A launch of a new book is a celebration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This afternoon amidst Christmas celebrations we stopped at 3.30 to join Antonia Reiseger  to welcome her new book Poppies .  It was exciting to welcome Peter Skrzynecki  the Australian poet who tells us so much  of who we are,  to the Writers Centre to launch Antonia’s  new poetry book . In his speech Peter spoke of the satisfaction being in the Judith Wright Room for it was Judith who encouraged this young and promising poet with an unusual name to be the Piet he became . And he has just written a book of his experience with Judith Wright . As one person commented as he got up to read one of Antonia’s poems . . . These poem are really to be breathed rather than read . How true. Congratulations Antonia on an exquisite poetry boo

 

 

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Bush Walk: Crackneck Lookout south to the Trig Station

 

A Spring Coastal Heathland walk 

Today we took the walk from Crackneck Lookout  to the Trig station.

Last Spring the Flannel Flowers were spectacular so this spring September 2019 we returned to enjoy the same. We were a little early. Recommend you wait till mid October to see acres of wild Flannel Flowers. For us they were mostly baby buds still hiding from the world.

However the spring brought wildflowers,  with lots of new colour to the bush. Spectacular –  purple boronias, powerful pink eriostemons australiensis,  red grevilleas, bright blue dampiera, yellow ispogon, dillwynias, gompholobiums, bossiaeas,  yellow hakea.  Add to this the vibrant Cabbage Tree Palms and the Grass trees and the vistas of the sea through the bush made for a wonderful morning. The trees and variety of barks and colours I will leave till a later ‘Tree’ post.

It is becoming a tradition to take this walk each spring –its sandy path and bird life serendading us along the path invigorates us for the rest of the day.

Can you see Michael amidst the beauty of the grass tree and palms ?

 

 

Letter to Oodgeroo Noonuccal from Katie Noonan

 

 

Dear Oodgeroo,

When I was around seven years old I studied poetry from your book My People for a school assignment and I was immediately struck by the visceral power of your words. It was a transformative moment, a moment when I realised the power of language and storytelling. As a daughter of a journalist I was acutely aware of the power of the written word, but this was my first interaction with poetry that really moved me.

This first encounter with your writing also started a deep interest in the culture of our First Nation Australians. At the time, like most white Australian kids, I had no knowledge of this ancient and extraordinary culture and had never met an Indigenous person. Your words gave me a warm welcome into this world, a world that in my adult life I have been fortunately welcomed into, largely through the prism of music making.

Thank you for your powerful words, thank you for teaching me and for opening my mind and heart to your amazing culture. Thank you for introducing me to the magic of Minjerribah and thank you for allowing myself and other Queensland women to stand on your shoulders in a world where gender equality is the best it’s ever been.

I think you would be thrilled to know that right now in Queensland,  we have the most women in state parliament in Australian history. We have the first Australian woman to be elected for two terms as Premier, we have our first female State Secretary and we also have Queensland’s first female Indigenous Minister—your extraordinary niece Minister Leeanne Enoch. It is thanks to women like you that statistics like this are possible.

The Ngugi, Gorenpul and Noonuccal families on your magic y are also currently negotiating new native title for Mulgulpin (Moreton Island). The Quandamooka people were declared the traditional owners of Minjerribah in 2011, and I just recently finished looking at the plans for a wonderful new and amazing arts centre in Dunwich—it is a very exciting time for Quandamooka country.

On this project, after chatting with your grand-daughter Petrina Walker and her brother Raymond, we arranged for your grandson Joshua to translate ten poems of yours into Jandai language for your great grand-daughter Kaleenah to recite with us. She sounds amazing—incredibly strong and powerful.

We have ten of our finest classical composers setting your words to music and five of them are from Queensland. With the six performers on the album—four of us are from Queensland also—Kaleenah and myself, and Dale and Francesca from the Australian String Quartet. It was very important for me that the people on this project be connected to you and your country.

My sincere hope for this project is that more people discover your extraordinary words and your vision for the future of this country is realised, The Glad Tomorrow,  where all Australians, regardless of race or gender, combine from shore to shore and live as equals.

Oodgeroo, thank you for your words, your leadership, your tenacity and your incredible legacy.

Love,

Katie Noonan

The Glad Tomorrow Oodgeroo’s poetry put to music and sang by Katie Noonan

THE GLAD TOMORROW

For the first time ever, powerhouse will be joined by the acclaimed Australian String Quartet for a national tour of their new project ‘The Glad Tomorrow’.

 

To our fathers’ fathers
The pain, the sorrow:
To our children’s children
The glad tomorrow.

The new album sees Katie set the uniquely Australian poetry of Queenslander and First Nations icon Oodgeroo Noonuccal to music, commissioning ten stellar Australian contemporary composers to create a song cycle based on Oodgeroo’s poetry, bringing together 4 distinct worlds – Contemporary Australian and Queensland Composers, the searing poetry of Queenslander, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, the Australian String Quartet and Katie Noonan’s unique voice and innate musicality. For me the most spine-tingling part was hearing the language of Oodgeroo’s homeland spoken by her  great-granddaughter, Kaleenah Edwards who read each poem in the Stradbroke language of her homeland Minjerriba.

This unique combination of creative powerhouses will deliver a spectacular and spine-tingling live performance.

 

Why is Hildegard of Bingen important?

Why is Hildegard of Bingen Important?

  1. Hildegard of Bingen produced major works of theology, music and medicine. Her work continues to influence our ways of thinking today.
  2. Hildegard is one of only 36 people to be named Doctor of the Church, a title given by the Roman Catholic Church to saints whose writings, research or study on theology or doctrine are useful to Christians “in any age of the Church.”
  3. Hildegard von Bingen changed the way we view the world. Among her most recognizable contributions is her theory of Viriditas, the divine force of nature.
  4. Hildegard was an early naturopath. She closely observed and documented human ailments and remedies. We have Hildegard of Bingen to thank for discovering many healing plants and natural remedies.
  5. Hildegard was an early nutritionist. She influenced the medieval diet popular today.
  6. Hildegard taught us how-to live-in moderation. She had a firm belief in routine, discipline, and discretio, the practice of living in balance and bringing the union of the divine and man into order.
  7. Hildegard of Bingen taught us that creativity is both an expression and form of prayer.
  8. Hildegard was one of the most important composers of the Medieval Period. Her morality play and opera, Ordo Virtutum, is the only Medieval composition surviving today with text and music.

Who was Hildegard of Bingen?

Canonized in 2012, Saint Hildegard of Bingen has long been recognized as a meaningful religious and historic figure. Born in 1098 to a noble family in Germany’s Rhine Valley this Benedictine abbess was a visionary and polymath, a poet, playwright, composer, philosopher, theologian, Christian mystic, scientist, and Doctor of Medicine.

What is Hildegard of Bingen Known for?

We appreciate Hildegard today as an extraordinary woman of the Middle Ages who held extremely progressive ideas for her time. Her irrepressible spirit and gifted intellect lifted her above the social, cultural and gender barriers of the time to consult and advise bishops, popes and kings during a period when few women were given respect.

St. Hildegard remains known as the originator of German alternative medicine and deserves recognition for her contributions to holistic health and wellness. She promoted the prevention of disease and illness by natural means of a moderate and healthy lifestyle and used the curative powers of natural objects for healing. She memorialized her healing methods in her writings.

Hildegard’s Literary Contributions

In Causae et Curae (Causes and Cures), she wrote extensively about the cause and symptoms of a variety of health conditions and provided guidance for treating the pathologies with natural remedies.

In Physica (The Natural Power of Things), she described the forces of nature and their effect on the health of man.

Hildegard is also known as the “Sybil of the Rhine” for her visionary writing.

Hildegard’s Visionary Works

Liber Scivias (Know the Ways) is perhaps the most famous of her writings. It describes 26 of her most vivid visions and deals with the belief that the universe exists simultaneously within each of us, while also encompassing everything else externally. As the illustrator of Scivias Hildegard is one of the few identifiable artists of the Middle Ages.

Her second visionary work, The Book of Life’s Merits (Liber Vitae Meritorum), illustrates the inseparable link between the cosmos, man’s salvation, and moral determination. It contains one of the earliest descriptions of Purgatory.

Hildegard of Bingen’s final visionary work, The Book of Divine Works (Liber Divinorum Operum) describes the comprehensive relationship with God, the world around us, and man.

Hildegard’s Legacy of Music

Hildegard considered music to be the point where heaven and earth meet. She viewed music as the interconnectivity between humans and the universe. Her book of songs (Symphoniae) includes the morality play and opera, Ordo Virtutum (Play of Virtues), which was the first morality play and opera written, preceding others by more than 100 years.

What did Hildegard of Bingen do?

Hildegard of Bingen was ahead of her time. She was the “first” in many fields, producing major works of theology, music and medicine. Her work helped usher in many new and creative ways of thinking.

Hildegard changed the way we see the world and a woman’s place in it. She demonstrated a new way of thinking and living during a time when little was expected of women. Her historical impact stems as much from her role in diligently recording the culmination of beliefs and practices over centuries of human experience as it does from her unique thinking. Her body of work touches on virtually every part of our beliefs and practices.

 

 

 

Story of the Homeless Man by Edison with help of his Mum

Story of the Homeless Man by Edison with help of his Mum

Story of the homeless man

We were going to the shops and we saw a homeless man. He had a stick and we were wondering what he was doing. We thought he could be making a fire to keep him warm but we were wrong. We thought he was carving a pencil but we were wrong.

When my mum asked him what was he making, he told us he was trying to make a frame. He told me how he was going to make the frame but sadly he did not have everything he needed. He explained to me that he would need some wood glue to glue the sticks together.

My mum and I said “good luck” and we went to do our shopping.

 

Later that day, I asked my mum “How much is wood glue?” She didn’t know. I told her I have $74 and if that was enough money to buy wood glue, maybe I could buy it for the homeless man to help him make his frames.

My mum and I went to the shops and bought some wood glue, we found the homeless man and we gave it to him. He said thank you.

As we walked back to our car a big smile filled my face and I felt great. With my big smiling face I told my mum “I’m a bucket filler!!!!”

By Edison Hay (with a little help from my mum)  

 

 

EDISON AND HIS MUM

H

Bush Walk: Wyrrabalong National Park North

Whenever we  are out walking especially in the areas of beauty around our place on the Central Coast we pay tribute to the Awabakal and Darkinjung peoples and this makes us a little more aware  that we walk on sacred ground  and reminds us to pay attention and just ask and thank our entry into a place .

Spring is for stepping out and our local Wyrrabalong National Park

( gazetted in 1991) has the best of all worlds , the wonderful Australian Bush with its Red Gums and  Scribbly Eucalyptus,  the lingering of wattle and other Acacias, Hakea, Myrtles,  Banksia  and the odd siren of a red Waratah. This is  backgrounded by the coastal bird life with the iconic crack of the Whip Bird and the spectacular glimpses of the blue remind ing us we are walking in a rare piece of land where the bush meets the sea in our walk today as it curls around Tuggerah Lake 

We parked our car at a small car park off the road not far  along from Magenta. The first sign told us fox poison was laid . . . I felt sad after the wonderfully wild fox we saw in the past few days in the settling pond off Ibis Road.  But then if they are taking the birds and wild life maybe it has to be done. It reminds me of another walk I do  at Normanhurst in Sydney  where  signs appeared that they had laid baits against the rabbits . ( that saddened me too as I loved their little furry ears popping up and watching me as I walked. But I think the rabbits had the last laugh as they moved down onto the grass near the railway line and I travelled past they were hopping about everywhere. 

 The Burrawang Walking Track was the beginning and we walked taking in the fresh, unwithered air and breathing deeply to find an inner calm. 

Very quickly a divide in the road with  an unsigned choice . 

It had us standing and pondering Robert Frost’s Poem

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same, . . . 

The trees were amazing (as the photos show) but no photo can do justice to the awe  and magestry of the tree all with their own characters and the ferns protected by the higher canopy  were full of veriditas as Hildegard would say.

When we came to the signed junction  Red Gum Trail or Lilly Pilly Loop Trail .We chose the Lilly Pilly track which took us to a Tuggerah Lake Lookout. We took this track as time and energy seemed to prefer the loop. and left the Red Gum Trail for another day . Even so we saw some wonderful Red Gums.

There was a deep quietness and I think made even more so as our footprints were cushioned by the sandy track and it gave a great sense of wellbeing with the trees and ferns and lake.

. There was a deep quietness and I think made even more so as our footprints were cushioned by the sandy track and it gave a great sense of wellbeing with the trees and ferns and lake.

Jandamarra – Sing for the Country by Colleen Keating

Jandamarra  – Sing for the Country  by Colleen Keating

 

It amazes me how a word or a story that comes to your attention, and that was not consciously known by you previously, comes to meet you often after that. This happened a few years back with the word segue. Maybe, well it was in my reading but I had never recognised it. Maybe it was spoken but I had never heard anyone speak it, until, there was an instant where it came to my attention and then it was frequently heard and seen.

Jandamarra is another such word . . .Jandamarra was like an unknown planet,  never heard, never spoken, and then it came into my orbit and I realised it is one of the rich historical sounds of Australia.

This happened on our trip to north western Australia.

We took a tour from Broom in Western Australia along the iconic Gibb Road past the now notorious Derby Prison Boab Tree into the Bunuba.

We explored the oasis of Windjana Gorge with its 350 year old mountain range , once a Devonian reef with its sheer 90 metre cliffs and its salt-water crocodiles and bird life and bush tucker and into the intricate system of Tunnel Creek, a most mossy sanctuary of this cool tranquil gorge.  Here we heard the story of Jandamarra from our local guide. 

The poet in me touched into the story’s sensibility  and then I found many  already knew this story and there was there was a movie, a book , songs and many writings.

It took this  awakening to have the word in my orbit.

I believe Jandamarra’s story is one every year 3/4 Australian child should know. And that is coming so more and more.

When I was at the Conservatorium for anther event I saw the add for Jandamarra the musical. Booking was lucky with some friends for it seemed a full house.

The world Premier of Jandamarra  – Sing for the Country (Ngalanybarra Muwayi.u)

was a breath-taking evening.

“ The story of a young man trapped between black and white worlds. 

Jandamarra’s story is told with traditional song woven

 into the texture of symphonic and choral forces.”

It was a packed house with a standing ovation at the conclusion  for the Bunuba people, the women’s choir,  the young choirs,  Orchestra and  Bunuba actors .

 

https://colleenkeatingpoet.com.au/jandamarra-sing-…colleen-keaating/

Suite for Jandamarra 

Tunnel Creek

Windjana Gorge fresh pristine
permanent water percolated
from ancient rains that deluged the land

slippery marbleised boulders
bluff the uninitiated
sustain mystery
deter and challenge efforts to go further
into the secret of Tunnel Creek

without hand or foot grip
trust plumbs the abyss
tumbles into coolness

a sombre space
deeply carved from Devonian times
salted with yellow light
its rays tinkling like tiny bells
decor of stalactites and stalagmites
pendants of bats and glint of eyes
timid fresh water crocs

in this sandy echoing amphitheatre
with long bare arm i scoop up spring water
and hear of Jandamarra

his spirit is here<
this was his last place to stand

Flash back

Tunnel Creek
the Kimberley outback
land of the Bunuba people
the time is late nineteenth century
the last stage of white invasion
being played out
herds of cattle trample the grasses
water holes gone

spirit is broken
faded sepia shots capture for history
naked black men neck and ankle chained
on a track to Derby lock-up
there to be packed
in a thousand year old hollow Boab tree<

powerless 

yet one warrior
Jandamarra takes a last stand
turns against his white masters
fights heroically
to save his people
and his country

a mythical figure he appeared fought
disappeared unable to be tracked
for years he held out
the one burning flame

betrayal and a bullet
a fight that died to a flicker
it was in his Tunnel Creek cave<
Jini his mother held him as life petered out<span
a Pietà on the rock of Golgotha

Bunuba Country

a city poet can not glean
the essence of the Bunuba people
their story is easily lost
in white history and chronological time
the plunge into Tunnel Creek<
further connects to mystery
it is about feeling<
rather then hearing stories told

and still today
documented as criminals
who died because they defied<
legitimate laws and white society<
redacts another history

by Colleen Keating

Our visit to the beautifully renovated Sydney Town Hall for the performance .

A Sense of Place by Colleen Keating , member of Ginninderra Panel

A Sense of Place by Colleen Keating , member of Ginninderra Panel

 

 

A Sense of Place      How does where you write affect what you write? 

Thank you Brenda for the introduction and please convey our  thanks to Joan Fenney the editor of our new anthology Mountain Secrets. What a lot of work and how proud we all are.

And  thank you, to you both Brenda and Stephen Matthews for your vision and dedication in not only bringing us together today but bringing us together as a family of writers published under the Ginninderra Press stamp. And for organising this forum  for us as writers to grapple with a very important concept . . .  A Sense of Place in our writing.

 What an appropriate setting –   we can feel fresh unwithered mountain air, 

smell the eucalyptus oils and standing down at Govett’s Leap look at the Bridal veil falls , only a trickle for now because of the drought, hear the stunning silence of the Grose valley and its deep gorges. Just outside the shop door is a rambling track to the weeping sandstone cliffs where  we can enjoy the Australian bush with banksia, hakeas, wattles and other acacias,  myrtles, still a few waratahs if you are very observant.  There are places to sit and listen to the birds backgrounded by the iconic crack of the whip bird.

What a  Sense of Place this National Park gives us.

Exploring a sense of place in our writing  makes us present to the moment . . .  to the air we breathe . . .being  in the breath.   .the now.  . . .    like Walt Whitman  once said “Every atom of me that is good belongs to you”  

What interconnection  with place and with each other we have and  in this land.

It is  really in some ways a sense of presence.  When the poet  is anchored  in a place , in a presence. they are able to anchor the reader. 

And  it focuses the question  how does where we write affect what we write .    It seems to me as writers we need to turn up everyday.  In a room, on a couch,  at a desk, in a cafe ,on a walk – some routine of getting rhythm into our day.  Where we write is vital  to our writing. Virginia Wolfe says that having a room of our own helps us to be a writer.  . . having some space in our heart  is all we need. And when we are settled, our imagination can take us anywhere.

Emiliy Dickenson  for us as poets is an example  of  someone who did most of her writing in one location. A young woman who rarely left her room. One who could write these words:

There is a pain – so utter
It swallows substance up
Then comes the Abyss with Trance
So Memory can step
Around –  across  – upon it –

We really can write anywhere 

and we can write about anything,  anytime, anywhere 

as long as we have pen and paper or device with us.

If I invited you to  give me varied  and unusual  places  where you have written,  you would fill us with stories, with smiles, at some of the places where you have found inspiration.

So how does this affect our writing 

The American novelist Wendall Berry says ,,
“If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”  

He is suggesting  if you can’t give your reader that sense  . . . they hang rootless

Places are more than just locations on a map.  A sense of place has its human attachment. Linking a story to place not only grounds it, but makes it unique.

With my new book Hildegard of Bingen; A poetic journey,  I wrote at my desk.  I did go to Bingen three times immersing myself,  taking time just being, walking in the Rhineland of Germany.  I lived in the modern  Benedictine Abbey for a few weeks.  I walked in Hildeagrd’s footsteps.  But back home turning up at my desk was how it got written.  I played her music , lit a candle made by the Benedictine nuns  

drank her wine and her teas.  But it was at my desk it was written. . 

To transport me back  into mediaeval 12th  century so i could transport my reader there  with sounds and smells and tastes was  done from intensive reading, research and writing from my imagination.

To ground and anchor our readers, we as writers need to be grounded.  

It is walking that grounds me.  Waking my beach with sandy toes and salty taste of air  inspires me  May be it is the rhythm or the tang of air or the empty space  but that is my inspiration.   Maybe it is the the ramble or the pattern of walking that takes me inwards where I find the inspiration.

How important is this grounding in place and how it affects what we write?

I read this statement that many of the worst abuses of land, forest, animal, human communities has been carried out by people who are caught up in IDEAS rather then rooted in place   Rootless, detached people are dangerous yet when people understand where they are and have a sense of place there is more care,  more connection with their surroundings, to establish knowledge of and appreciation of their earth. This, in turn, nurtures empathy for the place and a feeling of belonging, and leads to greater stewardship.    It gives a sense of meaning.

Our Indigenous people give us the greatest prism for writing  – where  they are, affects them.  Their  routines in singing, story telling and dance .  When they are deeply rooted there is a oneness.  ‘Our Land is our Body’

When they are dissociated from their country they are lost.

Among the contemporary poets Mary Oliver has been one of the most articulate  –showing us where she writes affects what she writes. 

Her focus on interior subjects varies  but we experience  it more profoundly and more authentically when it is rooted in a specific TIME and PLACE.

In her poem  Mornings at Blackwater    the pond that she walked to each day with pen and pad, she writes,

So come to the pond, 

or the river of your imagination,

or the harbour of your longing 

and put your lips to the world. 

And live

your life.

How does where I write affect what I write?

As an Australian I cannot go far past who I am.  

I have found my childhood identity always brings its own dimension to enrich my writing .

As  Faulker says 

“The past is never dead . It is not even past .”  

 And yet my new book is about a woman living in Germany in the mediaeval 12th century  so I wondered and then I realised I could only write that from who I am here and now . Where I write and who I am informs what I write. 

It anchors me into a sense of place and affects my thoughts, ideas, values , attitudes and hence affects what I write.

So finally it seems to me  even if I write of a German mystic or “of sandy toes curling in wet sand gazing at a stormy seas “

my writing is informed by a sense of place.

We are learning from Indigenous Australians, from each other and also from the poets,  from songsters, nature mystics , bush walkers, bird watchers.  We must continue to learn to write  from those for whom the land and its sense of place is a source of wonder.