I came second!

November 12, 2018 at 7:00 am | Posted in Australia, History, Nature, Philosophy, Poetry, Reflections, The Red Centre | 15 Comments
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I recently entered a poem in a writing competition. The competition was the Alice Sinclair Memorial Writing Award, run by the Lake Macquarie branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) to which I belong. It was open to all writers throughout Australia.

I was very happy to be told I had gained second place in the Poetry section with my poem, “Tosca – Northern Territory”. It is about a special place in the Red Centre of Australia, where I have camped several times and gone rabbit shooting too. While there, I’d sit at the entry to a shallow cave on top of a rock outcrop, and feel the majesty and vastness of the land. This is where the poem originated, and where I always return when I see the red dust of Australia’s ancient Red Centre.

I received my award on Saturday at the FAW meeting. Here is part of what the judge’s report said:

The poem is “a tightly written, image-rich poem that brings the reader into the moment of perception with visual imagery while also creating a satisfying link to history and tradition”.

Here is my poem. Read it slowly, and see if you can feel the country, its immensity and its beauty.

 

Tosca – Northern Territory

 

Linda Visman

 

Rocky red hillside, broken and rough, lies beneath my feet;

grey-green weeds and shiny, baked mudstone around;

endless, pale blue summer skies above

this overhang in which I can lie but not stand;

 

its pebble-studded roof, blackened by countless Dreamtime fires,

slopes down a body-length inside to a floor

scattered with twigs, leaves and droppings

– wallaby or goanna – or drought-defying rabbits.

 

A perfect lookout this, for those now gone – and for me –

across a sweeping panorama of hard-packed red sand

broken by low-growing stands of grey mulga and gidgee,

spiky domes of spinifex, and shallow gullies

gouged by seasonal downpours.

 

Distant caw of devil-crows mournful on the breeze;

taste of sunburned dust on my tongue,

coarse and dry in my eyes and on my skin,

a red-orange pigment dusting everything with its brand,

burning into every pore and crevice of mind and body.

 

Near the top of this hill in a thirsty landscape,

down between and beneath the sheltering rocks,

lies life – a native well, seeping just enough water

to keep a small band of travellers from perishing of thirst,

 

Or to sustain the miners who extracted turquoise wealth

then left a football-field-sized white talc scar down on the flat.

A tin can, string attached, lies hidden behind a rock

– slake your thirst, then replace it for those to come.

 

The ground that appears devoid of life by day,

at night sparkles everywhere with its own stars

– thousands of spider eyes reflected in the moonlight;

and all around in the cool of evening after day’s dry heat

wafts the pungent smell of the gidgee tree.

 

In this country the spirits of the past remain,

not only in ancient, fossilised trilobites and ferns

trapped within the baked mudstone of long-dried seabeds,

nor the deep diamond-studded night-time vault

where earth and plants, man and animals were born.

 

The Dreaming lives on in every leaf and twig,

every crow and crested pigeon, every spider, ant and lizard;

in the gales and cooling breezes and every drop of rain,

in every rock and every speck of seeping red dust.

 

How fleeting am I in this eternal place, and how tiny in its immensity!

 

(c) Linda Visman, 2018

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A Sixteen-year-old’s response to “Thursday’s Child”

September 23, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Australia, book reviews, discrimination, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Reading, Social mores, Writing and Life | 5 Comments
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I had a great chat with my friend and her granddaughter, yesterday. We talked about my novel, “Thursday’s Child” which Natasha, who is in Year 10 high school, had recently read, along with my first novel, “Ben’s Challenge”.  Natasha told me what she thought were the issues raised throughout “Thursday’s Child”. We discussed the conditions most girls and women faced back in early 1960s and compared them with what they face today.

Natasha had written her thoughts on the book before we met, in the form of a review , and she said I could share it on my blog. I am really pleased to present the thoughts of a reader from the demographic my book is targeted at. Thank you Tasha.

 

*     *     *     *     *

Review of “Thursday’s Child” by Natasha Ireland

 

Thursday’s Child, by Linda Visman. Is a story of a teenage girl named Tori who faces many challenges around education and having to be brought up with a family on the poverty line. The biggest challenge she faces is the consequence of a violent incident which she experiences at the beginning of the story. Visman exposes her central character to many valuable lessons that come through the hardship that is face by Tori and how she is able to overcome this towards the end of the story.

 

Tori has many different people who influence her life in good and bad ways. The story shows how the men in her life have not impacted her life in a good way as life in the 1960s was tough for Tori ue to sexism and inequality towards women. Even her own father shows her no sympathy despite her terrible dilemma. He doesn’t care about what Tori wants or how important her education will be for her future. Tori’s mother says to her, “It’s not fair at all. But that’s what the law says. The man makes the decisions and we have to abide by ‘em”.

 

Tori’s treatment helps women of our generation now to understand how far women have come from those days and how many more opportunities we can have. Although this issue is still continued in certain countries, women over time will work to dismiss this issue for good.

 

The story will help boys to understand how difficult life was and can still be for women. This could explain many terrible issues women face and help them to respect us more equally.

 

Rape, abuse and unwanted pregnancy are a few of the major disadvantages of women in Tori’s time. However, Visman wants the reader to see how much of an independent and tough woman Tori becomes through the story after the stressful events that have taken place in her life. Increasingly empowered, she continues to do anything she can to do what is right for her and does not surrender to the force of the men in her life.

 

The protagonist is a bright and intelligent girl who is trapped in the reality of her times. She recognises her escape is through her education. She is a remarkable role model for self-determination and courage.

 

Natasha Ireland, Year 10.

 

Love this review of “Thursday’s Child”

August 30, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Reflections, role model, Social mores, Social Responsibility, Writing, Writing and Life | 9 Comments
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I am honoured to receive this wonderful review from a reader. Thank you Janet.

Dear Linda,

I’ve just finished reading “Thursday’s Child” and found it a fine piece of writing.

These days I have two simple criteria with regard to novels. I ask:
1. Did I care what happens to the people in the story?
2. Does the author present the story without me being aware of her techniques?

On both these criteria, your book gets a large tick.

I cared very much what happened to all the characters. Of course, Tori is the main focus, but her parents, her siblings, Adele, Gwen feel like real people with their own strengths and weaknesses, their own needs. I even cared about Grizzly, wondering if he continued as he began, or whether his encounters with Tori and Dad change him.

Your story kept me engaged, not wanting to rush ahead because what was happening in each moment mattered, but also keen to know how things would turn out. You write with skill, but, as I read, I was not aware of that. In other words, you, the writer kept yourself “out of the way”. That said, I do think a strength of your writing lies in the natural feel of the dialogue.

One aside: I remember that earth tremor in the early 1960s! I was living in Campbelltown at the time, and all the cups rattled in the cupboard!

At the library session on “Thursday’s Child” there was some discussion about the negative references to God and the church; people thought church schools would not allow their children to read such a book. Well, any church school that bans this book would also have to ban large parts of the bible, including the words from Psalm 22 that the gospel writer attributes to Jesus on the cross: My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?” The psalm adds the words: “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” which express well Tori’s feelings, albeit in more literary language.

Actually there are many ethical/moral questions in your story, which could be explored fruitfully in a classroom: male violence and rape, abortion (legal or illegal?) and what support should be given to young mothers.

One moral issue that impresses me is that of vengeful violence. Questions that arise include: Does revenge work for the one who has been violated? Does punishment convince the perpetrator? Then there is the dilemma of whether or not to involve the police, with all the problems that entails, and whether personal vengeance is justified.

I suppose what I am saying is that it is many years since I worked in schools, public and Catholic, and primary school rather than secondary, but in those days I felt more free to discuss thorny issues in the Catholic school than I had in the public ones.
I will give the book to my niece who has a fifteen-year old daughter. I will be very interested to hear their responses.

So, Linda, in summary, congratulations.

Kind wishes,

Janet

 

Old Jack

August 15, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Australia, History, War and Conflict, Writing and Life | 16 Comments
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Over eleven years ago, I wrote the story of what happened when I almost met Jack. I had forgotten about it until I was just exploring some of my writing folders. Now I think it is time to publish it, in honour of that old man I almost met.

 *     *     *

 

I first heard about old Jack from my next-door-neighbour, Eileen. It was an early February evening (2007), and we were out on our respective front verandahs, chatting across the fence about the day.

 

“I went to visit old Jack today. You write, don’t you, Linda? You’d probably find Jack interesting. He wrote poetry when he was a Japanese prisoner of war, and he tells some fantastic stories. He’s ninety-nine, and he’s still got all his marbles. He’d like to be involved with a writers’ group. Do you belong to one?”

 

“Yes, in Toronto. What’s his name again?”

 

“Jack. Jack Mudie. He turns a hundred next month. He’s a lovely fellow. Still lives at home. Got plenty of spirit too, even though he’s blind. I went with Vicky – that’s his carer – to see him before I leave. I want to let all the clients know I’m going. Not just walk out on them. The new people don’t care, but I do.”

 

Eileen had resigned her job as Regional Director of what had been a local community aged care programme. It had been taken over by a large interstate organization six months previously. Despite promises to the contrary, staff workloads had increased, while wages and conditions were gradually being eroded. The emphasis was now on profits, rather than on serving their elderly clients. Eileen had had enough.

 

“Old Jack, he wrote a diary too. When he was a prisoner of war.”

 

“A diary? Wow, that’s wonderful. Has he done anything with it? Has it been published?”

 

“No. He wants to. There’s nobody to write it out for him.”

 

“How come? You’d think there’d be lots of people interested in transcribing a POW diary.”

 

“His family don’t know much about it. But Jack did go to the War Memorial or the Archives or somewhere in Canberra and ask if they could get someone to transcribe it for him. They told him it could be done, but it’d cost him thirty thousand dollars.”

 

“You’re joking! Thirty thousand to transcribe a war-time journal?”

 

“Yeah. They said that’s what it’d cost. Awful eh?”

 

“Sure is. I suppose there are quite a few diaries around now and they’re not so scarce as they were. And they’d have to employ someone to do it. Still, I can’t understand why they couldn’t do it for nothing. It’s part of the country’s history.”

 

“Yeah. The family haven’t done anything about it. Don’t know why. But Jack would still like someone to do it. They just don’t know who. Or how.”

 

“I’ll do it!”

 

“Would you?”

 

“Sure would! I’d hate to see all that lost!”

 

“Apparently, it’s written in really tiny writing. He didn’t have much to write on. And he had to keep it hidden, of course.”

 

“Yes. He’d have been killed if it was found. A brave man, by the sound of it. I’d love to meet Jack and see if he’d like me to transcribe his diary.”

 

“All right. I’ll ring Vicky, his carer, and let her know. She’ll talk with Jack and see what he thinks. I’ll take you to see him, probably in the next week or two. I’m having a couple of weeks’ holiday before I start my new job.”

 

“Great! I’ll see if he wants me to take him to the Writers’ Group too.”

 

Eileen couldn’t take me to Jack’s place in the next two weeks, so she gave me Vicky’s mobile phone number, so I could arrange with her about going to meet Jack. Eileen said to call Vicky at about ten o’clock on Monday morning, as that’s when she was at Jack’s place.

 

I was really excited about meeting Jack. A little apprehensive too, because he would be entrusting me with something very precious. Would I be able to do him and his diary the justice they deserved? During the time I had to wait before ringing Vicky to organise the meeting, I decided to see if I could find out anything about Jack. I did a Google search on his name and got several hits. The Hunter Military History website briefly mentioned that Jack “survived three brutal years as a prisoner of war in Japan“ (I couldn’t find the actual Forum entry). I also discovered that Jack had been awarded an OAM (Order of Australia Medal). “Mr. Jack Mudie was conferred OAM for service to furthering relations between Australia and Japan through the development of the Prisoner of War Memorial” (Website of Volunteers for International Exchange).

 

Australian soldiers after their release from Japanese captivity in Singapore, 1945

Australian soldiers after their release from Japanese captivity in Singapore, 1945

 

A “Catholic Weekly” story “To forgive is not to forget”, told of a 1991 Anzac Eve reconciliation service at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. The centrepiece of the service related to the “comfort women” who were enslaved by the Japanese during the war to serve their soldiers. One former comfort woman was there to accept the apology of “the ordinary Japanese people” through a Japanese Catholic film director. Tom Uren, former Labor Minister, also spoke of his experiences as a POW of the Japanese and how much he’d hated them. Then, when he was sent to Japan, still as a POW, to work alongside the ordinary Japanese people, he realised they were as much victims as he was. The story records “Jack Mudie, also a Japanese POW”, as having attended the reconciliation service. It seemed to me that Jack’s involvement with reconciliation, after his wartime experiences, showed him to be quite a remarkable man. This made me even more keen to learn more about him.

 

Other websites mentioned Jack’s visits to Japan, and visits of Japanese people to his home. They told of his POW poems, some of which (nineteen, I think) have been translated into Japanese and published as a book, “And Gumtrees Nodding Under Azure Skies” Other references to Jack’s poetry mentioned that Lt. Jack Mudie was at the Naoetsu P.O.W. Camp in Japan from 1942-1945.

 

There was a further reference to Jack in the English Speaking Union of Japan’s Newsletter No.31, October, 2001:

“Mr. Muramatsu …  talked about his reunion, after over a year, with Mr. Jack Mudie, who as a young lieutenant of the Australian army, spent much of his time during the Pacific War in a POW camp in Naoetsu, Japan. One of many poems he wrote during the internment was read by him. It was a moving poem about the hard-working Japanese women there, filled with his kind words and full of humor and warmth despite the adverse circumstances.”

Another site, relating to war books, gives details of Jack’s poetry book.

As I discovered more about Jack’s background, it became more important to me that I meet him and transcribe his wartime POW diary. I went with my husband, Dirk, to buy a small second-hand laptop computer that I could use. We also found a cheap scanner at the market. I wanted to be able to scan the diary at Jack’s place if necessary, so that he wouldn’t need to let it out of his possession. Scanning and enlarging it might make it easier to read too. I re-checked our tape recorder and microphone, and bought some new audio tapes. If Jack wanted to talk, and was happy to be recorded, I’d be ready. Both Dirk and I, and Eileen too, were really excited about the project.

 

At ten o’clock on the last Monday in February, I called Vicky’s mobile number. When she answered, I explained who I was.

 

“How’s Jack?”

 

“Oh Linda, I’m afraid I’ve just called the ambulance for Jack. He’s not very well at all. They should be here soon.”

 

“Oh, no. I hope he’s going to be all right.”

 

“I don’t know yet. Can you call me back, in about half an hour or so?”

 

“Yes, I will. Thank you.”

 

I waited anxiously during the half-hour Vicky had requested. When I called back, Vicky said Jack had gone to the hospital. She didn’t know how he’d be. I hoped he’d come through all right.

 

“I was so looking forward to meeting him today.”

 

“Yes. He was really looking forward to meeting you too. Look, can you call me again next Monday? I’m here every Monday. We can organise something then.”

 

When I saw Eileen a couple of days later, I told her Jack had been taken to hospital on the very day I’d called. She was upbeat about it.

 

“Don’t worry. He’s tough. They usually just get taken in for a couple of days to rest and get their strength back and then are home again as good as ever.”

 

So I waited again. Eileen was due to start her new job on Monday, the day I was to call Vicky. I asked her on the Saturday if she’d heard anything about Jack. She hadn’t.

 

On the Monday (March 5th) I called Vicky’s mobile number. It rang for a long time. There was no answer. Maybe she had the vacuum cleaner going and hadn’t heard it. Jack’s hearing wasn’t too good, Eileen had told me, so he probably wouldn’t have heard the phone either. Fifteen minutes later, I called again. This time Vicky answered.

 

“Vicky, this is Linda. I’m calling about Jack. How is he?”

 

There was a few seconds’ silence at the other end.

 

“I’m sorry. Jack died last Monday.”

 

Oh, no! Tears burned in my eyes.

 

“The funeral was last Friday. I didn’t have a number to call you.”

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry! You must be very upset.”

 

“Yes. I was close to Jack. He was a wonderful man. Look, I really don’t know what will happen about his diary, but Jack has a lovely family. I’ll be in contact with them again in a couple of months.”

 

“When everything’s settled, will you tell them, if they want to have Jack’s diary transcribed, I’ll help in any way I can?”

 

Vicky said she would. I gave her my home phone number, so she can call me if anything eventuates, and said goodbye. I went to tell Dirk, tears in my eyes. He hugged me. I felt like I’d just started to get to know Jack. All week, while I’d been thinking about him, he’d already been gone. Now, he was a friend I would never meet.

Linda Visman, 6th March 2007

………………………………………………………………………………………

Post Script:

After I’d written the foregoing story, I subscribed to the “Newcastle Herald” website service, so that I could purchase past articles from the newspaper. I searched for any references to Jack Mudie, and, among other, irrelevant items, I found two short articles from 2006. There are probably other, earlier stories in their regular archives too.

 

Those two articles however, were enough to give me an even better picture of Jack Mudie than I already had. Here are some extracts from those articles:

1. Author: ANITA BEAUMONT   Date: 06/09/2006

JACK Mudie remembers the barbed-wire fences, the cruelty and the starvation suffered at Changi prisons in Japan during World War II all too well.

The former lieutenant and Coal Point resident, 99, was one of 21,700 soldiers captured in the Malayan area in the war. Of those, about 7500 died.

Mr Mudie fought against the Japanese Army in Malaya and Singapore, and spent 2 1/2 years in one of their camps in Naoetsu, Japan.

“I saw and experienced a lot of cruelty and starvation. I came back a physical wreck,” Mr Mudie said.

“On one occasion a few of us were pulled out of the sleeping quarters to provide entertainment for the Japanese soldiers. We had to crawl around like dogs while getting belted along until we collapsed . . . I lost about three kilograms that night.”

He wrote poetry as a distraction from the conditions.

He also kept a detailed diary that was later used as evidence against eight Japanese soldiers indicted for the death of 60 soldiers

2. Author: IAN KIRKWOOD   Date: 14/08/2006

Jack Mudie survived three brutal years as a prisoner of war in Japan, but his saddest memory is returning to Australian soil.

“I was standing on the wharf and all around me were these people hugging and kissing, being reunited with their families,” Mr Mudie recalled yesterday.

A lone friend on the wharf had to tell him his parents had died while he was away. Their house had been sold. His possessions had been given to charity, a “fair bit” of money in the bank had been frittered away. He had been given up for dead.

Mr Mudie, who enlisted as “an old man of 32”, was captured in late 1941.

The retired primary school principal says he has made his peace with the Japanese people, but “not their soldiers or their military”.

He says there is “no room for hatred” in his heart, at least partly because his eldest child, Lynette, now lives in Japan with her Japanese husband, Kenji Kise.

 

Additional note, 15th August 2018:

I never did hear from Jack’s family, which saddened me. I don’t know if his diary was ever transcribed as I can find nothing about it online.

 

References for original story:

Website of Volunteers for International Exchanges:

http://www.max.hi-ho.ne.jp/yoshi-ko/indexe.htm

 

ESUJ Newsletter Oct. 2001:

http://www.esuj.gr.jp/news/eng/archives/0031.htm

 

The Catholic Weekly May 13 2001 story: http://www.catholicweekly.com.au/01/may/13/story_13.html

 

Jack’s Book of Poetry:

Author: Mudie, Jack

Title: Aozora no shita de yureru Ukari no ki ni = And gum-trees nodding under azure skies : nineteen poems made by Lt. Jack Mudie at the Naoetsu P.O.W. Camp, 1942-1945

Publisher: Joetsu-City, Japan. Hiromu Jagi

Year: 1999

Notes: In Japanese and English. Translated by Hiromu Yagi.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing and the Arts

July 25, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Posted in Australia, Culture, Poetry, Writing | 16 Comments
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At the June meeting of the Lake Macquarie Fellowship of Australian Writers, our guest presenter was Jan Dean, who is well known in the Hunter region. Jan is an award winning poet, and a former art teacher who loves to combine these major passions. She is a member of Poetry in the Pub, and was its first female president. Jan introduced the LakeMac group to a few new ways of looking at writing, particularly in regard to the crossover between poetry and art.

 

Firstly, we were introduced to the concept of surrealism in art, poetry, drama, etc. Surrealism concerns the unconscious or subconscious mind – “the plausible impossible”. We saw a picture of Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” and discussed the elements of surrealism within it. Jan shared two surrealist poems: Antonin Artaud’s “Dark Poet’ and Arthur Rimbaud’s “The Drunken Boat”. She also read a poem she wrote based on a surrealist painting, and these gave us an idea of what kind of writing to which we could stretch ourselves.

 

The Persistence of Memory (1931) Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” 1931

 

Many of the group had not heard the term “ekphrasis”, i.e. writing stimulated by a piece of art, as in the poem “Ode to a Grecian Urn” by John Keats. Jan talked about how important it is to research the piece of art to get details correct. She read excerpts from her poem “Artemesia Reflects” (which is published in Paint Peels, Graffiti Sings, a pocketbook from Flying Islands Books, Macau). Artemesia Gentileschi was reputedly the first female artist to exist solely on the proceeds of her painting.

 

Jan pointed out that any piece of art – visual, auditory, performance – can provide stimulus for writing. She then gave us an exercise to do which involved linking surrealism and ekphrasis.

 

We each looked at a different, ordinary picture. Jan asked us to insert something grotesque into it that shouldn’t be there. We were to use the changed picture as a prompt to write a poem. My picture was of a woman and a man seated on opposite sides of a table. The woman’s face is sad, her arms rest on the table and she holds a disposable coffee cup in both hands. Her eyes are half-focused on the man, but his gaze is downwards, towards the cup. My insertion was a green emanation that rose from the cup and swirled around between the couple, touching neither.

 

The surreal aspect we gave to the picture was a great way to expand our understanding of any piece of art and how we could write about it. This is what I wrote about my picture:

Words, sickly, pastel-pale, swirl in the air.

Blue reaches for yellow, yellow for blue

trying to connect but,

unable to bridge the distance between them,

become absorbed into

amorphous green misunderstanding.

 

Surrealist overtones can be included when we write about still life pictures as well as any other. Jan gave us an exercise that showed how to put incongruous words together to create dream-like images that we can use in our writing. She introduced us to asemic writing too, images made up of meaningless words, beyond semantics, but which can stimulate the emotions.

Asemic-writing-necronomicon     Asemic writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Examples of asemic writing

 

To complete the session, Jan reminded us of the Queensland Poetry Festival and encouraged us to enter its associated writing competition, the Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award.

 

I left the session with my mind buzzing, words and images swirling, and a determination to use at least some of the writing techniques Jan shared with us. Perhaps I will even have a go at that ekphrasis competition.

 

Crazy, irrational things happen all the time in Surrealist literature. (Unknown origin)

A pleasant Sunday Morning

July 23, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Australia, Gratitude, Leisure activities, Mental Health, Nature, Share Your World | 16 Comments
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We had a lovely morning on Sunday, a beautiful & pleasant winter’s day. We went for a drive, going anti-clockwise from the west side of Lake Macquarie where we live around to Swansea on the east (coastal) side.

We bought coffee at Macdonald’s there & a couple of hash browns each. It’s ages since we had either, as we have avoided Macca’s since the coffee changed to a bitter blend. However, we’d heard that their coffee is back to being good, so we decided to give it a try. It sure is good again, so we can hopefully get a decent coffee whenever we go to any Macca’s.

01 channel

After that, we had intended going to nearby Caves Beach but not knowing the way to the caves, we ended up at Swansea Heads instead. It is lovely there where the rock-walled channel links the lake and the sea. We decided to go for a walk on the south side, where we were parked.

03 rock fishermen

There’s a sheltered little sandy beach that would be great for little kids. Walking past the beach we came to where quite a few rock fishermen had rods out and their lines in the sea, hoping to catch dinner. There were also lots of anglers in small boats just outside the channel mouth. Farther out to sea, several colliers waited their turn to get access to Newcastle harbour to load up.

07 Breaking waves

It was picture postcard stuff. And so were the cliffs & the scattered rocks below them, which are so varied as to be amazing – sandstone, conglomerates, coal and others I don’t know. I took lots of photos of everything & used up all my phone battery.

The couple of hours we spent wandering the rocks & the beach were relaxing and yet also invigorating. The cold but gentle breeze was refreshing in the warm winter sunshine. Blue sky, waves breaking against the rocks, & multitudes of seagulls that had gathered on both sides of the channel, made us feel like we were on holidays.

06 Dirk

We set off home happy and content, and by the time we arrived there, we had circumnavigated the whole lake. The circumference of the lake is 147 kilometres. Here is more information on our beautiful lake and the city of Lake Macquarie.

 

I love being near the sea. The crashing waves are a tonic for me. Do love the sea shore?

 

 

 

 

Politics of Immigration

June 26, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Posted in Australia, discrimination, Immigration, Politics, War and Conflict | 34 Comments
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I am loth to write about political situations but, following the example of another writer-blogger,  I have finally gotten up the courage to speak out.

There is a lot of emotion being generated around the world by the Trump administration’s treatment of so-called illegal migrants in the U.S, especially the separation of children from their parents. These emotions – horror, disbelief, deep sympathy and compassion for the trauma these children are suffering – are well-founded and justified. What is being done there is appalling.

What many people don’t see, because it is hidden as much as possible by the govt here in Australia, is an equally appalling situation. This is what is being done to seekers of refuge who came to this country by boat. To seek asylum in another country is perfectly legal, and yet we have our govt happily locking up refugee kids (albeit with their parent/s) in prison camps on Manus Island in P-NG and on Nauru in the Pacific in terrible conditions. Most of these refugees, kids included, have been incarcerated for several years – up to 5 years at present.

Refugee Children On Nauru

Refugee children on Nauru

The men, women & children, having already been traumatised by the life they fled, are in a bad way – physically, mentally and emotionally. They are treated appallingly – not given decent treatment for illnesses, injuries childbirth issues, and psychiatric problems associated with their incarceration. Several have died because of that lack of treatment. Others have taken their own lives because they cannot cope any longer with the conditions, the brutality of the system and its administrators, their demonisation by the govt, their lack of hope and uncertainty about the future.

Both our major political parties – the Coalition Liberal-Nationals in government and Labor in Opposition – are happy to stir up fear and hatred of refugees within the populace in order to create and conduct a disgraceful policy of deterrence. They say it will prevent more “boat people” from seeking asylum. They say it’s a matter of national security, but any thinking person knows it is simply to shore up the support of fearful, unsympathetic and uncaring voters.

Manus refugees

Refugee men on Manus Island

I hate to think what the outcomes of their treatment will be for those refugees when they are finally freed – what they will have to come to terms with and what they will have to overcome to be capable of living again in society. How much these refugees could have contributed to Australian society if they had been allowed to stay, we will never know. Instead, their lives have become a political football, and they may never know the peace they yearn for.

It seems that extreme right wing policies are having their day in many parts of the world. I just hope that the indignation & horror of good people– along with their raised voices and action – will turn the tide. I hope we can get back to what made Australia known for its friendliness and mateship. But I am afraid it will be a difficult road to return to.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” – Hebrews 13:2

Millthorpe Pop-up

May 8, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Australia | 3 Comments

The author showcase at Millthorpe is getting closer. I am re-blogging Kim’s interview with me to give more background. Thanks, Kim.

What A Great Review!

March 18, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Australia, book review, historical fiction, Social mores, Writing | 13 Comments
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I am thrilled to share this wonderful review of Thursday’s Child from Linda Ireland. Linda is a retired academic and a great lover of literature. A member of the Blue Room Poets, and an organiser of the monthly event Poetry in the Pub in Morisset, NSW, she shares her love of poetry and encourages many others to do the same. I am honoured that Linda loved the book enough that she wanted to share her view of it with everyone.

 

Review of Linda Visman’s “Thursday’s Child”.

by Linda Ireland

Issues of rape, unwanted pregnancy, the rights of the child, the constraints of poverty and of family dysfunction are still very real concerns in modern Australia. It is easy to forget how hard it was for a young girl dealing with these issues before the feminist movement gave voice to them.

 

“One day, the times we live in now will be history to our children and grandchildren .” So goes an early conversation between a trusted teacher and 15 year old Tori as she struggles to make sense of her own present and a recent horrific past event. The consequences of this event become the basis of the story and its themes.

 

One of the strengths of Linda Visman’s  second young adult novel, “Thursday’s Child”, is the way in which it brings to life the realities of what it was like in the early 1960’s for an adolescent girl facing challenges on multiple fronts.

 

Told from Tori’s perspective, sometimes as narrator, sometimes as diarist, the story aligns the reader with her plight from the first pages. It speaks to its times with raw honesty and truth.

 

Yet this is a novel for today. It comes published amidst a resurgence of feminist outrage against sexism and abuse as voiced in #MeToo and in inspiring rhetoric from stages and screens, often from women empowered by feminism, wealth and fame. Visman’s novel speaks its own less public truths as it charts what it was like in another era to experience the world as a bright girl trapped in a dysfunctional family by circumstances which constantly remind her of her own powerlessness and lack of choice.

 

It was not enlightened social attitudes that could save a woman in 1960’s Australia. Rescue stood or fell on the strength of the woman herself, on the support of other women of generous heart driven by the lessons of their own past, on a modicum of good luck.

 

All of the characters in Visman’s novel are trapped in one way or another through circumstances which make them better people or worse. If you were born into a family dogged by poverty or alcoholism, if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, if you were a woman born at the wrong time in history, bad luck. Tori’s journey shows us that the choice of what we accept and how we live a life rests ultimately with the self.

 

Through the raw emotional honesty of Tori’s thoughts and diary entries, Visman is careful not to present her central character as helpless victim. From the opening chapter, Tori emerges as a fighter. She recognises that she can choose to submit to the lot that is hers as a girl of her generation or she can choose to stand and fight for the powerless self against what she learns early and hard is the sheer injustice of the gender and class lottery. Tori’s God is hard and at times she rails against him.

 

The challenges as told in Tori’s continuous present are now a part of our history as women. Girls can take inspiration from her story. Boys can gain insight into the complexities of being a girl in any generation.

 

The journey of “Thursday’s child”  seeking a world beyond her lot, is treated with compassion and credibility. Linda Visman shows us that no young girl need stick to the tracks laid down for her by circumstance, but can set her own course through resilience, courage and the powerful ally of education.

 

Tori’s voice speaks out from the past to all young people of the present: you have far to go, get started.

 

Many thanks for this wonderful review, Linda Ireland.

 

Thursday’s Child is available from Amazon as a print  or  e-book here.

A Review of Thursday’s Child

March 1, 2018 at 8:54 pm | Posted in Australia, book review, Catholicism, Culture, discrimination, Family, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Social mores, Writing and Life | 4 Comments
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Review of Thursday’s Child by Jan Mitchell

27.02.2018

 

Local writer, Linda Visman moved to Wangi Wangi in the early 2000s and joined the Lake Macquarie branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers in 2005, where she was encouraged to continue writing poetry and short stories. Later she decided to tackle a novel set in the place where she grew up. Some of her poems and stories have been published in this magazine

Like her first novel (Ben’s Challenge), Thursday’s Child is an historical novel set in the NSW Illawarra region. Both novels have young teenagers as their protagonists, struggling against the norms of their era, the late 1950s – early 1960s.

Victoria, or Tori as she likes to be called, is a bright schoolgirl not quite fifteen when the novel opens. Events during the next year change Tori’s life for ever. She moves from being a totally dependent child, to a young woman who has developed a degree of confidence in her ability to influence her own life.

During her year of growing up, Tori struggles against the rulings of her church and her society. She rails against the norms that place men in a position over women and their bodies, at the men who make all the rules and hold all the power. She fights for the choices she believes should be her birthright. Like her creator, Tori is a post-war child at the beginning of a social revolution – one which sees a new wave of feminism and sexual freedom emerging in the western world.

Thursday’s Child is an engaging story with a likeable heroine. It is suitable for teenagers who want to understand the norms and values of the early 1960s and also for adults who want to reminisce about times past. It is also worth a look for young men to see how their actions influence women’s lives – a marvellous starting point for moral discussion, because the gender issues raised in Thursday’s Child continue to beset us today, albeit in a more subtle manner.

Thursdays’ Child is available from Amazon books either as a printed book or in Kindle version. Go to http://www.amazon.com.au, or for the United States, http://www.amazon.com.

 

Book Cover Preview on CreateSpace

 

Linda Visman

 

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