5 Write Answers: Women’s Ink by Colleen Keating

 

 

To read my poetry out loud and listen carefully for meaning and rhythm.

When I am stuck, I record it and play it back to myself. I know there are modern methods to do this on our iPhones these days, but I still have an old portable tape recorder on the shelf above my desk which I read into and listen back, checking out the lyrical bent.

I get so much insight from this process.

 

Colleen Keating is an award winning Sydney-based poet. She has four books of poetry including her latest poetry book Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey, awarded the Silver Nautilus Award 2019 Better Books for a Better World USA.

www.colleenkeatingpoet.com.au

 

****    ****    ****    ****    ****    ****    ****    ****    

Further dotting and mentions I am proud of in Women’s Ink  from  the Society of Women Writers in recent months.

Desert Patterns

Colleen Keating

Ginninderra Press, South Australia

When we listen, this land sings to us, holds us, nurtures us. This land is the common ground that we share. This small blue planet is the common world of our existence.
Desert Patterns is a collection of poetry that touches the membrane between two worlds with the breath of wildness and our inland journeys. In its striking imagery, we have a revelation of the significance of the land and of the burden of our Australian history.

‘Colleen’s poetic journey invokes the deep spirituality of our landscape.
She immerses us in “a multitude of gorgeous images” as we stand in Tunnel Creek remembering Jandamarra, marvel with Monet at Kakadu’s “blazing-blue lilies” and dream with cicadas:

“is it a place the gods keep/to seduce the lost like me?”
Every step of the way, Desert Patterns will entrance you.’ – Pip Griffin

page6image30250688

Mood indigo

Pip Griffin and Colleen Keating, shared poetry collection

Picaro Press an imprint of Ginninderra Press 2020

In days of uncertainty mood Indigo with its 24 succinct and lyrical poems gives the reader time to retreat to a pocket-sized poetry book with an inner covenant of peace.

page6image30255056

My Congratulation note read at the 95th Anniversary celebration of SWW

I felt honoured to be invited to put together a few words   for the 95th Anniversary of  the Society of Women Writers .

It is said,  You have to know the past, to understand the present, and to informs the future 

The milestone of our 95th Anniversary as a Society of Women Writers, is a good moment to pause, acknowledge where we have come from , to reflect on our present and be encouraged to walk forwards.

We are proud of our story  from when a small group of pioneer women journalists banded together – united, to support and encourage each other and we can only imagine  the journey to now from 1925 .

We are at an impasse with the pandemic that exacerbates the reduction in funding for the Arts. This enables us to appreciate even more the line of Presidents and the women who believed  in our Society and have kept the flame burning  through depressions, wars, vacillation of funding  and many internal struggles. Pressing forward is a woman’s way. 

We are proud to say we are about lifting each other up.  Writing is a lonesome vocation and fraught with internal demons. Meeting monthly for lunch in the State Library, the heart of Sydney’s writing and research world, with workshops, guest speakers and sharing with like minded people encourages us with new incentives on our writing  journey . 

Then our writing competitions, our Book Awards, our journal  Women’s Ink,  our retreats, the annual Abbie Clancy award for the  encouragement  of young writers, our annual  Di Yerbury residency in England award for a member, outreach promotion of writer festivals and functions to encourage writers. Seeing opportunities to promote our story eg working to bring Eleanor Darks oeuvre together, giving Dorothea  Mackellar’s grave, the status she deserved    we women always look forward to be the best.  

Our past Presidents  have  picked up the baton selflessly and guided the SWW thru many  stormy seas. and now with the vibrancy of  Jan Conway at the helm taking us into 2021 we are here today through the technology of zoom  in celebration.

 It is good to remind ourselves  we are standing on a mountain from  which we can say  we are standing on the shoulders of the women who have gone before thru all the struggles every decade, every  age, brings up. 

Let it be known proudly we mark this occasion on Zoom 

All i am saying here reminds me of the  words in Josh Gobans song, 

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

In the years to come may our future members  look back, grateful for us here on our 95th anniversary in 2020. 

Colleen Keating, September 2020

 

 Some of the women of the Society on Retreat  in 2017

     ****   ****   ****   ****   ****

Hi Colleen
I hope you’re getting the time to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. We are in the final stages of planning for the 95th and I’m looking forward to Wednesday’s ’birthday’ Zoom event.
Best wishes messages – from invited guests and members – will be read during the programme by an SWW member. Colleen, I’d be delighted if you are able to offer a few sentences (in text or poetry) about the Society. If you are happy to do so, I’d appreciate you letting me know. I would need the message to be received by the evening of Monday 14. Late notice I know – Sorry!
Cheers
Jan
Janette Conway
President
The Society of Women Writers NSW Inc.
Est.1925 Incorporated 1987
http://www.womenwritersnsw.org/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Society-of-Women-Writers-NSW-Inc
Mobile: 0402 755 768

PastedGraphic-9.pdf

 

Patterns so easily missed on beach walks Colleen Keating

 the still point

the wide expanse of sky and sea
wakes to morning light
seizes the shimmer of dawn

its cerise and gold
reflects in rills of radiance
out to the ocean’s edge.

 

my poet’s eye turns to small things
easily missed
in the splendour of the scene

miniature patterns
minute designs
still and still moving

 

 

 

molluscs creep unhurriedly
leaving a sand trail
in their wake

 

runnels of water and sand
find a balance like playing statues
stop as sculptures of model rivers and forests

 

 

generosity

the ocean is forever generous
rolling in
like one with arms wide open
taking gently
all that no longer serves
our higher good .

the baggage of worry fear and guilt
are taken carried
and washed away

the sea banishes all morning megrims
clean as the unblemished sand
that i step onto


to join the seagull
that flies in.

seagull 

my morning footsteps
are tiny imprints
arrowed
over ruffs of sand

the lift off
pathless
swinging
the compass needle
moves the horizon
always looked at
to never arrive
a hover of blue air

 

Haiku

late spring walk
along tidal line
joy of bare feet

 

 

summer beach walk
how pleasing
with sandals in my hands

the sun flings
a pool of light
on the ocean 

 

 

 

The Song Company: Circle of Virtue by Hildegard of Bingen

 

November 2020 During Covid this wonderful young company have rehearsed and are ready to present The Circle of  Virtues: A Morality Play by Hildegard of Bingen.
I have added two of my poems telling some of the background story of Ordo Virtutum said to be the first morality play by a woman in Western musical repertoire. Ordo Virtutum is really an allegorical morality play or sometimes called a liturgical drama composed by Hildegard in 1151 AD

Special Announcement

The Song Company

The Song Company presents
Circle of Virtue by Hildegard of Bingen

The Song Company invites vocal music lovers back into concert halls in Newcastle, Wollongong and Sydney as they present Ordo Virtutum (Circle of Virtue), the oldest surviving music drama, by 12th-century visionary, Hildegard of Bingen.

Abbess, visionary and natural philosopher

One of the earliest-named composers in Western musical history and outspoken in her dealings with princes and popes in mediaeval Europe, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) created the earliest-known opera or music drama, Ordo Virtutum (c.1151), for the female inmates of her Abbey at Rupertsberg.

The fight for the salvation of the Soul (Roberta Diamond) by the Virtues (led by their Queen, Jessica O’Donoghue) from the Devil (Koen van Stade) is set to the most sumptuous chant for women’s voices for which Hildegard is known, and accompanied by drones, medieval organ and other atmospheric effects.

The Song Company presents a semi-staged performance of Hildegard’s story of the internal struggle of a Soul battling for her mental well-being with seventeen Virtues on one side and the Devil on the other…

Be excited for an evening of wonderful music combined with a transcending and atmospheric stage presentation.

Circle of Virtue is the perfect way to support your national vocal ensemble’s return to the stage and to experience Australia’s finest vocalists in live performance.

Cast

Roberta Diamond – Anima
Pip Dracakis – Chastity
Josie Ryan – Victory
Jessica O’Donoghue – Queen of the Virtues
Janine Harris – Hope
Ethan Taylor – Prophet
Hayden Barrington – Patriarch
Koen van Stade – The Devil
Ruby Bron, Iris Farrer, Annie Farrer – Chorus of Souls

Antony Pitts – Artistic Director
Neil Simpson – Lighting Consultant
Pip Dracakis – Costume Co-Designer
Sue Carveth – Costume Maker
Wendy Walker – Props Designer/Maker
Leonie Cambage – Design & Original Concept

Thanks to Timothy Chung and Santa Sabina College for loan of Portative Organ (made by Ron Sharp)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A few poems from my recently published book

Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey by Colleen Keating

 

First Opera

In a vision
Hildegard has her sisters
sing as personified Virtues
in song and action.

She sees struggle
against the devil,
visualises it played out as drama.

Volmar can take the part of the devil.
He will not sing, she ponders aloud.

All abuzz, she hastens to tell Richardis.
With Volmar as scribe
they create their first opera.

Hildegard writes the words and notes,
Richardis plucks the psaltery
sings softly,
her radiance caught in a stream of light

Their eyes catch
mirror harmony of purpose.
Hildegard’s thoughts drift back
to the eight year old Richardis,
who looked to her as mother,
and the one
whose tender hands held her,
cared for her, in her sickness.
Now at twenty two a grown woman.

Showcasing the Abbey

An early spring afternoon
illumines vividness of robes and gowns.

Hospitality of the new Abbey
welcomes lively entourages,
Bishops, Priests, monks, dignitaries, clerics.
The Marchioness Von Stade,
a rare visit to her daughter at Rupertsberg,
and the largest audience
ever seen in Bingen arrive.

After the Bishop’s blessing of the Church
Hildegard and her sisters,
walk, poised and noble
in splendid procession
down the aisle in long flowing gowns of silk
singing glorious, heavenly music.

They circle the altar
dazzling brides of Christ,
singing their opera,
a morality play,
virtues triumphant, vices subdued,
the struggle of the human soul
with the wiles of the devil.

Hildegard catches
the Marchioness’ shocked gaze
focused on her confident beautiful daughter.

When the sisters harmonise in a chorus
and Richardis sings the solo
to end the opera
tears fill her eyes,
she bows her head.

After Vespers that evening
the last meal before Lenten fast
their excitement and pride is palpable.

Admonishment rains down like the Rhine
after a snow melt.

This domineering woman holds my daughter back,
Marchioness Von Stade stabs at Volmar.
Her sisters too free, says another angrily.
Her sisters too visible, says another .

Outside her window the oak resists the wildest storms.
Hildegard stands defiant,
against all criticism. 

 

 

News on Splash, Slither, Squawk from St Augustine’s School, Coffs harbour

I am full of pride and thanks to my Grandson Edison

from Saint Augustine’s Primary School Newsletter, Coffs harbour.

Here is an extract from page 7 of the latest newsletter.

Exciting News from the LAR

We have a student who has become a published author, congratulations to Edison from 1S. His artworks have been published along with his Grandmothers short story and poem in Splash, Slither, Squawk -nature writing for children from The Society of Women Writers NSW. Thankyou Edison for kindly donating a copy to our school library for all students to enjoy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring in the Australian bush at Burrawang and Bobbin Head

 

THE BURRAWANG WALKING TRACK IN SPRING

 

 

 

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 we walk on sacred ground.

There is something mindful to briefly pause as one does on a threshold  allow our mind to catch up with our footsteps.  It is a reminderto pay attention asking permission and being thankful for  our entry into a place .

Spring is for stepping out and our local Wyrrbalong National Park ( gazetted in 1991) has the best of all worlds , the wonderful Australian Bush with its Red Gums and  Scribbly Eucalyptus,  the linger of wattle and other Acacias, Hakea, Myrtles,  Banksia  and the odd siren of a red Waratah  backgrounded by the coastal bird life with the odd iconic crack of the Whip Bird and the spectacular glimpses of the blue remind us we are walking in a rare piece of land where the bush meets the sea well the lake in our walk today which curls around Tuggerah Lake 

We parked our car at a small car park off the road not far after 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 Water 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 last year  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 walk. 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.  I love it when the Grandchildren are on the walk with me we sneak along telling each other shshsh and tiptoeing along watching for little ears to pop up and then run off.  

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

BOBBIN HEAD WALK

Another walk that needs to feature here is our walk at Bobbin Heads in the Ku ring gai National Park along the shores of the Berowra Waters. A picture tells a thousand words.

 

One of the special walks here is the Aboriginal Heritage Walk. Red hands Cave is one of its special sites . it is not known how old some of this art is but either way you are bound to be in awe of this natural Aboriginal  art from the Guringai people There are impressive rock cravings  and further down the track there is a historical occupation shelter. During the colder months families would lighta fire inside warming the stones and themselves.

The people of West Head were virtually decimated by an outbreak of small pox within a year of the arrival of the First Fleet.

Pause for a moment in this beautiful bushland to reflect and pay your respect.

 

Desert Patterns, Short listed for the Society of Women Writers Book Awards 2020

 

 

 

 

A double joy . . .   my newest poetry collection Desert Patterns  is also short listed  in the Society of Women Writers Book Award for 2020.  adding to my excitement about Hildegard of Bingen being given the great honour of short listing.

Desert Patterns is a collection of poetry which  takes us into the inland  we often call  the outback.

When we think of the outback its often the centre of the country, the heart of the land that comes to mind,. Sunsets over desert plains, vibrant  red dirt, towering ghost gums and crisp starry sky nights.

In Desert Patterns you will experience: –

our extensive  Top End Journey to Kakadu, Bungle Bungle  Geikie Gorge the Gibb River Road, we meet memories of Jandamarra  thriving towns and towns closed down .

my 10 day walking trip of the Larapinta Trail  with the well know writer and playwright Jan Cornell and a group of wriers

our flight over Lake Eyre in flood

with poem in honour of Oodgeroo  Noonuccal 

and reflective poems about my experience at Myall Creek including a poem I read at the 70th Anniversary since the massacre.

Only 94 pages but packed with imagery and story of our wonderful continent.

Introduction

Australians are becoming more coastal dwellers.  We sit on this veranda, enjoy the coastal breeze. 

To venture too far into wilderness is a challenge. Even in the city, it is easy to become impatient with nature, for it follows its own laws. Trees drop leaves and branches, their roots wreck paths.

Animals eat our plants, (my ring-tail possums love my parsley), cockatoos eat solar wires, brush turkeys renovate gardens.As for the bandicoots and echidnas that lived in our garden, they have left long ago.  Even the blue-tongue lizards are rare now.

Thomas Berry, environmentalist and eco-theologian, writes,

 this generation has lost interaction with nature, we are talking to ourselves. 

More and more we need to talk to the rivers, deserts, mountains, forests and grasslands.Walk in their way, listen to what they have to say, begin a new conversation and become intimate again with the natural world. 

Such experiences  bring us closer,

to the heart of our land, 

to the spirit of country,  

to the soul of what it means to be a human being.

When we listen, this land sings to us, holds us, nurtures us. This land is the common ground that we share. 

This small blue planet is the common world of our existence.

Desert Patterns is a  collection of poetry that touches the membrane between two worlds

with the breath of wildness and our inland journeys. 

Colleen Keating

 

 

DADIRRI

Aboriginal writer and elder Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann has given us 

the  word ‘dadirri’from the language of the Aboriginal people 

of the Daly River region, Darwin, NT. 

Dadirri is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. 

It recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us.  

Miriam-Rose explains,

“When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank 

or walk through a stand of  trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, 

I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. 

A big part of dadirri is listening.”

She continues,

“This was the normal way for us to learn – not by asking questions. 

We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting.

My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. 

They have lived for thousands of years with Nature’s quietness.”

Dadirri also means awareness of where you’ve come from, why you are here, 

where are you going and where do you belong.

“Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry 

things up.  We let them follow their natural course – like the seasons.”

from ‘Edge of the Sacred’  Conference At White Gums Honeymoon Gap, West MacDonnall Ranges, 

Alice Springs. 2016..

 

  A Covid launch.  in Alice Springs . on 15th March 2020. A week before the pandemic was declared and we locked down . But already in Alice Springs there was a sensitivity  and concern about the virus spreading . It was not appropriate to continue our desire to launch with a celebration at the Olive Pink Botanical Garden Cafe.

We flew to Alice Springs unknowing that  in a week we were on one of the last planes out of Alice Springs and home in time to lock down.  For the Covid launch  I read a poem to the wallaby who was hanging around in the Cafe at Olive Pink Botanical Gardens.

On the back cover are some enticing comments.

Colleen’s poetic journey invokes the deep spirituality of our landscape. She immerses us in ‘a multitude of gorgeous images’ as we we stand in Tunnel Creek remembering Jandamarra, marvel with Monet at Kakadu’s ‘blazing-blue lilies’ and dream with cicadas: ‘is it a place the gods keep/to seduce the lost like me?’

Every step of the way, ‘Desert Patterns’ will entrance you.   Pip Griffin  

Colleen Keating in her distinctive Australian voice combines sensitivity to place with clear, powerful free verse. Her images are both striking and profound. 

Again as in her previous collections, her poetry is underpinned by a gentle spirituality from a woman’s perspective.  John Egan

Take time to enter the world of this poetic landscape.   Colleen Keating invites us to listen – with all our senses.   Margaret Hede

Following on the publication of her award-winning poetry collection Fire on Water in 2017, Colleen Keating, a Sydney poet, has continued to search for a sense of place in country – a land that is timeless and always changing.  Much country has been handed back to its traditional owners, while mining companies and pastoralists continue to maintain their position. Aboriginal art has flourished and more people are searching for a place to call home.  

Colleen has also had published by Ginninderra Press,  A Call to Listen and a highly acclaimed verse novel, Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey. She has also co-authored Landscapes of the Heart, Picaro Poets, with John Egan.

 

 

 

When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou A refelction

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

by Maya Angelou

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020, at her home in Washington, D.C.,

“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Roberts said in a statement. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Ginsburg laid in state in the Capitol on September 25. She will be the first woman and second Supreme Court Justice to have this honor. Ginsburg also laid in repose at the Supreme Court on September 23 and 24.

Thousands gathered outside the Supreme Court, waiting in line for nearly half a mile to pay their respects to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In the hours after her passing, Democrats and Republicans hailed her public service and example.

Beyond the Beltway, a poll conducted a few days before Ginsburg’s death revealed that she was more widely known than Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and 44 percent of respondents gave her a favorable rating compared to 28 percent for Roberts.

Ruth was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until her death. and during her life time fought for equality and justice especially in gender equality. 

Ginsburg was a cultural icon, her image reproduced on millions of T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags and socks? Americans typically have little knowledge about politics, and deep distrust of government institutions and leaders. As political theorists, we believe that the political philosophy of virtue ethics, stretching back to ancient Greece and embracing Chinese thinkers such as Confucius, helps explain why people admire Ginsburg’s personal attributes as much as her accomplishments.

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks” Ginsburg said these words and made them famous but she was actually  quoting the words of Sarah Moore Grimké, a 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights activist:

My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.
I said on the equality side of it, that it is essential to a woman’s equality with man that she be the decision-maker, that her choice be controlling.
Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.
 * * * * * * * * * *
And this week in Australia we have lost a great warrior of social justice and feminine equality and work against discrimination in the sudden death of Susan Ryan

Vale Susan Ryan. A trailblazing woman in our Australian  parliament and in public life.

The first female minister in a Labor government in 1983, yes remarkably so late, holding several portfolios in the Hawke government.

We owe the Sex Discrimination Act to her determination, and she later served as

the first age discrimination commissioner, and so much more.

From Penny Wong: Susan Ryan. Champion of equality, courageous feminist and steadfast trailblazer. All Labor women are part of your legacy and we are determined to advance it’.

Rainbows: A new eyeku , poem and some photos from my walk

 

Chasing a rainbow

out beyond the swales
where the sea ebbs and flows
keeping time
to the thrumming of the universe
a rainbow vibrantly
quilts the sky
each pleated pastel reflecting
down on the wave-washed sand
the archer bends his bow
and breaking waves
arrow the light

beyond the rock platform
waves crash into the edge
their wild cascade spindrifts
catching coloured molecules of light

in the rock pool
the dark swirl absorbs the colours
crabs come out to view the scene

it bows across the sky
pot of gold to pot of gold
and like a breath of air
this grand spectacle that filled my walk
disperses and is gone
leaving only a grey whisper of cloud

 

 

 

Launch of Splash, Slither, Squark  by Colleen Keating

 

A very special Zoom Launch today of  Splash, Slither, Squark 
the Society of Women Writers NSW 95th anniversary anthology of nature writing for children.

‘Curiouser and curiouser  it seems to me is the gift we need to give our children and grandchildren.

Curiosity leads to awe and wonder. 
When one has a sense of awe and wonder about nature, about a tree, a river, about flora and fauna one will care for them. 

Anything that creates this in the heart of a child has a chance of being seen as precious. This new book ‘Splash,Slither, Squark, which will go to school libraries will be a step towards this value.

 Sales of this book will help support RSPCA National Bushfire Appeal and Wombat Care Bundanoon.  Many thanks to co-editors Michele Bomford and Julie Thorndyke .

I am proud to have a poem, Platypus spotting is fun  and a short story about wonder when lost in the bush.

So proud the illustration of the platypus on the opposite page  to my poem is by my grandson Thomas with 2  further illustrations by grandchildren Edison chosen and the youngest illustrator Miss Eleanor .

 

ISBN  978-0-9808407-5-9 RRP  $20 https://womenwritersnsw.org/

Credit Card or PayPal: https://www.trybooking.com/BKXWO