Friday, October 12, 2018

Thought Provokers

I am my grandfather's memories
– 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.


  1. What a wonderful, warm woman, a change-maker, a wise woman. How sad she left so soon. She made a huge impact while she was alive and it sounds like that will continue through her body of work. Thanks for this introduction, Rosemary. She is truly wonderful.

  2. Really an excellent feature, Rosemary. I like very much the poem she read. Very powerful reading and message! So sad that the poet died so young, but it is good that she has left a body of work in both performance poetry and word!

  3. Glad you both enjoyed it! It's puzzling that no-one else has commented. Was it a problem accessing the video? A pity – she has such a gorgeous voice, and articulates clearly every word of her impassioned delivery.

    1. No there was NO problem accessing the video. It came up right away; and yes she does have a gorgeous voice!

  4. Wow! A stunning and emotive performance, Rosemary - truly impactful and achingly relevant, though it be 6 years later. It does what important poetry does at its most masterful - and that is, to shine reason and insight upon heart wrenching headlines - and lay a human story of harshness and cruelty, upon 'lifeless' facts. This was meaningful to hear. The passing of Candy Royalle is, surely, a terrible loss, on so many levels, and I thank you for the introduction to this brilliant and fascinating woman.

  5. ...played in the dirt with his future enemies...

    Thank you for introducing her!

  6. There is no problem with the video, Rosemary. Thanks for this..
    I think it is a very good performance. impactful. important.
    "he seen his people torn from the earth...
    he knew that the knock on the door is imminent...
    knowing that under Occupation is no place to live he leave one day..."

    I could go on, there are so many quotes that are still so relevant today. :(

    It's sad, such an artist leaving so young.

  7. Wow! And, of course, there's much more to say . . . .


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