Wish I Did Not Love You (poem)

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(A mural above Lucky Chan’s Laundry and Noodle Bar, Northbridge)

I read a poem at the Open Mic today. I’m not a good presenter, very nervous. I thought I would be sick or pass out while waiting to read. My throat went dry, my stomach knotted, and my hands trembled.  This was my second time up, and it turned out a little better than the last. I’ve had lots of advice from fellow open mic poets about ‘stage fright’ so here are some suggestions:

  • Picture everyone naked–don’t do this, poets are not prom kings.
  • Read a very emotional poem, then people will think your trembling voice is from emotions other than fear.
  • Keep the poem short. This is really good advice. At some point your legs might buckle, so a short poem means you are already pretty close to being back at your seat when this happens.
  • Know which poem you will read ahead of time and practise reading it outloud. If a good deal of it is memorised then you are less likely to stumble over words.
  • Finally, something that helped me today was to put back slashes throughout my poem at points where I wanted to remember to beathe. This way, unlike last time, I wasn’t racing through the poem–which is what happens when your heart is beating at 170bpm and the adremeline has your hands shaking so badly you can barely hold the paper your poem is written on.

With that said, here is my poem:

Wish I Did Not Love You

(for Stevie)

I wish I did not love you when you are high
Singing below my bedroom window
Making my soul smile till its cheeks ache.
Tum! Tum! The full moon drums
My blood surges to the primal beat
Skin prickles from your presence
Heart dances behind the curtains.
I wish I did not love you when you are craving
Singing in my garden at midnight
Calling me to join you in your darkness.
Ting! Ting! The night’s stars ring
Like shining bells on a new tambourine.
I wish I did not love you when you are on your meds
Walking by me with unknowing eyes.

c. Wendy Beach, 2016

 

 

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Talus Prize 2016 – Sea Widow’s Sonnet

I am proud to announce that my poem, Sea Widow’s Sonnet, has come second (Highly Commended) in the ECU Talus Literary Prize in the poetry section. The judge was Jackson, from the Uneven Floor. She cried when speaking about this poem. I am paraphrasing now: Jackson did say she was surprised that she had selected a metered poem/ sonnet with an older style of English for second place. However, she thought about it and decided that if she had come across this poem in classical poetry book she would have loved it. The other poems that did well were various, she thought one would do well in a slam poetry competition, and there was a lot of free verse poetry, which also did well. My past lecturer, Marcella Polain also had tears in her eyes when Jackson was talking about my poem, which was sweet, and apologised, saying, ‘It’s just, I know who wrote this sonnet.’ How more honoured could I get? Well, to be honest, it has been a pleasure entering the Talus prize for the last few years. I have been commended, won and been highly commended. I’ve been told I write like Hemmingway (for The Visitor) and I have managed to reach into people’s hearts with my prose and poetry. So it is with some sadness I must say, this is my final year of eligibility, but to go out on a teary note like this, by making two, award winning, free-verse poets cry over a sonnet, was definitely the highlight of it all. Thank you, as well, to Fremantle Press, Boffins Bookshop and UWA Publishing for sponsoring this Prize. It means a great deal to the emerging writers and poets who, without your support, could not have such a wonderful event. I will be submitting Sea Widow’s Sonnet to an eZine for publication. Thanks for reading.

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Writers

Golfing on Kauai

Opinion:  Writers: –

by Wayne Halm – 

2014-05-27

It rained this past weekend.  It rained so hard that not even I would get out on the golf course – I went to The Kauai Writer’s Conference instead.

This was my first writer’s conference.  But it was typical of many ‘conferences’ – billed as a place to exchange ideas, but really a place to exchange dollars.

The session on marketing books was an entertaining example.  A young lad started by presenting some spectacular (and unverifiable) sales figures.  He then energetically went on about several basic and well known marketing strategies.  Near the end he announced that sadly we were out of time.  But of course, we could still get the full picture by purchasing one of his books, videos, classes, or something – anyway we were supposed to give him money.  Yes, this session was indeed about marketing – him marketing…

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Good Things Come in Short Packages-The Australian Short Story Festival

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Today I went to the Centre for Stories (above) at 100 Aberdeen Street, Northbridge as part of the Australian Short Story Festival. This was hosted over three days, and I made the last day’s events. I admit I was quite exhausted, I didn’t get back from my brother’s wedding until 2am.  Not much sleep, but not to worry—I wasn’t going to fall asleep during this awesome line-up of guests.

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Laurie Steed, Nadine Brown, and Jo Ricconi as featured guests at the Gendering Short Stories Workshop, hosted by Sisonke Msimang

I couldn’t believe how many people I knew professionally at this event. One of my past writing lecturers, Ffion Murphy was there, along with another past tutor, Jo Taylor. Professors and Novelists Laurie Steed and Kim Scott were also there as presenters. In the crowd, there were several other familiar faces, like Elizabeth li, a wonderfully spoken Chinese-Australian writer, and well-known Western Australian writer, Susan Midalia. Also attending was recently shortlisted T.A.G. Hungerford finalist Tineke Van der Eecken.  I made a few more writing contacts as well. And I met the very lovely, Marilyn Rainier.

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Author Marilyn Rainier

(You can purchase her novel ‘Subject to Change’ here)

While I was there, I attended was The Westerly’s New Creative launch. This free event filled up very quickly. People were spilling out the courtyard and down the hallways around the corner just to listen to the presenters!  Publishing acknowledgments were made, pieces were read from the magazine, and photos were taken. It was an enjoyable magazine launch with much chatter and clapping from the audience.

Wendy Beach and other Westerly: New Creative guests.

I attended a couple of events after that and also the closing address. At the closing, Kim Scott told a humorous Noongar (indigenous) story that I believe everyone enjoyed. Basically, a woman tricks her man into climbing a high tree, then removes the log and leaves him there to starve to death, so she can run off with his nephew… I went home and re-told it to my children, who were similarly amused by all the twists in the story as he is rescued by a friend, and they track her down to get her back. But when he does find her, he realises he doesn’t want her anymore… and he and his ‘friend’ wander back to the bush again, holding hands  😉

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Kim Scott giving the Closing Ceremony Speech at the Australian Short Stories Festival

It was a long day, but very well organised. I had a wonderful time and look forward to attending future workshops at the Centre for Stories in the future.

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SPECIAL EVENT : The Belmonster Book Feast ( Our Official Book Launch )

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Thu 24 November 2016

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM AWST (Perth Time)

Book launch for the Adventures of the Belmonsters is on in November. I am very proud to have been a part of the talented local collaborative of Bemontites who came together every week over three months to plan, plot, write, and draw the characters for this book. We had a wonderful time pulling this together and enjoyed the many writing and design lectures by Cam and Bailey who wrapped the whole thing up in the end, working their magic to turn this into a wonderful children’s book.

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(That’s my monster–the orange one on the right!)

If you would like to come to this free event (children are welcome) click here -> Eventrite Free Booking or call the library, which is right near the Belmont Forum bus station.

From the City of Belmont Webite: “Join us in celebrating the launch of the City [of Belmont’s] very first children’s book! Developed by a group of local residents, with help from talented children’s author Bailey Bosch and children’s illustrator Cameron Aiktenhead, the book tells the story of a young boy named Rory and his great adventure throughout the City of Belmont with his new Belmonster friends.  The official launch will be combined with a story time session and a Belmonster feast for the kids! It will be Belmonster fun for all.

For carers and children aged 3 to 7 years. The official launch will be combined with a story time session and a Belmonster feast for the kids! It will be Belmontster fun for all.

We will endeavour to provide nut free food. Please advise of any additional dietary requirements. Telephone Ruth Faulkner Public Library on 9477 7150 and ask for assistance if you do not have an email address. This is event is part of the City’s ‘Let’s Celebrate Belmont’ festival which runs throughout November.”

And yes, the City of Belmont did make a typo below! And yes, I have let them know, because no one can proof-read their own work well, but after my editing unit at uni, other people’s mistakes glare into my eyes like sunlight off asphalt on a hot day in Summer!

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Shakespeare 400

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I attended the Shakespeare Club of WA’s Sonnet competition on Saturday. This began well at a very easy to reach location in a function room at the city train station.  The lady at reception greeted me and my guest. It was no problem that I had changed the guest without notice. I had planned on taking my teenage daughter, but she was still recovering. I told the lady all about it, what a week it had been.

Teen decided to go on an energy drink diet, became very ill, passed out returning from the toilet, hit her head on a wall, knocked herself out, woke up, had a convulsion, foamed at the mouth while crying, “Mum I think I’m dying”, which I agreed with, while wiping up various bodily substances around her. She ended up in hospital. So, getting back to the sonnet competition… I was at the Shakespeare club with my mate, Tam, who, thankfully hung out with me by teens hospital bed. We were both happy to get out of our houses for a while, to relax and listen to the recital of some lovely sonnets.

The judge was Professor Chris Wortham from Notre Dame University. He joked that perhaps he should have bought a bullet-proof vest or sought police protection, since judging any kind of competition is invariably contentious.  He explained that many of the sonnets were very good quality, and in the end he chose based on sticking to the theme, Western Australia, and having a pure English sonnet structure with modern, easy to use language.

The youth were brought up first. I was very impressed by the standard of their sonnets. I think I enjoyed them more than the adult ones!  Then the winner and placers in the adult section were called up to receive their prizes and recite their poems. True to what he had said, all the winning adult poems were Western Australian in theme.

Once that was over with, many of the people looked eagerly at the coffee machines and afternoon tea. There was an hour to go, and I was looking forward to mingling. Suddenly, a guy in the front jumps up and demanded that he wanted to recite his poem. He kept saying it until the host agreed. I looked at Tam. She rolled her eyes. We figured he was clearly unstable. In a white suit, he started his performance by waving his arms around in grand Shakespearean gestures. Tam and I whispered to each other about how a coffee would have been nice at the start of the event, rather than at the end, as it was beginning to drag.

Next thing, the poet pulls out a sharp kitchen knife and holds it in the air. I instantly think about the judge’s earlier comments and wonder if he didn’t jinx himself. The poet strutted about slashing the knife this way and that, lunging his body one moment at the audience, next at the judge, all the time reciting his poem. The family next to me is looking very nervous. A woman in front of me whispers ‘do they have security here’ to her companion. I turn to Tam and say quietly, ‘you know that part in horror movies where people should run, but don’t. This is it.’ She nods. The guy next to me also nods. I pick my bag off the floor, slowly. We dare not move and set him off even more. Could we make it to the doors? I look behind me, they seem closed. Were they locked to keep out the railway riff-raff?  I felt really bad for the event organisers, they clearly put a lot of work into making the day as enjoyable as possible for the attendees, and this was an unpleasant turn of events. But we weren’t staying.

The poet stops his recital. There is a hollow silence in the room. I started to clap, hoping he would sit down. Others join in. He gave a small grin, then starts reciting again. I saw shoulders slumping in the rows before me. The man beside me looked over his shoulder at the closed doors.

Then the poet lifted the knife high in the air and brought it down quickly, going all hurry curry in front of elderly and children alike. Many people covered their eyes and averted their heads. He fell on the floor with the knife in his side. There was a moment of shocked silence. I was extremely glad my daughter wasn’t there—grateful that she had been so ill, rather than cope with this. I thought she would have been upset by the whole thing. I looked at him—did he do it? We were quickly assured he didn’t, as he made the most ridiculous death sounds. There were sighs of relief. It was over, thank God! The host asked if anyone else would like to recite their sonnet. I thought she must have had experience in this sort of thing- because she was a PR saint!

Taking the opportunity, the family beside us headed out the door, with Tam and I following. We ran into the train station relieved to be out of there. They say madmen were once called Shaman. But, I don’t think it’s true. I’m sure they were able to placate the guy, to smooth things over and enjoy the rest of the event as though it was no big deal. Keep calm and carry on.  As for me and Tam, we headed over to the Moon Café to catch the last of the KPS poetry recitals. I picked up their anthology and enjoyed the rest of my afternoon.

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Wendy Beach – Final Newsletter

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This is my final newsletter as they are becoming far too long when done on mid-semester breaks. I will be doing shorter, more regular blog posts from now on. Enjoy!

Lost at Curtin University

I can smell the western acacias in Perth’s petrol-pollen mottled atmosphere. Dappled sunlight on my face, cold wind on my body, I inhale wafts of spring as I roam [ok I am lost] around the Curtin University Campus. It is my break time from the lecture hall. No, I am not looking for a new home, I am still, very much, an Edith Cowan University student. But, once again, it is not my university that has put on a writing event. Seriously, ECU’s literary ‘amiss-ness’ does disappoint me and doesn’t do my wonderful writing and poetry lecturers any justice.

So why am I at Curtin University?

The Tim Winton Lecture Hall is packed with people, all here for the Creative Conversations event put on by the China Australia Writing Centre. There are fourteen guest speakers discussing various writing topics. The entire conference is recorded by ABC national radio for later production as well.

Topics range from:

  • The novel through time.
  • Writing from the heart.
  • What is it about crime? (Crime novels)
  • Writing that challenges the establishment. (Journalism)

Some of the feature Writers and Poets are:

Kim Scott, Tan Zheng, Alison Lumsden, Lucy Dugan, Nicolas Wong, Isabelle Li, He Jiahong, Leigh Straw, and David Wish-Wilson.

Personally, I think the money ($40) spent on entry was well worth it. There is so much more to learn, and it is events like this that help emerging writers figure it all out. I left with 10 pages of notes about writing processes that were all quite new to me. It did make me realise that three years at university studying writing and poetry is only the beginning. I am, put simply, an undergraduate tertiary writer—and nothing more at this time.

The event was friendly and pleasant. A journalist from the West Australian Newspaper bought me a coffee and made me feel  special, in an ‘I am going to write an article on you as soon as your novel is published’ [by a literary publisher] sort of way, as he waited to pounce on one of the featured speakers. Even then, he made an effort to wave at me, now and then, and come over at the end of the session to remind me that he will be interviewing me [one day]. I was extremely flattered, of course, and went home to tell my daughters about it.

The oldest daughter smiled and said, “Geez mum, next you’ll have the paparazzi following you around!”

After a good laugh, I left my ego on the hat hook in the hallway, and returned to my real life: a cup of chicken soup, an outline of a poem, and mountain of homework.

Post-Graduate Studies

I have definitely decided to continue on with my studies. But, have given up the idea of doing creative writing at a post-graduate level. This will come as a surprise to many, including my recent, past self! My grades are excellent and I honestly thought I would take writing all the way. Even until a month ago I was organising my independent study unit based on the idea of continuing in creative writing at Edith Cowan. But things change…

First, I had some excellent feedback from someone I know, who finished her PhD two years ago and is still working the low paid job she was doing to put herself through ten years of university—because there is very limited work in creative writing. That was an eye-opener for me, especially as I consider her to be an excellent poet.

Secondly, as I come closer to the end of my degree, I am thinking deeply about where to place all this knowledge entrusted to me by my wonderful lecturers. There is a massive amount that I want to do for writing in WA, but it comes from a grass roots level—and I have never been one to keep my thinking inside the box. I’m not sure that a PhD in writing is what I need. A publishing internship might be better suited to my big ideas.

Awards and Publications

You win some, you lose many more:

  • My novel, The Night Jasmine, did not make the shortlist in the T.A.G. Hungerford Award. However, that is okay. I do feel the ending is weak and needs to be reworked. I did receive some absolutely fantastic feedback about TNJ though, which was very helpful. I was quite chuffed to see that I knew one of the shortlisted writers, and am very pleased her novel did get the attention it deserved.
  • My second novel, The Witch Who Ate Autumn, was completed recently and sent off to a publisher. Unfortunately, it was rejected for publication. That hurt, a little *sniff* but is fine. I do appreciate them getting back to me quickly, rather than leaving me to sweat it out for 6 months.
  • The Uneven floor rejected two of my poems.
  • Creatrix rejected one of my poems.

Now I could get all down about this. I could sit here crying and wondering why I am a loser. But rejection will always be the norm, no matter how good a writer I am. So, I dust myself off and put my stories/ poems aside a bit longer so I can see them with fresh eyes.

Rejections make the acceptances so much sweeter.

There is no point taking it personally! Publishing is subjective and it follows market trends—which one assumes the publishing company is following.

There are also a few other little behind the scene, unsaid, things about publishing that go a long way to explaining why many good novels get rejected—but I will save that for another post.

Acceptances:

  • The Westerly did publish my poem ‘Lessons in Enjambment’ and have agreed to pay me for the publication. I will let you all know when that happens, as I have plans to use the money—which isn’t a lot but is not bad—for an exciting little writing project.
  • Barnes and Noble and Collins Booksellers have both picked up one of my short stories each and they are now downloadable through their e-Book websites.
  • I have become a Goodreads author.

Getting Burned

It happens. Sometimes when you send in a submission which a publisher wants, they say in their email that they WILL:

  • pay you for your work, then conveniently forget, or offer a free version of the e-Zine instead, which they may also neglect to do in the hopes that you and your friends/ family will buy it.
  • give you a free subscription to their magazine, or at least the issue you are being published in, then don’t.
  • publish your story in print, then after the contract is signed, let you know it will be in the online version only.

Sometimes they will do one of these burns, sometimes all three at once.

So far I have been burned once before on all these things – by the Dark Eclipse e-Zine. It was only $5US, a print spot, and a copy of the printed mag, but it still left a bitter taste in my mouth. I didn’t receive anything from them, and I bought a copy of the e-Zine so I could see my story published. Remarkably, they still invited me to submit another story for their next feature magazine!

That was a couple of years ago, and I am still jaded by it! Therefore, I have no problems naming magazines that promise one thing and do another once you sign up. Basically, everything they offer you in the initial emails means NOTHING unless it is in the contract right before they go to publication.

A few points:

  1. Always change the contract they send you right before publication, type in exactly what they promised you in those initial emails and add a date you expect these things to be finalised by. Yes, I know the initial emails might have been a year previous, but you should always keep those emails as a record in your email sub-folder. I do!
  2. Publically note, on the internet, when agreements are not lived up to. That way other writers don’t get trampled by the same bull.
  3. Don’t let them get away with it, no matter how prestigious they are—they don’t deserve to be renown if they treat their writers like slaves. No Way! Get right onto them and request your payment.
  4. This type of ‘If we don’t pay, they won’t ask: because we will never publish them again’ mentality, is rubbish. Personally, if you don’t pay after saying you will, or you make me chase payment, I won’t be sending you my writing again, ever. Which probably won’t affect your bottom line—but writers talk to each other.
  5. This type of thing also happens to writing clubs who get promised x plus x to do advertising etc.…and then are not paid. Non-payment seems rampant in the writing industry, both commercially and non-commercially, in Australia at least. Please let me know if other countries are the same. OUT a non-payer today. Never shut up and put up with it!
  6. Finally, be forgiving. Sometimes these magazines etc. are run by disorganised people who mean well, but are really just fluffy perfumed ducks. Be nice, email them politely the first couple of times. They might remember—eventually—to get it together.

The Art of Being a Featured Guest

Very briefly, I learned something interesting this month. Not only does no one want to pay for literary writing (you will not get a hipster to part with his coffee money), those who might ask a writer to attend an event as a featured guest…have very long potential guest lists. If you really want to be their first choice as a featured guest, offer to pay your own return airfare, and tell them you want to donate the money they were going to pay you, back to their group. Trust me, they have very little money to start with, and if they did have money they would be throwing it at the artists they are trying to support by keeping such event going. I promise, they would. However, don’t give up the accommodation, there will always be a couch at someone’s place you will be welcome to crash on for the duration. You might even enjoy the experience—creative people can be fun!

I know, I said it before, many times: Writers should be paid for their work. They are professionals. They have studied for years. No other professional would be a guest speaker for free. And, some of the guest speakers will get paid. But, if you really, really want it on your resume, do it of your own volition. Because let’s face it, until such groups commercialise [yes, I said ‘the dreaded word’] themselves, they are funded by Arts grants and local councils, with poor writers volunteering to pull it all together. So if you want it bad enough, offer to do it for the prestige alone, and consider it your way of sponsoring the Arts that you love. You might as well—it isn’t like the government is going to keep doing Arts grants indefinitely.

What else have I been up to?

Poetry! So much poetry in my life at the moment. I have been attending the Perth Poetry Club events for a couple of months and enjoying listening to all the wonderful open mic poets and guests. I have even stopped writing Tanka and given Haiku a try! I have put aside my sonnets and given Confessional poetry a go as well. Okay, I haven’t quite given up sonnets, I just sent one off, along with a couple of other poems, to the Talus Prize—the only writing event Edith Cowan does put on annually. More news on that in a month.

Poetry News!!!

I stuck my hand up for the position and am now the voluntary Poetry Submissions Manager for the Creatrix Poetry & Haiku Journal! This is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I love reading all the wonderful submissions and being part of an excellent team of dedicated people. I am learning heaps from this position too! I consider it a mini-internship (not that it has been called that) but I do hope that what I learn from this experience, I will be able to take with me to remote communities to help them in their writing projects. The people behind the scenes are awesome. If you have any poems you would like to submit and are a WAPI member, submissions are open at the moment.

I was also offered another position as a voluntary co-contributor writer for an online Poetry Magazine, writing up articles on poetry events in WA, but turned it down. They were commercial, and as such, I felt they should pay their writers. However, that is just my opinion and I am sure they have many co-contributors who are happy volunteering their writing to them.

Blog vs Newsletter

That’s probably enough of an update for one newsletter. I have quite a lot of writing events on in the next few months and will be updating the blog as they happen. So this will be my last seasonal newsletter. I have updated the blog in the last couple of weeks. I hope you like the new layout. All images are free CCO from pixabay.com

Thank you for reading

Wendy

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INTUITIVE SLEEP

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I lock doors  Check them again
in case   I close curtains
Gaps in the seams make it easy
for an intruder to pry  I shut
every internal door   I wear
a tracksuit and socks to bed
and sneakers on the floor lie
beside me  The axe is hidden
within arms reach  I wrap my body
in the bedsheets   Pin them under
my stomach  My neck is bent
I close one eye on the pillow
Keep the other eye open

I pray  I pray  I pray   In my mind
I hear a voice   The one that says
You are safe now  You are okay
You can sleep  I think it might be
God or my intuition or some stupid
mantra from a hypnosis CD   Or maybe
the universe is trying to tell me
something  Over and over  Like a
broken record  Words just words
Nothing but words and words can be lies

It assures me  You are safe   It promises me
Sweet dreams   I tell it to shut up
I grit my teeth    My jaw locks
I know it is not the voice of  Reason  Hope
Truth   But Rumi would tell me
Listen!   The neighbours’ dogs are
barking on both sides  I bunker down
into my comforter    Try to ignore who
or what the dogs might be snapping at

I try to forget being small
Back in that bed trembling all over    my eyes
wet as the door creaks open and the light
seeps in  You are safe now  You are
okay   And somewhere inside me
the child listens   I exhale   I loosen
the winding sheet   Stretch out and
in those moments before I succumb
to sleep  I am sure I can hear
Her soft breaths … A distant lullaby

– Wendy Beach c. 2016