By Mitchell Jordan
She brought poetry to the people and in return the masses gathered at the Sydney Opera House to pay homage to Dorothy Porter.
Porter, who passed away from breast cancer on 10 December, was also given an official funeral in Melbourne last week.
Dorothy loved Sydney and it [the Opera House] lived for her, explained Porter’s partner of 15 years, novelist Andrea Goldsmith.
Friends, family and fans attended the Sydney celebration of Porter’s life and work. Guest speakers and performers included Richard Gill, Paul Grabowsky, Katie Noonan, David Malouf, Peter Garrett, Judith Beveridge and Porter’s father, Chester Porter.
In a touching speech, Goldsmith stressed that Dorothy was by no means a cancer victim and maintained her vivacious, optimistic outlook.
Dot was a live-r; she lived right until the very end, Goldsmith said.
These sentiments apparent when Goldsmith read the final words of View from 417, the last poem Porter wrote before she died: Something in me/despite everything/can’t believe my luck.
Best known for her unique work, The Monkey’s Mask, a detective story told in verse which won The Age Book of the Year Award, and the later verse novel, What a Piece of Work, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, Porter also wrote librettos for chamber operas including The Ghost Wife and The Eternity Man. She dispelled the myth that writers are isolated, introverted people.
She loved working with other artists, Goldsmith added.
Describing his daughter as an odd bod, an eccentric, a one-off, Chester Porter believed that Dorothy impacted many people’s lives with her passionate, uncompromising approach to life.
Chester Porter acknowledged that his daughter had achieved a rare feat by not only making a living from poetry, but also making it accessible to readers.
The simplicity of her poetry will live on, he said.