Launch of The mathematics of love by Sonia Hunt

It was a warm last day of summer .  Perfect for a garden party.  And perfect to celebrate the launch of Sonia’s first poetry book. I felt  privileged to  say a few words and to be the one to launch this gorgeous poetry book into  the ouvré of Sydney’s 2021 poetry scene. Below is the speech I read for the occassion.

The mathematics of love by Sonia Hunt. The garden party was held in the garden of Sonia and David’s daughter’s home in Killara. Lovely to gather with a group of interested friends for this celebration.

 

 

 

 

Speech for the Launch of The mathematics of love

Thank you David.  And thank you Phillipa and Simon, Josh and Chloe for welcoming us to your home.
And Sonia today is your day.  I am privilege to say a few words to welcome your poetry book, The mathematics of love, into the ouvré of Sydney’s  2021 poetry scene. 
Firstly the covers very smart  . .looks like a team effort !!  and the feel of the book is gorgeous . You must be so proud. Even your name snuck  in could be part of a mathematical solution.
Sonia has divided the book into 10 small sections with original Sonia pithy quotes to begin each section. My favourite was in the section called Gradient of Love  a very mystical set of poems  and Sonia heads it by the words

In the quiet creek the wattle grows wild in mystery 

another one in the section headed Circumstantial 

Grace was a veil on a tree

This leads to the last few chapters of deep mystical poetry.

Sonia also includes some notes on the poems on the last pages but the very last page in honourable placing is a photo of Cleopatra the cat strolling down the lane and this is inspired by Sonia’s  daughter Sarah who is living in Geneva..  So Sarah you can feel very much included here with us today.
What is most interesting about Sonia’s poetry is the irony with its humorous sometimes called ‘tongue in cheek’ touch  which has you reading and rereading with your inner being smiling to itself.  This is especially so in the first section of five poems under the title Berry Love

eg after a mathematical treatise on the flesh of a humble berry  where two voices are cleverly interwoven   and there is irony in both voices . . that  ‘controlled humour’ that plays thru these early poems.  As I read the poem those of you who know David will hear the second  voice and relate to the way Sonia has created his voice in the poem. 

Let me read Berry love  to you pg  14  

Some of you will hear the inspiration of other poets the touch of William Carlos Williams  and  in others TS Eliot’s flight of fancy  with the cats  that feature as characters in her poetry.   As you enjoy reading you will find Sonia’s poetry is quite eclectic but that ironic sense is never far from the surface. And the sensual as in 

An Orange for you  pg 19 

Then I told you
to close your eyes
as I slipped a sliver of orange
from my mouth into yours
and you moaned slightly.
in To my Coy Mistress where she writes,
in the persona of Cleopatra the cat  she has the philosophical-challenged Cleopatra lazing back in the sun as only cats can do, saying:‘I like to practice the quietest techniques espoused by Lao-Tau/ when relaxing on the garden bench. They enable me to doze in an aura of unconditional acceptance.  

and can you see Cleopatra saying:

“A box is a perfect place to meditate on the infinite absurdity of life:  its awkward symmetry, its compactness and its sober predictability creates a feeling of the hollowness of existence”    

What humour and satire is in play here.

This poem gives honour to the 17th century metaphysical poets and to Andrew Marvelle’s poem of the same name  and Sonia has a detailed explanation on page 88.  

So you have a very interesting read ahead of you. and with the fresh images and wonderful turn of phrase and  sensuality of words it will be a treat  for you to savour. 

I’d like to share a quirky tongue in cheek poem  with  you  

Read Package  pg 49

And a poem  dear to our hearts Man of Flowers dedicated to one of our great poets who has  passed..

Read Man of Flowers pg 47

Just to finish  a stanza from one of the Leura series that Phillipa will share  and which shows a beautiful joyful side of Sonia is Swinging in the rain . The notes at the back  of the book note this as a take on Gene Kelly’s song Singing in the Rain  as he tap-danced across our screens in the 1952 movie.  

And Sonia writes      pg 33 

slowly i begin to dance
with a song in my throat
and a leopard
just dancing and swinging
in the rain.

I have come to know Sonia over the past 10 years in our evening  poetry meetings  with our convenor Norm Neill  at the NSW Writers Centre, Rozelle and over coffee and her favourite Kettle chips where we read our poetry and critique each others writings. This takes a sense of trust and courage and binds us in friendship.

And today thanks to Stephen Matthews AOM at Ginninderra Press the publication of a new book is born

Sonia graduated through three careers. Firstly as a English/History teacher in schools both in England and Sydney, then moved to Teacher-librarian  and finally becoming a School Counsellor and Psychologist. She proudly related to me that thru the three professions she is proud of the fact that she worked with young people at all stages Kindy to Year 12.   as both teacher and school counsellor.

Well I feel she can now add a fourth sting to her bow . . that of poet  

with her first book of poetry mathematics of Love which iis my perfect segway to say 

The  mathematics of love by the poet Sonia Hunt  is well and truly launched..
It is time to celebrate the hard journey of writing .  Phillipa will share her thoughts and we can enjoy our friendship and the yummy spread Sonia and David  have presented for us to share  with a glass of bubbly . 

 

Les Wicks launches Margaret Caro by Pip Griffin

 

A very congenial  and rewarding afternoon was spent to launch Pip’s new book and celebrate  the  completion of the  journey of  writing this amazingly researched and interesting woman.

The renowned and award winning poet Les Wicks  had the amazing group of people listening to his words on writing and poetry and Pip’ s new book

Margaret Caro
the extraordinary life of a pioneering dentist
New Zealand 1848 – 1938
her story in verse

The group filled the very gracious historical  Leichhardt Town Hall and it was a  buzz of  chatter and catching up with writers, poets and friends.  I was excited to be part of the day as I felt I had supported Pip in the final birthing of the book with edits and encouragement  as she suports me with my writings.

 

A team effort Pip and her son John who created the cover and flyers for the launch . Such a gift and so beautifully done.

 

The president of the NSW Societry of Women Writers
Jan Conway joined us for the celebration.

Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey by Colleen Keating wins two prestigious awards

 

Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey has won two awards at the Society of Women Writers NSW Biennial  Book Awards at The State Library NSW on Wednesday 10th February 2020.

SWW Poetry Book Award 2020
SWW Non-fiction Book Award  2020

In the acceptance speech  Colleen Keating said:

This is for Hildegard. This is for women.  This is for those who have been silent, lost,  or suppressed down the ages  of 2000 years and more, of women who are being rediscovered to bring a balance back into the voice of history.

This is for our environment and our earth. Hildegard called  earth our Mother and reminds us to care for her as we would our mother. Our air, our rivers our soil,  our forests must be nurtured for they nourish us as a mother does.

This is for our well being. Hildegard reminds us that  nature and music are natural spirit given healers.  Hildegard has returned 900 years aftern her death and it is no accident she is speaking to people  in this 21st century at this time all over the world. We need her wisdom more than ever.

Thank to all for this awards. Thanks to the shortlisted poets and especially Pip as runner-up.  Jan Conway, President of the SWW  and the committee.

Special thanks to Stephen Matthews AOM and Ginninderra Press for affirming my work and beliveing in Hildegard and publishing my verse novel.it

My friend and supporter,  acclaimed poet, Pip Griffin renowned for her verse novel  –  the journey of a Chinese Buddhist nun ani lin,  was runner-up and highly commended  for the SWW Poetry Book Award for her evocative  poetic journey:

                    Margaret Caro
the extraordinary life of a pioneering dentist
        New Zealand 1848-1938

as the judge, highly acclaimed poet Margaret Bradstock wrote,

“Both Hildegard of Bingen and Margaret Caro are sustained narrative collections of poems celebrating the lives of strong, single-minded and deeply religious heroines, one an anchorite, visionary and ultimately abbess during the Middle Ages, the other a New Zealand dentist at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Through judicious poetic description the writers Colleen Keating and Pip Griffith respectively, are able to enliven their stories and engage the interest of the reader. Over several hundred pages of verse, this is no mean feat.  Griffin records her protagonist’s account in first-person stanzas, as a kind of poetic ventriloquy, allowing us entry to her thoughts and feelings, italicised conversation and quotations counterpointing this perspective. By contrast, Keating as poet tells Hildegard’s story, but interpolates the anchorites’s spoken words and unspoken musings in italics.”

Congratulations Pip .

 

Colleen Keating is Winner of two SWW Book Awards

Colleen Keating is Winner of two SWW  Book Awards

Colleen Keating is the winner of two awards. Her recently published Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey, has taken out two awards at The Society of Women Writers NSW Biennial Book Awards. This was held at the State Library of NSW on Wednesday 10th February 2021.

SWW Poetry Book Award  2020
SWW Non-fiction Book Award

The judge for the Poetry section, highly acclaimed poet  Margaret Bradstock  wrote:

‘Keating plays with language, uses nouns as verbs, creative imagistic parallels to enhance emotional states. Poetic descriptions such as ,

‘The Rhineland moon/ edges the icy road or dawn-crackle of ice . . .erratic shivers of the horses/with huff of dragon smoke ‘ ,

to quote just a couple, vividly evoke the scenarios the poet wishes us to experience. . . it was Keating’ employment of figurative language, of subtle metaphor that determined Hildegard of Bingen to be the winning title. ‘

The judge for the non-fiction section,  renowned writer and editor for reviews at Women’s Ink, Judith O’Connor wrote:

How wonderful and fitting that Colleen has chosen the poetic form. Her narrative and style never miss a beat – almost racy at times, bounding along with passion and action against a backdrop of the beauty of nature as seen through Hildegard’s eyes. Lines like,

‘Her body knows what she wants
… as honey birds know
the most succulent flower
and geese
instinctively migrate (p.51)

The book speaks with the voice of a writer truely inspired, immersed, seeped in the knowledge and spiritual understanding of this far-away woman who lived to a remarkable 82 years of age. Colleen takes us on the outer, physical journey of Hildegard’s life but also the rich and spiritual inner journey. Harsh at times but always compelling.”

 

Thank to all for this awards. Thanks to the shortlisted poets and especially Pip as runner-up.  Jan Conway, President of the SWW  and the committee.

Special thanks to Stephen Matthews AOM and Ginninderra Press for affirming my work and beliveing in Hildegard and publishing my verse novel.it

 

Ungraspable a poem by Colleen Keating

 

ungraspable

it happened with the turn of tide
on a shallow sandy shoal
now it had beached dry

hot air sharp as spears
summer sun
glistening on its silver grey skin

blue spots shimmered across its flank
as it flapped intermittently
like a large bird with a broken wing

our carefree stroll along the beach
stopped
here was a life and death matter

the world was silent
only the waves measuring time
like a tolling bell

a young stingray lay before us
like a sacrificial lamb
eyes open as if pleading

using our bucket we splashed
water over its fretting skin
like cooling a fever

until it was still
then we noticed the hook
embedded in its flesh

we got down on our knees
my grandson and i
as if to reassure this creature

there was a tenderness
confusion
a hole of helplessness

a lifesaver brought a spade –
i was sorry it could not be pushed back
to sigh one last time amidst the waves

later the piled up hill of sand
was still there
Is that where he is? my grandson asked

it was time to take his little hand
and walk to the edge of the ocean
listen to its rill whoose back and forth

see its gifts of shells and spinning stones
watch the gulls whirl in the thrill of life
feel the ungraspable cycle of give and take

by Colleen Keating

 

A Stingray story  with Mum, Grandma ,Edison and Darcy

(Written while we were holidaying at the Dolphin House)

It happened in the dark of night
on The Entrance beach
and in the morning
it made us all so sad.

It happened at high tide
and we found it as we were rambling
along the edge of the waves
playing happily with pieces of Neptunes Necklace

and looking for all sort of shells the high tide had left behind.
It was Mum and Grandma and us two boys Edison and Darcy.

We were jumping in the waves and running up on the sand
and then we saw it
a large grey and blue blob lying helplessly on the sand
it was a large greyish stingray
beached, left behind when the tide went out

 

It couldn’t breath air because it doesn’t have lungs.
It has gills like fish and breathes its air through the water
Mum thought she saw it take a last gulp.
It was too heavy to push back in the sea.
It lay there before us all .
It looked so beautiful in the sunlight.

It was grey with beautiful blue marking
and sad eyes and open gills.

We all patted it and were surprised at it soft sticky skin.
and remembered the Torpedo Rays in Octanauts.

We stood helplessly by, till a lifesaver came
He turned it over and it became an even sadder story

because it had a fishing hook embedded in its blobby flesh .

We felt so mad about people who don’t look after our sea because all the sea creatures are so endangered by plastics and pollution.

Back at home we looked up fun fact about Stingrays
and it was good to learn some interesting things.

 

Fun Facts about Stingrays

1 They are one of the beautiful creatures of the sea as they move along in the water. 

2 They have no bones in their body – their skeleton is made up of flexible cartilage (the bendy stuff that your ears and nose are made of

3 Baby stingray are hatched from eggs that are held within the body of the mother 

4 They use a super set of electric senses to search for food. Their eyes are on the top side of their body   and their mouth and gills are found underneath so in murky water this electromagnetic sense is especially useful for searching for prey.

5 they like to live by themselves  and only come together for breeding . 

6 They protect themselves with venomous spines or barbs in their tail

7 They feed on fish clams and shrimp

8 Sadly they are now a threatened species .Overfishing, habitat loss and climate change are the major threats 

 

Thank you Edison for allowing me to use your drawing in this story.

Juukan Gorge, A Tragic Milestone in Australian History by Colleen Keating

a new mea culpa

 Sorry Day May 24th 2020 

if ever there was a day to grieve
so flattened by a melancholy action
that it makes you want
to close off your mind in disbelief
hold your aching heart
indeed cage your heart with steel

a day the healing song is silent
and your eyes weep red dust
when you had watched the first episode
of Operation Buffalo about the arrogance of Maralinga
and excused it
as happening before we were enlightened
and the ghost of Terra Nullius
still plagued our history books
when your mind is still etched by the ignorance
of the Taliban’s Palmyra destruction of ancient Buddhas

you realise that Australian miners have just blown up
with approval
rock shelters at Juukan Gorge
a 46,000 year cache of bones and tools
from before the last Ice Age
cutting connection with ancestors and heritage
of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama people
making Indigenous people of this country
walk in desolation
voices still unheard
and another piece of the soul of our nation
is blasted away
all in the name of profit

well today is just that day

 

We Australians still live in ignorance of the legacy of our first peoples and this land we live on.

It is the most ancient land on the planet.

The Indigenous people of this continent are the oldest people on the planet and carry memory of a wisdom we have forgotten to listen to.

Even if we try to listen its whisper is muted by the  loud noise of  Greed who yells profit over and over that  we make expediently from the earth. We forget

the ancient wisdom

“Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned
only after the last fish has been caught  . . .
only then will you realise that . . .
money cannot be eatten

We must stand up and speak out that this type of destruction never happens again.

Imagine if someone threatened the Lascaux, Palaeolthic Cave in France
or if someone touched Angor Wat in Cambodia,
the Roman Colosseum in Italy,
the Istanbul Bascilica in Turkey.

Remeber the world’s collective grief
watching 12th century Notre Dame burn
and remember the loss when the Barniyan Valley stone Buddhas
were blown up by the Taliban . This is the loss we have
and yet it is still not fully felt by Rio Tinto Iron Ore Compny or the Governement.
Shame, shame, shame.

Note the Taliban did not win completey, for the Buddhas shines again
in the towering cutouts in the mountainside
where they stood for centuries . . .they are back thanks to 3-D projection.

Above one of the illuminations. Thanks to modern technology.

What can we retrieve of the Aborigine heritage of our own First Peoples. ?

No modern technology can bring back this loss

Wild Moment: Thomas Keating-Jones, Published by John Muir Trust

A wintery hike on the Downs inspired nine year old Thomas to write An Ice Poem.

An Ice Poem

Glittering, glistening glass gleams and glides across the top of the frozen pond.
Mother nature’s classical music singing as it slides
Like stained-glass, the shattered shards  catch all the colours
It cracks, twinkling across the top of the ice…the ice…the ice…
It twinkles. jingles, like magic on the air.
Shining cracks appear wherever your foot rests on the shelf edge,
Chasing air bubbles, full of life,  out of their frozen prison.
It’s the top of the hill.
It’s the top of our world.

Thomas Keating-Jones, age 9 (with help from Eleanor Keating-Jones)

Thomas K-J ice pond 2

So proud to find my grandson and grand-daughter writing their thoughts about their wintery days on their nearby Downs while on a short exercise time from their strict lock-down

Welcome to Wild Inside – a fortnightly window to inspiration, activities  and a little bit of joy and wildness close to home.

We are incredibly lucky to have some great hikes on our doorstep. This poem celebrates the ice covered pond at the top of the Downs!

 

Praise by Rumi: A new dawn and hope for the planet.

 

Praise

Every war and every conflict
between human beings has happened
because of some disagreement about names.

It is such an unnecessary foolishness,
because just beyond the arguing
there is a long table of companionship
set and waiting for us to sit down.

What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured into a huge basin.

All religions, all this singing, one song.
The differences are just illusion and vanity.

Sunlight looks a little different
on this wall than it does on that wall
and a lot different on this other one,
but it is still the same light.

We have borrowed these clothes,
these time-and-space personalities,
from a light, and when we praise,
we are pouring them back in.

by Rumi

 

The Ocean Wonder by Jacinta Van Eyk

 

The Ocean Wonder

 

Waves crashing on Keating Beach.                      

The bright sun cuts through

the dark grey clouds.

The water sparkles on top

of the shimmering rocks.

The dolphins leap peacefully

over the crashing waves.

All morning butterflies flutter                                      

past our window.

All different people walking, riding, running .

The ocean wonder is so

extraordinary.

by Jacinta    8 years old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

written while on holidays at The Dolphin House, Central Coast

A moment of reflection with Hildegard

 

 

You are encircled

by the arms of the mystery

of the universe

 

 

Sydney Summer Festival January 2021

Hildegard being remembered and performed.

 

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra celebrates the remarkable creative achievements of Hildegard von Bingen, the twelfth-century polymath whose life story and body of work continue to resonate through the ages.

Hildegard was a visionary and entrepreneurial German abbess who travelled widely as a linguist, mystic, scholar, naturalist, scientist, philosopher, poet and a composer. Nine centuries after her death, Universal Woman pays tribute to this iconic trailblazer with a moving and thought-provoking program curated by the orchestra’s celebrated artistic director, Paul Dyer.

The program also features a selection of Hildegard’s own songs and poems, narrated live by a prominent Australian actor.

A Sydney Festival exclusive, Universal Woman takes place inside the spine-tingling acoustics of St Mary’s Cathedral Crypt, with five performances led by singers from the Brandenburg Choir as well as the Brandenburg musicians on period instruments.

Runtime: 80 mins

Sydney Festival exclusive, Universal Woman takes place inside the spine-tingling acoustics of St Mary’s Cathedral Crypt, with five performances led by singers from the Brandenburg Choir as well as the Brandenburg musicians on period instruments. Find out more about Sydney Festival and Covid-19 planning.