Saturday, January 8, 2022

365 Days of Short Fiction - Week 1

Week 1 Reading in Review

This week’s selections were spectacular and I’m excited to share them with you but I’m also thrilled to know that I have more to read from this stunning collection, Flock edited by Ellen van Neerven, later in the challenge.

Full disclosure, I started with a piece written by a friend and colleague, Melanie Saward but not because she’s a friend, because I respect and adore both her and her writing. What follows is a brief comment on each of the pieces I read this week. I didn’t want to write reviews as such but instead spark your interest in reading this collection so I’ve stuck to a short comment on the aspects of the pieces that struck me most strongly or that lingered the longest after I’d finished reading.

After reading 'Galah' the first night, there was a strong temptation to flick ahead to the next short story in my list... and then probably the next and the next. I resisted the urge to keep reading because part of my objective here is an exercise in delayed gratification and a kind of mindfulness — I want to pay proper and dedicated attention to each story by allowing it to sit in my mind, alone, for the evening. For six of the seven pieces, I read them at night before bed so I was able to allow each story to loll about in my head for 24 hours before the next one joined it. This gave me time to ponder each one, to honour the delicate nature of the short narrative, and to sit with the imagery and ideas. 

01/01/2022: ‘Galah’ by Melanie Saward
A story with attention to detail & alive with observations made by both the protagonist & the author. As a reader, I watch Sunny watching the galah and I feel for them both. This story works in layers and levels, deceptive in the apparent simplicity which hides its true complexity.

02/01/2022: ‘Cloud busting’ by Tara June Winch
A powerful story of family, friendship. effort, & reward. Told in two voices — one child, one adult but both equally authentic & nuanced. In so few words, The depiction of family, history, respectful relationships, & childhood is deftly beautiful.

03/01/2022: ‘Each city’ by Ellen van Neerven

A story that starts as everyday as laundry but quickly becomes a future-set threatening pursuit of creative truth tellers in a time when speaking truth is a revolutionary act of courage and defiance, even more so than it is now.

04/01/2022: ‘River story’ by Mykaela Saunders.
A song of longing for what was and what could have been — grieving for misplaced tomorrows. A story of fallibility & family, of memory & mothering, of trying & sometimes succeeding. This story broke my heart.

05/01/2022: ‘Stepmother’ by SJ Norman
A complex tale of recognisable awkwardness — the narrator in her skin; the relation­ships of characters with each other, and with food. This was a slow burn that didn't feel slow at all. I was struck by the power of understanding in this work.

06/01/2022: ‘Wait for me’ by Jasmin McGaughey
A emotional spin cycle — from fury to pain back to fury & excruciating pain again, and a grief that hollows out your insides. I was relieved when the misogynist we begin the story with, leaves; I should've known better.

07/01/2022: ‘Split’ by Cassie Lynch.
A story that seems to operate as part fiction narrative, part personal essay on Time and culture. The contrasting imagery tells the story of conflicting notions of belonging, of what is temporary and what permanent, of what is real and what remembered or imagined back into being.

So, what else have you got for me? Who’s your favourite short story writer?

Saturday, January 1, 2022

365 Days of Short Fiction


In keeping with my usual New Year activities, I have again avoided making actual resolutions. Instead, as I have for a number of years, I’ve set myself a challenge. This year I’ve decided I want to read more short fiction. In particular, short fiction written by Australian female and non-binary authors. I’m going to read one a day and report back each week on the previous week’s seven pieces of work.

In response to a call out for suggestions, I’ve curated a schedule for the first month. I’m going to start with the following selections from the publication Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now edited by Ellen van Neerven. My first seven day’s of reading will be the following:

January 1st: ‘Galah’ by Melanie Saward

2nd: ‘Cloud Busting’ by Tara June Winch

3rd: ‘Each City’ by Ellen van Neerven

4th: ‘River Stay’ by Mykaela Saunders.

5th: ‘Stepmother’ by SJ Norman

6th: ‘Wait for me’ by Jasmin McGaughey

7th: ‘Split’ by Cassie Lynch.


I’m still taking suggestions for for the rest of the year. What would you have me read as a favourite (preferably Australian female or non-binary authored) short story?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Green Man

I've been terrible at writing here again. It seems I need external pressure to keep posting. So, I've recently started following Chuck Wendig at terribleminds and this week Chuck has issued a flash fiction writing challenge to respond to a photo from this buzzfeed article. I've chosen this picture: 



The Green Man

There wasn’t a lot of work for the green man these days. People had turned away from his leafy face. Christianity had much to do with it at first but in recent days, science hadn’t been much help either — with its climate change; GM crops; and salinity. What had once been worshipped had fallen solidly into the role of adversary.

At first, with his old job of demi-god now defunct, the green man just dropped out and went to ground. His leafy hands had no problem pulling fish from rivers or snatching up the occasional rabbit to stew up for dinner. His cabin was simple but comfortable enough — even for someone who was used to being exalted and brought offerings. The green man was a realist. Those days were gone.

From bad to worse — that’s how most things go. Not being recognised by the electoral roll or by the occasional people came across worked to the green man’s advantage for some time. But slowly the forest was pushed back by residential development and when the bulldozers came to a cabin in a small clearing, they checked their notes for building permits and, finding none for the ramshackle dwelling, pushed on.

Homeless and hungry, the green man walked the miserable streets. A wino in a park offered him a swig from his bottle as they shared a damp bench. The tatty man peered through the dusk at the green man.

“No room at the shelter,” he said, “We’ll go earlier tomorra, get a comfy bed for the night.”

At the shelter, the green man met Maude who showed them to stretchers and blankets. Maude smiled. Maude took an interest. The green man liked her immediately. His new tatty friend was more wary.

“I’d watch that one,” he warned, “She’ll have you into the system and back to the rat race before you know it. That shit’s not right.”

The green man wasn’t so sure. So when Maude talked to him about getting signed up for unemployment benefits, he did. When she suggested his first cheque go towards some new clothes and a haircut, he bought new clothes and walked into a barber’s. When Maude mentioned assisted housing, he put in a request. And when she had seen a job for an office assistant on the noticeboard, he wrote up an application.

“It’s nothing glamorous,” the woman in a pinstriped skirt and jacket warned during the interview, “Mostly filing, making sure the staff have copies of paperwork they need, maybe making coffees when a meeting is running. Does that sound like something you’d be interested in?”

Maude was so proud that she asked him to dinner so they could celebrate. In the evening light, she could almost forget his leafy beard and the rough bark of his hands. He was a man after all, a green man but still a man. His new suit and tie covered most of the leaves and his eyes fixed and held her so that the chlorophyll content of his person no longer troubled her.

He walked her to her door where he bent his green head to kiss her. He had waited patiently — like waiting for the seasons to change; for new offerings to be brought; for the prayers, chants and invitations of the turning wheel of the year. Maude had never asked about his past and he hadn’t offered. He thought he would like to tell her, someday, about who he had been, maybe one day soon. His hand was at her waist; her head tilted back looking up to him. When his lips were almost on hers, his leafy bearded cooled her cheek and she pulled away.

His work suffered when Maude failed to return his calls and he became further and further behind with the filing until the woman in the pinstripes said she would have to let him go — as if he had been straining to be free of them all along. He packed up his mug and the few personal things he kept in his desk drawer. On the way out, down the long hall with frosted glass that looked smokily into the offices that lined it, he picked up the hallway pot plant. The woman in pinstripes called to him,

“You can’t take that; it isn’t yours.” Without turning, the green man replied,


“Yes, it is.”

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Poetry Giveaway Winners

This is just a quick post to announce the winners of the poetry giveaway and to apologise for not (yet) finishing my NaPoWriMo posts. I have (mostly) kept up with the poem writing but haven't always blogged them in a timely fashion. I will get there... soon.

And the winners are:

Renee ~ Margaret Atwood's Selected Poems 1965-1975

and

Andrew ~ either Landlines or Seasons of Childhood

Congratulations to you both and I'll see the rest of you soon with my remaining poems...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 22: A Fortunate Re-write

The prompt for today asks us to rewrite Frank O'Hara's "Lines for the Fortune Cookies".




Fortunate Cookies
Only the wise read their fortune and smile.
Knowing is only guessing with the lights on.
Purple pants are not for everyone.
You will know it when you know it.
Fortune favours the fortunate.
Live well and you will be the envy of many.
Time is not ours to waste.
Love may but come once, be ready.
A departure may be simply an arrival in the mirror.
Fossick and you will find joy.
Happiness abounds for those who know its name.
A deity is only god-like in the eyes of mortality.

Day 21: a selection of words

Today's prompt gave us a list of word to select from. I chose five & created this poem.


Night flight
black asphalt in a black
night, the headlights
are pools that
I swim through.
An elusive wing
sweeps onto the
dual spot lit stage.
A flash of owl
white against black
a mercurial whitewash
splashed onto a
squandered roadway.
My heart beats
in artillery fire
and I grip the steering wheel.

Day 20: ICPOTA

Who remembers that acronym? C'mon, you know you're old enough! (Okay, maybe you're not but I am!) It's the thing I think of whenever anyone mentions personal ads or classified of any kind. Ic Pota was a little character used to sell the classified in The Age newspaper and his name stands for "In the Classified Pages Of The Age". Ic Pota originally looked like this:


Then at some stage had a make over and got a new more tizzy outfit to look like this (Looks like he might have had some 'work' done too, I mean, check out those cheek bones!):


All this is leading towards today's prompt to write a poem based on the Personal Ads, so here's mine:


In the Personal Pages
desperately seeking
looks not important
30 – 40 but with a youthful disposition
fun-loving, care-free
traveller of the world
student of life
with a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks
seeking same
seeking friendship with a view to romance
seeking companionship
seeking a fellow traveller
seeking
desperately

_______________________________________________

Don't forget to go here and follow the instructions to be in the poetry giveaway draw.