From the Daily Telegraph, by Heath Parkes-Hupton
With decades of memories to draw from, Stewart Levitt has released a book of poetry chronicling his career as a human rights lawyer and exploring his views of politics at home and abroad.
For decades he’s been at the fore of some of Australia’s landmark legal battles, standing up for the downtrodden in David versus Goliath cases.
Now with a wealth of memories to draw from, Stewart Levitt has released a “diary” chronicling his career as a human rights lawyer and exploring his views of politics at home and abroad.
Mr Levitt, who turned 65 this month, has just launched his 20-year passion project — a book of poetry titled ‘It’s Too Soon To Be Too Late’.
The poems span two decades, with the first works penned as far back as 1998, the Elizabeth Bay resident said.
“In a way it’s a diary of my life over the last 20 years,” he said.
“This book is a way of chronicling my life from my 50th birthday until this year.”
The poems touch Australia’s treatment of indigenous communities, refugees and on how the world “tolerates” Donald Trump.
Among Mr Levitt’s accomplishments include leading a class action against the Queensland government following the momentous Palm Island Riots of 2004.
The government was ordered to pay $30 million in compensation to 447 claimants, after it was ruled Queensland police response to indigenous demonstrators protesting over the death of Cameron Doomadgee in custody was racist.
Mr Levitt was also involved in the Storm Financial Class Action, on behalf of investors who lost everything when the company crashed in 2009 with losses of more than $3 billion.
“I’ve taken on a lot of cases that have seemingly had long odds of success … but remarkably a lot of them have been settled successfully,” Mr Levitt said.
“I pick my battles well.”
All the while the Sydney-based lawyer has been a keen poet in his spare time.
His first work was published when he was just 13 years old, but his new book explores his entering into “the worst chapter of your life” as the realisation of mortality looms larger.
Eulogies he read at the funeral of his father and mother are among the dozens of poems he has penned for this book, which features illustrations by long-time collaborator Geoff Todd.
“But I haven’t finished yet,” he said.
“I’ve written a couple more since I finished the book.”
To coincide with the book launch, Mr Levitt has announced the Levitt Indigenous Poetry Prize to encourage Australians to submit poetry that reflects indigenous social, personal and political issues.
Winners will be provided a share of $20,000, with their poems to be published in an anthology.