My earliest writing experiences were about nature and food. These were soon followed by intense emotions. My first chosen forms were short poems and a set form for school – journals. Writing of food came from not always having enough food. I wrote of food to experience it. I wrote to alleviate hunger.
Writing made me taste what I couldn’t have. Writing made me dream of a house full of food when you needed it. No more stomach aches. Beauty on a plate. Writing gave me a new hunger -the hunger for words that do magic – that say what you want them to say – take you where you long to be.
Later I was to find out about a poet named John Clare. He lived in poverty at the end of his life. He wrote on scraps of old paper. He too wrote of nature. Nature was only there in glimpses in my early writing, but the first poem I remember being happy about writing had as its topic a seed with a half helicopter wing falling to the ground. Writing made me become the seed falling, yet flying to the ground. Writing like this came from inspiration in a movement class.
Years later I was to write about that movement teacher and her beating healing drum. I wrote poems about trees, especially the shadows from trees, and their solace. In my school journal I wrote about building cubbies in the autumn of the Ashforest.
I had a home journal that never went to school. It wasn’t for teachers, parents, and perhaps not ever for anyone to read.I destroyed most of those journals. They were full of too much emotion, things I didn’t want to remember about the intensity of loneliness, feeling bullied, feeling like a misfit in my family and wondering if I was adopted. All the intensity in those secret journals, with different colour inks, and different dreams and crushes comes out when I smell perfumed pens in stationary shops.
I thought that diary unworthy to be read again, but it taught me the release of emotion on paper. Sometimes I find the traces of that secret journal inside. She is a story teller for fiction. She knows the mind of a teenager. I don’t have her physical presence.
Now, nature and emotion combine in the things I write today. I keep most of my words, to return to for edits, for other stories. I started to keep a journal again. The journal, spread over several physical note books, survived a cyclone, the journalling on paper became blogging. The blogging became full of more and more genres. I watch this writing journey and writing brings back intense memories, captured as they happened, but then transformed through time into edited poems and books.
Writing becomes something to reach out and reach in, to release and to capture. The memories come out of the caverns I placed them in. I realise they were not all as silly as I thought. My Dad gives me old school essays and a poetry book he found. I look at those early poems and see the seeds of how I would write today. I find poems about dreams of travelling, especially to Egypt. I find stories about the geometry of spirituality. I wish I could read my way back through time, instead I must be content to imagine back, teleporting by hints.
Food calls out to me, memories of moments of plenty, childhood visiting a friend with a saucepan full of strawberries and being allowed to eat as many as I could! And more recently friends making pavlova with raspberries to welcome us back on a visit to Tasmania. These stories are of the days of the nourishment of the soul, the days of plenty, the edible poetry of life.
(c) June Perkins