Pixi’s Book of Circus

I have known Pixi, ever since we met at a Writing Group in Wollongong. She once kindly gave my family tickets to go to see Circus Oz as well when we last caught up in Brisbane over ten years ago! I was delighted to hear she has recently published a book on circus especially for children, but attractive for all ages.  Pixi has lived and studied circus, and her book is written from a true first hand and an academic researched understanding of what circus actually is.

Pixi was born in Perth and studied classical ballet.   She worked on circuses in Germany and England, flying trapeze, aerial ballet, riding elephants. Back in Australia she married a fellow-performer on Swiss Circus Royale in the “big top”. A founding member of Circus Oz, Associate Artistic Director for the first three years of The Flying Fruit Fly Circus.   She has an associate Degree in Visual Art at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), BA (1st Class Hons. Writing) and a Masters at Edith Cowan University. She self-published Bunty Armitage – Circus Girl (2014); Tempo – a circus romance (2015) both on Lulu.com; A Book of Circus (2017) and you can order on FB.  She is the Oceania Co-ordinator, World Circus Day and Co-organiser, Australian Circus Festival.

 

1.What is your earliest memory of circus? 

Seeing Bullen Bros Circus or Ashton’s Circus, or possibly Wirth’s Circus (can’t remember which but saw them all) in early 1950s in Perth. It always rained when the circus came! My main memory, is of massed girls spinning in the air, the sound of the circus band, andthe evocative smell of exotic animals.

 

2.When and why did you begin to write this circus book?

It grew out of another project, a serious, slightly academic picture book on the history of Australian Circus. I felt it was important to share the important cultural aspects of circus in the colonies and in the present day; most people have no idea of this rich, vibrant history.

 

3.Why did you pick the style of the book? And how would you describe it?

This is a picture book using real photographic images of historic and contemporary circuses and performers. The use of drawn or painted illustrations was not a consideration as too much of “circus” is presented as fantasy while it is, in fact, gutsy and earthy and real.

 

4.Why did you independently publish your book?

I’ve been submitting unsuccessfully to publishers and agents for quite some time, even though I had a Second and a Highly Commended from the Children’s Book Council of NSW “Frustrated Writers’ Awards” which ultimately led nowhere, so decided a few years ago that I just better do it myself as I can’t seem to get past the gate-keepers of the book publishing establishment.

 

5.Who is your main interested audience for this book?  Why?

The Book of Circus is designed for young circus audience members, circus fans and collectors of circus books; it has eye-appeal for children (target audience) and grandmas who buy treats at the circus. For adults it  contains information about general circus history and some facts about circus animals. It is a resource for schools, libraries and other interested parties with listings for all the travelling circuses in Australia, circus schools, circus shows and circus equipment suppliers.

 

6.What five words would your use to describe this book?

Colourful; fun; entertaining; affordable; informative.

 

7.Share  your favourite short excerpt from the book.

Given the current (and puzzling) hysteria surrounding clowns, I’m quite pleased with my explanation aimed at young children in an endeavor to normalize our clown colleagues:

Clowns are ordinary people wearing face paint and funny clothes”.

 

8.What is your favourite image in this book?  Why?

I love them all, which is why they’re in the book, but I have to admit to particularly loving “l is for lion” – young Cassius West from Stardust Circus with his favourite lion cub, just beautiful. This family of animal trainers, acrobats, aerialists and circus proprietors shares a special affinity with the Big Cats.

 

9.What advice would you give to anyone wanting to go into circus work?

Aspiring circus performers and workers need to understand that it is a way of life, not just a job, whether you are an artiste, an animal handler, the fairy-floss maker, or the on-site school teacher. Rather like farming, really, in many ways: the weather, the outdoor aspects, the animals, the constant harassment by animal activists, but with the bonus of constantly changing scenery! So if you chose this path you have to be committed 100% to 24 hour days, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year. Hard work? Yes, of course, but more rewarding than you could ever imagine.

 

10. What advice would you give to new writers when picking a topic to write about?

Let the topic pick you. I never meant to write about circus, but it just keeps happening, ha, ha!

 

 

How to get hold of the book

Pixi is now taking orders for A BOOK OF CIRCUS.  $15 plus postage. VIA email:  sumarapixi@hotmail.com

You can find out about her other circus books via Lulu

More information about Pixi is HERE

 

Tempo on Lulu

Thanks so much for appearing on the blog Pixi!  May you write many more books of circus!

 

 

Let’s Go Find the Women History Hides

Following the Crow Song

19060108_10211924738286748_4037967534773894514_nLast weekend Jackie French mesmerised and intrigued Booklinks members and the public by speaking about the women history hides to raise money for an upcoming Symposium on literature and writing centres.  This is my account of listening to her talk.

It was a shocking morning, hearing all about stabbings in London.  I could scarcely keep the tears from rolling down my face.  Oh what are we doing – humanity?  I wasn’t sure if I could leave the house, and if just a day of meditation and prayers, or a solitary walk in nature, might be the way to go.   That’s my sensitive poet’s heart; I am sure a lot of other’s people’s hearts were breaking too.

But I gave myself a stern talking to, Jackie French one of my all time favourite authors was in town, and was going to give a talk.  ‘Get on that bus June and go be with…

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Meet the Sandcliffe Writers Festival Presenters: Veny Armanno

Venero (Veny) Armanno was born in Brisbane to Sicilian migrant parents. He is the author of two books of short stories and nine critically acclaimed novels.

In the 1993 Jumping at the Moon was equal runner-up, Steele Rudd Award for Best Short Story collection. My Beautiful Friend was runner-up Aurealis Best Horror Novel, 1996. Firehead was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Novel in 1999 and The Volcano won that award in 2002. The Volcano was also shortlisted for the Courier Mail Best Book of the Year. Veny’s last novel Black Mountain (2012) received wide critical acclaim.

In 2016 he published his second collection of short stories, Travel Under Any Star, and in September this year his latest book Burning Down will be released.

His novels have been published in USA, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, Israel and South Korea.

Veny is also a trained screenwriter and teaches creative writing at University of Queensland.


1. Have you been to the Sandcliffe Festival Before?

No, this is my first time.

2. What are you looking forward to and how did you become involved in it this year?

I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s all about and meeting readers and book lovers. It’s always good to (eventually) get away from the desk and actually see and hear what people think about literature in the real world.

3. What is the main focus of what you will be speaking about at the festival (a short sneak peek)

We’re talking about issues of belonging and migration, I think – things I seem to have been writing about for decades. A lot of the discussion will depend on where the questions and conversations take us, but I’m sure Melissa will speak about indigineity, and I’ll be able to speak about European migration to Australia and the establishment of new homes and lives. We’re looking at this through the idea of being (or not being) an outsider.

4. If you could choose to be a favourite literary character, who would you be and why?

Is Batman a literary character? I’d love to be a do-gooder, but not in tights etc. Maybe James Bond, that’d be cool. Except I’m Italian so it doesn’t seem quite right. If I really had to pick, it would be someone like Cesar Castilo from The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love – a Cuban-American migrant who comes to America with big dreams. He is/was a great (fictional) musician, lover, drinker…

To find out more about Veny Armanno

Author Site:
Facebook:
Amazon:


First Sandcliffe event. ‘Insights of an Outsider’

Sunday 23rd April,

11am – 12pm

Brisbane Square Library, 266 George St. Brisbane

Panel Session: Featuring Melissa Lucashenko, Veny Armanno and Lauren Daniels

Organised by Society of Women Writers QLD and funded by Lord Mayor’s Writers in Residence program.

Free entry, but library would appreciate bookings so they have some idea of numbers. Please ph: library on 3403 4166.

Dymocks Books will be there selling author’s works

For more information on the festival visit FACEBOOK

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.

Betty Collerson_Red Centre_07 (1 of 1)

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

 

Diving into creativity, changing perspectives

 

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Abstracting Nature’s Reflections – June Perkins

At the moment I am working on three short stories;  one about homelessness, another racism of the insidious subtle kind, and the last one introduces and captures a deep thinker trapped  in his falling apart (but maybe he can put it back together) country life.

But these themes whilst they appear deep and meaningful are carried by compelling characters who don’t speak like philosophers but like everyday people with particular lingo/slang/dialogue that is real and natural.

As I create each story I am thinking extensively about the voice of the narrator and which narrative point of view will work the best.  One story has me writing from several characters’ perspectives,  something like in Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper.

I find that shifting the point of view in my stories is deeply challenging as I have to jump inside the head of a racist for art, and that character  is letting me know she has many redeeming features, and the possibility for growth and change as much as any other in a tale of broken friendship.  Yet the empathy is discomforting and I still want the character to change and grow but I am not sure if she can.  I don’t want to judge this character, and yet I could be biased in the fate I give to her and not let her be organic and make sense if emotion gets the better of me.

One piece about homelessness is very poetic and seems to like being a piece of flash fiction, or it could become a performance poetry piece.   I’ve opted for a third person narrator seeing a scene, but I may well experiment with it more, as that might lead to some new discoveries about that scene.  As I write it I keep thinking of Elizabethan songs with crows in them, only my story has a different species of bird.

Often I use photographs to inspire my writing, and in the same way I like to abstract an image as the one above in this blog,  I think about how to abstract characters – make something straightforward more ambiguous, questioning and creative, create characters that ripple and flow into and around the river of existence.

I have no idea yet, what age each story will suit, and whether they will lengthen or shorten.  All I know is that the characters want to leap off the page and speak to a wider audience.  I don’t want to put them on my blog, but  into competitions or publications, maybe some might even join together and create a novel, yet I do want my blog readers to know a bit about the journey of these characters as they come into being.

I worried that when I moved to the city, my inspirational muse of nature might cause me to close up in my longing to write and photograph.  Instead my memory of the country becomes more vivid and has something to contrast against.  The country becomes a place to move into as a storehouse of experiences and characters to consider representing.  The city is vivid too, as it is all around me.  It is strange and unsettling to hear sirens everyday instead of twice a year.

I still keep up the life writing.  The city sparks memories of times I was a student in the city and those stories become clearer as I travel again on trains.  Yet, there is a freedom in creating fiction that calls ever more strongly.

(c) June Perkins

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