http://www.chromamagazine.com/home/2017/8/13/reunion

When we first moved here, over 5 years ago now, I was keen to immerse myself in Australian literature and quickly learnt that Tim Winton is iconic.

And so I began with Cloudstreet, arguably one of Winton’s most famous novels, in which we meet the Pickles and the Lambs, two working class Australian families who live together in a house in Perth and whose lives are charted over a twenty-year period. It’s a captivating read, winning the Miles Franklin Award in 1992 and one that firmly established Winton’s writing career.

Winton himself hails from Western Australia. Awarded the Centenary Medal for service to literature, he’s been named a Living Treasure by the National Trust. Reading him, you can see why. Winton’s writing is music with no unnecessary note as he conducts matters of the human heart – love, sorrow, pain, desire – in a spellbinding way.

I was so inspired after finishing In the Winter Dark I wrote a poem to try to encapsulate what it left me with, such a hauntingly atmospheric novella about human existence among others. I’ve also read Dirt Music where the wife of a local fisherman legend becomes fascinated with a stranger poaching fish, which inevitably has consequences. Have yet to read Eyrie.

And now I’m part-way through Minimum of Two, an absorbing collection of short stories with characters and plots that will linger for a while. Perfect little snapshots of life.

So, if you’re not familiar with Winton’s work I strongly recommend you be. You won’t be disappointed.

https://abegailmorley.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/offspring-by-julie-birch/

https://plumwoodmountain.com/plumwood-mountain-volume-4-number-2/

I went to my first Dead Poets Society meet last night hosted by Dymocks to hear Alison Flett talk about Carol Ann Duffy.

Held each month, local poets pay tribute to infamous ones, originally those deceased although clearly they bend the rules every so often to capture the brilliance we still have. Being Scottish in common as well as amazing poets, Alison spoke about Duffy’s life and loves; how she fell into poetry at sixteen by meeting Adrian Henri, one of the Liverpool poets, after whom she wrote ‘Little Red Cap’ which Alison read, a clever poem relating Duffy’s journey into adulthood with Henri as the wolf.

This poem was from Duffy’s The World’s Wife, an ingenious collection from the perspective of the women behind famous men, from which Alison also shared ‘Frau Freud’, a witty piece reflecting on the male member.

Alison also read ‘Hive’ from Duffy’s latest collection The Bees published in 2011 along with ‘Premonitions’, a poem about Duffy’s mother whose death caused a hiatus in Duffy’s writing for about 10 years.

Alison finished by sharing some of her own beautiful poetry, including one of my favourites ‘Vessel’, the title poem from her chapbook in the Southern Land Poets series by Garron Publishing.

The talk was followed by a raffle and an open mic session, where readers share a favourite poem by the tribute poet and one of their own inspired by them. It felt good to be reacquainted with Duffy’s powerful and emotive work; it’s clear to see why she’s the current UK Poet Laureate.

Next month is D H Lawrence, whose novels I’m more familiar with than his poetry, so I may just mosey on along to that one too.

To celebrate 21 years of publishing, Stephen and Brenda Matthews of Ginninderra Press (GP) held an open day at their house in Port Adelaide yesterday.

Ginninderra is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘throwing out little rays of light’, which is exactly what GP does, by giving voices to so many writers since its inception in 1996 in Canberra, reflected in its philosophy:

We believe that all people – not just a privileged few – have a right to participate actively in cultural creation rather than just being passive consumers of mass media.

A follow on from a similar event in Melbourne earlier this month, it was packed as predicted, with many familiar faces, in their beautiful home that looks out onto the Port Adelaide River and which houses the press. Most attending lived in and around Adelaide, but some had travelled interstate just to be there, a credit to this award-winning publisher.

Stephen kicked off the proceedings before handing over to Brenda to MC the running sheet of readers. I shared a poem from my chapbook, Smashed glass at midnight, the first in GP’s Picaro Poets series and being my debut collection will always feel special.

The commitment, time and dedication Stephen and Brenda put into their work is demonstrated in the beautiful books they publish – ‘A day in the life of GP’ provides an interesting insight into what this entails.

I’m both thrilled and honoured to be part of the GP family, and will always be incredibly grateful, like so many others, to Stephen and Brenda for enabling my work to be.

Supported through Crowdfunder and published by Nine Arches Press, Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back is an invaluable addition to disability literature.

Edited by Sandra Alland, Khairani Barokka and Daniel Sluman who themselves have disability, the anthology examines D/deaf and disabled poetics from personal, social and political perspectives, culminating in a beautifully rich collection of voices.

Split into ‘Bodies’, ‘Rules’, ‘Maps’, ‘Dreams’ and ‘Legends’, the experiences of those with physical, mental and emotional challenges are shared through poetry, essays and photos to:

showcase a diversity of opinions and survival strategies for an ableist world.

It’s gritty stuff; confronting perceptions of people who are considered and/or observed to be different. Some work is followed by a short biography offering further insight into its contributors. And there are a plethora of conditions both visible and unseen – deafness, absent limbs, MS, mental illness, autism, rheumatoid arthritis to name a few – stripped bare and laid out in indelible forms.

The idea for the anthology came from a desire to create a UK equivalent to the American anthology Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. Interestingly, this has recently been achieved here in Australia with Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain, developed as a companion to Articulations: The Body and Illness in Poetry in the US. This is an expanding field; one we should all make time to explore.

Having been invited as a guest speaker in a writer’s festival run by Banksia Park International High School to inspire students to write, this was my first school talk and I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Mine was the first session in the program after its official opening on Wednesday, with other sessions by a journalist and author taking place next week.  The school is in a part of Adelaide I’d never visited before and Marika, the English Coordinator who’d contacted me, led me to the Resource Centre where a wonderful space has been created for the festival.

About 15 students attended in their lunch break, ranging from 12 to 18 years old, who listened while I shared how I’d started writing, a little about the process I follow, some of my poems, finishing with a few hints and tips for those interested in pursuing poetry.

I asked those who write poetry what they like about it, to which one young boy replied “because I’m creating something”, supporting the idea that the poem is a living, breathing thing.  One girl asked what sort of poetry I write, haiku, sonnet, etc. I replied “free form” – I prefer to write without constraint, to let the poem take the shape it wants, which prompted Marika to make a note to talk to the other teachers about letting the students write more poetry without having to adhere to a set of rules.

The school purchased a few copies of my chapbooks for their library and a couple of students took my contact details, so I’m hoping they’ll be in touch. Events like these are a brilliant way to engage the next generation in writing and provide some insight into taking the next step in their chosen craft.  Fingers crossed they do  😊

Delighted to have a poem here, a thought-provoking collection pulled together by Nina Lewis, the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/world-refugee-day-in-poetry/

I received my copies recently, and I’m thrilled to be sharing the pages with so many amazing poets and their poems!

Edited by Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright, this anthology is one of many exquisitely produced books from The Emma Press.  Founded by Emma and based in Birmingham, UK, this is an award-winning press, scooping the Publishers’ Awards at the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets in 2016.  What I particularly love about The Emma Press are their themed submission calls on a variety of topics to inspire and create those all-important words. Their motto is “small press, big dreams”, which they make true and then some.

Contributors to this anthology include Carole Bromley, Angela Kirby, Gill McEvoy and Anna Woodford, alongside brilliant new voices, sharing poems about all types of aunties:

the trail-blazing, advice-giving, feast-cooking, fast-chatting, music-loving, gift-giving, high-kicking

so eloquently summed up by Rachel in the introduction. It’s a collection to make you smile.

And a copy is winging its way across the miles to my beautiful nephew as we speak, so he can read the poem about him penned by his auntie 😊