A nice surprise!

July 21, 2014

I just heard that I have been awarded second prize in the Hector the Lump of Coal Picture Book Competition. I wrote a story in verse called ‘Hector and the Bully’.

I have rarely had so much fun writing as I did doing this little story. Such a pleasure to rhyme and to have a narrative, and a group of characters, I must say.  It was a very different type of poetry from that which I usually write, which tends to be free verse.  I wanted to make the poem quite easy to read, particularly aloud, while avoiding overly clunky rhymes.  I wanted to raise the issue of bullying without making the work too confronting for a potential audience of young readers (some of whom might have the story read to them by parents, should it be published).

Hector became more like a real presence to me as the piece progressed, as those close to me noticed. He began popping up in the conversation all the time.  I began imagining him in all sorts of scenarios.  As is usual with me, I became a little obsessed.  First time it’s happened with a coal-shaped mascot, though!

To say that I am surprised to win a prize is actually an understatement, given that this was so far from what I usually do.  Although I have secretly been working on a different children’s book, it must be said…Here I am dreaming of publication.

This current award does not necessarily mean publication of the story, by the way. It is a cash prize.

Thank you to the organisers, DBCT Pty Ltd. I only wish I could meet Hector some time.

I had a poem prepared for today, but this most unexpected news intervened.

Tuesday poem: (haiku)

July 16, 2014

sick at the beach
lungs sandblasted
holidays towelled
beach

Continuing the slightly whingey tone that my usually vibrant and witty blog has exhibited lately, I had a week at the beach and I was too sick to swim! I am still sick and on actual medicine! I have not been able to go to the gym for ages! You can’t keep good Aussie germs down, it seems. They are positively marsupial in their popping up when least expected.

I dragged my benighted carcass into town on Sunday, and ran into photographer and person about town Geoffrey Dunn, who asked me to open an exhibition he is having at The Front Gallery here in Canberra. Intriguingly entitled ‘Two Tens and a Tomato’, it includes work by Geoffrey and visual artist and poet Marina Talevski. They have mixed poetry, photography, sculpture and installation into works exploring the written word and visualisations of poetic elements.

I am popping down to the Gallery tonight to check it out, so that I can hopefully say something coherent tomorrow at 7pm.

Hanging out in town with a sign saying ‘Will launch for drink’ has finally paid off…

Here is a photograph of me taken by Mr Dunn. Unfortunately my magic parasol did not keep the germs at bay. Must ask for a refund. From the makers of parasols, not from the photographer.

parasol

For comparatively germ free reading, click this feather:

Tuesday Poem

…it’s on Wednesday the 23rd July, 7.30pm at Don Bank House, 6 Napier St, North Sydney.

Hopefully my health will have improved by then, as I am currently sounding like a moth-eaten walrus with a two packets a day habit. Here I am looking a little dumpy:

bigstock-Walrus-family-haul-out-26072654

I will try and haul myself together over the next little while, and magically transform myself into a cultured creature who can read. North Sydney is not my usual part of Sydney; so it will be interesting geographically as well as offering an opportunity to meet more poets. I tend to stay in Glebe when I go to Sydney. Or Newtown.

The launch is being held alongside poetry readings organised by Danny Gardner, so there is a small cover charge for non-contributors.

Do come along, dear Sydney persons. Unfortunately, Tim Jones is poetically ensconced in New Zealand and will not be able to make it, but I’ll be there, as will David Reiter, the publisher.

SLS_Cov

Here is a link to the Facebook page with lovely photos of the previous launches, and you can navigate from there to a dedicated Sydney launch page, should you so desire.

Or better still, just come along.

A game of two halves

The leaf seemed to be symmetrical,
a neat seam running between halves,
opening into two jagged edged wings.
But look closely. DNA scissors slipped,
so one side is wider than the other.
If it flew, it would flap lop-sided, lurching
like film hunchbacks in mad scientists’ labs.
Nature’s dropped stitches, strict patterns misread
knit perfection. White Staffies’ black eye patches,
piratical, the thrown ink blot puddles sloshing
on magpies, the pale amber stripe that glints,
floats in calm sea blue eyes of my daughter.
She looks unwinking at misshapen leaves,
falling elliptically, ways gone widdershins.

That child is watching, with her opal eyes,
envying my air-stroke. Poor thing, to be always
so rooted to ground, a fleshy turnip, although soon
I too will form one bump, just one, in thick brown
rotting carpet. But I will have tasted wavy air,
felt its shoulders spin me into curved flight.
Bowler has sent me down as googly, circuitously
aimed towards tree stumps. Flocking downwards,
kinked arrows of flight, our debut is denouement,
yet we knot a rug of mulch to warm tall parent.
We never die, you see, for we conjure up spring,
sleeping under us. Or so we will, if that girl,
wound into kicking action, would leave us in stolid peace.
Instead, we leap, and fly again; in jerky errant judders.

P.S. Cottier

leaves and cicada

A rather confusing title; who didn’t think of The World Cup when they read the soccerific headline? Certainly, I have been losing as much sleep to the round ball as I usually do to Stephen King when he has a new novel out. The sporting metaphors used are mostly cricket-related though. Hence the cicada you may just pick out amongst the leaves in the photo.

That is an unpublished and old poem, from my ‘running on a bit’ period, but I quite like it.

There are many wonderful poems published this week at Tuesday Poem. Hop over and check them out:

Tuesday Poem

Last Thursday the second launch of The Stars Like Sand occurred in Canberra. Novelist Kaaron Warren, pictured here, did the honours, and spoke of her love of poetry, despite not writing it herself. She compared it to those without the skill watching someone crochet or knit, and distributed woollen bookmarks. Another ten poets read, and they read beautifully.

kaaron at launch

This is a photograph of Philip Salom, who launched the book in Melbourne. He spoke of play and ‘pataphysics, that is,”the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments.”(Jarry)*
philip_salom

Alternative pedigrees. Different ways of being. Garments we put on. The sinuous muscles of poetry. Lines of knitting. Each launcher took a different direction to describing a book that tries on different worlds.

I am in a state of mild grief now as the book that was once a near endless possibility, is now a thing; a physical object that has its own place in the world. It is what it is (subject to interpretation) and it is no longer mine. What once existed into multifarious complexity is now rendered actual. That’s always a bit of a bummer, even if it’s also a delight. It’s a bit like the difference between hearing a joke told for the first time, and hearing the same joke again. Something is lost, isn’t it. Something that leaps in the mind and the body at exactly the same moment.

But what a misery guts I am being; mulling over mental gruel rather than Pantagruelling! I should be revelling in the joy and enjoying myself! It is, I think, in many ways, a wonderful book. But it seems that some of us are more attuned to loss than achievement…even if we like funny poems.

I certainly enjoyed meeting my co-editor Tim Jones for the second time, as opposed through working through the aerial guts of Skype, with its weekly digital farts. Here is a photograph of Tim listening. He is much better at that than I am. He is listening to the wonderful Joe Dolce read his poem at the Melbourne launch. Tim has a new post about the Canberra launch too, at his blog.
joe_and_tim

We have forwarded the list of poets’ addresses to the publisher, so all contributors should receive their copy soon. Thank you to all the poets who contributed, and also to our two wonderful launchers.

And because I am vain, here is a photograph of me; on a high, reading my poem from the book at the Melbourne launch. My hair was much better at the Canberra one, though…
penelope-2

Now I am going to revel in The World Cup for a month. In another universe, Australia will be winning.

*Spellcheck kept trying to render ‘pataphysics as pasta physics, by the way. Love those alimentary lineaments.

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