Wednesday, December 26, 2012
My Next Writing Project
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!
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Judges comments 2012 'Crossroads' competition
Cross roads: Judge’s Speech
Among the almost seventy poems submitted by adults, nine stood out. Two --- ‘Sticks and Bones’(by Heather Lunney NSW) and ‘Atticus Forby’ (by Terrence Mohr SA)--- dealt with individuals struggling with identity. Both rhymed and were fine poems. I certainly commend them, as I do ‘Blackberry Pies’(by Beverly Lello VIC) and ‘The Wrong Woman’(by Gaylene Carbis VIC) which dealt with cars. The most curious poem, also commended, was ‘Wystan Hughes walks past the Musee de Beaux Arts and drops into a nearby blues club’ [after W H Auden] (by Mike Hopkins SA), an accomplished, witty and entertaining piece which Auden would have appreciated.
Now we get down to the Highly Commended poems of which there are two. ‘Pandora’s Box’ (by Shelley Hansen QLD) is a thought provoking piece applied skillfully to the set topic with an uplifting ending. It is, if anything, an Ode to Hope. ‘Crossroads’ (by Janet Upcher TAS) is a tender, sensitive poem with some original imagery. It depicts that moment that all parents and grandparents know when the child becomes an adult stepping out into the adult world. It is a time of celebration and loss. Conventionally rhymed, it is beautifully and achingly realized.
In sharp contrast we have one of the two equal prizewinners ‘do you take this man?’ (by David Campbell VIC) which reminds me of the poetry of Anna Walwicz .It has a strong narrative drive mingled with stream of consciousness. It is hot and scarifying. This poem hit me from the very start. I knew it would be a finalist. It makes powerful reading.
The other equal first prize winner is ‘The Water Tower, Tailem Bend’ (by Meryl McDougall SA). I have a soft spot for water towers though the writer would not have known this. It is a very accomplished poem which melds current concern for the river with the legend of Ngurunderi with which I am not familiar though the story is sketched in the poem. It is an environmental piece with some clever imagery. The poet maintains full control over its fifteen rhyming stanzas. It never falters.
Now to secondary schools. Of the nine submissions, one stood out and it’s worthy of First Prize. ‘An Offer Not to be Refused’(by Talia Walker NSW) deals with that crossroad moment when one is offered his or her first cigarette. It is the sinewy, conniving, persuasive voice of temptation with which we are all familiar . There are some clever, original images in this macabre, sarcastic piece. I loved it!
There were only two primary entries neither special in any way.
I enjoyed reading and judging these entries and want to thank the organisers for giving me the opportunity. To all those who submitted, the best of wishes in your future writing endeavours.