Thursday, 27 September 2018

Rethinking Thought: A Poem

We must learn to be thought 
by the gods, not to think them.
~ Robert Bringhurst


We twist and turn under the weight of inner dissonance, and 
must go in search of radical acceptance—a willingness to 
learn and relearn what is elemental—the root of what is—
to redefine the world through creaturely women’s eyes, and 
be open-hearted and ready for earth-shattering change. Our 
thought must return to the soil beneath our feet, for only 
by returning to the ground of being, the fertile dirt, will 
the body of the Mother be spared, will Life return, will the 
gods welcome us home

not to undergo this search, this transformation of thought, is 
to let Life down, to succumb to un-aliveness, and to 
think ourselves into what can only be the end; for it is 
them—those old gods—who made us. Without them, we cannot be

*

I wrote this poem due to an idea I came across when reading Issue 6 of Dark Matter: Women Witnessing recently. Erica Charis-Molling’s poem, ‘The End of Night,’ is what’s known as a ‘haiku acrostic,’ using each word from a haiku as the first word for each line of her own poem. I thought this would be an interesting challenge, something that I could use to prompt my own writing. I have not used a haiku, but a line from Robert Bringhurst’s poem, ‘Xenophanes,’ to impel my own thoughts.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Wise Words: Things Are Meaning

The cheerful term postcolonial, which I often hear on campuses these days, might suggest that the age of destruction is over. In fact, the colonization is still at fever pitch. The great transformation of gold into lead and of forests into shopping malls continues. Some analogous transformations can be seen in the university itself. One of the reagents used for this purpose is the acid of postmodernism: the thesis that nothing has meaning because everything is language. It works especially well in parallel with the acid of unrestrained commerce: that nothing has meaning because everything is for sale. Repeated exposure to these ideological acids produces human beings who cannot wonder at the world because they are not at all sure the world exists, though they can wonder all the more at social power and reputation. When you take the world away from a human being, something less than a human being is left. That is the inverse of education.
To me it is clear that things have meaning because they are meaning, and that language has meaning – or can have meaning – because it can speak, poorly but truly, of some of the things that language is not. For me, these facts have a practical outcome: because things have meaning and I want them to continue to have meaning, not everything is for sale. In a healthy economy, only the surplus and the precipitate are for sale, because those are the only things in actual need of recirculation. 

(Robert Bringhurst, ‘The Vocation of Being, the Text of the Whole’ in The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind and Ecology, Counterpoint: Berkeley, 2006/2008, pp. 62–63; my emphasis in bold)

Thursday, 20 September 2018

The Greatest Gift: A Poem

The Earth returns me to myself
By taking me out of myself

Bassian (Ground) Thrush (May)
Pied Currawong (May)
King Parrot (June)
Whipbird (June)
Eastern Spinebill (June)

Eastern Yellow Robin (June)


Superb Lyrebird (July)
White-browed Scrub-wren (August)

Heath Banksia


Hairpin Banksia






Laughing Kookaburra

Monday, 17 September 2018

Wise Words: Forms Matter / Matter Forms

… We must remember what matters. A feminist sensibility proceeds from a different understanding of psyche, consciousness and value than sexist non-sense. An understanding of the integrity of being and knowing, sense and sensuality, recognizes that the mind cannot exist without the body, and our bodies cannot live without our minds. Being comes from being, bodies come from other bodies—women’s bodies—and not from the void or the Master’s word. To make sense, we have to make knowledge with our experience, and if, yes, forms matter, it is also true and significant for our worldly desires, that matter forms.

(Somer Brodribb, Nothing Mat(t)ers: A Feminist Critique of Postmodernism, Spinifex Press: North Melbourne, 1992, p. 147)

Thursday, 13 September 2018

On Being Slow To Bloom

I had such plans for this year, yet look! Here we are already in mid-September, and so little seems to have been achieved. This is not to overlook the excitement of my publication announcement last week, or the thirteen little stories I have written as part of my Witchlines studies. Nor does it ignore a few small poems, a few artworks, many photos, and possibly the best—and most popular—thing I have written this year: The Sacredness of What Is. Still, the months have been flying by and, in a strange way, nothing seems to have happened.

Though my studio is complete, I have yet to acquire all the furniture and bits and bobs I need to make it a workable space, so it still stands mostly empty. Thus, the creative work I wish to pursue in there is still an unknown; and despite my Witchlines tales, I have not been writing much.

I wanted to continue my On Poetry series this year, but have not found the energy to string any coherent thoughts together; and, in a closely related topic, I wanted to explore our use of language, how it distances us from earthly reality, and how it could be changed and improved. This has simply been too much for me. Mentally, I am disoriented and exhausted.

I have an ever-growing pile of books to read, yet I am finding reading something of a chore at present, too great a task for my weary body-mind, so I am moving through them only very slowly, and with some degree of apathy—which says nothing about the quality of the books in question, but quite a lot about my state of mind!


As I wrote last December, my intention this year was to explore embodiment—but though I have, my investigations have remained mostly theoretical, limited to reading books and considering various approaches, both philosophical and practical, without actually doing much in a truly embodied sense. (And I am aware this very much defeats the purpose.) I have been continuing to ignore, or merely to grapple with, the difficult and contradictory reality of my body, and how it works—or doesn’t. (A topic for another post, perhaps.)

I have yet to learn how to become my own anchor, yet to find my place of stillness, and to dwell peacefully within my skin (if that is even possible in the very un-peaceful world in which we live). 

Yet it is true that Witchlines kept me very busy, making it near impossible to pursue any other work; and the ongoing and fluctuating fatigue of CFS has required me to rest a great deal. Many things are simply not within my control (which is as it should be). This is not to say that I am blameless—I have been distracted; I have lacked focus; I have sometimes let my bad moods take me to bad places. Still, this year has been what it is, and will continue to be what it will be. I can only live each day, one at a time, and make modest plans in the hope that at some point I will be able to act on them.

Soon, I will at least have my studio, a gentle green cocoon which will contain me as I go in search of unknown things. And though time may be moving much faster than me, if I trust in myself, and this twisting path I slowly walk, I may still find a way to bloom.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Wise Words: Unknowing

We have to learn what we can, but remain mindful that our knowledge not close the circle, closing out the void, so that we forget that what we do not know remains boundless, without limit or bottom, and that what we know may have to share the quality of being known with what denies it. What is seen with one eye has no depth. 

(Ursula Le Guin, Always Coming Home, Grafton Books: London, 1985, p. 29)

~

One of the first lessons about living is the one that consists of knowing how not to know, which does not mean not knowing, but knowing how not to know, knowing how to avoid getting closed in by knowledge, knowing more and less than what one knows, knowing how not to understand, while never being on the side of ignorance. It is not a question of not having understood anything, but of not letting oneself get locked into comprehension. Each time we come to know something, in reality it is a step. Then we have to strike out for the un-known, to make our way along in the dark, with an “apple in our hand” like a candle. 

(Hélène Cixous, ‘The Author in Truth’, in “Coming to Writing” and Other Essays, Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1991, p. 161)

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Heroines

I am so pleased, proud and excited to announce that one of my short stories has just been published in this beautiful anthology of writing by women: Heroines

Published by The Neo Perennial Press, it features stories and poetry that reimagine the heroines of legend, fairytale, and mythology.

My own story, The Fisherman and the Cormorant, was inspired by the tale of transformation and curse-breaking, The Wild Swans, but has been turned upside down, in more ways than one—featuring a transformed woman (rather than the brothers of the original tale), a shining black cormorant rather than white swans, an Australian lakeside setting, and … well, you will just have to read it to find out.

This anthology is a women-made thing of beauty. I can’t wait to dive into reading it!

It can be purchased from The Neo Perennial Press here(Note: Orders are for Australia only at this point, though I believe that international orders will be possible in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you wish to order from overseas, please make a direct enquiry.)


Monday, 3 September 2018

Wise Words: We Are Sacred

We say everything comes back. And you cannot divert the river from the riverbed. We say every act has its consequences. That this place has been shaped by the river, and that the shape of this place tells the river where to go.

… everything returns, we say, and one thing follows another, there are limits, we say, on what can be done and everything moves. We are all part of this motion, we say, and the way of the river is sacred, and this grove of trees is sacred, and we ourselves, we tell you, are sacred. 

(Susan Griffin, Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her, The Women’s Press: London, p. 186)
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