Solstice is a novel in verse set over the twenty-four hours of the longest day of the year, in Adelaide. It is a story of love and exploration told in the sonnet form, one verse for each few minutes of the day. It shows how much can change in a day—the whole world, and at the same time nothing at all.
Solstice was shortlisted for the 1993 Australian/Vogel Award and was published by Allen & Unwin in 1994. The original edition can be found in second-hand bookstores. In December 2012 I released a new digital edition of Solstice that streamlines original and adds a few new goodies. It’s currently available in the Kindle Store (US UK CA DE FR ES IT JP BR) with other formats to follow.
A stage adaptation of Solstice was commissioned by the South Australian Theatre Company in conjunction with Magpie Theatre and was first performed in Barrie Kosky’s 1996 Adelaide Festival, directed by Neill Gladwin. It starred Kate Ceberano, Nadine Garner, Kate Kendall, Mark Saturno, Jules Sobotta, Bronwen James and Phil Spruce, and featured live jazz by Barney McAll, Jonathan Zwartz and Hamish Stuart. The text of the play is also available in the Kindle Store (US UK CA DE FR ES IT JP BR) and is free to perform for free, if you get me.
The picture above is one of many fine illustrations prepared for the book by Simon Killalea.
It’s early: six, to be exact.
The sky is huge and dark, and filled
with pre-dawn silence; also packed
with points of light. The air is chilled.
The scene: a hill, outside of town;
an old reserve where no-one goes.
A snaking highway slithers down
where far below, the city glows.
A sea of white and orange shines
as every vigilant streetlight,
still flicking in the dark, combines
to wrap the earth in tendrils bright.
The view is luminously grand,
as of some neon fairyland.
No fairies live, though, on these streets,
beneath the constant neon buzz.
No sprites reside where asphalt meets
with bitument. But Arthur does.
A ragged man, with dirt-blond locks
and beard, he calls the street his home.
His castle is a cardboard box;
his bed, a square of packing foam.
A trenchcoat for his regal robe,
a football beanie for a crown,
Art looks like some misfortuned Job,
but is, it’s said, the King of Town.
For in this world of buildings tall,
the man who rules the streets, rules all.