From the sanctuary of the margins

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Chalk Artist – By June Perkins

There are many memorable stories in the real that beg for another life,  that of  fictionalised and immortalised.

My memory is initially drawing them as if I am  an eager girl artist with chalk on a pavement.

Yet these stories ask for more than a moment and long not to be washed away like chalk with the passing of time, if it can be helped.

They need more than a passing remembrance.

Often they have to be disguised and  transformed to protect the teller and the subject. With names changed and a few specific events altered they could lose some of their power, and yet their authenticity because they are inspired from real events speaks imploringly and passionately. Sometimes in the fictional realm, endings can be rewritten to what we hope for people, not what actually happens.

I found a few of these stories spoken this morning to my eldest son as we shared memories of other places we have lived and interesting people we have met. They were stories of everyday sorrow and lost promise, of perpetual children in adult’s bodies, so very Peter Pan, of children lost because parents did not put them first – the poetry of sorrow ebbs in these stories and pulls the participants in them into the undertow.  Sometimes there is shame mingled with the sorrow.

I realise I will not write characters of privilege, but characters who long for transformation from the undertow, the places of margin and sadness.  Perhaps they will live in poverty, perhaps they will be from rural country towns where the suicide rate is high. They come from  places where dreams are lost as people are caught up in their fear of the unknown beyond the town.  Yet their future if beyond the town has promise and hope, if they leave for the destinations of empowerment.

Some of the stories to tell are of people of strength, who build the margins into places where people would want to be. The margin is sometimes, if you are blessed, a community of sanctuary – that builds character ready for when you move into the centre.

When did I begin to want to tell these stories? What made these stories come to mind today?

Perhaps it was the first time I read Ann Frank’s diary.

Perhaps it was when I realised that people hated being Indians in the Cowboy Indian games when I was a child. Now they are native Americans and some want to be them more than they want to be cowboys.

Perhaps it was when I heard the N word used to describe me and my dark skin and wanted to know where that word came from and why it hurt so much.

Perhaps it was when I heard stories of my mother’s Papua New Guinea and felt tears spring to my eyes.

Perhaps it was yesterday when I heard of a million children  in Australia growing up in the shadow of domestic violence.

Perhaps it was when I spent time for myself in the sanctuary of the margins, living alongside the lost and found.

 

(c) June Perkins

4 thoughts on “From the sanctuary of the margins

  1. A truly inspirational piece, June.
    This is you at you absolute best, peeling back the layers of a writer’s heart to reveal the seeds and saplings of tomorrow’s work.

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  2. Thanks so much for your comment, there is so much to say and do to make this world the place we want it to be, and as writers we cannot underplay or avoid our role to push back the sorrows into something transformative.

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  3. It sounds like you are really finding your writer’s path now. When you speak of writing stories of the undertow of society your writer’s voice grows stronger and clearer. I don’t think the stories will lose power if you change names and places – as you say, the power of the story will come through and give it authenticity.
    This writing process you are currently undertaking appears to be helping you define yourself as a writer – keep going. It makes for fascinating reading too.

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  4. Thanks Suzanne, writers finding identity through writing, makes sense, I started a short story yesterday, and had an idea for 5 others all working with the themes outlines in this post. The story took on a very new form of language for me as I tried to get inside the heads of my characters

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