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)

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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?

 

 

 

 

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