Poetry at the Lighthouse review by Kathryn Barnes

Poetry at the Lighthouse by Ben Burns

Review by Kathryn Barnes – 10 May 2019

Poetry at the Lighthouseis on until 17 May at the Caloundra Lighthouse. The second and final show is sold out.

See: https://anywhere.is/listings/lighthouse/

Entering the doors of the restored Caloundra lighthouse built in 1896, the group squeezed into the cosy space and Ben Burns, in his poetic style introduced us to the history of the lighthouse.

In three’s, the group made its way up to the first floor and then up to the top floor. The journey up and down took longer than expected, which was partly due to each small group being regaled by unbridled tales from the lighthouse volunteers. Their enthusiasm was infectious. Waiting at the first level, there was time to take the paper words strewn on the bench and create your own poem, allowing your imagination to kick into gear.

The time in the old lighthouse was interesting but a little long due to the restrictive numbers and needed something else to keep the show momentum flowing. A suggestion would be to include a musician or poet busker on the ground floor to keep those waiting entertained.

Once the old lighthouse exploration was complete, the group made its way up the stairs in the newer, larger sister lighthouse built in 1968. The corkscrew staircase revealed a word at every step, sometimes an unexpected word, and the climb was forgotten as you engaged with the imagery. Ben took his place at the pedal organ, a relic of the old lighthouse, which served as a haunting fitting background to his unveiling poetry. His red plastic clipboard was a slight distraction and incongruous with the setting and mood. At times, he referred to it, but didn’t need to as he knew his work well.

With a calming lilt and a hypnotic cadence, Ben recalled memories, heartaches and sorrows. The poems were interrupted by interactive activities which were designed at drawing out angst and leaving it somewhere, anywhere but within one’s being. A highlight was the symbolic throwing of the helicopter papers off the top of the lighthouse to spin your thoughts to the ground. To describe Ben’s work merely as poetry is almost unfair as the lines are so eloquent and evocative, each one is unexpected and astonishing. The show went well beyond the time allocated. Everyone was mesmerised and would have happily sat there all night. Listening to his words was akin to soaking in a soothing hot bath where your aches and pains dissipated. We left them behind pinned to the walls of the lighthouse and emerged with lighter souls.

Ben Burns is a truly talented writer and poet. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket to his last show, don’t miss it, your ticket is pure gold! If not, look out for him and catch his poetry whenever and wherever you can.

Kathryn Barnes