Our congratulations go to Susan Beinart for receiving a "Commended" award from the judge of the Bondi Writers Short Story competition; and to Sunny Wong who was awarded First Prize in the recent Memoir competition held by the Eastwood Hills branch of the FAW.
And congratulations to Cynthia Rowe for her latest publication, Pennyweight Flat. See details below.
The member contribution this month is from Carol Chandler for the following excerpt from one of her published short stories. Thank you Carol for this contribution and congratulations for your latest publication "Anonymous Caller" whose cover is pictured here:
Excerpt from ORDER, CHAOS AND TIME
First published Idiom23
On the second day in London I was drawn to Highgate to see the poet Keats’ house. I took the bus towards the cemetery and walked across the heath, thinking about the poet, Blake, and how he used to walk across the city from the south to a group of friends and supporters in the north. A tangle of kites flew in the breeze as I made my way towards the exit, into a street with mansions, young black models and fashionable mothers.
The house was a simple white two storey building, surrounded by a garden of flowers; daffodils, violets, roses and bluebells. Keats had come here after a period of distress nursing his brother until he died of tuberculosis. It was a house of solace where he composed “Ode to a Nightingale”, spending time in the garden, and it was during this time that he met the poet, Coleridge, when he was living under the care of a doctor at Highgate for his opium addiction.
As I walked through the entrance hall and into a room with two glass doors, looking out onto a wild tangle of cornflowers and a tree with white blossoms, I remembered that Keats had lain in this room, drawing strength from the garden as he battled his own tuberculosis.
The illness eventually killed him and as I moved from room to room, I began reading the stories of Keats’ life, how Joseph Severn and Charles Brown had been his closest friends, and how, during the time of his brother’s illness, he had written in his journal
“I am obliged to write, and plunge into abstract images to lose myself of his countenance, his voice and feebleness”
I began thinking about male friendship, how Keats’ relationship with his brother reminded me of my husband, Jack’s, closeness with his best friend who had died recently. The notes on the wall described how Brown had nursed Keats, just as Keats had nursed his brother, carrying out Keats' final wishes, inscribing on his tombstone
“Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.” “What did that mean?” I wondered.
That transitional image of water. A journey of the spirit across time and space.
I left Keats’ house and walked towards Highgate cemetery, but I quickly lost my way and approached a woman, asking directions to the cemetery. She told me to follow her as she was walking part of the way and we continued on through the streets in companionable silence until she stopped and pointed me in the right direction. I passed by the library at the edge of the park, a black spiked fence around the perimeter. Birds flitted between lilies through the fence as I ambled by an ancient church, an oak tree and a white flowering shrub, bluebells and bracken ferns.
As I approached the entrance of the cemetery I could see a small alcove like a house. A woman sat inside so I asked her for directions to the writer, George Eliot’s, tomb and she told me to follow the path and turn left. I continued walking, past a dense profusion of plants, vines and creepers, stone angels and crosses, crypts and urns.
There was an eerie silence as I walked towards Eliot’s grave, aware that there was no one else in the cemetery now except myself. I could see the headstone in the distance as I turned down a grassy pathway and sat beside the grave, a needle grey obelisk like Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames Embankment, inscribed with the words
“Of those immortal dead who live again in minds made better of their presence” “Here lies the Body of “George Eliot” Mary Ann Cross Born 22nd November 1819 Died 22nd December 1880.”
The grave was covered in cornflowers and purple flowers, two toned ivy and a shrub with small delicate leaves. A flourish of greenery caught my eye as I sat in complete silence beside the grave, aware only of the blue cornflowers, wild dandelions and ivy behind the obelisk flowing from the adjoining grave onto Eliot's.
I sat there for some time, before leaving the grave and walking through the cemetery, past crosses with angels, flowers and gold lettering on black marble gravestones.
The light was beginning to dim as I made my way to the cemetery gates, following paths of swirling and cluttered greenery, through this unruly resting place of earth and souls, past an inscription “Courage Wisdom Love. But when so sad, thou can’st not sadder, cry, and upon thy so sore loss, shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s Ladder, pitched between heaven and Charing Cross.”
Frankie Dowling, Gavin Austin, Anne Skyvington, Erica Barlow, Dorothy Paramore, Susan Beinart, Prim Moss, Toni Paramore, Sunny Wong-Haslinger .
Garth Alperstein, Carol Chandler, Pam Trustrum.
Dina Davis, Sandra Fong, Carolyn Newman, Libby Sommer.
The President, F D, opened the meeting.
As the position of secretary was not filled at the AGM, Frankie asked the meeting for a volunteer for the position. No one came forward so Frankie decided to appoint a minute taker for every monthly meeting, rotating through the members until someone wished to take the role of secretary. He asked that the minutes of each meeting be sent to him and he volunteered to write the quarterly report for the Writers Voice. He agreed to keep the minutes for this meeting.
The president then updated the meeting re The Seagull Award. No entries have been received as yet and he reminded the meeting that the closing date is 8th of November. He also told the meeting that the competition is only open to financial members.
The meeting split into two groups for the feedback sessions, one for prose and one for poetry.
Gavin and Dorothy read poetry to their group. Anne, Susan, Erica and Sunny read prose to their group. All members were pleased with the feedback they received and felt it would help them to work further on their pieces.
After the feedback sessions, Frankie advised the meeting that he will not be present for the November meeting. He appointed Anne to run the meeting in his absence and to keep the minutes. He also advised the meeting that he had booked the Theory Room for the 2014 meetings and that he would be applying for a grant from the Waverley Council.
Before the close of meeting a visitor, Dina Davis had a piece read for feedback as well.
The meeting closed at 16:00
Don''t forget to enter your story in our very own Seagull Award competition: closing date 8th November
Pennyweight Flat - back cover blurb
Pennyweight Flat is set during the Gold Rush in 1854 at the time of the Eureka Stockade. The story centres on Yann Sauvage, grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte, who has come to the Colony of Victoria to seek out his father, Jean-Paul Sauvage, a deserter from the French army.
The element of danger for Yann is almost always present – from political enemies or the troopers, from snakes, disease, and drunken miners. All this adds to the exciting possibility of striking it rich, of being reunited with his father, of finding friendship, and, perhaps something more, with the storekeeper’s daughter Clem.
The energy levels of Pennyweight Flat are high. Tension and apprehension pervade the story, as well as dry humour due to the incongruous situations in which Yann often finds himself. Will he find his father? Or will the Saint-Simonians, who he believes have murdered his mother, continue to block Yann at every turn?