Rosemary Nissen-Wade: Aussie poet and teacher of metaphysics – a personal view
My bestie nicknamed me SnakyPoet on her blog, and I liked it. (It began as
'the poet of the serpentine Northern Rivers' and became more and more abbreviated.)

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Haiku Have Moved

Dear readers, if you are looking for the promised February haiku, this is not where to find them after all.

I have added a haiku page to The Passionate Crone's poetry blog, which you'll find here. Henceforth it's the place for the monthly haiku updates.

Are You a Hippie?

Well they got that right, lol.

You are a Hippie

You are a total hippie. While you may not wear birks or smell of incense, you have the soul of a hippie.

You don't trust authority, and you do as you please. You're willing to take a stand, even when what you believe isn't popular.

You like to experiment with ideas, lifestyles, and different subcultures.

You always gravitate toward what's radical and subversive. Normal, mainstream culture doesn't really resonate with you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Becoming X-Rated

Suddenly I'm getting a new rash of sex-related emails. A bored girl wants to talk to me. Someone asks if I have ever dated a lonely housewife. (No, actually.) Some bloke is advertising his 'cherry-walloping cock'. (Yuk! There is a nasty level of violent misogyny in some porn.)

OK, these things do turn up from time to time, but why now in such numbers? Then the penny drops. I've just told Google that my new poetry blog, The Passionate Crone, will contain 'adult content'. This is because I might occasionally include some erotic pieces – more metaphorical than explicit, I'm afraid - and there might even be a swear word now and then. I decided to self-censor at the outset, so as to be free to post unexpurgated poems.

Now, when I or anyone else attempts to view that blog, we encounter a Content Warning saying, 'Some readers of this blog have contacted Google because they believe this blog's content is objectionable. In general, Google does not review nor do we endorse the content of this or any blog. For more information about our content policies, please visit the Blogger Terms of Service.' We are then given the option whether or not to continue.

That's a bit rich for a brand new blog, when its author could have been the only person to report the 'adult content'! And I think it probably explains the sex-based emails.

Hey – I'm a girl! Not all that interested in sexy housewives, vicarious cherry-popping, etc.

Oh wot-the-heck, I expect they are generated by machines.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

TEXAS POETRY TOUR: Kerrville: 2 – Sweet, peaceful days

My time in Kerrville was the most delightful interlude. I fell in love with this pretty hill town. In my short time there I made some lovely friends whom I'll never forget.

I emailed Andrew: 'I must tell you about this man who has quite stolen my heart. His name is Mark, he is a close friend and neighbour of Harry and Anne, as is his wife Linda, whom I met and fell in love with first. She's a very artistic and also very down to earth lass from Ohio. Mark's a gentle giant with a soft, lazy voice. Oh boy is he loaded with charm!!! And oh boy am I a total sucker for it!!! After his first conversation welcoming me to Texas and saying all sorts of sweet things in that caressing voice, I asked Linda (whom he had an arm around at the same time), "Is this that Southern charm I've heard so much about?" She laughed and said, "It's what the rest of America thinks is the reason Texans wear boots." I looked puzzled. She explained: "Because the shit's so high." Anne and Harry tell me – which I can see – that in Mark's case, he does it laughing at himself, and actually does mean the sentiments of goodwill. ... I lap it all up like a schoolgirl."

Actually they were a devoted couple with eyes only for each other. Mark loved to play guitar and they both sang. 'Awesome voice' I emailed Andrew about Linda. She was also a well-known scrimshaw artist with commissions from all over the country. Scrimshaw is a traditional craft of etching on ivory or bone, carving a drawing and then rubbing paint in. Here are some links to Linda's beautiful work.

Mark and Linda have a building and renovating business. One night they took us to dinner in an old former railway station (no rail line any more), which they had rescued and restored with great authenticity after others had nearly wrecked it by turning it into a very ugly hamburger joint. Then they sold it to the present owners who run it as a beautiful restaurant. I had some lovely visits to their home too, just a few doors down from Anne and Harry's.

Then there was Donna. We clicked when we sat beside each other at the Poetry on the Patio night, and again during the mask workshop. She and her husband took me out one day to visit some of the surrounding places, including Enchanted Rock, the second largest monolith in world, next to Australia's Uluru. This was a magickal place of pink granite, the shape of which put me in mind of the top of Uluru.

As we approached it, it seemed to me large in width rather than height. It's nowhere near as high as Uluru, a sandstone formation which, Wikipedia tells us, 'stands 348 metres (1,142 feet) high (863 m/2,831 ft above sea level) with most of its bulk below the ground, and measures 9.4 km (5.8 miles) in circumference.'

But it's high enough! An official description says: 'The (Enchanted) Rock is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres. It is one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States.'

It had a very otherworldly feeling, and indeed there are legends of spooky goings-on there, nevertheless its atmosphere seemed to me peaceful and friendly. We didn't climb it, which would have been strenuous I think, and we didn't allow enough time in any case, but it was very special to stand at the base, in an area of desert-like wilderness (a State Natural Area), drinking in the timeless peace. I loved the colour, too! Uluru turns many wonderful colours in changing light, but when you get up close to it the rock is black. Enchanted Rock is actually pink.

Before I left Kerrville, Donna, who has a deep interest in Native American culture, gave me two wonderful books: Who Speaks for Wolf, a learning story, and The Walking People, an oral history – precious volumes I would not even have known of otherwise, with much to teach people of any culture today.

There was Paula aforementioned, of the herbs and animals, who came for a picnic lunch by the river with Anne and me one day, and brought me more herbs and some tiny roses. We talked as if we had always known each other.

There was 'the other Ann Schneider', Harry's first wife. That was long ago, and now they relate like old friends, comfortably. She invited us to dinner while I was there, and we sat on her balcony watching the sunset and the almost-full moon.

There was Sally, an Englishwoman by birth, Anne's best friend, whom I saw more of during the Austin poetry festival a little later on, and who came to Australia last year to visit her brother who lives not too far away from us! They came to lunch at our place and I felt I was able to return a little of the wonderful hospitality I experienced in Texas.

Among her many talents, Anne is a Tai Chi teacher, and I attended one of her weekly classes that happened while I was there. She's a good teacher, not intimidating like those I had in the far past. I was surprised how quickly I picked it up again, after doing only a few classes 30-odd years before. I got all enthusiastic and told Andrew we must look for somewhere near home to do it – but that hasn't happened, and in fact I don't know of any classes nearby.

The next day Anne took me for a drive to a part of the countryside I hadn't looked at before. We sat and talked by the river, on an area of big, flat stones. I was excited to catch a glimpse of some deer over the other side, drinking. Alas, they hid themselves before I could take this picture:

She also showed me the local 'Stonehenge' built by a friend of the astronaut Alan Shepherd on Shepherd's land, in fulfilment of a vision Shepherd had while vieiwng the earth from space. There are a couple of Easter Island statues too. By no means as big as the originals, and certainly not constructed in the same way or from the same materials, but fun, and impressive in its own way. It made us smile to see tiny birds flitting in and out the structures.

Early Thursday evening I emailed Andrew: 'I just came from Uni talk/reading to small, lovely group of students and their vibrant teacher. Had great time. Some of Anne's friends who wanted to hear me again came too. Now out to dinner with a witch who did the workshop and wants to talk more. Back to Austin early tomorrow.'

The 'vibrant teacher' was Kathleen Hudson of Schreiner University. Kathleen is a fascinating woman with a great interest in Texas history and music, and is involved in innovative educational programs. Her official bio says that 'she founded the Texas Heritage Music Foundation in 1987 out of a commitment that stories and songs make a difference in the world.' She is in the English Dept. at Schreiner. The students were all poets too. It was a pleasantly informal gathering. I read them some pieces, they asked me a lot of questions, and to my great delight they also shared their work with me.

The witch, relatively new to Texas, was amused that in the Lone Star State she kept seeing our sacred symbol, the pentacle (a five-pointed star in a circle)!

She lived on a
6-acre property on what used to be an old ranch. Her place was surrounded by woodlands with lots of deer, and after dinner we stood at her fence watching them in the dark, throwing grain from a bucket to try and coax them near. Some did come fairly close, but they were skittish and shy, made sudden darts and then dashed away.

'We had a great night,' I emailed Andrew next day, 'Eating, as usual, very good food and drinking Australian wines (which are very highly regarded here, and most people try to get them in preference to any other kind).

'As I was going to bed I found myself having a bit of a weep at leaving Kerrville, where I have found true friendships that will last for life.

'This morning I cried a bit more as I packed. I walked down the few doors to Linda and Mark's and found them sitting out in their back yard over breakfast, watching the squirrels. They had just been talking about me, and were going to walk up to Anne and Harry's to say goodbye. Instead, they sat me down and gave me coffee and orange juice even though I'd already breakfasted, and I gave them a couple of goodbye gifts (Aussie coins to Mark, as he is fascinated by our animals). We had fond hugs and tender kisses. Then back to the Schneiders' to load up and give Harry a big hug goodbye. He said he was glad I came.'

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blogger Extraordinaire

... that's me! Or perhaps I mean Blogger Excessive, lol. You only have to look to the sidebar to see how many blogs I have, albeit some shared with Andrew and one with a whole lot of haiku writers. And I've just done it again!

I now have an all-poetry blog just like all the other online poets I know (well, almost all). It's called The Passionate Crone,
it will house old and new work, and there's a link under 'Me, Myself and I' in the sidebar here.

That won't stop me posting poems on my other blogs, as and when seems appropriate – and not necessarily mine alone. And there's no telling which ones I'll duplicate all over the place and which will appear in only one location ... because until it happens, I don't know either. But hopefully there'll be some point to it all. :)

The Passionate Crone might well become the title of a new collection!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Anyone who reads this blog hoping for more poetry and discussions of poetry, have a look too at the WordsFlow blog (for future reference use link in sidebar). It showcases work – verse and prose – by a writers' group I help facilitate, and will continue to include tips and techniques we use to keep growing as writers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sorry Day

It's been absolutely inspiring this morning to watch the TV coverage of our Prime Minister delivering an apology to the Stolen Generations and indeed the Indigenous people as a whole, and to witness their joyful acceptance of it. Good on you, Kevin Rudd!

Although the Opposition Leader saw fit to express the opinion that some of what was done may have had good intentions, and this was badly received by many, including me, as an inappropriate quibble on this great occasion – still, he began his own speech by saying sorry, and pledged bipartisan support to the Government for the actions that must now be taken to move on and start righting the wrongs. At last! It was as if the nation let out its collective breath. Even here in our living room, we were relieved, tearful, elated and celebratory.

It should all have happened long ago. Indeed the things that made it necessary should never have happened in the first place! But the past cannot be undone. It can only be acknowledged honestly, as the Prime Minister did in his frank and eloquent speech. Now we can take hands and move on together, 'as one' – as many said.

I particularly liked what the Prime Minister said about according real respect to the members of the ancient cultures who have so long inhabited this land. That would be something! They've been treated like s**t for the last two centuries, and that's putting it mildly.

I liked what
Tom Colma, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, said: 'It's not about guilt. It never was. It's about belonging.'

And there was a nice touch from an Indigenous woman in the crowd outside Parliament House. Back in 2000 when our previous Prime Minister officially refused to make this apology, the members of Midnight Oil, playing at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, wore black T-shirts emblazoned in white with the one word, SORRY. Today, I saw a black T-shirt emblazoned in white with the one word, THANKS.

This seems a good moment to revisit a poem I wrote that year:

Walk With This Spirit
(A meeting of the Kingscliff-Cudgen Reconciliation Circle)

No wonder it's called Rosella Tomato Sauce —
they're that red, lined up on the wide rail.
But their yellow-green wings can't be compared
to any tree or grass, or even the ferns
crowding up and over the high verandah.
They are unique, and have their own colour.
Bright. Bold. In your face
like the big Reconciliation badge I wear:
red, green and yellow, black and white.

"Walking Together" it says. And we sit together,
a circle of Australians, indigenous and non.
We sit together talking, even after the last light
strikes the opposite hill in a sudden blaze.
We're dreaming up a monument,
a reminder of who came first —
something to touch, like the rock or tree
that has always been the place
to speak to ancestral spirits.
We dream it could heal all hearts.
We invent phrases, like, "Walk with this spirit."

Somebody mentions earth.
Grey beard, gentle eyes, brown face,
a man of measured words.
"What do you mean exactly when you say earth?"
I ask, flushed and earnest, wanting to get it right.
"Australia? This bit of land? Or the whole planet?"
For the first time, he stammers.
"All that. The earth supports us.
She is our Mother!" His eyes fill with tears.
We fall silent. On the rail, the Rosellas jostle.
The forested valley begins to grow dark.
We sit together, sipping coffee, watching
one green patch of shared, beloved earth.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2000

In Secret Leopard: Selected Poems 1974-2005. Paris, Alyscamps, 2005.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Walking the Wilds of Cyberspace

Oh the excitement, the intrigue!

I just – finally – installed StatCounter on this blog the other day, and all our other Blogger blogs too, including the ones that form the new website. Well you see, I only just found out about it.

I LOVE going to 'my projects' and finding out where the hits are coming from (the location of people's servers anyway). Not sure which is better – to recognise the source or not to.

Switzerland: obviously my darling foster-daughter-in-law, or even perhaps the busy foster-son. Austria: my wonderful MPRUE teacher (check the Healing pages on the Life Magic website, folks, for an explanation of that acronym). I know which friend lives in Santa Rosa, California, which one is in Hamilton, NZ and who is presently in the Seychelles. I can even work out which of the people I know in Brisbane spent a whole hour looking at the website, because she kindly sent me an email to say, 'I thoroughly enjoyed exploring it... The drawings, the fairy, the whole lot!'

But I know lots of people in Melbourne and Sydney and quite a few in Austin, Texas as well, not to mention the general location 'United Kingdom'. Would the New York visitors be poets I know on MySpace or strangers? And who the heck is looking in from Serbia? Lovely to know that friends are checking it all out. Also lovely to think that maybe some people I've never heard of are finding me!

And there's another puzzle. How come Books by Life Magic shows 40 hits already recorded on the site, yet when I log into my StatCounter 'projects' page it declares I've had none? (Even though I KNOW at least one other person besides me has recently been to it.) Most mysterious! Beats any fantasy novel, does cyberspace….

January Haiku

... even though it's already well into February.

On MySpace I'm one of a number who participate in writing weekly haiku at the Haiku on Friday page (see link in sidebar). A friend has asked to see my own haiku out in the wider blogosphere, so I've decided to post this year's efforts here a month at a time.

If you are
specifically interested in these posts, look for the "haiku for the month" tag. (Not "of the month" which might imply some sort of award!)

Please note, my approach to haiku is often non-traditional. Also I include what are more properly called senryu.

So here, a bit late, January's verses:

In the monsoon rains
the river is high and fast
and rising, rising ...


In my dark garden
wind chimes clang faintly, I breathe
the smell of the sea.


It's still raining here.
No word from my friend far south
in the hospital.

No word from the one
who went into the desert.
The rain settles in.


The river's flood-brown.
The wind is chill this summer
and sounds like sobbing.


When death comes ...

You should be sleeping.
Perhaps you should be alone.
But should you be young?

(A response to the news of Heath Ledger's passing.)


© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Poetry as a House

People who aren't poets seem to think it's some kind of sin, or at least self-indulgence, for poets to write about poetry. But it's a vitally important aspect of our lives, something we engage with continually; we're bound to have thoughts and feelings about it. I really like what my old friend Thom the World Poet just emailed:

poetry as a house

you build it yourself-
you choose the materials
you assemble like IKEA
you slap some painted words over the bare skin
set it in alignment with WHAT IS
and trust the wind of WHAT MIGHT BE will sing through its windows
which always face the full moon
flowing with watery feng shui
You know a house means more than wood
more than nails and floor and foundations and roof
It becomes a home when you can live within
when it both heats and cools you in appropriate conditions
when it rests upon solid foundations
and still aspires to skies
when it is different to other houses
yet shares a certain style-
the way it tilts sometimes
creaks with portent and intent
The way people feel when they inhabit your poem
if the skin of the frame fits them as well
so they can sleep and dream of better things
within the wood of words and forest of your intentions
There is more than metaphor here-all art is science
You need to build your world on solid foundations
If this poem is not your shape,nor size-find another one-
one that best meets your individual needs for sheltering
And you can still live outdoors-sans shelter,skyclad
Words are extra-they animate our lives if true enough to build upon
and waste our time when merely made of straw

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Life Magic: a Website in a Blog

It's been a little while since I did any blogging here. That's because I've been busy creating a website. After some abortive starts with longsuffering web designers, I realised what I wanted was something I could alter and update myself. So I began my research.

Yes, I could learn how to do it with Dreamweaver at the local TAFE, but I was told it was complex, and that I'd end up having to buy the software for about $1000. Hmmm, not on the Age Pension, thanks! Besides, I have the impression it needs a mathematical type of brain to do coding, and I don't happen to have one of them.

The guy at the local Tech Centre said I could do it with the greatest of ease in Google Pages. Er, no. When I had a play with that, it wasn't so easy for the likes of me. I guess people to whom it all comes naturally can't fathom how challenging it can be for some of us.

I heard a bit too late about Ozeclick, software which enables web owners to update their own sites once they've been created, and in which – like Google Pages – you can copy and paste any existing web pages you might have. By then I had created what I wanted. I went the blogging route.

My friend, the Atlanta poet Collin Kelley (see sidebar link), recently moved his website information on to a blog and put in a redirect from his domain name. He told me it was one of the best things he ever did. And my latest web designer (my Prodigal Son) was thinking about making something very static which he wouldn't need to keep going in and changing, but with links to blogs I could alter at will. So I started playing around with possible blog pages, and it quickly took shape – consisting entirely of a blog. Or rather, a nest of six blogs around one profile.

Andrew and I had just created a blog about fairies, to start telling the stories of psychic children we interviewed some years ago, and we had registered a new Blogger profile for it, listing us both as joint authors. Andrew's book, Jorell, one of the reasons he wanted a website, is a fairy story, so we always envisioned that blog tied into our website. And so I began, and it grew, and fell into place. Luckily I have taught myself a bit about constructing a blog by now, and Blogger does make it so easy!

The Prodigal is going to put in a redirect from our domain name to the new home page. Meanwhile the link in the sidebar to Life Magic will get you there. I am SO proud of it, so do go and have a look! You won't be able to comment, though, except on the one really bloggy section, The Truth About Fairies (see sidebar link). But you can come back here if you like, to tell me how splendiferous it is. (Please refrain from recording other opinions, lol.)

I did it as a present for Andrew on his birthday. He recently turned 79, and he has always wanted a blog that would showcase all our wares – our books, and all the services we can offer people. I thought he should have what he wanted!

I am glad to say the Prodigal loves it too.