'Freedom' competition Judge's Report

JUDGE’S REPORT FOR 2017 ADELAIDE PLAINS POETRY COMPETITION – THEME: FREEDOM

By Jude Aquilina

I felt privileged to be the judge for a competition with such an important and inspiring theme as FREEDOM. Thank you to all the poets who entered – you reminded me of the many different forms that freedom can take. These included: freedom from war; freedom of speech and thought; freedom in retirement and through travel; through bushwalking and horse riding; freedom from a refugee’s point of view; freedom in nature; freedom from abuse, racism and ageism; freedom through religion and freedom through zen; freedom in self-sufficiency and going off the grid; even freedom in death from suffering and freedom to reunite with loved ones in the afterlife. Congratulations to the competition organisers for choosing such a wide-ranging and thought-provoking theme.

The quality of the poetry was extremely high, in every section, making my job as judge difficult. Many more poems than I can mention deserve praise. And I was especially thrilled to read so many amazing poems by school students. I know the future of poetry is in good hands.

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In the Primary School Section I chose four poems to Commend:

· Feeling Free (1) Lorena Burford - Horizon Christian School

· Freedom (18) Amelie Kowald – Domino Servite College

· Camping Moment (3) Sophie Manuel - Horizon Christian School

· Waking up on Saturday (8) Benjamin Trinkle – Domino Servite College

And I chose the poem The Freedom to Read (17) to Highly Commend Kezia Ziegelmann – Domino Servite College

For Third Prize, I chose a poem titled Charlotte and her eggs (6) Alexandra Hill – Tea Tree Gully Primary School – a clever and unusual poem, with rich poetic language and apt use of the senses.

For Second Prize, I chose the poem titled Freedom in Science (14) Wesley Trinkle – Domino Servite College – this enthusiastic account of the freedom, wonder and creativity in science, had me thinking and kept me smiling. This young poet has captured the thrill and passion in engaging in creative thoughts and experiments.

First Prize goes to a poem titled Freedom for me (16) Brandon George – Domino Servite College - a beautiful and vivid poem about finding freedom in the Australian countryside, when, I quote, ‘the evening shines like brass’. With images like this, I was transported me to another place. Congratulations to a poet with a talent for painting word-scapes!

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In the Secondary School Section I chose three poems to Commend:

· The Beautiful Word (25) Amal TlaaOur Lady of the Sacred Heart College

· What is it? (28) Olivia Hayes – Domino Servite College

· I wanted to fly in the beautiful sky (12) Jasit Kaur – Domino Servite College

And I Highly Commended three poems:

· What happened to our acceptance? (6) Chloe Wightman – Domino Servite College

· Freedom is a funny word, isn’t it? (5) Jesse Blakers – Hawker College

· Why would you wear something so inappropriate (4) Freya Cox - The Friends School

For Third Prize in the Secondary School Section, I chose a poem titled Freedom Lies in Being Bold (8) – Aimy Tran - Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College - a mature, intelligent poem that is a reminder of what women have achieved, and what is yet to be achieved in regards to equality. This is a bold and thought-provoking poem.

I chose, for Second Prize a poem titled A white blanket laid over Syria (13) – Rabjot Kaur - Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College The poem relates vivid images of human suffering and gives the war in Syria a human face. This is a memorable, emotive poem that does not shy away from truth; an important narrative that needs to be written and read.

First Prize is awarded to a vivid lyrical poem simply titled Freedom (2) – Maya Chromik – Horizon Christian School. This poetic list of images captures the sense of freedom that we, here in Australia, are fortunate to enjoy free of charge, like, I quote ‘collecting stars at night’ and ‘finding dirt roads that lead to the unknown. This clever poet has put together a collage of positive experiences to capture the theme of Freedom in a clever and resonating way. Congratulations!

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In the Open Section, there were many great poems that addressed the theme of Freedom in quirky ways like the three poems I award Commendations:

· The Cost of Zen (55) Helen Thurloe

· a peregrine falcon (86) Claire Albrecht

· Child of My Heart 928) Shelley Hansen

And I Highly Commended four outstanding poems:

· 1976 (no number) Stephen Smithyman

· Strawberries and Poppies (25) Donna Edwards

· Advance Australia - Fair (29) Chris Richardson

· Moon meeting (62) Nina Scott-Bohanna

Third Prize in the Open Section goes to a poem titled Free at Last (80) Tom McIlveen that takes the reader back to early Australian convict history. Rhyme, rhythm and meter are employed to effect; with this style suiting the era. I also enjoyed the authentic voice and dark humour.

I awarded Second Prize to a poem titled Transitions (84) Kerry Harte an ironic poem with moments of dark humour. The poem is about reading a shiny brochure for a nursing home, in which, I quote, are ‘The faces of the people … bright and bubbly as champagne’. I like this poet’s unfaltering tone and apt imagery.

First Prize goes to a poem titled, Freedom wakes me in the morning (69) Rhonda Cotsell It was a joy to read this intelligent, compassionate take on the theme. The poet focusses on the small things that mean freedom but also encompasses the big picture. This poet has captured the intangible, the essence of what freedom is and what it means. Congratulations to this brilliant poet. May freedom continue to wake you in the morning.

Thank you, Carolyn and the Adelaide Plains Poets for this enlightening experience.

Jude Aquilina

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As the President of Adelaide Plains Poets, I thank the judge and of course all of the entrants in this competition, where we received well around 130 poems from around Australia, based on our broad topic of Freedom. As the Competition Secretary I say thank you to all of the lovely poets who sent their work to me and kept me entertained as I read the poems as that came to me in the mail, or by hand. And of course thank you to the teachers involved, keeping love of language alive in the young people they work with every day at their work!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Next Writing Project

I've mentioned my next project on this blog before. Now, though it's almost time for me to get even more serious about it. I now have a first draft done, time to look at it, tweak it and polish it!

This writing project is one I'm passionate about. My next book will be the book I wanted and needed in early 2010. In February of that year, I had a collapse and was diagnosed with a chronic illness, one I didn't know much about.

That chronic illness is one which has a variety of symptoms, and has no cure, only treatments that may or may not work for each different person. The chronic illness isn't one which will kill me, but until the medical world comes up with a cure, it will be with me until the cure for all arrives.

The chronic illness I'm talking about it Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS affects different people differently, depending on where in the affected person's central nervous system scarring of the myelin (insulating sheaths surrounding the nerves) occurs. This scarring (sclerosis) slows down or stops the nerves from passing the messages from the brain to the body.

The consequence of this can be weakness, pain, tingling, cold, heat - a range of things. It may affect the hands, feet, arms, legs, bowel, bladder, all kinds of parts of the body. I'm one of the lucky ones, I have no pain from my MS, except when my weakness or lack of balance causes me to fall over - then I can sure feel the pain! Trips and falls are common in people with MS.

Anyway, I'm going to write a memoir detailing the things I now know about living with MS. The good, the bad and the ugly, it will all be in my memoir. And just to make it even more interesting for me to write, I't going to be written in verse! I'm a poet and this challenge sure has me excited! It's almost all in verse, with some poems about various issues relating to my life with MS, and with some prose, where I have information about the medicines that can sometimes help.

I have a mentor helping me with writing this verse memoir - Ray Tyndale, a fine South Australian poet and verse novelist. Ray has been trying to get me on track with the difficulties in writing a narrative in verse, and she thinks I may finally have it! So, now the hard work begins. Fixing up the part I've written that wasn't on track, filling in the many gaps that will appear/have already appeared. I'm getting over Christmas and in a couple of days, it's time to get stuck into it!

I now know many people who have MS, and I really hope my memoir will help both them and their families and friends to better understand what living with MS is really like. This, I hope, will lead to better understanding of the issues and challenges people living with MS have. It's not a life I would have chosen for myself, but it's certainly not the worst thing in the world.

I have two walking sticks and a walker, I have family and friends who love me, and I have a positive attitude to life. I'm walking bravely forward, looking forward to what will come next!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Vegetable Victory Strikes Again!

The final session of Vegetable Victory, presented to Primary Schools students, is finished. Vegetable Victory is part of the Community Foodies program run by Lower North Health. the program tells students all about vegetables and why they're great to eat. 

The program is in 4 sessions, and covers numeracy, literacy and Social Studies. The students learn about more than just vegetables. They're given to opportunity to try vegetables in ways they may not have encountered them before. And they're also told about poetry, and encouraged to try their hand and mind at writing poems about vegetables.

By the end of the program, the students will have thought about, learned about, written about, sniffed, seen, listened to and felt vegetables! They will have written at least one poem, and learned lots about how to write poetry, as well as listening to a published poet read their own poems and other poet's poems about vegetables. It's all good fun!

Carolyn Cordon is a Community Foodie, a published poet, and she is the creator of 'Vegetable Victory'. The program has taken place in two Primary Schools so far, and Carolyn hopes to present the program in more schools next year.

Every student should be given the chance to learn to love vegetables! 

Please contact Carolyn if you would like to see this program in your own school! 0418 806 490

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New Writing Group in Gawler

Writing groups come and go - some are good, some bad. And some people do well in groups while others are better off working alone.

The new group in Gawler, it is hoped, will be a good one. The initial feeling is that it is a friendly and supportive group, dealing with both poetry and prose. The group meets weekly, at a popular pub in Gawler, the Prince Albert Hotel.

It's only a small group so far, but hopefully more people will be joining soon. The meetings start at 3.30pm, and go for several hours. The coffee is good, and there's good food available too, so group members can get there for the words and have a main meal later on.

The group is an initiative of Adelaide Plains Poets, branching out into prose as well as the poetry that started the whole thing going. Short stories, plays, movies, novels, who know where we may end up?

The new group is called Adelaide Plains Chapter & Verse, and it has its own Facebook page, and blog here.

As long as we all write the words down and share them, it's all good. Have you ever been in a writing group? What were the good things about it? And what were the bad (if there were any bad things...).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dark Side DownUnder: Magic Thursday: Romancing Words

Dark Side DownUnder: Magic Thursday: Romancing Words

I've just finished reading a blog post about a woman who found her way back to poetry, and unblocked herself so she could write more and write better! Poetry doesn't have to be hard work, poetry can be mind-blowingly good fun!

Click on the link, and read Lilliana's great ideas. If you're trying to get into poetry, you'll be so glad you did!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

No, Poetry Is NOT Dying!

Probably every day, every week, every month and every year, someone say the written word is dying, dead, not loved, on the way out, But I don't believe that, and if you're reading these words, you probably don't believe that either.

I've just read an interesting article by South Australian poet and neuroscientist, Ian Gibbins. He's written a broad ranging run down on what's happening in Poetry in Australia at the moment. If you interested in knowing more, follow this link and all with be revealed.

In the meantime, a less measured look at it from where I sit, out on the Adelaide Plains, 60kms from Adelaide. I'm the President of the the Adelaide Plains Poets inc, a group that has varied in size and responsibilities over the 7 years it's been in existence. One thing has remained constant - APPI started with a national Poetry Competition, and there's been one national poetry competition ever since.

The competition is open to adults as well as secondary and primary schools students. The cost for adults to enter is $5 for each poem entered, and there is no cost for the students. This was a deliberate thing, the competition secretary is keen to have young people learn the delights you can get from sharing your poetry with others. The cost has stayed the same, as other costs rise. APPI wants to remain open to all kinds of people, even or especially to those for whom a larger fee may be difficult to find.

The winners have been a broad range of people, men, women, boys and girls - some first time entrants, some well practised and widely published poets. The one thing that has remained the same is the wonderfully creative ways poets have responded to the theme for the competition.

The themes for the Adelaide Plains Poets Inc Poetry Competition have covered a variety of things, from the first theme 'Birds of the Adelaide Plains' to the last (and current) theme 'The Elements', and the others in between. The competition secretary marvels at the delightful ways the poets meet the theme in their own way. The themes have been chosen deliberately to allow for broad choices in how the theme is met, and apart from a few occasions, this has led to quite different poems received each year.

If you're interested in trying out your poetry skills, why not give it a go - only $5 per poem and you could be up for winning good money! Even the students prizes are monetary, and as I, as a mother know, children are totally clued up on the benefits of cash in hand!

The entry form and guidelines are on this site, so cut and paste, then get writing about The Elements!

Going on from poetry competitions, there's poetry readings. These can happen in writing group meetings, in classrooms, workshops, halls and hotels. The Poetry reading I attended most recently is the SA Poetry Slam Final. This was an exciting night at Upper Ground Light Square in Adelaide, and had the ten winners from the heats which took place in libraries around Adelaide and beyond.

The atmosphere was electric and the entrants were truly amazing. The audience was spellbound by the performances of the competing poets, in a competition where any of them could have been the winner! Young and old, and all ages in between these ten people were there to share their words and win the prize! And what was that prize? All expenses paid trip to Sydney to compete with the winners of the Poetry Slam competitions held around Australia, good stuff!

So, from my knowledge of what's happening around the country, Poetry is certainly not dying. I'm involved in a new group, Chapter and Verse, meeting weekly in Gawler, and even though the reason for starting the group, was to go further with writing, that doesn't mean poetry isn't also a part of the things going on. The meetings are held at the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler, where there have been Poetry Readings held once a month for some years. The numbers are increasing monthly, and the interest has grown.

I can honestly say, from where I'm looking, the future of Poetry is looks like it's alive and kicking arse!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How to Work with a Mentor

The title of this blog post is perhaps a little misleading. I only know the way I am working with a mentor, and I've only been working with my mentor for about about four months. Other people may find quite different ways of working with a mentor.

I received a grant in the middle of this year, to pay for a mentor to help me with my current writing project. This project is to write a memoir, in verse, about my life since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). I've been a poet for well over ten years, and have had my poetry published, but the idea of writing a memoir in verse was a slightly foreign prospect.

I wanted to do it though, so I found a  possible mentor, and applied for the grant (Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Trust grant). I was thrilled to win the grant, which gave me a goodly sum of money to pay my mentor, plus a smaller amount of money for myself.

Since starting work with my mentor, Dr Ray Tyndale, we've been meeting in a lovely cafe in Semaphore, Sarah's Sisters Cafe, and discussing verse, poetry, and my memoir. Ray has been terrific for me - I know to get the best out of this mentor relationship, I must produce new work to share with her, and must carefully consider her words. One of the reasons I felt a mentor would be useful, would be to keep me on track, and that's certainly been happening.

Before we started, Ray told me she would write all over my memoir, as needed, and I mustn't be scared of the red pen! It was a little daunting to see the amount of red pen the first time, but I took in what Ray was saying, and could understand what she was telling me. When I look back at the work I've shared with Ray at the beginning, and compare it with work submitted more recently, I can see, and she can also see, that I can understand what she's been showing and telling me.

I feel this relationship is working well, and we both know that if I ever feel it's not working, I can leave, and that will be OK. I can't see that happening though. I respect Ray's abilities, and enjoy working with her. I feel I know a lot more now about writing in verse, and I have hopes this verse memoir will be a useful reference for people diagnosed with MS, and their families and friends.

If you've ever worked with a mentor, I'd love to hear about how it was for you...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What to Write a Poem About?

Some people have trouble finding things to write poetry about. I don't. I may have trouble giving poetry enough time to do it properly, but I have plenty of ideas about what to write a new poem about.

When I do give myself enough time, I just have to think about what I have happening in my life at the time, and I know what I need to write about. I have several things going on, poetically, at the moment. I have my MS Verse Memoir, my Vegetable Victory Community Foodie Project, and then there's my dogs, Nature, family, politics and more - all things I could write poems about.

So for me, the Ideas aren't a problem. One thing I recommend though, for those who don't have ideas popping into their heads often enough, is a journal. A journal isn't the same as a diary - you don't have to write down lots of stuff every day. With a journal, you just write whatever comes into your head, or whatever you want to think about more deeply.

I rarely use my lovely journal, but whenever I go back and flick through it, I'm amazed at the places my pen takes me. So if you'd love to be astounded by your own mind, get yourself a journal and get writing. In your journal there are no rules. You don't have to use punctuation or grammar, it doesn't matter if your spelling is wrong. With a journal, you just open up your head and let the words pour out!

Do you have a journal? I'd love to hear about it, leave a comment here!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vegetable Victory, Session Two

Tomorrow I'm heading off to Owen Primary School for the second session of 'Vegetable Victory' - the program devised to introduce students to the wonders of both vegetables and poetry.

In this session the twins of simile and metaphor will be explored, vegetables will be looked at, felt and eaten, and poetry will be read and listened to. I'm excited about it all, and I hope the students will catch my excitement when I'm in the classroom with them!

I have a few things to get ready today to take with me tomorrow, and I'm going to do that as soon as I finish writing this blog post. I promise. No hang on, I've got a better idea - I'll do the getting things ready right now, that way I can report on the finished result of getting it all ready!

OK, here goes - I'll be back soon!

Back again - I have the poems printed out, and poetry books collected for reading from tomorrow. I have all of the catalogues I've been keeping with pictures of vegetables for sale, for students to look at and think about. I have a copy of the Session Plans for the Vegetable Victory program, I've organised the food for tomorrow. I'm ready! I just have to get out of bed earlier than usual tomorrow, and remember to bring my stuff with me!

Easy, peasy!

This is a Community Foodie Program - I'm proud to be a Community Foodie!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Community Radio is Great!

Yesterday (4th October 2012) I had my second interview on a community radio station. The station is a local one, Barossa TripleB 85.1 fm  I was on the program that comes on at 3.00pm, but I was booked to go on at 3.30 to chat with the presenter, Alison Simpson.

I was able to talk about two things I know a fair bit about - myself and poetry. I could have talked for hours about these two things, but I was only there for half an hour. Even so, we only covered a couple of my dot points, plenty more to go next time.

I was nervous, but only enough to make me keen, not enough to make me affected! :) I was able to talk about MS (multiple sclerosis - which is the reason why I mad the comment about being affected - stress can bring on symptoms for MS sufferers), I also talked about the monthly Gawler Poets at the Pub poetry readings event. I spoke of my current writing project too - the writing of my memoir (in verse) about my new life living with MS. I talked about my first poetry collection too. The collection was self-published last year, and was launched at the Gawler Poets at the Pub. The title of my poetry collection is 'damaged children Precious Gems', and it has a theme of child abuse and sexual abuse. Serious stuff, detailing my personal journey from victim to survivor, and touching on various relevant issues.

I began my time on the radio yesterday by reading a recent poem of mine, which I'd read the Sunday before at the Gawler Poets at the Pub (Prince Albert Hotel, last Sunday of every month except December). The poem is topical for people living in South Australia at the moment - it's a poem about a snake sighting I had last week - the brown snakes are out and they're moving around the place. I drove past one on Thursday last, and the another one on Wednesday this week. On the way home from the radio station yesterday, I drove past another snake. It may have been a different type of snake - it was much darker than the other two.

All in all, being on the radio was a fun time for me, and obviously I did well enough chatting with Marilyn, that she's happy to have me back again. So, Thursday, 3.00 pm next week I'll be on the radio again - I want to talk about the Adelaide Plains Poets poetry competition, and my volunteer project as a Community Foodie working with Primary School students to get them thinking about and eating vegetables, using poetry, and hoping to get them writing their own poems about vegetables. I did this last year with another primary school, and enjoyed it so much, I wanted to do it again this year!



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Where I Go To Find New Poetry

For the writing of my own poetry, I like to look to Nature for inspiration. I don't always write about Nature, but the trees and clouds and creatures put me in a relaxed way of thinking, and poetry arrives in my head and my fingers type out the words. You could say that Nature is my muse.
I'm involved with the committee who organise Gawler Poets at the Pub. This event is on for the last Sunday of every month except December. The committee was formed after the previous person running the event, Martin Johnson, decided he wanted to follow his musical career.
Martin is now happily busking in Gawler, and doing other things, and the poetry continues on at the Prince Albert Hotel, on Murray Street. The next Poetry Reading event will be on this coming Sunday, starting at 2pm, and continuing until 4pm. It's always a fun and caring afternoon of words and hugs, and I enjoy words!
Another important thing that brings me poetry is the annual Poetry Competition I organise with Adelaide Plains Poets. This competition has been going since 2006, with cash prizes, and certificates for highly commended and commended poems. The prize pool, which was already generous, has been increased for this year, so if you're an Australian poet, why not have a go! 
The entry form and guidelines are available on this blogsite, so read all about it, and send your poems in! I love it at this time of the year, when the postie starts bringing me the new entries for the competition. The theme is The Elements, think about it and let your pen go!

If you'd like to ask anything about this, or about the Gawler Poets at the Pub, ask away, I'm here to tell you what's what!


Monday, September 17, 2012

An Update on My Verse Memoir

Verse Memoir or Memoir in Verse? Which to call it? At this early stage, does it even matter how to classify it?

No, I don't thinks so. Right now, the important thing is to finish the first draft, and then the second draft. After that will be the time to decide how to describe what this collection of words in verse really is.

All I know is that it's fun and exciting when it's going well, and frustrating when in it's not, the same as any other form of writing! I've written poetry, short stories, non-fiction, and I have one completed first draft of a novel. 

This is my writing range over the past whatever years - twenty years perhaps - plus bits and pieces before that. The past three years have been most often poetry, but I'm still playing with short stories now and then...

Some of my most exciting times have been when I sit at the computer and my muse seems to take over my fingers, writing wonderful words in a way that transcends time and limits... There's nothing better than being thrilled with something you've written!


This verse memoir I'm writing is to be launched next year, I hope, and is intended to be aimed at people trying to find ways to live with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). It also will give an idea to other people what living with this chronic illness can bring to those of us diagnosed with MS.

There are many false ideas out there about MS, and MS can be different, from person to person. My piece will be all about how it is for ME, with some thoughts from others where relevant.


Anyway, the word count for my memoir in verse is currently around 13600 words, and I'm more or less happy with how it's going. I have something written for every chapter, and I have a much better idea on what I should be aiming at, thanks to the feedback I've been receiving from my mentor, Ray Tyndale. 

I met Ray Tyndale when I was awarded a grant from the Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Foundation. This grant is to pay for my mentor, as well as a smaller amount of money for the writer (me). The relationship is going well - Ray gives me feedback and tells me things, I take in what she says, and work with that. Ray is honest, as she said at the beginning she'd be, and I appreciate her for this.

I've sent a chapter to Ray, and I'll see her tomorrow to find out what she thinks about it...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I've made it onto You Tube!

I was interviewed recently by a uni student, and he sent me the link to the interview, which he'd put onto You Tube. I've had a quick look, and apart from the facts that I feel funny listening to myself talk, and that my hair is it's usual mess, I'm thrilled with the result.

If you'd like to see it, and listen to me talking about my poetry things, I've put a link to the You Tube page on my 'damaged children, Precious Gems' blog - go here!

I was impressed by the students who descended on the Mallala Hotel the other day to do this interview. They were polite, respectful and professional. Well done to Zac Benn and your team! The three of them are studying Film and Television, and if they're an example of the quality of students doing this course, I'm impressed.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Getting Back on Track

Today I heard from Ray Tyndale, my mentor for writing my memoir in verse, about my new life living with MS (multiple sclerosis). Ray's been travelling to Darwin and back home to Semaphore, driving! A big trip for a lady who's not a young as she used to be. I'm looking forward to hearing all about Ray and her partner's story, next time I see her.

Fortunately, next time I see Ray will be quite soon. Our next get together/feedback session is happening on Wednesday next week. I've forwarded some more of my memoir to Ray via email, and I'm looking forward to hear what she says about it.

This week I haven't been writing too much for my memoir, but I'm getting ideas and scribbling a few notes, to catch up with very soon. I'm thinking tomorrow may involve doing that, if I get custody of the computer, and if I don't spend/waste my time on Facebook!

Today I had an interesting meeting up with a young man who is studying Film&Television at Uni. He needed someone to interview, and his father suggested he interview me. When he got in touch with me about it the other week, I was more than happy to help out.

So this morning, we met up at the Mallala Hotel to do the interview. There were two other students as well helping out in various ways. They all did a great job, and I'm looking forward to seeing the result!

We talked about my poetry - in particular, my first poetry collection, damaged children Precious Gems', and then we talked about my current work in progress, my memoir about my new life with MS (multiple sclerosis). This memoir is being written in verse, with poems added. I'm hoping this memoir will be useful to others diagnosed with MS.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sneak Preview of My Memoir in Verse

This project is moving along nicely, and I feel it's time to share a little bit of it. This memoir is about my new life, living with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

My thoughts are about the importance of getting this written, and written well. I've got a deadline of November/December for the first draft, with a release date of around the middle of 2013. I'm feeling confident it will work out that way!


Mick the Sick, Jane the Cane and Me


I was at home one day, sitting around and wondering
about this whole MS thing, coming up with phrases
beginning with the letters MS, until I came up
with ones I liked. I thought about the ones
I didn’t like first though, More Strife, Mega Stressful
and so on. It didn’t feel like a good way to spend my time though,
focussing on the new things that were bad in my life.
So I thought about the good things, and came up with this poem,
full of the good things in my new life.
This poem took a little bit of re–thinking to produce, 
but I'm happy enough with how it shows my thoughts.

My Special friend –  Multiple Sclerosis
I have a new friend
who is going to be with me
for the rest of my life.
My Special friend
can get me things, good things
like special car parking
really close to the shops
and maybe even money
from the government.
But like any friendship,
there’s a downside.

My Special friend slows
me down, hanging off
my arm and my leg
so I can’t walk fast and I can’t
carry heavy things. My Special
friend makes life harder
so I get too tired, too often.
But My Special friend is teaching
me things, things about myself,
about life, my friends, my health,
about not taking things for granted.

The good, the bad, the indifferent –
life hands it all to you,
it's up to each person to deal
with what they're given.
My Special friend will show me
a brand new life.

******************************************
In case you haven’t already realised it, I’m an optimist,
not a pessimist. If it turns out I was wrong,
and something terrible does happen, well, so be it,
at least I was enjoying myself in the meantime!

Learning
People say I’m looking well,
I smile and say thanks
I could talk about the shakes
the weakness and muscles
that won’t work like they should

I guess looking well, though
being positive looking
to the future, with hope
all help to walk, it’s enough
or should be anyway.

If I looked like I feel some days
if I looked that sick
and frail, no– one
not even me, would want
to be my friend.

Now I’m wondering
should I be angry or sad
or happy that no– one really
wants to know, what they can’t see,
the things I live with?
********************


I'm not doing this alone though. I have a wonderful mentor helping me, Ray Tyndale, and money from the Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Trust, to help finance the writing  of it. Having Ray as a mentor is working well for me, and keeping focussed on keeping on writing. Thanks Ray!


So there you go, the first fragment of my memoir in verse out there for the public to read! Let me know what you think about what I've written, and about the project I've taken on. I feel like I've begun a noble task.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

On the occasion of my second print run

http://damagedchildrenpreciousgems.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/damaged-children-precious-gems-second-print-run-now-out/

When I self published my first print run of my first poetry collection, I could only hope I'd be able to find new homes for the 100 copies of the book that I ordered. That was a year ago, and I'm happy to be able to say I've found new homes for almost all of the books.

I'd budgeted for giving some copies away, as well as selling some copies for cost price, but I was able to easily sell enough copies at a good price. Because of this, I'm able to afford another print run, which I ordered a month ago, and which is now ready to pick up and begin the book selling road again.

This book is very up close and personal, dealing as it does with my own story of sexual abuse suffered. I'm not embarrassed about it, although I certainly wish it hadn't happened to me. It did though and I've found peace in the telling of my story.

I've also seen and heard stories of other people who have found things in my poetry collection that bring them ease. Knowing this tells me that printing this collection was a wonderful thing for many. I'm proud of what I've done and I hope many more people will find peace with my words.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

More Vegetable Victory

Well, the Community Foodies in my area, ie, Jill and I, have taken Vegetable Victory to the Owen Primary School. We conducted the first session with the years 5, 6 and 7 class, talking to them about vegetables, and why they're so good for them to eat. We also talked a little about poetry and some poetry was read to them.


The students all drew a vegetable and coloured it in. In further sessions the students will be writing their own poem about vegetables, or more particularly about their chosen vegetable. By the end of the program, it is expected a collection of the poems, together with images of vegetables, will be published.


I didn't know what to expect from the students, never having been in their classroom before, or knowing anything about the students. I was pleasantly surprised though at how many vegetables they already knew. All of the students had to write a list of vegetables, and then they shared some of the vegetables on their list with everyone else.


The Owen Primary School has a fine vegetable garden, and during the class the students all had the chance to tuck into some vegetables that had been prepared for them. There was lettuce, cabbage from the garden, and also some sweet potato and carrot from the supermarket, chopped up and served. on platters. Colourful and fresh, nice!


I'm looking forward to the next session, and hope to find some students getting excited about writing poetry!

Monday, July 23, 2012

On Finding a New Poem to Love

Hello,
I've always loved the American poet Robert Frost, based almost entirely on his poem 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'. There's something about that poem that calls to me, the rhyming scheme is there, but even though the poem's loaded with rhyming, it doesn't intrude.

I love the fact that the rhymes are never the most obvious word, the word seems to have been carefully chosen as just the correct word for what Frost wanted to say, and he didn't ever go for cliche.

I was raised on the rhymes of Banjo Paterson, another clever rhyming poet, and I wonder now, was it merely coincidence that Frost died at a time I was not quite born yet, but was growing into a baby to be born a couple of months after Frost's death...

This fact, coupled with Banjo's ballads often as an after dinner snack, made me alert to what a fine rhyme can and should be, and hostile to poor and obvious rhyming that brings no sense of rhythm. Rhythm surely must be there with the rhyme, or the poetry is lost and becomes a weaker squawking that has no music to it.

My poetry now follows many forms, sometimes I rhyme, sometimes not, but I try to always have a sense of rhythm in my verse. Anyway, these are a few thoughts on Robert Frost and poetry and rhyming. 


I've just realised this entire blog post doesn't talk of the thing that prompted it in the first place. The new poem I found this morning was a poem of Robert Frost's 'A Considerable Speck'. I found this somewhere on the internet, can't remember how, now, but it struck me as a gorgeous whimsical little thing, that should be considered further, and shared with those who could come to love it, as I am coming to love it.


Feel free to add your thoughts to the discussion, I will reply...

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Poetry Competition 2012/2013


The Elements
Classical elements, air, fire, earth and water – these four elements give us everything there is in life. Or perhaps the Chemical Elements are more your thing?
Write a poem about one, some or all of these elements, and send your work to the Poetry Competition. The Adelaide Plains Poets Poetry Competition has now opened, with a closing date of 19 January 2013.
There are cash prizes for the winners, with Commended and Highly Commended certificates, as awarded by the judge. Winners will be announced in March 2013.
If you’d like entry form and guidelines, contact the Competition Secretary, c/- 1594 Germantown Road REDBANKS 5502 or email jeebers@aussiebb.com.au


Or cut and past them from this website.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My First Poem that Gained Praise

When I was at high school, in Year 9 I think, I wrote a poem as part of a History assignment. I'm sure that my teacher, Mr Scalzi wasn't expecting a poem to be there, but there it was. Mr Scalzi, by the way, went on to bigger and better things after he finished being a school teacher - he went into politics gaining the seat of Hartley for the Liberal Party in 1993 to 2006 in South Australia.


I think Mr Scalzi was impressed by my poem, but I'm not completely positive. I do know however, that my mum was impressed by the poem, because she has kept a copy of it over the years, and has it still. Not the actual poem I wrote for the assignment, but she wrote it out and keeps it written into a journal she has. 


The assignment was something to do with somewhere in the Ancient world that began with a 'C'. It may have been Carthage, I really don't remember. I've never been that interested in History, I prefer things that are happening now.


When I was at Mum's place last week, I finally got around to asking for a copy of the poem. I knew in general what the poem was about, but couldn't remember how it actually went. Now I know. Mum photocopied the page in her journal, and I brought the copy home.


I was in Year 9 in 1977, so I guess it's not that surprising I can't remember the poem word for word. What is amazing, I feel is that my dear Mum has kept the words. Now that's the sign of a good Mum, and my mother is definitely one of the best mothers around!


Anyway, in the interest of posterity, I've decided to put this dear little poem 'out into the world wide web' so here it is!



Earth Mother
I sacrificed my daughter to you
But still we are hungry
What more must we do?


Must I give you my son
my cows, my wife
Or must I give to you
my own life?


I welcome any and all feedback - remember I was 13 or 14 when I wrote this, and I'm not sure if I'd written much poetry before this. I had been brought up on Banjo Paterson though, my dad was a huge fan of his. Banjo was one of Australia's great Bush Balladeers in years past.

Friday, July 13, 2012

More on my Verse Memoir

Today I had what I consider to be a brilliant idea. I decided I would trawl through my journal to see if there was anything in there that could/should be added to my Multiple Sclerosis memoir. I've had this journal for a while - my dear son Jake gave it to me for Mothers Day in 2011. I don't use it like a diary, I use my mobile phone for the daily stuff I need to remember.


I use the journal more as a place I can visit to talk through things that are happening in my life. And of course, there are things happening, things that are new and different in my life. MS is the main thing in my life that's new and different, so of course I've written about it in my journal.


I was actually surprised to see the number of things that were relevant to my memoir, and I intend typing them up and putting them into the best places, One of the first things I did when I started thinking about this memoir, was to write a list of chapter headings. This gives me a good idea about which bits of writing should go where.


It's comforting to know that if I put something in the wrong place in this 'first draft' time of writing, then I can go back and move it in a later draft. I'm so glad for the computer with its wonderful 'cut and paste' facility! Life would have seemed impossible without this, typing up a memoir on a typewriter would have seemed impossible, instead of being completely do-able.


So today I've added more than 2,000 words since Tuesday this week, with another couple of hundred words at least, sitting there in my journal and waiting to be typed up. This feels like it's going well, and I'm excited!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Memoir - Word Count

So, a week after realising I had to actually get moving with the writing of my memoir I'm writing about my new life with MS (multiple sclerosis), I've begun writing bits and pieces most days. I'm following the advice my poetry mentor, Ray Tyndale, gave me, and picking the bits I feel like writing, and not worrying about writing down in a linear way.


I've been thinking about a final word count, how many words a verse memoir should amount to. It's a tricky question, because there may not have been terribly many verse memoirs written in the past. Writing in verse rather than prose requires fewer words for the final product.


Anyway, I feel like 50,000 words is the correct number to be thinking about/planning for. I spoke to a writer friend today, and this is the figure she felt might be good, up to 50,000, less would be OK. I'm not happy with anything less than 50,000, I don't think. Less than 50,000 seems too flimsy...


Anyway, I wrote some the day before yesterday, the more yesterday, and I've written more today. Some of the word count is made up of poems I wrote before, as part of getting over and accepting my diagnosis. I've written about my walker, acceptance, tripping and falling. As I think about each chapter, I find the appropriate poem in my computer folders.


As of 7pm today, my word count for my memoir is 6,000 words. This is over ten percent of my proposed final word count, and I've still got 5 months to go! That feels completely like something I can do. I mustn't get complacent though, and having a mentor who I meet up with often will make sure of that.


It's a work in progress, and it's progressing well!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Update on my Verse Memoir

Today I've sent the next part of my current work-in-progress to my poetry mentor. I'm more or less happy with what I've written, but I'm open to ideas and suggestions. If I wasn't, then this mentor thing would be a waste of time fro the two of us.


As it is, I'm enjoying the process very much so far. It's only early days, but I have a new focus on the style of my writing of the book, and I have an idea of how much time I should be giving myself to get the first draft written. Hmm, and idea from my mentor and I didn't faint when she said the words - six months...


No I didn't faint, but I mentally caught my breath. With a six month time limit, it means I'd better stop strolling around the edges and looking through my head in a lackadaisical kind of way. I'd better get working!


So, starting today, I will write something new every day on this work. I've been thinking about medicines, so that's where I'm going right now. Off to the medicine cabinet!


If you have MS and you have any thoughts on your medications, I'd love to know what you think about it all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Society of Smiling Scribes First Meeting

I was prepared to be the only person there for the meeting of the new group, the Society of Smiling Scribes. I'd told the hotel I was holding the meeting there, and I'd put the word out in the local newspaper. I'd received three apologies, and was prepared to sit there with a nice cup of coffee, and a yummy slice of cake.


Imagine my pleasant surprise then when a woman walked into the hotel, with a notebook in her hand, looking around as though she wanted to find someone she didn't already know. I asked if she was there for the poetry group, and she said yes! Yay, the first meeting of the Society of Smiling Scribes was on!


We chatted about ourselves, our writing, our experiences in writing. We both wrote know poems, each a limerick about the Mallala Hotel, and other poems too. All in all, it was a successful meeting. I took notes and we made a date for the next meeting.


So, in a weeks time, the second meeting of the Society of Smiling Scribes will take place, perhaps with at least some of the people attending who'd put in their apologies for today's meeting - I'm one happy little poet!


Do you meet for poetry writing meetings? I'd love to hear your stories about the things that you do in your group!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Visit to Poetry Mentor, New Direction

I travelled to Semaphore this morning to see Ray Tyndale, who is my mentor for the writing of my MS memoir in verse. Ray had read the initial part of my memoir, and offered some extremely useful comments. 


She praised my writing, but let me know she felt I would be best off embracing verse more fully in the writing of the parts of my memoir that aren't actual poems. My memoir is all about my experiences so far with my new disease of MS (multiple sclerosis). I've included poems I've written as I work at getting my head around my new life of living with MS. 


With the prologue, I had tried to go halfway between prose and poetry, in the writing of it, but I lost my 'voice' to some extent, and ended up simply writing chopped off lines, rather than writing poetry. As soon as Ray pointed this out to me, I could see what she meant. I've taken her words to my heart, and will try to write with my poetic voice now.


Hearing Ray's praise of my poetry was heartening, and I feel revved up and ready to go with this project. I will send more of my memoir to Ray as soon as I can, and will see her again in a fortnight, so we can both see how I've gone with my new direction.


Writing about my experiences, I hope will bring much to other people who are struggling with their own challenges. I've found much from reading and hearing the stories of others, whether they are living with what I'm living with, or something else. Most people have challenges, and I'm doing my best to live my life well, with MS and with whatever else that stands in my way. Living my life in the best way I can, is my challenge, one I'm glad to say I'm meeting almost every day. 


Challenges are helping me to grow into a better person.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Love Limericks!

I'm sure almost everyone in the English speaking world knows that the limerick is a kind of funny poem. The limerick hails back to Ireland and it is thought to have been around from the 14 century. It's a popular form, and many a funny limerick has been shared by friends over a drink or three!

This limerick is possible the most famous limerick of all, although I suspect the ending for this, the original, may differ from the one told in the pub.
There once was a man from Nantucket,
Who kept all of his cash in a bucket,
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.


(from http://www.limerick-and-limericks.org)

As you can see from this poem, the limerick has five lines, with lines 1, 2 and 5 having the same rhyme, and lines 3 and 4 rhyming.
The lines with the first rhyme have 3 beats, or stresses, each line, and the lines with the second rhyme have two beats per line.


So these are the rules for writing a limerick, they have 5 lines, they rhyme in a particular way, and they have a certain number of beats or stresses for each line.


Simple, isn't it? Why not think of someone or something you want to write a funny poem about, and get started!


The Society of Smiling Scribes will be holding their first meeting on 5 July at the Mallala Hotel, 1.30pm. We will be having a workshop on writing the limerick, and we will be having lots of fun! Come join us if you can! (bring pen and paper)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Poetry Group in Mallala area

There's a new poetry group now in the Mallala region. The group is a part of Adelaide Plains Poets inc. (APPI), the poetry group that run an annual poetry competition. 


The purpose of this small group, named 'Society of Smiling Scribes', is to bring smiles to the faces of all who come across it. We will be writing limericks, and other forms of funny poetry, and sharing our fun stuff as widely as possible!


The first meeting of the group will have a workshop about writing limericks, the rules, the history and so on. Writing will be shared and critiqued, and no-one will be allowed to be negative. Failed attempts on the day are only limericks in progress, and with editing, they can be made better!


If you live within driving distance of the Mallala district, and you can afford the gold coin donation to attend, please come along to the Mallala Hotel on 5 July 2012. The workshop begins at 1.30pm, if you want to dine first, arrive early. The Mallala Hotel has wonderful food available at very reasonable prices.


I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Poetry doesn't have to be tragic!

I'm a positive kind of person. My friends will possibly confirm this - I never complain too much about things. I tend to take what life hands to me, and if it's not good, I keep looking at it until I can see something good in it. Big black clouds bring the rain we need sometimes, and they bring beautiful rainbows too. That's the sort of thing I see, almost every day.


I was thinking about not much a few days ago, and had a sudden idea about a poetry group I'd love to belong to - a group of poets who all think positive things, and write lots of happy and funny poetry. The sort of poetry you snigger over when you read it, the sort of poetry you wish you'd learned at school, instead of that bloody thing with the daffodils.


I thought about this for half of the day, then I thought of an appropriate name for this wonderful group, if it ever came into existence. Then I decided it wasn't IF it came into existence, but WHEN it came into existence. And I want that time to be soon!


The name I want for the group is Society of Smiling Scribes. I want us to meet and write limericks, funny epitaphs, cinquain, acrostic and lots of other kinds of fun and funny poems. There will be a kind of rule about being positive and happy when you're at a meeting, and perhaps the same when you leave the group meetings too. Smiles will be many and shared easily with all.


I'd like this group to be close enough to where I live that I can afford to go every time, and I want it to be a group that meets regularly, depending on what group members decide. Are you interested in this group? If you are interested, and you live anywhere near the Mallala/Gawler districts, get in contact with me and we can meet up! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My MS Memoir

Well, I've begun writing my memoir on my new life, living with my new disease, MS (multiple sclerosis). I sent a copy of the prologue to my new mentor a few days ago, and I'll get some feedback from her the next time we meet up, in a few week's time.

Just to make it all a little more interesting, I've decided to include prose and verse in this memoir, including some poems I've already written about things that have been important in my first couple of years of living with MS. I love poetry, writing verse helps me to work through my thoughts.

The writing of this memoir will be a thing I don't do totally on my own. My mentor, Ray Tyndale will be there with me, and so will lots of people who are living their lives with MS too. I hope to get in contact with people to find out about the things they'd like to know, and the things that have helped them, too.

Having a disease that can impact on a person's mobility can be devastating. If you can't travel on your own, and can't find someone to help you, I can barely begin to understand how it might feel. Personally, I'm doing well. I can still drive, walk a little bit and so on. I'm able to use my fingers and my voice, so communication is relatively simple.

It's not that good for some sufferers though. I hope my memoir, once it's written and released out into the world, will be able to offer some hope and help to everyone who wants to know more about the MS life. If nothing else, I hope my memoir will help people to explain to their loved ones, friends and/or carers, what their life is like.

If you have anything you think could or should be in my book, please let me know! I'll do my best to include it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On Meeting My Mentor In Person

This morning I went to the Sarah's Sisters Cafe in Semaphore to meet with my poetry mentor, Dr Ray Tyndale, for the first time. I'd been told Ray was a lovely person, and I was completely thrilled to be able to confirm this! We seemed to get on extremely well, and covered lots of ground in this important initial meeting.


The project I will be working on with Ray is my memoir about my new disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS). That's the easy part. The tricky part is that I want to write my memoir in a combination of prose and verse. The verse part is why I wanted to be able to have Ray involved, to help me to get the verse right. I've written another blog post about this, celebrating my success in the grant application process, to pay for Ray to be my mentor.


Now that Ray and I have met, and chatted about what I want this memoir to be, it feels like this is really going to happen. I'm getting even more excited! I shared a little bit of this meeting I had with Ray this morning, with the people at the meeting I was at in the afternoon. This meeting was with a committee of people involved in the MS Society SA & NT. They were excited for me, and one lady asked when I would have this book out. I said, without hesitation, late next year. 


Was that brave, stupid or ridiculous? I think a bit brave, but also a bit truthful - I certainly feel like I can get this done in time, and have the book out in time for Christmas next year. It's going to be the perfect Chrissie present for someone you know who has MS! Every library should have a copy!


Now I have to write the first chapter before I next meet with Ray, and I'll find out her thoughts on the poetry I've given her to see what I've written in the past. I hope it goes well. If she has any thoughts on improvement, I feel sure I can trust Ray to be kind, but wise with it. This kind of relationship must be one built with trust.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Grant Application Result

This morning I was thrilled to read the letter I received from Arts SA. This letter told me that I was successful with my grant application, requesting money to assist with writing my memoir relating to my new medical issue.

I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), diagnosed in February 2010. This memoir I want to write will be the book I wish I'd been able to read two years ago, when I didn't really know who to turn to, or what those two letter, MS, would mean in my new life.

MS for me is a challenge, but I know now it's a challenge I can meet, a challenge I'm working on with many friends, new and old. The MS community in South Australia and beyond is a wonderful caring community, with ideas and kind thoughts in abundance. I've found new friends since my diagnosis, and I've found inner strengths I hadn't realise were there.

Living with MS is different for everyone, but there are so many things that are the same. I can joke with people who have MS in easy ways about things that would never be a joking point in non-affected people. Knowing there are other people out there who will get my story about needing the toilet, and being able to giggle about it is a great thing.

And knowing that there are people who truly know what I'm talking about when I say I can't do something because MS fatigue has hit me, is a comforting thing. MS fatigue is so much more than feeling tired. Sitting down for a second or two won't help. Sitting down for ten minutes may help though, this time but not the next time. People with MS understand this, they know that being able to do it yesterday, doesn't necessarily mean I can do it today.

Soon I'll be talking to my new mentor, and working out what we'll be doing. My new mentor is a lovely lady, who has written verse novels and is a terrific poet. Dr Ray Tyndale is her name, and I'm looking forward to meeting her in person soon, and sharing this new part of my life with her.

I'm excited about this, and I hope to keep you informed about it over the coming year!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gawler Poets at the Pub May 2012

The Gawler Poets at the Pub has been going for over fifteen years now. It was begun by local legend Martin Johnson and was the first poetry reading for many now keen poets, who've taken their poetry to great things.

The Poetry Readings in Gawler have a friendly atmosphere and are totally supportive of new poets. Attending these readings is a great way to get over your fear of the microphone, as you face the mic and feel the friendly attention of you audience.

I began my poetry reading career at the Gawler Poets at the Pub in the Gawler Railway Family Hotel. I went for one event, and listened and watched. It all looked friendly and not scary, so I decided that next time I'd face my fear of the mic and read my words.

The next time went well, so I was encouraged to continue reading my work at the Gawler Poets at the Pub. Time goes on, and the venue has gone through a number of changes. Martin has gone through some changes too, and he's currently concentrating of his musical career. You can often find Martin Johnson busking on Murray Street in Gawler, where he has a keen group of supporters.

The Poetry at the Pub is now being organised by a committee (of which I am one), and it's all going well. We meet at the Prince Albert Hotel on Murray Street on the last Sunday of the month, beginning at 2pm. It's a fun and friendly venue, and everyone who comes along seems to enjoy being there, sharing the warmth and the words.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Poetry in the 'Burbs

This afternoon I'm going to Tea Tee Gully again - the third time this week! The first time was a visit to the Tea Tree Gully library for a book launch, Maureen Mitson and her lovely novella "Paper Chase". The second visit to Tea Tree Gully was to the RSL Hall for a meeting of North Eastern Writers. 


Today, my third visit to TTG, I'll be going to the Village Deli for Coffee Cake and Poetry at 2pm - poetry with friends and lovely coffee and cake to go with it, wonderful stuff! I just remembered, this actually makes my fourth visit, because Graham and I went to the Tea Tree Gully library to return our books and borrow new ones.


We don't actually live close to Tea Tree Gully - 45 minutes drive away actually, but we love this library for a number of reasons. It has lots of books, great books, it's tidy, the shelves are well organised, with plenty of room between, the person in charge is lovely, they have a terrific program of events for their customers, there's a cafe right there in the library. Lots of other reasons too - this library is certainly our favourite, and we're members of more than just one or two libraries.


Anyway, back to the main subject. This Coffee Cake and Poetry event has been on a few times now, and it's been a lot of fun. This proves to me that if one person is excited enough and willing to push it hard enough, it's possible to put poetry out there in front of people where you might not expect to see or hear it.


As far as I know, Ken Vincent is the main pusher for this event - he was one of the people who started up the North Eastern Writers, and he's involved with the SA Writers Centre. These things, together with his interest, have put together a fun event.


So that's where I'm going to be this afternoon! Now to work out which of my poems to read...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Writing Poetry for Children

I wrote a new poem today, finished a couple of minutes ago. At first I thought I'd post the poem here on my poetry blog. The more I read through and thought about the poem though, the more I realised the poem was a poem suitable for children, not adults.

I don't mean the poem might not be appreciated by adults, I simply mean the poem is suited more to the poetry market for children. This market is a lucrative one, where poems, if accepted for publication, might earn much more than a single poem might earn in the market for poetry aimed for adults.

I'm not saying it's all about the money, necessarily, but the thought of my poems being read by children and possibly turning them on the the idea of writing their own poems is terribly exciting to me. I've had poems published by the NSW School Magazine.

These magazines come out every term, and they're aimed at three different age ranges. They're produced as glossy magazines, and are illustrated by top of the range children's illustrators. I'm proud to have had my poems published there, and I know many good quality poems have as well.

So, the poem will only have a chance of appearing on this blog if it's rejected a few times, or after it has been published elsewhere. I like the idea of this poem, it's true to me, and I feel it's a good poem, a rhyming poem, in a simple style, but with some interesting ideas for children to think about.

Of course, when I re-read the poem again before I send it off, I may hate it and think it's dumb, I'm happy with it right now though, so that's good. I have the footy on the TV at the moment too, and the Adealdie Crows and thrashing Geelong, and that's not good, it's GREAT!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Football and Nature Combined - Inspiration!

I was sitting in the car yesterday afternoon, watching the fast and furious action on the field. Mallala Magpies A Grade were playing Hamley Bridge. I follow the Mallala Magpies, and I was totally into the game. At least I thought I was totally into it ...

But something caught my eye - it was somewhat in front of me, up and off to the right. I dragged my attention away from the oval and looked to the thing up above the pine trees there. The thing was a bird, one of the birds of prey, possibly a fork tail kite, possibly something else. The bird was too far away for me to be certain of what it was.

It was moving slowly, wings outstretched but not flapping at all. The bird was floating above the road next to the footy oval, or perhaps over the paddock there. I was struck by the slow and leisurely way the bird moved, gliding elegantly with wing tips outstretched like fingers. It seemed to be completely at one with itself, doing the one thing it was always meant to do, flying with the thermals, the breeze, being at one with flight.

On the oval was a story that prompted me to try to capture the whole thing - the men on the oval were also doing the thing they were meant to do. They were at one with the pace, the strength, the beauty of their game. They were beautiful to see, leaping, kicking, tackling. They were poetry in a totally different kind of motion.

They were different, but they were the same. Both things, above me in the sky and in front of me on the oval, they were showing the beauty of Nature, when muscles and practice and talents combine to create something special.

I wanted to write a poem about what I could see, to capture the two things, that were so completely different in some ways but so alike in others. The action in the sky was slow and gentle to the eye, the action on the oval was fast and furious, almost brutal. But both were beautiful.

This is as close as I could get in poetry, I was aiming for a haiku poem that could highlight the juxtapositioned images, eagle and footballers. I couldn't really capture it though, and I knew I'd have to resort to prose to put it all down, which is what this post is all about.

I wanted to have a poem that showed it all, but this is the best I could do :

eagle's slow circles -
footballers frantically
chase the ball

Another thought I wrote down at the time is this one:

During the Mallala A Grade game - a bird of prey circles off to the south east side. The game goes on regardless.

So there you have it, some of my thoughts from yesterday's action, a bird and a game, a fun and exciting day.



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Not Poetry, But Words Still...

I received notice of a writing competition recently, and have decided to forward on the details to others in Australia. The competition is for either a 'Super Short story' or a memoir. There are cash prizes offered for 1st and 2nd prizes, and certificates for worthy entries. There is a fee for entering, but, considering the prizes monies on offer, the fee is reasonable.


I've put this notice on this blog, because in reality, super short stories have many of the same requirements as poems, so why not!


I used to get a real buzz out of entering these kinds of competitions, and I'm seriously thinking of giving this one a go. You've got to be in it to win it!


Here are the details:


FAWNS Super Short Story Competition 2012


Category A: Super Short Story.
Category B: Memoir.  A memoir is defined as a memory in the writer’s life of an incident, or a number of incidents relating to a single theme.

Closing Date: Sunday 30th September, 2012.

The same conditions apply for both categories.
Maximum - 700 words.
Prizes: 1st - $200; 2nd - $100, Highly Commended and Commended certificates.
Entry fee; $5 – cheques made payable to Fellowship of Australian Writers North Shore Branch.  Stamps or coins will not be accepted as payment for entry.
Enclose a business-size envelope SSAE for results.
No email entries will be accepted.
No entry form required.  Story text, title and page numbers only to appear on entry. Attach a cover sheet stating category (A or B), writer’s contact details, title of entry and word count.  No clip art or decoration of any kind.
Submissions must be the original work of the author, not having won a cash prize at close of competition and not submitted concurrently elsewhere, typed on single-sided A4 paper, double-spaced.
Judges’ decision is final and no further correspondence will be entertained.
Send entries to: Competition Convenor, 5 Clement Street, Strathfield South, 2136
Closing date: Sunday 30th September, 2012
For further information, email fawnorthshore@gmail.com
Results will be posted on this website by Friday 9th November 2012.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gawler Poetry @ the Pub April 2012

It's all happening again tomorrow, 29 April at the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler. Poetry Readings, done in a pub, but with the rowdy drinkers kept apart from the reading and listening - it's all about the words!


There's a raffle too, and a guest reader, Mike Hopkins this time because we enjoyed his poetry so much when he read for a few minutes last month! Mike's been writing a new poem every day this month, so he's got plenty of new material to choose from, as well as some fine 'older' poems. I don't know what Mike's going to be reading tomorrow, but I know I'll enjoy being there as he reads it.


The poetry readings are open to all, with only a couple of restrictions on the kind of material, the sorts of restrictions you'd expect regarding fairness  - no sexism, racism, pornography. 


So if you want to try out your words, come along to Gawler - the train goes all the way from Adelaide again now, so you can try out your words on the train on the way if you want to (and if you're brave enough!).


There's a gold coin donation required if you want to read your work, free if you just come along to sip and listen!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wondering about loss ...

I learned today on Facebook about the death of an Adelaide poet, Stephen Lawrence. I didn't really know Stephen, or his poetry, but it feels like I've lost a friend.

The poetry scene in Adelaide and surrounds is like that, it seems. I feel very close to all of the people, the names, the ones I meet regularly and the ones I only meet in passing. I offer my condolences to Stephen's family and friends.

I hope no more of my friends go soon. I need you to all stay here, happy and well.

Losing a friend I never had the chance to get to know hurts, but I know it must hurt so much more for those who truly knew and loved him. Take care everyone, and please keep safe.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Creative Writing, Healing Your Head

Creative writing is used by many others as a way to find a path to healing. I've certainly found a happy place with creative writing, non-fiction, short stories and poetry. I have some of my 'healing' stuff published, and some of it is here on my computer, not out there in the other world.

What my ideal job is going to be, eventually, is to run creative writing workshops for people who are struggling to find peace from the struggles happening inside their heads. Our inner critic is usually our harshest critic. Our critic in our head know just how to hit us when we're down, more that any other critic can.

If you have problems with you inner critic hassling you, one solution can be to free write, just let the words spill out, and refuse to edit a single thing. This free writing can lead to solutions to problems you barely knew were there. I truly believe this kind of thing can be healing. I'm not the only person who has been helped in this way. Narrative therapy is a particular form of therapy that is widely accepted as being a useful way to work with people suffering in their lives.

This is an interesting way of helping people to move beyond the accepted reasons for their problems, and looking at their story in a far broader way. This can bring ideas and ways of helping that have never been considered before. Narrative therapy can lead to the inner core of a person's problems so that the true reasons and ways of helping can emerge.

I'm not a trained therapist though, and don't feel doing this kind of thing is where I want to go. For my own story/problems, I wrote fictionalised versions of what I was dealing with. In this way, I was able to look at things through a variety of points of view. This led to a better understanding of my true role in what had happened and was still happening to me.

This helped my to stop being angry at myself for things I now understand  were not 'my own fault'. Children tend to think everything that happens is because of them. This can be uplifting, if the things happening are good things. But if there are bad things happening, a child can be crushed down, thinking they're to blame for the terrible things going on.

Such things as sexual abuse, divorce of parents, people getting hurt and others can stay with the child into adulthood and beyond. This can be an awful burden for a person, and many never even know why their life is such a sad thing.

I was able to get over the anger toward myself with short stories, and moved on, with poetry, to exploring various ideas on how my life could be made better. I have written about the good things an ongoing illness has brought to me. I have written poetry about my own abuse as a child, looking at how it has affected others too, so I now realise I'm not alone, not suffering all by myself.

Beyond that, I've written all of this down, collated it and put it into a poetry collection. This collection was the things that helped me to finally feel 'healed'. I explored my 'victim' status, and moved onto 'survivor' status. I am healed and I am whole. This feeling is the one I'd love to help others to feel.

If you're interested in this idea, I am happy to discuss it further with you. In the meantime, you may be interested in the blog I put together when I launched my poetry collection, here. Take a look, and tell me what you think!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gawler Poets at the Pub

A poet sent me a txt message this morning, asking about the results of the Adelaide Plains Poetry competition results. I sent a message letting her know the results are on this blog here, I hope you can get here Chris!


She also asked about the Gawler Poets at the Pub, what dates they're on. I included that info in the txt message, so I'm  hoping she'll come to join us. That reminded me though that I haven't written much about Gawler Poets at the Pub here. I should have, just never got around to it, or perhaps did ages ago and have forgotten.


It doesn't matter which, I'm writing about it now. Gawler Poets at the Pub is on the last Sunday of the month, in the Prince Albert Hotel, starting at 2pm. We have a core group of people who almost always come along, and extras who show up when they can. The event is put on by a committee, of which I am a member, and I find it to be the friendliest little poetry reading around!


This was taken on in 2010 by the committee when long time organiser Martin Johnson stepped back after running it in various pubs in Gawler for fifteen years. Martin did a mighty fine job, and I believe the committee is  doing a good job too!


Those who want to read their work are asked to write down their name in the book and put a gold coin donation in the tin. Then they have their time to read their work, to be appreciated by the attentive audience. If the reader hands in their poems read as requested, they'll have the chance to be considered for the anthology which is put together annually.


This is all going well, and we've had some fine guest poets to entertain us, and are always open to requests from poets for the guest position if they have a new collection or any other exciting poetic happening. So if you like or love poetry and you can get to Gawler on the last Sunday of the month, come and join in!


There is a Facebook page for Gawler Poets at the Pub, you'll find it here http://www.facebook.com/groups/GawlerPoetryReadings/


The committee is made up of Helen Lindstrom, Gary McCrae, Sharon Kernot and me, Carolyn Cordon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Create Your Own Poetic Form

I've written about this before, and have a link to my form here. It was quite a few years ago that I came up with the 'Cordonostic' form of poem. I fell in love with it at the time, but then got over that love. 


Counting syllables appealed to me at the time, I think, because I'd been working with Primary School students and the counting seemed like a good way to get them into putting short lines down on the page. It also works well at making sure the youngsters learn to end the line and go to the next one, and not fill every single bit of the line before starting the next one.


Now though, I'm not working with young students, and I'm writing more more free verse, or traditional forms of poetry. I might take another look at the Cordonostic poem soon though. I've been enjoying some of the Japanese forms - haiku and tanka in particular.


With it's strict syllable count, the Cordonostic poem has some similarity with the way haiku is seen by Westerners who haven't delved deeper than the 5-7-5 syllable count when writing haiku in English. That kind of haiku isn't held up high for many English speaking haiku poets, for good reason. There has been much written about these points elsewhere, including here. This interesting article talks of the reasons why the 5-7-5 syllable count doesn't actually give you what the Japanese form does. Check it out if you'd like to know more.


If you read the article in the link of the first line here, you'll read about my own new form of poetry. What I challenge my readers to do is to come up with their own poetic form. I love playing with these kinds of things. Getting the correct number of beats in a line, or getting the right words in the right place, can be loads of fun, sort of like mathematics for the number dummy (which I most certainly am!).


I see this king of poetry writing as a way to keep my brain ticking over, and so warding off dementia or other brain issues. If you've been doing crossword puzzles or sudoku puzzles to keep you brain going, why not give creating a new poetry form a go?
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Or if that's too much to try, you could always have a look at my Cordonostic poetry style, and write one of those. I'd love to read it if you do!