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.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Reassurance from Beyond

Migrated from LiveJournal / Dreamwidth

It's not unusual for me to get my messages from Spirit in the form of song lyrics – though it sometimes takes a  while to realise it's a messages when a few lines repeat over and over in my brain. It could just be an ear-worm.

Yesterday, even though I knew very well what the date was, and it was much on my mind, it didn't occur to me to attach any significance to this chorus I kept 'hearing' all day, over and over and over:

So fare thee well, my own true love.
We'll meet another day, another time.
It's not the leaving that's grieving me,
but my true love who's bound to stay behind.

Then this morning it finally hit me. Of course!

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of my husband Andrew's death.

(And yes, I have received plenty of indication that he's happy and busy, working with the angels; as well as plenty of indication that he still keeps a close eye on me.)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Vicarious Adolescence

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I just rented 'Love, Simon' from BigPond Movies. The time limit for watching was 48 hours. I watched it three times, I loved it so much.

Why? It's not great art or anything. As everyone probably knows by now, it's a sweet love story about gay teenage boys coming out. It's beautifully handled and well acted, but still. Three times in 48 hours seems a bit excessive even to me. I'm a 78-year-old straight woman; what was so interesting? (To be fair, if I'd bought it and wasn't going to lose access to it any minute, I might not have watched it again quite so soon.)

It's true that I've been good friends with a number of gay men, two of whom were schoolboys when the friendships began. But so I have with gay women (though that's not relevant to this movie). And with straight men and straight women. I just happen to have friendships with all kinds of people, of all different ages.

Then it dawns on me. It's the 'young adult' thing. I read young adult books all the time; it's one of my favourite genres. I loved the movie 'The Breakfast Club', made when I was well and truly adult myself – loved it so much that I bought it years ago and re-watch it from time to time.

I never really questioned it before. We don't question what we enjoy; why should we? But now that I am questioning, I realise I didn't really have much of a teenage. Australian High School students of my era didn't, compared with American ones in the age of cell phones and laptops, but in my case there was also the parents' divorce, the uprooting to a different part of the country during school term, the stepmother from Hell, going back to my old home in school holidays when old friends were often away.... 

Then I went to University, on a Commonwealth Scholarship, with a living allowance which was pretty much a pittance. I became too busy studying, and too poor compared with kids who were working, to be going out and having fun. Because I had finished my schooling in a different State from the one I grew up in, I went to a University where I knew no-one instead of the one where all my old school friends went, so I didn't even have that cameraderie. And I was a shy girl to start with, let alone traumatised by two years of the Mad Stepmother's rule. I did make new friends eventually; I did eventually manage some sort of a social life– but I felt that I missed out on a normal adolescence.

My Firstborn, who also went straight from school to University, but didn't have all that other stuff that happened to me, felt that just by being a student he missed out on his teenager-hood. So he decided to have it in his late twenties, and did mad things like dyeing his hair and some wild partying. In my own time I didn't even do that. In my late twenties I was busy having him and his brother, in what was already my second marriage. I did have a bit of fun in my early twenties I must admit, but the young and single phase didn't last very long.

So it seems I'm living a vicarious adolescence. But as it's relatively harmless and quite enjoyable, I guess I won't worry.

Friday, August 17, 2018

A Private Snark

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Which of these topics should I write about?' asks a novelist on Facebook. 'Remember, I'm not doing this for fun. I'm trying to make money.'

I don't know her well enough to say, 'In that case, try advertising copy or technical reports.  When it comes to creative writing, if you're not having fun your readers won't either. And that means they won't keep reading.'

(Though actually, I imagine the advertising copy could be fun.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Communicant and Other Stories

A new book, a new treasure

Helen Patrice's new book, THE COMMUNICANT AND OTHER STORIES, is being launched on Sunday 7th May 2-4pm at Knox Library, 425 Burwood Hwy, Wantirna South (Melbourne).  If you can't get there, look for it on Amazon, where it is already available.

I had the great pleasure and privilege of doing some copy-editing of this book – a sheer delight to read, a very easy edit, and she paid me as well! So I am able to tell you it's a little masterpiece of 'speculative fiction', with stories ranging from sinister through both funny and sad to downright beautiful (sometimes all at once). I am one of many who has been urging her for decades to PLEASE publish a collection of her wonderful stories. I’m ecstatic that she finally did. 

I don't love and admire Helen's writing just because we're close friends – but the fact that do I love and admire it so much is surely one of the many reasons we are close friends. The short story is my favourite form next to poetry; Helen excels at both. And spec fic (comprising both Science Fiction and Fantasy) is my favourite fictional genre to read, and hers to write.

When she finally did publish this collection, she did it professionally: using a great cover designer for instance, and asking for a blurb from a writer renowned in the genre, Elizabeth Moon, whose response was enthusiastic. Moon describes the stories as 'weird, strange, and absolutely brilliant' and the book as a whole 'as un-put-downable as your favourite pastry'.

It is also available in a Kindle edition for those, like me, who prefer ebooks. But I actually have it in paperback too as one of my perks for the editing, and I must say it doesn't disappoint. The tactile quality of physical books, which can't be reproduced on a screen, is one of the things we most love about them. This one feels very satisfying, from the glossy cover to the matte texture of the pages. It’s just nice to pick up and hold, and even caress. 

One of the things I love best about ebooks, on the other hand, is not having to struggle with print that's too small and/or pale. I'm glad to say the font in this paperback, though neither unduly large nor aggressively black, is both aesthetically pleasing and easily readable.

Can I find no fault or flaw in this book? Well, no, actually. It's a work of dazzling originality and rich variety. Even though I have been so closely involved in it and know it rather well by now, it's one I already delight in re-reading. I hope it gets the wide readership it so thoroughly deserves.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Woman of Mars by Helen Patrice

A fascinating tale beautifully told

When preparing to write a review of Helen's latest book, THE COMMUNICANT AND OTHER STORIES, I realised I'd never reviewed this earlier book – instead I did an interview with her at the time it was published – so here goes: 

This is the most beautiful verse novel I've ever read. I don't mean a beautiful physical production – though it is that too, a nicely designed little hardback with artwork by Bob Eggleton. I mean that it is full of beautiful writing. And it tells a fascinating tale.

Perhaps I should call it a verse novella, as it's not very long – however, it does complete justice to its subject matter: a young woman in Earth's future who marries a famous astronaut and goes with him to be among the first colonists on Mars.

She experiences excitement, fear, homesickness, struggle, tragedy, love and wonder. The details of the colonists' survival on such a different world are entirely convincing.

Helen is an accomplished writer of speculative fiction as well as an excellent poet. Her combined talents make this an exquisite, haunting and very believable read. You don't have to appreciate poetry to enjoy this book – though those who do will be all the more delighted.

The back cover blurb is by the late great SF writer Ray Bradbury, who read this book not long before he died, and clearly loved it. As I do too. I don't know any reader who doesn't.

It was a limited edition by Stanza Press, on whose website I can no longer find it, but there are some used copies on Amazon. It has clearly now become a collector's item (deservedly) so the used copies are priced higher than the original price! But it is still affordable from some sellers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lovely to be featured ...

... with two other poets celebrating Nature, by Sherry at Poets United.

And equally lovely to be described (with the others) in some of the comments as, "Three of our most treasured poets"; "three of my favorite poets"; "three poets we know and love so well" – in addition to terms like "gifted", "talented", "beautiful".

We write for its own sake ... and it's very nice to be read and appreciated too, particularly by poets whose own work excites me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Going, going, gone

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I just finished writing a poem, this morning, about a dear friend who has gradually been dying over the last few months, and probably has little time left now – a poem I won't be making public just yet, but they come of their own volition, when they insist on being written.

Perhaps it was good timing, as I might well be feeling too stunned and devastated now, and for some time to come, to write such a poem. This afternoon I got the very unexpected news that another, even dearer friend passed away peacefully this morning in her bedroom. Her son, who lived with her, posted the news on her facebook page.

One thing that rocks me is that she was two years younger than me.

Another is that I last saw her only five days ago. I was leaving the fish'n'chip shop in her town (where I had a couple of appointments) just as she sat down in the café next door. So instead of getting in my car straight away, I went over and had a chat. We had been in touch by email and Messenger anyway, but this was the first time we'd seen each other in person for a couple of months. She said she had not been very well, but it wasn't particularly obvious. I'd never have expected this!

We tentatively arranged to organise another of our occasional lunches with other members of the old WordsFlow writers' group (where we met ten years ago) as soon as the extreme weather settles down a bit.

She was a wonderful writer, with the gift of being funny and serious at the same time. And she was a great person: warm and kind, sensible and sensitive, and never afraid – in writing or in person – to "tell it like it is".

Monday, February 12, 2018

Haiku Anthology

Oh, how exciting! I just got in the post the anthology "Jumble Box" edited by Michael Dylan Welch, drawn from last year's NaHaiWriMo (National Haiku Writing Month – which is actually international). That happens every February but there aren't always books resulting. I tend to wander away to other things between Februarys, so I was a bit late to realise it had been issued, but very glad to have it now. It looks and feels beautiful, with lovely artwork by fellow-Taswegian Ron Moss, and of course lots of excellent haiku. I'm especially chuffed that the three of mine included are all one-liners: a form I much admire and seldom even attempt myself.

Back in January 2007, just over 10 years ago, I decided to try and teach myself to write haiku. I discovered that I had a lot to learn!  It's wonderful to have come from those first clueless attempts to having work selected by a respected editor for an international collection such as this.

"Jumble Box" is available from Amazon, only in paperback – and this is one of the rare cases when I am delighted to have it in that form rather than ebook, because it is very easy to read, and the font and layout make it altogether a visual work of art. (Also, I must admit it's easier to show off a physical book to other people when I want to do some skiting.)…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

Monday, January 08, 2018

New anthology from dVerse

The dVerse online community of blogging poets, in which I sometimes participate, has just published this beautiful new anthology of 104 poets from all over the world, who also share their work in that community:

It's available from Amazon North America and Amazon Europe. And yes, I am delighted to tell you I have two of my own poems included.

We weren't invited to choose poems to submit to this anthology. Instead the editors selected from poems already shared with dVerse during a specific time period. I was surprised at which ones of mine were chosen: probably not among those I would have submitted if asked, even though I am fond of them.

But tastes differ. Though I had not considered them my best work, I'm very glad that the editors valued them more highly, so that these particular poems now get much wider exposure than I would have given them. (They are At Mariner's Café and My Home River.)

These days I usually prefer ebooks to paperbacks, but this paperback is beautifully designed and produced. It not only looks good but feels good to touch. I'm glad to say the print is clear and easy to read, and the layout of the poems on the page – the amount of white space around them – is excellent. (As a former librarian and publisher, I know how crucial these details can be to the reading experience.) Some of the poets are also photographers, and the book is illustrated by the occasional black-and-white photo.

The commendably concise Foreword tells us that, "Online poetry is characterized by immediacy and rawness of the human experience. ... It retains the original texture of thought and feeling of the poetic imagination." (Which is not to say we don't revise, I hasten to add.)

The back cover blurb says: "We selected not only the best poems but also those poems that take the reader through a journey from the darkest places to the brightest. From the deepest sorrow into happiness and love. From the darkest streets to woods in spring."

I find the contents fascinating. I'm acquainted, of course, with the work of most of these poets, and I love and admire a great deal of it. In such communities we get to know each other, and each other's writing, very well. I think online poetry is often brilliant, every bit as good as anything being published in more traditional ways. It's a treat to have so many of these pieces collected together here, and I'm very complimented to be in such good company in such a good book.