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

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Writer's Journal (exercise): Fairytales Retold

1

She was the prettiest thing he’d ever seen. Little red cloak and hood, face just peeping out. Good enough to eat, he thought. He pounced.



2

Once upon a time I had a wicked stepmother. She had my father bewitched; he only believed the sound of her voice, he lost all ability to pay attention to my brother and me. We told him how she was mistreating us, but he didn’t believe us, he almost didn’t hear. She put broken glass into our food and told us to eat ut all up. We threw it out when she wasn’t looking. We weren’t stupid. Her pet cat Fritz watched us throwing the food away. He was orange and bad-tempered. We thought she told him by magic, at night, when he sat on her lap and she whispered to him. We though he whispered back.

So she stopped that, but then she had her servants sneak into our room and steal our clothes. There was a big old rooster that wandered around as he pleased. We thought he must be the one getting in and taking our stuff. It was cold, and we shivered with hardly anything to put on any more.

Her gardener came in and nailed our windows open. ‘For the good fresh air,’ she said, smiling approvingly as the cold blew in.

At night we dared not look out. After that time we tried to shut the window, and looked up to see a black form flying over the roof. It looked like our stepmother’s shape. Where was she going like that? Our father must have been sound asleep. We knew she put things into his evening coffee, we’d seen her, flicking her fingers deftly over the cup before presenting it to him.  

Writer's Journal (exercise): On the paper

It was tricky trying to retrieve it with the traffic whizzing past, but I just had to. It was extraordinary that the piece of paper  was still lying there in the middle of the road; must have been dropped not long before, or maybe it had already blown from somewhere else. One folded piece of A4. What could it be?

Well, I scrunched myself against the side of the car as horns around us tooted, and scrambled back in during a break in the traffic. Then I unfolded it. No! It was all in dense markings, sort of like hieroglyphics or something. Geometric shapes anyhow, covering it from edge to edge. Some were repeated in patterns … yes, it appeared to be a kind of language, but not one I could read. When I turned it around and looked at it from every angle, some bits appeared a bit like the spaces in crop circles — you know, concentric rings and all that, with lines between them.

Meanwhile  John was driving, and going mad with frustration.

'Well, what the hell is it then? Aren’t you even going to read it to me?'

'I wish I could.' I said. 'I think it was dropped by space people or something. I think it’s a message from the Great Beyond, but I wish they’d learn English.'

'If they did,' said John, 'Probably no-one would believe them. Who can we take it to for translation?'

Damned if I know! One of those UFO experts perhaps? Pretty though, isn’t it?'

He stole a glimpse.

'Looks a bit of a mess to me.'

That night I set my intention to discover the meaning in my dreams, and to remember it afterwards. Never did that before but it seemed like as good a possibility as any. Both ways I was in for a surprise! You’d never guess!




Writer's Journal (exercise): What kind of animal are you?

I am a cat. I am a secret cat: you can’t tell by looking; you have to know what I am on the inside.  You have to know how I slink and flow, and the cunning of my clever mind. I go around obstacles stealthily and with grace. I dart with a single leap to high places, where I can survey the world. I like to keep to myself and observe what is going on around me. If possible I observe unseen. I am lucky too; I have nine lives, or maybe more. I escape with agility from crises. I defend myself with sharp claws; I attack with sharp claws and sharp teeth; I hiss and give low growls in warning. When I am in bliss, I purr, rolling the noise in my throat. When I love you, I smooch against you, rubbing myself on your shoulder or lap. I like to eat like a cat, with keen appreciation, a little here and a little there, savouring the flavours, the textures, the good full feeling in my tum. I sleep with pure abandon, curling or stretching, shifting position in one swift looping motion and settling again. When I concentrate, my tongue sticks out just a little, just the tip. When I am deep asleep, I am told, I snore. I think it is a cat snore: a sort of a grunt, or a slur. I love to be stroked and scratched.

Posted to my Passionate Crone blog as a prose poem, 5 June 2013

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hugs and Kisses


Last Wednesday we had an errand in the coastal village where we lived until just over a year ago. We were there six years, loved it, but always wished it were a little closer to the town ringed by mountains which we came to in 1994 and have returned to now. We still wish the two were a fraction closer! We get back to the coast every Friday, to the writers’ group, but that doesn’t leave a lot of time over.

So on Wednesday, after completing our errand, we had coffee and cake in the newly re-opened Courtyard Café. It closed down when the old general store in its historic building succumbed to competition from a supermarket chain. But it’s all turned out well. Half the old building became the new home for the organic greengrocer. Now, months later, the other half has become the kitchen and shop counter for the café, under new management. I don’t know what they’ve done exactly, but the café itself looks revivified, though it still has the same tables and chairs with the same trees around them.

The sun was shining. We had no need to hurry. The coffee was good and the cake delicious. The waitress/manager was helpful and happy. My Beloved relaxed with the daily paper, left out for customers. I wrote a small poem:

Coffee in the courtyard.
The low buildings,
the palms and frangipani,
the warm autumn sun
make me feel I’m in Darwin
or Bali, or Nepal.
‘It would be nice to be there,’
my companion says.  Yes,
and it’s nice to be here.

I have spent time in all those places, and sometimes hunger for them, but on that day in those surroundings … well, the poem says it.

After that we had a look in the Opp Shop. Himself found a nice shirt good as new. I found two more clowns for my small collection. Normally I get a Pierrot and Columbine pair — not necessarily created as a pair, but I can match them up that way. This time I found something different: two boys in tartan trousers and tam-o-shanters, smiling twins. They were undoubtedly created at the same time, to be together!

Then we started for home, a half hour’s drive. I decided to take the coast road — almost as quick, and much prettier.  I realised we would pass the house of the Lady Who Lives with Fairies, and had an impulse to visit.

‘You stay in the car,’ I said, ‘While I see if she’s home.’ At first I thought she wasn’t, but then she opened her door. Her greeting was less exuberant than usual.  ‘We were passing,’ I said. ‘And I had an urge to drop in. Is it convenient?’ She hesitated, then said that it wasn’t really: she’d only just got home after taking her son to the airport. I waved my Spouse back into the car.

The Lady Who Lives with Fairies apologised as she hugged me. ‘That’s all right,’ I said with a smile, kissing her cheek, ‘Obviously I came to give you a kiss.’ We drove home happily through tall trees.

Later that day I made a quick dash into our little town to get a few things from the shops. I was walking up the ramp in the shopping centre as the Pink-Haired Musician was coming down. Seeing me, she threw her arms open wide, so I walked right into them and we had a big hug.

‘I needed that!’ she said, and told me she was on her way to Court, where she was acting as an advocate for her son who is mentally ill. It’s a complex situation that’s been going on a long time. She said, almost matter-of-factly, that each time it tears her heart out. We had another hug.

‘It’s my day for hugging people!’ I told her. ‘That’s my job today.’ I was filled with delight. What better job could there be?

Next day I had an email from the Lady Who Lives with Fairies, saying, ‘I was so low today I couldn't invite you in as I really can't talk about the pain I am feeling...but it gladdened my heart to know you had been prompted to come for a visit.’ (She hurts for her son, who has many troubles.) So I knew I was right — I did go there especially to give her a kiss. I’m sure I was indeed prompted.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Writer's Journal (exercise): No Talking

I tried it once, fior 12 hours. We were at a retreat. We had to keep verbal silence for the last part of the afternoon and on into evening, bedtime, wakingup in the morning, showering and dressing, breakfast, and reassembling for the first meditation session of the day. Even for so short a time, it was damn difficult. Everyone was very serious about it, however, moving about slowly with heads lowered, staying in their own space, as the head guru called it, trying not even to meet each other’s eyes.

I dare say it was supposed to throw one into one’s inner being, but it only made me more curious about the other people; more focused on them and what they might be thinking and how they were reacting, and what I could tell about that by watching them – surreptitiously of course. We were supposed to have said everything we needed to to the other people the day before, prior to beginning this exercise, so as to be complete with them and have nothing interfering in the energy of the group meditation. But I was bugged half the night by a thing I had refrained from saying. I rushed up to the person just before the morning meditation began, and whispered it hastily. She nodded gravely, accepting the communication, but the head guru’s husband shushed me and, frowning, gestured to move me on.

After the meditation, though, he and his wife pulled me aside during tea break to comment on the remarkable surge of energy they had (clairvoyantly) seen me project when they asked for healing to be sent out to the world. I was surprised. If you break the rules, can that still work?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Decade by Decade

I found this meme on a social networking site.

Interesting exercise. It does leave out whole chunks of life, and important events that didn't happen in the years selected — but so be it.
It's like a series of keyhole glimpses.


2011    Living in Northern Rivers region of NSW, still with third husband. Facilitator of weekly writers’ workshop of four years' standing. Secretary, Management Committee, Pottsville Beach Neighbourhood Centre. Semi-retired psychic medium, Reiki Master and copy editor/proofreader. Third book of poetry published (2005). Writing poetry online.

2001    Living in the Northern Rivers region, NSW. Eight years married to third husband.  Working as psychic medium and Reiki Master, sometimes as teacher of writing. Writing poetry.

1991    Living at Three Bridges (rural area in the hills east of Melbourne). Kids grown and independent. Author of two books of poetry (1985, 1991). Teaching Poetry Writing at TAFE. Part time freelance journalist. Established Tarot reader, meditation teacher and Reiki practitioner. Began Reiki Master training. Celebrated 25th wedding anniversary with second husband. Wound up Abalone Press. Writing and performing poetry.

1981    Living in Melbourne. Part-time librarian. Sometime artists’ model. Sometime crochet teacher. Published poet. High profile performance poet. Committee member Poets Union of Australia, Melbourne Branch. Poetry workshop presenter, Pentridge Prison.  Began Abalone Press (publishing Australian poets).

1971    Living in Melbourne. Married to second husband (abalone diver). Mother of two very young sons. Foster-mother to teenager.  Temporarily retired from library career.  Writing poetry privately.

1961    Living in Melbourne. Finishing University degree. Also attending Library School.  Recovering from first love and broken heart. Meeting the man who would become my first husband. Writing poetry very privately.

1951    Living in Launceston, Tasmania. Final year of primary school.  Writing and performing poetry (since age seven).

1941    Living in Launceston, Tasmania. Turned two in November.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Writer's Journal (exercise): What shall we do with the drunken sailor?

I remember my Dad’s friends chanting that with wicked grins, then stopping. Apparently the rest of the verses would get far too dirty for children to hear. I liked my Dad’s friends. They were cheerful blokes, his work mates, his drinking mates, our neighbours. There was a culture of blokiness that seem to produce good cheer. Or maybe it was that it was a relatively affluent period, after the Great Depression and the Second World War. There was a feeling of security, comfort, warmth, optimism, all will be well. Those men seemed so certain about everything. I guess they weren’t really, but they gave that impression to us little kids. And they were good men really, kind and polite (except of course in their rude songs).

Writer's Journal (exercise): Let’s Not Write

Let’s not write about truffles and steamers and old-fashioned farms
let’s not write about dreams and aspirations, adventures and alarms
let’s not write about anything much at all, 
but kick up our heels and run down the hall
out into the sunshine to shout and play
before the afternoon quite fades away.
Let’s not write, let’s not read, let’s not operate computers
let’s not even think about maidens and suitors,
let’s not write with pen and ink, let’s not write on paper in books,
let’s not keep pecking at the keys like a lot of old chooks,
let’s just abandon Aileen and Eddie, Cheryl and Helen and Marie. I’m ready
to skid across the floor and dash out the door
into the wide fresh air, so balmy and heady.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

My Poems Set to Music

When I was in Austin, Texas in 2006 as a Visiting Poet, I met a Visiting Muso (from the UK) called Clive Price. We were often on the same bill, and loved hearing each other's work. Later he set one of my poems, Traveller, to music. You can hear it, and a couple of his other songs, here and you can read the words here.

I'm thrilled that he's just now given another of my poems beautiful music. You can listen to it on Youtube here and you can read the words here.