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Still summer

Monday, 23 February 2015 14:50

It's February. It's summer. It's hot - and I'm happy. I love this weather, even the 40 degree days. But then, that doesn't mean that I'm anti the cold weather. In fact, I really enjoy the minus 30 weather of Siberia in mid-winter, or the Arctic Circle, when there's almost total night. Am I just a creature of extremes? Or do I lack discrimination? Maybe both.

So summer is rolling on, and I seem to have done very little new writing. The hectic socialising of the Christmas two months meant of little - let's be accurate - NO spare time, with non-stop house guests, and months of housewife/hostess activities. It wasn't writer's block I was experiencing, but it was Writer Deprivation. It's amazing that I actually did manage to write two poems in amongst all that cooking/washing/ironing ...  But so good now to be getting back to my desk and writing again.

The two Studio reviews of Passion Play appeared in the latest issue of the journal, and gave me great joy. They are both now on the 'reviews' pages of the the Passion Playsection of this web site, if you'd like to share my pleasure in them. I suggested to someone that I'd like them on my tombstone; she pointed out tersely that I'd need a mausoleum to fit them. Too true. 

My other main activity at present is preparing for the publication of Bystanders - the new book Wakefield Press is releasing in May, ready for the June 4 launch by Lynn Arnold. I hope very much that all friends and anyone interested will come to that event at the West Torrens Council Library Auditorium  - but do let me know if you'd like to join us, just for catering numbers. I'm interested to see responses to this new book - my sixth, but the first full length prose publication. Up to now, my published fiction has all been shorter pieces, mainly short stories. At least my non-poetry-reading friends are feeling great relief about the new book ...  Strange, that!

Flowers & Forebears by VALERIE VOLK

Monday, 16 February 2015 21:31
 

A FEAST FOR THE SENSES

Flowers & Forebears

Monday, 16 February 2015 21:24

So many months ....

Friday, 30 January 2015 16:34

It's hard to believe that two months have slipped by since I last posted on this web site, but Christmas has come and gone with its nine weeks of non-stop house guests. Lovely to have them all, as offspring came from interstate and other friends from overseas, and the months went by in a seemingless endless stream of meals cooked and washing and ironing, but oh so exhausting. I can see why my writing life has languished in the morass of living. Maybe a holiday from writing wasn''t a bad idea, no matter how frustrating. But now this other life resumes ...

Flowers & Forebears has had a great response. So many people buying multiple copies to send as small gifts or in lieu of Christmas cards. I had two re-printings done by Ginninderra Press and am once more almost out of stock. What a great idea of Stephen Matthews and Brenda Eldridge to create this series of Pocket Poets, and how good for the poetry world to establish a whole new reading audience through these small non-threatening volumes. Check out the sample poems that I am about to put on this web site, and you'll see why I say that flowers have a wonderful power to evoke memories.

Meanwhile, enough publications of my poetry have reached my mail box during these two months to keep me on track. Poems published in the last two months in magazines like The Mozzie, Tamba, Poetry Matters, InDaily Poets' Corner, Poetry Monash, have all reassured me that there is a writing public out there that I can connect with, and lovely incidents like the lady who came to me in tears after a poetry reading in the Adelaide Hills to say how much she had been moved by my poem. It's moments like  these that keep me writing when frustration sets in.

I'm waiting eagerly for the next edition of the journal Studio to arrive  - I've seen an advance copy of the two reviews of Passion Play that it will contain, and they are heart-warming. I definitely will post a link to these when they come. Meanwhile I'm working hard on organising for the publication and promotion of my next book, the sixth, to be released by Wakefield for a June 4 launch. More of this in another post on this page.

Back home again!

Thursday, 27 November 2014 09:24

When I look at this 'News' page, it's a horrible reminder of how fast time passes. The last entry is dated August, and it's now three months later. True, we were overseas for almost two months of that time, and both the Irish and the German weeks were splendid. Totally different! Ireland was mainly a bus tour, hosted by the well-known Celtic singer from Melbourne, Maria Forde, whose passion for Irish music and the homeland of her forefathers made this trip a real delight. Our most articulate bus driver, Oliver, proved a mine of information on Irish history and proved to be a raconteur par excellence! The combination of unbelievably spectacular scenery, good weather, and many nights of music making in warm and friendly Irish pubs made for a very happy trip. (And yes, I did write a 'poem a day' - and have come back from this tour too with a swag of memories captured in verse.)


The German weeks were equally good in a very different way. Travel by train the length and breadth of Germany was quite an experience in itself ... you try manipulating heavy cases up the steep narrow steps of German regional trains! But the warmth of welcome and wonderful hospitality of our friends and relatives in towns all over the country made this time also a very happy experience. Perhaps the best moment for me was sitting in the warm golden light of a small chocolate/cake cafe in the main street of Oberammergau while outside in the grey afternoon snowflakes fell lightly. Magic!

Then it was home and back into work! Straight on with preparation of the Bystanders book for release next May, while meanwhile I found myself part of the very innovative Ginninderra Press series of publications: little Pocket Poet books, each one featuring twenty pages of poetry chosen by writers who have published books with this small boutique publishing house. I found that I had many poems written over the years about flowers and their power to evoke memories - so was born my book in the series, called Flowers & Forebears, released this week. Most of them poems which recollect my grandparents, parents, significant others, memories conjured up by the flowers of the title.  Samples and more about this book will be featured elsewhere in this website in the next few days. And yes, you will be able to order copies from the last page, as usual.

So it's been a very busy time, and the influx of Christmas house guests is almost on me. I love it.

 

Second half year

Monday, 18 August 2014 15:06

And how rapidly it's going! Suddenly it's more than half way through August, and getting very close to our trip to Ireland and Germany. We do seem to be totally unprepared for departure, but then I usually feel like this at this stage. So maybe all will be well.

So much of this last month has gone on double-barrelled work: lots more book promotion of Passion Play - more guest speaking, which is always fun, and audiences have been so receptive that it's worth the psyching up ahead. But at the same time I've been getting organised for next year's book. Once the contract with Wakefield Press was signed, a great flood of relief swept over me, especially as all the readers ahead had given it such a positive reception and written great letters of endorsement for it. Also relieved that Wakefield want to publish it next year instead of 2014 - this suits me admirably and leaves me free to go away with a clear conscience and time to do the needed revisions and fine-tuning when I get back. 

So Bystanders (another book that's been simmering in my mind for many decades) will see the light of day in the second half of 2015.

Meanwhile I've had the fun of getting back the copies of A Poem a Day, based on the 33 poems I wrote, one a day, as we travelled round Spain last year. David put it together using Photoclub, a business that's worth a strong recommendation, and each day has a double page, a colour photo on the left and the poem for that day on the right hand side. I'm delighted with the way it's turned out, and we've produced a few copies for family members. I'm now thinking I might try to record our time travelling in Ireland in the same way. Journals and photo books are a great reminder, and we'll always do these, but the 'poem a day' book captures memories in such a special way. The power of verse, perhaps?

Happy days!

Saturday, 05 July 2014 06:35

Yet another month has disappeared ...  all very well for T.S.Eliot to talk about measuring out life with coffee spoons - I measure mine out the occasional web page entries! And this one is such good news. Yesterday Wakefield Press confirmed that they will publish my new book, Bystanders, next year - a great relief to have this established, as it's a book I really want to see finally in print. Someone asked me how long it had taken to write. I answered, honestly, all my life. True, because the genesis of this book is some writing I did back in 1958, and that's over fifty years ago. A VERY long gestation period. So middle of next year, once again my life comes full circle.

Meanwhile, other things this month have been surprising. Like the sudden unexpected decision to travel overseas later this year. That started with a trip David was very keen to do - a tour of Ireland, which he loves and where I've never been, to be followed by four weeks in Germany, travelling north to south, east to west, by a series of train trips - to see all the friends and relatives we have who are scattered all over this beautiful country. So, having said this 2014 was a stay-at-home year, we've decided to listen to the niggling sense of memento mori and go. But it's been a monumental jigsaw puzzle effort, working out an itinerary that, at this late stage of planning, fits in with everyone else's travel plans so that we can can catch up with all the old friends we want to see. Worth the work, and we'll be covering a lot of territory.

Back at the coal face

Monday, 09 June 2014 12:11

Last few weeks have been, thankfully, a bit more focused, and there's been a bit more writing done than I've managed for many months. A few poems, but the main effort has been to finish the new book, Bystanders. It's out for reading by a few people at this stage, and will be going to a publisher at the end of the week. I'm in that awful stage of huge self-doubt. Should never have written this. It's prose. Should have stuck to poetry. Maybe should stop writing altogether. Time to stop and smell the roses. Can't do that. The rose season is over, and it's almost time for the winter pruning. Perhaps a message in that too?

Back on deck

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 14:39

Another month gone by, and yet again I wonder where it's disappeared to. Just before Easter came the lovely Words@theWall evening, where Ros Schultz and I read at the State Library a smorgasbord of the poetry we've written over the years. Next day it was off to Canberra for Easter with family and catch-up time with old friends. Since return, there have been a number of Rotary Club speaking engagements - Holdfast Bay and Marion Clubs, followed later that week by Edwardstown. These are always really enjoyable events, as was taking part in the Hills Laneways Festival, where a group of poets read from our works outside the Red Cacao chocolate shop and cafe in bright sunshine with crowds of passersby wandering around the festival areas.

But now it's back to the desk again, and the computer, as I try to draw to an end the next book, another one many years in the thinking, and now at last getting on to paper. This book at last is the prose work that members of my family have been urging me to try for years. But in between, just to keep the muse pacified, scraps of poetry for the many writing groups we now belong to. It's so satisfying to be back to writing. All too soon June and July will bring the next crop of speaking engagements, and the balancing act will be on again ....

Afternoon at the Library

Tuesday, 15 April 2014 19:38

A lovely guest speaking session at the Mount Barker Library last Saturday. Not a large crowd (I gather most Hills people were off in Hahndorf watching Professor Tony Robertson film his TV history show) but a most responsive group to talk to about Oberammergau. It's always good to find some familiar faces from the past in an audience, and it was fun to catch up with people from my Immanuel teaching days. Next public event: the Words@the Wall guest reading at the State Library on Wednesday evening.