I came second!

November 12, 2018 at 7:00 am | Posted in Australia, History, Nature, Philosophy, Poetry, Reflections, The Red Centre | 19 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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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)

In Stitches

March 13, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Poetry, Writing | 27 Comments
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I have been occupied with other things than this blog lately. However, I would like to share a poem with you that I wrote a few years ago. It is about the beautiful Lake Macquarie where I live, and how I saw it one day as I walked along the shore.

The poem was recently commended in the Morisset Show Poetry Competition.

 

 

Wangi Bay stretches before me,

a coarse wind-ruffled

grey-green fabric;

patches of dirty brown

rain-stirred run-off

tacked onto it here and there

like jungle-camouflage.

 

Silver sequins

tossed onto the watery quilt

tumble and sparkle among

the grey jetty stripes and squares

and the multi-coloured

ship-shaped pieces

that have been tacked on

with contrasting whitecap stitches.

 

Here and there,

in out-of-the-way places

an occasional dot

of white embroidery –

a bobbing seagull or pelican.

 

A narrow, irregular strip

of breaking waves

marks the inner border

separating the nautical pattern

from its dark green edging

of eucalypt and casuarina

and spiky Lomandra longifolia

 

Today, the lake is a patch-work quilt

that I would like to take home with me.

 

 

© Linda Visman

11th October, 2010

 

A to Z Challenge _ Z is for Zephyr

April 30, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Poetry | 7 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

.

I wrote this poem in fifteen minutes as I sat by the open door with a gentle night breeze playing on my skin.

.

Zephyr Breeze

.

Zephyr breeze

Wafts through the window,

Bringing soft coolness

To fevered brow.

.

Zephyr breeze

Stirs autumn trees,

Causing golden shower

Of whispering leaves.

.

Zephyr breeze

Drifts in from the ocean,

Bringing the promise

Of evening rain.

.

Zephyr breeze

I wished you a tempest,

Reflecting the tumult

Of my grieving soul.

.

Zephyr breeze

Instead you stayed gentle,

Easing the turmoil

And bringing me peace.

.

(c)  Linda Visman

A to Z Challenge – Y is for You’re in there!

April 29, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Poetry, Writing | 10 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

.

Do you ever have trouble finding a word?

.

You’re in There – I Know You Are!

.

Stop, Word! I saw you.

Get back here, I need you.

I’ve been looking for you everywhere.

Oh, no. Don’t you go and hide;

I know you’re in there –

Come out and let me see you!

.

Come on out. Please.

This happens every time I need you;

You’re nowhere to be found.

Stop hiding behind the others!

No, I don’t want them,

I want you!

They just aren’t right for this work.

.

Oh, please, Word.

Don’t you want to be famous;

Have everyone quoting you;

Be the very latest “bon mot”?

You do? Great!

Share? Well, yes, of course

You’ll have to share

The poem with the other words.

.

You don’t want to? But why?

They’re just the everyday words;

The run-of-the-mill words.

They just can’t do the job like you can!

I need a word

That says it just right;

That conveys the perfect idea;

That creates the exact emotion.

.

That’s you. Yes, you!

Oh, come on, Word.

You’ll look so good on the paper,

Or on the screen.

You’ll be admired, and …

.

Word! Come out, this minute!

You’re spoiling everything.

My poem will be ruined.

You don’t care, do you?

You just don’t care.

.

This is your last chance, Word.

Get yourself out here!

Come out of my memory.

Right now!

.

.

(c)  Linda Visman

A to Z Challenge – X is for … X

April 28, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Poetry | 7 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

This was a harder one to do – as everyone who has been participating in the Challenge undoubtedly knows. I went for the letter X. Here is my contribution:

.

X is for … X

.

I don’t speak of the X that shows buried treasure,

nor the X that you need for a mathematical measure.

Not the X that meant 10 to the Romans of old,

but the X that is used in the words that we’re told.

.

Now inside of a word, the X glides along well, So

you can pay off your taxes, chop wood with your axes,

call your child Alexander or even Alexis.

But an X starting a word can cause linguistic hell.

.

You may begin a word with the letter X, but the sound just isn’t right!

You don’t play an Ecks-ylophone – it should start with a Z!

There are scientific names all sorts of things –

Xenon and Xanthic, Xylum and Xerography –

and I’d rather be a Xenophile than a Xenophobe.

But wouldn’t they be easier to read and to speak – if they began with a Z?

.

So if I had a say I’d take that darned X away

from the start of a word where it looks quite absurd,

and I’d replace it instead with the sound of a Zed,

so our tongues wouldn’t struggle with the X or Z puzzle!

.

(c) Linda Visman

A to Z Challenge – W is for Writers’ Block

April 27, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Poetry, Writing | 7 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

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I am stuck with my creative writing. How can I get my mojo back?

.

Writer’s Block

.

What’s happened to my stories; where did they go?

The tales I‘m well into have just lost their flow.

What should I do to regain inspiration,

When rust is corroding my imagination?

.

My stories began with energy and verve,

And it seemed I had hit on my creative nerve.

But now that my characters have lives of their own,

They won’t tell me the next bit – it’s like talking to stone!

.

I’ve set them in time, and in distinctive places;

You wouldn’t expect they’d keep hiding their faces.

Yet that’s what they’re doing; they don’t seem to want me

To finish their stories; to let them be free.

.

Perhaps they don’t like what they’re expected to do;

They’re sulking, annoyed at a detail or two.

But I can’t change the fact that they put themselves there;

I just want to help them – don’t they know that I care?

.

Where are you Carla? What on earth are you doing?

Ben, surely you want to solve the mystery that’s stewing?

Then talk to me. Tell me, what’s happening next?

‘Cause I’m puzzled and lost – and very much vexed!

.

If you won’t let me come back and live in your tales,

I’ll cry, get depressed and believe that I’ve failed.

But if you take me back into these stories I’ve penned,

I can make it all right when we get to the end.

.

Inspiration! Come back!

.

(c)  Linda Visman

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A to Z Challenge – V is for Valentine’s Day

April 25, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Poetry | 3 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

Here are a couple of poems about Valentine’s Day. They are in the Japanese form of senryu, which is basically the same as haiku, but with a people/person reference instead of nature.

Both are the same in form; it is their content which distinguishes them. They are normally short descriptive works of only 17 syllables. These are usually written in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Modern variations on this standard can be found, and many poets write haiku and senryu in 3, 5, 3 lines rather than the traditional. Other variations can also be found.

 

Valentine’s Day 1

Everlasting love

Glows in the heat of passion

Chocolate hearts melt.

Valentine’s Day 2

Flowers and chocolates

Modern tradition of love

Make me feel special.

A to Z Challenge – U is for Unconditional Love

April 24, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Poetry | 10 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

This poem arose from a poetry writing prompt, and I decided to write it as a Shakespearean sonnet.

This form, also called the English sonnet, has the simplest and most flexible pattern of all sonnets. It consists of three quatrains of alternating rhyme and ends with a rhyming couplet:

a b a b c d c d e f e f g g

Each quatrain develops a specific idea, but one closely related to the ideas in the other quatrains. The volta, or ‘punchline’ is often in the final couplet.

The basic meter of all sonnets in English is iambic pentameter, that is, ten syllables per line, with the emphasis on every second syllable.

Have you ever tried to write a sonnet?

.

An Old Rag Doll

– a sonnet –

.

Forlorn, it lies upon the rubbish pile

A tattered relic of a bygone day.

What joy this doll brought to a lonely child

How many happy hours spent in play?

.

Recipient, this doll, of secrets shared

A trusted confidant who would not tell

Her owner’s fears and dreams as they were bared

Not question motives nor her spirit quell.

.

But life goes on, and children quickly grow

To girls who think that love will never end.

But those that she allows her heart to know

Are not as faithful as that ragged friend.

.

If ‘tis unconditional love desired,

A rag doll’s noble heart is what’s required.

.

.

(c)   Linda Visman

A to Z Challenge – T is for Time

April 23, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, History, Philosophy, Poetry | 13 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

Time – framed

 

Have you ever wondered where ‘time’ comes from? I wrote this poem after I heard the clock chime midnight.

.

Twelve chimes mark the end of day

and the beginning of the next.

Although Man’s own construct

Time seems almost mystical

measuring our days as we move

from past through present

to future.

.

How many days will we own?

One or nine hundred,

or twenty-five thousand –

our three score and ten.

In our allotted days

life becomes complete –

or at least completed.

.

We waste our minutes

count our hours

measure our months

celebrate our years.

.

And yet they do not exist in reality

but only in our minds.

We did not need them in the forests

nor in the caves.

.

But as we hunted and gathered

we became aware of seasons

and named them, giving them magic

framing the cycles of life

of planting, growth and harvest

binding them to us

in ritual and celebration.

.

And so we created Time –

to measure the seasons

to plan our toil and our rest

to measure our lives

to provide meaning and certainty.

.

Now, Time is a number

measurable beyond the change

from season to season

or from night to day.

Time is hours, minutes and seconds

nanoseconds

timetables and calendars

Time is money

Time marches on.

.

The tool has become the master;

our creation has become a tyrant.

We don’t have time

Time waits for no man

Time’s up.

.

Perhaps we should take

Time out.

.

(c) Linda Visman

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