Monday, December 21, 2009

Poetry Competition

OK, we are now officially headed toward the final stages of the Adelaide Plains Poets Poetry Competition. The theme is "Life, The Universe and Everything" and entries are due by 8 January 2010. Because of the Postal funny business, entries that arrive after that date will probably be OK, but once the entries go to the judge, that's it.

So if you've been meaning to enter the competition, make the most of any quiet spot in the Festive Season madness and get your entry done and posted. And if you are an adult, please, don't forget the fees! There's no point giving Australia Post even more money - send the fee with the poem/s.

And of course if you are a Secondary or Primary School student, get your poem in, no fee, just fill out an entry form and send it in.

I know from past experience that most of the entries will arrive in the few days around the closing date, but still... You could try to get them in earlier!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to make a comment on any of the posts on this website. I'd love to get into a discussion with you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What does a Poet need?

Something to write with,
something to write on.
And these three things,
that is all.
A poet needs a spine,
a delicate eye
and a thick hide.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gardens and Poetry

It doesn't get much better than the event put on at the Tea Tree Gully Library yesterday. Jude Aquilina and Sarah Clay read poems, Lolo Houbein (One Magic Square) and Miles Trench (Holistic Gardening) told us about their gardening philosophies. It was interesting, clever, funny and anything else good you can think of.

The poetry was exquisite, the gardening tips were timely and ever so useful. I still thinking about feng shui in the garden and also about how I can get started on my own one metre garden.

We should all be supporting our own kitchens with vegetables and fruit - there's no excuses really, one square metre is big enough for a plot to grow your own salad - thank you Lolo. And if you're interested in slightly new age ideas, well Miles has it all for you.

Both of the garden speakers has books available for purchase, and they did a roaring trade. I've driven around the Tea Tree Gully/Modbury area and I can see why Lolo's ideas were popular.

I believe this was Sarah's first big reading of her work, and if so, well, she did a fantastic job. I enjoyed her poetry and her homespun truths about what her garden gives back to her.

Everybody should take some time and have a look at the wonder and beauty waiting for them just outside their back door.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poetry Prompts

Sometimes you want to write a poem but you can't think of anything to write about. Other, glorious times are quite different, the ideas are buzzing and the words are flowing. It happens all too rarely.

One idea to try when nothing seems to be prompting a poem to appear, is to look at the newspaper. Headlines can be intriguing and can be enough - you don't even have to read the article, and in fact it's less limiting if you have no idea what the story is about.

A good idea I heard about recently is to have a box where you cut out interesting things and put them in the box. Then, when no ideas are coming, just take a couple of ideas from the box and see what happens.

Of course, this won't make a poem happen immediately, but if you play around with the idea, something may pop up and away you go. I find inspiration from just sitting outside and watching what nature is up to.

Last night I saw domestic disputes amongst some sparrows, and some territorial issues were being sorted out by other birds too. I have written about birds quite a bit and I'm currently thinking about Hornets, because I've been challenged to write a poem about them.

That poem is still brewing and I know I need to start writing down the thought scraps flitting around in my head. Not writing ideas down is the biggest waste of poetic talents. So many great ideas arrive, only to disappear when we finally get around to working on them.

I could fill a poetry collection with the fantastic poems I never wrote! If only I could remember them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Connecting with others, finding hope

I've begun an online conversation with a young girl on the comments section of one of my Ezine articles. It started when she commented on my post, saying she disagreed with it and was offended, I responded, she responded, I responded (yet to be published). Now I'm waiting to read what Jasmin has to say next. The article in question, with comments is here. I'd love to find out what others think about the whole thing.

I don't know where Jasmin comes from, but I suspect she's from the US, because she seems to have a lot of self-confidence. It doesn't matter where she's from, it was the words, and the connection that is the most important thing.

We started out on a bad line, but I'm feeling happy about the whole thing and I hope Jasmin is too. I feel this little connection shows how good things can be achieved if you don't jump to conclusions and you keep your mind open to other ideas.

The reason I'm writing about this here is that Jasmin mentioned acrostic poetry and alliteration. I like alliteration lots and lots, actually I love alliteration! It's a tool for poets and other writers, a good tool, but you have to use it wisely.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A new poem looking for feedback. I just wrote it and I'd love to know what other people think about it.

My ordinary life

grows less and less

ordinary as I contemplate

the birds, the clouds, the stars.

My life merges

with everything else

and I realise

I am not ordinary,

I am special. As special

as the clouds, each one

different, as special

as the birds, chattering

in a tongue I cannot decipher,

as special as the stars

that look down on us

from a great distance

in time and space.

We are all special, we are,

none of us, ordinary.

Embrace all that is special

in yourself and in everything

around you. I am special,

you are special,

everything is special.

Don't be afraid to be critical about the poem or the subject, critical comment is what I seek. Giving useful critiques is a great skill to learn. Learning to critique the work of others helps you to critique your own work too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Iambic Pentameter is Sexy!

I'm exploring iambic pentameter at the moment with Stephen Fry, and I'm having a wonderful time doing it! Who'd have thought an arcane thing could be so much fun.

Well, I'm sure there are lots of people out there like me who love the ins and outs of poetic things who love thinking about things like iambic pentameter. We'd love talking about them too, but other people tend to go cross-eyed and walk away when we start chatting about it.

Anyway, the upshot of this post is to tell everyone out there that Stephen Fry, the famous English funny chap who has starred in things such as the BBC comedy series Blackadder, is a poet! He has struggled with poetry for love and amusement for many years, and has written a book about it that I have just discovered - 'The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within'. I'm only part way through, and I have already re-written and vastly improved one of my own poems, based on what I have learned.

Go to this website and you can read a review - I read another review that I found on Google, but it was boring and said less than kind things about my new poetic hero, so I haven't put a link in this post. I haven't finished reading the book yet because, as is usual, real life gets in the way of my poetry, and also, with Fry's book there are exercises to do, and that takes up time, especially if you're like me and you want to use what you have learned to improve other poem's you've written before you travel on in the book.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why do I write poetry?

I write poetry because it gives me a calming yet energising moment to get in touch with my inner thoughts. I write poetry because I love writing poetry. I write poetry to try to sort out how I feel about something. I write poetry because writing a poem is much quicker than writing a novel!

You can go from idea, to first draft, second draft, third draft, fourth draft and finish in the space of a couple of days, when it's going well. Sometimes even, you can get lucky and get it down right, first time, no revision required. That doesn't happen that often though.

I'm always suspicious about people who say they never edit - their work is perfect first time. I know one 'poet' who claims this - he might have short lines, and the end words may rhyme, but there's more to poetry than that. You need rhythm as well, an interesting way with words, something worth saying, and a million other things too, to write poetry well. I find I always improve my work, with every re-draft. Up until that magical point when it works, not just for you, but for other people too.

And maybe that point is the main reason why I write poetry - so that my poetic words will work for other people, to make special connections with other people.

Why do you write poetry?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

life, the universe & everything

It's that time of year again poets, Adelaide Plains poets officially launch their poetry competition for 2009/20010. Entries close 8 January 2010, and winners will be announced during the Adelaide Plains Cup Festival in late Feb/ early March.

If you want to have a try at this competition, read the guidelines below, and cut and paste the entry form, then send it to me, with your poem/poems and payment if entering in Open section.

The theme is from "the hitchhikers' guide to the universe" written by Douglas Adams. If you haven't read/seen/heard it, get a hold of it - funny stuff.

So basically your poem has to be about life, the universe and/or everything. If you can't think of anything that meets this theme, you have serious problems and may need professional help! tee hee.

So check out the guidelines and get yourself a bit organised. I know most of you poets will leave it to the last minute (I always do), but I have to tell you, I love getting a constant stream of poems arriving in my mail in the months leading up to the closing date. I don't love getting entries after the closing date.

So there it is, go for it - and pass the info on the anyone and everyone you know who may be interested. We are particularly keen on receiving lots of entries from school students.

payment in Australian dollars only please.


‘life, the universe & everything’

1st, 2nd & 3rd cash prizes, plus Highly Commended & Commended certificates as appropriate. Total prize pool over $500


· Work entered in this competition must be original, in English, unpublished and not have won a prize in any other competition. Authors retain copyright, but the organisers reserve the right to arrange for possible reading of Prize winners’ work at the Adelaide Plains Cup Festival 2009, and selected entries may be published in an anthology
· Theme ‘life, the universe & everything’
· Poems entered must in some way refer to the theme
· Open Class - poets 18 years & older
· Junior classes –
o Primary School student
o Secondary School student
· To maintain anonymity, entrant’s name should appear on entry form only, not on poems. Entry forms are to include entrant’s name, address, phone number, titles of poems submitted.
· Entries should be typed where possible, on one side of paper only, one poem to a page
· Poems to be no longer than 60 lines
· Entry fees: Open class $5.00 per entry
Junior classes - no entry fee
· Cheques to be made payable to Adelaide Plains Poets Inc
· Entries to: Competition Secretary, 30 Germantown Rd REDBANKS SA 5502
· Entries to be received by close of business 8 January 2010 – entries received after this date may not be considered for the competition.
· Authors should retain a copy of their work, entries will not be returned without provision of a SSAE
· Selected entries may be published in an anthology

For further details contact:
Ms C Cordon (08) 85272412; 0418 806 490;



‘life, the universe & everything’




Title of poem/s - ……………………………………………………..


(use back of page for additional entries)

Entrants’ names or other details must not appear on poems

Declaration by author: I agree to comply with the Entry Guidelines and declare that the written work submitted in my name is my own original work and has not been copied in part, or in full, from any other source.

Author’s signature……………………………………………………...
Date of birth (if entering junior section) ………………………….……….…..
Name of school (if entering junior section) …………………………………….



Cheques/money orders to be made payable to Adelaide Plains Poets Inc, and sent with entries to Competition Secretary, 30 Germantown Rd REDBANKS SA 5502

Authors should retain a copy of their work, entries will not be returned without provision of a stamped self-addressed envelope, and a written request

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Poetry Group - It Feels like Home

I've just joined a new writing group, and it feels like I have finally found my way home. The group is supportive and caring and we all want to help each other make our writing better.

This is how a writing groups should be - there are no egos pushing their way around, and we are hoping to help each other improve with our writing. It helps that we are all now or have been members of another writing group, so we can discuss the other group in an almost kids being naughty way, which is fun. Well I find it fun anyway - I was such a goodie two shoes at school, it feels fun to call the teacher names now.

Not very adult, I know, but I'm a great believer in the link between our inner child and our creativity.

So, every Thursday night I go off to Gawler and play writing games with my friends. We share stories, poems, heart-felt thoughts, food and wine. It is close to where I live and it is in a beautiful historic part of Gawler.

I recommend to anyone who is thinking of joining a writing group, try to find one that will support you, bot bring you down, and find one close enough to where you live that it won't become a burden to attend the group. The love and the hugs and kisses I receive at my new group makes it feel like I am embraced the whole time I am there.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Something Dark (and Silly)

If you want to have a little bit of Gothic fun (is that possible?), go along to this website and create a Gothic poem - it might not be all your own work, but it sure will be dark and Gothic!

I gave it a go this morning, and this is the wonderful poem I created:

my death
Around, all around, the storm clouds gather.
My dread grows as the dagger
of your words falls against my heart.
It smites me, and darkly my
life's blood drips
to the wicked earth that is my prison.
In abject fear I cry out, Why?!
while Death's shadow surrounds me.
Now alone, my soul falls upon uncaring eyes.

This is death

There, wasn't that fantastic? No, I didn't really think so. It was fun though. The website makes sure you don't write anything sweet or lovely, it has to come out in the same sort of style as the poem I wrote. It was fun though, and that is one of the things that poetry can be.

It doesn't have to be full of worth and meaning, it can be fun! Does that feel liberating? I was at the Gawler poetry reading yesterday, and heard lots of great poems, some serious, some fun. One of the poets loves playing with words, one of the poets is a young person just learning about how much fun poetry can be.

Poetry can be many things to many people, and Martin Johnson certainly helps to provide a wonderful embracing atmosphere at the monthly Gawler poetry readings. It was the 14th birthday of the poetry readings in Gawler yesterday, so of course there was a birthday cake - the Prince Albert Hotel, where the readings are held, made a lovely and yummy big birthday cake, and a good time was had by all.

Afterwards, some of us got together and discussed the possiblity of beginning a poetry group - this has been discussed many times in the past, but it feels like it might happen this time. Stay tuned for more.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bad Language Offends

I went to an enjoyable poetry reading last Friday night. The guest reader, Patricia Irvine was excellent and the other poets all read well. It is exciting to see how much some of my poet friends are improving.

The venue was good, if a little cold (red wine helped with fixing that), the whole evening was well run and we were all intent on enjoying ourselves. The thing that has led to further discussion (on Facebook) though is mostly about one particular word. I don't think any of us would agree with banning any words, as long as they are used appropriately, but.. One of the thoughts that has been expressed is that we should be a little cautious about our words.

If the poem had been read in an appropriate place, we would never have hear the words, because in my opinion, the appropriate place for that particular poem was in a private place, with a private audience. Very private.

I've been thinking about the issue, and these are my words from the brief Facebook discussion:
But if you're using your words to create an effect, well, who are we, the audience, to lay (excuse the pun) any blame.
We don't have to like what we hear, but we all have the right up, to some unspoken point, to speak/read our poetry.

I know of one word that another poetry reading organiser has black-listed, and that is made reasonably clear to anyone who wants to know about it.

It's a tricky situation, and I feel good manners and discretion should be used in these situations. A reader should be aware of the audience and only read work that will not cause too much offense. Unless, I suppose, their wish is to cause offense.

Hmm, more thinking required on this one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Best Place to Write a Poem

What cheek you may be thinking, what makes me think I am qualified to answer this question? Some days I have to agree with you - on dark and grey days it is hard to remember I have written poems and had them published for payment.

But I have had poems published, not once, but far more often than that. Even so, I would never presume to say - "This is the only way to write a poem!"

I know different people write fantastic poems in ways that differ widely. Some must do their first draft on paper, with a particular pen. Others say they can only write creatively on their computer. Personally, I have done both, successfully or not, many times.

Some people can only write poetry if they are in a particular room, some must be at a particular place, while others seem to be able to write well no matter where they are or what sort of disaster is going on around them.

If you only write at a certain place, and won't try anywhere else, to you have a good reason for that? Have you tried to write somewhere else and failed? If that is the case, it is still worthwhile trying other times and places. It may be the time you failed just wouldn't have worked no matter what, and if you refuse to try somewhere else, you are making life hard for yourself.

Give somewhere else a go, but make sure it is a pleasant place, so that even if the writing doesn't work it's not a complete loss. I have had fun writing at my local hotel, with amazingly good and terrible awful results. It doesn't matter, I had fun no matter what!

Different poems can sometimes call for different methods. If you always write your pithy short poems on modern life sitting at your dining table at night, maybe you could explore something different, somewhere else. Perhaps give haiku a go, sitting at a public park.

It is worth a try, anything and everything is worth a try, if writing poetry is your thing.

The best place is to write a poem is the place that works for you now, which may be quite different from what and where works next time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What is Poetry?

It has to rhyme, I hate it, teachers put me off it at school, It's too hard to write. I've been told all of these things by people when I've discussed poetry. I feel so sad for the people who hate poetry and were put off it at school.

I have written an article about that here. I really believe teachers who don't at least like, if not love, a subject shouldn't be allowed to teach that subject to students.

Poetry does not have to rhyme, although rhyming is an important part of the ballad style that most people thing of when you mention poetry. Bush ballads certainly must rhyme, and must also adhere to strict rules, which can put more free-spirited people off.

But it is not mandatory that poetry does rhyme. There have been many fine poems written in the free verse style that don't rhyme. There is usually some sense of rhythm though, and maybe 'slant' rhymes, that is words that almost but not quite rhyme.

Alliteration and assonance my also be there, and many other things that can bring a collection of words together in a manner pleasing to the ear and mind. Poetic forms such as haiku certainly don't rhyme, but have their own charm when done well.

Give poetry a go - there is a lot of contemporary out there, on a huge range of subjects. There are also lots of opportunities to go out to poetry readings/poetry slams, and hear contemporary read/performed.

Even if you don't think you like poetry, why not give it another go, you might surprise yourself.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Quantity first, then Quality

Well, my Personal Poetry Month has ended. I gave myself the task of writing a new poem every day in April, and it is now May.

I didn't manage a new poem every day as such, but on some days I managed more than one poem, so the overall total is more than thirty poems, so I am very pleased with myself. I definitely managed to get the quantity done.

But what of the quality? Well, I wasn't aiming to get thirty fully polished and publishable poems every day. I was just trying to up my written matter to work on. The hard work starts now, I suppose.

But I've had a bit of a look at what I have written in April, and I am surprised at the quality of some of the poems there in my notebook, and on my computer. Some of the poems have had a little going over to sharpen them up, some of them came out already sharp, and some of them need lots of work if they are ever going to be anything.

But overall, I can recommend this method to anyone who is able to devote half an hour every day to pen a poem. Even if, or maybe especially if, you only write poetry every now and then, give it a try. Worst case scenario? You have thirty poems you don't like much. But I think doing this exercise can bring you closer to your poetry, and focus you more on the idea of working on your writing.

If you seriously care about improving your poetry, getting this many poems to work on is a huge help. With thirty poems, you don't feel so protective of them and you become more at ease with editing properly.

Give it a try, you'll be pleased you did!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Smallest Things
Always be prepared to be amazed by the smallest things in life. The rewards can enlarge your sense of wonder, and your appreciation of the joy that Nature can bring you.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Personal Poetry Month

My Personal Poetry Month is going great guns, with an average of 1.something poems every day. The quantity is certainly there, and the quality is holding up better than I ever expected.

So for me, April 2009 is certainly my Poetry Month. For anyone who is struggling to find their muse, or who otherwise feels uninspired, why not give it a try? Commit to writing something new every day, don't worry about quality, go for quality.

If you can only get ten percent good poems for bad, it's still more poems than you'd have written if you sat back waiting for that silly muse to deign to visit. Cut out the middle-man, just go without that silly muse!

I've mentioned this idea of mine in a variety of places, and I'd love to here from anyone who decides to give it a go themselves. Leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Poetry Exercise - Joy of Nature

Is there something in nature that creates a sense of wonder or joy in you? Share that with others in a poem. It can be short, or long. Rhyming or not. The poem and your feelings will tell you what, and for how long, to write.

The main task is to try to create the same sense of wonder in someone else. Puppies can do it for me, or watching a horse galloping across a paddock, tail high, ears held forward and alert.

I saw again earlier today the swallows that perch most of the time on the brackets for plant pots on the wall of our carport. They sit there, and usually fly away when we open the front door, just a few metres away.

But sometimes they don't fly away, or one does and the other doesn't. Sometimes there are no swallows there at all, and I feel slightly bereft. When we had the long heatwave here in South Australia back in March, the swallows didn't seem to move at all, they were as motionless as everyone else was, blasted into immobility by the heat.

Everyone, surely has their own thing in Nature that brings them joy. Rain, Rainbows, birds, young animals playing. Pick your own and write your own "Ode to Nature".

I would love to hear about your personal thing.

Post a comment and tell us what works for you.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April is Poetry Month!

I think it's in the US, but I've decided it's my personal Poetry month too. I am going to write a new poem every day in April. It is the fourth of April today, and I have five new poems so far, plus I have worked on poems I have written previously.

I know I won't write fantastic poems every single day this month, but by April 30, I will have thirty new poems or more, to work with in May.

I am going to take on some study starting in May, so I feel I have to do something or my creativity might get swamped in new, non-fiction type things.

Or, perhaps my creativity will be electro zapped into overdrive, and I may be writing lots and lots of new stuff. Only time will tell. I just know that I am excited about this new phase in my poetry growth, and in my possible career prospects once I have my certificate.

Upward and onward, that's me!

I heartily recommend everyone starts their own personal poetry month. Pen lines, or work on older stuff.

I challenge everyone to make April your biggest poetry month ever, and tell us all about how it's going. We can cheer each other on, and offer tips.

Embrace poetry!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why do we Write Poetry?

There are many different reasons why people write poetry. Some write because they like to share their words with others, some write with the hope of getting published. Some think they can make money by writing poetry (teehee, if only they knew!)

Some people use poetry as a way to explore their thoughts, to get a better handle on what they think about issues. Others write poetry as a form of personal therapy.

Sometimes the reason is to impress someone, or to let them know how you feel. Sometimes people write to entertain or to teach.

All of these reasons are valid reasons for writing poetry, and sometimes the reasons blur somewhat, like when a heartfelt poem written as personal therapy can reach out and touch other people. Poetry, when it is good poetry, tends to focus on the particular, not some undefined thing, but at the same time being universal, so that readers can see their own meaning in it.

Poetry can be written to amuse others, such as limericks written about people you know, or as lines in a greeting card for someone special. Sometimes you may write a poem with no intention of ever sharing it with anyone, only to find a certain somebody who your words seem to have been made for. Connecting with people through your poetry can bring an extra dimension to a friendship or relationship.

Try it, you may be glad you did!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ekphrasic - a poetic form

Look at various pieces of art and describe what you see. What does it make you think of? Can you tell a story/write a poem about what may be going on in the picture?

Or just describe the picture itself, especially focussing on the colours and designs.

Ekphrasic poetry is the name for this type of poetry. Think Keats’ ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’. That is ekphrasic poetry – a poem based on a work of art. You can go high falutin’ and visit an art gallery, or you can use any artwork at all – the towers at McDonalds, posters you see on a bill board.

I encourage poets and writing groups to give this form a writing a go. It can be amazingly effective at getting poets to step out of their comfort zone. For this purpose, the group I’ve been involved in used postcard sized pictures of paintings by famous painters. Everyone enjoyed the exercise, though some found it challenging. Being challenged is good for you, it makes your brain travel down new paths, creating new pathways as it goes.

I chose a painting of Picasso’s ‘Seated Nude’, to write a poem, which was all about what I thought of when I studied the painting for the set time period – it may have been fifteen minutes, I can’t remember now. I was there inside that painting, feeling for the poor woman, almost weeping for her. I was happy with the depth of feeling I created with the poem I wrote and I went home satisfied with my efforts.

I promptly lost the picture and when I tried to locate it on the internet I discovered Picasso may have had a talent for painting, but he didn’t have a talent for coming up with original names for his paintings – there are lots and lots of Picasso paintings entitled ‘Seated Nude’. I have never found the right one.

But whenever I re-read the poem I crafted, I can see that poor woman and I remember the dark paths I travelled down to write that poem. Dark, but ultimately successful, in that I shook out and chased off some of my personal ghosts. It feels good to have dealt with these ghosts in such a way.

That is one of the reasons I have works of art at the bottom of this website, so that people can use the works as prompts and create their own literary work of art based on the painterly works of art. A different one every day, potentially a new poem from you every day.

Have a try, then make a comment so others can see what you have learned.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Answer to Editor of Plains Producer

This letter was published in the Plains Producer the week after the Editor published the piece I complained about.

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the poetry comments in the “My View” column of last week’s edition of your fine newspaper. I took your words as a bit of satire and grinned like the Cheshire Cat as I read them. What is it they say? “All news is good news”. So thank you for bringing poetry to prominence.

As I said in my speech opening the Adelaide Plains Cup Festival Poetry Event at the Mallala Hotel on Saturday afternoon, ‘…record numbers of entries in the Adult section this year, nearly cracking the ton, so if anyone tries to tell you poetry is dead … it’s thriving, all across Australia’. Poetry is not dead, but I agree it may not be for everyone.

Neither is going for a run, or watching a horse race; we’re all different, and there’s plenty of room for us all at the Adelaide Plains Cup Festival. There will be a poetry section again next year, and I hope we can get more involvement from the younger members of our community next year.

There are some fine schools in the Adelaide Plains, and it was sad there were no local students amongst the winners. Surely there can be room for poetry in the school curriculum. Balaklava High School has been prominent in the poetry section of the Adelaide Plains Cup in previous years, and it’s time for other students and their teachers to step up and get involved.

Adelaide Plains Poets would be delighted to get assist if any schools require help in getting their students interested in poetry.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I do heaps of stuff, some of it I can't tell you about.

I take care of the animals, human and canine, and dream a bit, think a lot, write stuff. The things I think about would make you blush, or if they wouldn't make you blush you should be ashamed of yourself!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hold the Presses!

Poetry has hit the pages of my local newspaper, the Plains Producer(link). The newspaper reported, as one would expect , on the various events at the recent Adelaide Plains Cup Festival. In the editorial the editor, Terry Williams, commented on poetry in a rather derogatory way, wondering whether anyone but the poet would be interested in it.

I rang him that day, and we had a little chat. Terry's point was a good point - who can deny that some poetry is solely for the poet? We all write for a variety of reasons and sometimes venting one's spleen is the reason for a poem being created. Venting of the spleen doesn't necessarily lead to fine poetry. Sometimes it leads to absolute drivel, which has no meaning for anyone beyond the poet.

Anyway, Terry has a point, yes, but I reckon the poetry read at Mallala the weekend before last rose well beyond that point. Perhaps Mr Williams might like to come along in 2010 and hear what poetry gets awarded prizes, and is read out afterwards.

Mr Williams might not like a lot of what gets read though, he still lives very much in the poetic past. He likes bush ballad style and is of the 'poems must rhyme' school of thought. If he wants to be an old fuddy dud about it, that's his business. I've done a poll and I know I'm with the winning group who say whether poetry rhymes or not depends on the poem.

So Mr Williams will continue liking Banjo Paterson, and his ilk, and I and others like me can live in the present day of exciting new poetry.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Adelaide Plains Poets Inc The Winners "Tracks and Trails" poetry competition

Opening Speech

Distinguished guests and others, I welcome you here today to celebrate contemporary Australian Poetry. Poetry has been a part of the Adelaide Plains Cup Festival from the beginning, in 2005. That year there was a travelling bush poetry workshop with noted Owen Bush Poet Ann Rogers, and with a Bush Poetry competition. In the years that followed, the poetry reins were taken up by a new group Adelaide Plains Poets, with themed competitions ranging from Birds of the Adelaide Plains, to Country Pubs and the Bush, Homesteads and Tin Sheds and Everything in Between, and this year, Tracks and Trails.

We’ve received record numbers of entries in the Adult section this year, nearly cracking the ton, so if anyone tries to tell you poetry is dead, I’m here to tell you it’s thriving, all across Australia! This years’ competition attracted poems about racing cars, youth suicide, insects, stars, trains and a huge range of things in between.

There were disappointing numbers of entries in the junior sections, but we will continue to hold these sections, which raise no money, unlike the adult section, because Adelaide Plains Poets think poetry is important for young and old.

Next years’ competition is already being planned, with both a judge and theme chosen. The judges name will remain largely secret, but I have great pleasure in telling you the next theme will be "Life, the Universe and Everything", the phrase made famous by the late writer Douglas Adams with his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series of books.

So, no excuses now for not knowing what to write about. Anything goes! Entries will open in the third term of the school year, and with any luck some more students will have a go for 2010. If you know of any kids who like poetry, get them involved, they might be amongst the winners next year!

Willaston poet Helen Lindstrom has recently had her first poetry collection, Cold Comfort published. It was launched in Gawler last Sunday to a large and appreciative crowd.

Today you can get yourself a signed copy of Helen’s new book “Cold Comfort”, as well as a copy of the two anthologies Adelaide Plains Poets have published, or a copy of the little book “Dig It! Gardening Tips for Dogs”, written by me and illustrated by local artist Allyson Hean, who also illustrated the two anthologies.

Helen’s book is $15.00, the others are going for whatever you want to pay above $5.00.

And now it’s time for the open mic session. We’ll start with Helen reading, then I will read two of my works that meet the Tracks and Trails theme, then we’ll work through the names in the book! If you’ve brought a couple of poems along, and you haven’t written your name down yet, now is your chance!

And I ask you to fill in the survey kindly provided by the organisers of the Adelaide Plains Cup Festival – the information they receive will help with the next Adelaide Plains Cup Festival.
Adult Section

1st place - Millipedes, by Sharon Kernot, SA

2nd place - Train Strike, by Suzi Mezei, Vic

3rd place - Stuarts Party reaches the Gulf, by Robert Brady, SA

Commended - The Murray street Schmozzle, by Brad Slate, SA

Special Mention - The Women Walkers of Hahndorf, by Max Merckenschlager, SA

District Council of Mallala winner - Ant Tracks, by Gabriele Hansen

Wakefield Regional Council - Tracks and Trails, by Joy Woodroofe

Primary School Section

1st place - Tracks and Trails - by Grace Cummins,

Holkschter Award (best poem that refers to the dog)
The Hunting dogs, by Robyn Peck, Vic

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Judge's speech "Tracks and Trails" poetry competition

Thank you to Carolyn Cordon who organised and coordinated this Poetry Competition.
What a great opportunity she has provided for people young and old to have their creative
work recognised.

What is poetry?
Mike Ladd, the South Australian poet and presenter of Poetica on Radio National, says that the main distinguishing feature of poetry is that it has short lines.

Of course, those of us who love to read and write poetry would all agree with this and, at the same time, know that poetry has other important distinguishing qualities or features. Indeed, poetry can be a kind of ʻword magicʼ(Tunica 2005). It has the capacity to:
provoke and
astonish us

make us laugh
make us cry or
cause a chill to run down our spines

Other distinguishing qualities of poetry are:
* a distillation of words and/or images which give us a unique insight into a situation.
* an unexpected and original combination of words which demand the readerʼs attention.
* subtlety and nuance in relation to the topic of the poem.

To quote from Eleanor Farjeon, a poet and a writer from the nineteenth century:
Not the fly, but the gleam of the fly
Not the sea, but the sound of the sea
Not myself, but what makes me
See, hear and feel something that prose
Cannot: and what that is, who knows?
(Farjeon, E. quoted in Tunica, M., (2005) A passion for poetry)

As a poet and a writer, I understand the work that goes into any poem or piece of writing
and also the effort that is involved in entering any competition.

So, before I talk about the criteria I used and announce the winners I would like to
congratulate everyone for their efforts and for throwing their poems into the ring - to use a
bit of a mixed metaphor.

However, as the judge of this years Plains Poetry Competition therefore I was looking for
poems with the following characteristics:
an element of surprise
short lines
distilled images
subtlety and nuance
Poems that showed me something from a different angle; showed me something familiar but in an original way and, most importantly, still remained accessible to me as the reader.

These are the poems that I feel best achieved those criteria:

I chose the poem Ant Tracks as the best poem from the District Council of Mallala and Tracks and Trails as the best from the Wakefield Regional Council.

In the Primary School entry I chose Tracks and Trails.
This poem was short and sweet; elegant and amusing at the same time.
I liked its juxtaposition of poetic and spoken language. For example:
ʻTracks guide us back to a river
that flows slowly past our camp.ʼ
Then (surprising the reader)
ʻCould you flies leave us alone?ʼ

I was not able to choose a Secondary School winner.
None of the entries met my criteria.

I have, however, awarded a Special Mention to the ballad,The Women Walkers of
Hahndorf for the poetʼs attempt to write in the voice of a young nineteenth century farm woman and for bringing to life a little-known facet of womenʼs history; i.e. the farming women who set off early in the mornings and trudged the many miles carrying their produce to market.

I awarded Commended to The Murray Street Schamozzle for its humour and the way it
recalled the irreverent bush poetry of the past - particularly that published by The Gawler Bunyip.

And now I come to the winners of the 3rd, 2nd and 1st prizes

3rd Prize goes to Stuartʼs party reaches the gulf. In this poem the writer also attempts to use another voice, that of John McDouall Stuart, the Scottish explorer. In this poem, the writer quite effectively, I believe, captures the feelings of desperation which must accompany such a trek. The poem also conveys the question of ʻsuccess but at what cost?ʼ

2nd Prize goes to Train Strike. This poem provided an original take on an ordinary topic. I particularly liked the metaphors that the writer used; such as ʻa brown balloon of rush hour smogʼ and ʻdefeated briefcases pit the sweep of railway stepsʼ.

Finally, 1st prize goes to the poem Millipedes.
I particularly liked this poem for its simplicity, its personal nature and yet, at the same time, the way the poet drew on a universal emotion: grief at the breakdown of a marriage; of a relationship.
The concept of an invasion of millipedes, their toxic trails, the question marks they
inscribed on the walls of the house, the ʻsuturesʼ which cannot mend the relationship all serve as a metaphor, an image of a relationship fraying and of the narratorʼs grief and loss. The poem was also well-crafted - 3 stanzas, with eight short lines in each. The ending was clear and there was pathos without sentiment.

Well done to everyone.
Helen Lindstrom

Monday, February 23, 2009

Poetry in the Pub

The best hotel in South Australia, some great poetry. What could be better? Well, what could be better is a great mob of friends to share it all with.

If you're within driving distance to Mallala, why not drop in to the pub, have a drink, and chat with Dylan and Matt behind the bar. If you're lucky you might see Bec and little Ignatious

Arrive early and have lunch there. Great company, great food. The poetry starts at 2.00pm in the beer garden, with the announcement of the winners of the Track and Trails poetry competition, then it's open mic!

Bring a couple of your own poems along and read them among friends.

If poetry isn't your thing, well hang around anyway, we might be able to change your mind.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The vote is in!

So, should poetry rhyme? That was the question. The answer, according to the very unscientific poll conducted on this website was...


No surprises there, I'm sure. Because, most of the people who voted are involved in the contemporary poetry scene. They might look at this matter in the same way I do - different styles for different poems. Personally, I find the poem picks the style, most of the time.

If I was setting out to write a limerick, the rhyming is the uppermost point to the poem. I would never try to write a limerick about 'The lady whose hair was orange...'
Because there ain't no rhyme! lol. So the limerick is a poetic style that needs to rhymes, I'd say the villanelle is another form that needs to rhyme, in a particular way. Ballads also require rhyme.

What was my point in running this poll?

I was hoping to start a bit of a discussion on this part of poetry, to have poets think about the whole thing and enlighten me, and other readers of this blog, as to their take on the whole thing.

I've posted the comments from people who emailed me, rather than post comments to the blogsite, and very interesting comments they are too. I am still very open to receiving further comment on this subject, and any poetic subject in fact.

I also welcome anybody who can make it to Mallala on the 28th February 2009. 2pm is when we will be announcing the winners of the Tracks and Trails poetry competition, and there will be an open mic session there afterwards.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Should Poetry Rhyme?

What are your thoughts on this one?

I would love to see a discussion going on on this question.

Put in your vote and we'll see who wins, rhyming or not rhyming.

We were discussing this at my writing group the other night, and there were some very definite ideas about it. I know what I think and I'd love to know how you look at the whole thing.

So, don't be afraid to vote - we all have the right to our own opinion.

And speaking of opinions, I'd love to know your opinion on the rhyming/non rhyming question.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winners to be announced

The winners of the 'Tracks and Trails' poetry competition will be announced on 28 February at the Mallala Hotel. Everyone is welcome to come along and find out who won. Winning entries will be read out and there will be an open mike after for anyone who wants to read out their own work.

The Mallala Hotel is also a fine place to go for a good meal and some good country style fun. It's not smart-arsed and clever, it's just the best bloody pub there is! Good food, good people, good vibe. It's all good!

Mallala is also the home of motorsport in South Australia, many of the best racing car drivers go there to hit the track, so come on down Have a look at the stobey poles - it proves we take motor sport seriously.

Check out the Museum while you're in Mallala too, it's a fine example of what can be achieved when some country volunteers commit to something.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tracks and Trails poetry competition

We've entered the final countdown- nine days to go until entries close on 15 January 2009.
The entry form and guidelines are just underneath this post - if you're from Australia, and you have a poem on the tracks and trails theme - give it a go - it'll only cost five bucks and it could earn you lots and lots more than that!

Poetry competitions can be addictive, but it's all good fun - the money you pay, on this occasion, will certainly not be spent on drugs or wild orgies, I promise!