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Being a public holiday here last weekend we went to Robe, a pretty coastal town in our state that we’d visited before but only briefly, hence the return trip to explore further.

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We weren’t sure what the weather had in store for us, having left in one of the worst storms on record for Adelaide, flooding roads and washing out traffic lights, so we wanted to be prepared for any rainy days when we could be room-bound.

So after much thought, I opted to take a notebook (a Paperblanks, one of my favourite kinds) and a pencil over a tablet and book. Risky?! But it paid off, big time. I managed to write seven, yes seven, new poems, albeit not publishable at present but getting there, and it felt good scribbling raw, something I hadn’t done for a while. So here’s my advice – go back to basics when travelling, the old-fashioned way, but then with vistas like these…

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what poet wouldn’t be inspired!

Now it’s not often I write reviews about books without poems, but felt I had to share the one I’ve just finished – The Bees by Laline Paull.

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Originally published by Fourth Estate in 2014, it explores the intricate workings of a society of bees, their queen, the hive and the laws to obey dependent on where you are in the hive’s hierarchy. The protagonist is Flora 717, a sanitation worker, the lowest of the low and to make matters worse, she presents to us as ‘obscenely ugly’ and ‘excessively large’, an abnormality of her kin-sisters. But due to her strength, endurance and ability to forage the most sought after nectar, she is respected and given special dispensation until, that is, she breaks the most sacred of laws. And that’s where I’ll stop in case you want to find out.

I particularly enjoyed learning about what happens in a hive; how bees operate and are deeply affected by seasons; their interactions with wasps referred to as the ‘lesser cousins’ (although this also sums up how the wasps view the bees!); the descriptions of flowers and the anatomy of a bee; the way foraging is ‘danced’ to enable others to follow their flight path; the power of the hive and the queen’s love; it is all simply riveting and pulls you in.

I highly recommend this book; it’s a fascinating sociological read, makes me value the honeybee all the more.

I had completely forgotten about this, so it was a nice surprise in all the madness when the latest issue of Mslexia arrived in our postbox…

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Don’t think I will ever tire of seeing this little chapbook in print.  And hope no one else does either  🙂

Well I saw the new year in with some of my favourite people…poets! And what better way to celebrate than with a chilled glass of wine (or three) and yummy food under a canopy of vine leaves in a beautiful home in the Adelaide Hills. Perfect.

And sticking with tradition, we were each asked to share achievements from the old year and aspirations for the new, which got me thinking…

2015

So looking back at the last 12 months, one major success stands out – the publication of my first collection – yay me! I must admit I’m rather proud of it and love catching a glimpse of it in our bookcase.

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Being guest poet at Hills Poets is another memorable experience, aswell as reading at Lee Marvin alongside the greats (fingers crossed I get invited back!).

This blog has also proved it’s worth, with views from here, the UK and US – all 2,300 of them (is that any good?) – with the most popular post being my launch in pictures peaking at 95 views.

So going back to publishing, with acceptances inevitably come rejections, and looking at the stats I think I’ve had more than my fair share:

  • 23 rejections across journals, magazines and anthologies
  • 7 acceptances predominantly in journals and magazines both in print and online

There’s a ratio in there somewhere – and I don’t think it would look too good!

2016

So looking forwards, what’s on my agenda for this year?

I have a couple of ideas for further collections – one full length and the other possibly another chapbook, we’ll see.

And among the rejections are a few poetry journals and magazines I really want to appear in, namely RABBIT, Cordite and Mslexia, so plan to keep on improving and just keep on trying.

A longer term ambition is to get a room of my own for writing. Having stayed last night at a fellow poet’s house complete with study and writer’s cottage, it would be absolutely wonderful to have a space just for poetry – with books lining the walls, my writing journals piled on the desk, a view, inspirational photos, snippets, notes, etc…alas still a dream for the time being. One day 🙂