Tag Archives: writing

Velvet (14 Oct 2010)

14 Oct

the wind is playing dress ups
  trying on different trees
pulling cloaks out of hillsides
settling on velvet


The Nature Writer’s Responsibility (14 Oct 2010)

14 Oct

When I read The Nature Writer’s Dilemma by John Hay,
I couldn’t stop shaking with excitement.
Neurons were firing information and exclamations
out faster than my mind could hold on to them.

I confess, when a message of Truth touches me,
my body reacts by wanting to bolt to the toilet
and expel everything else left – everything
that was not touched must go, like all shit.

Old and inherited beliefs and indigestible ideas
swallowed to placate mum or society
churn in my gut.
Reading John Hay is a laxative for my lies.

The truth that I distilled from his essay I can sum up as this;
It is our responsibility to create union.
It is our responsibility as human beings, and as writers,
to create union.

This is a seed for me, so epic in potential, it’s frightening to hold.

Chocolate (14 Oct 2010)

14 Oct

The following is my first attempt at writing a ‘ghazal’ – a poem in couplets. It is an Urdu word in the tradition where the author is conversing with their beloved. It was described to me as couplets that sit as pearls on a necklace, each stanza beautiful in its own right. The exercise was to *not* be particularly coherent between stanzas, offering us to leap off into the next stanza.

I wrote about my beloved as chocolate, and the battles fought and lost over this.


The label on the packaging says Enigma
Rich velvety chocolate blended with a hint of mint

A disciple in marketing should take lessons from Rumi,
Hafiz, and why not Buddha?

Christ makes you less impressionable
after fasting 40 days

But I tell you; the Truth tastes so good. It melts doubt.
All mysteries dissolve in Truth.

Should I follow Osho, he would allow my senses to touch
enlightenment. Chocolate, enigmatically, would get me there first.


I think the Buddha said something
about cravings.


Ramana Mahashi said you must want enlightenment
like a man on fire wants water. This is not a second-fiddle want.

Take my violin. Take my orchestra.
Take my audience, their families, and their families.


The Spanish Conquistadors have valuable cargo; coco nibs
spiced with chilli.

The Mayans predicted I would fall in love after all and I fall
and fall and fall and fall.

Destiny is finishing what you started and …
the falling leaf of inner peace is destined to land.


writing in university (25 Sept 2010)

26 Sep

I wrote a poem
it held a big idea in it
and it presented itself
en mas, an image

visceral in essence
and complicated in words
and when I put a pen to it
it landed at my feet

way too quickly
with intuitive leaps
larger than my mental canyon
and even though I thought

I could guide it
– and others to it –
it ran too far ahead of me
and the words I needed to use

to explore the vast terrain
of empathy
  not pity
fell over flat and contradictory

though the pen tried all the same
and those who listened with their hearts
said how beautiful, and those who listened
with their mind said you lost me

Feeling my way into giving feedback

2 Aug

Week 3 ~

What a difference going first makes. Last week I felt completely short-changed by the whole feedback process of the workshop, fielding my contribution last and with little time. This week, I stepped up first, into the undiluted attention of twelve writing enthusiasts.

I can’t say there was a consensus of opinion or interpretation (this is pleasing), but I can say that their collective mulling was able to… ‘get me’. Oh I imagine every established writer has shouldered more than their fair share of responsibility in being understood by the reader, and I imagine too it’s a very important first step to being established.

So why am I so pleased they worked a little harder to understand what it was I was saying? Did I do something better this week, or did they work a little harder? I felt less excited about what I offered this week, a little constricted on what I delivered, and yet… the feedback was genuinely supportive and positive. Not like last week.

Going first or last makes a huge difference, and I suspect we’re all warming up to each others’ ways.

It is our second workshop and we are developing roles. There’s the guy who hates an intangible observation (do you really believe that could happen?), there’s a self-appointed pronoun policeman (who is this you? Was anyone else surprised by this you turning up?), there’s a woman with scissors in her editorial hands ready to cut and paste the arrangement into a new collage. There’s a guy who comments considerably on format, line breaks, capital letters, indents and the like. And there’s the woman who isn’t at all shy to say; I just don’t get it. These are all helpful roles.

What’s my critiquing role? I’m a little shy of it. See, I don’t think it’s unique or particularly specialised, yet it is where my gut response lies.

My native response sounds something like this: I like this poem. It’s delicate, I wish I were there, or, Wow, I feel really affirmed as a human being reading that. Or conversely; hmmm, I wasn’t able to travel with you on that. You lost me somewhere. I guess I want to connect with the journey rather than analysise how we got there.

I know what I consider a good poem or prose because I become inspired and want, in fact; must write a response to it. But it needs contemplative space, space that’s a little bit more spacious than a 3 hour workshop with 13 bodies sitting in a circle.

Does that give me an editing role in the circle? I’m not sure yet. I approach with a slightly awkward veneer, and wonder, as I yelp out my responses, if I will remain swaddled in the big fat paws of an enthusiastic puppy, endearing and guileless, for the remainder of the course. Is there space for me to evolve into a more delicate creature of critique; a cat purring at something refined and elegant, and of course, delectable?

In my opinion, it takes a clear and equally empathetic mind to offer good feedback, and in these workshops I’m much impressed with the astute observations of what works and what doesn’t, and why. There are obviously some experienced editors here. Their seasoning is a little intimidating. I kinda like that. I’m on my own fringe of comfort here and those spaces that I call intimidating are where I can stretch into first.

And grow from there.

If I follow that advice, this evolution seems pretty well mapped.

delusional in a writing workshop

27 Jul

Week 2 ~

A 3 hour creative writing workshop is too long and not long enough!

It’s too long because at the start, the feedback is flowing steady, forthcoming, articulate, insightful, broad, overseeing and empathetic. In short, it’s coming from a well considered, and perhaps inspired space. But by the end, it’s … something … else.

At the end there are long silences and when the feedback does arrive; it is pedantic in nature, focusing on punctuation, formatting and the like. In the course of, let’s say just over two hours, it’s like the scrubby and wild qualities of the forest ends, and we traipse instead into a plantation, where unlike the forest; there’s no heart. The trees are measured for width and height, and of course no one comments on how the whole space makes them feel. It’s too analytical now.

Given this is my very first time to read my work out in a forum, I was kinda hoping for a soft entry into this new world of critique. You know; pretend I wrote this poem just for you and tell me if it touched you in some way.

But I was the last person to read out her homework.

And we’d run out of time. While most everyone else got ten minutes of feedback, I got half that. While most everyone else had the space to respond, I didn’t. We simply ran out of time.

And energy.

What’s more; I went out on a limb with my homework.

I knew I had overstepped my expectations; I wrote a large poem; large in that it is a poem packed full of everything that’s bursting out of me. How can I say this… writing brings me so much joy, and joy, it seems, wants to reach the stars in whatever vehicle it happens upon. If I am to inject my feelings into this piece, then it’s gonna aim high.

Before I even began writing it, I had a sense of something epic at my fingertips. See… I feel things. Not in a psychic way, but I can feel the presence of potentials, and the most tactile things about these feelings is the sense of size.

Maybe I need to illustrate what I mean.

About seven months before I met my husband, I could feel the presence of a very tall man in my energy. The sense was like I was looking up, way up, to give and receive a hongi, the shared breath of touching noses. Needless to say, I was on the lookout for tall men. Billy is a tall man, and the moment he and I gave each other a hongi, I knew I’d met my life partner. I recognized the feeling.

I had the same sensation to this poem. There’s something big, epic waiting for me I told my husband before I began the assignment.

And so I did my best to deliver on that feeling. I gave it due care; if I’m not able to ground my language in every day tones and shades, I am going to sound … quaky. Heroic. And yes, I want to avoid that. So I wrote about my walks (as per the assignment) and I wrote at night when my mind refuses to switch off and the creative energy is pulsing through me. In my previous post, I described myself feeling inflated by this energy.

Now I wonder, having read this poem to a room full of gifted writers, and the flatness that came back to me in their response, am I being delusional?

I’m serious!

There were a few comments; some confusion around my use of parentheses and an ambiguous personal pronoun, all helpful feedback; I can fix them easily enough.

But there was one comment, right at the end, and it sticks to me the way an insect gets stuck to flypaper. He said it under his breath, though loud enough for me to hear from the other side of the circle. “Scale it back”. He looked up (was he frustrated?) and said it louder, like the official opinion: scale it back.

Feeling bruised, I heard it like for god’s sake, scale it back!

This is what makes me think I’m being delusional. How do you rouse your creative spirit into writing something tangibly epic when the advice is to scale it back? I feel like the part of me that imagines my self in god’s own choir, isn’t allowed to find, or experiment with, that voice here on earth.

It’s like saying; It’s just too much. There’s an expression I learnt in Buenos Aires, demasiado; too much! I would say it to my friend in sheer astonishment whenever I passed a woman, usually middle aged, walking down a dilapidated street at the height of a recession in fine stilettos, glistening stockings, sparkling jacket, bright red lips, painted eyes and nails, chiseled cheekbones and bleached hair doing its own pirouette for attention. Is it the odacity? Do I regard this as being too pretentious? Too delusional perhaps for this neighbourhood? For this time in history?

Yip. That’s how I feel.

It’s my own associations I know. My colleague has his own biases after all; a six line poem suited him just fine for his contribution, and I loved the compactness of it, the simplicity. Did I loose these qualities at the expense of … what?

I don’t even know what he thinks needs scaling back. We ran out of time. Did I find his feedback useful? Well… it’s certainly brought up some stuff for me.

I’m not doubting my self, and I don’t like my poem any less for its flat reception; it’s malleable, I can shape it to be more pleasing for readers.

No, I feel like I lost something. Like some essence of me can not be understood in academic circles.

When I write as if I am a god (for we are all of that same gild) it can be quite an alienating experience. Do I loose the academic reader in this, or do I loose the academic reader in unsettling brackets?

I wish I knew.

I’d really like to think I’m not being overly egotistical about the poem, though I do appreciate it takes a bit of presumption to write a poem like I am a co-creator with God.

After the workshop I helped tidy up the dishes. Dinah, the course facilitator, pops in to drop off her coffee cup. She is softly spoken and clear eyed. I like her a lot. She stops to talk to me.

I wish I could quote her; but like the other helpful feedback, the actual words don’t stick, not even for the length of time it takes me to walk out the room. But her quality does. I feel … seen. Like she knows how intimate I can be with the world, and still largely alienated.

Break the poem up into sections is her concluding remark.


[I will post the poem in two weeks time; there’s an embargo on it as I’ve submitted a shorter version of it to the Vic Uni Bookshop poetry competition, and one of the conditions of entry is that it can not have been previously published in any form; not even your own personal blog.]

writing: peace and creativity

24 Jul

Week 1

Friday night; I can hardly sleep. My first class of ‘Writing the Landscape’ up at Victoria University finished this afternoon. My mind is buzzing, excited, this pollen thick in the air and hardly soporific! I grab a pen and write. I check the time, it’s after one in the morning. I daze out in a sleepy stupor, and my pen grabs me again. Part of me thinks I should wait till morning, but does the creative flow work like that? Does it stick round for convenient moments?

Every twenty minutes or so, my mind rouses and I grab my pen again. I am hot, agitated excitement bubbling through to my bed clothes and blankets. I strip what I can back, flushed for such a cold winter night.

My eyes close as I write further into the night, relying on the rim of the page to guide my lines. Does the fire of inspiration at night behold beautiful embers by light? I wonder if I’ll be impressed with my musings by morning.

My energy is draining, I’m pretty exhausted and I want to find a way to turn the tap off. Can we control creative energy? I breathe and my heart flutters. I breathe deep into the earth and I feel myself inflating; levitating.

To be clear; my body is tucked up in bed, but all the cells of … everything are now   a   l o n g  d i s t a n c e  a p a r t .  T h e r e ’ s  a  l o t  o f  s p a c e  and I am a tiny particle having an epileptic fit.

Where do I find peace?

Tomorrow I am going to a sanga session on Equanimity. The equanimity of joy is peace.

But where do I find peace tonight?

In exhaustion perhaps. Truly spent, I trip into sleep.

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