Audre Geraldine Lorde was born on February 1934 in New York City, and went on to become a leading African-American poet and essayist who gave voice to issues of race, gender and sexuality.
Lorde’s love of poetry started at a young age, and she began writing as a teenager. She attended Hunter College, working to support herself through school. After graduating in 1959, she went on to get a master’s degree in library science from Columbia University in 1961 and was head librarian at Town School Library in New York City.
‘The Black Unicorn’ (1978), a volume in which Lorde explored her African heritage, is considered one of her greatest works by many critics. In addition to poetry, Lorde was a powerful essayist and writer.
In terms of her nonfiction work, Lorde is best remembered for ‘The Cancer Journals’ (1980) in which she documents her own struggle with breast cancer. She died November 1992 on the US island of St. Croix.
The first photograph shows a Cloche hat (circa 1925) made of rayon, silk organza, sequins and mercerised cotton. The designer is unknown. I saw it displayed in the Ipswich Art Gallery exhibition ‘The World Turns Modern’. It is from the Julian Robinson Collection on loan from National Gallery of Australia.
ART DECO is the predominant decorative art style of the 1920s and 1930s, characterised by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes and strong colours and used most notably in household objects and in architecture.
Below is my small sample of Art Deco on display.
The first painting to draw my eye was Christian Waller in her garden with her dogs. Artist : Napier Waller (Penshurst, Australia 1893 – Melbourne, Australia 1972) Title : ‘Christian Waller with Baldur, Undine and Siren at Fairy Hills 1932’ Materials and technique : Oil and tempera on canvas mounted on hardboard. Dimensions : 121.5 h x 205.5 w cm, overall frame 1315 h x 2165 w x 60 d mm (big!) Purchased : NGA 1984.
“The frieze-like formality of the painting and its cool, crisp colours underscore the demise of the Waller marriage.” Such a sad note, and I wonder who got the Airedale terriers?
Inlaid wood was all the rage and this match box (in book form) took my fancy. As the information card states, it comprises rose mahogany, yellow wood, rose sheoak, sandpaper and red cedar. Rare commodities nowadays.
This stunning bronze cast (in relief) features a woman wrangling two horses; I liked the strength, energy and symbolism of this piece. Jean Broome-Norton’s renaissance woman is not life-size but the plinth gives it height and power.
The modern front doors of award-winning Ipswich Art Gallery, and inside the original building has been restored and extended. The shipping and travel poster hints at women enjoying greater freedom, the right to vote and travelling unchaperoned. The image of the independent woman became popular in graphic design for posters and portraiture.
This painting appears on gallery advertising posters and epitomises the era.
IMAGE: Hilda Rix Nicholas ‘Une Australienne’ 1926.
Unfortunately my photographs of etchings, square teapots and Lalique glassware did not work due to the lighting. Pictured above is a red Art Deco tea-set of stunning design, quite petite, which may not have been easy to sip from if you were feeling nervous at a polite society soirée.
Left photo : In a side gallery, I viewed ‘Cover Story: Queensland Arts Council Cover Art and Poster Collection 1981 to 2008’ displaying commissioned work by leading Australian artists and illustrators. From rough sketches to finished art, it was fascinating to see such big names especially in children’s literature, for example Graeme Base, and my favourite Alison Lester and her 1991 on-tour directory cover.
Right Photo : Upstairs in the heritage gallery, I just had to take a photo of this wonderful 1895 miner’s brooch which I presume was designed for a man but it is small and delicate. Made of 15ct gold, it may have been used as a tie pin, and the case is about the size of a snuff box.
Time for a cuppa at the Post Office Café. I was impressed how the colour and table setting matched the Art Deco theme without really trying. The proprietor of the café told us that she was sick of washing the tablecloths and they were being replaced with inlaid lacquered tabletops. Shame, but the sweet treats were delicious.
The view outside had interesting angles and contrasts; the Post Office Café courtyard, the umbrella, the modern buildings and above, as if floating, the original Ipswich Post Office clock tower, circa 1890.
If you are interested in the Art Deco exhibition, get in quick, it closes this weekend!
A rather dramatic story is unfolding in my breakfast bowl.
Cereals and desserts have been eaten from this bowl for over thirty years and yet I have never properly looked at the picture on it.
A few days ago I had a shock when I scooped up the last spoonful of my Weet-Bix (similar to the UK Weetabix, both invented by Bennison Osborne, an Australian) and saw there was a castle on the hill. I kid you not, I had never seen that castle before!
Allow me to acquaint you with some backstory. Originally there was a set of six china bowls (15 centimetres or 6 inches across) and originally my parents owned them. Unfortunately porridge, domestic accidents, and heating leftovers in the microwave have whittled them down. Of the surviving two, one has a nasty looking fault line appearing. Therefore, the bowl I have photographed may be the end of the ceramic line. Or the end of the beginning of a coach trip.
So far, so boring—but wait. Although this bowl is old, I have to be honest and say it is not an antique. In fact the picture may have been embossed on like a transfer and glazed over. Never mind, I’m getting to the point, well, ten points actually—
♦ First there is the brooding castle on the hill; quite a substantial pile. A name doesn’t immediately spring to mind but I’m working on it.
♦ Nestled halfway down the hill is a gamekeeper or crofter’s cottage.
♦ In the valley at the base of the hill is a small village. An unaccompanied lady is standing on the side of the unpaved road which runs past the Duck Inn. She isn’t over-dressed and uses a walking cane. Her gaze is towards the two gentlemen opposite, chatting beside the milestone. Perhaps this marker reads “London 100 miles” but I can’t decipher it.
♦ One of the toffs (lord of the manor) is holding a buggy whip. He would not have ridden a horse down from the castle in a top hat. He could be the lady’s son and heir up to no-good, he spends too much time in the tavern. Or she may be his old faithful nanny, instructed to keep an eye on him. Or yet again, she could be the wife of the man canoodling in the middle of the road.
♦ We see two lovers canoodling in the middle of the road. The man is keener than the woman, and a dog is either giving them a wide berth or coming around behind the man to nip him on the ankle.
♦ Unbeknown to the busily occupied people, a cat slinks into the rear footwell of the coach. Earlier he had been shooed away but being a feline named Nosey…
♦ Outside the Duck Inn (a duck is painted on the sign) the coach boy is making final preparations for the horses’ feedbags. He loves them ‘orses.
♦ The coach driver is ready and waiting. He’s heard rumours that Dick Turpin is lurking in the vicinity (if I’m in the right century) and wants to get going well before nightfall. The innkeeper loaned him a pistol and it digs into the small of his back.
♦ Seven people are milling about. At least four are passengers judging by the loading of a trunk on the roof, a well-wrapped parcel in somebody’s hands, and a family group perhaps saying goodbye. The husband could be off to London on business and the daughters are sad but the wife is glad he’s out of her hair for a few days.
♦ Lastly, a curtain twitches at one of the attic windows of the Duck Inn.
There are leafy details in the background and in the foreground the stone wall appears to be crumbling. I have looked for birds but only managed to spy a tiny number 9 in the garden beneath the Duck Inn sign. A maker’s mark?
And that’s it. There are no hallmarks or stamps on base of the bowl except the words “Made in England”. I have no idea if the picture is fake-aged or has been copied from an earlier (original) tableware design.
One thing is for sure, it has given me a good idea for an historical short story. Visual prompts are another way to overcome writer’s slump. Look hard at any image and you will find a story to tell.
Check your kitchen cupboards, your own crockery may have a narrative in the making!
I’ve been asked if I belong to a writers group. After reaching saturation point with courses and workshops, I decided to get serious and join a writers group. Currently I am a member of two organisations, Girl and Duck.com and The Society of Women Writers Qld Inc. One real and one virtual, both offering the interaction and motivation I crave.
I also belong to two book clubs, one leaning towards the literary and the other crime, but that’s a whole new blog post. Today my information flow is about—
The Society of Women Writers Qld Inc(SWWQ) which provides an invaluable support network for women writers. Members share comments, feedback, achievements and encouragement, or listen to guest speakers at monthly meetings.
In 1925 the Imperial Press Conference Sydney hosted a conference for Visiting Writers and Journalists from the United Kingdom. At that time women were excluded from the all-male journalists’ club. This led to the wives of the delegates and the invited female delegates forming their own group which became The Society of Women Writers. Thus (Dame) Mary Gilmore, Pattie Fotheringham, Mary Liddell and Isobel Gullett became the four Vice Presidents. Zara Aronson was Honorary Secretary; Agnes Mowie and Blanche d’Alpuget were Honorary Treasurers. Abigail Clancy was one of the founding committee’s fifteen members. In 1982 The Society of Women Writers Queensland was incorporated and Mocco Wollert became their first State President. Di Hill is the current State President.
In 1975 Bridget Godbold felt inspired to start her own group of writers in Queensland. While in Sydney for the Society of Women Writer’s Fiftieth Commemoration, she was asked by their Federal Executive to produce a Queensland postal magazine, based on the success of a Victorian experiment called MURU.
Bridget, with four women from Townsville, Boonah, Kingaroy and Burleigh Heads, created MORIALTA. This Aboriginal word means ‘everflowing’ and epitomised their motto to Keep Thoughts Everflowing into Creative Writing. The first edition of MORIALTA was produced in 1976.
Postal magazines are ideal for isolated writers or those who find it difficult to attend meetings. An electronic newsletter is also available.
The Alice Award
Every two years, since 1978, the Society shares the privilege with other States and awards a non-acquisitive bronze statuette, The Alice, to an Australian woman writer who has made a significant contribution to Australian Literature. Well-known past recipients include, among many others, Nancy Cato, Ruth Park, Kate Grenville, Margaret Scott, Dame Judith Wright, Dame Mary Durack, Jill Shearer, Christobel Mattingley, Susanna des Vries, Dr Claire Wright and Sally Odgers.
Ring of Bright Water
SWWQ’s newsletter Ring of Bright Water is compiled monthly and sent to members either electronically (preferred) or via Australia Post, keeping members updated on upcoming events, competitions, publishing opportunities, members achievements, writing and more.
The Society organises an annual retreat, held in October on Bribie Island, north of Brisbane. Here writers can dedicate quality time to their works-in-progress; join structured workshops; begin new work; discuss writers, writing and books and generally share good times with like-minded people.
Competitions for Short Story, Article and Poetry categories are held each year for members and the Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition is held annually and is open to Australian women writers over the age of 18.
The Society publishes anthologies of members work occasionally and supports many other literary events in Queensland. SWWQ is affiliated with Society of Women Writers in WA, VIC, NSW, TAS.
I have entered two short stories in the Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition which closes Wednesday 31 July 2019. At the moment, I am reading The Rose and The Thorn written by member Indrani Ganguly. After attending a meeting with guest speaker Virginia Miranda, author of Flash Fiction Volume One, I enjoyed the writing exercise she set with picture prompts and I’m all fired up on the joys of flash fiction.
Seniors Week 2018
Celebrating a Queensland for All Ages Seniors Week provides the opportunity for older Queenslanders to explore programs and services, events and activities, connect with people of all ages and backgrounds from 18-26 August. Celebrate the many contributions older people make in our communities. Visit https://www.qldseniorsweek.org.au/
This game can be adapted for writers, artists, poets and movie fans!
There are two versions. The version attributed to the Surrealist Movement is when the weirdest possible head, torso, legs of the Exquisite Corpse are drawn by three different players, each folding over the paper so the next person can’t see the results until it is unfolded at the end of the game.
“Consequences” is the original name of this literary pen and paper parlour game which has been played since the 1800s Victorian Era. A random sentence is written near the top of the page. The paper is folded over then passed to several other participants who add to it and fold until it reaches the last person, or the bottom of the page. The paper is unfolded and the whole “story” is revealed––often with hilarious results.
Alternatively, photocopied lines from classic poems (see above) can be cut into strips and jumbled into a bowl. Each player blindly chooses nine strips but uses only seven to form a poem. The mind takes over, sorting and assembling into a reasonably cohesive format. The verse pictured above is what I put together in a recent Masterclass during a timed exercise. My Exquisite Corpse earned the comment “feels Gothic and dark”.
To quoteAcademy of American Poets: “The only hard and fast rule of Exquisite Corpse is that each participant is unaware of what the others have written, thus producing a surprising—sometimes absurd—yet often beautiful poem. Exquisite Corpse is a great way to collaborate with other poets, and to free oneself from imaginative constraints or habits.”
Minor changes have been added to Exquisite Corpse over time, from using a single word to including famous lines from books and movies. For example, you can jot down your favourite movie quote, fold over the paper then pass it on. See what you can pitch with Arnold Schwarzenegger or Hugh Jackman. In book mode, an amalgamation of Germaine Greer and Nora Roberts could prove interesting.
The following formula for fun was kindly supplied by WordPress blogger Life After Sixty-Five who wrote––“Here is my favourite version of Exquisite Corpse, though I have played the version where a human body is drawn”––
He (male name, fold) – someone we all knew, or someone famous
met She (female name, fold) – could be someone famous, or someone playing the game etc.
at (place, fold)
He wore (description of clothes, fold)
She wore (description of clothes, fold)
He asked, (question, fold)
She replied, (answers question, fold)
And along came (person, fold)
And so they decided to (decision, fold)
And in the end…(finish, fold) “…the gales of laughter at the silly stories…”
Language Is A Virus website has the history of Exquisite Corpse and suggested books on the subject. They started a poem which has been running since 2000 and you can add to the silliness.
With a knowing smile, this Victorian-style book of manners is reminiscent of the period of parenting when misbehaving children were given orders and told dire consequences would ensue if they did not obey. Despite warnings, when a child in this book ignores an instruction, there is an aftermath of great magnitude.
In “A Garden of Lilies: Improving Tales for Young Minds – by Prudence A Goodchild” children’s author and illustrator Judith Rossell has produced an atmospherically illustrated and tightly written volume. She has also mastered the art of a left-right jab, hitting with swift endings which leave the reader breathless.
Each punchy short story closes with a judicious moral. For example, Isadora daydreamed too much during her chores. One day she daydreamed while idly brushing her hair. Let’s just say she didn’t get to finish the task. “Moral: For hair that’s glossy, clean and bright, Two hundred strokes, both morn and night”.
After Isadora’s tale, there is what appears to be a lovely page entitled “Care of the Hair” with a recipe for making Soft Soap which “…will improve both the texture and colour of the hair” until things get a bit nauseating. Apart from kitchen scraps, the mixture must boil for hours until it forms a clear, thick jelly.
Basically the stories are about kids being kids and the 21st century reader should see the endings for what they are – a sample of Victorian etiquette and psychology which we would not dream of using on children today. Right? Okay, explain that to your child and laugh.
This slim book is approximately sixty pages (with attractive binding and colour plates) and scattered throughout are “Interesting Facts” and helpful hints like An Economical Recipe for a Plain Cake, A Useful Compass, Parlour Games and my personal favourite, An Album of Sea-Weeds. I will work on drying and pressing seaweed during my next holiday! Hmm, would seaweed smell like that starfish I once brought home?
In closing, I will give a shout-out to Mr Lindon of Woolloongabba, Queensland (Page 45) who grew a giant marrow. I think he must have read the book’s suggestion To Grow a Giant Marrow which signifies “A Garden of Lilies” is indeed a versatile volume!
I cannot give you a childproof safety rating but I think it is suitable for a sliding age scale and my own rating is 5-star.
Judith Rossell — Biography
Judith Rossell is the multi-award-winning author-illustrator of the bestselling Stella Montgomery series (Withering-by-Sea, Wormwood Mire, A Garden of Lilies and forthcoming Wakestone Hall). Judith has written thirteen books and illustrated more than eighty, and her work has been published in UK, US, Germany and translated into more than twenty languages. Before beginning her career in children’s books, Judith worked as a government scientist (not a mad scientist, a normal kind of scientist) and also for a cotton-spinning company (which made threads for T-shirts, denim jeans, mops and teabag strings). Judith lives in Melbourne, Australia with a cat the size of a walrus.
ACCLAIM FOR WITHERING-BY-SEA AND WORMWOOD MIRE:
Indie Awards – Winner 2015, Shortlisted 2017
Australian Book Industry Awards – Winner 2015, Shortlisted 2017
CBCA Awards – Honour Book 2015, Notable Book 2017
Davitt Awards – Winner 2015, Shortlisted 2017
Prime Minister’s Literary Awards – Shortlisted 2015
ABA Booksellers’ Choice Awards – Shortlisted 2017
Australian Book Design Awards – Shortlisted 2017
Aurealis Awards – Shortlisted 2015
“I wrote 300 pages in five weeks,” says novelist DBC Pierre, who made his debut with Vernon God Little, a Booker Prize winner, and delivers writing guidance in his contemporary work Release the Bats.
I enjoyed his gutsy and wildly perceptive advice which perhaps appeals to a ‘pantser’ style of writing rather than a ‘plotter’ but the quotable gems will stick with me. Wisdom with a 21st century twist and language to match.
“A few pages into writing and find yourself drowning, as I did.” DBC Pierre.
“When I started to write,” says self-confessed bad boy DBC Pierre in The Guardian interview, “I wasn’t particularly well-read, but I found two things critical. Together they can turn a pile of thoughts into a novel, in case you’re at a loose end next weekend, or are in prison. They’re also helpful if you’ve swum a few pages into writing and find yourself drowning, as I did.”
“The first might seem stupid but I actually found it the main hitch in getting words down and ‘letting rip’, ‘sticking with it’, and all that noble stuff we’re supposed to do. ‘The responsibility of awful writing’ was Hemingway’s twist on his own phrase ‘the awful responsibility of writing’. As the man who also said ‘first drafts are shit’, he pointed to a truth: if the key to finishing a novel is sticking with it, then the main challenge is to face writing crap.”
“All I liked after writing the first page of Vernon God Little was the voice. It had things to say about everything. I could feel it wanting to say them. But I went on to write 300 pages that didn’t make a book. I wrote them in five weeks, in a fever, without looking back. And at the end, I still liked the voice – but it hadn’t really said anything. Or rather, it had said plenty but nothing else had really happened. I soon found advantages to having done it that way.”
“Even writing 50 pages of crap gives a sense of achievement.” DBC Pierre.
“For one thing, I would usually find it hard to move on to page two if I didn’t like page one. I bet you could wallpaper the planet with books that never got to page two. And it’s a circular trap, in that some of the energy you need to forge ahead and push your page count up is generated by forging ahead and pushing your page count up. Even crap gives a sense of achievement when you get to 10, 20, 50 pages of it. When you don’t get past page one, you lose the spur. After that, the thing spirals into bad feeling and dies while you check email.”
“Half the problem is the expectation that we’ll see finished writing at once, more or less in its place. But I wouldn’t have written what I wrote if I’d thought about structure and form at the time. Obviously, if we’re writing about a boy going to the river, we make him go to the river. I don’t mean write without an idea – just that better ideas will come later. They attract each other and grow. We write crap in the meantime. It can work like a compost.”
“If you watch a dieter breaking their diet, you’ll see that they gobble things before they can stop themselves, before the internal arguments, before the shame. Guiltily and fast: that’s how to approach a first draft. A free writer is not something you are, but a place you can go. To start that climb: speed. Don’t look down. Keep a note of your page or word count, watch it grow like an investment. Amp yourself up. When we do things this way, a phenomenon comes to bear that justifies our approach: art. Some of what we write will crystallise for reasons we can’t explain, and the story comes into a life of its own.”
“If the job gets boring, loosen up…throw in a new character.” DBC Pierre.
“Eventually, take that feverish pile, bravely or drunk, and read it back. Get over the cringing and find a glimmer, see what sentence or idea intrigues or excites you. Start from there and build out. If the job gets boring, loosen up, take a tangent, throw in a new character. In this process, the work begins to show itself. We show ourselves. When gems have grown into paragraphs, paragraphs into pages, look again. Find the part that works best and lift the rest up to it. This is how it climbs, by following what pleases us most.”
“We can’t compete with Shakespeare or Hemingway, nor should we try. Our particular feeling is all we can bring to this party, and our whole job should be to wrestle it into a story that works for us alone. After that we can dress it for others to read. A different job entirely. Save that for a strong coffee on a Monday.”
I love the homey words and clean, familiar lines of Rachael Flynn’s artwork. She lives on a cattle and sheep farm in a locality called Piambong which is about 25km north-west of Mudgee, NSW, Australia. Her calendar (above) features rural farm life with a quirky theme and seasonal recipe each month.
Platitudes, rather hippy dippy and old hat, short sugar-coated sentences designed to bolster the ‘feels’ of a younger generation. Look again. Each line creates an emotion, a memory jog, that tingle of happiness to the down-surge of sadness. Regret is there, the wince for things done wrong, then the smile for laughing out loud when you get it right. Basic universal rules for living.