While spending time putting together our tribute to fellow Elwood Writer Jenny for Vision Australia Radio, creativity continues to extend in diverse directions for us all.
Helen is delighted to have her poem ‘Identity in Two Acts’ included in the latest edition of Unusual Work (#35) published by Collective Effort Press, editor πO (PiO). For more info and to find out how to order your copy of Unusual Work, just follow this link here – you will be adding your support to our vitally important small presses and publishers.
Also, Helen was thrilled to be awarded Poet of the Month at the April Chamber Poets spoken word event held in Woodend, regional Victoria. The event was dedicated to commemorating ANZAC Day and celebrating International Haiku Day. Helen’s moving prose poem ‘The Diary’, about her grandfather’s experiences as a foot soldier in WW1, was followed by a poignant haiku – this reading encompassed both themes and clearly resonated with the audience.
The Local is distributed throughout the Central Highlands including Daylesford, Hepburn, Trentham, Kyneton, Malmsbury, Lyonville, Glenlyon, Tylden, Newlyn, Blampied, Creswick, Clunes, Blackwood, Woodend – and everywhere in-between.
Helen has been busy recently, happily reconnecting with a cultural and literary community that disappeared two years ago, “leaving many poets and writers of a much-loved spoken word event quite bereft”. Chamber Poets attracts poets from Melbourne and regional Victoria, and will be held every second Saturday of the month from 1pm–4.30pm in the Woodend RSL (Returned & Services League) in the Macedon ranges. For more information about Chamber Poets, visit the following link:
All are welcome to come along and listen to some of Australia’s leading poets and to share their own poems, perhaps written in isolation, that just now might be ready to go out into the world.
Here Helen shares with us her delight at being at the return of the Chamber Poets held in June:
“It’s been a long road for all writers since you-know-what sent us all scurrying indoors, doomed to an artistic life played out on Zoom with its intermittent freezes, loss of audio and anxiety-making meetings, seminars and classes. Needs must.
So many books/collections were written and launched into this weird cybersphere. But happily, writers are emerging from their imposed cocoons, and book launches are at last taking place with live, wildly enthusiastic audiences. So it was that after a hiatus of two years, the Victorian regional Chamber Poets returned triumphantly on June 11th to Woodend, with the largest audience in the group’s history. There were three book launches, plus an open mic section and entertainment by the funky and humorous Black Forest Smoke band, and much-lauded local choir The Woodend Warblers.
Helen has recently been exploring the haiku/senryu/haibun poetry forms. She is delighted to have two haiku included in the latest WA Poets Inc online journal, Creatrix 57 Haiku. Read Helen’s poems at the following link:
If you ever happen to find yourself in the Macedon Ranges of country Victoria, you might catch a glimpse of Helen on a gingko walk with other haiku poets – seeking inspiration in nature to write more of this beautiful short-form poetry.
Love in popular culture is so overrun and overwrought with mass-market metaphor that it’s hard, especially in love’s thrall, to find language unsaid before, to find words that do justice … It is the intention of Poetry d’Amour to explore new and intriguing ways of saying “I love you”.
WA Poets Inc
We’re delighted to learn that two of Helen’s poems feature in this year’s issue of Poetry d’Amour from WA Poets Inc. They are ‘Socks’ and ‘Do we ever grow up?’.
You can buy copies of the anthology directly from the WA Poets Inc shop, here. Back issues are also available from the shop.
We can’t wait to get hold of this beautiful publication. Congratulations to Helen and the other featured poets. Happy reading to everyone! And much love, of course.
Congratulations to Helen whose two poems ‘Gasp’ and ‘Carry the Truth’ have been selected for inclusion in Creatrix #50, the online poetry journal of the WA Poets Inc. You can find Helen’s poems here.
Earlier this year, when poets could still meet, perform and share their work in person (remember those times?), she was awarded Poet of the Month at Chamber Poets, held in regional Victoria, for her poem ‘Unsaid’. The judge was poet and author Kevin Brophy, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne.
Don’t ever let it be said that a mere world-wide pandemic can hold back Elwood Writers!
How do we write? And, importantly, where do we write? Each of the Elwood Writers has their own method, quirky or disciplined. Some are methodical, setting aside regular precious hours to pen papers, while others wait for inspiration to strike and write ‘off the hoof’ – and that would be me. I find Place particularly important – ideas and images come randomly; when I’m out walking, in the middle of a busy cafe, or regularly at 4 am. It’s handy to have a notebook or even a smartphone to capture those fleeting thoughts. It can be a chaotic process.
I write poetry and have just returned from a wonderful, enriching two weeks in Japan, the spiritual home of haiku. Never was a sense of place more powerful to me than being in the land of the rising sun during both Sakura – the spring cherry blossom season – and the last of the winter snowfalls.
Finding myself mentally free from the entrapments of daily chores and routine, I felt creatively open to these unique sensory experiences. In Kyoto I visited the 17th century home of Mukai Kyorai, the great haiku master Basho’s most famous disciple. I even dared to write a Sakura haiku and post it in the dedicated haiku letterbox. The timing was serendipitous, as it was close to International Haiku Day.
Where I live in country Victoria we have a monthly poetry-reading afternoon, Chamber Poets. In the very week when I was trudging through four inches of snow on a mountain pass on the ancient Nakasendo Way, my haiku, which seemed to spring effortlessly into my head day after day, were being read aloud at Chamber Poets as that important day was celebrated. The joy for me was in being able to relay that wondrous sense of place to my fellow poets so many thousands of kilometres away.
Earlier in March I had the privilege of being the featured poet at Chamber Poets. Our meetings are held in the local RSL (Returned Servicemen’s League) Club. I read a short memoir piece about my English grandfather’s experiences in the trenches as a 17-year-old foot soldier in World War 1, and I was both comforted and overwhelmed to share his history in that most appropriate of places.
Poetry and place; the words bind us, wherever we are.
Helen McDonald’s poem Deluge is published in Poetry Matters, Issue 31, November 2017 (edited and published by Cheryl Howard).
From the journal’s website: “Poetry Matters is a home-grown print poetry journal that began in Spring 2006. Censorship can take many forms. The inability to find a place of publication can be social censorship. Poetry is freedom.”
To discover more about Poetry Matters and to find out how to subscribe, click here.
Elwood Writer Helen’s poem Paradise is published by Celapene Press in Short and Twisted 2016. Short and Twisted is an annual anthology of short-stories and poetry with a twist at the end. Congratulations, Helen! You can read Helen’s poem below. And if you’d like to enjoy more of this wonderful anthology, the book is available here.
Under brooding skies
beside the sheening metal sea
scuttling children, two-legged crabs,
tunnel to China, heads down bottoms up,
side-stepping drifting jellyfish
lazy see-through saucers just off-shore.
A seaside edge of seaweed currants
tortured palms, abandoned spades.
A flock of yachts strains, bows to the breeze.
Gulls on matchstick legs, beaks to the wind,
sentinels to the barricades banked along the sand
stretching out to claim the beach.
Signs that scream ‘Keep out’.
It’s not for you