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Getting VERY close  - it's almost time for our next expedition to Europe. This time it's partly holiday, with a tour from Venice to Dubrovnik at the start of our time away. While I have deep wariness about any form of organised 'tour', with its vision of sheep-like herding round Grand Sights (AKA Great Sites), this does look a more acceptable affair, with a small coach land tour from Venice (sadly, only two days in this magic city) to Split, on the Dalmation coast, then a six day cruise around the islands of the Adriatic on a small very new boat -  only about 36 people. An optional extra few days in Dubrovnik, where the boat berths, is also something to look forward to, as it's over forty years since I've been in this part of the world, and it looks truly beautiful.

And after that  it's Germany, with catch-up visits to friends and relatives and, very importantly, time in Oberammergau, which will be something special. While it's 18 months to the next big Passion Play year in 2020, in October this year there will be the important ceremony of the renewal of the 1633 vow that was the origin of this ten-yearly event. It's followed  immediately by the announcement of the cast list for 2020, a big revealing that the whole surrounding area attends. With 1500 people on stage for the play one can understand the local excitement. I look forward to being part of this special time, and also hope to use the opportunity to do some marketing of my 2014 verse novel, Passion Play - the Oberammergau Tales, for sale in shops in Oberammergau in 2020, when half a million people will attend the play.

But, as always, the lead-up time to a trip of this type becomes hectic, and we're into pre-trip panic mode already. Meanwhile, I'm balancing travel preparations with forward planning for my new book, being published by Wakefield Press next February. Right now I'm looking forward to seeing the projected cover before we leave, as flyers about the book, In Search of Anna, are to be distributed in Jindera, the small NSW town where the final section of the book is set. Coincidentally, late in September this year Jindera is commemorating its 150th Anniversary, and big celebrations are planned. I'm sorry that we'll be away at the time, but hope that my coming book may be publicised during the celebrations.

Next week the annual Friendly Street Reader will be published, and as loyal members of this long-established poetry organisation, I'm delighted that both David and I have poems in this anthology. The launch for that is just before we leave, but clashed with the launch in Melbourne of this year's ACU Poetry Competition anthology. I'm truly delighted to have been short-listed for this prestige poetry competition. Sadly, not a major winner, but short-listing  brings publication in the book.

So, out with the suitcases and on with the motley ....

 

I’m actually not surprised to find that it’s so long since the last news I posted here, because it’s been an incredibly packed three months.

In May came the two performances of the lovely Requiem that Rachel Bruerville wrote using as text some of the poems from my first published book, In Due Season. It was presented first at the stunning Ukaria Cultural Centre in the Adelaide Hills, in what must be one of the most beautiful boutique concert halls Australia has. The packed out audience enjoyed a full program performed by the Adelaide Chamber Singers, culminating in the magnificent Brahms Requiem. The program was repeated next day in the city St Peter’s Cathedral to a capacity audience, where the soaring arches and huge pillars added to a very inspiring atmosphere. I found listening to Rachel’s music a deeply moving experience.

June and July were busy writing months, both writing and publishing a number of poems in many journals such as Tamba, Studio, The Mozzie, Poetry Matters, The Write Angle, and others. It’s always so encouraging to see one’s work in print, and to have enthusiastic feedback from readers. It makes worthwhile the blood, sweat and tears – and loneliness – of the writing life.

Much  time was also spent in re-designing the cover of my big verse novel of 2013, Passion Play – the Oberammergau Tales, in preparation for our coming trip to Germany. Here I hope to market this book in time for the 2020 Passion Play itself, where the small German town will once again, as they have done since 1634, produce a six month season of the events of Holy Week. More than 500,000 people from all over the world come to this play, and I’m hoping that Oberammergau shops will stock my book. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. In late October this year everything swings into preparation for 2020, starting with renewal of the 1633 vow that lies behind this ten-yearly event. We’ll be able to take part in all these happenings.

But the most satisfying moment of my year was the day I signed the contract with Wakefield Press for the publication of my ninth book, In Search of Anna. This historical fiction work has occupied several years of research and writing, and it’s a book that is important to me personally. An old family story of my great-grandmother coming from a small Silesian village across the world by steamship to hunt for her missing son  in Melbourne, then in the Riverina area, has always seemed to me the stuff of a novel. So on the bare bones of some historical fact I’ve used my imagination to create a whole life for this woman, who is probably turning in her grave at what I’ve invented. The book will be launched next year in February, in an event that will also be my eightieth birthday celebration. Horrors! Where have these decades gone? I’m delighted that Steven Marshall, South Australian Premier, is happy to MC the evening  - as long as no unexpected parliamentary emergencies occur. Fingers crossed.

Right now much of my time is going into planning the book cover for the new book, and then will be the editing process – sadly interrupted by our trip to Germany. But then, that’s not an unpleasant interruption to have ahead of us …

 

 

It's hard to call this 'autumn'  - Indian Summer is a much more appropriate title. If Keats were writing his Autumn ode again, he'd be hard-pressed to write Stanza 3, for the earlier idea of an unceasing summer would be much more appropriate. To balance the mellow tranquillity of the season, our days seem to have also been times of peace and serenity. (A sort of interlude that will come to a rapid end in May, when so much seems to be happening!)

First, of course, is the weekend of May 5 and 6, with its two performances of Rachel Brewerville's lovely Requiem, In Due Season, set to words from my first published book of the same title. I've been following the emergence of this work with great interest, and was moved almost to tears when I heard the whole requiem sung at rehearsal by the accomplished Adelaide Chamber Singers. It's going to be a rare privilege to be at the two performances and to feel those words, written at a time of loss and anguish, inspiring  this beautiful music.

Rachel and I were interviewed last week by Emily Sutherland, always one of my favourite interviewers, for her 5MBS Kaleidoscope program. If you are interested it will be aired on Wednesday, April 25, at 6pm and repeated on Saturday, April 28 at 11am. That's 99.9 on the dial if you're not a regular 5MBS listener. Or you'll be able to hear it on  a podcast on the Kaleidoscope page on their website. I'm waiting with great anticipation for these concerts  - a superb program of Bach, Schutz and the Brahms German Requiem and, of course, the new Brewerville work. The Adelaide Chamber Singers will be joined by the Sydney Choir of St James for much of the program.

After that, roll on the rest of May ....

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