Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Success as a Poet?

What is it? asks Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides.  He had interesting things to say, which, if this subject interests you, you would surely enjoy reading – things about money, fame, artistic achievement, immortality....  He invited other poets to share their views. The following is my own response:

I started as a very young child. I lived in a household – and extended family – which valued poetry, and my Dad used to read it aloud. I thought it was the most beautiful thing a human being could make and wanted to spend my life at it. I am now 78, and I have, and do.
In the days of print media only, I even earned a little money from it, maybe $20 or so when accepted by literary journals, which happened fairly often for a few years, plus getting something from sales of my books – of course, not enough to live on, but it seems I did a bit better than most poets do nowadays.
Fame – well I had a small amount of fame within Australia for a few years, both as published poet and performance poet, but poetic fame is limited in any case. The man and woman in the street have never heard of me – and they probably also have not heard of poets far more famous than I ever was.
I ran away from the poetry ‘scene’ eventually, rather disenchanted. I found most poets to be beautiful people, helpful to each other – but for some few there was nasty politicking going on, and it tainted things. I kept on writing of course, just not participating.
Why ‘of course’? Because, like you Robert, I have to. I have always had to. And it has always been and will always be a very high priority in my life.
And now – my goodness, for the past 20-odd years in fact – I have embraced the internet, where I find many absolutely brilliant and wonderful and largely unsung poets. I have a blog. I follow prompts from time to time, as well as still getting flashes of fresh inspiration. As I have always done, I experiment with forms, styles, voices, and I strive to make my art as well as I can. For it is indeed my art form, beyond self-expression (though it’s that too) – a making, a putting something new into the world that wasn’t there before.
And all this begs the question of value judgments. It’s what I do. Some people will like it and respond; others won’t. Sometimes I will do it well enough to please myself; often not, no matter how I strive, how I tweak. I always find it worth the endeavour. It’s how I chose to live my life, and so far no regrets.
When I was a little kid, I wanted to spend my life making poems. I could think of nothing better. How lucky am I? I fulfilled this dream and continue to do so. Thanks to the internet, I even get read; in fact my blog has a far wider audience than I received when published in prestigious paper journals. I feel greatly blessed.
Is not ‘success’ achieving one’s dreams?

I didn't say to Robert, but will add here:

Nine years ago, someone who wanted to destabilise me asserted that I was not a poet, suggesting that I was only kidding myself. (Leaving aside Marge Piercy's 'The real writer is one / who really writes' which is the definitive and best answer) –

He asked,

'Do you write poems every day?'

'Do you spend time making them as good as you can?'
'Do other people read them?'

'Do people say they like them or that they are moved by them?'
'Do poets you admire tell you they think highly of them?'
'Do they get published (not just self-published)?'

He apparently did not know me very well, as he seemed to expect that I would have to answer no to these questions. But I answered yes, and he kept having to ask new questions to try and get the 'no' he wanted. Which did not come. 

Instead of a destabilisation it was a validation. I had not questioned that I was a poet – I have known that about myself from a very early age – but it was thrilling to have it affirmed via this check-list.

(I must confess that at present I am not making poems every day – just nearly every day.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Oh, I am madly excited!!! My poetry collection, SECRET LEOPARD: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 1974-2005, has just been reissued as an ebook, via my favourite publisher Content X Design. (Thank you, Delaina and Kristin!)

You can get it for only $2.99 USD in whatever format suits you (mobi for Kindle, epub for other e-readers or pdf for your computer).

Lots of wonderful poems, if I do say so myself 
 and you won't find them on my blog!

(There are still a VERY few paperback copies left which I am now selling for $10 USD — and to Aussies $10 AUD — plus postage. You'll have to message me if you want one of them.)

Here is the link to the ebook.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On Writing Haiku

Readers of my 'Passionate Crone' poetry blog will know I've been having a lovely time lately, re-acquainting myself with haiku and tanka via the Carpe Diem blog hosted by Chevrefeuille, and learning new things about writing them – particularly haiku.

I've been responding to prompts, and have also been reading the very informative e-book, IN THE WAY OF BASHO, available free from the site.

Chevrefeuille often quotes the late Jane Reichhold who used to co-host with him. I particularly like the following: 

There is, thank goodness, no one way to write a haiku. Though the literature has haiku which we admire and even model our own works on, there is no one style or technique which is absolutely the best. Haiku is too large for that. Haiku has, in its short history been explored and expanded by writers so that now we have a fairly wide range of styles, techniques and methods to investigate.

– Jane Reichhold, haiku poet (1937-2016)