White Pebbles Haiku Group

White Pebbles

 

Convenor: Beverley George

In the winter poem many of us are familiar with, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening , the poet stops on the darkest evening of the year, ‘to watch his woods fill up with snow’.  Like the poet, Robert Front, the White Pebbles Haiku Group stopped to watch the winter scene unfolding at  the Gosford /Edogawa Japanese Gardens on the Central Coast this past Saturday 15th June just a week out from the dark and shortest day of the year (Winter Solticies this year June 20/21st )

We all look forward  to our meetings and our winter ‘stopping’ was no exception.

This is our second winter walk together. ; with Beverley George our leader, present were Verna Rieschild, Marilyn Humbert, Maire Glacken. Samantha Hyde, Colleen Keating with a heart-felt apologies from Gail Hennessy and Kent Robinson.  

We began our morning with a welcome coffee and catch-up in the cafe sharing  some newly published work and thoughts from  our ‘homework,’  – a handout that Beverley emailed earlier to help us prepare.

 

 

We spent about forty minutes contemplatively moving around the garden, walking, sitting, pondering, jotting down thoughts and ideas for haiku writing;  Today the cheeky plowers were busy, their call ringing out continuously. Lingering leaves from the maple trees were  drifting down  many children were feeding the the koi , ducks were active catching most of the food and the light playful nature of the children reminded us winter is only a season not an age. 

Some of the group sat in the open tea room overlooking the white pebble beach, Some took advantage of sitting in the winter sun under the climbing wisteria. 

After our ginko  (season walk) we  are privileged,  each visit to enjoy a quiet working space in the Art Gallery and we gathered at the round table to share our writing and work sheets. 

 

 

Beverley  introduced the group to Haiga  inspiring us with her beautiful  greeting cards. We had all done our homework which was to bring a winter scene and our haiku to go with it  and at our sharing time it was enlightening to discuss our work . Next meeting we will continue to work with more haiga.

We marvelled at the rich and varied takings from our winter observations.  We are encouraged and affirmed by our sharing.   We left inspired in our haiku writing and look forward to our spring meeting Saturday 14th September 2019.

Just one final observation since our Autumn meeting  a new gengo (era) has been declared with the new reigning Emperor.  Reiwa was announced and  is based on the Manyo-shin – Japan’s oldest Anthology of Poems. It means that culture can grow when people sincerely care about each other. What beautiful sentiment  and hope for our world. 

Some stayed to enjoy the choices from the delicious lunch menu in the cafe.  

Colleen Keating  ( White Pebbles Haiku Group)

 

Les Murray Memorial at the State Library

 

An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There’s a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can’t stop him.

The traffic in George Street is banked up for half a mile
and drained of motion. The crowds are edgy with talk
and more crowds come hurrying. Many run in the back streets
which minutes ago were busy main streets, pointing:
There’s a fellow weeping down there. No one can stop him.

The man we surround, the man no one approaches
simply weeps, and does not cover it, weeps
not like a child, not like the wind, like a man
and does not declaim it, nor beat his breast, nor even
sob very loudly—yet the dignity of his weeping

holds us back from his space, the hollow he makes about him
in the midday light, in his pentagram of sorrow,
and uniforms back in the crowd who tried to seize him
stare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their minds
longing for tears as children for a rainbow.

Some will say, in the years to come, a halo
or force stood around him. There is no such thing.
Some will say they were shocked and would have stopped him
but they will not have been there. The fiercest manhood,
the toughest reserve, the slickest wit amongst us

trembles with silence, and burns with unexpected
judgements of peace. Some in the concourse scream
who thought themselves happy. Only the smallest children
and such as look out of Paradise come near him
and sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons.

Ridiculous, says a man near me, and stops
his mouth with his hands, as if it uttered vomit—
and I see a woman, shining, stretch her hand
and shake as she receives the gift of weeping;
as many as follow her also receive it

and many weep for sheer acceptance, and more
refuse to weep for fear of all acceptance,
but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing,
the man who weeps ignores us, and cries out
of his writhen face and ordinary body

not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,
hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea—
and when he stops, he simply walks between us
mopping his face with the dignity of one
man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.

Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street.

from
The Weatherboard Cathedral, 1969

I have let Les Murray speak for himself. And at the memorial they let his poetry speak for him. He was an excellent poet as the above poem shows. Many of us honoured him on Wednesday. It was a very special memorial for the poet Les Murray who died on 29th April 2019.and a fitting venue for his memorial.

It was held in the famous reading room at the State Library in the old Mitchel Library section. Only twice before has this famous beautiful room been used for memorials and that was for  the famous poet Henry Lawson (about 1922)and Mary Gilmore (about 1962)  now 2019 for Les Murray.

Listen to Les Murray read this poem (MP3)

A Poetry Morning – ‘full of beans’

Kissing Point Probus Ladies Group at South Turramurra  3rd June 2019

A cup of tea and delicious home-made date and walnut cake then we grouped for our poetry morning.

This was our second visit. In  2018 I was invited to the Kissing Point Probus Ladies Group at South Turramurra  by one of our neighbours Myra Fletcher and  introduced as an established local poet. It was a great session and Myra invited us  back to share some familiar poetry. Down Memory Lane. We noticed some of the group mouthing the poems as we read and enjoying the memory.

The session today was well attended and  from my take everyone enjoyed the time together. I worked along with Michael and the group responded to our enthusiasm.

We had a plan for 

a) Australian Poetry 

Dorothea Mackellar, ‘Banjo’ Paterson, Henry Kendall,  Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) Judith Wright, Henry Kendall.

b) General Poetry in English 

William Shakespeare, John Keats, William Wordsworth William Blake, Gerard Manly Hopkins Dylan Thomas

c) American Poetry 

Robert Frost  William Carlos Williams  Gelett Burgess 

Billy Collins  Mary Oliver

d) Finally, an iconic Australian humorous poem – 

We didn’t get through half of what we had planned. However that was probably a good plan in itself. They were very pleased. We had to  stop at a good time and they had material to take home with them.

Currently my favourite poet is the American Mary Oliver. (1935 – January 17, 2019) – Pulitzer Prize Winner in 2007.  She has just recently died and I was disappointed that we didn’t get time to tease her out. I quickly read one poem  of hers, good for birthdays as one  gets older and we all warmed to Mary Oliver’s sentiment.

Self Portrait.

Mary Oliver  (1935-2019)

I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans.
Onward old legs!

There are the long, pale dunes, on the other side
the roses are blooming and finding their labor
no adversity to the spirit.

Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch.

Though I’m not twenty
and won’t be again
but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life. And still
full of beans.

We finished off as promised with a narration together of an iconic Australian poem so appropriate for these times 

‘We’ll all be roon’d said Hanrahan’. by John O’Brien

The group went away with a handout of all the poems we planned to do and we felt it was  an enjoyable morning.

Launch of Mrs. Rickaby’s Lullaby by Julie Thorndyke

Congratulations 

to Julie Thorndyke on the launch of her novel Mrs Rickaby’s Lullaby.

Celebrating the birth of a new book is always one of the great pleasures, after all the hard work in bring it to fruition.  It was launched by the well known poet and writers and mentor Beverley George surrounded by Julie’s family, friends and writing colleagues. And very enjoyable to share a glass of wine and some delicious cheeses while  we chatted with writer, friends old and new.

Hartog Bookshop at Macquarie Centre was a welcoming  space for just such an experience. 

Special  mention was made of Ginninderra Press and the invaluable gratitude many of us have for the support we receive from this publishing company. Thanks to Brenda and Stephen Matthews.  

Mrs. Rickaby’s Lullaby was a wonderful read, cleverly written with well developed characters and twists of story just like in real life.

 

 

 

SPEECH for the LAUNCH of BLOOM by DECIMA WRAXALL

 

 

 

LAUNCH OF BLOOM

Good evening everybody.  Thank you Sue for your kind words and I too would like to   acknowledge the land on which we meet and pay respect to the ancestors, especially  story tellers of the past, present and our future.

We are privileged to be sharing the Judith Wright room, named for one of our great Australian  women poets of last century,  an activist for indigenous rights, conservation and the environment. 

There are a few new faces here so I introduce myself. My name is Colleen Keating . I belong to the Women Writers Network which meets every Wednesday in the Henry Lawson room of Writing NSW. 

I feel privileged  to be standing here  to launch Decima’s beautiful poetry book BLOOM. As most of you know Decima has written many short stories. Her novel, Black Stockings, White Veil, celebrated the golden anniversary of her RPA hospital group, and was a Finalist in the 2014 Indie Book Awards fictional history  category. She has published two other historical fiction novels, with one more to be published by Ginninderra Press in 2020.

Since the poet in Decima burst onto the scene I have been amazed at the poetry that pours out from her. 

Decima draws on her nursing knowledge and on every day experiences, lives of people she observes . eg  pg 42  in the poem Private . . .

She uses the powerful concrete image.   and has found  the pared back to the bone approach  with its  the maxim. . . writing less is more.   eg  in Don’t call me Madam   (70)

shady lane/discreet sign /massage/my shoulder pain cries/step inside/ blinking i see/ skimpy-clad girls in a row/a hard-faced crone/man’s the desk/   Don’t you love that word man’s and you will have to red the poem to find the end.

Decima reminds us, the ordinary is poetic another way of saying that she finds the poetic in the ordinariness of life.  eg in her poem Bluff (11)  

“Dad doffed his sweat-stained het to the flies. Eyes closed he rested, dappled by kurrajong shade.”

She is a realist . . . takes day to day happenings and  experiences and paints her picture with words., leaving the bigger issues as an understatement .

Notice in her poem Hands  (16 )  col reads first 3 paras of ii.

The  poet Jean Maria Rilke says “everything is gestation and then ‘bringing forth’”

 and writing is a lot of that. 

Firstly the gestation  . . . . it’s a lonely trek, a long haul,  a footslog, an odyssey  sometimes lost in the bush,  sometimes all at sea, sometimes desert-dry, sometimes writing  energising but mostly it’s a solitary and gruelling chore  

and then the ‘bringing forth . . .

the birthing  sharing with the world, the unveiling  like opening up a secret diary and throwing away the key . 

and as a writing community we appreciate that and we are here to honour the loneliness of the long distance writer and here to  celebrate the  Decima’s very successful outcome

read fallen star pg.  130

When you write a poem, you write it for anybody and everybody. And you have to be ready to do that out of your single self.    It’s a giving. . . .always   . . . a gift. . . a gift to yourself but it s gift to anybody who has a hunger for it.   

I like to think we all have the hunger for poetry and we honour those who give us this gift .

Here is Decima’s gift to us .

A new poetry book in our world.  

 Like a seed in the moistest earth

 may it bloom and grow where it is planted . 

And together Decima and I declare 

BLOOM

              launched  and planted .

 

 

POEM IN MAY

Michael and I taking a “turn in the shrubbery” as Jane Austen recommends many times in her writings. For us it meant a walk around the block . . . but what beauty to behold

POEM IN MAY

“Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness /close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;     from John Keats Ode to Autumn

Autumn 2019 has been the most beautiful autumn ever.  For me that is because the summer warmth has lingered. And  so the colour has given us its rich glory in  somewhat balmy days.

Sometimes I wonder how many  more autumns will my eyes behold and can they get any more crisp and brisk and sweet in harmony of tone and memory.

If the colours  of autumn were music notes 

the sound  would be a mellow humming tune 

with a back ground of bird song crickets and frogs  

and our wonderful powerful owl 

that comes to perch each evening 

on the cedar tree  

that brushes against our kitchen window. 

We have been vegging  (defined as to relax in a mindless way) on Jane Austen this past week 

and enjoying Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. (Hugh Grant)

We have two copies of Pride and Prejudice one with Colin Firth  as Darcy  It was a BBC series and went for hours and one with Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley.

For Jane Austen, back then, “taking a turn in the shrubbery” is a way of moving both literally and metaphorically “in the proper circles.” In making this daily circuit, women observe the boundaries of taste and convention; reconcile past, present, and future; and redraw the lines of social connection.

For Austen and for her characters, walking is a habitual part of daily life. In letters written in 1805 and in 1806, Austen says, “we do nothing but walk about” and “we walk a good deal”

Hence  in accordance with our Jane Austen motive, Michael and I  have ‘taken a  turn in the shrubbery’ . . . . that is a constitutional walk around the block and heaven was in the oak trees at the end of the street. The crunch of leaves under foot and the sprinkle of leaves that fell silently around us like confetti with their  aura of colour, They fell silently and obediently at the slight whim of the air and the still quiet press of the branches.

In Dylan Thomas’ wonderful Autumn poem  it was his thirtieth year to heaven hence he can speak of being in his summer at noon watching the autumn colour around him.

I would like to say I stand here in summer noon though all below me lay leaved  in Autumn blood but I would have to say to be truthful,  I stand in autumn time with it leaved all around me still singing my name in the sky , still falling like tears and leaved with autumn blood  under my feet. But his next sentiment I sing with all my heart, he marvelled his birthday away up on the hill looking down on his town bathed in October blood   (October of course because it is Wales that is  his autumn: here it is May I am standing in right now, writing this)

O may my heart’s truth

Still be sung

On this high hill in a year’s turning.  from Dylan Thomas Poem in October

The coloured leaves I carried with me . All the music of an octave.

Out the windows

Music in the colour. Little Miss E and my heart ringing for joy . . .  Beauty is all around

Our Local Bush Walk

 

 

Our Local Bush 

We are very blessed by walking 10 minutes  from our home we enter this wonderful pocket of bush a remnant of Eucalypts, especially the wonder of  Red Gum and cedars ,  The second layer makes  a pocket  of rainforest environment  with its Tree Ferns, Palms and Bird Nests . There is the relaxing sound of the tinkling of water, examples of sandstone and a bridge to walk across the creek.

Here is an opportunity for  Forest Bathing . The quiet restfulness and many shades of green is special. I once called it my air pocket for survival . Today 5 years since we moved here and first discovered this bush it is just as wonderful

 

 

new bush track

moving house means searching
for new wilderness
like a miner after an elusive air pocket
 

following a green area on a map
hidden by development
encroached to the edge
behind an old scout hall
a brambly track
winds me down
through a sandstone escarpment
 
the dawn-sun plays into the hands
of eucalypts stretched
to seek the light
yet their search for meaning
being found more in their roots
symbiotically curled around sturdy rock
 
here dew tipped casuarinas sparkle
here grass trees verdantly splurge
as if their whole purpose is to shine
 
self important the palms push upwards
like screaming rock stars
 
honey birds swing on rusty gold banksia
magpies warble
in the whip cracked air
 
this is the australian bush
how it pulls me in
 
through the trees i glimpse a waterfall
and marvel to think it has always been here
carving musically into the heart of the earth
it has sung its song for eons
 
it is the human in me that delights
nature just is in its own world
whole unto itself
 
it doesn’t even know I’m here
and there is a loneliness in this
yet lost from the world
i am found
and to the cadence of nature
i dance

Colleen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Day. A Celebration – Saving the Jacaranda- copy

To celebrate Earth Day I choose to reprint a poem  I love from my  first poetry collection,  A Call to Listen.   It is  a true story of a group of workers in our local council.  A model to save trees wherever you can for the life they support, for the beauty they give, for the fresh air they make, and for their healing presence in our lives.

Thank you Mary Reynolds Thompson for your inspiring email  . . . a reminder for me to act today.

It was on an autumn walk I learnt the old Jacaranda tree that I loved was under threat. It was in the way of new pipes. The pipes about 2 metres in diameter were being dug in and the gorgeous old Jacaranda was in the pathway. The next day there was an arborist directing the men down amongst the roots gently digging out the soil. The pipe was placed in underneath the roots. Then in November, 6 months on there it was, in full glory . . thanks to those who had worked to save it.

jacaranda_tree

saving the jacaranda

the line for the new concrete
drainage pipe
runs under the massive old jacaranda

meticulous to protect its roots
day after day the council men
ratty and mole in fluorescent yellow
dig a man-made warren
wide and deep

exposed roots
stretch and coil like dark bearded monsters
from a tenebrous underworld
smelling earthy airless damp

then overseen by an arborist
a crane lowers the pipe into place
and this private world is reclaimed

a year on
standing before its gnarled trunk
on a lilac path
i am corralled in its aura
of blossom-laden branches
and i rejoice with the breeze
in whispered mantras

And thank you to my daughter Elizabeth  Keating-Jones sending me Neil Gaiman’s poem in honour of  the Scientist and researcher, Rachel Carson (1907- 1964 )  who is the inspiration for Earth Day after  the new enlightment the world was given with her book Silent Spring  (1962)

Society of Women Writers April Meeting

A fresh Autumn morning . I set out by train for the city to attend the monthly gathering of the Society of Women Writers. ( SWW)

Each month it is held at the State Library of NSW over in  the  Dixson Room in the original Mitchell Library. And being a Friend of the Library I enjoy a coffee and some quiet space in  the Friends room before hand

This month  Pattie Miller lead the workshop .

and luncheon with the key note spesker as Pattie again on the topic of

and a very interest talk with Libby Hathorn and the first release of her new children’s book Miss Franklin .

It was a very pleasant gathering  and Pattie as always very informative

One of the exciting unfolding pieces of information Pattie Miller  held up the  new Stella Award book  An Erratic life by Vickie Laveau-Harvie            . Pattie was excited as Vicki had been on e of her students . I was excited firstly for Vicky winning such a prestigious prize but that I had spent the week at Varuna 

Society of Women Writers – Workshop with Patti Miller

It was  a very helpful and informative workshop at the State Library of NSW  with Patti Miller. She titled it,

The Difficulty of Truth Telling in Writing a Memoir

No woman is an Island.

We are all part of a family, a circle of friends, work groups, socail groups,  – sport, religion, interest, hobbies.

We have a  truth – a different truth for each different group.

We become socialised to know what truth to tell to each group.

When we sit down to write a memoir things come to the fore . . .1.  We don’ want to hurt the other, family,  friends.   2. It might change the way people think of us. 3. There is pressure to be nice, 4. Pressure to keep the peace. . . be the angel in the house.

Yet without feeling free to tell your truth the memoir will luck genuine authenticity.

Some hints to Tell the Truth and Survive

  1. The tone of your voice. Not what you say . . . it is how you say it. Not bitter, not accusing , not a rort for revenge, not a statement  for a statement’s sake . It must be like a velvet glove slipped into context.
  2. Put it all down in Draft one not to show but it gets a lot of angst out of you and it doesn’t have to be published.
  3. Remember it is your truth, your opinion,  your perspective.

We then workshopped our own writing  beginning

My  . . . . . . . would not want me to write about . . . .

We did not have to share it, but the brave souls who shared  . . .showed us the power of truth – telling.