Poet in Residence


I was wandering through the Adelaide Central Markets toward my favourite little tea vendor when I heard the clickety-clack of a typewriter.  Yes, a typewriter.

I glanced around to find the source – a young man sitting at a cafe table studiously typing away on a completely old-school, portable typewriter.  I just stopped and stared.  On one hand it was totally strange, in the world of iPads and wifi, to see a typewriter but on the other hand it seemed sort of “at home” in the old, concrete and brick marketplace.

The Adelaide Central Markets are old.  The first market day opened in 1869 but first signs of infrastructure didn’t appear until 1900 when the first stone was laid.  Over time this has evolved, in a piecemeal approach, from the first tin sheds and gas lighting to the structure we have today.  The original Grote Street facade still remains as do the concrete floors, makeshift stalls and that “old world” feel.

There is still the hustle bustle of shoppers vying for bargains, the call of the vendors, the mixed scents of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, breads and coffee.  Somehow that young man and his typewriter just fit right in.  It was like stepping back in time, just for a moment.

I could almost imagine my Gran, as a young woman during the period of the second world war, perhaps shopping here while chatting to her girlfriends about the soldier she just met in King William Street.  The soldier that was to become her husband and my Pa.

Upon release from my reverie I noticed a sign “free poems”.  The good looking young man looked up and saw me gawking and boggle-eyed like a lost time traveller, smiled and asked “would you like a poem?”  I replied with an emphatic yes.  He told me that the deal was that he got to choose one for me.

Although it was not written with me in mind this poem seemed to speak to me.

I was having one of those blue days.  Not quite the “mean reds“, but defintely flat blue.  I was caught in the discomfort of wondering, questioning, analysis.  Wondering where I was going, questioning past decisions and analysing how I could change my future.  No answers were forthcoming so I was caught in a tiring, cyclonic tangle of discontent.

The message I received (right or wrong) was that everything you need will appear when required.  There will be enough fire to ignite initial action and it is just a matter of displaying courage and intent to built to a raging, unstoppable inferno.  I could write more or attempt to explain my crypticism but I won’t, the rest is for me.

I’m interested in what this poem says to you.

Ultimately, this chance meeting and poetry perked me up immensely – kind of like finding that $20 in the pocket of those skinny jeans you just discovered you can fit back into.  It made me feel “understood” or something and it was brilliant to see someone living their creative dream.

I urge you to visit poet Mark Niehus at the Adelaide Central Markets while he is still the Poet in Residence at Zuma Caffe!

* * * *

Click here to visit the author, Mark Niehus’,  website – he has also published a book “How do you want the fire to leave you?” and will be featured in the upcoming SALA Festival.

Poet: Mark Niehus

Click here to find out more about the Cafe Poet Program.

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3 thoughts on “Poet in Residence

  1. Reblogged this on back pages blog and commented:
    Local writer & artist Mark Niehus is currently the poet in residence at Zuma Caffe in the Adelaide Central Market. I was stopped there with him for coffee last week as several passers by stopped to praise, comment, chat or ask for a photograph with Mark and his portable typer. Well, now one of those passers-by has written eloquently on her impressions of both Mark and the market surrounds. Read on…

  2. Pingback: Cafe Poet Update: Mark Niehus at Zuma Caffe « Australian Poetry

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