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Words@Wall, the event hosted by Friendly Street Poets, has changed a little. Mainly there’s no wall now. In its place a beautiful antique mirror complimented by a funky cube-enclosed gas fire on wheels and wonderful wooden floors. This is the cosy and eclectic interior of its new venue Halifax Café, where Alison Flett and Ken Bolton, introduced by Jelena Dinic, had a captive audience.

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Alison I could listen to for days. With her Scottish lilt and soft tones, when she reads she can take you away. Alison shared poems from her ‘fox’ series – one of several possible chapbooks she is planning to publish with fellow poet Jill Jones. Each poem varied in length and perspective, but with always a fox at its center. Some explored the European forest myth, one was in the voice of the fox and with memorable lines like ‘a pencil line of silence’ she experienced when seeing a fox up ahead at the roadside when her family didn’t, this is a collection that will no doubt prove very popular.

This was first time I had heard Ken read. Used to hosting such events in the Dark Horsey Bookshop Ken was entertaining, and began with a new poem called ‘Dark heart’, of which its closing line of ‘but didn’t’ still resonates. Ken then read a series of older poems about seemingly everyday things, his friends and one that had developed after he’d found a blank page with the words ‘Dear Lori’ scribbled on, the unwritten letter of which became a poem. Ken’s work has been described as a ‘stream of consciousness’, which indeed it was, and we were invited along for the ride.

is going to be published! Needless to say I am over the moon, with the cow and everything!!

cow over moon

It will be a chapbook, part of the Picaro Poets series published by Ginninderra Press based in Port Adelaide, so about 20 poems. Short and sweet I know but I am absolutely thrilled, a book of all my own work, how amazing is that, and it will even be available in bookshops!!

Ginninderra Press is an award-winning independent publisher run by Stephen Matthews that provides opportunities for new and emerging writers, as well as those writing about more non-mainstream topics. They only accept a very small amount of manuscripts they receive, so I am really quite honoured they are publishing mine.

Having recently acquired Picaro Press, an independent publisher based in Melbourne run by Rob Riel, Stephen and his partner Brenda have developed a new series of Picaro Poets to continue the tradition of Picaro Press chapbooks. So I have been working closely with Brenda to develop mine – choosing a cover design, editing content, adding acknowledgements, writing an author biography, etc. – and I can’t tell you how excited I am to see the final product, you know, just a bit! Launch date to be announced, woohoo!!

Now that’s the name of a workshop that gets your attention! And one I attended on Friday facilitated by David Chapple, Writing Development Manager at the SA Writers Centre.

Why did I go? Death is something we all have in common – be it in the family or what will come to us whether we like it or not – and as much of my work focuses on certain aspects of loss, I was interested to hear other people’s opinions and feelings about death, grieving and the impact it can have.

Walk into the light

I had no idea what to expect, other than I knew that for me it would be an emotive experience, and I was pleasantly surprised. David did an amazing job of prompting, surmising, sharing and exploring our thoughts and beliefs of mortality, and I think we were all quietly awed at just how quickly we shared and how much. Eight strangers, who may or may not meet again, in the beautiful grounds of Enfield Memorial Park on a cold sunny day provided the perfect setting.

The morning consisted of a series of prompts that literally decomposed (excuse the pun!) the last death ceremony we had attended. For some of us, including me, it was difficult to get past the sheer volume of feeling to remember specific sounds, tastes and smells, but it created a patchwork of human experiences, some light, others more intricate. In the afternoon we were asked to think about arranging our own death ceremony! Morbid and weird indeed, but again an interesting challenge – who would we want there, is there anybody we wouldn’t want to attend, how would we be remembered, what would be said, would there be music, laughter, tears, dance, what did we not regret, what did we still want to achieve…?

It takes courage to share and I feel quite proud to have been a part of this, and when asked if there was anything we would change about the workshop we said more time, because there really is much to ponder. And I will leave you with this simple message – life is short, make fun of it  🙂