Wednesday, November 27, 2013
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
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
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
Thursday, July 11, 2013
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 www.shwf.com.au.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
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 menKwabena 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 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
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 menAlliteration 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.
the colour of my own skin
traded like a fowl like a goat
like a sack of kernels I was
for beads for pans
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
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.
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.
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 www.shwf.com.au
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in Tertangala - UOW's Student Magazine.
Monday, May 13, 2013
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
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.
....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.
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)
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
This interview first appeared in Tertangala: UOW's Student Magazine: The F-Word (2013)
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Available at: http://ro.uow.edu.au/tide/vol9/iss1/1
Friday, April 12, 2013
- 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.
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 open.abc.net.au.
By Rhiannon Hall and Ashleigh Kelman
Saturday, February 23, 2013
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:
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: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.
― the odour of stalled vehiclesThe poem then ends with images of the home, of preparing breakfast and opening the door to door-to-door salesmen:
wickedly pleasant like an old burning friend,
still whispering to you from the incinerator.
...its armies, its smoke, its door-to-door salesmen,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.
... 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.
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.