By Tricia Mifsud

‘BEING proactive, being curious, and not giving up’ is the way Kilmore poet Paul McAllister describes how he has achieving penning 21 published books depicting the Australian and Japanese cultures.

Through a hybrid of Haiku and Tanka styles of poetry, Mr McAllister writes about the places, sites, objects and everyday living that resonates with the Australian and Japanese cultures.

The books include buildings, landscapes, food and people to name just a few.

While he has family connections to Japan, Mr McAllister said it was curiosity and personal enjoyment that inspired him to write and publish the books.

Mr McAllister said he wasn’t concerned whether the books provided him financial benefit, but hoped they simply brought readers their own enjoyment.

“I have had an interest in Asian culture and society for a very long time. My ex-wife was born in Japan, my children have relatives in Japan but that’s not the main drive … the main drive is curiosity,” he said.

“[I didn’t] necessarily go into this to make money. The books, I want to stand on their own merit. If I sell books, that’s fine, but if I don’t I’m not upset about it.

“The mere fact that a father and a grandfather has done this is sufficient. I may not be famous but that’s not the point … the point is people are interested enough to get the book and read them for what they are.”

Mr McAllister determines an itinerary before travelling to Japan, and spends months at a time exploring new places and taking photographs to create his poetry.

He similarly does the same in Australia, photographing items he believes are synonymous with the country.

With his photographs, he then creates poetry by penning the thoughts that come to mind by observing a photograph.

He described one of the first times he sat and observed what was happening around him at a train station in Sagamiono, Japan.

“And how all these come about, there a place called Sagamiono … if you sit at the station and you’re having a coffee and read the paper, life is behind you in the coffee and other shops and there are streams of people coming in and out of the station,” he said.

“That is the trigger – the sounds, the smell of the coffee, the shops, the food. Normal daily living that triggers a response in many different ways.”

He encouraged others to take the opportunity to travel and to find creative ways to share what they have experienced to allow those who cannot travel the opportunity to learn about other cultures.

“A lot of people do not get to travel but if you’re fortunate enough to travel and experience a completely different culture and lifestyle then you can relate your experiences with travel in many different ways,” he said.

“I found that this was what suited me. It gives people the opportunity to look and say, ‘that’s Australia, that’s interesting’ or ‘that’s Japan, totally different, but that’s interesting as well’.”

Mr McAllister is working on another three books, with his already published books in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and America.

He hopes that simply through word of mouth, more people will find a way to read one of his books.

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