Betty Cabral Collerson: Captivated by Nature

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Betty, the eldest of six children, was born and raised in Belém, a town on the mouth of the Amazon River, Brazil. Her childhood included some amazing incidents, like when she woke up in the middle of the night with a spider monkey prancing in  her bedroom.

At sixteen, by choice,  she went to live in Rio, where she was meant to go to University, but at 19 she married an Englishmen and went to live in England. It was the start of much travelling and moving around the world, until they finally settled in Australia in 1990 with their three children.

After arriving in Australia, Betty graduated with an honours degree in psychology by Griffith University and a research PhD in Cognitive Psychology by the University of Queensland. However, her true passions are writing, photography, and above all her four gorgeous grandchildren. 

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1. June: Tell us the story of how you came to live in Australia

Betty: We were living in Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea, from 1982 to 1990 because my ex-husband was working for Bougainville Copper, a large copper mine in the town of Panguna. However, when the armed conflict waged in Bougainville intensified around 1989, everyone had to be repatriated.

Since our two oldest children were in boarding school in Brisbane, about to start grade 10 and 12 respectively, we asked for a transfer to Australia instead of returning to the UK.

We arrived in  Australia in January 1990, and were meant to reside in Melbourne, where my ex-husband’s company was based, but because our children were attending school in Brisbane, we ended up settling there instead. Now, my two oldest children live in Melbourne, and the youngest in Amsterdam.

2. June: What themes inspire your arts practice in writing and photography Betty?

Betty: I am greatly inspired by people and the events that impact and shape our lives. Growing up by the Amazon River and rain forest has shaped my relationship with nature and fostered a deep love and respect for all animals.

For example, in the picture book Spider Monkey to the Rescue, I was inspired by a spider monkey that lived across the street from our house, in the Emilio Goeldi Museum. This monkey was an escape artist, and was the one that ended up in by bedroom one night.

In ‘Chatterbox Rosa,’ a story published in Sally Odgers’ Charms Vol. 1 Anthology, the inspiration was a pet parrot that could mimic our voices perfectly and her incessant chatter drove us all mad.

In Little Dragon’s Birth Day, I was inspired by the birth of my grandson Xavier in 2012, who was born in the year of the dragon according to the Chinese horoscope. We were all excited about his impending arrival but then on the day of his birth things got complicated and we had a big scare. The story tries to convey the excitement and also the perils of a child’s birth through the eyes of a dragons’ family.

In my photography, people, landscapes and birds feature. I am totally captivated by nature.

There is so much beauty all around but in our haste we sometimes fail to notice it. I want my photography to show the beauty that exists in simple things and everyday life.

Native Amazonians, who for thousands of years have developed ways of life that are in harmony with nature, and who believe that they’re reborn through their grandchildren, are also another major influence in my life.

3. June: Tell us about your latest book Betty?  How did this come about?  When and where will it be released?

Betty: Little Dragon’s Birth Day is currently being illustrated by Tanya Hempson, and as I mentioned it was inspired by the arrival of my grandson, Xavier. Tanya has been working on the illustrations for quite some time now, they are all hand drawn and coloured, so it takes time. We were hoping to have the book ready in time for Christmas; however, Tanya had to postpone the completion of the work due to family and other pressing commitments. I am now waiting for her to finish the illustrations before organising a launch.

In the mean time, I started another story; this one is about looking after a bonsai tree, which in many ways draws a parallel with caring for another person. It is loosely based on events that took place during the WWII, when Japanese citizens in the USA had to relinquish all their possessions and go to interment camps for the duration of the war.

Another book awaiting publication is Spider Monkey to the Rescue, which was illustrated by a Brazilian illustrator named Uoster Zielinski. The finished book is very beautiful and has a high educational content, teaching children about all these different animals from the Amazon rainforest.

A publisher in Brazil has expressed interest in publishing this book in English, Portuguese and Spanish. The publisher also owns a major book distribution business and sells to other countries in South and Central America, including Cuba and Mexico.

I met the publisher last year and he indicated that they would publish the book by September this year, but there has been so much upheaval in Brazil lately that he has put it on hold until further notice.

4. June: Have you published anything before this and can you tell us a bit about that?  What was the book? How did this come to be published?

Betty: I had Chatterbox Rosa, a story for 6-8 years old, published in 2013 in an anthology called Charms Vol. 1 (Ed. Sally Odgers). Sally Odgers, a terrific writer and editor, runs Affordable Manuscript Assessment and Workshops, and is the force behind Prints Charming, a shared imprint she administers.

Sally has published a few anthologies under the Prince Charming Book’s banner, which gives writers like myself the opportunity to see their work in print. I also had a poem – ‘The Migrant,’ published in an anthology called Wandering Thoughts (1994). This poem is about the losses experienced by those who have to migrate for whatever reasons.

In writing, poetry was my first love, but I found it difficult to write poetry in English, it is not the charms-coversame as in my first language, where I am deeply intimate with the nuances of words, so I haven’t done much in this genre since.

I have had two of my stories bought by the School Magazine this year. One, a non-fiction piece, talks about children going to school by boat in the Amazon. The other is again on the theme of migration, and the wish to teach your culture to the next generation in the family. It is a sweet story about the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter, but from the perspective of a middle-eastern family.

5. June: When and why did you take up photography Betty? What are your main photographic subjects and themes? Can you tell me about the favourite picture you have ever taken?

Betty: My father was a keen amateur photographer, and as I child I got used to being photographed, filmed, etc, from an early age. When I was about ten, he gave me my first camera, a Kodak Starmatic, I think.  I was only allowed one black and white film, perhaps twelve shots, a month, so I had to learn not to waste my photos with silly stuff.

Not surprisingly, my first photos were of nature. In the Goeldi Museum, an anthropological research institute across the road from our house, there were these huge trees called Samaumeira (Ceiba Pentandra), which can reach up to seventy meters and have an incredible root system. I photographed them from a child’s perspective, which meant that my photos showed the might of these trees growing towards the sky. The shots must have looked good because my father was quite impressed by them.

In my photography, I am totally captivated by nature, and children interacting with nature.

Birds feature strongly in my images; I love to photograph them, but I am in love with everything to do with nature. I have been captivated by macro photography and how it can show the intricacies of a flower, an insect, the fine design in the feathers on a bird, for example.

I want my photography to show the beauty that exists in everyday
life, in the simplest things, people included.

One of my favourite photos, taken a few years ago, still warms up my heart and makes me smile every time I look at it. It is of a young boy having fun on the beach with his dog.

There is much action and happiness in this shot. You can feel the magic of the bond between dog and child. I swear the dog has a smile on its face.

A Dog's Life

A Dog's Life

 

5. June: What major cultural and arts groups do you connect with and why? Can you tell me more about your connection with Writelinks?

Betty: I am a founding member of Writelinks, and attended its first meeting in the company of a still very committed group of like-minded people. It has been the best thing, and has opened the doors to the many facets of the writing and publishing world. In addition, the support and encouragement one gets from the other group members is priceless.

Writing is a lonely pursuit so the regular contact with others following the same path is most encouraging. I belong to SCBWI, Books Links and CBCA, all organisations devoted to promoting children’s literature, which are run by wonderful and committed people.

Unfortunately, as my photography passion has become all encompassing, I have not attended as many meetings and other events as I would like to, but I am still there and contribute in a small way.

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This year saw me join two photography clubs in Brisbane – The Queensland Camera Group  and the Brisbane Camera Group, which are some of the oldest photography clubs in Queensland. I have enjoyed being part of these groups for similar reasons I enjoy being part of the writing scene.

I been receiving a tremendous amount of feedback for my work and have participated in local, national and international competitions. I have been receiving mostly merits and honours for the photos I submit for the clubs’ monthly competitions, which is encouraging.

I entered my first international competition this year, a non-graded event, which meant that amateurs at different levels and professional photographers were judged together. Five of my entries received an acceptance grade from the judges. Considering that in excess of 6,000 photographs were entered this was a remarkable result.

I am now preparing for an exhibition in October. It is part of a project organised by the Queensland Camera Group and 8-10 of my photos will form part of this exhibition. My project is on the issue of living with a disability, particularly mental illness.

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To find out more about Betty you can visit these spaces:

Betty Collerson

Travels in My Canoe

Facebook

Twitter

Flickr

 

Mind of Forests

I love to keep my hand in with writing, especially when in the midst of publishing work for Magic Fish Dreaming.

I’ve been looking at the prompts at Tweetspeak and having a go at them. There are plenty of wonderful poetry prompt sites, and I really enjoy working with some of the tools others have developed as well as developing my own.

Ripple Poetry

One must have a mind of forests
branches creaking with the wind
a song of long forgotten ones
that fell

to be covered by shades of green, rich and velvet
tasted by the eyes
cupped in bowl like hands then
eaten for future dreams.

Light sneaks in from the sky
to streak across the
pathway below
through the gaps of green
lines of warmth
awakening the green.

I look to the leaves
dancing velvet
praise to the sky.

(c) June Perkins

Working with some prompts from Tweetspeak Poetry

Prompt one ‘One must have a mind of’ and sensory language.

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Passing the $5000AUD Mark!

So excited to let you know we have just passed $5000, and are now at $5049 raised towards our green light $9000 goal.

Just $3951 more and we will have our project definitely up and away!

There are just a few more hours left in our special Cassowary soft toy and book reward, so if you know anyone that would love this reward with the book, do let them know.

Thanks so much to Dimity Powell, who blogged our project today, and shared her blog throughout her networks.  We greatly appreciate the assistance of Dimity and many others who are letting the wider community know about our book.

Mr Koala says check out this: ARTICLE BY DIMITY

We acknowledge continual supporters on twitter like the Children Writers Guild, Alesa Lajana, Nancy, Vacen and Lenora Riegel, Pasifika Tales, Australian Women Writers, and Torey-Ann Torres, as well as their retweeting friends!

A big thank you to Jan Cornall, the Writer’s Journey, and to Di Bates, at Buzz words for sharing information about our project in their newsletters. We now have a few multiple book order options available, as some people are buying one for themselves and one for a friend or library. So check out our custom rewards.

ABC Far North Queensland did a prerecorded radio interview.  We will inform you when we know when and where this is airing and if there is an online podcast link.

Today the following stop press went out to schools.

Stop Press – Additional Note for Schools – Workshops Magic Fish Dreaming 

We realise that for many schools and libraries to consider the workshop option and day visits they need to budget well ahead of time.

The schedule for this book is that it will be available October/November 2016 and the workshops will commence in 2017.

We recommend if you would love a presentation or workshop or term project for 2017 pre-purchase at least the book or Education Reward 1 so we make sure it happens and goes into print.

You will then have the satisfaction of knowing you supported a book which encourages the development of poets in our community from the earliest of ages.

We will convert your skype in Education Reward to the introductory talk to a large school group.

June has run poetry workshops in schools and for community groups, and has a graduate certificate in teaching and a PhD in writing empowerments. She is currently on an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for writing picture books and works mentoring University students in creative writing.

Helene has taught art in India. She is an award winning artist with four picture books that will have been published by 2017.

They are combining forces to inspire and share the process of collaboration, illustration, and poetry in programs will be suitable for budding illustrators and poets. Much of the information you will need for budget and grant consideration is on our project blog.

Furthermore you can look at the educational rewards in the kickstarter to get an idea of the costs and programs we provide.

First preference for 2017 workshops will be given to those schools and teachers who supported the kickstarter.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/juneperkins/magic-fish-dreaming

June and Helene are based in Brisbane. Travel outside of Brisbane’s CBD more than 50 km will incur additional travel costs.

(More information will be available on workshops soon)

Kickstarter Crowd Funding Explained

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For all of those Magic Fish Dreaming Backers  who might be using kickstarter for the first time.

1) You register to use as you are charged for the book only when project is fully funded and so you can receive updates of when your products will be delivered etc.

2) You do this once only and then can support future kickstarter projects and even set up your own in future.

3) Check the project timelines, this book for instance will be delivered the end of this year between October and December and the workshops will run in 2017 for anyone booking them

4) You need to pick the reward you want, but you can pledge any amount you wish, this is totally up to you.  Pick the one you like most.  Rewards are designed to be good value to you. Anything else ?  Head to kickstarter to find out  FAQ KICKSTART

Our first goal to reach is $9000.  We are currently at $1894 ! (34 days to go)

The earlier we reach $9000 the better, as everybody can celebrate that we can definitely go ahead.  We value every contribution, small or large.

Head to our project link  HERE