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This was the title of an article by Pascale Petit in the current edition of Mslexia, and it was an interesting read.

Mslexia

Pascale has a long list of poetic achievements and some fantastic collections, including The Zoo Father and The Huntress, both published by Seren. The latter focuses on her mother, as does this feature, in which Pascale explains the emotional journey she took when attempting to write about her mother and the impact of the abusive relationship she had with her. Those familiar with Pascale’s work know that animals and the Amazon are strong influences, and to be able to write freely about her mother Pascale identified these with her, in particular a golden jaguar quickly followed by a snow leopard, wolverine, giraffe, etc.  By doing this Pascale managed to literally exorcise herself of her mother’s ghost, eventually being able to think of her and love together in the same space, thanks to Pascale’s love for the creatures representing her mother in her work.

And this is what I love about poetry – catharsis is one of its many facets, giving us the opportunity to transfer difficult people and experiences onto those things so much more familiar to us and that feel far less uncomfortable. There is much to be said about this painful and then pain-free process.

Pascale Petit

I met Pascale by attending one of her courses at The Poetry School a few years ago back when I was living in London. The session was called ‘Life Class for Poets’, and focused on generating poetry from image, be they still pictures or a moving life model, encouraging us to free write whatever they inspired within us.  I remember I produced some pretty weird and wonderful pieces, which I really should make the time to revisit and develop further.

I’m currently using Pascale’s Towards a Collection course booklet I brought and downloaded from The Poetry School website (I tried to enroll for the face-to-face course but by popular demand it was over-subscribed, so I was thrilled to find I could still access the materials).  For anyone looking to do this it’s an invaluable tool, and I particularly like the simple exercise of surrounding yourself with all the poems you’re thinking of including to look for themes, patterns, and a general sense of how they look next to one another. You quickly see what works and what doesn’t, those that belong and those that belong somewhere else.

And both made an impact!  Poems that is, in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2014.  I’m a little bit pleased to say the least!

SPM logo

The Sentinel Poetry Movement (SPM) was founded in 2002 by Nnorom Azuonye, a poet amongst other trades, with a purpose to create a diverse community of writers and artists encouraging limitless interaction.  The movement also branched into publishing, producing online magazines such as Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Sentinel Poetry Quarterly and Sentinel Champions, however sadly the latter publication will no longer be after the current issue.  So in effect it runs competitions for short stories and poetry every three months and every 12.

Roger Elkin, poet, tutor, editor and literary advisor, has adjudicated this particular competition for five years.  SPM recently interviewed Roger to find out what makes him tick and the work he’s currently involved in – it’s an interesting read.  And funnily enough Roger also selected one of my poems, The cut, reproduced here on my site, for Sentinel Champions #9 published in 2012.  So I must be doing something he likes!  Thank you Roger

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Adelaide Writer’s Week that is, and I went along to my first session yesterday to hear Julia Gillard talk about her new book.

Julia Gillard 2

In the 35 degree heat albeit with partial shade, Julia’s session was literally bursting at the seams with the crowd of people there to hear her, many standing due to a lack of available seats, a sure sign of this ex-prime minister’s continuing popularity. Julia is an amazing public speaker, one question being posed at the end asking her if she knew of any courses, programs, free downloads where one can learn this skill, to which she replied that being part of a high school debating team considerably helped.

The interview was interesting, the host Laura Kroetsch probing Julia about her time in office, how she got there, memorable moments and the impact they had on her family. And in turn Julia provided very informative and heartfelt responses, which at times were highly entertaining, perhaps endearing her only further to her hometown of Adelaide. And the queue of fans afterwards to get their copies of My Story signed snaked around the garden!

So other sessions I plan to attend next week are the Poetry Readings tomorrow where Barry Hill, Anne Kennedy, Omar Musa, Samuel Wagan Watson and Ian Wedde will read a selection of their work, and then Shorts on Thursday with Cate Kennedy and Angela Meyer talking about the art of the short story. Oh, and of course there will be the obligatory visit to the book tent, must remember to take a sturdy bag…