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

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Inner Life

My 'Prodigal Son', when he was here in December for five weeks, on his first visit back home to Australia in five years, kept telling me, 'Mum, you're not a poet!' He explained that he meant it wasn't something inborn, even though many members of my father's large extended family, through several generations that I know of, have also enjoyed scribbling verses.

'Oh yes,' said the Prodigal, 'Just like my ex-wife happened to be intellectually convinced of the truth of Islam, and it had nothing at all to do with the fact that she grew up in a Muslim family in Morocco!' It was my conditioning, he suggested, because I grew up in a family which put a high value on books, reading and poetry. He questioned my lifelong love of reading for the same reason.

One thing on his agenda was to find out more about his own childhood and mine, to better understand some things about himself. So he asked me many questions. He found out that I was an outgoing little girl who used to rush up to the front fence to chat to passers-by, until my parents got worried about stranger-danger and discouraged that.

I told him about my Dad reading my brother and me bedtime stories, including poems, and how his face lit up with joy when he read poetry. My son became convinced I adopted a love of poetry so as to have something to share with my Dad, a way to make his face light up. The corollary being that it wasn't really my thing. Nor my Dad's, despite his own writing. According to the Prodigal, Dad's love of poetry was to get attention – because I described my Dad reciting things like The Sentimental Bloke at parties, and writing poems of his own for the birthdays of family members.

After five weeks, my son went off and visited other people in other parts of Australia, then came back here at the beginning of March and spent another six weeks with us. This time, he said, 'If you're a poet, where's all the poetry you write? What have you written today?' So I showed him on my computer. 'And yesterday, and the day before that?' I told him it was easiest to see on my blog, and showed him that. He couldn't dispute the evidence that I was actually doing it, and actually sharing it with readers.

Then he decided it was unnatural to me to spend time crafting poems, working in the solitary way that writers do. 'You spend all this time every day,' he said, 'But I don't see it bringing you any joy.' But he noted that my face lit up when I spoke to him about poetry performances or my few forays into improv. That, he told me, was consistent with the outgoing little girl I used to be.

He spent a lot of hours engaging in these conversations with me. It's only now that I start to see some flaws in his logic. E.g. I actually know lots of poets who are very outgoing, and are right into performance and even improv, yet who also spend time on the craft of their writing. Well, that's not bad really – he only left 24 hours ago, so it hasn't taken me so very long.

I realise I don't actually care whether poetry is something genetic in me or something I've acquired from external sources. So what? I wouldn't have wanted a life without it. Ditto for reading books.

As for this thing that he doesn't see writing bringing me joy, I don't know how much joy would be externally visible in any writer engaged in the act of writing. Absorption is more like it. Getting lost in the work.

The Prodigal doesn't read books very often. And when he does, it is not for pleasure but self-improvement. While he was here he read The Secret and a book on the raw food diet. He thought that Andrew and I led a very dull life, spending a lot of time writing, a lot of time reading, and some time watching a few favourite shows on TV. But how do you gauge these pleasures? They are very internal.

I wasn't able to argue against him when he insisted that reading was a way of Andrew and I being separate. Reading the same books and talking about them to each other didn't seem to count, unless we actually read them together, at the same time. Which we have sometimes done, as it happens. But no, even that he saw as a substitute for talking to each other. 'When do you ever talk?' he demanded. 'I never hear you say anything meaningful.'

'We talk in the bedroom,' I replied. (We tend to lie in late in the mornings.)

'Just the same as when I was a kid,' he said. 'Everything happening behind closed doors, so I didn't know about it.'

Treasuring particular books as friends, as I do, he thought bizarre – a substitute for real interactions with living people. Yes, we did have friends call on us while he was here; we did go and visit people and take him with us. He heard us talking on the phone. Nevertheless....

I took many of his words to heart, perhaps too much so. But I'm afraid I never stopped reading books or writing poetry; never, even for a moment, entertained such notions!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

DON'T PULP OUR FUTURE!

Media release from the Tasmanian Greens
Received by email today from TAP (Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill):


URGENT ACTION NEEDED ON THIS ONE PLEASE!

There is a very small window of opportunity to act on the information contained in this media release, so please find a moment or two this evening (if you read it in time), or tomorrow, to phone, email, write, or dispatch by carrier pigeon, your outrage at the latest skulduggery Paul and his cohorts want to ram through parliament in their effort to please Gunns, and ruin the lives of the rest of us.

I'm advised by Kim that the few previous occasions when proposals have been put to the Upper House before the Lower House, they have been equally potentially contentious, and hardly beneficial to the majority of the state's citizens.

It's really important to flood editorial inboxes with emails about this one, and jam Tim Cox's phone lines. Use Kim's quotes to really expose the breathtaking, blatant disregard for you, me, and every Tasmanian bar one. John Gay.

It's also important that you lobby all members of the Legislative Council - especially Kerry Finch.

Please spread the word to everyone you can and ask them to phone, write, email or shout from the rooftops.

And watch this space, 'cos Shreddergate ain't over yet . . . .

Power to your pens & keyboards folks.


WATER AND SEWERAGE REGIONAL AUTHORITIES PIPELINE FOR GUNNS

Government Must Rule Out Devious Scheme
Kim Booth MP
Greens Shadow Pulp Mill spokesperson

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

www.tas.greens.org.au

The Tasmanian Greens today called or the Lennon government to rule out that the two Water and Sewerage reform Bills, the Water and Sewerage Corporations Bill 2008 and the Water and Sewerage Industry Bill 2008, which have been tabled in the Legislative Council and are scheduled for debate this week, will be used as a back-door option to enable Gunns' pulp mill pipeline to be paid for by one of the new proposed Regional Authorities.

Greens Pulp Mill spokesperson and member for Bass Kim Booth MHA said that the Water and Sewerage Corporations Bill 2008 Bill, creates the three Regional Authorities which will take control of council sewerage and water assets, and have the power to borrow money and construct further infrastructure.

Mr Booth also called on the Legislative Council to scrutinise closely the legislation to examine the potential for the Regional Authorities to be used to provide Gunns' the pulp mill pipelines, and if so to amend the Bills to prohibit the use of public funds and acquisition for private projects.

"The government must rule out the use of the Regional Boards as a means of overcoming impediments to the construction of the Gunns' water pipeline to Long Reach and the effluent pipe to its Bass strait dumping ground of polluted pulp mill waste," Mr Booth said.

"This appears to be part of a carefully crafted and devious Lennon government strategy to overcome impediments to Gunns, with both access and finance solutions for their polluting mill proposal."

"The creation of an authority will give acquisition rights to resume private property for the benefit of a private project without any need to come before Parliament and without breathing a word about Gunns."

"The assets of the ratepayers of the region will also be available as collateral for a loan to finance Gunns' pipelines which will then keep it off the government's balance sheets and leave a debt swinging over the heads of the public whether the mill proceeds or goes belly up in the future."

"Even more serious is the transfer of liability to the public in the event of a pipeline failure or water shortage forcing the mill to shut down, which could then expose the public to compensation to Gunns for loss of production, or indeed closure."

"It also may well transfer liability for any pollution that emanates from the effluent pipeline into Bass Strait, particularly if any sewerage were added to the mill effluent."

"The government must rule out the construction of Gunns pipeline by the Regional Board and ensure that a specific amendment, outlawing the use of public funds and acquisition for private projects, is included in the Bill before it leaves the Legislate Council."

"If Lennon Labor is not prepared to rule out such a contrivance then this will simply prove the proposition that this has been a carefully crafted and devious strategy to facilitate Gunns project dressed up in the public interest, just as the Gunns' water supply was provided for at public expense through the Meander Dam," Mr Booth said.

The Greens have also called on the government to be open to still accepting necessary amendments to the Water and Sewerage reform Bills in the Lower House, should new matters of concern come to light after the Bills leave the Legislative Council.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Top Hundred Eleven Reasons Why I Became A Poet

No, not me - my MySpace friend Jaey (reposted with permission):

The following, in no particular order, are the top hundred eleven reasons why I became a poet. Feel free to use any or all of these as an excuse to compose a verse of your own! (Void where prohibited! Not recommended for children under five!) © J.E. Peele

1. Groupies
2. My TV is broken
3. Mom said I shouldn’t
4. Befuddling telemarketers is fun
5. I wrote a poem once and it felt good
6. Publish one hit poem and you’re set for life
7. Someone once said I look like a poet
8. I was dropped on my head as a baby
9. Falconry is cost prohibitive
10. Ice fishing is too seasonal
11. Women want me - men want to be me
12. I don’t believe in the number that people say comes just after twelve
14. I’m sorry... what was the question?
15. Researching my erotic prose
16. You know what they say about sex with a poet, don’t you?...
17. Explains all that time I spend in book stores
18. I have done everything else
19. Trust fund not empty yet
20. Because it’s there
21. No drug testing
22. Open mike nights
23. I’m too old for law school
24. It explains the aluminum foil headgear
25. Vegans really respect my dedication
26. Not enough math credits for rocket science
27. If I stop writing poetry, something BAD will happen
28. It pays better than cloud counting
29. Politicians find me annoying, I like that
30. Bag ladies give me things
31. Poetry is the new retro
32. Malice aforethought
33. Poet action figures
34. For the sympathy
35. One perfect sunset
36. It runs in the family
37. Paying bills is overrated
38. The voices in my head tell me so
39. Explains the ebullient vocabulary
40. Offending extemists can be fun
41. I can only sell platelets twice a week
42. Voting is easy - straight Green ticket
43. A poetic license looks good framed
44. I haven’t heard back from the NBA
45. Being understood is overrated
46. It explains the wardrobe
47. Black is slimming
48. Farming is smelly
49. No experience necessary
50. Appropriate dress includes sandals
51. Legendary retirement benefits
52. I can be my own biggest fan
53. "Poet" looks better on a resume than " Loquacious Word Monger"
54. It doesn’t matter. Nothing does...**(SIGH)**
55. Torch wielding mobs
56. Why not?
57. Advice from the homeless
58. Annual Poets Union conventions
59. Standardized rehabilitation
60. If one is to be ignored, it should be for something special
61. The training includes internship in the great capitals of Europe
62. Everyone thinks I don’t care what anyone thinks
63. My character flaws improve my market share
64. If you are confused, then my work here is done
65. It’s a ground floor opportunity
66. You don’t have to know anything
67. You can make stuff up
68. It doesn’t have to make sense
69. It doesn’t even have to rhyme
70. Good poetry is cheaper than "ganja", and easier to find
71. In my world, the sky is cerulean
72. It explains the nudity
73. I’m overqualified for McDonalds
74. Sun-kissed butterflies
75. I needed a secret identity
76. The witness protection program is seriously underfunded
77. I can do it with a pencil- on a napkin- by candlelight
78. The derision of the majority has a perverse appeal
79. Ribbons, Trophies, and Certificates of Appreciation
80. I promised to use these powers for good; not evil
81. Free pie with every poem (not available in all locations)
82. Associating with Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies, and Liberal Artists
83. The occasional word of praise
84. Most of the laws against it have been repealed
85. Explains the pretentiousness
86. It’s not "derivative", it’s "homage"
87. I don’t know; I was really drunk at the time
88. Poets are no longer hunted for their pelts
89. I have a black belt in haiku
90. Poets are better than normal people
91. I am fond of feathery phrases formed on fictitious foundations
92. Roses ARE red, and violets ARE blue; there is no further need to discuss it with you
93. People with real jobs get all jealous
94. Logic hurts my head
95. A royal household might make me their Imperial Poet
96. Lost my job, lost my girlfriend, lost my mind
97. I am surrounded by a poetic aura
98. There is just too much violence in modern professional chess
99. Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania
100. You sane people don’t know what you’re missing
101. Incomprehensible literary onanism holds a perverse appeal
102. Violets are purple and roses pale yellow; though I mean no offense to that earlier fellow
103. Certain forms of poetry require three naked people
104. I am the reincarnation of "Billy the Quill" Shakespeare
105. My high school guidance counselor said that this is the career for which I am best suited
106. This is only until I can repair my star-ship
107. One day there will be no more poets
108. I’ve arranged to have "Orange" rhyme with hinge, flange, and strange
109. While searching for the perfect turn of a phrase, my spirit soars unbound on the wings of celestial vision
110. The critics who hate my work are small-minded weasels
111. Kudos! Kudos! Kudos!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

'In His Own Image'

The Wise Women circle was discussing the ways we manifest anything. We agreed we need to have an image of it – whatever it may be – in our minds as the first step.

L. then told us she always thought that phrase in the Bible about God creating us 'in His own image' was widely misunderstood – with disastrous consequences, as we have anthropomorphised God.

Her words opened up such a vista for us!

'God IMAGINED us,' I said, understanding.

'Yes,' said L. 'It’s not that we look like God, but we are created true to God’s image of us.'

Of course!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April Fool's Day

Aussie Bloggers Forum was the best fun this morning – all our posts turned into lolspeak. It was brilliant.

I think we all took a little while to realise it was an April Fool's Day joke. No new people joined today – maybe anyone who came to look fled screaming?

I am very chuffed that an old Crone like me only had to have one thing explained afterwards.