– By Candy Royalle (1981-2018)
(The video may take a minute or two to load. If you have serious trouble, try this link.)
Candy Royalle died of ovarian cancer on 23rd June of this year. I only learned of her after she had died, when I bought, from an online website, two small anthologies emanating from different 'correctional centres' in the State of New South Wales, Australia. By sheer happenstance, I bought them just after her death, and the person who posted them mentioned in a warm covering note that it felt 'extra special to send [one of these books] out into the world today after the passing of the inimitable Candy Royalle who co-facilitated on the [Sydney] workshops.'
So then I looked her up and couldn't believe I had been unaware of her. Her obituaries describe her as a 'trail-blazer', 'poet-warrior', and 'a fierce bright light'. She is also identified, more prosaically, as 'a Lebanese-Palestinian Australian poet and activist' and 'a queer woman poet and performance artist'. She was intensely mourned and lauded by the poetry community which admired and loved her.
Over and over again, people mention that she herself was full of love. On that score, I note that she believed in 'giving back', facilitating workshops not only in prisons but also schools.
But what was it about her work that was so unique? Clues may be found in this piece of blurb I found online:
Candy Royalle is an award winning performance artist, writer, storyteller, activist, educator and vulnerability advocate who fuses cinematic storytelling, poetry and unique vocal rhythms with confronting, political and heart thumping content seeking to break open closed hearts. She tackles topics ranging from sexual obsession to social injustice, exploring the human condition and illuminating the darker areas of the human psyche for her audiences.
It's from a Patreon site she evidently set up, where you can also find some interesting blog posts she wrote.
The YouTube video I've used here will lead you to others by her. As she was primarily a performance poet, this is surely the best way to enjoy her work.
However, she didn't ignore print. Her first volume of poetry, Heartbeats, appears to be unavailable by now. Her second, A Trillion Tiny Awakenings, is available for pre-order in paperback from Amazon Australia. It is scheduled for release in November. And she is evidently included (presumably in a prose essay) in the Kindle publication Queerstories: Reflections on lives well lived from some of Australia's finest LGBTQIA+ writers, which pops up when I search her name. It is available from Amazon Australia and Amazon US.
I could have included her in 'The Living Dead' series, but I think, for its content and intention, her work belongs with 'Thought Provokers'.
I feel I've only scratched the surface of this woman's poetry, but due to her untimely death we must take what we can get. Even so little is richly rewarding.
Material shared in “Thought Provokers’ is presented for study and review. Photos, videos, poems and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.