To be a poet one needs the six P’s – the pencil, the paper, the perception, the passion, the persistence and the unshakable persuasion that the poem is in fact possible and attainable. - Grace Perry

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Little Mountain Readings

I am incredibly excited to be launching the first Little Mountain Readings (LMR) this weekend, in partnership with South Coast Writers Centre and Sturt, supported by Arts NSW. LMR will be a regular poetry event in Mittagong.

The first LMR will take place this Saturday, November 30th, at Sturt Cottage, 6-9pm.

The event will combine poetry with the romantic atmosphere of the cottage, where writers and literary enthusiasts can relax with a glass of wine, canapes and music.

Local poets Ken Challenor, Kerry Miller and Monica Markovina, as well as acclaimed writer Mark Tredinnick will give poetry readings on the night, followed by an open mic session.

Tickets are $25, or $15 for SCWC members and friends of Sturt. For bookings, please contact the South Coast Writers Centre here or call (02) 4228 0151.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Rocket Readings - Today!!

I have just finished my last prac teaching block. I loved it and was sad to leave the school, the supportive staff and the lovable students behind, but I am looking forward to receiving a placement for next year.

In the meantime, I am excited to have more time for my writing and reading!

First up, today I will be reading some of my poetry at the Wollongong City Gallery, for Viva la Gong's Rocket Readings. I am honoured to have been invited to read by the event host, Linda Godfrey! I am also a bit nervous to be reading alongside poetry great, Peter Skrzynecki!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Books I have read - The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

A light breeze was playing around the hem of my skirt as I was walking to university to hand my last assignment in and the movement of fabric on my calves got me thinking about Joanne Harris' book The Lollipop Shoes. 

The Lollipop Shoes is the sequel to Chocolat. In both of these stories the characters understand the temptation of magic, the allure of hand-made chocolates and the power of the wind.
That wind. I see it's blowing now. Furtive but commanding, it has dictated every move we've ever made. My mother felt it, and so do I - even here, even now - as it sweeps us like leaves into this backstreet corner, dancing us to shreds against the stones (19).
Just as the wind has always dictated Rosette, Anouk and Vianne's lives, I can feel it pushing and pulling me to the end of another chapter and the beginning of my career as a teacher. Thankfully, this wind of mine is not dashing me against stones. The concept of the changing seasons and winds having this kind of power is romantic and a little bit scary.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Lollipop Shoes; worrying with Vianne about her children and the wind; growing and learning about magic, family and love with Anouk; and flirting with the extravagant Zozie de l'Alba.
Zozie says you can ride the wind; that it's like a wild horse that can be tamed and trained to do just what you want it to. You can be a kite, a bird; you can grant wishes; you can find your heart's desire...(311-312). 
Blogger Valerie J found this book to be aimed at a teenage audience and did not enjoy how the chapters are written from the perspectives of the different characters. I disagree with Valerie on both of these counts. The story explores the adult themes of motherhood, the desire for security, lust, love and friendship.

The chapters are told from the three voices of Anouk, Vianne and Zozie and it is not always clear at first whose perspective we are reading from. However, I found this to be part of the magic of the book.

The rich sensory imagery of Joanne Harris' writing encourages a reader to experience the story fully; tasting the chocolates and other culinary treats; smelling the perfumes of the women, the city and the food.
You can ride the wind like an eagle, Nanou - or you can choose to let it blow you away (245). 
To hear from Joanne Harris about the writing of the book please visit her website here.

An excerpt from this book can be found here.

The book can be purchased from Random House books here.

Other reviews of this book can be found here and here

Friday, August 23, 2013

Experimental Love Poem

It has been a long time since I have found a spare moment to write a post here...

Let me fill you in on some of my goings on. I was involved in the Southern Highlands Writers' Festival, chairing a great panel discussion about 'Seeking Horizons: Local, Highly Acclaimed Poets in Discussion'. In this panel Chris Mansell, Ron Pretty, Mark Tredinnick and myself talked about where we write and how the places that we write from affect our poetry. 

I also participated in the Fest Factor, reading my poem 'Cafe Rosso', which you can read in Australian Poetry's Sotto. Congratulations to Lorin Reid for winning the Fest Factor! Lorin is a very talented slam poet!

The Southern Highlands Writers' Festival was the first literary event that myself and a team of tweeters live-tweeted from, capturing the inspirational atmosphere and some great quotes so that the conversations that began at the festival could be shared be a much wider audience. To find out more about the 2013 Southern Highlands Writers' Festival please check out the twitter #shwf2013.

I am currently the Acting Director at the South Coast Writers' Centre, which is keeping me very busy! We had Lynne Leonhardt at the Centre earlier this month reading from her latest book Finding Jasper. My team of tweeties got their digits moving and again shared some great quotes from Lynne's talk which can be found @SCWCentre.

Thankfully, I am coming to the end of my university studies. I am looking forward to the Christmas break and hopefully the whole lot of writing that I will be partaking in! For now though, here is an experimental love poem that I have been playing with.

143 (I Luv U!)

      459! wot r u up 2?
      thinking of u! HAK xx
          thanks hun! ILY!
    wot r u doing l8tr? xoxo
    i dont no… J
         want 2 do sum couch cuddling? J
   ILU! B round at 8 xxx
  cant wait 2 c u! LOL
              ILU2 v. much!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Southern Highlands Writers' Festival

The festival is nearly here! Myself and a team of twitter experts will be broadcasting all of the highlights from the festival. To follow or join in on the conversation follow #shwf2013 on twitter and Facebook.

To find out more about the festival lineup and to book tickets go to

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Poems I have Read - Taint by Grace Nicholls

Henry Louis Gates discusses the use of ‘Black’ vernacular in postcolonial literature as an act of reclaiming language and aligning the speaker with their black heritage, separate from the ‘white’ colonists (1989). ‘Black’ vernacular is used to create a ‘black’/ ‘white’ schism and is often used to highlight the different roles that ‘black’ and ‘white’ played in the process of colonialism and in the slave trade. The title of Grace Nicholls' poetry collection is written in this ‘Black’ vernacular, I is a Long Memoried Woman (1983).

However, Nicholls' poem 'Taint' is not written in this ‘Black’ vernacular. This is possibly to strengthen the theme of the poem, being ‘stolen’ for the slave trade. The speaker has been ‘stolen’ from where they belong. Language is a powerful tool in post-colonial studies, for the reasons that Henry Louis Gates explores, it is used to reclaim culture and heritage. The development of pigeon English and the handing down of this dialect through generations to form a Creole language is an important process to separate the victims of the slave trade from ‘White’ colonial powers and reclaim a cultural distinction.

On looking closer at the poem the theme of being ‘stolen’ for the slave trade becomes more complex. The speaker states that they were ‘stolen’ and ‘traded’ “by men the colour of my own skin”. The use of repetition here, as Nicholls repeats the line “by men the colour of my own skin”, emphasizes the anger the speaker has for this history of being ‘stolen’ by African slave traders. The anger is not being aimed at the ‘white’ slave owners, but at the men of the same "skin" as the speaker. The use of Western phonetics in this poem can be interpreted as a rejection of a connection to the speaker’s African heritage.
But I was stolen by men
the colour of my own skin...

But I was traded by men
the colour of my own skin
traded like a fowl like a goat
like a sack of kernels I was
Kwabena Akurang-Parry, states that some African states were involved in the trading of African’s from other states in the Atlantic slave Trade (2010). However, in his critique of Henry Louis Gates, he stresses that it is important to not except the viewpoint that “Africans” enslaved “Africans” (Akurang-Parry, K 2010). Akurang-Parry discusses the deployment of “African”, observing that in African history there is a tendency to coalesce into obscurantist (conservative/traditionalist) constructions of identities that allow scholars, for instance, to subtly call into question the humanity of “all” Africans. Whenever Asante rulers sold non-Asantes into slavery, they did not construct it in terms of Africans selling fellow Africans. They saw the victims for what they were, for instance, as Akuapems, without categorizing them as fellow Africans. Equally, when Christian Scandinavians and Russians sold war captives to the Islamic people of the Abbasid Empire, they didn’t think that they were placing fellow Europeans into slavery. This lazy categorizing homogenizes Africans and has become a part of the methodology of African history. It is through this history that Afro-Americans search for, or rebel against an African identity.

The similes in the second stanza illustrate how undervalued the speaker feels as the men trade him/her “for trinkets”. Indeed, African slaves were traded for goods such as glass beads. The use of the punctuation in this stanza, the question mark, creates a tone of disbelief and resentment, disbelief that anyone could trade her life for such little value and resentment at the middle man, who traded lives for trinkets.
But I was traded by men
the colour of my own skin
traded like a fowl like a goat
like a sack of kernels I was
for beads for pans
for trinkets?
Alliteration is also used in this stanza to again highlight that the speaker’s life was reduced to the value of a ‘trinket’. The ‘K’ sound is repeated throughout the stanza: "...traded ‘like’… ‘like’ a ‘sack’ of ‘kernels’… for ‘trinkets’". The line spacing in this stanza is also important in demonstrating the emotion the speaker feels for being traded for something as little as a ‘trinket’. The word ‘traded’ is placed on a line by itself not only to focus the readers to the act of trade that has occurred, but also to symbolise the trade, separating the objects to be traded from the objects they are traded for. The space between “like a fowl like a goat” emphasises the simile of the speaker to these animals. The spacing in the items the speaker was traded for is used to slow that part of the stanza down and draw attention to the simplicity of the items and the resentment that the speaker feels.
What is a Negro slave? A man of the black race. ... A Negro is a Negro. Only under certain conditions does he become a slave. A cotton-spinning machine is a machine for spinning cotton. Only under certain conditions does it become capital. Torn away from these conditions, it is as little capital as gold is itself money, or sugar is the price of sugar. - Marx, Wage Labour and Capital (1847)
Nicholls has used a lot of alliteration in this poem. I have already shown how the letter ‘k’ is repeated to demonstrate the undervaluing of the speaker’s life that happened through the slave trade. Throughout the entire poem there is alliteration of the letter ‘t’. The letter ‘t’ appears to be dictating the themes of the poem as being ‘stolen’ and ‘traded’ by men who are not human, who do not value life, hands ‘turned talons’, the undervaluing of life, being ‘traded’ for ‘trinkets’. The letter ‘t’ takes us down the ‘trail’, the path of the trade, or of the memory of the trade and walks us to the present. ‘It’, the stealing and trading, we cannot ‘forget’, what we refuse to acknowledge in history is still there, it still happened. Finally the ‘t’ brings the reader to the end of the journey as the speaker rinses the ‘taint of treachery’, the history of betrayal and the speaker’s racial heritage. The poem moves away from an Afro-diasporic identity, allowing the speaker to create their own individual identity, which is still dictated by the past.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Southern Highlands Writers' Festival Events

The South Coast Writers Centre, in association with the Southern Highlands Writers' Festival and supported by Arts NSW, will be hosting the following three events on Saturday, July 13th at Gibraltar House in Bowral.

Seeking Horizons: Acclaimed and Local Poets in Conversation
Rhiannon Hall from the South Coast Writers Centre will be in conversation with three local poets: Mark Tredinnick, Ron Pretty and Chris Mansell, in the Gallery Room, from 2.30–3.30pm.
Fantastic Fiction
Authors Nigel Featherstone and Christine Howe will be discussing contemporary Australian fiction and their latest works with journalist and author William Verity, in the Ballroom, from 4–5pm.
Muso Musings
Musician and ABC Illawarra broadcaster Nick Rheinberger will be in conversation with one of Australia's most prolific and esteemed writers of music biographies, Jeff Apter, in the Gallery Room, from 4–5pm.
For information on ticket prices and bookings please visit

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Word Cloud

This is a word cloud of the text that is most frequently used on my blog. I thought it would be a bit of fun to post it. You can create your own word cloud at

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sydney Writers’ Festival: What are you going to see?

I think May is my favorite month of the year. I am always so excited to listen to and meet national and international writers at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Plus, you can’t forget the books! I work all year just so that I can buy books and get them signed at writers’ festivals.

This year the South Coast Writers Centre (SCWC), in partnership with the Sydney Writers’ Festival will be hosting two excellent literary events. On Sunday the 19th of May, from 1.30-3.30pm, Wollongong’s reoccurring poetry event, Rocket Readings, will kick off the week. This year’s Rocket Readings special guests are Joanne Burns, Peter Lach-Newinsky and Ron Pretty. These three marvelous Australian poets will be reading their poetry, with Ron Pretty sharing some of his poems from his recent writing residency in Rome. These readings will be followed by Rocket Readings’ very successful poetry Open Mic section. All poets are welcome to read in the Rocket Reading Open Mic. The Open Mic will be judged by the special guest poets and will end in the handing over of the official Rocket Cup. Rocket Readings’ host, Linda Godfrey, welcomes everyone to enjoy some fine poetry in the Wollongong City Gallery. The event is free and no bookings are required.

The second event that SCWC will be hosting, in partnership with the Sydney Writers’ Festival, is the annual Celebrating the Voice Indigenous Writers’ Night (CTV). Now in its 13th year, CTV presents a brand new collection of poems, published by SCWC, entitled Dreaming Inside. Dreaming Inside includes writing by Aboriginal inmates at the Junee Correctional Centre. On Thursday the 23rd of May, from 6.30-8.30pm at the Wollongong City Gallery, Aunty Barbara Nicholson, Simon Luckhurst, John Muk Muk Burke and Bruce Pascoe will read excerpts from Dreaming Inside. These four writers tutored the inmates in the art of poetry. These writers will also be reading their own reflections on their experiences working with the inmates, which are expressed through poetry and prose. There will be book sales on the night and free drinks and nibbles. CTV 2013 will be MC’d by Associate Professor Paul Sharrad. CTV is part of the South Coast Writers Centre’s Indigenous Writing program.

This event is presented by South Coast Writers Centre, in association with the Sydney Writers’ Festival and supported by Arts NSW, Wollongong City Council and Wollongong City Gallery. Free, bookings essential, please contact SCWC on 02 4228 0151 or email

For more information on events that are occurring during the Sydney Writers’ Festival please check out the Festival’s website, at, as well as Varuna, the Writers’ House website, for details of the Blue Mountain’s program, at Finally, don’t forget to grab yourself a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald.

This article was first published in Tertangala - UOW's Student Magazine.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Red Room Company and Dapto High

Thank you Darcy Moore for promoting my writing on your blog!

I am looking forward to participating in the Red Room Company's project at Dapto High!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Books I have read - Red Bird by Mary Oliver

I had heard so much of Mary Oliver's writing from Mark Tredinnick,  Monica (Mon) Markovina and Phillip Hall (my Dad).

Mid last year Mon pressed Oliver's collection, entitled Red Bird, into my hands. Mon told me that I had to read it!

It has taken me a while... but finally, I have read the collection. Now that I have finished it, I wish I had of read it sooner. Mark, Mon and Phillip are right, Oliver's poetry is wonderful to read!

I read Oliver's collection in one sitting. That is unusual for me; I generally only tackle about five poems in a sitting.

There is a simplicity to Oliver's poetry. Oliver uses simple language and images, with often a conversational tone, to explore multiple themes.

She frequently writes about nature, as in the title poem 'Red Bird', where she writes of her devotion to birds and her particular admiration of the red bird:
Still, for whatever reason—
perhaps because the winter is so long
and the sky so black-blue,

I am grateful

that red bird comes all winter
firing up the landscape
as nothing else can do. (1)
The colour and warmth found in this poem is beautiful. Maxine Kumin has described Oliver as a “indefatigable guide to the natural world”. Indeed, as Kumin has identified, Oliver gives a great deal of attention to the natural world within her writing. In the poem 'Red Bird' Oliver paints a picture of the colours found in nature, of the passing of seasons and of the birds.

As well as this celebration of nature, Oliver describes a relationship between that world which we deem to be human and that which we view as animal. There is a human persona within the poem and it is through their eyes that we are viewing the red bird, as they feed all of "God's" birds (The entirety of 'Red Bird' can be read here).

Here we find another dimension to Oliver's poetry, in her exploration of the spiritual world.

One thing that I have enjoyed about Oliver's poetry is that while the spiritual that she explores is a Christian Spirituality, it is often able to be interpreted as spirituality with a little 's'. As it is a non-denominational spirituality that I believe in, I like that her poetry can be interpreted through this lens.

When Mon lent me this book one page had the corner folded over. Mon had marked the poem 'Percy and Books (Eight)'. Oliver has written a series of poems about her dog, Percy, where she again delves into a discussion about the relationship between the so called human and animal world.

Within this particular poem, Oliver humorously represents the relationship between a dog and its owner. The dog in this poem wants to be immersed into the splendor of the world outside, while the owner desires to dally in the world of books.

The poem begins: "Percy does not like it when I read a book" (29). It then describes the dog and the weather and sounds of the natural world, that can be heard from where both dog and owner sit. The owner pleads with the dog: "But Percy, I say. Ideas! The elegance of language!" (29). Without ruining the joke, the dog is not convinced of the value of books.

While the simplicity of Oliver's imagery and language make it easy for a reader, or at least for me, to loose them self in the ideas and pictures that she has captured, is it enough to explore nature as beautiful?

I have had many discussions with Phillip Hall and some with Mark Tredinnick and Mon about just such a question.

In the 21st Century we are being faced with global warming, environmental disasters (both natural and human made), and the endangerment and extinction of various plants and animals. Is it, therefore, enough to celebrate nature and explore how the perceived 'natural' and 'human' world interact, or should representations of nature be exploring the bigger issues of global warming and the threats facing both the natural and human world?

In asking the above questions I am not suggesting that Oliver should necessarily be doing these things with her poetry, or that there is not a place for the celebration of nature in poetry, but I am questioning what is poetry's role in the world?

You can buy a copy of Mary Oliver's Red Bird from Amazon here.

Here is a great interview with Mary Oliver, exploring another of her poetry collections, A Thousand Mornings.

Here are some links to Oliver's poems that can be read, for free, online:

Mary Oliver reads three of her poems here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The process and the poem: An interview with local poet Rhiannon Hall

Bellow is a lovely write up of me, by my friend Chloe Higgins. Thank you Chloe for offering to interview me and for representing me and my writing so well!

This interview first appeared in Tertangala: UOW's Student Magazine: The F-Word (2013)

Who do you write for?”

A couple of days earlier, I had sent Rhiannon a list of more than 15 questions. She sent me her response shortly after. It totalled over 2,000 words.

As we walked through Wollongong’s Botanical Gardens, I realised a question had been missing.

“For myself,” she answered.

Three things came to mind.

The first was an earlier conversation with Rhiannon. I had asked where she got her inspiration. Her response came in the form of a short story about a man and his goat.

There was once a man who regularly came into the butchers where Rhiannon previously worked. Each time, the man told her the same story: his goat was driving him mad. So he tied it up. He got it under control.

At first, she dismissed the story as idle chat. But the man kept coming into the butchers. And he kept telling her the same story. He had a goat. It was driving him mad. So he tied it up.

Eventually, when she didn’t know what else to do with the man’s story, she made it into a poem.

A Retiree and Goat
for alex
First appeared, in an earlier version, Seeking the Sun: Australian Poetry 2012.

Combat in our final years, assembling the fence. Spying
the goat contriving, flaunting her power,
to expose frailty,
                         kicking up her heels.
Watching wearily, tomorrow I will toil
with fence posts and wire.

Watching from the window she remembers a time
when I was attentive to other passions. Snagged on a nail
yellow dress slipping
                                  off pearly shoulders.
A time when fencing could wait, just to
touch breast, navel, thigh.

Retirement meant more time embracing our passions.
Time that we dreamed of. We found novels, movies,
individual lounge chairs.
                                     I fight with the goat.

The second thing that came to mind was another earlier exchange we had. I had asked which of her poems was her favourite.

Demokratizmi,” she said.

I asked her what it meant.

She told me the title is Georgian for democracy. The poem was written in response to an imprint created by Gela Samsonidse. She explained that the imprint was Gela’s attempt to express his identity and explore language. He starts by writing words in Georgian script, and then scribbles over them until he can longer make out the words.

Rhiannon wrote Demokratizmi by looking at the imprint, allowing words to flood her mind, and then cutting out words until she was left with the small number that make up the poem. She never did decipher the actual words that Gela wrote.

I re-read the poem.

after an imprint by Gela Samsonidse
First appeared South Coast Writers Centre website, July 2012.

(democracy) drums,
chanting from the people
mouths widen, marching
mi to the ballot box,
curving in a crescendo
climaxing in October 28, 1990
striking the floor, blood
    (სის­ხლი) blood shed on canvas.

I asked her if she showed Gela the poem. She said she hadn’t. He wouldn’t like it, she explained. He doesn’t like his artworks to be made political.

I asked her how she felt about people misinterpreting her poems and she laughed.

“I misinterpret people’s poems all the time.”

We continued walking through the gardens.

I reminded her of the two stories she had shared and repeated her answer to the question of who she writes for, back to her, in the form of a question.

“So you write for yourself?”

She laughed softly, “Yeah, I guess…”

When we finished walking through the gardens and parted ways, I re-read over her responses to the questions I emailed her. When asked why she writes, her desire to create comes through strongly.

“I love the feeling I get when I know that I have written something half good. I feel like I have really achieved something. Having a creative outlet has been really important for me, particularly while I was doing my honours research last year. I can’t dance, paint or sing, so writing is the only form of creative expression that I get a real buzz from.”

She went on to talk about her process.

“Often the words appear in more of a trickle than a splash. But, there is always something that stimulates and inspires me, like a painting, a piece of writing, an event, my surroundings, or a combination of these things.”

A sense of silence and space came through strongly.

“I need a lot of time to write. I have to be able to slow down and forget about work and uni for a bit. It is kind of like a meditation, once I am calm, I can devote myself to pondering over the ideas that have been bouncing around my mind. I always have ideas for a poem. I pick ideas up from work, uni and everyday life, but it is not until I am able to remove myself from these things that I can concentrate on one image.”

Rhiannon’s responses seemed only to further the idea that she is a woman who very much writes for the other, cares for the other, wants to observe and understand the other.

One of her poems in particular, Café Rosso, paints a picture not just of women with windswept hair, lovers leaning across tables, cocky men and stout women waiting to pay, but of a woman, sitting in the background, immersed in observing and understanding what is going on in the world around her.

Café Rosso
First appeared Sotto, August-September 2012.

grey thunders Bowral skies
two women with windswept hair
warming over cannelloni, their cappuccinos cupped.

Lovers lean across tables, faces almost touch;
Order seafood - Grigliato Misto, white wine.

Big men, cocky as  sunshine yellow parrots,
chucking back macchiatos; riffling work schedules,
envy  every casual diner.

Waitresses flitting across the room,
enjoying sweet meringue aromas,
the delicate perfumes
of stout women waiting to pay.

The poem speaks loudly of the quote Rhiannon has posted at the top of her blog homepage:

To be a poet one needs the six P’s – the pencil, the paper, the perception, the passion, the persistence and the unshakable persuasion that the poem is in fact possible and attainable. - Grace Perry

The third thing that came to mind when Rhiannon said she writes for herself was a quote by George Steiner.

“There is language, there is art, because there is the other.”

I mention the quote to her and she shrugs, “I guess I have never really thought about it before.”

Rhiannon Hall was a café poet with Australian Poetry and has been published in Seeking the Sun: Australian Poetry 2012, Sotto, the UOW LitSoc Zine, Tertangala, Unfolding (an art exhibition catalogue) and on the South Coast Writers Centre's website. 

An Interview by Chloe Higgins.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Rumour

Kelman, A, Hooper, J, Sanchez, N, Prokop, R, and Lee, V (eds.)
Tide, 9th Edn, 2012, 115pp.
Available at:

Every edition of the Faculty of Creative Art’s journal, Tide, sparks rumours of greatness. For those of you who have not heard of Tide, it is a literary journal produced by third year creative writing students. The 2012, 9th edition of Tide showcases a quality of writing, imagination and vision that I was not prepared for when Ashleigh Kelman proudly presented a copy to the South Coast Writers Centre.

Kelman, and all of the 2012 Tide team, had every reason to be proud! This edition has it all, from poetry and short stories about love, war, popular culture, drugs, death and much more, all connected by the central theme of ‘endings’.

The theme that I am most engrossed by is that of rumours. The literary virtuosity found in the poetry and stories of this edition can only be interpreted as a rumour of the success that awaits these emerging authors and poets.

Elizabeth Stevenson’s story ‘Devotion’ is a cold tale of cause and effect, which details a sibling power struggle and eventually a murder. It ends with the same ‘tap-tap-tapping’ sound that it begins with, but the perpetrator is no longer Michael’s sister, but Michael himself. The story begins:
“She sat on the divan, eyes narrowed and cold, looking down at him… tap-tap-tapping her fan on her smirking lips. They were painted a deep red. Red like the wine. Red like blood” (36).
The tapping at the beginning of the story does not only contribute to the cause of the final murder, but is also a rumour of the kind of anger that lies within the downtrodden Michael, the kind of anger that leaves a man seeing ‘red’. The repetition of colour and sound invites a reader to sympathise with the murderer and positions the victim in the role of the antagonist.

Tide has set off a series of causes and effects, encouraging many of these emerging writers to further experiment with their form and to search out more publishing opportunities. Thus, the ‘tap-tap-tapping’ continues.

Nicholas Brooks is one writer whose work continues to grab my attention. His story ‘Drew’s House’ opens up a families suffering, allowing a reader to view the bubbling rawness of grief, as the characters struggle to accept Drew’s condition.  Brooks has a way of beginning his stories; after the first few lines my blinkers are up, and I have eyes and ears only for the story. It is in the simplicity of his descriptions, and in his short, concise sentences, that I am mesmerised. The combination of these is found in ‘Drew’s House’, which begins:
“Drew’s dad is watching television when I walk in. Something loud, mindless. A cigarette rests in an ashtray on the arm of the couch; smoke rises towards the ceiling” (69).
The pain, confusion and anger that are felt by the characters are expertly suggested, if you will, rumoured in the noise and haze of these first three sentences.

Whispers of Brooks’ determination and skill can be found in dark corners of the internet. I am a proud follower of his WordPress blog ‘readingroomofhell’. Brooks’ voice can also be heard at the Literary Society meetings and at the South Coast Writers Centre’s fiction writing workshop.

I am excited for the writers who were published in Tide 2012, because I truly believe that they are all very talented. I am looking forward to following all of their writing careers.

Samantha Lewis’ poem, ‘Means’, is another piece of writing that details a series of cause and affects. Lewis’ capturing of the events and emotions experienced by a young man fighting in a war in Afghanistan, to an older man, still traumatised by the events of his youth, is powerful. It is a real credit to Lewis that she was able to successfully portray this character. Her poem constructs a moving antiwar argument.

There are so many other poems and stories that I could write about, but I will leave you with a rumour, the rumour that the poets and authors published in Tide 2012 have exciting literary careers in front of them.

This article was first published in Tertangala: University of Wollongong's Student Magazine: The F-Word (2013).

Friday, April 12, 2013

ABC Open 500 Words

On February 21st, Sean O’Brian held a seminar at SCWC. The seminar focused on ABC Open – a website that seeks to publish the photos, videos and stories created by regional Australians. Sean spoke about 500 Words ABC Open’s latest theme, ‘A Scary Moment’, and gave tips on how writers can make the most of their stories published through the website.
  • It’s all about the title – Short, catchy titles are what gain attention. If you name your story after the theme or use something generic-sounding, you may not get as many readers as you would with something original. For example, a title such as “The Journey” may not get as many readers as a story entitled “Never Listen to Your Mother”.
  • Images catch eyes and readers – Finding an appropriate and interesting image for your story can help draw people to your story. A great website for finding original images is Flickr. However, be aware of copyright; only use images if they are in Creative Commons or if you get permission from the photographer to use their work. Focus on picking a strong image that conveys one element of your story simply. If you cannot find an image, Sean can choose one for you.
  • Keep summaries simple – Grab a reader’s attention by using a good summary. Questions can be provoking and stimulating.
  • Take care when submitting – If you submit to ABC Open by pasting your story from Word, be sure to click the Word button on the submition page in order to retain your formatting. To make your story easier to read on the internet, make sure you have short paragraphs and sentences. A single sentence can be its own paragraph. Using brief grammar and language can help make your story more reader-friendly.
Sean provided much insight into the broader ABC activities and his encouraging attitude inspired many. He says that if anyone has issues with using the site or uploading their stories, they can contact him at for help.

ABC Open’s ‘A Scary Moment’ category already has 500 published submissions. As all submissions are published (unless there are legal issues) and all writers retain their copyright, anyone is welcome to send in their work. You may also respond to previous themes, but keep in mind you will get less readers.

As the current theme comes to a close on February 28th, writers are encouraged to come up with their next story, centered on the theme ‘I Was There’. You can browse other stories and guidelines at the ABC Open website

By Rhiannon Hall and Ashleigh Kelman 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Morning Becomes Electric

The South Coast Writers Centre's Poetry Appreciation Group looked at the poetry of Bruce Dawe in our meeting this month. One of the poems that we read and discussed was his 'Morning Becomes Electric'.

The imagery within this poem is amazing and at first appears quite eclectic.

The poem includes metaphors of nature and the hustle of morning traffic, beginning:
Another day
roars up at you out of the east
in an expressway of birds gargling their first
antiseptic song, where clouds are
bumper-to-bumper all the way back to the horizon.
As well as the similes of traffic and nature there is an image of car fumes reminding the speaker of the smell of a friend being cremated. This image made many in our group feel slightly uncomfortable and led to a lengthy discussion about the appropriateness of the image within the context of this poem. The lines that I am referring to run as follows:
the odour of stalled vehicles
wickedly pleasant like an old burning friend,
still whispering to you from the incinerator.
The poem then ends with images of the home, of preparing breakfast and opening the door to door-to-door salesmen:
...its armies, its smoke, its door-to-door salesmen,
... giving you an argument of sorts
before you have even assembled your priorities,
properly unrolled your magic toast
or stepped into the wide eyes of your egg.
For me, this poem is exploring a few things: firstly, and most obviously, the repetitiveness and predictiveness of the everyday; as well as, change and adjustment.

The first of these I don't believe needs any further explanation, the lines from the poem above clearly illustrate the humdrum nature of the everyday that Dawe's has captured.

As for my assertion that the poem is exploring change and adjustment, I feel that Dawe is drawing out the changes that we experience within the everyday. I say 'we' because Dawe addresses "you" or us as readers throughout the poem. That change may be gradual, for example where there was once herds of cattle meandering between fields there may now be a busy road, where during peak hour, cars "bank-up". As the physical landscape changes so to do we, as living organisms. The adjustment or acceptance of the loss of a friend can also be gradual, as we are reminded of a passed friend in the "odour of stalled vehicles".

This poem is satirical, as are many of Dawe's poems, the comments on change and the lack of control that we have over the everyday that can be found within the poem include an element of shock value, as well as a questioning of if and why we would want to have such a tight control over the everyday. The traffic scene of the first two stanzas is crowded and we are all just hanging on, with the gulls, waiting for something newsworthy to occur. Even as we are pulled back into the house in the third stanza, we are still holding on for something more exciting than the 'everdayness' of the door-to-door salesmen. The magic realism of the last two lines, where we are 'unrolling' our toast and 'stepping into' our eggs, is a final illustration of the ridiculousness of the everyday.

To purchase this Bruce Dawe's collection Sometimes Gladness, which this poem can be found in, click here or here. Copies of Sometimes Gladness can also be found cheap at second hand stores.