I have been a bit quiet of late, as a new book, Illuminations: 19 Poems and 1 Story, is about to be born.
At the end of this post is a preview of the back cover.
It has been a happy process – and has reunited me with designer Heidi Den Ronden and editor Matilda Elliot from Magic Fish Dreaming and led to working with new illustrators, Ruha and Minaira Fifita and some additional editing from Belinda Belton.
This book will be available in June 2020. I am using the Ingram Spark platform and developing more publishing and distribution skills this time around.
I’ve also retreated a bit to do some writing! Will keep you posted on the book, and I am keeping up my instagram posts.
I’ve been reflecting on how we treat the aged in our population after passing my fiftieth year. Some new poems being born through my poetry notebook. They are perculating, aging gracefully to find their meaning!
That’s all for now. Keep well, and think of happiness as a process not a destination.
This year I will be presenting a workshop on the Powers of Poetry on Sunday May 19th at the Ink of Light, Baha’i Writer’s Festival. I have been assisting Naysan Naraqi and Ian Hallmond with organising the festival and it is so exciting for all of us to be about to see it happen. I am especially looking forward to the panels.
My favourite books are many and varied, and I enjoyed during this interview series discovering that I shared some with the presenters who will be attending the festival. A special favourite is The Secret Garden though and I love books by Jackie French and Morris Gleitzman. I’m a huge fan also of Trent Dalton’s, Boy Swallows Universe.
My poetry heroes are eclectic and I especially love Tahirih, Mahvash Sabet, Robert Hayden, Maya Angelou and Roger White as well as numerous song writers such as Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Paul Kelly, Vika and Linda Bull, Wendy Matthews, Troy Cassar-Daley, and Sara Storer.
My main motivation in life is to encourage unity in diversity and the realisation of justice in the world, whilst in my writing it is to explore this through narratives and poems that are still imbued with beauty and optimism and which invite the reader to think about what they can do rather than dictating this.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
I’ve been collecting my life story blogs into a memoir. Today I was so excited because that collection hit 75,000 words.
This is how I presently describe the book: exploring landscapes, dreamscapes, writing scapes, and the getting of wisdom from Tasmania to Queensland: a Mekeo/Australian girl’s daily and remembered life.
The book has shown me how much my blog has focused me into the daily task of writing and contributed to the creation of many works that I can now polish.
My major preoccupations have been growing up in Tasmania as a second generation migrant, the process of writing, gaining wisdom from life experiences, the making of identity, experiencing Queensland and moments of epiphany that sometimes appear like side tracks in life, but where understanding of the world become clearer.
Some of the stories in my collection include: how my Mum and Dad met, meeting an anthropologist studying my Mum’s village in Papua New Guinea, experiencing the night of Cyclone Yasi, being a community journalist charting the recovery process after a natural disaster, the experience of racism, belonging and acceptance, school, writing groups, how my family coped with my brother becoming brain damaged after being knocked off his bike, the loss of another brother who had many problems and died in his thirties, the joys and challenges of motherhood and the exploration of what makes identity in terms of – place, spirit, culture, religion, upbringing.
Music, art, photography, writing, creativity all weave their way through the many stories. It pays tribute to many inspiring friends and people met in my family’s life journey.
My present challenge is do I leave it as a collection of stories and poems that I connect with newly written stories or newly written passages in the stories already there, or do I now use it to inspire a memoir written in a more traditional way.
Now it’s time for me to read a lot of memoirs and think about what makes someone want to read a life story.
If you have any suggestions of great ones to read let me know.
I am really interested in – What makes you read a memoir or a collection of related short stories?
So this week’s writing sagas is a day late, and the reasons, I’ve been busy working in other art forms and this week my youngest was very ill and I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.
Today I reflect on how the various forms of art ripple in my everyday life.
I’ve been creating some collages, like the one above, to make into posters and cards to sell and fund raise for other projects.
When I make these I enter a zone – to find the combinations that work, as I want them to have a simplicity to them that invites you in, to dream and see the possible, but they have to have something intriguing you can think about as well.
I’ve just had the wonderful news that many of my photographs of Queensland are to be featured in a writer’s anthology, all the way through a book.
I have some writing going in too, but I am excited about the images to be included as I love books featuring images and graphics supporting the writing. (I have a collection of writing currently with Paulien Bats who is illustrating and designing a book with some of my photos as well).
I’ll let you know where you can purchase both books when they come out. I am as excited as when words are published and can’t wait to see how the designer has incorporated them into the book.
One of the images which may be featured is this, but others more abstract are also on the cards. But let’s wait and see.
This week I’ve been working hard on the craft of video editing. I’ve a piece well on the way, but it will be a while before I share it. I want to begin to make my editing more creative, fluid, more like the collages I do. I want to master the technology that is the programs!
For inspiration in all I do, I’ve been watching lots of biographies of musicians lately – Buffy Sainte- Marie and George Harrison. George Harrison was an intense searcher for the truth. He sought detachment from material things. I might not live my life the way he did, but I can see a lot of wisdom in some of his philosophy and his meditation practice was definitely a plus in his life, as was his friendship with Ravi Shankar.
Buffy is a person who travels across art forms in her quest for creativity. She paints, educates, creates, writes, plays and always looks for ways to create more understanding of First nations issues and rights. I love this quote from her and I like to think spoken and written expression can also ‘shine through.’
“In my own language, there is no word for art.” Instead, they say, “It shines through him. That is the mystery — the artist is a vehicle for the Creator. ” Buffy Sainte- Marie
How would you describe how your writing is influenced by the other art forms?
She was a funny little thing that childhood me – skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies. She used to like to pretend she knew Joan of Arc personally. She was riding in her army. She stopped her burning at the stake.
She loved to pretend she was Heidi, and so when taking her lunch of bread rolls made by Dad to school, she wrapped them up in red checked tea towel. She imagined she was in the Swiss Alps.
She hated having her photo taken, well that is if she was being forced to look into the sun. She remembers one day having to pose on the sand with her Dad, whilst she was scowling and saying ’when will this be over Mum’ and before you know it the polaroid image was taken, and froze her forever in scowls.
She had intense feelings, that didn’t always lead her down the right path. I remember a particularly bad day when she broke a friend’s doll because he wouldn’t let her play with it, and yet everyone else had, had a turn.
What a jealous little child – to run away with the doll and lob it into a sand pit, well that’s how I remember it. The doll wore a velvet red dress, had long golden locks and she was so beautiful you wanted to dress her up and brush her hair again and again. I always wanted to own a doll like that, to think I actually hurt her still gives me a rapid butterfly tummy moment (she was repaired and duly not bought to school again, unless shared on a roster with all the other kids.)
I remember her many sleepless nights after that, where the ghost of that damaged doll came knocking at her window and gave that funny childhood me the heeby jeeby’s. That’s childhood guilt for you. I still don’t like those glass eyed dolls much though.
That funny child makes me laugh, because she cannot see into her future – the children she will have, the life she will lead and the humour she will see in her many learning experiences. Her children will not be hungry or want for toys and books in their childhood, but they will be tested in other ways.
I love her intensity and passion though, as she writes poems about seeds falling to plant themselves in the ground and then grow, dreams about the book written by her that friends and family will oneday borrow from the local library, and dreams of freedom from her three brothers who are driving her up the wall. She knows what it is to do without, and the bad breath that hunger brings.
She doesn’t know her wishes will come at a cost, and that she’ll remember their happy childhood excursions with a nostalgic sadness.
Once all her brothers and she all played shops with coins made from rusted tin, cricket and climbed trees together. She was the cool tom boy big sister who saw herself as the ring leader of their games.
Along the way the second in line, her now lost brother, usurped her throne and she was banished from the cricket games for ‘being a girl.’ She turned to books and journals and struggled with being the outsider amongst her siblings. She dreamt of sisters, aunties, and formed attachments beyond family to fill the loneliness.
She grew up, to become me, and had friends who were brothers and sisters, tried desperately to outrun the family who had partly raised her, and then one day her heart returned home and forgave them and herself.
I stand at the threshold of those memories and pat her gently on the back.
Time to remember that which hurts, that which heals and that which gives peace. Sometimes it’s good to just chuckle at the follies of our childhood and youth.
And every now and then a gleam drop of joy falls.
I hold out my hand to her and beckon her forth – funny little thing that childhood me – skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies.
Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.