Like Kenneth Slessor before him, poet Charles Freyberg thrives on the contrasts and unconformity of Kings Cross, and after some 20 years of observation and participation has produced Dining at the Edge, a book of poems at once fascinating for their unsentimentality and wonderful for its clarity of language.
Sometimes Freyberg is the observer and at other times such as in his powerful Car Job he puts himself into the first person as a ‘lost boy’ working the infamous Darlinghurst Wall, something I am sure he never did.
Anyone familiar with the Cross will recognise landmarks such as the Piccolo Bar and the Goldfish Bowl but it is through Freybergs’s voice that these come alive, not through our own recollections.
In Michael On Darlinghurst Road Freyeberg gives a nod to Michael Dransfield, a poet seldom mentioned today despite writing a wealth of work and leaving life in the appropriate manner of the 70s.
Unlike Slessor, who loathed the countryside, Freyberg becomes positively pastoral when he leaves the confines of Potts Point and ventures into Terrania Creek and Govetts Leap as real places, not just some relocation of the mind.
Throughout the book’s 29 poems Freyberg gives just enough of himself to engage the reader emphatically before he has you in the back of his cab and is taking you on a journey that you did not know that you wanted to take. Read and enjoy.
July 15. El Rocco, 22/154 Brougham St, Potts Point.