A paean from the pain of Roe

• Nandi Chinna. Photo supplied.

POET Nandi Chinna’s The Future Keepers was written in the heat of the bitter battle over Roe 8.

The former Hamilton Hill writer, researcher and environmental activist is passionate about preserving WA’s wetlands and woodlands, and the book is a lament about their loss.

Included are 19 heartrending poems on the Roe 8 protest, told in beautiful, simple and evocative language.

“The government report claims that the highway design will improve upon nature,

“And we hold our meetings week after week trying to comprehend,

“That there could be better ideas than water, algae and tadpoles that can shape shift into frogs.”

Chinna’s poem Babies talks of grey-haired women trying on thumbcuffs and armguards.

“We hand out nappies to wear in the long hours we will have to sit,

“In darkness, becoming babies again…waiting for dawn when the police will cut us from the trees.”

Nannas is a cheeky response to being arrested after pouring cement into fence post holes to stop bulldozers.

“When I tell the policeman that I’m old enough to be his nanna he snarls, ‘why don’t you act like one’.”

You can almost hear Chinna’s smile as the poem ends.

“Which is what I am doing, mixing and stirring.”

The police weren’t all immune to the fight to save trees and the creatures dependent on them.


As red tailed cockatoos circled the place their nests had been, Chinna told a couple of young coppers: ”Don’t ever forget this day, what you are seeing there is a critically endangered species that is going to be extinct in your lifetime.

“One [of the constables] was almost crying,” she says.

The Future Keepers is a paean to the environment, and the title refers to the Kings Park scientists who maintain a seed bank of plant species for future generations.

Other poems talk of Chinna’s fear of ageing as a childless women, the loss of a parent, and solastalgia.

The term was coined to describe the acute mental distress caused by a rapidly diminishing natural environment.

Something Chinna’s poetry beautifully expresses, time and time again.


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