Category Archives: poetry

Magical Moments: Part Two

Another Magical moment was our last meeting of the Memoir Writing Group at Godfrey Street Community House. Most of us are writing life stories but some are using the Memoir genre to tell their tales. I’m delighted to say that we have bonded into a group that welcomes others and give excellent feedback on the writing in progress. Most of us continue our stories during our 15 mins splurge (or stream of consciousness writing). I can’t wait to start 2018 but we all have a list of inspirational quotes and exercises to keep us writing over the holidays.

Last but not least was the Swinburne University Alumni Christmas afternoon tea. Beautifully presented with a Charleston Theme glitz and glitter. I had a great time catching up with Wendy and Peter Dunn, Breda and Alfred. We sat around a small table decorated with tall feathers and were waited on hand and foot. The afternoon tea was superb consisting of ribbon sandwiches, beautiful cheeses and tiny fancy cakes plus an unlimited supply of wine, soft drink, tea and coffee.

Christmas is a magical time of catching up with family and friends.                   May your Christmas be filled with happiness, peace and love.  

  

Radio Interview with Neil Wanstall

I’m so excited. Something Missing is on Amazon Kindle and my new website  glenicewhitting.com has been successfully made live today.

How wonderful to see a book you have published available on the internet, but how do you market and promote your latest novel? By doing everything you can to get the word out there. Let people know how thrilled you are to see this book find it’s legs, hopefully to run.

something_missing_fullcover_proof-25

 This week I found myself in the studio of 3WBC 94.1 fm at 4pm being interviewed by Neil Wanstall on his radio program Roundabout.

selfi-neil-2

I had to choose four songs to play to break up our chatter. My choices were:     The Impossible Dream (from Don Quixote)

Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha (2015)

The Rose by Bette Midler, Wild Horses and The Wind Beneath My wings because it reminded me of so many people who have supported and helped me along the way. All my writing projects have been a team effort. I have a long list of people who have inspired me over many years. How wonderful to at last have the opportunity to thank them via the acknowledgement pages of my book. You are right up front there Wendy, Mairi , Maureen, Carol-Anne,  Lisa, Julie and  Elizabeth…Wonderful women who                                                               nurture others.

selfii-neil

okay, so I am not used to taking selfie’s, but there was no-one around to take our photo. I’ll get the hang of it…one day. I may even remember to smile (scary thought)

selfi-neil-glen

This is Neil’s attempt. What is the verdict. Better?

I found the whole experience exciting and time flew. Before I knew it Neil was  signing off and gradually, as I came back down to earth our conversation was a blur. What had we said? Hopefully it was all positive. However, my family say I’m the proverbial Pollyanna: eternally the optimist. But I also know that to get your book accepted by an international publisher like MadeGlobal all the planets need to align. And to market the book takes this thought to another level.

selfi-neil-glen-2

Many thanks to Carol-Anne Croker for introducing me and organising my appointment. My thanks also go to Neil Wanstall, for placing me at ease, and kindly guiding me through this fascinating experience.

ANZAC DAY: Memories Impossible to Record.

Sometimes it is impossible to record family stories. Several years ago, I was relaxing with my uncle under a shady tree and asked him to tell me about his experiences during the second world war. He looked at me long and hard, finally shook his head and said, ‘You should not have to live with those images. Never ask me again’. This same uncle when asked a question about the life of his older brother, since passed away, said,’If your father didn’t tell you, then I’m not going to.’

When you get answers like this it is time to forget that you are a writer, forget trying to record stories that may be lost forever and to respect the right of others to own their own stories. However, do write what you can to keep family stories from disappearing.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them                  

In Australia and New Zealand, as the last post sounds at the dawn services on the 25th April these lines taken from the poem For the Fallen Poem by Laurence Binyon – The GreatWar 1914-1918 are spoken at every ANZAC ceremony. In Australia’s Returned and Services Leagues, and in New Zealand’s numerous RSAs, it is read out nightly at 6 p.m., followed by a minute’s silence.  It is a time of reflection, a promise never to forget those who lost their lives. It is part of my life, my web of memories.  I stood beside my father in front of my mother’s coffin, his military training obvious in the set of his shoulders and his grief stricken, tear-less face. He lived by the saying, what can’t be cured, has to be endured. I will always remember hearing him promise her ‘At he going down of the sun and in the morning, I will remember you.’

 

Frank1             1995

Laurence Binyon’s poem begins:

They shall not grow old as we grow old. Age shall not weary them or the years condemn 

p0p

Another story is about Harry (Pop to us) Whitting who served in France during the first world war.  He was one of the fortunate ones to return home. Gassed in the trenches and suffering from malnutrition and an ear infection he was sent back to Australia on a hospital ship. He met Elsie (Ma) at an army hospital. She was a seventeen year old nurse and Harry was presumably eighteen but Pop Whitting lied about his age to enlist in the army. They fell in love, married had five children and celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary. He never talked about the war but a large picture of him in cavalry uniform hung in the hall of the rambling home in Edithvale. Aged 86 he was weary and the years had condemned but he was still a jovial cockney lad at heart. However, he no longer looked like the vigorous young man in the photo .

 

Anzac 1

A war memorial stands in the centre of a grassed reserve at Beauty Point, where the Patterson River flows into Port Phillip Bay at Carvvrum, Victoria, Australia. I remember when there was a discussion about moving it to some other place so the prime piece of real estate could be developed. The community uproar and disapproval was overwhelming.

 

Research revealed in 1915 six local firemen went off to war together-but only one returned. In 1921 that man launched a public appeal for the funds for the statue and inscribed base. It was imported from Italy and cost 340 pounds when the average weekly wage was just four pounds a week. Bought with public funds, the ‘Little Soldier’ does not belong to the city of Kingston. He belongs to the people of Carrum and cannot be moved without their consent. Our solitary soldier still stands in pride of place as a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives .

Incensed by the mere thought of moving the monument I decided to write a story from an elderly woman’s point of view.

My Soldier

ANZAC day. The last post has long sounded. The plaintive call lingered in the early morning mist and slowly died as the first flush of dawn lightened the sky. The speeches are over, marchers gone. I bend to touch the delicate blossoms placed at the base of the tall granite column. Blossoms that will soon fade and die. Red roses, bright camellias and a handpicked bunch of hardy daisies that will outlive the others by a mile. How many years have I come to this spot? Too many to remember. Beauty Spot, it is called. An integral part of Carrum, right on the mouth of the Patterson River. A place where mothers bring their toddlers to play and fishermen sit on the low stonewall dreaming of the catch of a lifetime. There is the fresh clean smell of salt and spray: a fitting place to close the eyes and dream of what might have been, to remember the handsome face, coiled puttees, khaki clad faded figure in the ornate frame over the fireplace.

The diamond you slipped on my finger that wintry night in June flashed promise and hope. The dream of manly boots next to my fluffy slippers. A line full of nappies and a cradle to rock. The joy of a family to cook for, a family to love.
That last night we danced and clung to each other before we hurried home to the rented two-roomed flat. The next morning the gate squeaked and I wept into my pillow.

I quietly read the words forever-inscribed in stone. To the imperishable memory of the soldiers of this district that gave their lives… Simple heartfelt words from a grateful community. I am always surprised at his simplicity. This is not an ostentatious crowded statue with flags flying and rifles raised in anger.
Here is one solitary soldier standing upright and alone, hand gripping his rifle barrel, the butt resting on the ground. At ease, but ready and waiting for…, what?

I have never known war, but when I gaze at him I can smell the acrid smoke, hear the whistle of shells and the cries as mates fall. I have lived my life under sunny skies and yet I can identify with his quiet sadness, his overwhelming sense of loss. The telegram read, ‘We regret to inform you that corporal T K Wells VX1068 of the AIF Infantry…’ I thought of planting a tree. At least then there would be something living and growing.

Recently I drove in heated comfort past an Avenue of Honour where row upon military row of silent trees flashed past in the khaki haze of a misty morning. Tall old trees, some over fifty years, planted when young soldiers fell. They no longer stood at the edge of endless paddocks. Ballarat was running out to embrace them, to include them into the teeming life of what is now a city. There were so many trees. Each one a son, daughter or husband and I saw the ghosts of their kin stretching back as far as the horizon. Like a stone in a pond, so may lives caught up, like mine, in the far-reaching circles of the wars to end all wars.

I was shell-shocked for months until it finally seeped into my unwilling brain that you would never again be by my side, your arm around my waist as you kissed everything better. But life goes on and I have known love. Not your love but the worn tartan slippers beside mine in front of the dying fire are comfortable.

I shiver as I gaze up at the long list of names etched into cold stone and run trembling fingers over the rough rock. So many did not survive to witness this new millennium, to drink in the beauty of spring blossoms, or to come here year after year. I gaze up at his strong young face and wonder what he would think of my knotted veined hand pressed against my heart. Time shall not weary them…
The glow in the west bathes him in gold as I sit and dream. And there’s talk about moving him. Some people want a car park, others, townhouses with sweeping bay views. Cart him away to some easily forgotten spot? Over my dead body. I’ll not let them take my soldier. Not this time.

IA2015 gnangarra-145.jpg

The shrine of remembrance and the eternal flame Melbourne Victoria, Australia

Quotes to live by

To be your own person takes courage and determination
To be who you want to be takes dreams
To live life to the fullest takes love.

I don’t know who said this, but I often refer to this quote when feeling down or when life has taken an unexpected turn. It has the power to lift my soul: to inspire me to keep going, to take one step at a time until the emergency has passed and life is calmer. It reminds me of all the good things to aim for and to live life with love.

It also reminds me how powerful and inspiring words can be.

purole flowers      spells

Happy writing

on the wheel

Mairi Neil and Kingston Our City

It is Saturday afternoon in sunny Melbourne. The Allan McLean Hall is packed with people attending the launch of the ninth anthology by the Mordialloc Writers’ Group.  Kingston Our City is also the celebration of twenty years of fortnightly workshopping stories.

KingstonmycityFinalCover copy,

 

 

The founder and organiser of the group is Mairi Neil and with the help of her two girls, Anne and Mary Jane (who designed the cover art) she has compiled, edited, formatted and published not only past anthologies but especially this latest one.  This year Mordialloc Writers also dives into the digital age. Mairi has produced an ebook of Kingston Our City.

tamsin Mairi and Bill 2

Every writer knows how important it is to belong to a like minded community where they receive constructive comments about their work. Many become firm friends, not just writing colleagues. They laugh, swap pre-loved books, discuss the writing and publishing industry, politics, the human condition and are working on the meaning of life.

friends

Our community writing group has been meeting at the Mordialloc Neighbourhood House for twenty years and for our anniversary anthology we reflect on our relationship with the City of Kingston.    We have reminisced about wartime precautions on Parkdale beach and the transformation of suburban streets by developers. We have reflected on the City of Kingston’s creation by negotiation and amalgamation, Patterson Lakes created by feats of engineering.    There are snapshots of dances at Moorabbin Town Hall, surf lifesaving carnivals, Edithvale billycart shenanigans and cycling to school, the demise of horses and the rise of hoons, joyous beach weddings and sad farewells. Stories woven around everyday life and observations to trigger your own memories.   Perhaps you’ll remember when the pace of life seemed slower and be grateful for improved services. As you enjoy this collection I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion as the writers – Kingston in Victoria Australia is indeed a great place to live.

In recognition of Mairi’s inspirational contribution two orchids in a pale green ceramic pot were presented by Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers and ‘Ambassador’ for Australian Literature.

 
       5 mairi

We added two bunches of Singapore orchids to the two potted orchids, plus cellophane and purple ribbon. The result was a joy to behold.

Lisa Hill’s words below managed to convey what everyone in the hall wanted to say.

Lisa Hill: ANZlitlovers award winning blog

It’s lovely to be here today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mordialloc Writers’ Group and the publication of the 2015 Anthology. As a passionate advocate for Australian books and writing, I am always excited to be in the presence of authors and as I look about me I know that whether published or not, the writers here today are using their gifts to bring the Australian experience to life using the magic of words, and I salute them all.
But all of us here today know that the real magic behind the words on the page is a great lady, our mentor and friend, Mairi Neil. It was Mairi who started this group 20 years ago, and who has nourished it with her wisdom and skill for what is, for some of our younger writers, a lifetime. It is Mairi who does all the behind-the-scenes organising, from the complexity of applications for council funding, to bringing the tea and biscuits. It is Mairi who listens most acutely as we workshop our pieces of work, praising and encouraging, gently suggesting improvements, using her professional writing and editing skills to nurture each piece to fruition. It is Mairi who has supported some of us to professional publication and paid opportunities. It is her unfailing presence each week which is the stimulus for us to write more instead of giving up. It is Mairi who manages the anthologies from selection of the theme to the finished product, spending long hours editing our work so that it emerges triumphantly as a polished piece of writing for others to read and enjoy.
All those of us who know Mairi well know that these decades of voluntary work have all been accomplished at the expense of her own writing career and despite personal tragedy and confronting health problems that would have overwhelmed an ordinary person. Mairi’s courage and indefatigable spirit is an inspiration to all of us, and for once, I have to admit, that words fail me when I try to thank her for all that she means to us as individuals and to the community that she has enriched with all these years of patient, unsung and heroic work on our behalf.
Congratulations, Mairi, and thank you.

quote

 

MORDIALLOC WRITERS’ GROUP

TUESDAY WORKSHOPS
8.00PM

 457 Main Mordialloc Victoria AustMordialloc Writers' group anthologies copy

MEETING DATES FOR 2016

FEBRUARY 2nd  16th

MARCH 1st, 15th and 29th

APRIL 12th &  29th

MAY 10th & 24th

JUNE 14th & 28th

JULY 12th & 26th

AUGUST 9th & 23rd

SEPTEMBER 6th & 20th

OCTOBER 4th & 18th

NOVEMBER 1st & 15th

DECEMBER 13th 2016–Break for summer holidays

love

Sails on the Bay and the Grill and Grape.

Two wonderful occasions, two excellent meals. Treasured memories of Alan’s birthday celebrations.

This birthday had not started out well. Alan had gastro, then the flu followed by a nasty cold. Paul and Marian had arranged for a special meal out at Sails on the Bay at Elwood and Jason and Karen in Queensland had sent an online voucher for dinner for two at The Grill and Grape at Hampton. Unfortunately both had to be cancelled. Alan was far too poorly to appreciate or savor a good meal at this stage. He was living on small amounts of home made chicken broth and dry toast. Not the sort of thing you have to celebrate a special occasion.

Later, when Alan’s tasted buds had recovered, Paul and Marian took us to Sails on the Bay. The following Friday evening we booked using Jason and Karen’s voucher at the Grill and Grape. The menus at both places were superb.

4 people (3)           grape

At Sails we had an entree of *Barramundi ceviche, jalapeno, coriander, lime & avocado followed by delicious, melt in the mouth, braised beef. At the Grill and Grape we enjoyed delicious Calamari with rocket and pear salad followed by a well cooked paella chock full of fresh ingredients. At both restaurants  we enjoyed an excellent shiraz.

food  sails   wine

I’m sure these uplifting outings ensured that Alan had a complete and speedy recovery. There is nothing better than an excellent atmosphere, fabulous surroundings, good food and wine to reassure you that you have returned to the land of the living and good times lie ahead. We feel incredibly fortunate.

sails 2       card

family                IMG_3429

voucher

A family is like a circle
the connection never ends
and even if at times it breaks
in time it always mends
A family is like a book
the endings never clear
but through the pages of the book
love is always near

Yesterday a special friend bought me a huge bunch of purple statice flowers. How wonderful to be able to spread the joy by giving others something to brighten their day

flowers

Wendy J Dunn: The Light in the Labyrinth

I am delighted to be able to showcase the inspiring books and successful career of my long time writing friend and colleague, Wendy Dunn.

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. Born in Melbourne,  Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter. Her fabulous author website is well worth a visit .

Wendy J. Dunn

She is the author of the published Tudor novels,  Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel. Paperbacks are $16.99 at Amazon.com . They can also be downloaded as a kindle book.  Dear Heart How Like You This? costs $2.99 and The Light in The Labyrinth is currently $5.99. Both books would make excellent Christmas presents.

While Wendy continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, she no longer wonders if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but instead is considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1) by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg

Wendy tutors at Swinburne University in their Master of Arts (Writing) program. She also works as a literature support teacher at a primary school. Her credentials are inspiring. She has a BA Dip Ed Grad Dip MA and PhD in Creative Writing

THE LIGHT IN THE LABYRINTH

The Light in the Labyrinth
Author: Wendy J Dunn
Publisher: Metropolis Ink
ISBN: 9780980721928

Pages: 340

A Queen fights for her life.

A King denies his heart and soul.

A girl faces her true identity.

All things must come to an end—all things but love.

“…The Light in the Labyrinth is quite the read – no matter the age of the reader. And yes, thanks to Kate, a new voice has been added to the well-known haunting melody – a voice that mellows and matures as the story evolves and yet retains a touch of bittersweet innocence right to the bloody, inevitable end.” – Anna

IN THE WINTER OF 1535, fourteen-year-old Kate Carey wants to escape her family home. She thinks her life will be so much better with Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife and the aunt she idolises. Little does Kate know that by going to attend Anne Boleyn she will discover love and a secret that will shake the very foundations of her identity. An attendant to Anne Boleyn, Kate is also swept up in events that see her witness her aunt’s darkest days. By the time winter ends, Kate will be changed forever.

At Amazon.com I was delighted to see that The Light in the Labyrinth had 52 customer reviews. The most interesting was a review by Anna B
          An Extract of  Anna’s Review
When The Light in the Labyrinth landed on my desk, I was somewhat hesitant. Yet another book about Anne Boleyn, this enigmatic lady who so enthralled the king that he broke with the Holy Church for her sake – what new insights could possibly be offered? One chapter into the book, I no longer cared about new insights. I cared about prickly, confused Kate, Anne Boleyn’s fourteen-year-old niece.Katherine Carey is a resentful, angry young girl. She considers her mother a fool for marrying beneath her, she is jealous of her new half-siblings, condescending of her commoner step-father and the only thing little Kate wants is to go to court and serve her adored aunt, Queen Anne. In Kate’s book, Anne is everything her own mother is not: fashionable, witty, powerful – and of course, extraordinarily happy, now that she has achieved her ambitions and become queen.

Kate’s mother, Mary, does not want her to go to court, but at long last she relents, even if her demeanour clearly shows Kate just how much her mother hates letting her go – or is it fear that causes her mother’s face to pale? Kate doesn’t care. She is going to London, to live with the queen and to finally see her brother, Harry, who for the last few years has lived at court, despite being younger than Kate. She vaguely recalls her mother’s distress when Harry was taken from her – several years ago – to be brought up elsewhere, and she doesn’t quite understand why her brother was so brutally separated from his family, but conveniently blames her mother for it. In Kate’s opinion, everything is her mother’s fault – a typical adolescent reaction.

It is rather fitting that Kate enters London via London Bridge, having to ride below the garish display of the rotting heads of the king’s executed enemies. She is entering a dark world, a labyrinth of conspiracies and undercurrents, and very soon Kate’s entire universe will be severely rocked as she uncovers secrets about herself – and about the court. Even worse, it does not take Kate long to understand that her beloved aunt is far from happy. In fact, Queen Anne is distraught, living her days on a knife-edge of fear and hope – hope that she might yet give the king a son, fear of what he’ll do if she doesn’t.

While it is Anne Boleyn’s subsequent fall from grace that is the main theme of the book, this is really the story of how Kate grows from a truculent difficult child to a very young woman of integrity and courage – brave enough to confront the king, mature enough to see in him a confused and angry man who no longer knows who to trust.

In Kate, Ms Dunn gives us a complex and credible character, one it is easy to love and care for, despite her initial despicable behaviour towards her mother and step-father. Forced by circumstances to take on far more responsibility than she is ready for, Kate more than rises to the challenge, even in those moments when all she experiences is suffocating fear. The story is told in third person, consistently from Kate’s perspective, but here and there the author has inserted Kate’s own thoughts, taken from her secret journal, and these first person passages add depth to Kate’s personality.

Had The Light in the Labyrinth only dealt with Queen Anne’s unhappy end, it would have made for quite the dreary read, no matter how much life Ms Dunn blows into her cast of characters. Fortunately, she has added a sweet and innocent romance between Kate and her future husband Francis. All that teenager angst that goes in hand in hand with first love is excellently depicted – and quite, quite timeless, causing this reader to smile in recognition.

Ms Dunn has obviously expended a lot of effort on her research. It shines through every casual description of rooms and gardens, clothes and pastimes. A myriad of characters populate these pages, but Ms Dunn does a good job of only properly introducing the truly important, while the rest blend into the colourful background of scheming courtiers and invisible servants. Even more important – and especially in a book aimed at a YA audience – all this information is expertly woven into the fabric of the tale, thereby avoiding any heavy-handed “info-dumps”.

All in all, The Light in the Labyrinth is quite the read – no matter the age of the reader. And yes, thanks to Kate, a new voice has been added to the well-known haunting melody – a voice that mellows and matures as the story evolves and yet retains a touch of bitter-sweet innocence right to the bloody, inevitable end. It is with regret I close the covers on Kate’s story, and I can but doff my cap and applaud Ms Dunn for a work most well done!

DEAR HEART, HOW LIKE YOU THIS?

Glyph Award 2003 ABPA Dear Heart How Like You This

A woman who sees her destiny as England‘s Queen.

A King who destroys what he no longer wants.

A poet’s love that will never be forgotten.

May, 1536. The poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, released from imprisonment in the Tower of London, is in his father’s custody. From almost the beginning of his life, Tom has loved his cousin Anne Boleyn, content to sit at her feet while she sang her love songs to another, if doing so gave him just a moment in her company. Now he is heartsick and despairing, having witnessed her juridical murder by Henry VIII. Only wanting to escape from the recent memories now rending his heart, Tom recounts his story, a story which narrates too the tragic tale of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII.

Dear Heart, How Like You This? ~ “Seriously one of the best books
ever written about Anne Boleyn.”

I know that Wendy is currently writing her third book and I can’t wait to read it. I wish her every success in her writing career

books quote

wendyjdunn@optusnet.com.au

Nothing Sacred

Nothing Sacred, a verse novel by Linda Weste was launched at Museo Italiano last Wednesday.

Nothing Sacred is a novel written in free verse poems. This imaginative work of fiction evokes the lives of characters including Clodia Metelli, Clodius Pulcher, Catullus, Cicero, Caesar, Caelius and Pompey during 66–42BCE, the final decades of the period of antiquity known as late Republican Rome. It can be bought from Scholarly Publishing for $24.95. Just follow the link.

Poems by Linda Weste have been published in Best Australian Poetry and Australian literary journals. She lives in Melbourne. Nothing Sacred: a novel in verse set in late republican Rome, is her first novel. The book was launched by Dr Paul Skrebels previously from Adelaide University and was attended by Associate professor Marion Campbell of Melbourne University along with many writing friends.

Dr Linda Weste holds an MCW and PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne, and is a recipient of the Felix Meyer Scholarship for Creative Writing. Her creative practice includes poetry and historical verse novels.

Linda read several poems and finished with WOULD BE SACRED on page 105.

‘He who ruminates on the entrails of birds

Has us by the balls’

Caesar rolls his eyes as he dismisses

The bevy of soothsayers from his pillared halls

Linda’s words evoke stirring images. We feel the work as we read it and the poetry makes the Roman experience a real artistic truth.

Lygon St Carlton was buzzing with people out to have a good time, eating, drinking, and catching up with friends. I’d traveled from Carrum to attend the launching of a book by writing friend Linda Weste.  I had never even heard of the Museo Italiano in Faraday Street and I couldn’t wait to find out more. From their website I saw that they are an Italian Resource Centre showcasing the Italian migrant experience.

Museo Italiano displays and interprets the experience of Italian migration, and the culture created by Italians in Australia. Italians come from many different backgrounds. with strong regional affiliations that continue to inform Italian-Australian identities. Italians departed from Italy for many reasons to seek opportunities in the New World. Italian-Australians have developed a unique culture by relating their traditions, knowledge and customs to local contents and values.

I noticed they had a photographic exhibition about the migrant camp at Bonegilla. Recently I’d stayed with friends who live on a farm at Wodonga and they had taken me to see what was left of the old Bonegilla  Migrant Camp. Only a few huts remain but volunteers were working to restore them. Unfortunately, when I arrived for the launch I was told that the Bonegilla exhibition had been taken down that day. Such is life. I’ll make sure I see it next time.

Wandering around the many rooms looking at all the photographs lining the walls my mind went back to how much Australia owes to these hardworking migrants who helped shaped this country. I remember many years ago sitting in the sidecar of my father’s belt driven Indian motor bike. We struggled up a steep the hill near Rowville and waved back to a line of Italian prisoners of war walking along the road. Years later it was Italian migrant, Guliano Maionchi and his unlimited hospitality when I visited his orchard in Sommerville. His Palamino sherries and dry ginger sipped under a cool grapevine arbor were legendary.  He gave my two boys a calf called Moosle who followed them everywhere they went.

Walking around the Museo Italiano, seeing the now familiar scarf covered heads of the women and hard working men I reflected on how much Australian culture had gained from the input of migrants such as these.

To attend Linda’s book launch was a highlight of the week. To see and understand the wonderful work done at the Museo Italiano to validate and promote Italian/Australian culture over the years was an added bonus.

Ode to Age

A mother and son’s view of old age.

 

Royalty-Free (RF) Medical Clipart Illustration #6234

Some people/sons think this way

The numbers are increasing,
The demographic kind,
Of ageing baby boom cohorts
In biological decline.

They swamp the health care system
Become seniors by the score.
I wish they were invisible
Then death we could ignore.

My parents have retired
To devote their lives to pleasure.
What a boring lifestyle
Using up unlimited leisure.

Maybe a worthwhile part-time job
With status will assist them
To productively remain
Locked into the capitalist system.

Dear old Dad has passed away.
We all must go sometime.
Will Mum come and live with us
Or go to Shady Pines?

What? Sell the house tomorrow
And buy into a village
With pool and spa and golf course
And gain a millionaire’s image?

But won’t she feel so guilty
As she lays out in the sun?
Great grandma would be saying
‘Are you sure the work is done?’

happy-old-woman-20631480

               

Mum’s reply
The time has gone for guilt.
I’ve always worked, my dear,
It’s time for me to play
And enjoy my remaining years.

But something strange is happening
I’m not as spry as you
Things I once thought easy
Are now difficult to do.

My teeth sit in a glass
My hair has gone so thin
Now I’m even noticing
A spare tyre and double chin.

My body is getting older
It’s drooping more each day
And I find you try and help me
As I stagger and I sway

I think you see your mother
In obvious decline
Well look a little closer,
I’ve a young, inquiring mind.

And yet I do have fears
Of darkness, death and healthcare
And need the extra security
Of a buzzer and of welfare.

But don’t lump us all together
As an old decrepit bunch.
I make my own decisions
And that’s what really counts.

I’ll live my life with enthusiasm
Right up to my last day
So don’t weep when I leave quietly
In my euthanasia way.

But in the meantime darling
I really don’t need much,
Just let me live life my way
And always keep in touch.

waratah