Wonder a Day 19: Prose is Walking – Poetry is Dancing PART 1

Hazel chairing a Book Creator’s Circle Meeting

 Writers who persevere are a wonder! 

For the next few days you are going to read a conversation between Hazel Menehira and myself.   At the end of these few days I will publish the interview in a full post at Creative Souls Converse. I am glad to add to that blog – a showcase inspiring creative projects and people.

Prose is Walking, Poetry is Dancing – with Hazel Menehira

JUNE: Tell me a bit about yourself Hazel, and why you write? 

I know a bit from your profile on BCC and meeting you at Tropical Writers – you have a very warm and engaging personality and a passion for words, but if I met you for the first time how would you introduce yourself?

HAZEL:  I’d say Hi…it’s great meeting you…tell me about yourself first…Me? At 78 with 12 books under my belt I have been earning a livelihood from writing and teaching voice and drama all my life.

At 12 years I decided I would be an actress and my wise headmaster at a Hertfordshire Grammar School stated how precarious that profession was and maybe I should pursue journalism. I did both professionally as well as raising a dysfunctional loving family.

JUNE: How has your speech and drama background assisted your composition of poems, you often talk about ‘musicality of flow’, can you explain that?

HAZEL:  Poetry has always been meant to be spoken aloud. Studying through years of theoretical and practical diploma examinations and listening to countless performers as a teacher and an examiner for the New Zealand Speech Board I have become aware that a skilful poet (prose writer too) achieves impact not  simply through the meaning of words but through the sounds.

By sound I mean not simply using sound techniques like alliteration and onomatopoeia but allowing word sound combination themselves achieve specific effects that enhance and enrich the total meaning.

The study of voice and speech grounded me in the structure and qualities of sounds and its association with music. For example it has helped me appreciate the beauty and flow of long vowel sounds and the verve and crispness of certain consonant sounds.

Great poets like Dylan Thomas bring the magic of music to life in poems so listeners are enthralled.

 JUNE: What did you enjoy most about being a journalist – at the Wanganui Chronicle?  What were your biggest challenges with some of the stories you might be asked to write?

HAZEL:  I enjoyed writing and communicating with so many diverse people I may never have met otherwise.

I was in journalism when it was one of the few professions that women could succeed in.

I learnt from the ground up in day to day hard work slog in practice. ..(not theory) with sub editors and management who knew their stuff, encouraged and mentored my work.

I began with Wanganui Chronicle in the advertising dept…and begged to be a reporter…

I began as a cadet and each year moved up a grade until I was eventually a sub editor, then woman’s editor, then arts editor and finally sometimes set out front pages.

I was also one of three staff on the papers midweek tabloid who wrote the features, took photographs editing it in total.

Biggest challenges: front page fatal smashes and royal visits.. court reports in limited time…starting (then maintaining) several new feature series that I began enthusiastically like ‘They work at Night’ or ‘Bouquet of the Week.”

The hardest part was working nights for morning press and early starts at 6.30 to deal with cable, read, collate and sort priorities.

….To be continued.

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