Journey to the Days of Plenty

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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

10 thoughts on “Journey to the Days of Plenty

  1. Wow June I’m really impressed by your level of insight into your own writing progress here. Even more than that I am fascinated by the story you have to tell. I never imagined that any child in Australia would suffer from hunger in the way you describe it. This is a story that must be told (particularly in our current political climate).
    I think you have nailed it when you say ‘She is a story teller for fiction.’ It seems to me in that in the story of your childhood and how you later went on to gain a PhD you have the seeds of a novel that needs to be written – you have a story the world needs to hear.
    I’m looking forward to reading more your journey and will be fascinated to see where it takes you.

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  2. Yes, I do remember hunger very well, eating salt and jam with rice. Living on porridge whilst a student with my husband and children, and friends buying us groceries and saying one day pass it on in an act of kindness to someone else, so we would accept their help. I realise I haven’t written much of my student days as lots of that energy was taken up with the PhD and sometimes feels blurry, but has intense vivid moments like negotiating stairs with a pram at redfern to go to classes .. thanks for your encouraging words

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  3. Hunger in Australia? This is news for me but then again it should not be as every country harbours people who go through periodic bouts of want and poverty. In some countries, this envelopes more people and for longer periods.

    Peace,
    Eric

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  4. Yes, to know hunger is to feel for all those who still have to go through it, and to work that harder for our world to be a better place. Thanks Eric.

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  5. Loved this piece. Nature is at the heart of so much of my writing, meditation, spiritual and philosophical musings. It seems the deepest understanding of life is found right before our eyes, growing daily.

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