Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gift (Poem)

This news story DEMANDED that a poem be created in its honour. I mean, the headline itself! "First-seen neutron star collision creates light, gravitational waves and gold". That's the poetry of the universe right there, isn't it?

The poem is another English Madrigal. "Keep practising until the form collapses in submission" is my motto :-)


Two stars in helix, dancing to their death;
Miasma clouds of many kinds of light
The show unfolds, and look! Einstein was right.

Ripples in space-time for half a breath
as precious atoms, formed-unformed, take flight.
Through telescopes, we spy on our own death
writ large in starbursts, etched out in the light.

The sound you hear is breaking shibboleth:
a universe that cuts through all we write.
No earth-bound stories hold us down tonight.
The neutron suns that, somehow, in their death
gave to sentient primates, here, some light:
spoke their cosmic truth, and became right.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Book Thing

Saturday night bravery, because if I don't say it publicly it's too easy to back out:

I am bringing out a collection of poetry in 2018. It is not titled yet but it is a themed collection of poems about women from key iconic stories - from the Torah, from mythology, and from fairy-tales.
The poems are in a range of styles, from my favourite form (villanelle) to sestinas, pantoums, rondeaus, haiku, madrigals, stream of consciousness, and free verse.

Each poem is accompanied by a prose version of the story of the woman who it is inspired by. Some of the poems are fairly straight retellings of the story; some are reinterpreted or twisted in a range of ways. Sometimes the story is just the jumping-off point for the poem.

I'm self-publishing it and it will be available via a few online book-buying channels and (hopefully) to bricks-and-mortar retailers as well. It'll be a paperback and probably also an e-book. I have a lovely editor and a talented designer lined up to hopefully make it the best book it can be.

I am aiming for a June 2018 launch date and when we get closer to that time, I will put an invitation here for anyone who wants to come along to the party thing, which will include fuds that I make and perhaps a cake if I can talk someone into making one (I'll look forward to seeing all three of you, and my Mum, there! :-P)

This is all quite scary. My imposter syndrome is screaming in my ear constantly, telling me it's all garbage, but stuff it, I'm in my mid-40s - if I don't do this now, it's odds-on I never will. So I thought I would share this plan, to keep me honest and keep me going.

Here is one of the poems that will appear in the book, in case you are interested. This was previously published here and is inspired by the story of Scheherazade - the desperate bride who was the teller of the 1,001 Arabian Nights tales.

A Thousand Nights

Listen, king, and I will tell you a tale.

It starts in a city of saints high in the desert
where the morning light has such a clarity
and the pink hills all around glow with life

and then there is a boat that goes under the sea
nosing up to the shallows like a curious porpoise
inviting you to come beneath, and yet

the sky gallops like a wild mare, ribbons of white foam
chasing each other towards heaven

there is a woman in it, with eyes like muddy stars
a gaggle of geese in a field, and a treasure -
only time will tell what kind

I saw it when I slept, and the song the colours sang
tore my heart into pieces at my feet

Listen, king, and I will weave you a new palace
the filigree of dreams is finer than any lace

honey-golden with promise and the longing,
that aching longing,
that comes when you look to the west
or at the vast night sky, and the soul cries out -

Once upon a time in a land far, far away...

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Madrigal for Roses (Poem)

 My final go for now at an English madrigal - inspired by the inexplicable yet undeniable mood lift I always get, every year, when my roses bloom. 

I grew up with roses - my Dad had beautiful standard rose trees in both our front and back yards and tended them lovingly, and it was my job to water them in the warmer months. I always, always loved them and the way they smelled and the way they felt and the colours and the joyfulness of the exploding buds. 

When we moved into our current home, 13 years ago now, the very first thing I planted was the deep pink rose tree. (My partner's first planting choices, which has been equally successful, were our lemon tree and our front-doorway lavender). I planted in the white and gold roses some years later. I love them all with an irrationally deep love, and this poem sort of picks at why that might be.

A Madrigal for Roses

It must be spring, for now the roses come
Fibrous and silken, deep pink and gold and white:
pink for friends, white for love, and gold-delight.

Dense around, the air is filled with hum
of bees and flash of hunting birds in flight.
Soon enough, the rogue loose tendrils come,
creeping up the wall pale green and white.

A weed so beautiful it makes me dumb;
caught in reverie in lemon light,
life that whispers pleasure in the night.
Old blooms fade but new buds always come
And birth as well as death is dressed in white
And in all heaviness there is, still, delight.

- Kathy, 13/10/17

Monday, October 9, 2017

Four weeks in review, four weeks in view

This has been a very, very full 4 weeks, as I expected it would be, and a few surprises have cropped up in it too. The nicest surprise was getting close to locking in a big new work job for an interstate client - I'm quite stoked about that, and should know for sure next week if it's going to come to fruition. There were a few other littler things too - like discovering that I *can* actually write hard poetic forms I thought were out of reach for me (sestina, madrigal).

The trip to Sydney was jam-packed, but as I've already written about that, I won't belabour it here. This last week of the school holidays has been much more low-key and that's probably a good thing for all of our energy levels.

The four weeks coming up will be the first four weeks of the final term of the year, and also encompass big project commitments, Halloween, a couple of cons, and the start of NaNoWriMo. It is going to be extremely hectic, but we'll muddle through ... I think!

FOUR WEEKS IN REVIEW (11 September - 8 October)
- 12 days paid work (5 in week of 11 Sept, 3 in week of 18 Sept, 4 in week of 2 Oct)
- School sleepover for youngest
- Homelessness awareness sleep-out for elder two kids
- Leave for me (21 Sept - 1 Oct) and school holidays for kids (23 Sept - 8 Oct)
- Family holiday in Sydney (24 Sept - 1 Oct), incorporating the Sherlock exhibition and OzComicCon (*this was great)
- The Virgin Australia Epic Omnishambles Debacle (*this was not great)
- 2 weeks of extracurriculars: gymnastics, jujitsu, chess, skating
- Online Book Club (11 September): Jane Eyre (great discussion!)
- More work on Women of Story development
- Wrote 8 new poems, including trying two new forms
- Submitted a poem and a pitch to different publications

FOUR WEEKS IN VIEW (9 October - 5 November)
- Minimum 16 paid work days and could be higher (projects are running hot atm)
- Kick-off on new interstate project if it proceeds
- (Unconfirmed but probable) Interstate work trip
- Extracurriculars x 4: Gymnastics and swimming (8 year old); jujitsu (14 year old); ice skating (12 year old)
- Online Book Club (18 October): Exit West
- Halloween shenanigans of various kinds
- Stargate 20th anniversary convention (me and 14 year old) - 5 November
- Anime convention (12 and 14 year olds with friends) - 4 November
- Commence NaNoWriMo journey (on 1 November) - this will dominate writing goals in November overall
- Write at least 6 new poems
- Submit at least 2 poems to publications or competitions

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Madrigal for My Ageing Body (Poem)

Practicing is the only way to get better at most things, fiendish poetry forms not excepted. Here is my second take at the English madrigal form. 

A Madrigal for My Ageing Body

Everything now sends signals to the end:
loosened muscles, acquiescence of the bone
the mother passing, welcoming the crone.

The lines around the eyes become a friend;
every wound half-healed is there to own.
the time of being young is at an end;
the future sunset written in the bone.

New power comes with it - now one can bend
the light around you, hide in shadows grown.
no-one sees old women; all unknown
you watch, and see, the body make its end
while the birth of suns swims in your bone
and, made of stars, you welcome in the crone.

- Kathy, 8/10/17