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Posts from the ‘Australian Women Writers’ Category

18
May

#AWW2019 Maxine Beneba Clarke

 

Introduction:

  1. I needed to share
  2. Maxine Beneba Clarke’s poem on my blog.
  3. There is something so rewarding in this poem
  4. if you are willing to
  5. let go of what you already know.

 

Ritual

We’ll go cardboard-boothed

  to the primary schools

community centres

  and the churches to boot

 

and friendly neighbours

  ideologically opposed

will avert their eyes

  as they fold up their votes

 

Last thoughts:

You want a poem to unsettle something…

  1. Maxine Beneba Clarke has done it
  2. ..about Australian elections 2019
  3. There’s not a word wasted in these clean, spare lines.
  4. We could use this poem for elections all over Europe!
  5. You can read THE ENTIRE POEM  HERE
  6. Thank you @slamup 

 

 

 

18
May

#AWW2019 Lesley Williams

  • Author:  Lesley and Tammy Williams
  • Title: Not Just Black and White
  • Published: 2015
  • Genre: indigenous issues non-fiction
  • Trivia: 2016 Queensland Premier’s Award work of State Significance
  • Trivia  2014 David Unaipon Award Winner
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters

 

Quickscan:

  1. This is a writing collaboration between
  2. mother (Lesley) and daughter (Tammy).
  3. Lesley Williams was forced to leave the
  4. Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement
  5. …at a young age to work as a domestic servant.
  6. Lesley never saw her wages.
  7. They were kept ‘safe’ by the government.
  8. This book relates her nine-year journey for answers:
  9. where is all that money she earned?
  10. Lesley confronts the government
  11. …in a judicial wrestling match!

 

Conclusion:

  1. Mrs Williams describes her youth
  2. while giving the reader a clear mental image
  3. of the backdrop Cherbourg settlement.
  4. It was difficult to read about her life
  5. under  cruel Protection Act that uprooted
  6. thousands of Aboriginal people.
  7. because of her strong character and vision
  8. she was able overcome many hardships.

 

  1. There were several messages in the book that
  2. resonated to me:
  3. Williams feels a strong sense of Aboriginal community. (safety network)
  4. Williams struggles to fight injustice (racial, financial)
  5. Williams reminds all people who suffer racism…

 

  1. Best quote:
  2. “There are two ways to fight racism:
  3. — fight with your fists
  4. — fight with your talents and achievements”
  5. Nothing hurts a racist more
  6. …when they see you achieving

 

Last thoughts

  1. Good literature unnerves you…..
  2. …or takes you somewhere to consider things
  3. ….things that you might not have considered
  4. thinking about before.
  5. This book took me into the Cherbourg Settlement.
  6. It showed me the strength of family…
  7. that remained unbroken for Lesley Williams.
  8. It has only been in the last generations
  9. …that Aboriginal writers have been published.
  10. They now are  able to tell their stories, their truths.
  11. #ReadDiversity

 

16
May

#AWW2019 Nakkiah Lui (playwright)

  • Author: Nakkiah Lui (1991)  Gamillaroi and Torres Strait Islander woman
  • Title: Black is the New White
  • Published: 2019 (book)
  • Opening night: 10 May 2017 Sydney Theatre Company
  • Genre: play (romantic comedy)
  • Trivia: Indigenous issues
  • Trivia: 2018 winner NSW Lit Award for Playwriting
  • Trivia: 2018 shortlist Victorian Premier’s Award Drama
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters
  • @AllenandUnwin

 

Quickscan:

  1. Young couple Charlotte Gibson and
  2. Francis Smith are newly engaged.
  3. But their fathers are political rivals.
  4. The Gibson and Smith families gather for Christmas lunch.
  5. Unexpected guests, sudden self-realizations
  6. …and family secrets disrupt their meal.
  7. Themes: land rights, politics, relationships, identity, class.
  8. Question: What is it to be Aboriginal and middle class?

 

Structure:

  1. 7 scenes
  2. 8 characters:
  3. Engaged couple (20s)  Charlotte and Francis
  4. Their respective parents (50-60s) Joan, Ray, Maire and Dennison
  5. Daughter (nr 2) and son-in-law (30s) Rose and Sonny

 

Dialogue:

  1. To speed up the pace Nakkiah uses overlapping dialogue.
  2. The idea was to write dialogue
  3. …the way people really speak
  4. …so that characters cut off the
  5. beginnings and ends of each other’s sentences.
  6. Full revelation of emotions is transformed into comedy.
  7. At times it feels like community (scene 3-4-5-6)
  8. ….and at times like chaos! (scene 7)

 

References: 

  1. To give the play a very culturally modern feel we read about a
  2. virtual reality mask, twitter, Michell Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton,
  3. Kim and Kayne Kardishan, Beyoncé and JayZ, Martin Luther King,
  4. Waleed Aly, Alicia Keyes,
  5. Netflix series House of Cards and the movie Cluesless.

 

Narrator:

  1. Lui uses a technique of the narrator to
  2. give the audience/reader the backstory.
  3. The narrator comments on action, adds insight
  4. …on characters, stage elements
  5. …developing a precise and complete character persona.

 

Conclusion:

  1. I will not reveal any spoilers
  2. …..the play should be read with a clean slate.
  3. You will enjoy the unfinished battles
  4. …in the character’s public and private lives!
  5. We follow the maze from character to character….
  6. …with the climatic scene 7
  7. …which includes 15 ‘bombshells’ of information!
  8. In Black is the New White (title revealed in scene 4)
  9. …you meet 8 characters  who
  10. challenge stereotypes of
  11. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  12. With Nakkiah Lui’s  comic descriptions of
  13. their personal interaction and commentary
  14. …you have an unforgettable romantic comedy
  15. …and many life lessons.
  16. #MustRead   #MustLaugh
13
May

#Ockham NZ Awards MY CHOICE winner Fiona Kidman

  • Author: Dame Fiona Judith Kidman DNZM OBE (1940)
  • Title: This Mortal Boy
  • Published: 2018
  • Genre: historical fiction
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #AWW2019 
  • @AusWomenWriters
  • Trivia: 2019 Winner of The New Zealand Booklovers’ Prize for Fiction
  • Trivia: 2018 Shortlisted for the NZ Heritage Book Awards
  • Trivia: 2019 Shortlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards
  • #TheOckhams will be awarded 14 May 2019.
  • @PenguinBooks_NZ

 

Quickscan:

  1. On 05 December1955
  2. …New Zealand’s second-last execution occurred.
  3. The victim was a young Irishman,
  4. Albert (Paddy) Black…a bog-trotter.
  5. He knifed a man, Johnny McBride…bit of a rough diamond,
  6. in a bar-room brawl 26 July 1955
  7. …called the “juke-box murder”.
  8. Public revulsion at his execution was a major force
  9. ..in abolishing the death penalty in 1961.
  10. Black was convicted of murder and executed.
  11. Yet there were clear signs that his trial
  12. …was a severe miscarriage of justice.
  13. Main characters:
  14. Albert (Paddy) Black Irish, aka Shaun Donavan (killer)
  15. Alan Keith Jacques English, aka Johnny McBride (victim)
  • Setting change: 1955 Belfast Ireland
  • Flashback: Belfast, parents, childhood, WW II, sailing to life in NZ
  • Setting: NZ Aukland, Wellington, Auckland Parliament House
  • Mt Eden Prison NZ (arrested awaits trial),
  • Ye Olde Barn cafe (crime scene)
  • Setting: Station Hotel Aukland NZ (where jury is staying during trial)
  • Setting: Aukland Court house – jury’s decision (ch 19)
  • Setting: Mount Eden Prison…execution

 

Conclusion:

  1. This story is based on facts that are in no way
  2. sentimentalized by the author.
  3. This Mortal Boy reads like a Greek Tragedy
  4. …we know what is going to happen in the last act.
  5. The platform on the gallows will actually be a trapdoor.
  6. The book is a stark report about a young boy who
  7. made a mistake and paid the ultimate price, his life.

 

  1. Strong point:
  2. Research
  3. Dame Fiona Kidman has studied the trial transcripts
  4. …read copies of Albert Black’s letters to friend his Peter
  5. ..and visited Ireland to research the public records in Belfast
  6. (births, marriages, deaths).
  7. Chapter  27  is and eyewitness report  of the execution by J. Young.
  8. (…a very confronting read)
  9. Trial witnesses, lawyers and members of the jury are fictional.

 

  1. Strong point:
  2. Kidman examines history with a fine tooth comb.
  3. She supports her story with references
  4. to Australian politicians, The Mazengarb 1954 (report on moral delinquency)
  5. …and  the hanging of Fred Foster July 1955 for the ‘Milk Bar Murder’.

 

  1. Strong point:
  2. The jury
  3. In chapter two Kidman takes time to
  4. …introduce the reader to the 12 men on the jury.
  5. At first I thought Kidman was being too detailed.
  6. But later I realized  why it is important to know the
  7. social class (job, education) of these men.
  8. Only then can we understand the decision making
  9. process about Albert Black:
  10. guilty or not guilty.
  11. Three jurors add doubt to the arguments for guilty.
  12. I was captivated and drawn in as these jurors  try to
  13. remain staunchly against a guilty verdict.
  14. You will read what happened
  15. ….that pushed the verdict to guilty!

 

  1. Weak point of audio book:
  2. The singing!
  3. I’d rather read that someone is humming or singing a song
  4. …than to actually hearing it. #Distracting.

 

  1. Strong point:
  2. Ch 14 –  Oliver Buchanan, lawyer
  3. We imagine that the case is open and shut but…
  4. Buchanan works tirelessly to help his client
  5. …avoid the death penalty.
  6. There is something missing  in this case
  7. …but he cannot find the piece.
  8. Buchanan is interested in
  9. what happened before Paddy stabbed Johnny
  10. …that can prove that this crime was based on an accident.
  11. Buchanan quotes Thomas Hardy:
  12. “…for every bad..there is a worse.”

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Capital punishment…is such a contentious issue.
  2. While reading this book I was forced to think
  3. about the consequences of this policy.
  4. #Heartwrenching
  5. MY CHOICE to win Ockham 2019 for Fiction.

 

Quote:

  1. Juror – Arthur university lecturer discusses… life? or death ?
  2. “…are you all so far beyond reproach
  3. that you have a right to make this decision?
  4. I’m not sure that I am.”

6
May

#AWW2019 Winner Victorian Lit Award 2019 Poetry

  • Author: Kate Lilley
  • Title: Tilt
  • Published: 2018
  • Genre: poetry (38 poems)
  • Cover: 1948 photograph of Luna Park lighted windmill, Sydney
  • Title:  Tilt….express the feeling of being off-balance
  • Trivia: 2019 Victorian Premier’s Award for poetry – winner
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters

 

Introduction:

  1. Just finished reading 38 poems:
  2. TILT by Kate Lilley.
  3. Her talents…are mentally exhausting
  4. …and I mean that in a good way.
  5. Time for aperitif #Heineken.
  6. Poetry is hard work….more so than a novel!

 

What did I learn about just by reading these poems?

  1. Queen Christina – cult scenes in the movie with Greta Garbo (Poem: Femme Forte)
  2. Taboo subject unheard of in polite circles 19th C Edinburgh
  3. …The Drumsheugh Gardens School scandal 1810 (Poem: Children’s Hour)
  4. Slice of life of forgotten 1970s queer strip in Sydney (Poem: Tilt)
  5. Lillian Hellman’s 1934 production of Children’s Hour
  6. ….(see scandal Edinburgh) (Poem: Children’s Hour)
  7. La Maupin 17th C French swordswoman who caused
  8. havoc in a convent trying to escape with
  9. …her lesbian lover (OH!) (Poem: Children’s Hour)
  10. Kate Lilley’s 10 autobiographical poems (part 1) #heartwrenching
  11. I learned about Greta Garbo’s post showbiz life as recluse in NYC
  12. ..this was a poem-essay (Poem: Garbo at ‘Wits End’)
  13. Corporate talk “If you need me get in touch, backchannel me”
  14. (Poem: Coda)sense of closure with first poem Tilt
  15.  Poem for lovers in a transnational/digital world (Poem: Weather Channel)
  16. I learned why Lilley wrote an elegy for her father (author)
  17. …Merv Lilley (Poem: Her Bush Balland [Bourke St Elegy])
  18. …but not for her mother (poet) Dorothy Hewett (Poem: Memorandum)
  19. Lilley asks the question: (social issues)
  20. Why send a ship to sea unseaworthy? (refugees, mandatory detention)
  21. ..offering care to cargo
  22. …rather than care for people (Poem: In Harm’s Way)

 

Strong point:  autobiographical poems

  1. Poetry tells us the history of the human heart.
  2. If you only read these 10 poems (pg 11-30)
  3. …than my mission is accomplished to encourage
  4. more readers to pick up a book of  poems.
  5. I dove into TILT cold turkey.
  6. I thought:
  7. I speak English, the poem is in English
  8. and I still have no idea what it  all means.
  9. Then I started to research Kate Lilley’s
  10.  dysfunctional family.
  11. There are issues in the autobiographical poems
  12. …major issues!
  13. Kate Lilley was immersed (involuntarily)
  14. into the Bohemian lifestyle of her parents
  15. Merv Lilley and Dorothy Hewett in 1970s Sydney.
  16. Both Kate and her sister were being
  17. …abused by friends of their parents, predators.
  18. Lilley has suffered for years trying to put her life  back together
  19. …after living with a mother who’s mottto was: ”Boys Will Be Boys”.

 

First lines of autobiographical poems: set the scene, setting

  1. This is a seductive device
  2. …dangling a setting in front of the reader.
  3. It does not make too many demands
  4. of there reader at the beginning.
  5. That will come later.
  6. The first couple of stanzas takes the reader
  7. …by the hand and guides him into the poem.

First lines…

  1. Fonzies Fantasyland at 31 Oxford St nows a disappointing IGA [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  2. One morning walking down Bourke St I hear my father’s voice  [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  3. Mystic Rainbow cuisenaire rods (math learning aid)
  4. The first man who put his hands on me ( Oh, we are curious)
  5. Sounds quaint but in those days… [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  6. Winter White crepe maxi (…don’t know where this is going)
  7. At the Australian Society of Authors Xmas Party ( …we are curious)
  8. Conversation meant listening to adults (…been there, done that!)
  9. We were all there (…who is WE? …where is THERE?)
  10. He appears in the doorway [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  11. The girl I sat next to in maths at high-school (…we are curious, what about her?)
  12. Pushed up against the metal rim of the shower (…feels aggressive, [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  13. Overhead on the street [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  14. For her to die like that nobody there (…who? ) [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]

 

Conclusion:

  1. 38 poems
  2. 3 parts:
  3. Tilt (autobiographical and confessional poems)
  4. In Harm’s Way (based on events and experience in psychiatry)
  5. Realia (facts) – (poems related to Greta Garbo, and many ‘list poems’)
  6. I liked 65% of these poems
  7. ….pretty good return on investment.

 

  1. Unique: Kate Lilley writes list poems (…completely new for me!)
  2. By listing words Lilley wants to create a sense of what this book
  3. is about: dysfunctional family – therapy, hospital – Greta Garbo
  4. by just listing carefully selected words.
  5. List poems are puzzles!

 

Last thoughts:

  1.  A poem is like a diary
  2. ….without the lock and key.
  3. Poetry is not difficult.
  4. I’ve read 5 different collections in the past weeks
  5. …and EVERY book was enthralling!
  6. I never get this buzz after reading a novel…never!

 

Collections read:

  1. USA – Jericho Brown – Anisfield-Wolf Award 2015
  2. IRELAND – Gerard Fanning – Winner Rooney Prize Poetry 1993
  3. NEW ZEALAND – Therese Lloyd – Shorlist Ockham Prize 2019   (prize 14 May 2019)
  4. AUSTRALIA – Kate Lilley – Winner Victorian Premier’s Award 2019
  5. NEW ZEALAND   – Cilla McQueen – Shorlist Ockham Prize 2011

 

5
May

#AWW2019 Winner NSW Lit Award for Drama

Awards:

  • Triivia: 2019 Prize for Drama: NSW Literary Awards
  • Trivia: 2019 Prize for Drama: Victorian Premier’s Award
  • Trivia: 2018  Judges’ Award  Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting
  • Trivia: 2018 Best New Play at the UK Theatre Awards

 

Quickscan:

  1. The play centers on a young woman (Anna).
  2. She  has been medicated for a range of mood and
  3. behavioral disorders since she was a child.
  4. Now she wants to find out what
  5. ...her life would be like without pills.
  6. The play takes an unflinching look at
  7. mental illness and medication among young people.

 

What is the structure of the play?

  1. Act 1 (7 scenes) – reading time:  1 hr 30 min
  2. Act 2  (6 scenes) – reading time:        50 min

 

Cover:

  1. There are two book covers
  2. ….that convey different messages.
  3. Daughter: breaking free…carefree and in control of her life
  4. …after she chooses to stop her mental illness medication.
  5. Mother:  having spent years keeping her daughter safe
  6. …is powerless to stop her.

 

Daughter: Anna

Mother: Renée

What is the trigger in Act 1 ….something big at stake?

  1. Anna  suffers from mental
  2. ….heath issues (bipolar) since she was a child.
  3. In Act 1 she is 18 yr and decides
  4. …she wants to stop with her medication.
  5. This is a very scary decision she makes.
  6. It affects  everyone else around her.
  7. Her mother really struggles NOT to intervene.

 

What is the tension in the play?

  1. Anna has one desire…to stop medicating
  2. …and be in control of her life.
  3. The journey pursuing this desire forms the plot.
  4. The tension for the audience is
  5. the DOUBT that is aroused about Anna…
  6. “..will she or won’t she break free of the pills?”

 

  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Feaver generates a subtext (stories of 8 yr girl)
  3. ….that she can play off of in the play
  4. The history of what has happened
  5. moments that refer to the character’s past.
  6. are very important part of the play.

 

  1. Strong point:
  2. The play is deliberately intimidating
  3. …about a girl in a sudden state of crisis
  4. …to raise awareness
  5. …about youth’s mental health issues.
  6. Ms Kendall has done extensive research
  7. and spoken to many psychiatrists.
  8. It took Kendall Feaver 5 years to finish the script.

 

  1. Strong Point:
  2. Title: The Almighty Sometimes
  3. …has intrigued me from the beginning!
  4. It refers to an option on questionnaires:
  5. Never – Always – Sometimes.
  6. Sometimes....Anna is troubled
  7. …but sometimes  she is
  8. …good, kind and capable.
  9. It is a hard choice a mother
  10. …must make when answering
  11. …questions about her daughter.

 

Conclusion:

  1. 2-Act structure is a simple.
  2. It looks at the character’s journey
  3. …in he clinical world living day to day
  4. with a mental health condition.
  5. There is a routine of life between
  6. mother and daughter that passes for existence.
  7. Frenetic activity is expressed in the
  8. …dialogue with boyfriend Oliver
  9. …and psychiatrist Vivienne.
  10. Later this gives way to many
  11. moments of silence between daughter and mother.
  12. Anna  is  pushed to the extreme
  13. …as her internal and external worlds explode.
  14. Act 1 may feel a bit too long…but keep reading.
  15. Act 2 is where the fireworks display starts!

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Mother-daughter relationships are complex.
  2. Some mothers and daughters are best friends.
  3. Some avoid conflict.
  4. Others talk through everything…
  5. not so  between Anna and Renée!
  6. Strong point:
  7. The best part of the play…
  8. …as Kendall Feaver  shows us a
  9. snapshot of real life with a protective mother
  10. …and a daughter who feels she’s been lied
  11. …to, misunderstood and mis-diagnosed!
  12. The Almighty Sometimes is best seen on stage
  13. where sparks will fly between mother and daughter.
  14. Reading the play is the only alternative I have
  15. ….but am probably missing the best part:
  16. …the actors performance!

3
May

#AWW2019 Poetry NZ Cilla McQueen

 

  • Trivia:  If you ever read this collection of poems
  • …I will save you some time.
  • It took me 2 days to find the meaning of Maori words
  • mentioned in three poems: About the Fog, Reprise and
  • Talking to My Tokotoko.
  • “Hopupu Honengenenge Matangi Rau
  • …which in Maori means
  • the long water which bubbles, swirls and is uneven”.
  • #YourWelcome

 

Who is Cilla McQueen?

  1. Mcqueen was Born in Birmingham, England
  2. …and moved to New Zealand when she was four years old.
  3. She ranks amongst the finest poets of her generation.
  4. Trivia: Three New Zealand Book Awards
  5. Trivia: 2009 Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement
  6. Trivia: New Zealand’s Poet Laureateship (2009-2011)
  7. In The Radio Room, Poet Laureate Cilla McQueen
  8. travels space and time, throwing thoughts (Poem: Bookworm)
  9. from Bluff NZ , her corner of the world, to  the ancient Celtic islands
  10. of her ancestors. (St Klida, Island Mull) (Poem series: Elements 1,2,3,4)

 

Conclusion:     My notes about a few poems….

 

Poem: The Ghostly Beast 

  1. Reference: 15th C Scottish history
  2. Macdonalds of Clanranald…carry off booty van rival clan
  3. …rough estimante 600 cows.
  4. McQueen describes fear of people  “in the bothy” (cottage)
  5. Sounds of “song of a storm, roiling tempest”
  6. “…a lowing so close”
  7. Is it a our cow or the  ghosts of stolen cattle?
  8. Conclusion: No  emotional impact but I do
  9. learn that McQueen bases many poems
  10. on her Scottish heritage.
  11. #BadChoice  for kick-off poem in collecton 😦

 

Poem: About the Fog

  1. Reference: feelings about loss (mother)
  2. McQueen’s personal journal…
  3. …pages destroyed  b/c book left on a table
  4. ….during a foggy night.
  5. …”vanished thoughts”
  6. washed away “…as if by tears.”
  7. Blue ink turned  “…turquoise wash
  8. …word-slivers….beld edges”
  9. Conclusion: very moving poem
  10. #TimeForKleenex

 

Reading tip:

  1. I read this poem 1 x … it made no sense.
  2. I’m too close to the text, to eager to understand
  3. …hence see nothing!
  4. Then I wrote each stanza in longhand,
  5. absorbing each sentence as I went on.
  6. That is the best way to ‘read’ poems.
  7. You just have to invest some time and
  8. effort to distill the poet’s message.
  9. Sometimes objects art not things.
  10. Objects are news…that is part of the puzzle.

 

Poems:  Altar (Elements 1)

  1. Reference: Island of Mull– 15th C MacKinnon’s Cave
  2. Deep inside lies a large, flat slab of rock, known as Fingal’s Table
  3. used as an altar by hermits and early followers of the Christian church.
  4. The first part of the poem
  5. …refers to the ‘sin’ of killing
  6. the Great Auk bird on St. Kilda, Scotland 1844.
  7. The second part refers to a Greek mythical figure of
  8. a warrior Amazon.
  9. She offers the spirits a gift as does…the narrator.
  10. The poem is bookended:
  11. Part 1: laid our sin on the altar
  12. Part 2: laid our prayer on the altar
  13. Conclusion: this poem needed some
  14. research to understand it (Great Auk).
  15. No emotional impact…just historical interest
  16. #Dud

 

Poem Beacon (Elements 2)

  1. Reference: Island of Mull– 15th C MacKinnon’s Cave
  2. This was very different compared  to Altar (Elements 1)
  3. I thought there would be a connection
  4. ….but the contrast was the best part!
  5. McQueen uses beautiful lyrical language to
  6. give us an image of a beacon of light
  7. leaping from “altar to altar, island to island”.
  8. Conclusion: Images linger; fascinated
  9. McQueen makes a (lighthouse) beam come to life …
  10. “a quartz shiver”….with ” quicksilver feet’!
  11. #Magical

 

Poem: Bookworm

  1. Reference: Martin Martin from the Island of Skye.
  2. 1690s he decided to visit St. Kilda and
  3. record the natural history and culture.
  4. This was a frustrating read.
  5. I must have read it 10 x…!
  6. It feels as if McQueen read the historical
  7. document by M. Martin and just left her
  8. thoughts drift: “tell past to know time present”.
  9. She compares herself with a (title) bookworm
  10. that tunnels through books
  11. …as she does through memory.
  12. Literary device: 
  13. antimetabole (reversal of words)
  14. “…on dark ground white words, on white ground dark words.”
  15. This device can be pithy and powerful
  16. …but it fell flat in this poem.
  17. Conclusion: exasperated…only  wish Ms McQueen
  18. could  explain this poem to me.
  19. PS:...to make matters worse
  20. …my reading glasses broke today
  21. so I was forced to read this through “old lenses”!

 

Poem: Foveaux Express 

  1. Reference: ferry between Bluff and Stewart Island
  2. McQueen compares poetry to the catamaran ferry ride.
  3. Ferry: it is ‘swift as the stroke of a pen…text in motion’
  4. Poem: “…gimballed (supported) on muscling swells (waves)
  5. …word-ware cargo.”
  6. Conclusion: McQueen tells me why I should read poems:
  7. Poetry takes you apart, puts you back different”

 

Poem: Lens

  1. Literary devices: filled with …alliteration and assonant rhyme
  2. webbed wash-house windows
  3. dusty dwang (building), bee-sting blue-bag

 

Poem: Ripples

  1. This poem is considered one of the best poems of New Zealand
  2. The Poets mentioned in “Ripples” are Joanna Paul (1945-2003)
  3. and Hone Tuwhare (1922-2008).
  4. #Impressive

 

Poem: Soapy Water

  1. McQueen is so clever!
  2. #Hysterical!

 

Poem: Three Elaborations

  1. After reading several poems like this one
  2. ….topic is about a beloved one who passed away.
  3. …gone with Ganyede, beloved one,
  4. to fill the crystal glasses of the gods.
  5. …you swore to send a message back from death…
  6. …empty VB bottles queueing by the sink
  7. …all gone – the house as quiet as Miss McKenzie’s old piano…
  8. I can assume Hone Tuwhare was
  9. Cilla McQueens life partner after her divorce in 1986.
  10. I can find no biographical information to support my
  11. assumption…just a ‘woman’s intuition’ that Hone was the
  12. #LoveOfHerLife.

 

 

Poem: Coastling (Elements 3)

  1. I took a page out of Mcqueen’s book and
  2. …let MY thoughts drift after reading this poem:

Poem:

  • I meet myself coming the other way.
  • Distinguish between two grains of sand.
  • No power on earth can change me,
  • nothing pins me down.
  • Within my high and low I belong to none.
  • A sacred slate where law is written.

 

  1. Conclusion: Title: Coastline
  2. I imagine a  beach and
  3. …the poet gazing at her footprints (“…met myself”).
  4. Nothing “pins me down”.
  5. Footprints are washed away
  6. …by the next wave (“belong to none”).
  7. The next step she makes  is
  8. …on “a sacred slate where law is written.”

 

Poem:  Mining Lament

  1. This is  playful poetic pantoum!
  2. A verse form composed of stanzas in which the
  3. second and fourth lines
  4. ….are repeated as the
  5. first and third lines of the following stanza.
  6. 10 lines and McQueen stretches the poem to 20 lines
  7. ….a pantoum!
  8. She repeats lines so subtly
  9. …that if you read it without a warning
  10. you would think it contains 20 separate lines of poetry!
  11. #BrainTeaser

 

  1. NOTE: the last line of a pantoum is the same as the first,
  2. making this a form of ouroboros type.
  3. The ouroboros a SYMBOL in the form of a snake
  4. …consuming its own tail.
  5. The poem ends where it begins
  6. ….a never-ending circle.
  7. How cool is that?
  8. #WhoSaidPoetryIsBoring

 

What is my favorite poem in the collection?

  1. It has to be a poem of friendship for 2nd Poet Laureate of
  2. New Zealand Hone Tuwhare. (1922-2008).

Poem: Letter to Hone 1

  1. I so impressed by the tenderness and
  2. affectionate words McQueen uses to celebrate this poet.
  3. I can only assume this is a tribute  to him just after his death.
  4. He passed away in 2008 and
  5. …this collection was published 2010.
  6. I don’t usually post the poems I read…but this one
  7. I must share:
  8. Note: Matua Tokotoko = Maori  carved walking stick
  9. …that is a symbol of great respect.

 

Letter to Hone 1

  • Dear Hone, by your Matua Tokotoko
  • sacred in my awkward arms,
  • its cool black mockings
  • my shallow grasp

 

  • I was
  • utterly blown away.

 

  • I am sitting beside you at Kaka Point
  • in an armchair with chrome arm-rests
  • very close to the stove.

 

  • You smile at me,
  • look back at the flames,
  • add a couple of logs,
  • take my hand in your bronze one,
  • doze awhile;

 

  • Open your bright dark eyes,
  • give precise instructions as to the location of
  • the whisky bottle
  • on the kitchen shelf, and of two glasses.

 

  • I bring them like a lamb.
  • You pour a might dram.

 

 

Last Poem: Your Eyes

  1. Of course…no mistake
  2. Hoen T. was McQueen’s  soul mate.
  3. Trivia: Yvonne mentioned in the last line
  4. is the NZ writer Yvonne du Fresne (1929-2011)

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Unlike poems by
  2. Jericho Brown (USA, raw, gritty)
  3. Gerard Fanning (IRELAND, nostalgic, playful)
  4. Therese Lloyd (NZ, heartbreak, visiting Ed Hopper’s paintings)
  5. Cilla McQueen’s poems were exhausting!
  6. I mean this in a good way…she makes me think.
  7. Her best poems are about her grief losing Hone Tuwhare.
  8. Also best  poems include the ones in which
  9. …McQueen shows us what is like at…
  10. the  end of the world in  New Zealand her hometown
  11. Bluff in Southland is the country’s most southerly tip,
  12. Subjects: weather, animals, whaling, oystering, shipwrecks, the sea.
  13. She has a sharp eye for particularly New Zealand detail.
  14. “my Tolotoko(Poem: About the Fog)
  15. A tokotoko is a traditional Māori carved ceremonial walking stick.
  16. ..a symbol of authority and status for the speaker holding it.
  17. bronze totara” (Poem: Crazy Horse)tree in New Zealand
  18. “In a kowhai two bellbird sing…” (Poem: In Hand) –
  19. small tree and  bird  prevalent to New Zealand (greenish colors)
  20. McQueen’s most  difficult poems are based on
  21. …Scottish myth, legend and history.
  22. It requires more research to understand
  23. …just a few snapshots in the poems.

 

 

25
Apr

#Ockham NZ Awards poetry Therese Lloyd

 

Poem:  “no title”

  1. Just 64 words, no title, no punctuation, no capital letters.
  2. But this poem  had the
  3. …emotional impact of fear and hope.
  4. Fear moves one away from something a feeling
  5. “common and strangely comfortable.”
  6. Hope moves one towards something a feeling
  7. that starts with “a voiceless wish”.
  8. The heightened image of a ‘pinned down moth”
  9. who wants to fly home is beautiful.
  10. A moth where the ‘hot glass ceiling” (of specimen drawer)
  11. “reflected only her calm, resolute gaze.”
  12. How often do we feel ‘pinned down’?
  13. Conclusion: excellent poem to kick-off this collection
  14. it will linger in your mind.

 

Prose poem:   On Looking at Photographs in High School Yearbooks

Appears as prose (anecdotes about school chums and her mother)
Reads like poetry (…not really, no pattern, rhythm, rhyme)
No line breaks (…just paragraphs)

What can I find ‘poetic about it?
No much, no elaborate metaphors
but I did find one symbol: eclipse and
repetition of the word ‘lack’ to help me pinpoint
the core message of the prose poem.

Conclusion:
Narrator: “…hated myself” for the “..lack of shimmer, the confusion
The yearbooks “brought a swift eclipse of 28 years.” (Re: symbol)
“There is always more lack waiting” and
it fell like a shadow (Re: phase of eclipse) over her life.
Now the yearbooks have shone light on her memories (Re: phase of eclipse)
and she discovers the faces of those girls (Re: in yearbooks)
“All naked and plain. We all had it.”


 

Poem: Y2k

  1. Y2K  (2 long stanzas) felt like to distinct poems.
  2. stanza 1:  What is humanness….what does it feel like?
  3. stanza 2:  NZ feels high-esteem “… That lovely conceit of time”
  4. …because in 2000 Gisbourne NZ felt the first rays of sunshine
  5. …in the new millennium.
  6. Conclusion: average poem with no emotional impact for me.

 

Poem:  On Metaphysical Insight  (metaphysical = ‘after the physical’)

  • It took me an hour to read 10 lines!
  • That attests to the Therese Lloyd’s talent.
  • She walks creatively into a painting by Ed Hopper
  • ….but the reader must discover
  • …which painting it is from the clues in the poem.
  • Lloyd opens the poem:
  • “Night-time alone suffocates colour.”
  • Now the reader must see the
  • …thick black oils, smeared yellow lights
  • and a frowning bowl of fruit
  • …to help  one to unlock this poem.
  • Conclusion: Chef d’oeuvre, master work!
  • I saw things in  Ed Hopper’s painting after reading
  • …this poem that I never saw before.

 

Most difficult section to comprehend:

Pg 34-43

  1. Lloyd wants to illustrate that poems echo
  2. and reecho against each other.
  3. ‘They cannot live alone anymore than we can”.
  4. Five poems and than five second drafts of these poems
  5. …were difficult  appreciate.
  6. I just do not have the poetic savvy
  7. to see connections or disjunction between the poems.
  8. Sigh.

 

Update:   I found the connections!      Now you try!

 

Best selection…..absolutely amazing.

  1. The Facts (pg 44-52)
  2. Listen to a broken heart….
  3. …it is sounds more like a confession.

 

Poem: Funeral Playlist  (pg  68)

  1. Never read a poem with a playlist before!
  2. With Spotify I listened to Lloyd’s selections.
  3. I tried to find the line(s) in the lyrics that would
  4. reveal the emotions Lloyd has hidden in this poem
  5. #Inventive
  6. Playlist:
  7. Into  My Arms (Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds)
  8. Here’s Where the Story Ends (The Sundays)
  9. Avalon (Brian Ferry, Roxy Music)

 

Conclusion:

  1. I reviewed a few of the poems in this book.
  2. There are 32 poems divided into groups:
  3. Time — Desire — Absence.
  4. Lloyd writes 3 poems with reference to
  5. 3 paintings by Ed Hopper: Office at Night
  6. Western Hotel and Eleven a.m.
  7. If you place the image of the painting from Google images
  8. in front of you and then read these poems
  9. …it is an unique poetic experience!
  10. The Facts is MY CHOICE  to win
  11. Ockham NZ Book Award 2019 for poetry.
  12. It is the ONLY collection I could get my hands on
  13. before 14 May 2019.
  14. Will one of the other nominees win?
  15. …only the jury can tell us
  16. …and I will see if I agree after 15th of July
  17. when my books arrive!

 

Last thoughts:

  1. I think of reading  poetry in terms of Zen:
  2. Trying new things reminds us
  3. …that it’s ok to take small steps,
  4. to make a little progress each day.
  5. It’s ok to feel inept  at something at first.
  6. The goal is learning, not perfecting.
14
Apr

#AWW 2019 Ashleigh Young

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Bones

  1. This would not have been my choice to start an essay collection.
  2. Topic was not a good hook...not funny or emotional
  3. …just a bit strange.

 

Witches

  1. Story took me back to the carefree summer days on a beach.
  2. I can’t remember the last time
  3. …I jumped into the ocean….how sad is that?

 

The Te Kūiti Underground

  1. Absolutely enchanting…author’s memories of her father.
  2. “…he became in my eyes more and more eccentric,
  3. …and I became  more narrow-minded.”

 

Postie

  1. Just a story that leaves the reader
  2. with a message from an eccentric French postman:
  3. “ …how wonderful it is if we just keep going
  4. …a simple stumbling block…can change
  5. the entire story of out lives and deaths.”
  6. #SmileOnMyFace

 

On Any Walk

  1. Once I start a walk…I never turn back.
  2. I just remember how far I’ve come
  3. .How much distance would be wasted
  4. …if I turn back?
  5. Once I’m home …the coffee tastes so special!
  6. Ashleigh Young will…
  7. #NeverGiveUp

 

Big Red

  1. I’m speechless….
  2. We are introduced tp author’s family
  3. …mom, dad and 2 brothers.
  4. Ashleigh Young is an amazing talent
  5. …..one of the BEST essays.

 

Window Seat

  1. We’ve all been there
  2. …on a plane with a talkative passenger next to us.
  3. Only this passenger….could she be and angel?
  4. #Spooky

 

Black Dog Book

  1. What you possess…you loose.
  2. Happy family dog story….but sometimes 
  3. Mom has to make the difficult decision
  4. …and call the vet.
  5. #HardToSayGoodbye

 

Katherine Would Approve

  1. Anecdotes about the period when
  2. Ashleigh Young was director of 
  3. Katherine Mansfield Birthplace House
  4. …in Wellington, New Zealand.
  5. #Job

 

Wolfman

  1. What to do when a harmless comment stings?
  2. #ThinkBeforeYouSpeak

 

Can You Tolerate This?

  1. After reading this essay I had to close my Kindle
  2. take off my glasses and close my eyes.
  3. #PowerfulWriting
  4. …one of the BEST essays

 

Seas of Trees

  1. Eye-opener about a disturbing
  2. …social trend in Japan: hikikomori.
  3. Creative young people becoming modern-day hermits.
  4. #PTSS

 

Bikram’s Knee

  1. If you are determined to find a way back to strength
  2. nothing is unfix-able.
  3. This is a very, very personal essay about Ashleigh’s
  4. Struggle to accept the awkwardness of her body.
  5. She keeps waiting on the  gym bench, elbows on her knees
  6. head in her hand
  7. .…waiting for transformation.
  8. #Yoga #Running
  9. .one of the BEST essays.

 

Unveiling

  1. The author visits a Maori ritual
  2. …unveiling a headstone of a family member.
  3. She will write a story to
  4. accompany the photographs her friend is taking.

 

On Breathing

  1. So funny about a simple decision
  2. ,,,author decides to breath noisily
  3. …when she feels puffed 
  4. during a taxing bike ride.
  5. #Quirky

 

On Going Away

  1. Insightful look at relationships…
  2. Going away and then coming back together
  3. …this surge of
  4. anger and relief is toxic.
  5. Solution:  compress it into one moment
  6. …like stepping into a manhole.
  7. A sharp, pure accident with a beginning and an end.
  8. #Insightful

 

Anemone

  1. Heartwrenching…to try to reach into the past
  2. and hold on to some one…
  3. …to try and stop time.
  4. #Depression

 

Lark

  1. Heartwarming observations and anecdotes
  2. about a woman who decides
  3. …to write a book  about her life.
  4. The story is clearly referring to
  5. Ashleigh Young’s mother.
  6. #Hysterical
  7. ...one of the BEST essays.

 

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Extremely well-written set of essays
  2. …in quiet, elegant joy-to-read prose.
  3. External circumstances
  4. …family, job, body shape or where you live..
  5. cannot determine your happiness.
  6. Ashleigh Young shows us
  7. happiness depends on what we are given.
  8. This a book  best read ‘slowly’…
  9. I was not ready to say goodbye…
  10. ..to Ashleigh Young’s beautiful writing.
  11. I’m anxiously waiting for her next book!
  12. #MustRead

.

13
Apr

#AWW 2019 Fiona Wright

 

Introduction:

  1. Wright examines her own anorexia and the significance of hunger.
  2. She  writes frankly and movingly about a
  3. …difficult and very personal subject.
  4. She provides insights into her reading,
  5. travels and her interactions with others.
  6. In several essays Wright relates
  7. …her experience to that of characters.
  8. In novels  there are characters who starve themselves:
  9. For Love Alone by Christina Stead,
  10. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton and
  11. The Bluebird Cafe by Carmel Bird.

 

In Colombo    …malnutrition, she misses it

  1. First sentence: I’ll always remember the
  2. …particular intensity that malnutrition brings on,
  3. …I know that I miss it still.
  4. Reaction:  Hunger keeps the author separate from
  5. the rituals of society not only in Colombo.
  6. 70% impressions of the writer’s apprenticeship at a newspaper
  7. ….30% about her illness.

 

In Hospital   …sickest

  1. First Sentence: At my sickest, a lover once folded a
  2. blanket over my shoulderblade before curling against my back to sleep.
  3. Reaction: Hunger is a mediator, it stands between the author and the world. Hunger is addictive. Hunger is support, it is scaffolding. Hunger became my safest state.
  4. 100%….very powerful, personal and disturbing.

 

In Berlin     …interesting facts

  1. First sentence: I felt smaller in Berlin than I ever had before;
  2. the Northern Germans are, by and large, a big-boned people,
  3. …the shanks of their legs are particularly impressive.
  4. Reaction:  The author visits a labour camp, Sachsenhausen.
  5. The body never forgets starvation. 
  6. Sad…the author bought food to give her
  7. …pantry shelves an appearance of normality.
  8. “I didn’t choose my hunger. That no one ever does.”
  9. Wright describes returning to a family she
  10. …lived with during her studies 10 years ago.
  11. She had been well then.
  12. She did not know what lay ahead.

 

In Miniature  …presenting a paradox

  1. First sentence: It seems a strange place to start writing about the miniature,
  2. but I want to begin on the internet, because I found there,
  3. for a time, a thing I could hardly have conceived would have existed,
  4. a community of illness, specifically for the kinds of illnesses that
  5. …we often keep silent and hidden within ourselves.
  6. Reaction: Breathtakingly  beautiful…how Fiona Wright sees her
  7. …fascination with miniature reflected in her illness.
  8. This essay was poetic!

 

In Increments   …sickness personified “gnawing”

  1. I’ll never know the point where my physical illness
  2. ..gave way to something different,
  3. something more complex, but more and more I think
  4. …now that hunger was always with me, always
  5. …gnawing away somewhere in me, and my illness
  6. …just allowed this hunger to assert itself in the only
  7. …way that could possibly have been acceptable to me.

 

In Books I    …analogy in books

  1. The year that I first became ill, when my physical condition first developed,
  2. …was the first year that I studied Australian Literature.

 

In Books II    …analogy in books

  1. There are books I have had with me in
  2. …hospital waiting rooms that I can never re-read without re-reading, too,
  3. …the traces that they carry of the spaces that I took them into.

 

In Group  ….mother vs daughter

  1. There are some conversation that you shouldn’t have with your mother,
  2. especially if you are a poet, and especially if you are a
  3. …poet four months into you third stint of group therapy.

 

In Passing   …sad news

  1. I received the news digitally, in a text
  2. …from my old housemate, Kat.

 

In Hindsight  …looking back

 

  1. I resisted, for a long time, reading any anorexia memoirs,
  2. …even though I’d been reading about
  3. ..the condition in fiction and textbooks.

 

Conclusion:

  1. The cover of Fiona Wright’s book keeps catching my eye.
  2. What kind of story is behind those eyes.
  3. Fiona Wright (born 1983) is an Australian poet and critic.
  4. Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays in Hunger (2015)
  5. is a collection of ten essays that detail the author’s
  6. own experience with anorexia.
  7. The longest essay is ‘In Group’
  8. the shortest is ‘In Passing’.
  9. The best?  I loved them all.
  10. I wrote down a few words about the first few essays.
  11. Each one  draws me in with the first sentence.
  12. After reading one essay
  13. ….I have to get up and do something else
  14. …I must let my thoughts settle.
  15. Fiona Wright has shared her life
  16. stripped bare and gray as sheet-iron.
  17. The more Fiona thinks about her body
  18. the more she knows it is no longer her own.
  19. Her body tries to fold up at the first sign of danger
  20. …as if disappearing into a shell.
  21. #MustRead