'Freedom' competition Judge's Report

JUDGE’S REPORT FOR 2017 ADELAIDE PLAINS POETRY COMPETITION – THEME: FREEDOM

By Jude Aquilina

I felt privileged to be the judge for a competition with such an important and inspiring theme as FREEDOM. Thank you to all the poets who entered – you reminded me of the many different forms that freedom can take. These included: freedom from war; freedom of speech and thought; freedom in retirement and through travel; through bushwalking and horse riding; freedom from a refugee’s point of view; freedom in nature; freedom from abuse, racism and ageism; freedom through religion and freedom through zen; freedom in self-sufficiency and going off the grid; even freedom in death from suffering and freedom to reunite with loved ones in the afterlife. Congratulations to the competition organisers for choosing such a wide-ranging and thought-provoking theme.

The quality of the poetry was extremely high, in every section, making my job as judge difficult. Many more poems than I can mention deserve praise. And I was especially thrilled to read so many amazing poems by school students. I know the future of poetry is in good hands.

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In the Primary School Section I chose four poems to Commend:

· Feeling Free (1) Lorena Burford - Horizon Christian School

· Freedom (18) Amelie Kowald – Domino Servite College

· Camping Moment (3) Sophie Manuel - Horizon Christian School

· Waking up on Saturday (8) Benjamin Trinkle – Domino Servite College

And I chose the poem The Freedom to Read (17) to Highly Commend Kezia Ziegelmann – Domino Servite College

For Third Prize, I chose a poem titled Charlotte and her eggs (6) Alexandra Hill – Tea Tree Gully Primary School – a clever and unusual poem, with rich poetic language and apt use of the senses.

For Second Prize, I chose the poem titled Freedom in Science (14) Wesley Trinkle – Domino Servite College – this enthusiastic account of the freedom, wonder and creativity in science, had me thinking and kept me smiling. This young poet has captured the thrill and passion in engaging in creative thoughts and experiments.

First Prize goes to a poem titled Freedom for me (16) Brandon George – Domino Servite College - a beautiful and vivid poem about finding freedom in the Australian countryside, when, I quote, ‘the evening shines like brass’. With images like this, I was transported me to another place. Congratulations to a poet with a talent for painting word-scapes!

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In the Secondary School Section I chose three poems to Commend:

· The Beautiful Word (25) Amal TlaaOur Lady of the Sacred Heart College

· What is it? (28) Olivia Hayes – Domino Servite College

· I wanted to fly in the beautiful sky (12) Jasit Kaur – Domino Servite College

And I Highly Commended three poems:

· What happened to our acceptance? (6) Chloe Wightman – Domino Servite College

· Freedom is a funny word, isn’t it? (5) Jesse Blakers – Hawker College

· Why would you wear something so inappropriate (4) Freya Cox - The Friends School

For Third Prize in the Secondary School Section, I chose a poem titled Freedom Lies in Being Bold (8) – Aimy Tran - Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College - a mature, intelligent poem that is a reminder of what women have achieved, and what is yet to be achieved in regards to equality. This is a bold and thought-provoking poem.

I chose, for Second Prize a poem titled A white blanket laid over Syria (13) – Rabjot Kaur - Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College The poem relates vivid images of human suffering and gives the war in Syria a human face. This is a memorable, emotive poem that does not shy away from truth; an important narrative that needs to be written and read.

First Prize is awarded to a vivid lyrical poem simply titled Freedom (2) – Maya Chromik – Horizon Christian School. This poetic list of images captures the sense of freedom that we, here in Australia, are fortunate to enjoy free of charge, like, I quote ‘collecting stars at night’ and ‘finding dirt roads that lead to the unknown. This clever poet has put together a collage of positive experiences to capture the theme of Freedom in a clever and resonating way. Congratulations!

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In the Open Section, there were many great poems that addressed the theme of Freedom in quirky ways like the three poems I award Commendations:

· The Cost of Zen (55) Helen Thurloe

· a peregrine falcon (86) Claire Albrecht

· Child of My Heart 928) Shelley Hansen

And I Highly Commended four outstanding poems:

· 1976 (no number) Stephen Smithyman

· Strawberries and Poppies (25) Donna Edwards

· Advance Australia - Fair (29) Chris Richardson

· Moon meeting (62) Nina Scott-Bohanna

Third Prize in the Open Section goes to a poem titled Free at Last (80) Tom McIlveen that takes the reader back to early Australian convict history. Rhyme, rhythm and meter are employed to effect; with this style suiting the era. I also enjoyed the authentic voice and dark humour.

I awarded Second Prize to a poem titled Transitions (84) Kerry Harte an ironic poem with moments of dark humour. The poem is about reading a shiny brochure for a nursing home, in which, I quote, are ‘The faces of the people … bright and bubbly as champagne’. I like this poet’s unfaltering tone and apt imagery.

First Prize goes to a poem titled, Freedom wakes me in the morning (69) Rhonda Cotsell It was a joy to read this intelligent, compassionate take on the theme. The poet focusses on the small things that mean freedom but also encompasses the big picture. This poet has captured the intangible, the essence of what freedom is and what it means. Congratulations to this brilliant poet. May freedom continue to wake you in the morning.

Thank you, Carolyn and the Adelaide Plains Poets for this enlightening experience.

Jude Aquilina

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As the President of Adelaide Plains Poets, I thank the judge and of course all of the entrants in this competition, where we received well around 130 poems from around Australia, based on our broad topic of Freedom. As the Competition Secretary I say thank you to all of the lovely poets who sent their work to me and kept me entertained as I read the poems as that came to me in the mail, or by hand. And of course thank you to the teachers involved, keeping love of language alive in the young people they work with every day at their work!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

January 2012 will be Poetry Month

This month I've committed to writing one new poem every day. I might be posting rubbish some days, first drafts in need of feedback and more editing, but I will post a new poem!

This was all brought on by reading about Month of Poetry 2012 I've met up with Kathryn Apel, who is organising this poetry jaunt, previously, and I know she is legitimate and devoted to poetry. I'm the same, and I'm proud to be involved in this poetry playtime!

I've done well so far, with my first poem for the month posted to the Month of Poetry website at 10.48 this morning. It may have actually been earlier than that, Kathryn and I have different time zones - she lives in Queensland and I live in South Australia.

So far, I've read some fine poems posted to the website, in quite differing styles. I feel it's going to be lots of fun, and I'm hoping to create some fine words. My first poem was OK, although I may hate it again the next time I read it. Poetry can be like that sometimes.

Anyway, I'm glad I have something to think about on this stinking hot day. I'm not going outside, that's for sure, too, too hot for me!

Talk to you again soon!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Headlines as Poem Starters

Today I read of a woman who threw a puppy over a balcony. The pup is now being cared for by a vet clinic and looks like it will be OK.

I am an avid dog lover, and I'm concerned that someone would do such a terrible thing. Puppies need the love and help of caring owners, and certainly never deserve to be so badly treated. I don't know too much more about this case of animal abuse though, because as well as being a dog lover, I'm also a poet.

As soon as I began reading about this matter, my poet sense kicked in, and I knew I had to write a poem about this poor pup. Sometimes things happen in my life that demand to be written about. I've written the pup's poem now, edited it slightly, and I'll post it here.

I'm sure this isn't one of my best ever poems, but it comes from my heart, and I enjoyed getting the words down. As I was writing the poem, I thought about the issues that woman may be having in her life that lead to the terrible act.

I hope the puppy survives and goes on to live a good life. I also hope the woman finds peace in her own life. Compassion is a thing that isn't 'either this one or that one'. I feel compassion for all involved in this story - the pup, the woman, those saving the pup, the police, the thousands of people who've read about it all.

We can all play our part in making this world a compassionate place for puppies to live.


What went wrong?

The puppy demands, you feel your hands
itching to shut it up.
The dog so young, but its tune is sung
and balcony calls for the pup.

Beyond the ledge and over the edge
that separates good from bad.
Why it was done, is known to none -
the woman must be mad.

At eight months old, pup’s tale is told
across the online world.
But we read of the deed and wonder indeed –
why was the puppy hurled?

Monday, December 26, 2011

What to Write a Poem About?

Do you ever want to write a poem but can't think of anything to write about? I used to feel like that sometimes, but no more. I studied at the Adelaide WEA college a couple of months ago, and I'll know what to write about and what style to write poems in for ever more.

The subject was called 20 ways to write a poem and the lecturer was John Malone, who has a blog here. In this particular blog post, John hasn't written a poem, but as I was reading his post today, I had the sneaking suspicion there was a poem sneaking around, waiting to be written!

In this course, which went for three Saturday mornings, the students listened to John speak, looked at and read the poems on the white board and had lots of fun. We wrote our own poems too, exploring the ideas John taught us.

I was inspired by John's words, and had a great time being involved in the classes. John kindly invited me to read my own work that he knew was relevant to the subject he was teaching. I certainly got the feeling I was learning many things that would/will be useful to me next year.

I have a great desire to hold creative writing workshops next year. I've put out feelers, and hopefully by the time summer is over, I'll be in front of a group of students, teaching them ways to write poems! This idea has been sniffing around me for years, and now that I have my own poetry collection published, and my Tafe certificate finished, I feel ready.

So if you live near Gawler, and you'd like to know more about writing poetry, get in contact, we can have lots of fun together!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Poems from my yard


One of my favourite things to do is to sit down and watch Nature around my back or front yard. I have good spots to sit and watch, ponder and meditate. Sometimes inner peace may come from sitting and watching, sometimes I may just idly watch with nothing deep or meaningful occurring. Sometimes a poem  may come of my time sitting and relaxing, and letting Nature entertain me.

I like short poems more than long poems, and one short form I like to use is the haiku. This short poetic form from Japan is often misunderstood. A good haiku is never an easy thing to write for me, and judging by many of the poems I read over the years, other people have trouble penning good haiku too.

The good thing though is that even if I don't write a good haiku, when I give it a try, at least I'm writing words that will help me remember the time I write of. Sometimes I do write a good haiku though, one where others get the thing that attracted my attention. That shared 'A-ha' moment is a wonderful thing indeed!

Here is one my haiku, or haiku style poems I wrote yesterday. I hope you my words and the haiku poem of interest.



bird and plant share
the same shade of yellow –
back porch view

My Christmas Poem

Christmas means many things to different people. As an atheist who is jaded by the 'Buy Now' consumerism that Christmas has become. I have my own thoughts about Christmas, possibly different than many people have.

I've thought deeply about the whole thing, and last year I wrote this poem to read at a Christmas Poetry Slam/Party. I read the poem (with a couple of changes) again at the same event this year.

The poem may not be much, but it says what I feel about the whole thing.


Merry Whatsit
Pagan rites and rituals
overlain by a holy Christian wash
and God Almighty consumerism rules;
eat and eat and eat
gimme, gimme, gimme! Gluttony
and avarice make for perfect
bedfellows, and that’s what it’s all
about. It’s hard to find space
for that tiny babe of doubtful birth,
but helping people & being nice
have their own rewards.
There’s an inner glow when you shine
your light on others, saint or sinner,
believer or not. And a child’s smile
as she plays with a huge box, empty
of materialistic burdens, makes
some sense of the Christmas myths.


Have a safe and happy time!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poem idea starters


I've written poems for many, many years. I remember the poem I wrote in high school for Mr Scalzi's History class once. I was supposed to be writing something, not a poem but something else, about some part of Ancient History that began with a 'C'. I can't remember what the town or country was apart from knowing what letter it began with, but it was in Europe, which might as well have been on the moon, it bore so little in common with my own life.

Anyway, I was thinking about the whole thing, or more likely not thinking about it, and I wrote a poem. I liked the poem enough to submit it for my History assignment. My History teacher liked the poem too, and I received a good mark for it. That made me feel good about my abilities, which is always a nice thing to have happen, when you're a teenager. 

This experience didn't make me love History, but it strengthened my love of English. As a good reader, who liked to write poetry, English was always my favourite subject. The point of this slightly rambling explanation is this: Poems can come from most unexpected places.

I hadn't intended writing a poem in that History lesson back in the seventies. I was open to writing a poem though, so when that poem arrived, I was there to capture it. I took that poem home from school and shared it with my mum. She liked the poem too, and she still has a copy of it. I haven't read the poem again, but I still remember what it was. 

The poem was a metaphor for something in my own life. My feelings of not understanding what was required of me to live my life properly came out in that poem. I don't know if anyone else got that out of the poem, but poetry is always open to the interpretation of the reader. 

So now I will reiterate my point - poems can come from unexpected places. Now I am a keen birdwatcher, and I live in rural South Australia, about sixty kilometres north of Adelaide. Because I live where I live, I have lots of birds to watch. One thing that's intrigued me for many years is the behaviour of Welcome Swallows. 

We have a swimming pool, and I often see swallows circle around the pool, then flying in low to touch the pool's water, the off again. I used to think they were taking a drink from the pool, and I didn't think the water would taste very good.

A friend recently said to me that the reason the swallows would be dipping in the pool, would be to get some water to make mud for making nests. I've carried this little snippet around in my head for a month or so, and now, finally it was emerged in a haiku poem.

I've wanted to write about the swallows flying around the pool in this way, and this information, combined with a haiku written by the Japanese master haiku poet, gave me my first successful poem about these lovely little birds. I love haiku poetry, and I'm glad I've finally got a poem about them, and how they connect with my life.

I'm not saying this is a wonderful poem, that's not up to me to say, but I'm happy with it. It captures the moment for me, and when I read it, I can see in my mind, a swallow circling and skimming across the pool surface and up again. I have no idea where the swallows go from my pool, I just know they arrive and fly off again.

This is the poem:


dips in again,
pool water to make mud -
where is swallow’s nest?





Friday, December 9, 2011

Reasons Why I Write

I write most days, it's not always creative writing, some of my writing is posting comments on Facebook or tweets on Twitter, nothing more literary than that. I try to give a piece of myself with my comments though.

Other kinds of writing I do are these:
Poetry, short stories, novel drafts, blogging, journal writing.

I often write a poem when something major has come into my life. I wrote poetry while I was pregnant with my son, 18 years ago. It helped me to think about the approaching new life and the changes to my own life.

I wrote a little about my depression that followed my pregnancy - being a mother was wonderful, but some of the things I was going through were terrible. I suffered post natal depression, undiagnosed and feeling like I was the worst mother ever.

It was a good time, thinking about it now. I was the best mother I could be, and our son has turned into a good person, which shows I was doing at the very least a 'good enough' job. So that was my first major topic to write about, the combined motherhood and depression theme.

Since then, I've explored being a novelist, but have only got as far as several beginnings to novels, and one first draft of a novel. I still think about those unfinished pieces of work occasionally. Poetry has taken on a larger part of my interest though. I love the way a poem can go from first draft to seventh draft and finshed/published all in the space of a week! Novels can take seven years to get to the published stage!

I've also written articles and published them online on sites such as Associated Content, Triond, and others. The one I still use is Twitter, you can find my work here http://www.triond.com/users/Carolyn+Cordon
This is a way to make tiny bits of money - I rarely get much, but I have fun being a part of the Triond community.

Making money isn't my main reason for writing though, making connections is my main reason. I love the fact that I'm part of the poetry community, both in real life and online. I live in a small town in rural South Australia, but I still get to poetry things when I can. I am involved in Gawler Poetry at the Pub, which happens in Gawler at the Prince Albert Hotel on the last Sunday of the month, except for December.

My next writing thing will be about my most recent major life challenge. In February last year I became ill, and was diagnosed with the chronic and uncurable disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I wrote about this in articles, thought and poetry, and I continue to be involved in the MS community, both online, and in real life. I'm a member of the MS Society SA & NT, and I'm in a peer group of others diagnosed with MS who live near Gawler. It's a chance to connect with people who understand my health issues, and I enjoy meeting with the others regularly.

So the writing part of my MS journey will be the writing of a memoir. I feel strongly about doing this, but I'm also conscious of my abilities, my health and my body. We have summer happening in my part of the world now, and heat affects me badly, as it does for most people with MS. So I'm going to take it easy through summer, and then get stuck into this memoir idea. I hope to be able to write something worthy of publication, but I'm aware I have a long way to go.

Writing is my therapy, and creative writing, as well as connecting with people, helps me stay sane and positive. Another project I want to explore next year is running creative writing workshops. I have gained a qualification in Community Services Work, and combined with my writing and my life skills, I hope to help others find themselves ways to live a positive life. Giving to others gives back so much, and I am keen to give more!

Feel free to contact me if you'd like to know more!




Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What makes me happy

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Basically if the day is pleasant, not too hot and not too cold, or if the day is too hot but I can stay home inside, where it's nice and cool, then I'm happy.

Most days fit the criteria - if I have to go out on a hot day, well that impacts on how I feel. If I'm going out somewhere good, then I'll still be happy, because the car I'm likely to be driving will have good air conditioning.  So, as you can see, I probably have happy days most of the time.

I also get extra happy if I write a new poem, or work on an existing poem. I am a poet, writing or editing poetry is one of the defining things I do. A day with no poetry in it at all can make me a little bit sad, but days like that are rare. I'm in a writing group and we meet once a week and share our writing. So this morning I edited the new poem I wrote yesterday to read tonight. It was a sad subject in some ways, but it made me happy to be writing/editing a new poem.

I spend lots of time on the internet, and checking my emails. Some of that social media stuff involves my friends, and lots of my friends are also poets. So you should be able to see that it isn't that difficult for me to be happy. Things I like to write about make me happy too.

One of my writing themes is Nature. Looking at Nature makes me happy. I live in country South Australia, with Nature all around where I live. I love sitting on the front or back veranda, looking at the plants, birds, creatures and weather. I've written poems about these things, making me happy.

Does my life bore me? Oh no, I love my life. I have family, friends, Nature, my pets and my plants. I live a fantastically happy life!

Do you live a life that makes you happy?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Aiming at something like William Carlos Williams

Yesterday I wrote another poem about my car crash from last week. The previous poem is quite different in style to this more recent poem.

I was aiming at capturing just one important thing, and was thinking as I wrote and edited it, about the spare and clever work of the much loved American poet William Carlos Williams.

If you don't know his work, and you like or love poetry, or even if you hate poetry, I recommend you click on his name and learn about him. I love his work.

So here is my little poem:


away from me

my clearest image
from the accident
is what I saw
as my car
hit the safety fence
the first time –
ten or more cars
on the other side
of the road
rushing northward
away from me 
as fast as they could go



Did I capture the feel I was aiming at? I think so. I have no idea if this poem works for anyone else, but when I read it, I can see those cars again. The cars that would have crashed into me and possibly killed me if the safety fence wasn't there.

Please, please, please leave a comment here, I have a strong need to know how this poem touches or fails to touch others.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creative Writing is my Personal Healing

I had a car accident last week, on Monday. Something went wrong, I lost the steering in my car and I crashed. The car was the first car I've ever owned myself, all the other cars have been in my husband, Graham's, name.

When my car came to a halt, I realised I was pretty well completely unhurt. I thought about what to do, but a wonderful lady arrived to help me. She took charge of it all, and invited me to sit in her car while I waited for various emergency people and my husband to arrive.

I looked at my car and was sad. It looked far sicker than I was. It seemed strange that my car could be that damaged, but I was fine. I thank the people who make things safer for us all. If it weren't for the safety fence, my seatbelt and safety features in the car, the result would have been tragic rather that merely sad.

Anyway, I thought about all of this, and I dealt with the sadness in my usual way, I wrote a poem about it. Creative writing is my way of getting my head around things. Writing the words down, editing them, playing with them and then sharing them helps me to understand my life, myself and the world.

I truly believe that creative writing has healed me, getting me over my grief at losing my car (it was written off by my insurance company). Creative writing has also helped me to deal with the various issues I have had in my life.

I feel that creative writing is a fine tool for a person to have to help them get through the challenges they have in life. It is a thing I wish to assist people with. That is what I wish to spend the rest of my life doing - assisting people to write their way to a better life.

Anyway, here is the poem I wrote about my car accident. I hope you find something in my words.


It could have been traumatic

Control lost, spin around, crash and spin some more.
Safety found, deep breath and look around.
Help approaches, mobile in hand, she calls for uniformed
help. She saw it all, soothes me, comforts me, a quiet heroine
‘It’s wasn’t your fault’ she says, ‘not your fault at all’
Two more people arrive, soothing, helping, bits of my car
taken off the road. She tells the cop the same
when he flashes up, and starts asking questions,
‘Not her fault,’ she repeats. Mission accomplished,
the helpers all leave, taking with them a new story to tell.
I sit in the cop’s car and he tests me, questions me,
soothes me too, we chat while we wait. ’Not your fault,’
he says. Graham arrives, tow truck arrives,
cop leaves, we leave, returning home,
where life is in control, no spin at all.
I feel soothed not traumatised.



Carolyn Cordon 2011

If this poem says anything to you, please feel free to leave a comment here, thank you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Final Farewell to Dad

I've written two blogs about the poem I'm going to post here. The poem was written about a ceremony my younger brother, our mother and I performed on Sunday morning just gone.

The time had come to scatter my father's ashes. Murray West was my father's name. He was a horse trainer before he died, a well known and much liked one before he became ill. He died a year ago, and Sunday was just after his birthday and the one year anniversary of his death. I met with my mum on the day and we caught up with me brother Greg at the back track at Globe Derby Park, the main harness racing track in South Australia.

The plan was to scatter Dad's ashes at the finish line on the main track. My older brother Jeff, who died nearly 18 years ago has his memorial stone at the finish line in the rose garden just across from the finish line. Jeff had been my father's horse driver, driving many horses to victory.

So we gathered together and did the deed. I knew I was going to write a poem in honour of this occasion, and I was thinking about the theme of my weekly writing group. The theme was 'Recovery'.

I was busy for the rest of the day, but my subconscious kept turning over what we'd done, and the writing theme. I began writing the poem on Tuesday, I had a first draft. I wasn't ready to let anyone else see the poem at that stage.

Then I decided I would work on it some more on Thursday, after I had written a totally different poem with the theme of 'Recovery'. That poem came to me yesterday morning as I was lying in bed and enjoying the feeling of  being safe there. So I got up, fixed breakfast and wrote my 'Recovery' poem. I read my 'Recovery' poem last night, and everyone liked it. I liked it too, and was satisfied I had hit the theme well. The group shared some deep and meaningful words last night, a handful of fine poems indeed.

Then I opened up my poem I'd written for Dad, and worked on a second draft, tinkering with lines and words. I was happy with that poem, it felt good to me, and I knew I had to share it with my mother, who I go and visit most Fridays. This morning I polished up the  poem, and I was finally happy that it said the things I needed to say. I went and saw Mum and gave her the poem to read and to keep.

I watched Mum as she read, seeing her face as she reacted to the words. She finished reading, and I asked if she was OK with me putting the poem 'out there' for other people to read. I felt I had to ask her permission first, it wouldn't have been fair to her otherwise. She said she was OK with that.

So that's the story behind this poem. It's a story of poetry, grief, harness racing, family and caring for loved ones. It's a story I give to the world. So here is that poem.



The final race

Crow’s mournful cry heralds the beginning
of my journey. The road I travel is a slaughterhouse
in grey - avian corpses sad prey to car’s
supremacy. These thoughts travel with me
to Dad’s memorial destination. Contact made,
we three, his spouse and his offspring, approach
the place, ashes in hand, plan decided –
finish line a suitable place. The youngest
does the deed, releasing the final remains
of our father, my mother’s spouse. Breeze aids
the scattering, and I remember other times, times
when the finish line brought us joy, and I finally
feel a kind of joyful serenity. Remaining ash
is spread near our dead brother’s place, their
oldest son, and we can all imagine Jeff and Dad,
communing and celebrating former times –
horses, races and glorious wins. We shared
these things as a family, now we can remember
it again and embrace a final peace.



Monday, October 31, 2011

a First Draft says it's not quite ready to come out yet

Yesterday I wrote the first draft of the poem I spoke of the day before yesterday. The poem came easily enough once I had a quiet time to begin writing. It felt good to get the words down. The problem is, I'm not quite ready for it yet, and it's not ready for being released to the public yet.

These things happen sometimes. I think the fact the poem is about something so personal, that also relates to other people I love, means I have to be more careful with my words than usual. Getting this wrong feels like it could hurt other people, and maybe hurt me too.

So, it may happen soon, or it might only be a thing between me and the words of the poem. Whatever happens, the writing of this poem feels like it's helping me.

Writing about a loved one who is now dead seems like a normal part of my grieving process. I wrote a sonnet that I read at my father's funeral a year ago. The sonnet helped me say what I wanted to say, and I was glad to be able to give a copy of it to my mother.

The poem I'm working on now is not in any formal poetic style, but it still conveys much of what I'm feeling inside about my father. It's all a little difficult because the Dad I knew and loved has been gone for much longer than the year since his body died. Dementia took Dad away slowly but with a cruel steadiness. His mind slowly left us and we struggled to find hints he was still there.

I'm afraid to say I had difficulty in seeing Dad in the vacant face that looked unseeingly at me when I visited. He was gone, and I could only wish it wasn't so. I hope this never happens to me, or to anyone else I know and love. Dementia would have to be one of the cruellest things there is.

Writing these words is a conversation happening in my mind, and on the page. I do some of my best thinking when my mind is in charge of my fingers, keying in the words. If I didn't do this, I don't think I could stay OK.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

When the poem calls, but you're not sure you're up to the task

Yesterday I met with my mother and Greg, my younger brother, to deal with my father's ashes. Dad died a year ago tonight, and the time had come to do the task.

My father was a successful harness racing trainer for much of his life. He had his funeral service at Globe Derby Park, which is the major harness racing facility in South Australia. Dad had many successful races there during his training career.

Globe Derby Park is also the place where the ashes of my older brother, Jeff, were placed. Jeff was Dad's reinsman, driving the horses to many wins. Jeff died at the age of 33, nearly 18 years ago.

So I drove to Mum's place, and along the road I kept seeing metaphors. Crows, and the bodies of dead birds in particular, were a recurring theme for the initial part of my journey. While I was driving, I was thinking about the poem I would write in honour of the event. The scattering of ashes is a powerful thing, full of thoughts and images and feelings.

Once I arrived at Mum's place, we found out where Greg was and met with him at the track. We took the ashes to the finish line and Greg released the ashes. There was a breeze to assist and I felt a deep sense of rightness as I saw the ashes leave the urn.

Once Greg had nearly emptied the urn, he gave it to Mum. We all walked over to Jeff's memorial stone and stayed with Mum as she released the last of Dad's ashes. They were laid to rest next to the stone, amidst the rose bushes there. It was easy to imagine Dad and Jeff finally able to get together again to talk about horses, as they often did when living.

The rest of yesterday was taken up with poetry, the Poetry Readings at the Pub in Gawler. I'm on the committee that runs this event, which happens once a month. I continued thinking about the poem I had to write, but wasn't able to write it. I had a strange happy/sad afternoon. I was tied up with the goings on, but also tied to what I'd done in the morning. I felt good taking my part in the proceedings, so wasn't resentful at not having the chance to pen my memorial to Dad. I felt I could easily do it when the time was right.

Now though, I'm sitting at home with not much to do, and I still haven't written down any words. I feel almost afraid to start, in case I mess it up. There are several things I've said I'll do today, and they are affecting me in some way and the words don't feel ready to come yet. I can still feel them though, sitting within and warming me with their love.

This is a thing that I want to do, and I need to do. This is a thing I will do.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A poem snuck up on me

The poem I'm going to post here crept up to me today, and said, 'come on, write me down or type me up, tinker with me, but not for long, then come on, post me, I wanna be on the internet'.

I make no claim to greatness for this poem, I'm simply putting it here because that's the way the poem wanted it. I'm not the poem, though some of me is in the poem. I'm simply the one who hits the keys and claims the copyright.

So here's the poem, perhaps insufficiently edited, perhaps perfect, but most probably somewhere in between the two.


Kitchen as metaphor

In my kitchen are signs aplenty
I am lazy/slothful, coffee-drinking
I eat both junk and healthy stuff
Neither insects nor dirt frighten me
I recycle, reuse and waste
I don’t mindlessly scrub, rub, dub dub dub

Your kitchen may be
quite different.
You are not me.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writers need to get out sometimes!

Pounding your keyboard is all very well, but sometimes a writer needs to get out and connect with the real world. Yesterday I did just that.

A new friend and I got together for a coffee and chat at a local venue. The main part of the morning wasn't about the culinary experience. The coffee and raisin toast I had were good enough, and a good price. That wasn't what it was all about.

The morning was all about friendship, sharing, writing and creativity. My new friend met at a workshop at the SA Writers Centre and connected again by phone last weekend. We decided to catch up, and so that's what we did.

I felt energised when I was talking and looking at some artwork my friend brought along. She is currently visiting this venue in the morning as often as she can. She brings her drawing bits and pieces and is creating illustrations for picture book texts she has written.

The work she showed me was charming and gentle, ideally suited to children's tastes. I hope to meet up with this friend again soon, and continue this friendship. It feels like a great thing to do, both for me socially and for my writing.

Friends are valuable things to have.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Own Crow Poem

A dear poet friend of mine has written a post on  his own blog. In it he posted a poem about a crow and on his Facebook page he said that every poet worth his or her salt has written a crow poem. click here to read John's Crow Poem


That started me thinking - have I written a crow poem? I thought I had, but decided to write a new one anyway. So here is my crow poem, untitled so far. 


I welcome comments on the poem, and also ideas for a possible title.



Crow’s mournful cry goes out across the paddock
sheep and wheat ignore the sound
and continue doing what they always do.
I pause and look up, and spot the crow,
alone, alone, alone. Then comes an answering cry -
another crow’s  plaintive call rings out -
first crow no longer alone, they strike up a lament
in tandem. I’m  reminded of my family inside,
waiting for me to return. There’s no need
for me to call out, they’re there for me,
they’re always there for me.














Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Making of a Poem


This post shows the thought processes that went into the creation of the poem ‘It’s all there waiting’ which is at the end of the post.

I’m a member of a writing group that meets every Thursday. The group began after some of us went to writing workshops with a particular presenter. We had varied reactions to this presenter and we got together to discuss related issues.

The friendship between us grew and grew, and members left, new members arrived. The friendship leads to some terrific sharing of thoughts and ideas, and most of the time it leads to some great writing being shared.
Anyway, last week we were told to think of a saying/quote/maxim that meant something to us and write a piece referring to that saying etc. I may have got that wrong, but it won’t matter, because I have something written to share with the group.

The saying that struck me as a fine one is this: ‘Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.’ It is quoted as being anonymous, but the words could have been written by me, they struck me as being so true.

This is how my writing toward the final poem went:

“If you’re alive, and have friends, you’re better off than many.

If you’re alive and have no friends, you’re still better off than some.

If you’re dead and people liked you, you must have lived a good life.

If you’re dead and nobody liked you, you might be better off dead.

This is how I judge my life - I have many things in my life I’m grateful for. I am alive, in no pain and I can usually live the life I want to live. I am so much better off than so many people in this world. The thing that pains me sometimes is knowing others have much and don’t realise what they have.

 The world gives us what we need, but it’s often wasted by people who forgotten how to live a life worth living. Children know the secret to it. Connect with your inner child and live your best life.”

And now the poem I wrote to present to my dear friends at tonight’s meeting:

It’s all there waiting…
I have much,
friends who care,
food and shelter.
I have family I can rely on
and Nature offers me
delights whenever I look outside.
I am truly happy.


It’s nothing too literary or anything, but it’s a valuable piece to remember every single day.

Reading the poem again now, I can see some things I might change, but I'll leave it as is and see what the group members think. I value their critiques very much.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Edited Poem is too Shy to Come Out!

I've edited my poem about my walker, which I posted on this blog previously. Now, I don't feel up to sharing it with the world.
I write to share myself with the world, in the hope that others will find new things that may help them. This poem though, hmm, it's hiding away on my computer. Should I reach in and drag it out, or should I give it a little more time, so I can tweak it some more?
These are common thoughts for me, and I suspect other poets too. How do you know when your poem is properly cooked through? When will your poem be strong enough and right enough to make the connections you're searching for?
The only way to find out may be to put the poem out there... Not yet though, no, not yet.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The world is full of gloom and doom


Don't do this, don't do that! So many rules, it's no wonder we sit around hating life and hating ourselves. 

I want to add a happier note to the overall tone of the world. So I'm posting this poem, which shows how to get the best out of chocolate! Yum.


Guilt free


Another’s plan is to eat less chocolate,
I want to eat better chocolate and more of it.
Dark chocolate, luscious, caressing my tongue
coating my teeth so I lick each tooth
again and again, tasting the chocolate, at one
with the chocolate. The chocolate creeps in,
swallowed, and I wallow in the sublime pleasure
of the flavour. I don’t crave it, I savour it.
Giving in feels like winning, tasting
not wasting. Having enough and wanting no more.
Denying myself would be so wrong,
letting myself to have it - no guilt at all!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A new poem, waiting for your input!

I mention this poem previously on this blog, but didn't do anything about it at the time. I believe that creativity must be nurtured, but must also be left alone at times.

I've written other poems in the time between back then and now, mostly on quite different subjects. Today though, I remembered that other poem and felt the need to finish it off and turn it from a few scrappy words into a properly formed poem.

It may not be completely finished, and I certainly welcome any feedback others may have to help this poem. At the moment I'm happy with the poem, but there's no telling how I'll feel about it tomorrow. I really feel I need feedback on it, and I hoping you will help me with it.

Thanks,

Carolyn

Ode to My Walker


It arrived one day, unheralded
left by the door as one might leave a note -
no note this, but a message still, unguarded
and protected by an invisible moat.
A sign of disability and loss,
walker used by the aged and infirm -
if I took it up, what would be the cost?
I hid it inside, the gift at first was spurned.

It stayed inside, unused, as I wandered through the house
one room to the next, general cleaning up
releasing hounds and letting them back in,
throwing out each unwanted mouse
then resting with computer and coffee cup -
my peaceful times a need and not a sin.

I was hiding it seems from what was there in front of me,
passed it many times, eyes averted and didn’t see
the thing that promised much to aid my fragile walking -
the walker had the news, but I didn’t hear it talking

But the walker now is in my car,
ready if I need it.
I’ve a hunger to follow my new life’s star,
the walker will help me feed it.







Monday, July 11, 2011

Thoughts on Driving deaths

I've heard of far too many deaths from speeding. It's not only young people who die this way, but an early road death seems more tragic.
A life not yet lived, cut off on a lonely road...

Thinking about it can't change a thing, but bringing it to people's attention may have some affect, I don't know. I only know that every young person who dies on the road is a tragedy.


Who pays the bill?



A life is lost

is wisdom gained?

Those children speed past still.

My thoughts slow down

my hands stretch out,

they’re out of reach until

they realise we had a point

us bleating older ones -

speed certainly can kill

with death a sorry end.

A life has ended now,

to stop it takes the will

to force a change -

the mindset’s wrong

and those deaths all leave a bill

a charge society pays

medical, laws, funerals
tragically run of the mill.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some thoughts on suicide

I've recently completed the study part of my Community Services Work certificate IV. Next comes 140 hours of work placement. I enjoyed doing the classroom part of my study, but didn't enjoy working by myself, just me, my computer and the assignment.

My two final assignments, which I completed in the same week were about firstly domestic violence and secondly suicide. I have to say it felt like a very bleak week indeed. I got through the work though, submitted the assignments and I'm proud and pleased to say I received a pass for each, together with supportive comments.

Thinking about that tonight  prompted thoughts about suicide, and I can honestly say I don't think I would consider that way. I wrote a poem about it, and I'd like to share that poem with you.


THE BILL

if I were to fail to find
a reason to wake
if I were to see only
dark clouds looming
and not the rainbow
then suicide may become
an option

but every day brings
something new
whether a tiny thing
or something large -
with things teetering
on my horizon -
I continue on

if you fail to see
or can’t believe
better things may come
if no-one’s there
to care that you exist
then it’s up to you
to be the one who cares

each of us is important
the world is incomplete
when we leave
if our life has ended
before its time
nature has rules, and we
must heed them

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Primary School students eat their veggies!

The 'Vegetable Victory' project continues. At Balaklava Primary school yesterday it was time for the students to look at some vegetables, think about how they look, feel and taste.

Their teacher brought a big collection of vegetables to their classroom for the session. There were leeks, a beetroot, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, capsicum, chilli peppers and more. It was a lovely colourful display, and the students were interested in having a look at it all.

I was impressed with the level of interest from the students. I suppose having me in the class is fun because I'm someone they only see once a week, and we talk about different things. The students seem to be enjoying thinking about vegetables and poetry!

Their teacher wrote an acrostic poem about potatoes for the lesson and read that, explaining how to write one. I read my acrostic poem about onions and then it was time for the students to finally get stuck into actually writing a poem.

They had another look at the vegetables on display, then went back to their desks to craft their own acrostic vegetable poems. The teacher and I walked around the class, looking at how the students were going and offering advice. Some of the students struggled a bit, but overall, the standard of poetry written was good.

Once students had written at least one acrostic poem, it was time to try a haiku. These were simply three lined poems with syllable counts of 5,7,5 for the lines, with no worrying about the many details of what makes a good haiku - that would need more time than we had, and it wasn't needed for our purposes. There were fewer of these poems written, but they'll add interest.

Some of the poetic offerings were more than just good, they were excellent. The teacher collected all of the books from the students for checking and spelling correction. Next week the students will type up their poems and cut out pictures of vegetables to put together a booklet of vegetable poems.

This booklet will go to the Balaklava Community Library, and the students will all be published poets!

We all had a bit of Zucchini slice made by the other Community Foodie, and several students asked for the recipe, which I'd already given to their teacher. A very successful Vegetable/Poetry lesson!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vegetable Victory Update

The Poetry and Vegetables at Balaklava Primary School are on again this afternoon. Last week I read a poem about Carrots(thank you John Malone!), people smiled and laughed at the words, and the carrot sticks I took along for munching on were munched on.

I think if I'd taken twice as many carrot sticks, they would have all disappeared. I'm taking something different today, and next week and the week after. It was going to be zucchini slice today, but that plan wasn't as planned as I thought it was, so I had to zip into plan B, which I'm sure will be even more welcome than the carrot sticks were.

Last week the students gave us their two favourite vegetables, with at least one surprising result. One student said brussels sprouts were her favourite vegetable. Well, I was surprised, but since then, other people have spoken out in favour of this healthy but less than lovely vegetable. Less than lovely in my opinion, that is. We're all different, so it's not surprising we have different opinions. In fact it's a good thing. If we all loved the same vegetable more than any other, there might be problems with us all being able to get enough of it!

The poem I read today will be a rhyming one, plus I might read several short poetic forms. Arcrostic poetry will certainly be mentioned. There will be talk of metaphor and simile, with imagery mentioned perhaps. I'm looking forward to it again.

That's a secret to a good life - look forward to good things, enjoy them as they happen and remember them joyfully!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writing an Ode

Well, a truer title would be 'Not Writing an Ode'. A friend of mine told me on Facebook I should write an ode about my new walker, which I had been writing great things about.

I value this friend's opinion on poetic things, so I went away to pen this ode to my walker. I started out by brainstorming and writing down words, phrases and so on, then began penning my ode. I soon realised I needed to read up about odes, famous ones, different types etc.

I got back to 'Ode to my Walker' wrote a few lines then stopped. I just didn't feel connected enough to the idea I think. But having said that, I've just had the thought that I should revisit what I've written and perhaps take my walker out for another walk to get some more ideas to write about.

Hmm, this blog post was going to be all about failing in my writing and ode mission. Poetry is funny like that - you start out somewhere and your head takes you to places you may not have known existed.

Goodbye - I have an ode to write!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Poetry, Students and Vegetables - this can Work!

I am currently putting together a project in my role as a Community Foodie in the Wakefield/Mallala region. This project brings together things I care deeply about, poetry and good nutrition and is planned to be a fun thing for everyone involved. The title of the project is Vegetable Victory.

I will be working once a week for four weeks at a particular Primary School and will talk to year 4/5 students about vegetables and why eating them is important. Every week there will be unusual vegetables to look at and learn about. Every week there will yummy vegetable snacks to eat.

The most fun part for me, I think, will be sharing poems about vegetables with the students. I've written some poems about vegetables especially for this project, and other Adelaide poets have got involved and given me poems to share too. I thank those poets for their kindness, thanks John Malone, and thanks Kami McInnes!

Students will hear poems and have a go at writing their own vegetable poems. At the end, I hope we can produce a publication with the student's poems and with pictures to share with the school and the community.

If this project goes as well as I hope it will, I’d like to take it to other primary schools in the region.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Poets and Platters, Wine and Words!

I had a late night last night and enjoyed myself immensely! I went with some of my friends from my Gawler writing group and we all had a great time. I got to bed two hours after my usual bedtime, but it was completely worth it.

There were some long standing favourites there, and there were some poets I’d never heard or read before. The most amazing poet was a great woman from the Barossa, who works for a different winery. She’s obviously well known in the Barossa, she had the locals outing out of her hand.

By the time she’d finished, I was a fan too. For someone who claims she isn’t a poet, she told a fine rhyme. Jane is her name, but I didn’t catch her last name. It doesn’t matter because if she gets what she wants she’ll be changing her last name anyway!

If you were there you know exactly what I’m talking about and if you weren’t there I feel sorry for you. You missed a great night’s entertainment. The words, the sky, the vibe, the food, the friendship and the wine, they all added up to perfection!

This biennial event is well worth looking out for in Barossa vintage time in 2013. I sure hope to be there!

The event was part of the Barossa Vintage Festival on Wednesday 27th April, 7-10pm at Langmeil Winery, Tanunda. There was wine, nibbles and some excellent poetry and yarns by some of South Australia's finest: Bob Magor, Bill Marsh, Jude Aquilina, Louise Nicholas and Nigel Dey. It was put on by the SA Writers Centre, in partnership with Langmeil Winery.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Precious Gems

Precious Gems is the working title of my poetry collection in progress and it seems like a very precious gem to me. I have been working on this for so long, without realising it, and now it's so close to actually happening.

Writing the poems for this collection, even before I had ever thought of there being a poetry collection, has been so helpful to me. I find my creative writing is my personal therapy. I write out the worry and stress, and write my way to a better understanding of the issues affecting my life.

If I didn't write, I hope I would have found some other creative way to work through my issues. I completely understand the need people have to be creative. It is a chance to move 'somewhere else' and go to a place where you have the peace and quiet to explore yourself in some way.

Last year during winter I spent many hours crocheting a rug. The rug was made up spare scraps of yarn I had, and it was never meant to be a beautiful work of art. It was simply something I could still do, even though I had a new disability. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (ms) in late February 2010, and found my fingers, arms and legs didn't work as well as they used to. I was so glad that I was still able to do crochet.

The Precious Gems poetry collection is something completely apart from ms, something I can do that isn't relevant to my new disease. But that's not really true. Having ms means I now have time and a new mindset. This has given me what I need to properly give these poems the attention they deserve. Without my ms I may never have worked as much on this poetry collection.

In a strange way, having ms has given me a new kind of freedom and I am glad!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Work in Progress - My Poetry Collection

I did a huge job today of almost finishing putting together my poetry collection. It was loads of fun going through all of the poems, and putting them in the best spot. I was almost finished it completely when life intruded, as it often does.

It was time for the dogs to be let in, then let back in, and to start to get organised for dinner. I was happy with my work done, and looking forward to finishing it off tomorrow.

Well, finishing it tomorrow might still happen, but it’s not as super quick and easy as I’d thought it would be. The problem is, when I had a quick look just before dinner was ready, the document was smaller than it should have been.

I checked the poems out and discovered that I’d obviously not properly saved my hours of work. It’s not completely back to the drawing board, but it is quite a bit of editing just disappeared completely. I think a computer whiz would be able to resurrect the work, but I’m not a computer whiz.

If I was, I wouldn’t have got into this predicament, I would have saved it all properly. Oh well… Now that dinner is over (a yummy vegetable dish with hokkien noodles, mmm), I’ve had a better look at the situation. I’d saved most of the individual poems I’d worked on, so I was able to place some of them back in the collection.

I’ve still got quite a few pages missing though, but between the computer files and my hard copies, I think I’ll be in a position to send out copies of the collection for feedback from a few chosen people.

This collection (my first book of poetry of my own) is due to be launched in June or July, hopefully the former rather than the latter. It’s a collection with a special purpose, and I hope some of the feedback I receive will show me the best paths to travel with the book once it’s been printed.

So wish me luck, and I hope to see you at my launch in a few months!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Poetry is Fun!

Yesterday was a fun poetry day. I wrote some new poems and read one of them at a different venue than my usual poetry reading venue. Usually I read my poetry at the Gawler Poetry at the Pub event on the last Sunday of the month. Yesterday was different.

Firstly, it was the first, not last, Sunday of the month. Further to that, it was at the Tea Tree Gully Library, not at a Hotel at all, although there was certainly wine available, served by my favourite head librarian, Symon.

The event was the launch of Helen Lindstrom and Sharon Kernot’s books. The person doing the launching was Louise Nicholas and she did a fine job, picking out many wonderful and telling parts from each poets’ collections. The poets then read several of the poems from their collections, showing more of gems each collection contains.

After the books were launched there was a short break where we could mingle and try out the food and drink on offer. There was also a piece of paper placed close to where the books were available to buy for those who didn’t have a copy yet. Poets were invited to write down their name on the list if they wished to take part in the poetry reading to follow.

The MC for this event was Gary MacRae and he did a great job as he always does. Once the break was over, we wandered back to our seats, prepared to hear the poetry on offer. What was on offer was a buffet of styles and poetic forms. The poetry was the best you’d get anywhere, with some readers who were in this venue for their first time. This part of the event was actually the Gawler Poets at the Pub on walkabout. The last Sunday of the month in April falls in the middle of Easter this year and it was decided to move the event in time and place.

The library put on great equipment to help the poets and those listening to get the best from the words shared. I hope to see some of those present yesterday again soon. I hope also to hear the poems of some of the others present who didn’t take the opportunity to read any of their poetry. Maybe next time, perhaps?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Great Race Poetry Competition results

Here are the winners:
2010-11 Poetry Comp


Open Section

1st Prize – Julie Morris: The Ghosts of Legends Past

highly commended – Mira Pavlovic: The Great Race

commened – Ray Clift: The Great Race of Earthly Life



Secondary

1st – Laura Zdanowicz: The Underdog



Primary

1st – Sarah Zdanowicz: The Swimming Race



District Council of Mallala Award

winner – Douglas Howard: That Same Feeling

Congratulations to all of the winners. There will be another poetry competition happening this year, with the winners to be announced in the early part of next year.

The entry form and guidelines will be published on this blog when they are released, but here is the sneak preview news about the theme this time - the theme will be a good one - Crossroads!

We can all relate to that one, I'm sure. I know I feel that I arrived at an important crossroad in my life journey when I was diagnosed with a chronic disease with no cure (yet). I could have curled up in a ball and wept all of the time, but I decided to take a positive path and so I'm still here, still doing all I can.

What important crossroads have you come to in life, whether it be love, work, health, sport, family or any other important thing. Get thinking about it and be ready with your best poetic efforts later in the year!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Poetry Competition Winners

It's nearly time for the winners of Adelaide Plains Poets poetry competition to be announced. We would be very pleased if you could join us at the next Poetry Reading in Gawler at the Prince Albert Hotel on 27 March at 2.00pm. The winners will be announced at the event and there will also be a guest reader and an open microphone.

So come along to find out if the judge picked your poem, and also bring some more of your poems to read on the day (readers pay a gold coin donation and their poems read may be picked to be published in an anthology at the end of the year).

The judge will give a report on their thoughts about this competition and the entries received. The President of Adelaide Plains Poets will also speak about the competition for this year and will give some news about the competition for next year.

The Gawler Poets at the Pub is an event that is rapidly gaining new fans, and we hope you might become a fan too.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Different Styles of Poetry

There are many different styles of poetry, from serious and lengthy odes to silly and rude limericks. Some poets always write rhyming poetry, some write free verse non-rhyming poetry. Other poets, and I'm one of them, write in a variety of different poetic styles.

The chosen form of a poem may be dictated by the rules of a poetry competition, or it may be written in a particular form as a game to see if you can do it. One poetic form, the villanelle, is a tricky form that I have written in just to see if I could do it. I tried it and liked it, but it's not an easy game. Writing limericks is easier, and lots of silly fun too!

The villanelle poem that is best known to people is one by Dylan Thomas that begins 'Do not go gentle into that dark night...' You can read more of this poem and more about this form of poetry here.

If you are interested in exploring poetry and poetic forms some more, I suggest you go to this website and read about many of the forms on offer. Your will also learn about various terms that have a specific meaning when talking about poetry. Of course, if you truly wish to learn more about these different forms, you could try writing one, and learn about it from the inside out! You'll learn to respect more, other poets who write well in a structured poem.

A good poem can look simple, but it can be damned hard work making it look so easy.
I hope you are inspired to take a deeper look into the wonderful world of poetry!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Poetry at the Pub this Sunday!

If you love poetry and you can get to The Prince Albert Hotel this Sunday, come on down!

It's a brand new year, and we're ready to show you some great poets on the last Sunday of this month and every following month up to November this year. The guest reader on Sunday will be Jenny Toune, known to her Facebook friends as Red Uncensored and I'm hot to hear her perform for us all!

So, if you can, make tracks quick to Gawler for the 2.00pm start on Sunday 30 January. Bring your own poetry too - all poets will have three minutes to read up to three of their own poems. You'll have a fantastic supportive audience and the front bar is right their where the poetry's happening!

The best poems read on the day will be in consideration for the poetry anthology for 2011. And if you missed out on a copy of the fantastic anthology from 2010, we still have some copies left. So bring your poems, a gold coin donation if you want to read your work, money for a copy of last year's anthology and bring your smiles too, cos the laughter will be right there waiting to hit you with love and hugs and poetry!

Friday, January 21, 2011

My First Acclaimed Poem

I'm a poet - I have written poetry off and on since my school years as a child. I didn't write a lot of poetry back then, just the occasional poem. I strongly remember though, that I wrote one poem that worked well and got me much praise. I was thirteen or fourteen at the time, and at that uncertain teenager stage, the praise was welcome.

I no longer have a copy of that poem, but I think my mother might still have a copy of it. I remember the subject I was doing at the time and I remember the name of my teacher. It was History class and my teacher was Mr Scalzi (he later went on to become a member of parliament in South Australia). I didn't really like history classes, and I'm still not a huge fan of history.

In history, I see the glorification of war, with so many people not learning a thing from what they've experienced, read about or seen. The same things happen over and over again. Invasion, conflict, war, death. Surely we should have learned how to avoid the terrible things that happen, that go so wrong?

Anyway, back to my first acclaimed poem. I wrote a little verse about a man in ancient somewhere that started with a 'C'. The man was beseeching the gods to let him keep his child and not sacrifice him to the god. It was a rhyming poem, but not in a clunky half-arsed ballad way. Well, I don't think it was anyway. This happened more than thirty years ago, so I'm not totally sure of the details.

I don't even remember whether we students were supposed to be writing poetry, I suspect not, but I wrote the poem and included it with my presentation on the subject of wherever - it may have been Carthage, something like that.

The writing of this poem taught me many things. Some of the things I realised at the time, others I have came to know as I have aged. The first thing I learned was that I liked writing more than I liked studying. Writing the poem was much more fun for me than learning dates and names. I learned with surprise too, that not many of my fellow students liked writing poetry.

I also learned that my mother is a lovely person and that she was truly proud of me for something I had done. This was a good thing to learn. I was never a sporting child, unlike my older brother. He did lots of great sporting things, so he got his deeds clapped for and awarded often.

I went on to become what I am now - a published poet involved in poetry in my community. I am also working on my first collection of poetry. This is due to be published in the middle of this year. If my mother and my teacher hadn't made much of that poem all those years ago, I wonder if I would still be in the same position and doing the same things now?

It can be small things that happen when we're young that can have significant effects on us. These small things can happen to anyone, and change things around in major or minor ways. I think when I see history presented in a way that highlights the good that can come when people are treated in a good way, or when they have an epiphany, finally understanding something important, that's when I like history.

Going back to better understand what has happened, I can see sense in that. This little story about my first important poem has shown me that history can be important. Hours and hours of watching TV about fighter jets killing people and ruining cities has never taught me anything much except that violent confrontations are terrible things. It's a shame not everyone learns that lesson.

I have learned that words are more effective than violence in life's situations. I avoid violence, except for watching sports, and even then I prefer sporting talents over body to body clashes. I hate punch ups on the footy field - it shows a lack of the real talent necessary to do the thing properly.

Do you have any deep things you have learned? I'd love to read about it. Please leave a message!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Haiku Just Written

on the big screen,
death and violence reign -
a bird tweets outside


I sometimes go outside to look at the birds out there. I have a fascination for birds, the easy way they can rise above me, the way they connect with other birds, the different voices the various bird species have.

Today though, I am sitting at the computer, my ears assailed by the sounds from the video game my husband is playing. I can also hear a bird though, its sweet song a needed counterpoint to help me rise above the game.

I haven't been outside to see the bird, but I assume it's a blackbird. Black birds have such a sweet voice, I almost forgive them for the damage they cause to our potted plants sometimes.

I like to write poetry, in various forms. I find the subject matter determines the form the poem takes. When I heard the bird outside tweeting gamely over the racket from the game, I knew I would write a haiku if I wrote about it at all. And I did want to write about it.

If you have ideas about different poetry forms, I'd love to read about what you think. Please leave a comment.

2011 Poetry Competition Results Soon

Entries closed for the Adelaide Plains Poets Poetry Competition on Friday 7 January 2011. Unless more entries come in with the mail in the next day or so, that's it, all finished.

Two things about the poetry competition this year - The Bad - entry numbers were down - this was perhaps caused by a not good enough job of promotion, the global economic situation, death of poetry (not true!), Poetry Slams taking the place of written competitions, people hate me ... (I don't believe this is true either!)

The other thing about the entries this year - The Good - I received some extremely good poetry. I feel the overall quality of the entries is excellent. This always makes me happy - to see people taking their poetry to amazing places. I feel privileged to read these poems in my role as Competition Secretary for the Adelaide Plains Poets Inc.

The theme "The Great Race" was used by many of the poets in a straight forward and literal way (ie about a race) , but some people twisted it and had incredible interpretations. I don't know what the judge will do with the poems, but I'm sure looking forward to seeing the results!

The winners will be announced at the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler during the March Poetry Reading on 27 March 2011. The poetry reading event starts at 2.00pm, so if you're coming along to hear the competition results, bring some other poems with you too and read them. The Gawler Poets @the Pub is a friendly event, and the poems read during the year will be considered for publication in a Poetry Reader at the end of the year.

The committee running the Gawler Poets @ the Pub hope to connect with poets from all over, whether new poets or those who've been penning their poetry many years. If you can make it to Gawler on the last Sunday of every month (except December), we'd love to see you at the Prince Albert Hotel.

We still copies of the Poetry Reader from 2010 available - a fine compilation with so many fantastic poems. 2010 was certainly a terrific year for poetry at the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler. If you're interested in getting a copy, leave a comment/message at the end of this blog post and it can be organised.

I hope many of you can come along and join us in 2011, and help make this year even better than last year!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Poetry as Therapy

I have used my poetry as a personal therapy to help me come to terms with various issues in my life. I feel centred and in control now, with no regrets from the past and many dreams, hopes and plans for the future.

A major dream I have is to help other people find a place in their life that is good for them, and that helps them find a peaceful centre where they too can dream and hope and plan. I am currently studying at TAFE to attain a Certificate IV in Community Service Work, and I hope to go out into the community and connect with people who want help to find their peaceful place to contemplate the past and move on toward the future.

I am making connections with people, learning and examining my thoughts and actions. I feel ready to step right out and help other people, that is what the tests and quizzes have always said I should be doing with my life.

One thing I did last year that rang so many happy bells for me was to act as a Living Book and tell my personal story about one part of my life to a group of others. The feedback I got from doing this was fantastic, and the buzz I got from doing it was almost the best thing ever. It felt so good to be speaking to the people there, sharing my personal thoughts, struggles and successes. If I can do this for the rest of my life, I will be a very complete and satisfied person.

One of my issues is my chronic illness, multiple sclerosis (MS). I was diagnosed with MS in February last year. It was a shock but a relief to be able to put a label on what my body had started doing to me. I found out everything I could about this new constant companion.

I have been connecting with others who know about this disease, either professionally or through lived experience. I have some friends on Facebook I may never meet in person, but who I feel nevertheless are my real friends. I value each and every one of my family and friends who have travelled my MS journey with me.

For all of my friends, I now wish to share a new poem I wrote this morning. It is a funny little poem (I hope) and I wrote it particularly for anyone who has MS and does Wii Fit, which is my exercise therapy I do at home almost every day. I am very conscious of the "Use it or Lose it" mantra and I want to remain able to walk on my own two feet for a long, long time!

So here's my new poem:

Wii Fit, MS and Me

Wii Fit says I’m unbalanced
well, yes I know that better than you
I tell it I’m not well, but
my words just don’t get through.

Every day, I’m unbalanced
my body staggers and sways,
but my head maintains a balance
that gets me through my days.

Wii Fit doesn’t care about
my positive attitude,
Wii Fit’s just a bossy
compassion-free ‘tronic dude.

But Wii Fit helps me keep on track
it makes me get down and ‘use it’ -
Wii Fit is my everyday tool
to postpone the day I ‘lose it’.


Thank you everyone, I love yous all!