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?

 

 

 

 

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.

Kim Kelly

millthorpe 2

MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

LINDA VISMAN

Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. So tell us, Linda, how has your Australianness, or your experience of Australia, inspired or influenced your storytelling explorations?

I was born in England and came to Australia in 1954 at age five with my parents and three siblings; another brother was born here. For me looking back, it was the best thing my parents could have done for us kids. We lived in a rural area too, which was great. My mother hadn’t wanted to leave her home, her mother, and the things she was familiar with, but Dad was an adventurer in many ways. Poverty and three cases of polio in the family made life quite difficult during my high school years.

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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

 

Comments on Thursday’s Child

February 24, 2018 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Australia, Gratitude, Publishing, Writing | 2 Comments
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It is wonderful to receive feedback after somebody has read your book. I know that most readers will not write a comment or, even less likely, a full review. However, after the first three weeks since my book went live on Kindle and also as a hard copy, a few people have told me what they think of it and, I am pleased to say, they are all positive.

The first comment on Thursday’s Child was only two or three days after the Kindle version became available.  Janet Lang, the wife of a retired Presbyterian minister, sent me two words: “Brilliantly written!”

The next was from Jan Mitchell, a member of the writing group I belong to; our local Fellowship of Australian Writers group. “I loved it!” she said. “Well done.”

Then came a comment on my Facebook author page from Sirpa Agyik in Queensland: “Two days ago I received my book “Thursday’s Child” from Amazon. Well Linda, once I started to read it, I could not put it down. EXCELLENT , BRILLIANT. Loved every page. Linda you are very talented author. Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.”

The latest is a Customer Review on Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars Unflinching

By Alfergus on 21 February 2018

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

“This young adult novel tackles the tough issues faced by a typical teenager in the early 1960s following rape and unwanted pregnancy. The story plays out against a backdrop of a society at the cusp of social change. The events are portrayed unflinchingly yet in a way that is suitable for the target readership. I enjoyed the way that Tori, an impetuous hot-headed teen, learns to trust the kindness of strangers and, eventually, herself.”

Many thanks for these comments. As they are for any writer who puts their creations out in the world, they are validation of all the time and effort and creative endeavour that I put into Thursday’s Child. I hope there are others who will let me know what they think of it.

 

Linda Visman

 

 

 

 

 

I Suppose It’s What You’re Used To

February 8, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Publishing, Writing and Life | 15 Comments
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I was so happy when my novel, Thursday’s Child, became available on Kindle on the first of February. At last, all the effort and angst of writing it had taken on a certain reality. People could buy it and read it and, hopefully, let me and others know that they liked it. I know it was a real pleasure to see it download onto my own Kindle device.

However, it was when the printed books arrived, on the day after it appeared on Kindle, that I felt the reality of my book’s publication. There is nothing like holding your own work in your hands, feeling the weight of it, turning the pages and seeing the words printed on real pages. That is when I jumped about in excitement, my book raised in my hand, and my husband hugged me in congratulation.

IMG_6068

I am au fait with several types of technology, and have hundreds of books on my Kindle that I have really enjoyed reading. I know that many of my readers will also read my book on their electronic device. But, to me, born and growing up when all of this technology was almost unthinkable, it is the solidity of the printed word that makes it all real.

I have already had one Kindle reader enthusiastically tell me that my novel is “brilliantly written”. Wow, who can’t love that (thanks Janet)! Now I am waiting for the first reader of the paperback version to let me know what they think of my second literary child – Thursday’s Child.

If you have read my novel, or if you intend to read it, I would love to have you tell me your thoughts on it.

The electronic version of Thursday’s Child is available here

 

Linda Visman

Thursday’s Child is now available!

February 1, 2018 at 9:59 am | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Publishing, Society, Writing | 7 Comments
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Today, my novel for Young Adults,Thursday’s Child, is ready for download. If you have already ordered it on Kindle it will automatically download.

If not, you can order your copy now and get yourself or someone else who loves a coming-of-age story a great read. It is available on Kindle here, and as a print-on-demand book here.

If you don’t have a Kindle, there is an app on Amazon that allows you to read it on any platform.

Back cover

Settle in for a great story.

 

Linda Visman

‎How I came to write Thursday’s Child

January 29, 2018 at 7:30 am | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Promotion, Writing | 4 Comments
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pexels-photo-204511.jpeg

 

Many people who liked my first Young Adult novel, Ben’s Challenge, requested that I write a follow-up to it. They wanted to know what happened to the characters after the book ended. So, when I finally got around to writing a second novel, I began it as a sequel to my first, expecting Ben to carry the story along.

I was a couple of months and fifteen chapters into the story when I realized it wasn’t working. The situation, theme, characters, plot couldn’t be played out with Ben there. I’d had a strong new character called Jessie in that aborted manuscript and she made me very aware that she had her own story to tell. I had to completely start over so it could be told.

I didn’t know much about Jessie at first, or what her story was. I just knew that she was a bright, ambitious girl from a large but poor Irish Catholic family. I knew what the opening chapter would be about, but even as the new chapters grew in number, I didn’t really know where it was heading. I also discovered I had given my character the wrong name. She wasn’t Jessie; she was Victoria – Tori Delaney.

From that point, Tori quickly showed me that she was quite happy to let my fingers be the instruments to tell her story, but that she would be telling it herself. And that is how I ended up with Thursday’s Child.

 

© Linda Visman

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