Poet at Play 4: Writing inspired by Art

QAGOMA/ Sonja Carmichael

At the moment I am working on something special: writing inspired by art for QAGOMA. Later on this year my writing will go in display in the gallery alongside the art works.

The process so far has included exploring the art in the Australian Collection of the gallery and absorbing the atmosphere the art is displayed in and finding out the parameters of the project from the Engagement staff.

I am hoping to use some of my writing for children background in the works, and considering the way a narrative might weave stories out of the art works as well as employing poetic techniques in my response work.

As part of this journey I have been researching the works, their artists, and  the intentions and materials of the artists.  This is easy to do via the captions with the work, and the website of the QAGOMA which is packed with information, and sometimes includes things like video interviews with the artists.

That’s all I can say for now but will let you know when the writing will be on display and would love to know who has seen it and what their responses are.

I am very excited to be part of a project were different art forms inspire each other.

Below are some of the things inspiring me so far –  but for the rest you will have to wait.  I have written a first draft of a number of pieces, and now I am planning a return trip to the gallery.

 

Michael Stevenson and Tipoti works
Williams
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Variety of Works, including Koolmatrie’s Hot Air Balloon

If you have ever been to an art gallery for inspiration for your writing do let me know. 

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Mermaids and Monster Trucks

 

Monster Truck Boys, Monster Truck Boys
they love to drive their Monster trucks.

Mermaid Girls, Mermaid Girls
swimming with the dolphins
go the Mermaid Girls.

Mermaid Girls and Monster Truck Boys
Now they go to school
Could there be a duel?

Mermaid Girls watch the Monster Truck Boys.
Monster Truck Boys watch the Mermaid Girls.

Mermaid Girls, Mermaid Girls
super diving Mermaid Girls.

Monster Truck Boys, Monster Truck Boys
super driving monster trucks.

Mermaid Girls and Monster Truck Boys
They’re playing at magic school
which has a friendly rule.

Mermaid Girls can play with Monster Truck Boys.
Monster Truck Boys can play with Mermaid Girls.

Mermaid Girls talk to Monster Truck Boys.
Monster Truck Boys talk to Mermaid Girls.

Soon Monster Truck Boys
like swimming in the sea.
They’re jumping and bumping
in the sea.

Now Mermaid Girls
like driving monster trucks
as if they’re giant seals.

Mermaid Girls and Monster Truck Boys
They’re all cool
And they all love school.
Their friendships are like jewels.

Monster Truck Boys, Monster Truck Boys
swimming with the dolphins
now they’re Mermaid Boys.

Mermaid Girls, Mermaid girls
Super driving, super dreaming

Now they’re Monster Truck Girls.

(c) June Perkins, first appeared July 18th 2018, on Australian Children’s Poetry

The Poet at Play 3 – Working with Metaphors

Image by June Perkins

This week I have been playing with metaphors.  Metaphors give us a memorable comparison to understand something which seems inexpressible at a deep level.

Some metaphors  have been so used that they have become clichés; so as I write I have to approach them with care and ingenuity.   I have to strive for originality.  But also intertextuality and allusion are going to be helpful.

I have been working with the ideas of gates, doors and walls, of barriers, and openings, of welcomes and denials.

My journey with gates, doors and walls is triggered by all the news about refugees around the world not being allowed to cross borders, and being put inside camps (prisons?) and separated from their children.

Historically walls are set up to protect from invasion of enemies. They surround cities, castles and more. But all walls have a gate for those who can be trusted to make their way through.

There are famous walls, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall (which one day came tumbling down) and literary walls, like Humpty Dumpty’s wall which he fell from.

As for doors, literature is full of portals, doorways, that take us elsewhere.  Often the doors are hidden and disguised, just think the magic wardrobe in the Narnia Chronicles. But there is also the entry to the magical places of Harry Potter at the station, Hogwartz can’t be reached without knowing how to go through the portal.

 

gateflickr.jpg
From Geson Ratnow, Flickr

Now how does one make ones way through a door, I think of the Trojan Horse.

My mind begins to think do people still fear the Trojan Horse, and has this somehow rid people of compassion.  They think that everything must not be what it seems, but is always in disguise; a disguise that has bite, a disguise that will destroy.

 

trojanhorse.jpeg

So now with some of this thinking done, I have some things I can allude to, some ideas about gates and doors,  some emotions I want to draw on, and a current happening in the world that frustrates me and I hope we can change.

Now for a poetry first draft to bring this all together.

People still
fear
the Trojan horse

Somehow this horse
is a boat
or a truck
full of people crying

It can’t be real
it is just a tool
to make us open
borders

We won’t be fooled
We must protect our
citizens

Oh for a portal to freedom
a falling Berlin wall
and all the Humpty Dumptys
falling down,
down,
down

toppling
from the wall
they installed

Oh for a portal
to compassion
hidden somewhere
in that wall
that is going
up, up, up, up

When will you believe
what you see
is not just a trick
and when will we all
sing a welcome song?

I’ll keep working on this poem and see what eventuates.

It is a beginning and I am working with this one to let the subject dictate the shape and direction of the poem.

Questions I ask myself after a first draft like this:

  1. Am I being a little didactic (lecturing) here?  Is that okay?
  2. In what ways can I improve the poem’s lineation?
  3. Can I think also about protest songs and bring their intertextuality in ?
  4. Will this poem be part of a series of poems?
  5. What other research, including visual research, can I do to reflect on gates, doors, walls etc?
  6. Which of the metaphors here can be extended?
  7. Words for gate in other languages?

(c) June Perkins, words and top image.

 

Towards Spaces Beyond

Butterflies on the wall, a new creation by artists
calls the People of this city to turn towards
the spaces beyond

“Darkness hath encompassed every land, O my God, and caused most of Thy servants to tremble. I beseech Thee, by Thy Most Great Name, to raise in every city a new creation that shall turn towards Thee, and shall remember Thee amidst Thy servants…”
-Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations

(c) poetry words and image June Perkins.  This first appeared on Nineteen Months

The Poet at Play 1

Read how I create this new work from an earlier poem

The music of me
In outlines
you refuse to hear

You think you strip me back to my music
You think you strip me back to my soul
You think you strip me back to me

But I refuse
to feel myself through your hands
to hear myself through your music
to move to your expectations

Pearlz Dreaming

I am working hard on new poetry for competitions and submissions.

I have two metaphors that have been preoccupying me for a couple of weeks. They simply won’t go away. I even had a vivid dream based on one of them last night!

I have put preliminary words down on paper. Now I am faced with the task of playing with them until they become fully formed poems. As part of this process, I am doing some creative writing exercises from Hazel’s Smith’s Writing Experiments.

I spent nearly two hours reworking two ideas, and these may turn into two poems or a suite of poems.

I loved particularly Smith’s exercises on additions and substitutions which were my main focus of this first experimenting stint.

Whilst I can’t share the new poems, I thought I would demonstrate how some of the techniques from Smith’s book might work on poems I have…

View original post 294 more words

Peace

Photo By Ken Bosma Flickr

Peace, like Giant Saguaro Cactus,
Took fifty years before flowering hope
Just night and green morning
Over quickly
Then flowers came out again

Again out came flowers then
Quickly over morning green and night
Just hope flowering before years fifty
Took cactus Saguaro Giant
Like peace.

 

By June Perkins

The Bystander

I have found that social issues have been preoccupying my mind; foremost amongst these: domestic violence.
I think of the people suffering this in silence.
I wonder about those of us who might find ourselves bystanders.
What can we do when we suspect this happening?
This is the first draft of my first poem on this topic.
In this one I am concerned to ask the ‘victim’ what do you need me to do.
This first poem I wanted to be plain speaking, direct address to the victim
What do you want me to do?
I think there will be more, as I do more background research.

Tell me how to help you
I see you look so sad

I can see it in your eyes
The way he makes you lie

I can see the strong control
He makes me stay away

Yet I want to be your friend
And if you want
help you runaway

But this week there are bruises
You ran into a door?
I feel this can’t be true
I feel it in my bones

Tell me how to be the friend you need
Not making you leave or stay
But simply feel that
whatever decision made
You know you will be
Supported

Maybe I know a phone number
A safe house
A social worker
You can go to

Maybe I call the police when
I hear violence through the wall
Maybe I make the call
And stop being a bystander
Who in the future feels guilt when the

Truth comes tumbling out

In
Flashing lights of ambulances
Reporters interviewing neighbours
And people saying,
‘If only someone had helped’
‘We never knew’
‘They always seemed so happy’
‘ . . .Well most of the time, but
there were signs’

(c) Word and Image June Perkins

 

Domestic Violence hotlines can be found here

WHITE RIBBON HOTLINE NUMBERS

Grey and White

Maria Popova – Flickr Creative Commons

Grey and white streaks
begin to lace themselves
through my hair.
I embrace
the signs of wisdom
chasing through me there,

And all around me others
dye and tease their hair
to conceal their age
but that is their affair.

I don’t mind that they want to do this
and hold onto their esteem
but why does one say to me
‘You should dye your hair
you look so ancient and so old’

I explain to her
‘when I was younger
I looked younger than my age
and am happy to embrace
the white and grey that now
dance through my life.’

She cannot take a hint
and simply doesn’t understand
I don’t need a bottled colour
to conceal the process I’m now in
and now she wants to know
the colour of my youth.

Why do so many worship
forever staying young?

I am happy to see silver starlight
in my hair.
It doesn’t make me blue
to become an ancient woman
with an ancient wisdom.

When did aging gracefully
become so easily scorned
and not needing a disguise
become so fervently despised?

I take the process of my life
and seek an inner dye
where my soul’s forever dancing
outside my body’s time.

(c) June Perkins, words