around and says,


It’s cold and bucketing outside.
It’s exciting getting all wet.

Cats are outside
sitting on a brick wall
drinking Coke.

The cats drove to Bondi
In the cat car and saw
the whole thing.

Pip Smith writes plays, stories and poems, and is now undertaking a DCA at the University of Western Sydney.

The Wayside Chapel has provided unconditional love, care and support for people on and around the streets of Kings Cross, Sydney, since 1964.