Peter Sky

erWelcome to the National Museum of Australia, I’m Natasha and I will be directing you through our Belonging exhibition today. We have two poems, a novel and a television show on the exhibit today that explore different perceptions of belonging.

Peter Skrzynecki has two poems featured in this exhibit this evening because he describes experiences of inclusion and separation. Skrzynecki includes factual experiences to broaden his audience’s perceptions of belonging and not belonging.

In the poem St Patrick’s College, Skrzynecki describes an experience of alienation rather than inclusion by recounting his participation at a school where he outwardly appeared to belong, but in reality he felt dislocated from the school community. Skrzynecki explores the notion that time does not lead to affinity, through “for eight years” by emphasising the tedium of having to attend school. The simile “like a foreign tourist” describes his disconnection and uncertainty of his routine. It is suggested that the most thrilling experiences are encountered before school; this is conveyed through the verb “played”, although Skrzynecki’s delight is outweighed by the negative experience of school. In this poem it is insinuated that belonging is paradoxical, meaning that in order to feel included one must first experience alienation. This is expressed through the repetition of the school motto in the last stanza “let your light shine”, it is translated from Latin for the persona’s own understanding. The poem concludes with “before I let my light shine”. It is implied that Skrzynecki’s dreadful experience of isolation at school has encouraged him to “let his light shine” on his own terms and that despite his attendance at school, he failed to fit in and intends to fit in else where after school.

Skrzynecki describes a deep connection in his poem Feliks Skrzynecki; it is contradictory to the first of Skrzynecki’s poems featured in this exhibit because they both depict different...