Currents: What I’m working on, by Helen McDonald

In recent weeks I have been aware of a light tap-tapping on my shoulder, sporadic but consistent, that I’ve been trying to ignore. Waving it away like a bothersome fly, I finally began to tune in after receiving my fifth, albeit encouraging, rejection from a literary journal. 

I hasten to add that I have been fortunate enough to have had a number of my poems published, in Australia and overseas, so I know that the tap on my shoulder is not a gentle suggestion to pack away my pens and give it all up. My thinking has changed from the years when a ‘no’ from a publication would send me into a spiral of rejection with thoughts of ‘I’ll never be good enough!’ My mantra now, thanks to experience and the unwavering support of Elwood Writers, is: ‘this poem hasn’t found a home yet’. I’ve come to realise that it can all come down to a suitable ‘fit’ – whether the publisher or journal editor can find a place for this particular poem. It might not complement other work chosen for the collection, or indeed may not be what the editor has in mind. Of course we won’t always hit the jackpot. I’m jostling for recognition in a field of highly talented and creative poets. The way I write won’t appeal to everyone, and – this is an important point – one editor might love the piece, while another won’t be moved at all. In many cases it comes down to an individual’s choice.

I think the message I’m now receiving from the universe, is maybe it’s time to step back and reflect on exactly what I have been saying for all these years. I write because I have to and there’s always more to say.  It’s my way of making sense of where I fit into the whole chaotic turbulence that is life. Affirmation is incredibly important to all artists, but so too is trusting in oneself. 

So I’m taking time now to gather my poems into a collection that will say: this is me – my work, my thoughts. This is how I navigate this world. And I hope to learn something about myself along the way.

Chamber Poets lives again

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:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChamberPoets

The July event this Saturday 9th will feature three poets: Angela Costi, Grant Caldwell and Claire Gaskin, who are launching An Embroidery of Old Maps and New; blue balloon (Collective Effort Press); and Eurydice Speaks and Ismene’s Survivable Resistance respectively. 

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. 

Chamber Poets founder Myron Lysenko’s and Alice Wanderer’s haiku poetry collections – a ghost gum leans over and Lips Licked Clean – were launched along with Kevin Brophy’s latest poetry collection, In This Part of the World.

Inspired by the beautiful readings from each poet, some 20 people hungry for spoken word took to the open mic with their diverse and eclectic styles of poetry.”

Creatrix 57 Haiku

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:

https://wapoets.com/creatrix-57-haiku/

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.

Hello to 2022

Happy New Year!

We thought we’d kick off the 2022 blogs with some recent activity from Elwood Writers members’ individual websites.

Click here for the latest post from Jennifer. You’ll find Margaret’s latest by clicking here. And for Barry’s, click here. And while she might not have an individual site (yet), click here for a recent EW post on Helen’s poetry.

If you do find time to visit any or all of those websites, why not linger and explore. You won’t be disappointed.

Coming soon, news about a forthcoming Elwood Writers radio project. Stay tuned. In the meantime, happy reading and writing.

EW

oxygen | Issue 2 October 2021

Elwood Writer Helen has poetry published in Issue 2 of oxygen, which came out last month.

oxygen Issue 2 October 2021 | ISSN 2653-0376

oxygen is a biannual magazine, issued in April and October. Subscriptions are $30 per year, for two issues including postage.

Contact:
Cheryl Howard, PO Box 614, Woodend, Vic 3442.
Email: poetry.clh@gmail.com

And remember, one of the best ways to support writers is to read their work. That way, you’re supporting the industry they work in, and everyone benefits.

Happy reading, as always!

UNUSUAL WORK No. 32

The latest issue of Unusual Work (edited by Π.O.) features Helen’s poem ‘Breaking Up’, and is now available to read and enjoy.

If you haven’t already subscribed, get hold of a copy of the journal for $10 (cash/cheque/money order) from:

Collective Effort Press
P.O. Box 2430
GPO Melbourne
Vic 3001

$30 gets a subscription for 3 issues.

The current issue also features work by Retta Hemensley, Jeltje, D.G.Lloyd, Eddie Caruso, ACR, Albert Rotstein, Linda Judge, Henry Briffa, Ross Jackson, Alan Wearne, Allan Padgett, Michael Leach, Glen Murdoch, Peter Murphy, Gershon Maller, Jebediah Costin, Abe Dunovits, Sandy Caldow, Peter Jones, and Π.O., and includes a tribute to Retta Hemensley from her life long partner Kris, with FLASHBACK poems from ACR, and a tribute and salute to Kate Jennings.

Lots to savour. Happy reading!

 

Ice Cream Social

Who likes ice cream? We do! Who loves an ice-cream social? We certainly do! So imagine our delight when we heard that American Writers Review is throwing one on Saturday October 30. And to add to the joy, Helen and Barry will be among contributors reading a selection of their pieces from the latest issue of AWR, Turmoil and Recovery. There’ll also be readings from Art in the Time of COVID-19. Both books are published by San Fedele Press.

Our Ice Cream Social at Wilkes University was a delight. While we can’t hand out the ice cream this year, we can share some of the wonderful work of our latest two books with you virtually.

San Fedele Press

Now, because this event is being hosted from the Jersey Shore in the US, we have to adjust the time to our location here in Australia. And it turns out that we’ll be enjoying ice-cream over an early breakfast on the Sunday morning. Even die-hard ice-cream fans Jennifer and Barry would struggle to eat any at that hour. It’ll more likely be a strong-coffee-and-Danish-pastry social for us.

San Fedele Press say that this event is of particular interest to ‘those who are interested in writing for our publication, new writers, and seasoned writers’. If you’d like to learn more about the publications and the event, go here. You’ll find the Zoom link at the top of the page you land on.

We might see you there. With ice cream, Danish, or otherwise!

Poetry d’Amour

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
Poetry d’Amour 2021

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.

American Writers Review 2021

American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery

Barry just sent us this picture of him holding his newly arrived contributor copy of American Writers Review. Nice hat, Barry. He says he’s really been enjoying delving in to the book since receiving it a few days ago. It’s the ideal companion, he says, for curling up with on chilly winter nights in old Melbourne town.

The theme of this year’s edition of the journal is ‘turmoil and recovery’, and the anthology features work from an array of international writers and artists, including stories and poetry from Barry and fellow Elwood Writer Helen.

To find out how you could also be posing in a beautiful garden setting with your very own copy of this wonderful book, head over to the journal’s website at the link here.

Happy posing and reading!

Back in March …

Back in March, Helen read a selection of work from the Elwood Writers anthology Every Second Tuesday, on Castlemaine’s 94.9 MAINfm program The Quiet Carriage. The four pieces were: ‘Ironing’ by Margaret McCaffrey; ‘On a Sunday Morning’ by Jennifer Bryce; ‘Deluge’ and ‘Stark against the sky’ by Helen McDonald.

In case you missed the original broadcast, the recording can be found here. The Elwood Writers segment kicks in around the 33-minute mark, though we’d recommend listening to the entire show. If at any time you fancy another listen, the sound file will soon be accessible within the podcasts and recordings area of this website.

The Quiet Carriage is MAINfm’s dedicated literature show all about books and authors, hosted by Paul J Laverty every Friday at 1:00pm. More details including listening info is available here.

Thanks to Paul and the station for supporting our work so enthusiastically, and to Helen for reading it so beautifully.

Happy listening!

Elwood Writers