Summer walk: The Poetry of Tuggerah Lake

The Poetry of Tuggerah Lake

 

 

Our walk begins on the beach,
low tide and the sea gulls
strutting on the edge,
a flotilla of pelicans glide
with the incoming tide.
A cormorant dives over and over
no chance of predicting where he’d surface.

Coffee from the barrister
at The Lake House is worth the anticipation
(no milk at the apartment so we were hanging out.) 

Two fisherman gut their catch at the sink- bench
and pelicans line up for their share of the feed.

Corellas paired up and sing  preening each other
some on the grass, some in the trees
near an awkward looking ibis pretending
to look elegant on a branch
where cormorants play notes
on musical staves

and on the lake
black swans silky as ballerinas
flaunt with their reflections
on the shiny mirrored lake.

Lap wings were out
squawking to claim their territory.
The council has fenced off
the sand dune to protect
nests of the Little Terns
who migrate from China for the summer
and we watch their acrobatics
around the dunes and seaweed.

 

The sandstone rocks glint
with their striations and swivels and colour
showing us more than any history
or geology text book could

Our signature spoonbill
we expect to see, is again there
as we cross the bridge near the lake,
with his caravan of ducks and hangers-on
waiting for him to disturb the mudflat.

The morning lake catches
the clouds, the sky and ever changing light
and on our way back as the tide turns
the sea spray against the rocks
sings alleluia to another day. 

Elephants by Tyler Jack Little

Elephants

for Ellie

 

Elephants     by Tyler

 

Elephants are humongous.

They are light, silvery-grey.

They use their trunks

to eat and drink .

In water they like to play.

Their tusks are very strong

And they use them to crunch boulders

 

My elephant is very gentle

when he snuggles on my shoulders

My elephant is soft and small

 I always sleep with him at night

He keeps me warm  and protected

And always makes me feel right

Tyler Jack Little  (8 year old)

Eureka Street Publication

It is very exciting to have my poem Code Red published in Eureka Street. Our words are our sabre . We need to listen to our earth.

Fire poems

Selected poems

Apocalypse

It’s as though it’s suddenly turned winter,

the way the earth is covered over and the grey stretch of ash

is drawn up to its chin like a blanket.

And though it’s day, the bird-less quiet is a kind of night,

and everything we ever thought we knew has been turned upside down,

the first now last, and the last first.

— Bill Rush

 

landscape

This blackness

of landscape

as if a fire had

passed through

with no echo of water

in the dumb silence

there is though the fear

a sun, a ball of glow

just above a horizon

waiting for a breath

waiting for a change of wind

waiting for a cool voice

just to say something

— Rory Harris

 

Code red

when the sun like a cyclops rages fiery red

divots the sky in a coven of camouflage

It has no voice to plead ‘enough’

it warns us to listen …

 

in the myth Odysseus gathers forces

to ram the glaring monster

but be warned

this sun is not the enemy

it is air thick with ash that chokes ‘help’

amidst ember attacks and dust storms

 

when fish like shimmering naiads surface slimy green

float dead in display of disaster

they have no voice to gulp ‘stop’

they rely on us to think …

 

in the myth Naiads shine silver

in springs and streams and brooks

be warned

dead fish are not the enemy

it is our river’s way of weeping ‘save me’

over-used and desecrated

 

when the earth our mother is parched

her body dried and cracked

she has no voice to lament ‘code red ‘

it depends on us to act …

 

in the myth our mother-earth

cries for care for respect

but be warned

cracked earth is not the enemy

it is a strangled cry ‘no more to give’

exhausted and depleted

 

when the sea like clotted blood chokes with plastics

angry Thor thunders floods the land

it has no voice to say ‘greed does not pay’

it counts on us for action …

 

yet still in our great city people walk about

heads down in an eerie silence

eyes weep from the smoke

behind fake masks that filter reality

 

they walk unbeknown like frogs

and like frogs in the myththey are being slowly boiled alive.

— Colleen Keating

 

 

 

Topic tags: poetry, Bill Rush, Rory Harris, Colleen Keating

 

Hildegard of Bingen in the Christmas edition of Good Oil Journal

‘Search out the house of your heart. Hope lies within,’ writes Colleen Keating. 

It is 1178, the year before Hildegard of Bingen dies. The Bishop has silenced the music in their Abbey as punishment and some of the Sisters are feeling discouraged; however, Hildegard still crossed the Rhine to visit her second convent every week and encouraged her Sisters in their work and prayer.By Colleen Keating

Struggle in Exile

Advent
casts deep sorrow.
It is cold, dark, silent.
Hildegard hears mumblings.
She reassures her Sisters
with her presence at Rupertsberg,
her visits to Eibingen.The darkest nights of the year
anticipate the fledgling Christ Light.
In the Chapel candlelight
resolve flickers in her eyes.
Listen, listen, listen.

My Sisters this is our time to listen.
As we pray the words,
listen to their song in your hearts,
she continues,
The Bishop cannot forbid us to listen.                
Silencing the outer sound
does not silence us.
Search out the house of your heart.
Hope lies within.

She points to the fallowed gardens
blanketed by white-sleeted hay.
Contemplate its promise.
As silence in absence of bird-song
reminds us, music will return.

While the interdict diminishes them,
meal time together brings nourishment:
hot spelt bread, garden broths, teas
and from their harvest of stored foods,
bottled quince, the warmth of
herbs and hot berry wines.
They listen to the Nativity story.
Conversation swirls over the tables.

When the postulants, last season,
singing joyfully, picked purple sloes
and red hawthorn berries in the woods,
to brew and bottle,
little did they know the comfort,
their warm wines would be,
how perfect for this dark time.

Colleen Keating

Colleen Keating is a Sydney-based poet and writer. Through her work she “explores the paradox and wonder of nature, the harsh realities of life, of inequality, injustice and increasing threat to our natural environment”. In November 2017 Colleen published her second book of poetry, “Fire on Water” (Ginninderra Press), which recently won a silver Nautilus Book Award. Colleen’s website is colleenkeatingpoet.com.au

If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

White Pebbles Haiku Group – Summer

 

 

Our seasonal walk for Summer was held on the 14th December.  It is our fourth seasonal walk for the year. We call these walks a ginko from the Japanese idea of a reflective seasonal walk and writing of haiku.

On Saturday the 14th of December the White Pebbles Haiku Group met at the Gosford/Edogawa Commemorative Gardens for a summer ginko and lunch.

Seven White Pebbles’ members attended. Beverley George convened the meeting and welcomed Maire Glacken, Colleen Keating, Verna Rieschild, Gwen Bitti, Samantha Sirimanne Hyde and Kent Robinson.

 

We met in the café at the Gosford Regional Gallery for refreshment, then proceeded into the garden for our ginko. As per usual, the garden was manicured immaculately. We wandered, quietly jotting images and composing haiku. Through gardenia scent, we became aware of the sound of a cascading waterfall, the melody of which was accompanied by cicada song. Ducks and koi carp that animated the garden’s pond, birthed inspiration for several haiku. The laughter of children pervaded the scene.

After our ginko, we retired to the small lunchroom, which had been reserved for us, thanks to the kindness of The Gosford Regional Gallery, for a post ginko meeting at our customary round table.

A week before, Beverley had supplied us with a work sheet. Each of us shared haiku inspired by this work sheet and found that it was a fine catalyst with which to start our meeting. We then moved on to focus on the results of our ginko. There was a wealth of imagery and inspiring haiku offered. As we sat together in our snug, we worked on images and haiku that needed a little polish. All in all, our rewarding time together was one of camaraderie and learning.

We returned to the café for lunch. A fine time was had by all and with the festive season upon us, we ate, drank and were merry! The consensus was that everyone had immensely enjoyed our summer ginko and all looked forward to meeting again in autumn.

Report by Kent Robinson

Women Writers Network WWN Rozelle

 

Women Writers Network, Rozelle.  

I feel very privileged to be part of  the Women Writers Network.  We are a group  of about 30 women writers who share their writing and assist by editing and affirming each others work.

At each meeting you will find about 8 -14 women ready to share which makes a great quorum for fruitful production.   For many it is a way of keeping their work on track. For some already on track it is excellent feed-back . The  reading aloud of your own work  to an audience is an effective self-critiquing exercise.

We meet at The Writers Centre Rozelle, weekly at 1pm, an open group, we welcome new writers and experienced writers – novelist, poets, playwright and story tellers.  (Writing NSW is the new title of the venue)

We have four Anthologies published –  Centrelines, edited by Siobhan Colman, Hot off the Press  edited by Siobhan Colman and  Nathalie Apouchtine, Our Women’s Work edited by Colleen Keating and Decima Wraxall and Silda Trainor and Bare  Poetry and Prose, edited by Colleen Keating and Decima Wraxall.  We look forward to a new anthology in the next year.

Our venue in a parkland setting changes each season .

This is from our window the past weeks.

 

 

Bowerbird tanka Workshop at Pearl beach Arboretum

Report on Bowerbird Tanka Workshop No. 21 –

by

Colleen Keating

 

Congratulations. The Bowerbird Tanka group, which convenes at Pearl Beach, has come of age. This is the 21st Tanka workshop. Thank you to Beverley for her constancy and dedication. I am a fairly newcomer but am amazed at her focus in the midst of so many other activities. 

The tanka date on our calendar is very special. And thanks to the delegates some of whom traveled from as from Tamworth, Canberra, Newcastle and Bathurst to share in the love of tanka.

Of course the drive to Pearl Beach is a journey in itself. One can notice the burdens being left behind as you drive down into its calm repose, cradled between forest and sea. When I arrived, there was already a buzz of friends meeting at Crommelin Cottage in the sanctuary of the Pearl Beach Arboretum. The tankaists so gathered were Beverley George, Michael Thorley, Carole Harrison, Beatrice Yell, Catherine Smith, Julie Thorndyke, Kent Robinson, Anne Benjamin, Dy Andreasen and Colleen Keating. Unable to attend – Marilyn Humbert, Hazel Hall, Kathy Kituai, Gail Hennessy, Samantha Hyde, Carmel Summers, Margaret Grace and Yvonne Hales .

Despite the pall of smoke that covered most of NSW,  the Arboretum continued to have its own ambience with a brush turkey that scratched through the leaf litter for its insects and bugs, mostly nearby the cottage as if it was eavesdropping on us. 

The first session on the programme – Share a favourite tanka written by someone you have never met but which had an influence on how you came to tanka. The presenters were Julie Thorndyke on a most appropriate tanka for the fire haze and acrid air we have been breathing, written by Debbie Strange, Canada.

Carole Harrison appraised a tanka by Sandi Pray [USA]

Kent Robinson appraised a tanka by Claire Everett. [UK]

Taking the time to focus on a tanka and listen to  the insights of one who has pondered on it for some time is a valuable and enriching exercise.

These sharings are available on the Eucalypt website under Bowerbird.

In the second session everyone then had the opportunity to share ‘a tanka which lingers.’ 

For this, each of us stands and shares a tanka without comment. The silence between each, is like the silence between breaths.  A moment of time to let the tanka resonate and become part of you. For me the power is like the collected wisdom of a group doubled, as we read and reflect on what another has reflected on and written.

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The next hour we were really spoilt with the presence of Tomoko Oka, a Japanese Calligraphy Artist.  Tomoko-san gave us a very gentle introduction to Calligraphy which was a practical exercise in brushing several kanji. It was an honour for all of us to be in her presence.  We all entered into the spirit of the exercise, which was centering and some of us found ourselves in a meditative state. This is one of the many arts that is done as only the Japanese know how.

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To finish off our morning, a local artist and musician Philip Rich played his guitar and sang a song he wrote and composed himself.  It was inspired by an acknowledgement to country he once heard. The refrain was ‘If you’re a friend of mother earth you tread softly on this land’. During our lunch it was time to share with each other and be serenaded by Phillip singing for us some of the work of Nobel winning poet, Bob Dylan and our own Casey Chambers.

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A highlight for all of us was the afternoon workshop given by Michael Thorley. 

The title of his workshop was  shasei – Where Tankaists Fear to Tread? Let’s Go There’.  

And go there we did, lead by Michael’s skilful presentation. For some of us, ‘shasei’ was a 

new term, a new concept and a very interesting style of writing Tanka.  It originated withwhose home some of us have had the honour of visiting in Matsuyama City on Shikoku Island, Japan.

It is a style of writing tanka where you emphasis ‘a sketch from life’ – writing of what one observes however mundane, so that the reader also experiences the scene and understands what has moved them. We had the sanctuary of the Arboretum to walk around and find our moment to try out writing our idea of shasei. We gathered again and shared our thoughts and words. 

The day ended with several reports from other tanka groups and our plan to regather in the Autumn of 2020.

Colleen Keating

A launch of a new book is a celebration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

k .

Bush Walk: Crackneck Lookout south to the Trig Station

 

A Spring Coastal Heathland walk 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Letter to Oodgeroo Noonuccal from Katie Noonan

 

 

Dear Oodgeroo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Katie Noonan