The Rajah Quilt from a play by Cate Whittaker

 

         

One of the joys of being part of a writing community you get to enjoy writing events more personally as you know writers.  And so attending an afternoon play,  written by fellow writer Cate Whittaker called  Lady Franklin and the Rajah Quilt at The Riverside Theatre with my writer friend Pip Griffin was no exception.

The play titled Jane  Franklin and the Rajah Quilt was based on an early AUSTRALIAN story of the convicts being shipped to Australia 

 

THE PLAY

This moving and tragic play tells of the unjust dismissal of the highly-efficient, effective and extremely clever Governor’s wife, Jane Franklin, after working tirelessly to change Tasmania’s penal colony into a cultural centre, where girls were state educated; and convict women removed from the abuse of assignment to be taught skills.

Boarding the Rajah for home Jane faces her worst nightmare and nemesis- the reoffending convict woman, in Betsy, the Captain’s wife’s maid. The two clever women in opposite corners of life spar continually, with Jane methodically processing Betsy’s pardon, Betsy telling her, “Treat me like a person, not a problem.”

The tables are drastically turned when Jane discovers her name is notorious, being blamed for her husband’s dismissal. Unable to face life Jane is saved by Betsy, who teaches her to sew.  Sitting together stitching the Rajah Quilt they share life stories, laughter, and finally their sorrows. Its Betsy’s arms Jane cries in –- a recognition of shared paths of unjust disgrace. 

Cate Whittaker, the playwright and writer friend was born fifteen-kilometres from the Brontë home in Haworth and has been steeped in their legend and legacy. Cate  had a successful career in Secondary Education and continue her writing in an academic field. Her MA (Thesis SYD) is in Colonial History and her research focuses on female social history. 

Her play, Forgotten   performed to sell-out audiences at the Parramatta Riverside Theatre in 2019, and is on the Female  Convict Rebellion at the Parramatta Factory 1827.    The Lost Voice of Anne Brontë, dedicated to women killed by their partners, recognises Anne’s courage in writing about the abuse of wives. Premiering last January, Sydney to encouraging reviews, “a solidly engaging play” (SMH), it will be performed in Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne, before the UK in 2022 for Anne’s extended bicentenary.

The RAJAH QUILT

The story of the Rajah Quilt is fascinating because it is the only known surviving patchwork by women convicts, created on their voyage to Van Diemen’s Land in 1841.

The  180 women convicts  were transported on board the ship Rajah from England to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)  While it is a compelling document of convict life, it is also an extraordinary work of art―a product of beauty from the hands of many women who, in the most abject circumstances, were able to work together to produce an object of hope.

Most of the time it lives in controlled conditions in the National Gallery of Australia textile archive. It is displayed on occasions in exhibitions commemorating the history of Australia, and the history of Quilting.

The Rajah Quilt was only possible due to the work of Elizabeth Fry and the British Ladies Society for the Reformation of Female Prisoners.  Like so many other caring acts of awareness it was the Quakers who were alert to the suffering of the women and looked for practical ways to assist.  Elizabeth Fry was  very moved by the terrible conditions , overcrowding,and the general ‘Dickensian image of English Victorian prisons.  Being aware some of the convict girls were needlework trained they sprovided bundles of sewing kits  for the girls: and communal sewing supplies including tape, 10 yards of fabric, 4 balls of white cotton sewing thread, red, black,and blue thread, black wool, 24 yards of coloured patch work fabric 100 needles, thimbles, pins, scissors and 2 ponds of patchwork pieces.

On the trip with maybe the leadership of a woman  Kezia Hayter, who helped run the prison and decided to come as maybe (this is questioned) she was interested in the captain of the Rajah. This was lucky for the girls.  Their work turned into a  quilt, embroidered and appliqued coverlet a tangible evidence of cooperative patchwork  

Being at sea for 3-4 months this sewing could have had a calming effect on the group that worked together, transcended their conditions to work together in the service of art.  and would be something to give them a sense of hope. 

The Rajah Quilt consists of 2,815 pieces  and   made in the old English medallion style or framed quilt style.  The English paper oieced applique called ‘Broderic perse’ a type of applique  chinz 

 

         

 

 

 

A review of The Dinner Party by Colleen Keating

A review of The Dinner Party by Colleen Keating

Thank you to Beatriz Copello for her affirming review of The Dinner Party and to Magdalena Ball for her encouragement and her  work for publishing of poets  in  Compulsive Reader

Reviewed by Beatriz Copello

The Dinner Party:
A Poetic Response
by Colleen Keating
Ginninderra Press
ISBN: 9781761095306, Paperback, May 2023

Having read and reviewed Colleen Keating’s books Hildegard of Bigen: A Poetic Journey,  Olive Muriel Pink: Her Radical and Idealistic Life and The Dinner Party: A Poetic Response, I can say without any doubt that Colleen Keating is not only a brilliant lyric poet but she is also a talented researcher. These three books are about  extraordinary women who were mostly ignored in history or just plain forgotten.

The Dinner Party will engage the reader from its first page which explains where the idea from this book was born. Keating explains that “The Dinner Party” is a permanent feminist installation of the artwork of Judy Chicago. This artwork, created in 1978, resides in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Centre for Feminist Art, in the Brooklyn Museum in New York.  The poet describes this installation as a large triangular table of 15 metres long set for a banquet for 39 women in memorial recognition to forgotten women, mythical and real from the Western World history. In the introduction to the book the author quotes Judy Chicago who said: “Women have always made a significant contribution to the development of human civilisation, but have been consistently ignored, denied, or trivialised.’’

Keating has divided the sections of the book according to the wings of the triangle of the installation, this is Wing 1: women from prehistory to the Roman Empire, Wing 2: women from the beginnings of Christianity to the Reformation and Wing 3: From the American to the Women’s Revolution.

In The Dinner Party Keating brings to light what for centuries has been ignored: the power and strength of women. Keating resuscitates the experience of women in this book. Her poetry traces the lives of women who demonstrated their influence, broke barriers, gave their lives for others, were oppressed or defied patriarchy. 

Line by line the poet weaves a net that captures the reader’s imagination and admiration for both the poetry and for the women honoured in the poems, like in the following extract from the poem titled “Amazon”, for the women who went to battle in the Bronze Age from 1900 and 1200 BCE:

Amidst the battle to affirm women
throughout history
Amazon women
with fierce inner conviction
self-possessed and resolute —
who donned breastplates
even prepared to cut off a breast
to be better archers
were warrior women
stalwart as Mars in the night sky
fiery red and untouchable
always with an extra stone for the sling
an extra arrow for the quiver.

At the end of the poetry Keating provides an extensive list of notes about the poems and the women at the Dinner Party Installation. These notes are well researched and condensed in such a way that the life and work of each woman is evident.

It is difficult to tell stories in poetry while retaining the musicality of the poem. Keating has this skill and creates a rhythm that flows with the lines while simultaneously creating power images of the work’s subjects. Her voice is strong but at the same time is measured and deliberate.

The feminist message contained in “The Dinner Party” by Colleen Keating remind us that poetry has the power to shape consciousness, provoke thought, and incite change.  Young women must read this fabulous book and older women also must read it to remind us how strong, powerful and intelligent we are and how for centuries we have been eclipsed by men. 

About the reviewer: Dr Beatriz Copello is an award-winning poet, she writes poetry, fiction, reviews and plays. The author’s books are: Women Souls and Shadows, Meditations At the Edge of a Dream, Under the Gums Long Shade, Forbidden Steps Under the Wisteria, A Call to the Stars translated and published in China and Taiwan, Witches Women and Words, No Salami Fairy Bread, Rambles, Renacer en Azul and Lo Irrevocable del Halcon (In Spanish).  Copello’s poetry has been published in literary journals such as Southerly and Australian Women’s Book Review and in many feminist publications. The author has participated in international conferences, has taught Creative Writing at W.S.U. and other scholarly institutions, she has read her poetry at Writers Festivals and other poetry events in Australia and overseas. Copello is mentioned amongst the forty “most notable people” graduated from the University of Technology.  

Notre Dame Cathedral, Hildegard of Bingen and the Brandenburg Choir

 

Notre Dame  

A story of ritual,
                          of resolution
                                              and resurrection. 
by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

Live, vulnerable and raw, the story  . . . . Notre Dame  . . . with the Baroque music , the bringing in Victor Hugo with the Hunchback of Notre Dame,  the bells, the continuing restoration, the horrific tragedy of the fire in 2019 and the rising up again from the ashes was a very rewarding  musical, afternoon experience.

As the music played, the large screen through church panels told the story in slowly moving  pictures .

And the most delightful surprise of my afternoon was hearing the music of Hildgard of Bingen chosen for the climax of the performance.  Out of the silence  it was her music that was chosen to speak of hope in the moment of despair. 

It was in the stark climax of destruction as one turns in despair for the next step to move out of this dark place, to rise again  . . . and the soprano  of their choir, I think Bonnie  de la Hunty,   who walked out in white amidst  the left over smoke  and smouldering ash and with her exquisite soprano voice sang  O Virga ac Diadema  (from Hildegard of Bingen, written while she was building her own church and Abbey in the 12th century as Notre Dame was also being built. ) 

She sings Hildegard’s song here today 2nd March 2024 originally written in the 12th century .

O blossom, you did not spring from dew 
nor from the drops of rain
nor from the windy air flown over you;
but divine radiance has brought you forth 
upon that noblest bough

For a moment I was Hildegard gazing at the young sister, Richardis  whom she had trained in music from when she was young , listening to the beauty of her voice,

When the sisters harmonise in a chorus
and Richardis sings the solo to end the opera
tears fill Hildegard’s eyes, she bows her head.   (from Hildegard of Bingen C Keating)

and I remember Hildegard’s anticipation in the poem before this which works so poignantly for  the story of Notre Dame

Amid the blossoms of their second Easter
birds fly to and fro building nests
and hildegard sends out her invitations.
Music will bring light to the dark.
Stillness will become dancing.
The Bishop of Mainz
will bless our newly built church.
There is to be a concert.

All are welcome.       (from Hildegard of Bingen by C Keating)

  I especially loved the  the sense of warmth and fun and lightheartedness in the performance with the story of the young Australian restorer  ( a bit brash but i understood her being there)and Victor Hugo (well the ghost of Victor Hugo)

The Australian review  proclaimed  that a ”concert with the Australian Branadeberg Orchestra is like stepping back in time as the sound of the period instruments resurrect Baroque and Classic works with reverence and authority.

How Michael and i remember Notre Dame Cathedral from our cruise on the Seine on our Europe tour in 2015.

Notre Dame Cathedral  2015 from The Joy of paris

by Colleen Keating

1.

from our cruise on the Seine 
we gaze in awe at your aged beauty
your spires, domes, flying buttresses
reaching upwards like arms open in praise
dressed in a grandness  of ancient glory
standing for so many centuries 

2.

close up we stand on your sacred  land
where in ancient times a pagan temple to Jupiter stood
lightness of leaves a tracery on your flaxon stone
intricacies and details of story carved into you 
like tatooes  marked on your body to tell a story
mythical and demonic creatures  grotesques  
and  gargoyles touch of pagan  . . . stamp of christanity
all for the Mother, mother of earth, mother of us all 

3

we enter your cool dark sanctuary 
looking up into the heavens of your spires
feeling so small    yet safe 
as if your arms  sturdy and forever hold us
burn candles with murmur of ancestral prayers
on your breath. Flickers of rainbow light play
in hazy dust motes as your Rose windows l

ike the eyes of a goddesses catch 
the cosmic sun to channel into you
the light making  miracles in your spectrum of emotions
blues ,crimsons,golds  shine for our memories

 

4

burning
smoke gives the warning  
flames orange red purple rage
burning into our hearts

our mother is burning
our earth is breaking
her oak spires –  collapse

treasures grabbed
spared  saved
peoples lives spared

 days of heart break 
we stand in our kitchen
thousands of miles from Paris

grasping our throats
as if the smoke chokes
we grasp at the breath of ancient oaks

burning and later we stand
hands on our heart in mourning.
till we hear the leader

and people of Paris declare

we will work to save her
we call on the world send your best craft people
she will rise up in glory

in glory once again’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chinese Garden of Friendship: An Unfolding Journey

Un Unfolding Journey

After visiting the Powerhouse Museum to be part of the final exhibition before it closed for years, to be renovated, we bought a take away coffee and walked into Darling Harbour to visit The Chinese Garden of Friendship. Something I had not done for years.

We did what the brochure said “Take time to explore the mystery and magic,  allowing the Garden to gradually reveal its many secrets and hidden stories.”

We found a table near the lake in weeping willow shade to have our picnic with our coffee and watched the water dragons around our feet  and pop up on roa rock. We watched a turtle come out of the water and sit on a rock , the gold koi . 

It was lovely to picnic and wander through this small piece of tranquillity in a a busy noisy city. But here nothing is placed by accident. The whole garden  is based on the Taoist principles of Yin-Yang and the five elements of earth, fire, water, metal and wood. 

Chinese  philosophy places a lot on the flow of qi which we translate as energy  or life force and the garden is built with the idea of the flow of qi  as we walked  observing the  bridges, plants, trees,  sculptures, rocks, secret corners, pavilions meandering  stone steps have been meticulously chosen and placed to capture the qi of the five elements, Feng Shui and the universal forces that bind them together.

We experienced the gazing out   from the  mountain, from different perspectives of The Pavilions.  We experienced  the balancing opposites in the garden, rock  defying gravity  the constrasts of bonsai trees and conifers , the sound of cascading water and the stillness of the lake , the short soft mondo grass beneath the sturdy long-stemmed bamboo and the beauty of the large pink lotus lilies flowering on the lake. 

Below the Dragon Wall is the pool of reflection where many years back I had a moment of epiphany . Sitting their for quite awhile pondering the reflection of dragons and the wall  and counting coins it was a shock to suddenly see the clouds floating along in the water. It was one of those moments when you realise what you see is only a minimum of what is there. So easy to   forget we have only a small part of the whole .And it was one of those wow moments as the shallow pool became deeper and deeper

“The jewel of the Garden, The Gurr , also known as The Clear View Pavilion , sits at its highest point. Decorated with a lavish golden roof intricate wood carvings and an ornate lantern symbolising prosperity , it has a perfect view of the whole landscape.  

 

Di Yerbury Residency Award 2024 by Colleen Keating

 

Jan Conway the worthy winner with the two judges Colleen Keating  & Sharon Rundle

Congratulations to Janette Conway, worthy winner of this year’s Di Yerbury Residency Award. 

Emerita Professor Di Yerbury, Patron of the Society of Women Writers NSW, generously sponsors the Writers Residency which grants the winner 3 months stay in Barnstaple, Devon, UK to research and to continue to write a full length work-in-progress.

Maria McDougall (President of the SWW, Jan Conway the 2024 winner of the Di Yerbury Award,
Emerita Professor Di Yerbury and Colleen Keating one of the judges.

Previous winners of this award Belinda Murrell and Cindy Broadbent spoke about their time at the residency, the benefits that they enjoyed from their stay there, what it meant to them, as well as giving a brief insight into the work-in-progress that they are writing. Each showed a video to illustrate their talk. 

Pamela Rushby was guest speaker and spoke about her book about mudlarking on the Thames in London and showed us some of the artefacts she had retrieved from the banks of the river.

I highly recommend entering the Di Yerbury annual Residency Award, but you do need to be a member of the SWW. More at:

https://womenwritersnsw.org/di-yerbury-residency/

Congratulations to all our residency winners past and present.

 

 

DI YERBURY RESIDENCY 2024

Congratulations to Janette Conway on being awarded the 2024 Di Yerbury residency. Jan is seen here with Patron, Emerita Professor, Di Yerbury and judges Colleen Keating and Sharon Rundle

REVIEW of The Dinner Party: A poetic response by Denise O’Hagan

The Dinner Party:  A poetic response by Colleen Keating (Ginninderra Press 2023)  reviewed by Denise O’Hagan

. . . we revive your memory

and honour you  . . .

You chose to be empowered

before women were visible.   (p.46)

These lines, addressed to Marcella of Rome, epitomise the spirit behind Keating’s latest collection, The Dinner party. A poetic response, released by Adelaide-based publisher, Ginninderra Press. During the course of its 144 pages –  substantial by poetry book standards – Keating fleshes out some of history’s most gifted and courageous women, rescuing them from the obscurity and oppression to which ‘patriarchy’s wilful effort’ has traditionally consigned them, and restoring them to centre stage.

The book is a poetic response to the iconic art  installation by American feminist artist, Judy Chicago (created 1974-1979), of a large triangular dinner table set for, and dramatically commemorating, thirty-nine influential women drawn from history and mythology.

The poet’s attentiveness to the installation is clear: she structures her book into three ‘wings’, representing three eras from the ancient world through to the beginnings of the women’s revolution, each of which is devoted to thirteen women from areas as diverse as the arts and activism to medicine and music.

The women are vividly evoked in all their multilayered complexity. We meet the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, known for her jealous nature as much as for her embodiment of love and fertility, whose

‘honeyed mouth
turns venomous at a whim’,

revolutionary artist Artemisia Gentileschi, 
‘a Baroque prescience of women’s advocacy’

who was lost  to history for 400 years’ and women rights activist Mary Wollstonecraft, whose voice

‘was a luminous candle
in a darkness of patriarchy.’

These imaginative recreations are complemented by notes on the background of each woman, and a detailed bibliography.

This is a powerful yet sensitive breathing of lyrical life into significant historical women, and an eloquent contribution to feminist literature. As its author points out

’The challenge is ongoing. There are still many injustices enacted against women. Domestic violence is at an all time high.’

The table is set, the dinner party poised to happen – and the book places us on the cusp of what promises to be a spirited dinner party!

I would urge you, the reader, to take up Keating’s invitation to immerse yourself in this remarkable collection and in so doing, honour the women ‘on whose shoulders we stand’.

To purchase The Dinner Party

https://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/store.php?product/page/2891/Colleen+Keating+%2F+The+Dinner+Party%3A+A+poetic+response

or please order from your favourite online seller: print or ebook.

About Denise O’Hagan  Editor and writer

Born and raised in Italy, Denise lived in the UK before emigrating to Sydney, Australia.

After completing a Masters in Bibliography and Textual Criticism at Leeds University, she worked as an editor with various publishing houses including Collins, Heinemann and Routledge in London, and Horwitz Educational and Cambridge University Press in Sydney, where she was also consulting editor with the State Library of NSW.

She set up her own imprint Black Quill Press in 2015 to publish her late mother’s books: Jerome & His Women (2015), shortlisted for the Institute of Professional Editors’ Rosanne Fitzgibbon Editorial Award (the ‘Rosie’), and a second revised edition of A Roman Death (2017), originally published by Macmillan. Her poetry is published widely in Australia and internationally. Recipient of the Dalkey Poetry Prize, she has also been shortlisted in various awards including the Australian Catholic University Poetry Prize, the Robert Graves Poetry Prize (UK), the Plough Writing Prize (UK) and the Proverse International Poetry Prize (Hong Kong). She was Poetry Editor for Australia/New Zealand for Irish literary journal The Blue Nib until 2020. Her poetry collections include The Beating Heart (Ginninderra Press 2020), shortlisted for the Society of Women Writers NSW Book Awards 2022, and Anamnesis (Recent Work Press 2022), finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Award (Poetry) 2023 and shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Award (Poetry) 2023.

THE EBOOK AND MAYBE SOME BOOK SALES MAY HAVE THE BOOK WITH THIS COVER.

It was the prevailing attitude in the 1960s that women had no history. There were no women’s studies, nothing.’ Judy Chicago, creator of the iconic art installation The Dinner Party.

The Dinner Party by the talented poet Colleen Keating brings to light, through beautiful lyrical poetry, what for centuries has been ignored: the power and strength of women. Very little has been made known about the lives of influential women of the past, as women’s lived experience has been suppressed, even erased from history. In this collection, the poet resuscitates the experience of women from prehistory to women’s twentieth-century revolution. Her poetry traces the lives of women who demonstrated their influence, in every field including philosophy, medicine, writing, art, astronomy, suffragists and justice warriors who fought for recognition. Women who gave their lives, suffered, broke barriers, knocked down walls, smashed glass ceilings, pried open doors, who defied patriarchy in some way for all of us. Still today as women are written into history, the struggle for our reckoning towards equality and respect continues. A must-read book that honours women; women who would not be silent.’ – Dr Beatriz Copello
‘With impeccable research and deep empathy, Colleen Keating continues her powerful poetic contribution to feminist literature with the celebration of thirty-nine of the more than a thousand women forgotten, marginalised or written out of Western history. A remarkable and beautifully imagined work.’ – Pip Griffin
978 1 76109 530 6, 144pp

 

 

 

Barrington Range: Road Trip No.1 for 2024

 

Road Trip No 1 for 2024

Our trip encompasses the Worimami and Biripi/Birpai people and country of the Eastern side of the Barrington Range and into the Wonaruah and Gaewegal people of the Western Country. For tens of thousands of years  they cared for country as a living holistic cultural landscape .  Spiritual beliefs and traditional practice encompassing the elements of Land, Law  and Language  to mother earth  and father sky and the ancestral beings.

Coming home after Christmas /New Year  break we decided to catch up with a friend in Scone for lunch. This can mean we have three options

 1. Going north over the Gwydir Highway into Glen Innes and down the New England Highway to Scone, which is a journey we enjoy as we both lived and worked in Glen Ines and Armidale in our courting days and we love to revisit and remember special places and special times. We have a favourite motel called Abbey Motel near everything especially dinner outlets for staying over night.

  2. Crossing via the Waterfall Way which is a journey we enjoy with a stop at a vortex place for its – Ebor Falls .  This is tricky in finding a place to stay and timing is out a bit for lunch , well lunch is not possible– the best we can do is 2pm and that was pushing it making it about the destination rather than the journey too rushed.

3. However for a first adventurous road trip of 2024 we decided to make the journey from Gloucester  over the  Barrington Tops through the Barrington National Park and down the western side through farm land into Gundy and Moonan Flat and into Scone . For this we needed to stay in Scone( nothing reasonable available so took the extra kilometres to Aberdeen  for the evening and perfect timing for early  leisurely lunch with our friend in Scone and wild chatter that picks up where we we left on last visit.  and time to get back to Sydney. 

Road Trip 

We set off from Coffs Harbour at 8am in the cool of the morning, travelled south for about three hours and tuned off the Pacific Freeway to Gloucester. 

A wonderful second-hand book shop along the way  on the outskirts of Gloucester  near the turn off for the mountain. This was a rest period and stop and we bought a few poetry books and a pictorial book for Michael on the Lakes area.  

Then we left civilisation and it was dirt, dirt and more dirt. The clouds were textures white light and promising of good weather. We would not like to be doing this in boggy conditions.  We love the the bubbling brooks we pass as we got higher into the hills. 

Higher we came to the Eucalypt Forest. We had a break at Thunderbolt Lookout  and very fascinating stop at  The Firs. The main sounds were like reevng of bikes which actually is the prolific cacophony of Lyre Birds  calling . One came out and danced for is in the stream of light striking a clearing and as we left another  lyre bird ran across the road . We stopped to watch it but it had quickly blended in with the vegetation.

Another stop at Cobark Lookout . and across the famous Dingo Fence and we wound down the steep western mountain side with glorious vistas of farm land and more mountains and crossed  many bridges over the Hunter, Isis, Stewart Brook . and through Gundy, not surprised at the number of groups camped  along the river.   Stopped at Moonan Flats which has been done up but was closed to our surprise. and to  finally into Aberdeen  to the motel. This meant a relaxed morning and to have lunch with our friend .

 

Under the magnolia tree: Women Writers Network Christmas Party. by Colleen Keating

Under the Magnolia Tree 2023

It was very special to catch up with the WWN (Women Writers Network ) for our annual Christmas Party  under the Magnolia Tree. So much friendship, scumpious  food, (including  the festive  rocky road and coconut ice and home made Christmas cake)  champayne toast to our writing and to 2024,  poetry reading and sharing of achievements,   fun and lots and lots of laughter.  I read a poem  about peace as I thought that was appropriate at this time with the Gaza War on and Christmas with us, . It was lovely to meet the new women who have joined the group writing novels, poetry, memoir, short stories, play  and all commented how supported they felt the group was towards their writing and a help to their commitment . I remembered when I joined about 20 years ago how important the writing group was and still is to this day as:

  1. an incentive to produce the next piece of writing
  2.  a safe place to read it aloud and hear what others thought of it
  3. valuable for the good suggestions and chat about writing itself
  4. the friendship of other like-minded women on a similar quest to write and write their best.
  5. life-giving  as i love the dead line of each week and it becomes a highlight and focus of the week

Can you see us writers huddled under the magnolia tree?

The magnolia reached its arms out around us listening to our stories and laughter.
Just a  few blossoms were open exuding its marvellous perfume. The Flame tree lit up the garden
and jacarandas still held in  after all the wind for the occasion . Their blossoms sshowered along the path
as if a purple carpet for all writers who come this way

     

 

 

Taking Sides

Today I am taking sides.
I am taking the side of Peace.
Peace, which I will not abandon
even when its voice is drowned out
by hurt and hatred,
bitterness of loss,
cries of right and wrong.

I am taking the side of Peace
whose name has barely been spoken
in this winnerless war.
I will hold Peace in my arms,
and share my body’s breath,
lest Peace be added
to the body count.                                                                        

I will call for de-escalation
even when I want nothing more
than to get even.
I will do it
in the service of Peace.
I will make a clearing
in the overgrown

thicket of cause and effect
so Peace can breathe
for a minute
and reach for the sky.
I will do what I must
to save the life of Peace.
I will breathe through tears.

I will swallow pride.
I will bite my tongue.
I will offer love
without testing for deservingness.

So don’t ask me to wave a flag today
unless it is the flag of Peace.
Don’t ask me to sing an anthem

unless it is a song of Peace.
Don’t ask me to take sides
unless it is the side of Peace.

by Irwin Keller

 

Launch of No Salami Fairy Bread by Beatriz Copello in Rockford Street Review by CK

HOLD ON TO RESILIENCE: COLLEEN KEATING LAUNCHES ‘NO SALAMI FAIRY BREAD’ BY BEATRIZ COPELLO

as published in the Rochford Street Review thanks  to editors: Mark Roberts and Linda dair Octobrr 28th 2023

 

The Launch of  No Salami Fairy Bread by Beatriz Copello :  launched on the 6th October 2023 by Colleen Keating at Gleebooks, Sydney.

Thank you Angela . I too,  gratefully acknowledge and pay respects to our First Peoples. We are reminded of the deep history of the lands, on which we meet and I too support a yes to the  constitutional voice from the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

 Friends, It’s a privilege to be asked by Beatriz to launch her new collection of poetry, No Salami Fairy Bread and I hope you all get a chance to buy a copy and enjoy reading this 

poetic journey.  The cover is very smart and the feel of the book is gorgeous. You must be proud Beatriz and we are delighted for you  and we are here as your supporters. 

I would like too to acknowledge Ginninderra Press for their dedication to poetry and for publishing this powerful story.

Dr. Beatriz Copello is a published Australian writer,  poet,  playwright and psychologist with a rich and colourful Argentinian heritage.  Her fiction and poetry have been published nationally and internationally, in literary journals such as Southerly and Australian Women’s Book Review, and in anthologies and feminist publications.

There are many of you here who know Beatriz in different ways, family, friends, colleagues, and from her writing life. I know Beatriz in that capacity  a fellow poet. . . she is an awesome reviewer of books and  I have found her to be fair, affirming and astute especially as our touchstone  and  affirming bond has been in feminist writing

And this evening how special to gather to acclaim Beatriz ’s latest poetry collection No Salami Fairy Bread. This is not an ordinary collection of poetry . It is the story of a life in poetry,  a funny and poignant story written in poetic form. It follows the poets migratory life as a young woman, without English, who had to carry the early resistance of family shown in an  early poem Dolls:

‘Mum, I want to take to Australian 

my doll Pepita and the one that walks

also, the one that wees  . . . 

and you know

I cannot sleep with out my teddy’

‘Only one dolly you can take.

You must choose with care’

‘I hate Australia. I don’t want to go.

I want to keep all my dolls.

Why can’t we stay here.?’

She was mother, daughter, sister, wife and lover becoming a modern woman through adversity,  life’s struggles  hopes and  at times despair. It is about a dream of living a free life in a new country.  

As Beatriz will admit she was no saint facing the challenges of Sydney in the 70’s even with the challenge of fidelity as she struggled to be an independent modern woman embracing a new culture within the beautiful city of Sydney  It is a page turner  as we follow how the poet made her dream a reality.  The story of  braving the journey to a new world bringing her family with all the ups and downs that entails. 

And finally on a bigger scale it is about diversity and inclusivity. i will read  a little from the poem Defiance:  

Don’t tell your in-laws

that you work as a waitress

dressed up as an Indian. They’ll

think we have all gone mad

 . . .and your husband 

he’s so angry and annoyed. 

Give up that silly job!’

Recriminated my mother.   . . .

‘Your husband will leave you,

your children will hate you.

You’ll be left in your own.’

‘I know what i want.

I know where I’m going.

don’t worry about me. . . 

Some of the poems are very cutting and painful and I love the immediacy of poetry and how it makes you feel as you read. 

In one  poem she writes: 

 I lie in bed as if shrouded 

by the clean white sheets. 

i am dead to my past, 

alive in the present 

 breathing in new sensations, 

excitement, surprises 

the joy of the new. … and with fright I shiver 

What have I done?  

i have dragged my whole family

into a world so foreign 

so different, so unusual. . .

One of the great gifts of poetry is its ability to explore  and hold the paradox between anticipation, fear, betrayal, hope, joy, acceptance . 

I love the the new awareness in poems like It’s Time. 

The tea lady is wearing

 a badge on her coat.

it says IT”S TIME.

and later, 

we sit on the patio

of the pub next door

and we drink beer and smoke.

She tells me of Whitlam 

his vision and dreams   . . ‘

You should know about Al grassy

he is all for the ‘wogs .

 I will read  one last poem I Learnt :

 . . .And I went to that session

and more, many more.

I learnt about exploitation

about men’s intentions,

their power, their control

and the way in which women were oppressed . 

I marched in the streets 

carrying banners  tat said,

Not the church

not the state

let the women

choose their fate. The girls enjoyed the chanting

when I took them on our marches. I shocked my husband

mu mother, my family

with all my new beliefs.

As time passed, I realised 

that my life was only mine.

I packed a case for the girls and I 

and we left for a new life,

somewhere in Ryde, 

near Macquarie , my uni

where i had been accepted 

to study for a BA

majoring in Psychology 

We are privileged to be part of this unfolding  journey, the future becoming of a young naive woman  who looked into an unknown future, and stepped out, held on to a resilience to keep moving forward  like the the story of the cocoon to a beautiful butterfly with silver wings that become stronger and stronger .  

We know the end of this story as we have the resilient and lovingly beautiful Dr. Beatriz  Copello  here with us today .(Call Beatriz forward) 

However You will have to buy and read No Salami  Fairy Bread  to find out how this brave woman made it to be standing here next to me today. 

 Let’s  now celebrate the hard and lonely journey of writing.  Beatriz is a beacon of hope for us all on our journeys and for many of us as writers    a reminder that we are all travellers on this remarkable journey of life  seeking our own ‘fairy bread’ our own place of acceptance and our own home , Please join with me in congratulating Dr. Beatriz Copello as we together launch and welcome her new poetry book No Salami Fairy Bread.

Colleen Keating

 

Colleen Keating is a Sydney-based poet. Her writing explores the paradox and wonder of nature with harsh realities of life, justice , equality and the increasing threat to our natural environment. Colleen has published six collections of poetry, including two award-winning verse novels, Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey and Olive Muriel Pink: her radical & idealistic life. Her newly published book (2023) is The Dinner Party: A poetic reflection with Ginninderra Press. Colleen writes on Ku-Ring-Gai land in Sydney and Darkinjung on the Central Coast of NSW.

No Salami Fairy Bread by Beatriz Copello is available from Ginninderra Press

 

 

Gosford Regional Gallery and Endogawa Japanese Gardens, East Gosford.

I am excited to tell you that a new website was officially unveiled at the Gosford Art Prize opening last Friday night and can be viewed via this link: http://gosfordregionalgallery.com/

My books are for sale in the Gift and Book shop at the Gallery and they feature on the website

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A woman in a blue blouse standing at the beach

Colleen Keating is a Sydney poet. Her writing explores the wonder and paradox of nature with the harsh realities of life,  justice, equality and the increasing threat to our natural environment.  Colleen’s answer to the world is poetry. 

Colleen is a member of White Pebbles Haiku Group which meets in Gosford at the beautiful and peaceful Edogawa Commemorative Garden at the beginning of each season to share in their collective joy of haiku. The group enjoys gathering at the Gallery café and is often inspired by the exhibitions held at the Gosford Regional Gallery.

Colleen has published six collections of poetry, including two award-winning verse novels, Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey and Olive Muriel Pink: her radical & idealistic life. Her newly published book is The Dinner Party: A poetic reflection. (2023) 

Colleen is co-editor of the past two anthologies of the Women Writers Network.  She enjoys several other poetry groups to share and edit her work.

Colleen writes on Ku-ring-gai land in Sydney and Darkinjung on the Central Coast of NSW.

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