Poet on holiday. The words ‘poet’ and ‘holiday’ in the same sentence might be seen as a dubious proposition. A poet often doesn’t have two cents to rub together, let alone the capacity to save them up to any great effect. Harsh? I accept the likelihood that poetry will never afford me holidays – that is what my ‘other’ job is for. I am a realist. (At least when not day-dreaming or writing poetry.)
the start of a communal poem. where will it go?
Anyhow. Before putting down the pen and swanning off to warmer climes, I set a new challenge to the coffee worshippers who frequent The Bean Barn: write a communal poem. I left a single line on the whiteboard in the cafe to start it off (without any idea of where it might go): ‘Your brittle edges…’ Then I invited the good folks of Ballarat to add one line each. That’s the only rule – one line. I thought it’d be interesting to see what came of those edges in three weeks’ time.
A quote for you, by Robert Graves:
“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money either.”
Around the edges of my days I volunteer for a community organisation called Ballarat Writers Inc. We’re a collection of writers of different flavours who are keen to support the development of writers and writing in the region – and we all do it for nix. Or at least for the enjoyment of Making Things Happen. And we do. In a big way for a small group.
A committee of eight organises an annual program of events for local writers and members including writing workshops, readings, two competitions each offering a $1,000 first prize, and other sundry Good Times. A major event of our year is the Ballarat Writers & Illustrators Festival, which is coming up THIS weekend, 1-2 September. It’s the only children’s and young adult (CYA) in the state and we are mighty proud of it. This year we’ll bring over two dozen authors, illustrators, publishers and editors to town to share current trends in the CYA industry. It’ll be a blast. If you are wondering about digital developments and their impact on the scene, you won’t want to miss any of this weekend’s panel sessions. You’ll get answers. You’ll also have the chance to hear publishers’ views on your work by submitting the first page of your CYA work at the festival. You’ll have to be there to hear it though… So who will be there? To name just a few: Nicolas Brasch, Anna Ciddor, Leanne Hall, Sue Lawson, Ebony McKenna, Vincenzo Pignatelli, Jeanette Rowe… the list goes on. Do yourself a favour and find out more.
How’s this: you wouldn’t think when it’s so easy to ‘just google it’ that I would mistake Roald Dahl for an Australian. Clearly this is an example of that phenomenon where, if you like them enough, well, they must be Australian. Just like the Queen is.
I never said I was an expert on poetry. But I might become an expert on googling instead. This residency is bringing about learning in such unexpected places, mmm?
This week’s ill-fated poetry quiz was indeed a stanza out of Roald Dahl’s ‘The Three Little Pigs’ from the ‘Revolting Rhymes’ series. The winner of the covetted coffee is Adele, and she also goes into the Draw from the residency. Special mention goes to Alex and not just because his dad, David from Tutmut, pulled me up over Dahl’s citizenship. Maybe it was Dahl’s notorious, um…personality traits that convinced me he was Australian.
At any rate, I suspect I bamboozled the coffee fiends with that minor transgression of borders. And yes, I promise to just google it next time. If only to keep David from Tumut off my case…
Deciding to do this residency was partly inspired by a friend-in-words, Sarah, who had the smarts to ask her boss if she could take four consecutive Fridays off work so she could dedicate some time to her latest writing project. The plan resulted in Sarah finishing great slabs of her novel-in-progress, and getting a significant way down her writer’s pathway. Obviously not all workplaces are going to support such an idea. But the fact that she put it out there shows some pizzazz, yes? And I must add, Sarah’s stick-ability to the plan is impressive – I suspect I could be all too easily distracted by the antics of our chickens out in the back yard. However, I wouldn’t be the first to write chicken-inspired poetry…
At any rate, here I am in a poetry residency supported by the fine folks at Australian Poetry and The Bean Barn. From June to October I have a constant poetry seat. And yes, it is by a window (and all the coffee I can drink). So the reality may seem odd: setting aside Saturday afternoons purely to write/read/talk poetry has not yet resulted in any writing on the actual day. Talking, sure. Conveniently, several friends have discovered that they can find me here at this time, and I’m not about to send them away. So does this mean the residency is failing?
Nope. The writing has been happening BETWEEN Saturdays. It looks like the idea of having a dedicated time and space has created more time and space (something like dark matter?) Who’d have thought? It’s the experience of having a puzzle to solve and several days later the solution simply materialises, without you having consciously worked on it. Or so you thought. Plant an idea and watch it grow. Sprong.
Yes, yes, I know. It is half way through August and I’m only now posting July. Let’s just say I was distracted a while.
So. For Week 3 I couldn’t resist another Banjo Patterson treat, so chose my favourite part of ‘The Man From Ironbark’ to chop up. Reassembled offerings were fewer this week from the coffee-worshippers at The Bean Barn. Perhaps the task was trickier, or not as exciting as last week’s segment ‘The Triantiwontigongolope’ (let’s face it, who wouldn’t prefer to head back to pre-adult when things were so much less complicated?). Maybe the particularly bleak Ballarat winter made it simply too cold to venture out. If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing the full poem read by someone who really knows how to deliver their lines, then put it at the top of your must-do list. Preferably they’ll also be dressed the part, and have a full beard, crazy eyes and have a flair for wild gesticulation…
Congratulations to Catherine for her speedy and correct entry. Get thee to the BB for your free coffee and good luck in the prize draw! Thanks to other hopefuls Hayley, Matt and Georgie for your submissions, but you’ll have to be quicker than that to win.