Friday, July 31, 2020

Wild Fridays #30: Moonlight Musings

Poems and Stories of Domestic Violence


These anonymous poems came from a site called Hidden Hurt: Domestic Abuse Information. They were sent in by women who have experienced such violence.

I chose to address that issue today because it's been highly visible on Instagram this week – women posting black-and-white selfies, accompanied by the words, 'Challenge accepted!'  

Here is our Sanaa's Instagram photo for this purpose:

 As well as 'Challenge accepted!' she says:

Standing in solidarity with Turkish women! For more information please Google "Femicide on the rise in Turkey."

So I did, and here is the link.

In brief, the report says the numbers of Turkish women killed by men who supposedly love them has risen – and the protests sparked by the most recent case have met with police violence.

The challenge apparently began with photos of some of the women killed and the slogan, 'Say no to violence against women,' and women were posting pictures of their own faces in solidarity with the Turkish women's protest, as Sanaa has done. Like a 'Chinese whisper' the message became diluted into one about women empowering women, a worthy aim but not quite the same. Sanaa and others have been pointing out the original intent.

It's one of the many issues of our time which urgently needs addressing. The poems I found are not by Turkish women, but sadly it is of course happening everywhere, and in much the same way.

As I said, the site these poems came from is primarily an information site for those who need it, but it seems to me it also does a service in providing a platform for women to express their feelings and detail their experiences. There are also many very affecting personal stories. And there is a notice that 'Domestic Violence – Prose' will be coming in the near future. Presumably that means fictional stories. A section on Healing from Abuse will also be coming.

I picked poems I thought shining examples in poetic as well as emotional terms. Some others could be dismissed as doggerel – but I wouldn't call them that. Their genuine eloquence makes up for any clumsiness of technique due to inexperience in writing poetry. I think it doesn't matter anyway in this instance. If these women want to continue making poems, they'll improve (poetically) in the doing, as we all do.

Even more important is that these writers have found this way to release their own hurt. (Something we in this community know very well, as we turn to our wordcraft to help us through whatever trials and traumas may come.) Not only that, they are providing a voice for others, and a way to show the other visitors to the site that they are not alone.

I've sometimes raised the question here as to what use is our writing, in terms of what does it do for the world at large. I don't recall that I've ever discussed what it does for us. Perhaps this never occurred to me as necessary; I'm sure I took it for granted that we all knew already. I am not the only one here who frequently notes publicly how lucky we are in times of trouble to have our writing to sustain us. But after all it's worth pausing a moment to reflect on this.

It has been found that people who are institutionalised (prisoners, long-term hospital patients ... ) seem to turn naturally to poetry as an outlet. I'm quoting this fact from memory and don't have statistics, but once upon a time I used to conduct poetry workshops in prisons, so I have reason to believe it. Many such poems have been published in books, and are often excellent as well as moving.

The personal stories already posted at Hidden Hurt are even more heart-rending, and in general very well written. Perhaps they were edited by site staff; I don't know. Very likely it is that, without the writers trying to conform to verse patterns, their authenticity is clearer – and authenticity is a good basis for any writing. You can read these stories for yourselves at the link, and probably everyone should – if you can bear to; they really are horrifying, albeit told without drama. (No need to sensationalise facts like these.)

In my offline life I mentor a group of women writers who have been through various kinds of major trauma, including this kind. The group is a subset of Village of Women, under the auspices of one of the local Neighbourhood Centres. Some of their stories and poems have been published. Several are on the VOW website (which exists to show other women in the community the possibilities available through that Neighbourhood Centre) under the heading Her Story, where you can read them. Please note, these are stories not only of trauma but of triumph. The women began by recounting the terrible things they had been through, which was therapeutic, and then moved to using their writing to document their new life narratives. Here is one brief tale – and yes the name is a pseudonym. These women could still be in serious danger if they were able to be found by former partners.

Claire’s Story

After 50 years of marital abuse, I was meeting a friend for lunch when I had a meltdown. Ordered by this strong-willed friend, I landed in hospital.

Lying there the first night, I knew that I couldn’t back down this time and slink back to the house (it had never been a home), to numbing abuse and – as I’d thought a few days before – "just sit in this house for the next 20 years until it’s time to die".

A moment of clarity came during the night. "I’m never going back to that house!" Not a panic attack, just a great sigh and my body softening in relief.

An amazing chain of events led me to Pottsville…everything moulding and fitting together like a beautiful jigsaw.

I came to the Neighbourhood Centre to put in a Centrelink form…too exhausting to drive to Tweed*…then picked up a leaflet about VoW. "See Cath," it said.

Cath walked in the door, we sat and chatted a little, and she invited me to join the Writers’ Group which was starting in five minutes. Another few pieces fitted together.

I learnt not just about the support and acceptance in this group, but about the other activities this remarkable bunch of women do. I am being gently encouraged to participate too. There’s a feeling of belonging.

I was looking at a blouse label and I thought it said WOSH…yes, I thought, I can now live maybe 30 plus years in WOSH…"With Out Shit Happening". Thank God for the Village of Women.

– Claire de Lune

*The nearest actual city, with a Centrelink office rather than branch.  (Centrelink is where one registers for unemployment benefits.)

 (Claire also writes the most beautiful nature poetry and takes wonderful photos of the natural world.)

Material shared here is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Weekly Scribblings #30: Writing as a Metaphor for Living

Greetings, poets and storytellers. I hope this day finds you inspired and hopeful and ready to play with cool words. In New York City, things are hot. And I am not only referring to current events, but also to the heatwave that has kept us sweating for the last couple of weeks. Thank goodness for fans, air conditioning, and the occasional bit of breeze. Without them, I suspect most of us would have already spontaneously combusted or turned into bubbling puddles on sizzling sidewalks.
How have you and your muse been spending your days? My muse and I have been reading and revising and such… hence the word list for today’s prompt (my first instinct was to list some summer words, but the thought made me want to run screaming and I resisted). So, I give you allusion, conflict, edit, fiction, grammar, mood, pace, plot, poetry, prose, punctuation, rhythm, and stanza, and invite you to write new poetry or prose which includes 3 or more of the words in blue. The actual words, or derivatives of them, should be part of your contribution. Use them literally or figuratively, make your piece about writing or living, let your theme be bleak or bright or whatever feels just right. 
This prompt will stay open for a week. One entry per participant, please. If your muse goes for prose, please let the word count be 369 words or fewer. Feed your link to Mr. Linky. Visit other poets and storytellers, and do let them know what their words made you think, feel, want…

May the world (and people) cooldown and let all living things breathe easier.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Writers’ Pantry 30: The First Paulownia Fruit Ripen

Hello Word Artists and Admirers! While this pandemic has limited a lot of my activities, it hasn’t stopped my tea lessons. In some ways I’m more active with my studies than ever, as my teachers and fellow students have been having more conversations around the art of tea over email. One of the things we’ve been discussing is the idea of seasons and how being an observer of nature plays a part in our tea practice. In the ancient Japanese calendar there are 72 microseasons, each one describing natural phenomena that define that time period. According to that calendar we are currently in the one called “The First Paulownia Fruit Ripen”.

We’ve had a few conversations about taking the base idea of microseasons and rethinking what they would look like in our Southeastern Pennsylvania climate. I suppose I’d call this time, “Crickets singing in afternoon showers” because I’ve noticed their chirping getting louder in the afternoon and we’ve had a ton of rain. I’ve been a very casual observer of nature for years, but it would take several years (at least) to really get a feel for the patterns down to that detail.

The name of this song, Ka Chou Fuu Getsu literally means Flower, Bird, Wind, Moon 
and is a phrase often used to describe the idea of finding yourself by experiencing the beauty of nature.

Fortunately writing is always in season. Let’s take care of some housekeeping first.
  • Rosemary shines a spotlight on the poetry of Czeslaw Milosz in this last Wild Friday's feature.
  • Next Wednesday, for our Weekly Scribblings #30: Writing as Metaphor for Living, Magaly invites us to write new poetry or prose which includes 3 or more of the following writing related terms: allusion, conflict, edit, fiction, grammar, mood, pace, plot, poetry, prose, punctuation, rhythm, stanza. The actual words, or derivatives of them, should be part of your poetry or prose.
The floor is now yours. Share a piece of poetry or prose, old or new, fiction or non-fiction. Just remember one submission per person, and if you are moved to contribute prose, please keep it to 369 words or fewer.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Wild Fridays #29: The Living Dead

– Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)

The pungent smells of a California winter,
Grayness and rosiness, an almost transparent full moon.
I add logs to the fire, I drink and I ponder.

“In Ilawa,” the news item said, “at age 70
Died Aleksander Rymkiewicz, poet.”

He was the youngest in our group. I patronized him slightly,
Just as I patronized others for their inferior minds
Though they had many virtues I couldn’t touch.

And so I am here, approaching the end
Of the century and of my life. Proud of my strength
Yet embarrassed by the clearness of the view.

Avant-gardes mixed with blood.
The ashes of inconceivable arts.
An omnium-gatherum of chaos.

I passed judgment on that. Though marked myself.
This hasn’t been the age for the righteous and the decent.
I know what it means to beget monsters
And to recognize in them myself.

You, moon, You, Aleksander, fire of cedar logs. 

Waters close over us, a name lasts but an instant. 
Not important whether the generations hold us in memory. 
Great was that chase with the hounds for the unattainable meaning of the world. 

And now I am ready to keep running 
When the sun rises beyond the borderlands of death. 

I already see mountain ridges in the heavenly forest 
Where, beyond every essence, a new essence waits. 

You, music of my late years, I am called 
By a sound and a color which are more and more perfect. 

Do not die out, fire. Enter my dreams, love. 
Be young forever, seasons of the earth.

From Selected and Last Poems 1931-2004. Selected by Robert Haas and Anthony Milosz, translated by Anthony Milosz. USA, HarperCollins (Ecco) 2006; UK, Penguin Classics, 2014.

I'm in the middle of reading this book at present, a recent purchase.  It's a wonderfully full volume in both length and content. These poems deserve some pondering (to use his own word). Seamus Heaney, another great 20th Century poet, says in his foreword, 'From start to finish, merciless analytic power coexisted with helpless sensuous relish.'

Milosz witnessed and survived German Naziism and the early days of Russian Communism. And he lived long enough to be aware of humanity's environmental destructiveness. Some of his poems are understandably bleak (despite his strong Catholic faith). Others, however, display that 'sensuous relish' Heaney mentions. I chose this one partly because it is so positive and so visionary, partly because of what it suggests about being a poet.

Wikipedia tells us: 
Czeslaw Milosz ... was a Polish-American poet, prose writer, translator, and diplomat. Regarded as one of the great poets of the 20th century, he won the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. In its citation, the Swedish Academy called Miłosz a writer who "voices man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts".
Miłosz survived the German occupation of Warsaw during World War II and became a cultural attaché for the Polish government during the postwar period. When communist authorities threatened his safety, he defected to France and ultimately chose exile in the United States, where he became a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His poetry—particularly about his wartime experience—and his appraisal of Stalinism in a prose book, The Captive Mind, brought him renown as a leading émigré artist and intellectual.
Throughout his life and work, Miłosz tackled questions of morality, politics, history, and faith. As a translator, he introduced Western works to a Polish audience, and as a scholar and editor, he championed a greater awareness of Slavic literature in the West. Faith played a role in his work as he explored his Catholicism and personal experience.
Miłosz died in Kraków, Poland, in 2004. He is interred in Skałka, a church known in Poland as a place of honor for distinguished Poles.

The article expands to a lot more detail about his life and work. If you'd like the extra information, click this link.

Meanwhile here is Jane Hirshfield reading the poem, after which she gives a very interesting analysis of it. Yes, I know we all hated the way poems were pulled apart at school. This is on a different level, being for adult students, and is done with great respect and love for the poem as well as deep understanding.

Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright).

This photo of Czeslaw Milosz is by Artur Pawlowski, made available under Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Weekly Scribblings #29: Writing about food

Waffles by Megan Savoie ~ Unsplash
Hello and welcome to another exciting round of Weekly Scribblings! Many writers have indulged in writing about food over the decades, be it vegetables, or something sweet et al. The simple detail of food can concentrate emotion unto the page, evoke memories and send one down nostalgia lane. Following are a few examples:

The Emperor of Ice-cream                           
by Wallace Stevens

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal.
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Meditation on a Grapefruit 
by Craig Arnold  

To tear the husk like cotton padding       
a cloud of oil
misting out of its pinprick pores
clean and sharp as pepper
To ease
each pale pink section out of its case
so carefully      
without breaking a single pearly cell
To slide each piece into a cold blue china bowl
the juice pooling      
until the whole fruit is divided from its skin
and only then to eat
so sweet.. (Read full poem here)

This Is Just To Say 
by William Carlos William

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Your challenge today is to write while inspired by food. Add finely chopped prose i.e. 369 words or fewer, a pinch of metaphor, diced liaison or try your hand at worldly seasoning. The choice is yours! The platform is open until next Wednesday.

Good luck composing your masterpieces. I look forward to reading what you come up with. Please do visit others and remember to comment on their work. Also, enjoy this musical inspiration by First to Eleven. Have fun!🍰

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Writers’ Pantry #29: Never Lose that Sense of Hope

“No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence.” ~ Terry Pratchett

While the world seems to be going mad, and misery is giving COVID-19 a run for its money on the infection race, most talk of hope is received with disbelief (even contempt). Hope today seems like a joke, when so many don’t know if they will have shelter or food next month. But it is not a joke—hope is a lifeline, a reminder, a promise of what the future might grow into, if one finds a way (or several ways) to refuse to whither under the poison that is despair.

If you find yourself in the arms of hopelessness, remember the words of someone who fought and hoped until his last breath, and “Be hopeful. Be optimistic. Never lose that sense of hope.” The rest will not work itself out all by its lonesome, but it might... if everyone fights to make it so.

- in her latest Wild Fridays, Roving the Web, Rosemary discusses motivation, free culture, and shares the links and publications of some of our own. If you missed it, follow this link back.

- for our next Weekly Scribblings, Sanaa wishes us “to write while inspired by food.”

As always, the Writers’ Pantry is the place where we share words of our choosing. Let your contribution be new or old, short or longish (369 words or fewer, if sharing prose). One entry per participant, please. Mr. Linky will remain open for a week, plenty of time to share our words and read (and comment on) what others have written. I hope you are well… and hopeful.

RIP, John Robert Lewis
Feb 21, 1940 - Jul 17, 2020
(your ripples will last forever)

Friday, July 17, 2020

Wild Fridays #28: Roving the Web


I found this and other wonderful samples of writer Octavia Butler's motivational notes to herself, thanks to a friend who shared this one on facebook.

Wow, the determination! And what a reminder to all of us writers not to give up. (If we ever do feel like that, maybe we can borrow some of her self-talk.)  Do, do, do go to this link and have a read, and watch the (very brief, yet inspiring) video. You can also read more about her by clicking the various other links you'll find there, and at Wikipedia.

(Wikipedia says, 'At the age of 10, Butler begged her mother to buy her a Remington typewriter, on which she "pecked [her] stories two fingered".' This particularly excited me: my grandfather left me his Remington when I was 9, and I'm still pecking away two-fingered on my keyboards, lol.)

In case you didn't know of this woman, she was a multi-award-winning science fiction writer. In order to succeed, she overcame extreme shyness, dyslexia, repeated rejections of her early submissions, and all the inequalities and disadvantages attendant on being a black woman in the USA.

I wasn't aware of her before, even though I love science fiction. Now that I've also looked up her prolific output, I can only wonder at my ignorance. I'll certainly be seeking her books now!

Free Culture

But there's more! The site featuring Octavia's words is a find in itself:

It offers (among others things): Free Courses; Great Lectures; Free eBooks; Free Movies; and Great Recordings.  The last one particularly caught my eye. Here's what's listed under that heading:
What treats! The first one for me will be Ginsberg himself reading Howl. Oh, wow, the things this technological age makes available to us!!! I don't do bucket lists, but this is something to make sure I grab while I'm alive, and be devoutly grateful not to have missed. And there are plenty of other enticements on the list, too.

Closer to Home

Our online home, that is. I wonder how many, reading newish PS&U participant Jedediah Smith's poem for the latest Weekly Scribblings, also clicked the link to something called The Pojo Show Episode 2? I did, from curiosity. And oh, what a treat! It turned out to be the second of a new series of Podcasts by Jedediah and collaborator Batty Royale, inspired by this pandemic situation we all find ourselves in. The theme for this one is Coronavirus II: Poetry on Illness and Loss

Consisting of poems and songs, it's beautifully put together and lasts for a fraction over half an hour. They had me at St James' Infirmary
an old favourite, the opening number. I was even more enraptured when they included another great love, James Dickey's The Hospital Window ("I have just come down from my father"). Other moving and exciting pieces, I didn't know and was glad to encounter. (As so often, I found the American accents difficult at times and missed the odd word here and there, but that's a problem that can't be avoided in these days of international audio sharing and all kinds of accents. I can always search the texts online.) 

At the very end Jedediah and Batty go back through the material shared, with some brief, informative words on each – and some remarks I was glad to hear, about the crossover of poetry and song. I found this bit, in its own way, as interesting as the rest of the content. Well, it seems that Jedediah has also hosted a radio program, so it's not surprising he knows how to make stuff entertaining.

Now I'll be checking Episode 1 in the very near future:
Coronavirus I: Poetry and Plagues thru History. (If this is all beginning to sound unpleasantly morbid, the experience of listening to Episode 2 was far from that!) Episode 3, with the theme of Isolation (ranging from loneliness to imprisonment) will be posted today.

To find these  and future episodes, you can subscribe to them on Jedediah's YouTube or go to the Sound Files section at his website. I enjoyed the visuals on YouTube (faces of the poets and musos) so I've bookmarked it and subscribed. 


Our Own Success Stories

Spotted recently on Instagram:

Gillena (well-known to all of us, who blogs at Lunch Break) has a new book of poems out. It's available, as paperback or ebook, from AuthorHouse.

Even more recently, Kim (equally well-known to us, via Writing in North Norfolk) has a new book out too, available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle. I've linked to UK Amazon, since Kim hails from the UK, but it's available at others as well.

Material shared here is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Weekly Scribblings #28: Seeing Things

Hello Word Artists and Admirers! Today I’d like you to shape your words around the phrase “seeing things”. What comes to mind when you hear or read that expression? Explore those thoughts in a new prose or poetry piece. Fiction or non-fiction is fine. Just remember to keep prose pieces to 369 words or fewer.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Writers' Pantry #28: The rain is like my heart

Andre Benz, Unsplash
"I set out to find my peace in the skies and the tulips, in the howling of the winds in the rain under the shed and it was right there residing within me." ― Suyasha Subedi

Greetings everyone! Hope you are safe and well! This is Sanaa and I am back with another exciting Writers' Pantry this Sunday. 

Here comes the rain, steady and soft, falling from a sky of white velvet. It comes as a relief after the sweltering heat of months gone by. That's right. It's Monsoon season here in South Asia which runs through until September. Rain here, is nothing short of a boon, a celebration of sorts as people begin to gather together on the streets to indulge in mouth-watering dishes such as pakoras, (fritters)  roasted fresh bhutta, (corn) jalebi, (funnel cake) samosa, (savory pastry) masala chai etc. Following are pictures in respective order for your viewing pleasure:

Rain continues to inspire writers, artists and musicians around the world. The gusting wind carries its drops in wild vortices one moment and in diagonal sheets the next; I am reminded of "Horses and Men in Rain," by Carl Sandburg and "Kiss the Rain," by Billie Myers on occasions like this. Of course, everyone feels differently about the rain. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Announcements and Reminders: 

The topic for next Weekly Scribblings is "Seeing Things." Rommy would like us to shape our artistry around the phrase "seeing things," and to know what comes to mind when we read or hear that expression. She would like us to explore these thoughts in a new prose or poetry piece.

Rosemary continues to touch our hearts with "Wild Fridays #27: Thought Provokers - Australian Indigenous Voices." Do scroll back and check it out in case you have missed it!

Remember, you have one entire week to participate in prompts now. Just keep in mind that some people may have moved on to their next project after a couple of days, so entries posted later might not receive many visitors.   

For now, I invite you to share your entry as Poets and Storytellers United welcomes both poetry and prose (i.e. stories, essays, articles) feel free to link anything old or new and relish in the work of others. Also, if you opt to share prose then please keep it to 369 words or fewer.
Pierre Bamin, Unsplash
And now, without further ado, let us dive into the Pantry! Looking forward to grabbing a cup of tea and reading you all. See you on the trail! 💘

Friday, July 10, 2020

Wild Fridays #27: Thought Provokers

Australian Indigenous Voices

These lives matter too!

White Australians, and our institutions, have never sufficiently respected that simple fact. Recently, on our current affairs TV program Q&A, the Indigenous actor, comedian and writer Nakkiah Lui was asked what her people want from we others. Her answer was clear, direct and unequivocal: 'Stop killing us!'

We have been killing the Indigenous Australians since Britain first invaded. There were many horrendous massacres, unbearable to contemplate, by both Government officials and private citizens. Now we have other ways.

There was at one time an official policy of genocide, though it wasn't officially called that. It was thought that if children of mixed race were removed from their families and adopted into the white community, they would become 'assimilated' – and that over time they would marry into the white community and their Aboriginality would be bred out of them (!) The removals of those children were carried out forcibly. Meanwhile it was expected that the rest of the Original population would gradually die out.

And why would they not die out? Many were denied access to the homelands they belonged to. Many, employed as workers, were denied their due wages. They were disadvantaged in the educational system, in the job market, in housing, in access to hospitals and medical care.... Such things may not have been written into Government policy but it is hard not to think that those in power hoped they would hasten the disappearance of the race.

Well, guess what? The Indigenous people are still here, proudly so, and they are speaking up.

It's time to listen! They could have taught their colonisers a great deal if anyone had had the intelligence to ask for their expertise in land management, for instance. Had those in power sought the great wasted resource of Aboriginal wisdom, we might have had better water supplies. We might have avoided last Summer's disastrous fires. We still aren't listening properly! But some of us have become aware of the necessity.

Today I'm sharing with you the words of two very articulate writers, on aspects of the Indigenous experience here.

The Stolen

We are storytellers here, as well as poets. And I have a story to share with you – the story of poet Ali Cobby Eckermann. She was one of the stolen generations of Aboriginal children separated from their families. In 2017 Eckermann won Yale University’s annual Windham-Campbell Prize for excellence in writing, awarded for her poetry. Her personal story was aired when she went to America to accept her prize. You can read the facts of that story here, interspersed with lines from her poetry about the experience. Even better, click on ‘Listen to the story’ at the top of the page. It’s a brief account, but powerfully moving.

You can go and do it now, and then come back here. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

When you have more time, there are wonderful poetry readings and talks on YouTube. You can find them all gathered together here at Red Room Poetry, which recorded them for students and teachers. Several of her poems are now on the curriculum for HSC (Higher School Certificate) students. These recordings are in connection with that. She’s eloquent, clear and engaging. Among the things she speaks of are the importance of story in understanding each other, the value of the natural world to poets, and her dream of an Australia where the Aboriginal and white races live in friendship and unity.

Her award-winning book Inside My Mother (recipient, also, of the New South Wales Premier's prize for poetry in 2013) was published by Giramondo Publishing. It’s also available from Booktopia, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.

Her earlier work has won a number of other awards. She is the author of two verse novels, Ruby Moonlight and His Father's Eyes; a memoir, Too Afraid to Cry; and an earlier book of poetry, Love Dreaming (2012). Some of these seem to be unavailable. Others can be obtained from Booktopia or Amazon.

You can also read some of her poems on PoemHunter. Such as this masterpiece of understatement (from Love Dreaming):

Wild Flowers

Mallets pound fence posts
in tune with the rifles
to mask massacre sites
Cattle will graze
sheep hooves will scatter
children's bones
Wildflowers will not grow
where the bone powder

When facts are so brutal in themselves, there is no need to sensationalise.

A great way to experience her poetry is on those Youtube videos I mentioned earlier.

In Custody

Do you remember Jasmine Logan, the young poet and rising star I met at local poetry readings? I featured her at Poets United last year – here, if you'd like to refresh your memory. I think she writes and reads with astonishing maturity. (She will be turning 14 later this year.)

This photo is from Poets Out Loud last October. Jasmine takes the stage, as host Sarah Temporal readies the mic.

The Poets Out Loud readings have been happening on Zoom this year. Jasmine and I have both attended, and have sometimes read, but for personal catch-ups we chat occasionally on Messenger. (A passion for poetry bridges any age gap.) I asked her if she would let me have one of her poems for this current topic, and she offered to write a new one. How exciting is that – a new poem, commissioned and created especially for us! While making wider points, this piece also has specific reference to the issue of Aboriginals in custody.

Wikipedia says:

Indigenous Australians are both convicted of crimes and imprisoned at a disproportionately high rate in Australia, as well as being over-represented as victims of crime. The issue is a complex one, to which federal and state governments as well as Indigenous groups have responded with various analyses and numerous programs and measures. As of September 2019, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners represented 28% of the total adult prisoner population, while accounting for 3.3% of the general population.

Even more scandalous is the disproportionately high incidence of Aboriginal deaths in custody. A recent article in Vogue Australia gives details – and also notes the even higher rate of detention for Aboriginal women and children. We now know the shocking truth that some of these juvenile prisoners have been subjected to actual torture behind closed doors. And I don't mean only in the past! Our systems of authority are no more civilised now than they ever were. (It is not the original inhabitants of this country who merit the label 'savages'.)

Here's Jasmine's Black Lives Matter Poem. 

I asked her to read it for us on Soundcloud. Please click the link to hear how beautifully she does so.

And this is the text:

Life is precious Life is sometimes robbed Life is not fair Life is shared The justice system is not your life, however it
can take your life All the black lives that were taken, they did not
have a white flag to surrender to express that
their lives were soon to be over They were mistaken of doing wrong when they
were the ones being wronged From the colour of our skin this diversity is
turning into a murder scene Racism will never be the description of our lives
Of our respect Of our future Of us If all lives matter, why is it mainly the black
lives being attacked? Why is it a plea of justice to the justice system? No matter how loud we talk, no matter how
many there are of us, no matter how young
some of us are, no matter many people we
educate We still aren’t listened By people with power By people with popularity By people with stubborn minds We are heard but not listened to We are being tortured but not falling We are different but not any less the same

You'll be aware that some people have countered 'Black Lives Matter' with 'All Lives Matter'. I have been given to understand that this was a slogan originally created by vegans and animal rights activists. Lately it has been coopted to try and diminish the assertion that Black Lives Matter. I love Jasmine's beautifully logical, stating-the-obvious riposte.


The posts of these last three weeks have only scratched the surface of this issue, and obviously there are other countries too where it needs addressing. I'm not going to continue with this theme here at this time, but neither do I want to just pay lip service and move on. I think we are all needed in keeping the momentum alive. Let’s keep on – as I know you in this community already are – thinking deeply, reading widely, and writing both thoughtfully and passionately in the service of change.

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