LABOR is red, Liberals are blue, getting politicians excited about poetry isn’t easy to do.But NSW Arts Minister Virginia Judge is going to try.She’s even willing to put her own poetry up for scrutiny – and potential ridicule – to flush out potential Banjo Patersons or Henry Lawsons lurking in the Bear Pit.Ms Judge, the only MP to have recited one of her own poems in a maiden speech, is planning to establish a ”culture club” at Parliament House to bring politicians of all persuasions together over the shared love of poetry, books, dance and painting.”Arts are so important to our cultural life and if politicians engage with the arts, it could have the effect of refreshing political life. Culture club will be a good way to do that and hopefully all sides get involved,” Ms Judge said.The MP, whose brother Hal Judge is a published poet, wrote a poem called Waverley Cemetery for the culture club ”poetry soiree”.Poet and spoken word performer Adam Gibson praised Ms Judge’s writing efforts despite calling it ”hokey” in parts.”It’s not actually a terrible poem and I have definitely read a lot worse. It’s got a certain localised charm and an encouraging level of depth that is often absent in poems by people who might perhaps best be called poetry dabblers. I don’t know how much other stuff Virginia has written but it’s clear to me that she’s not a complete novice and there is a real sense of place and atmosphere in the piece.”Having said that, the refrain of ‘people in glass houses’ doesn’t work for me and takes away some of the power that other parts of the poem generate.”In summary, nice job, Virginia, keep up the good work and at the end of the [parliamentary] term, you may just get a gold star.”As part of the culture club roster of events, the Sydney Dance Company will give a free performance of a work by its artistic director Rafael Bonachela on Thursday, the first time the company has performed at Parliament House.On May 3, the Pleinair painting show begins in the House, featuring paintings produced in the open air in the tradition of the great Australian landscape painters such as Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts.The winner of Pleinair, to be announced on May 11, is bought for $20,000 on behalf of the government and hung in the House.Ms Judge has also lined up the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to play inside Parliament for the first time later this year.
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