Saturday, April 20, 2013

When you have had breast cancer, and it has been treated, a new persistent pain in your upper body is problematic. A bruise, a torn muscle, or the unmentionable M (for metastase)? So I woke up last Thursday planning my life before the pending oblivion. I would get that damned memoir done, and write the two sequels, and a new one on a different perspective. I would bundle up all my poetry and save it to a USB stick, and I would throw away a lot of old paper. Even though my father's papers have proved invaluable for me, I think I can't burden my own kids with mine. And then I would have a massive garage sale, fly to Zambia one more time, give the money to Edith for her campaign, and say goodbye.

That was the early morning plan, before I got a doctor's opinion. A friend who is a doctor told me to see my own GP as soon as possible. 

I am not afraid of death, but I am nervous about dying.

And it certainly gives me a different way of looking at the clutter around me: photo albums galore, with journalling; collections of stones, shells, bakelite, dolls, African artefacts (some useful, like baskets); shelves full of books (so full, there are new books lying on top of the older vertical ones).

There is so much stuff in the world already, why do I make more of it? There's all my drawings, the supplies for creative album-making, materials for ideas and projects as yet unborn ... Will I be (is anybody, really) remembered for my stuff, for my output, my work, my playful way with words? Or will people talk about my qualities, my contribution, the difference I did or didn't make?

Friday, April 12, 2013

The work is done. The last gig last night. Back story: 16th March, at Darley Market, write a poem for Bob and Liz. Next day, at Harvest Festival, meet them again. Bob says, "Why don't you come to our Retirement Village?" Next day I get a call from the manager to arrange my appearance at their cocktail party  to celebrate the opening of their community centre. That was last night. I write about migration, lost sons, community, bootscooting, gardens and AFL football. The first couple of customers were cautious but the idea of a poetic memento won them over. Then the word spread, and I was busy for the full two hours. I came home sated, happy.

Two days earlier, the school holiday program was at the other end of the scale. Seven young people discovering how much fun and how easy it is to write six first drafts on topics you never thought you'd see in poetry, within an hour. 

The Case For Trading Places exhibition is in Lerderderg Library as well, this month, so I felt well-represented. Last Saturday, too, our Bacch Chat group presented a fantastic talk on sustainable housing from Natasha Mills, owner-builder, and Rob from Yarra Housing. 

And on Tuesday, off to the Salon, a new kind of event at Writers Victoria in the Wheeler Centre. On the way, I sought out colourful and interesting leggings and stockings at Myers, and interesting collections of short stories at Academic Books.

Now I want to leave some links and tags here, so will publish and come back.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I am now recognised in the streets!!! Today I met up with several young people, out shopping with their mothers. They smiled. I smiled. I knew I'd met them somewhere. At a school, perhaps? Yes! And were they still writing poetry, even if it is school holidays? A Yes, a Sometimes, and two shrugs. 
I wasn't even wearing my poet t-shirt. In the first instance, I was with my frail elderly mother, entering the medical centre, carefully. I wished I had my clipboard and could write for them while Mum was being attended to. Then I thought how good it would be to write one for the reception staff. Then I sat and read the editorial in The Victorian Writer magazine.

We are learning three new songs with A-Choired Taste of Gospel: Shackles, Wade in the Water, and Oh, Happy Day/Joyful. There are so many versions of Wade in the Water: which one should we do? We listened to three, and decided we will need to create our very own version - jazz, blues, funk or country, who cares about categories???

Monday, April 1, 2013

Well, it's just been hectic around here, that's all I can say. More schools - Bacchus Marsh, Bungaree, and Lal Lal. Sundays at the Harvest Festival (Bacchus Marsh) and the Autumn Festival (Ballan) A Saturday morning at Darley Market. A couple I met and wrote a poem for at Darley then showed up at the Bookbarn on Harvest Festival Day. A day later I was offered a gig at their Retirement Resort Cocktail Party! Really looking forward to that. Along with the School Holiday Program session, that completes my poetry-gathering.

Although I might just take clipboard and pen to two events on Sunday 14th April anyway. In the morning I'll join the Friends of Werribee River in cleaning up around an iconic part of the river, Harry's Hole. Apparently this pool was once used for swimming sports. Despite erosive floods and invasive weed, you can still see where parents sat to watch their champions.

Then in the afternoon I'm off to Melton with A-Choired Taste of Gospel to sing for our friend Jill who is dealing with the after-effects of a damaging stroke. She has particularly asked us to visit her rehabilitation centre as she so misses singing with us. We miss her too; her voice was the highest soprano and clear as a bell.

A-Choired Taste of Gospel also played a role in the Harvest Festival, being part of the program of the Festival of Hymns & Sacred Music. The new Moorabool Light Orchestra was just brilliant, and I got goosebumps during their performance of Amazing Grace.

Easter has been a gift for my writer-self; I've spent two days starting my memoir about my time in Zambia all over again. This time I'm making it a straight narrative, and the chapters fall inside a structure created by school terms. I finished Term 1 1976 with 5 chapters, and then a chapter on Term 1 Holiday. Our term breaks were all at least a month long - plenty of time to get up to mischief!!