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Another year ...

Sunday, 31 January 2016 07:42

Where have all the past years gone? asked the song writer ...  So do I.  Another year has passed, and it's somehow today the last day in January of 2016. Even more, it's a long time since I've added to this page in my web site. Strangely it's one of those things that seems to move towards the bottom of the 'to do' pile, and that pile, believe me, is considerable!

So, since October, what has happened? It's all been surprisingly trivial, but very satisfying. The usual December pre-Christmas frenzy of activity, this time lessened by the fact that instead of a huge influx of house guests, for the first time in many years we went to Canberra for a Christmas in someone else's home - to eldest daughter Felicity. Lovely to have someone else responsible for managing the daily routines, and a happy time marked by lots of wonderful food, catching up with old friends in Canberra,  a number of really good films - and, of course, lots of card-playing with eager card-shark grand-daughters. "Well, you taught us!" they say .... As I said, nothing earth-shattering in these last few months.

But a sobering time, as we attended funerals of friends of many years, with an increasing recognition of the fact that social events have moved on from the 21sts, the engagements, the marriages, the christenings, the decade birthday parties, the children's weddings ... and now we are entering the era of funerals as our most common gatherings of old friends. Sobering, indeed.

Perhaps this is is why we are seizing the day (nothing like a bit of 'carpe diem' as a motivator) and planning an imprudent but very desirable trip to South America this year. It looks wonderful, despite the shadow of falling share markets and the looming Zlika virus, and we are looking forward to it enormously - that's if we ever get through the morass of visa applications that seem to be required for every area our APT travel will take us. So we struggle with forms for Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador in an increasing recognition that we are going to be covering a lot of territory.

For me, one of the anticipated pleasures is the writing. I'll try to keep to my usual pattern of a poem a day, knowing that there's great satisfaction when, on return, David puts together my poems and photos in a book that becomes a treasured record of our time away. That will compensate for the very little bit of writing I've done in these last few months - a handful of poems, and that's been it. Not good, and it leaves me feeling very empty in spite of all life's other satisfactions. That will change ...

from Melbourne

Friday, 23 October 2015 09:26

On the road once again, and this time we're in Melbourne for a series of functions, the first of them a reunion lunch for about a dozen old friends from my Matric (Year 12) 1955 school class. Worth celebrating, because this is our sixtieth anniversary, and that's quite a span of time.

For those interested, Flowers & Forebears is now in print again, and available from the online order page on this web site. So too is the latest book, a slim volume in the Picaro Poets series now being published by Ginninderra Press. It's called Indochina Days and is the 'poem a day' record of our recent travels in Vietnam and Cambodia, new territory for both of us. We travelled from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city, then spent a week meandering by boat up the Mekong to Siem Riep, where the past glories of Angkor Wat were something I have always wanted to see. And not disappointed! This was, of course, the year we were definitely not travelling overseas ...  somehow that wasn't kept to.

Indochina Days by VALERIE VOLK

Thursday, 22 October 2015 21:26
 

JOIN THE JOURNEY

A writing update

Friday, 16 October 2015 20:29

It's always interesting to be a guest speaker  - so many diverse groups from different organisations. But one of the pleasantest audiences I've had lately was last Saturday at the South Australian branch of ACLA (Australian Church Librarians Association)  - a lovely group who were really interested in books and writing.

As always, the two basic questions were a) Where do you get your ideas from?  and b) how long did it take you to write the book?

So I focused on the first question, and explored the origins of each of my six books, and tried to identify the sources that fed into each of these. A bit of a trip down memory lane, in fact, but also a useful reminder to me just what had been the background material that had generated each of these very different books. It was interesting, also, to realise the importance of travel in my writing, especially as my seventh book is due for release sometime in the next weeks. It's a small Picaro Press chapbook, one in a series which is now being produced by Ginninderra Press, and it will be in a similar format to my fifth book, Flowers & Forebears, which is currently out of print but should be available again very shortly.

The new book, Indochina Days, is a collection of poems, all of them written during our August/September tour of Vietnam and Cambodia. There I followed my usual practice of writing a poem each day, a wonderful way of fixing travel experiences in one's mind. It's all very well to keep a detailed journal, as I do, but the focus provided by writing the 'poem a day' is even more valuable, and a great memory-trigger. So it's these poems that will be published as Indochina Days, and it will be available, like all my other books, for purchase through the final (order) page of this web site. I've checked the draft copy, so it shouldn't be too long before it's available. After that, what next? Who knows?  I don't ... yet.

Suddenly it's October

Tuesday, 06 October 2015 12:28

And more months have slipped away ...  No wonder!  It's been so busy. Right now I'm in Brisbane, staying at my son Nick's home, and the weather is the typical Queensland "Beautiful today, perfect ..."  - you all know the rest. But it's true.

I've been here not only for family catch-up, but mainly as a delegate to the three-yearly Synod of the Lutheran Church - an intense week of meetings, dialogues, debates which were strenuous, perturbing, disappointing, but ultimately hopeful for the future. Bis issue, of course, the ordination of women. So close a vote: about 64% in favour, but not quite the mandatory two-thirds. Just another 13 votes need from a group of 423 delegates!! Next time round, surely!

But another big part of this trip for me was a Queensland launch of Bystanders during Synod, which was a lovely experience. Almost 150 people came to the launch, with its great wines (donated by a most generous group of Barossa Valley winemakers, a group that does a lot of combined things under their title of 'Lutheran Winemakers - and, believe me, I'm grateful to them.) We'd carried the wines on the four day drive from Adelaide to Brisbane without any misadventure, as well as books, etc etc. A long slow but very pleasant trip. Stephen Rudolph, National Director of Lutheran Education Australia launched the book again at this event with lovely commendations, and sales have been good throughout the week.

Also on the Bystanders front, I was delighted by the wonderful review by Peter Pierce that appeared first in the Sydney Morning Herald, then the Canberra Times. I've been told it was also in the Melbourne Age, so am zealously hunting it there.

But, almost pack-up time here, and tomorrow we start the trek south again. However, it's OK  - I hear the weather there is just as good!

Time moves on!

Monday, 13 July 2015 10:25

Looking back, it's frightening to see that my last update here was beginning of June - and it's now mid July. That entry was before the book launch for Bystanders ...  Since then, it's been such an action-packed few weeks that - while alarming - it's not at all surprising that I haven't put anything on this web page! 

An amazing book launch. About 200 people, so superbly catered for by the Immanuel Lutheran Church ladies (no wonder people come - they have a great reputation) and smoothly MC'd by the West Torrens Mayor, John Trainer. Guest speaker, the Rev. Dr Lynn Arnold AO, gave a launch speech that made me wonder whose wonderful book he was talking about! He showed me things in my book that even I hadn't realised were there. Great job, Lynn. Thank you. Also to the West Torrens Library Staff, who always make these occasions a pleasure for everyone, and the Hamra Centre Auditorium is the best spot for a launch that I know.

Since then, some really pleasing publicity - things like the Advertiser article in the Monday edition's faith coverage pages, the enthusiastic response from groups who are already using the book as a discussion guide, the tremendous wow! moment when I saw that Dymock's city bookshop in Rundle Mall had given my book a whole feature window. I confess to standing in Rundle Mall pretending to be a casual tourist whose camera just somehow by sheer chance was mainly directed towards Dymock's window ... A lovely interview for 5MBS radio was also a pleasure; talking to Emily Sutherland for Kaleidescope is always a delight.

The last few days have involved much more marketing activity, with interviews and photos for the Messenger Press, lots of discussion with people in various religious groups and education bodies who are interested in using the book as a discussion guide, a book signing at the National Pastors' Conference of the Lutheran Church and, last night, a wonderful hour and a half in conversation with Lynn Arnold on his fortnightly LifeFM radio program. I'd not expected to be the sole featured guest, but it was amazing how quickly the 90 minutes of the program sped by - it was probably the most in-depth interview I've ever had. With, of course, a most polished and engaged interviewer. Thank you again, Lynn.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, writing time has slipped. Despite the encouragement of some poems published in magazines such as The Mozzie and Tamba, and the need to produce new work for the various writing groups we belong to, there's been sadly little focus on what I love to do. Oh well, back to the quill soon, I hope.

Next on the agenda, though, is the big CSA (Christian Schools of Australia) conference next week, with its 1100 registered participants. I'll give a workshop during this and have also booked a 'Market Stall' in their exhibition hall. That will be an interesting (perhaps daunting) experience. Wait and see.

Getting exciting

Monday, 01 June 2015 16:34

Only four days to go to the launch of the new book, Bystanders. It's been a packed few weeks. First, the publication and the excellent response to the Literati group's production of Something in the Blood - Vampire Tales with a Christian Bite. The launch, in the North Adelaide Lutheran Church, was a fun occasion, and the garlic bread and red cordial we served seemed to get an appropriate reaction... Guest speaker, Dr Lynn Arnold, gave the book a tremendous introduction to the world, and made it clear that this was an arena where the popular interest in vampires and Christian concerns could meet most productively. Four of us read excerpts from the book - including my poem 'Apostate'. Sales were good, and the audience enthusiastic. A good night.

Now I'm in the throes of preparation for my own book launch, with some great publicity in the morning's Advertiser, in the Articles of Faith section.  The photo, with my huge old family Bible, Heilige Schrift, could have been worse, so I'm relieved. On other fronts, good to see the latest issue of The Write Angle arrive in my mailbox, with poems by both David and me. But little writing is getting done, as my main work for the moment seems to be promotion and marketing of Bystanders, a very time-consuming affair. Roll on the launch, and back to real life. One of the really good side-effects of this launch, at the West Torrens Auditorium, has been the getting back into touch with so many old friends who are planning to attend.

Almost winter - but not of discontent

Thursday, 14 May 2015 13:22

End of May is close, and winter's almost on us, but what a splendid and colourful autumn it's been. And very satisfying in many ways. An excellent review of Passion Play in the latest edition of Polestar Writers' Journal, a lovely magazine whose pictures are as much a delight as the text. News of acceptance of several poems by various magazines, such as Tamba, and publication in others. I'm including the Passion Play review on the relevant page in this web site. All encouraging.

As is the response rate to invitations to my next major book launch, Bystanders, on June 4 at the West Torrens Library Auditorium, by now my book launch 'home'  .. this is the third one they've hosted. It's shaping up well; so far almost 150 acceptances in the week since the first invitations went out. Anyone reading this who would like to come, please do - but very important that you email or phone me to let me know. With these events I need to keep a careful eye on numbers so that catering is covered adequately.

Meanwhile tomorrow night (Friday May 15) our writing group Literati will launch its latest book, a wonderful and quirky collection of Christian vampire stories (yes, really!!)  It has a great title:  Something in the Blood  - Vampire Tales with a Christian Bite.  There are thirteen writers of the 16 Tales - David and I have one each and while all the others are prose we've written poems. Story poems, true. We have no idea how many people will come to the launch in the North Adelaide Immanuel Lutheran Church, where Rev Dr Lynn Arnold will give the launch speech - but we plan to serve, among other suitable goodies garlic bread and red cordial. Very Vampire.


I'll add another post to this page when I can report on the event and its outcome. The press coverage in the Adelaide Advertiser last Monday, with Mark Worthing, Dimity Knight and me all obeying the photographer's orders to 'look horrified' should have created some interest in the event ...

Bystanders by VALERIE VOLK

Monday, 27 April 2015 19:19
 

ECHOES OF STORIES PAST

Autumn posting

Monday, 13 April 2015 16:32

The trees are turning ... the trees are burning. No, it's no longer bushfire season, but the flaming colours of autumn in the Hills are a reminder that this year too is slipping past with unnerving speed.

It's been a busy six weeks, which included Writers' Week with its stimulating guest speakers - the Helen Garner session was really valuable. Then an Easter trip to Canberra for a family gathering, and also reunions with many old friends. On the way home, a stop in Albury where we met for coffee with Paul Grover, editor of Studio journal, where I've had poems published for the last six years. Always a pleasure to be in the company of so many good writers, and a special treat to meet and talk with Paul after all these years of email contact.

Now it's back to routine, with final decisions to be made for the cover of Bystanders, and the tricky question of text on both the front and back to go with the very dramatic image that has been suggested by Wakefield. I never like decision-making, and these are so crucial. Lots of planning to do for both the launch and also general marketing and PR for this book, which is meant for such a wide variety of readers. 

Good news from Poetica Christi, who tell me that they will publish both my 'Sestina of Childhood' and also 'Two Vignettes of Childhood' in their forthcoming book based on the theme of 'inner child', news that really pleased me. Also that this year's Friendly Street Reader will once again include one of my poems - since I started serious publication of my writing there has been at least one of my poems in this annual Reader each year - very encouraging. As was last week's InDaily, where two of my poems, 'The Glass half Empty' and 'Stratification' appeared.

And the other exciting news is that the Christian vampires book  - yes, you heard me! A book of stories and poems about Christian vampires! - by the Literati writing group is now in print. Something in the Blood - a great title, isn't it! - will be launched by Dr Lynn Arnold on Friday, May 15 at 6.30 at the North Adelaide Immanuel Lutheran Church. All welcome. Do come, if this very novel concept intrigues you.