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Nearing Departure

Saturday, 22 June 2013 09:30

Hard to believe that in three days we'll be setting off for Adelaide Airport and two days later be in Madrid! Even harder to believe when I look at the pre-packing chaos on my bedroom floor. Somehow all that stuff for over ten weeks away has to be neatly assembled in my case. And weighed ... But it's going to be sunny in Spain, and that's worth all the effort. Meanwhile I've finished checking two stages of proofs on the next book and will have only the final read-through on return in early September.

We're Back

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 09:30

Oh, such mixed feelings! Wonderful to be back after eleven weeks with friends and family. But so hard to say goodbye to the freedom and the fun of being away. After five weeks in Spain, roaming from Madrid to Valencia, then south to all those romantic Andalucian cities- Granada with its Alhambra, Cordoba and its mosque, Ronda, Arcos - then north through places like Caceres and Salamanca, to the end of the pilgrim track at Santiago, all across the north borders of Spain, cooking classes in Arriondas, eating pinxtos in San Sebastian, south again to glorious Segovia with that magical aqueduct. and back to gracious Madrid ... they were weeks to remember.

Splendid Afternoon

Sunday, 15 September 2013 09:30

A very satisfying afternoon at the final event of the Lockleys Seniors Writing Competition on the topic of 'My Hope', with awards in both sections: a Second Place in the Poetry competition and First Place in the Prose Writing contest. This annual event always sets a challenge, in the form of a topic or theme for writers within the local government area, and I always enjoy exploring what can be done with a topic. And the prize money will certainly be useful in paying for four coming book launches.

Juggling

Saturday, 28 September 2013 09:30

This is really what it feels like at the moment - an enormously complicated juggling act, with four book launches in the space of four weeks in four different states.

Radio Days

Tuesday, 08 October 2013 10:30

A really great experience last Saturday morning: an interview with Radio Adelaide's Cath Kenneally for her Arts Breakfast program. It was a lovely opportunity to talk about the coming book (launch date in Adelaide October 16) with an interviewer who sounded so interested and enthusiastic that I really enjoyed the whole experience. It also gives a terrific preview of the book. If you'd like to find out more about 'Passion Play - the Oberammergau Tales', the interview is now on the Radio Adelaide web site - just go to https://radio.adelaide.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Valerie-Volk.mp3

Mid-launches

Sunday, 20 October 2013 10:30

It's actually not quite the middle of the launch 'season' but getting towards it. The Adelaide launch of Passion Play last week was a wonderful night  - about 170 people at the West Torrens Library Auditorium were welcomed by the Mayor, John Trainer, who handed over to Steven Marshall, leader of the state opposition, to MC the evening.

Melbourne Book Launch

Saturday, 26 October 2013 10:30

Another launch of Passion Play over - and what a great night. Readings Bookshop in Carlton is always such a great venue, and Chris Wallace-Crabbe introduced the book to the fifty people there with his usual charm and erudition. I listened, fascinated, as he drew my attention to bits in the book that I'd almost forgotten writing. A lovely crowd to talk to, as I found when I did my own author-speech, and the feedback comments about the book and the evening have been terrific. It's nights like this that make you feel the whole project has been really rewarding!

Canberra Book Launch

Thursday, 07 November 2013 10:30

Book launches are always such fun - and last night at Paperchain Bookshop in Manuka, Canberra, was no exception. Lovely to catch up with old friends from my own schooldays, as well as ex-students from my teaching life. But sure makes you aware of the passing of the years … !

Sample Poetry

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 14:39

Escape of the writer

Socrates thought he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar. - Elizabeth Gilbert.

For years I’ve kept this daemon down, subdued,
banished it to corners of my mind
where it has lurked, a naughty child,
in mute rebellion. At times
it has escaped, and run triumphant
from the room, to wreak swift havoc
in my busy life.
But always in the past, recapturable,
able to be tamed, and sent once more
to stand, with face to wall, so that
I did not even see the few salt tears
that stung their way down the resentful cheeks. 

Yet quietly it gathered strength, and waited,
oh, so patiently. Silently it grew,
flexing muscles that I had not noticed,
pondering, and taking to itself
the interim years, the wealth of living,
that it had been the sacrificial offering to obtain.
Slowly it gathered calculated strength,
’til now it’s found its moment,
and it’s sprung.

No longer in the corner, mute, rebellious,
for now it’s turned on me, and with an odd maturity,
it tells me that its time has come.
The door has opened: now this imp from hell – or heaven –
runs my life.

  

The writer’s jungle

For writers are the scavengers of life.
We prowl the wasteland of our past experience.
Sniffing carrion on the air, we raise our heads, alert,
circling, narrowing down the hunt,
until we find the moment that we’re scenting,
quietly decaying, then we pounce. 

I’m minded of the Garner story, and the notes she took
standing at the graveside of a friend.
So many others shocked …I nod my head
in decorous agreement, but all the time I’m thinking
‘I could do that too.’ 

Once there, we do not treat the flesh
with proper privacy. No, instead we burrow in.
Compelled by need – or greed – we ravage corpses,
then pick the bones with a disgusted gusto
’til soon another poem is completed,
and we sink back replete. 

 

Blur

Fog descends.
She feels its tendrils,
subtle and insidious,
drift into her mind.
Its soft thick blanket
soon obscures her memories.
She tries to grope
for people, places of her past
but sighs frustrated,
her desperation growing.
This too will be forgotten.

 

At Finn McCool’s

  (for Chris)

Against the clatter of the pub, the clink of glasses,
the snatches of loud talk and burst of laughter,
float sounds of a lone harp.
Her blonde hair swings across her face; deftly
she fingers, concentrating, strings that release
such melody. The others sit,
guitar stilled, flute and whistle laid aside,
abstracted, focused on the music.
Notes drift aloft, above pub laughter,
but in stray pauses conversation is arrested.
All are caught in magic of the moment.
The possibilities beyond the here and now,
the humdrum of the everyday, that she’s revealing …

  

Driving home through the hills

There are days when every liquid amber hurts –
Their blazing colours can assault the eye –
Because they mean that autumn’s drawing to a close
And soon it will be winter’s chill, for all things die.

There are days when every tinkling tune can hurt –
The words are trite, predictable, but how they score
With every note a wound, because they wind their way
To final bars that signify the music’s o’er.

There are days when sunsets glowing in the west –
So chocolate-box, painful extravagance of hue –
Can make me falter and draw anguished breath
Because I know they soon will fade from view.

I enter Heysen Tunnels with eyes blurred –
These too like all else have a predetermined end.
But as I round their final curves I see
With doubting joy the light beyond the bend.

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014 14:01

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