walk in softness
Photographs whilst walking
become source of reflection
inspiration and care on
days when I can’t walk.
memories only a few days old
This feather nestled in
the surrounds of the park
a moment of grace
saying ‘stop and be with me’
Today my heels are in a sorry state,
covered in antiseptic cream
band aids and slippers
and still I can hardly tread
So this what the little mermaid
meant when she said
‘I walk in pain.’
I must be content with scrolling
through the beauty of my last walk in
just down the street.
swim in softness
So near and yet so far.
This soft feather a solace.
And mystery is a feather
discovering its poetry.
(c) June Perkins
Seaspray 17: Ocean photography and Haiku Poetry, (2019) Poetry by Dannika Patterson and photography by Kian Bates. (Morningstar Books, Capalaba) ISBN 9780648577805, 38 pages, landscape, RRP $30.00
Looking for something to dive into this weekend, to just take your mind off the current state of the world, and imagine, transform and connect with nature, then Seaspray 17 may be just your thing. First, I want to share a little about its two creators, Dannika Patterson and Kian Bates.
Dannika Patterson, the poet is an author, copywriter and marketing consultant, who in the last few years has published five books for children with two of these celebrating a love of nature, outdoor play, and imagination, Jacaranda Magic (2018) and Scribbly Gum Secrets (2020).
In 2019, she collaborated to create a coffee table, photography and Haiku poetry book, Seaspray 17: Ocean photography with Haiku Poetry, with Kian Bates, a photographer from New South Wales with a passion for the ocean. Kian co-owns Raw Edge photography and takes workshops where he teaches others photography.
Seaspray 17 whilst still as suitable for children as other Patterson works, due to the playfulness and beauty of some of the images, and language, appeals more broadly to people of any age concerned with the passing of time and the protection of the environment. Photographs are commonly used for non-fiction works for children, but this is not a straightforward non-fiction book dealing with the ocean, but rather a series of artistic photographs capturing the imagination and artistry that is the ocean.
Haiku is an astute marketing choice, because it is commonly studied in school, however it is still a highly relevant choice because this ancient Japanese poetry form often features epiphanies for existence, time, and connection in nature and ensures that Patterson’s ongoing interest and love of nature is expressed in a form that is renowned and well suited to that purpose.
The overall approach of the book is more akin to Haiga, where image and text work together, although traditionally this would have been through ink and watercolour and in this work it is through artistic photography. This adds to the attractiveness of the collection, because the photographs and text elevate each other, and intertwine to make new meanings.
Four of the haiku that I particularly enjoy are ‘Mr Greenback,’ for its direct informal first creature address of the turtle to us the reader asking for us to change our ways for the turtle . . .
Copyright Raw Edge photography and Dannika Patterson, used with their permission
. . . ‘Mermaid Musings’ for its imaginative quality of the in-between spaces both physically, emotionally and spiritually and ‘With You’ and ‘Your Lead’ a dramatic double spread black and white of a mum and calf, accompanied by one haiku from the perspective of the mum, and the other the perspective of the calf. It is just stunning.
Copyright Raw Edge photography and Dannika Patterson, used with their permission
There are several haiku that play with the sense of time, and the capturing of a moment in time that will soon be gone. Of these my favourite would be ‘Roar’, where the photograph and words match beautifully and playfully. I’ll leave you a bit of mystery with this one, and encourage you to purchase the book to see why.
For language, the playfulness of ‘Dive Jive’ is pleasing to the ear.
Shake, rattle and roll
jiving, alive and thriving
rock on, reef, rock on
(The Dive Jive, by Dannika Patterson)
Bates’s photographic imagery, is often focused on the wave, as well as what is within it, which gives the book a universal applicability to anyone living by and interacting with the sea. Those familiar with Australia’s NSW coastlines might identify specific Australian coastal geography like in ‘Freeze Frame.’ Small titles to the photographs add another layer into the meaning the reader can take away. For example one poem, ‘Wild and Free’ the title of the image is ‘triceratops.’
Most of these poems work best alongside the images, as they use the economy of expression that a skilled writer for children is often adept at, leaving space to the image to communicate and expand upon the words. The works within Seaspray17 invite the reader to engage not only with the ocean and its creatures but time itself.
Bates and Patterson convey that the ocean needs to be more than a source of a muse, it’s something we can fiercely protect as a mother would a child, or a lion would its pride.
The imagery, photographic and verbal, is gentle, playful, fantastical and, full of light and quiet optimism that the reader will choose to become a guardian of nature.
Teacher’s notes are available for this book and many of the images as well as the book can be purchased from Raw Edge photography.
And also from Dannika Patterson’s site
Brolga! Brolga, follow me, dance with me across the plains,
for you are me, and I am you, if only though I had your wings.
Brolga! Brolga, bring your friends; I know you cannot live alone.
Listen, as I play for you, a wetland filling up with food.
Brolga! Brolga, I bless you; may your wetlands always be here.
Let them not be cleared away, let the sedge grow tall and well.
May the people hear our song, then dance with us across the plains.
Brolga! Brolga, I am you, and you are me: let us both grow tall and well.
By June Perkins, Brisbane based, poet and children’s author, This poem is part of Words and Pictures, Spring 2018
Embrace the Australian Collection as a place of quiet contemplation through poetry, drop-in drawing and calm living meditation.
WORDS & PICTURES: DROP-IN DAILY
Ongoing | Galleries 10 – 13 | Free
Discover a fresh perspective on the Australian Collection with Words & Pictures, an ongoing project that invites local artists and writers to respond to artworks in the Australian Collection. Take inspiration, and use the pencils and paper provided to create your own response through drawing or writing.
SPRING 2018 | This season’s Words & Pictures inspiration comes from poet and children’s author, June Perkins. June has developed an interactive journey through the Australian Collection through poems and micro-stories for visitors of all ages, with particular appeal for children and families.
For more head to the Gallery or the webpage (other poems and stories at this site until November only)
What does the writing
on the leaves
Who put it there?
human or Great Spirit?
Wrap your arms
Wrap your arms
of your breath.
of the carving.
(c) June Perkins all rights reserved words and images
What Would Emily Say?
The creek is still here
skeleton bush returns bit by bit
but the swinging tree by the waterhole
The tiny blue trimmed butterflies
hide with the dandelions
gold and brown ones nestle
deep into the green grass
capturing them with my camera
leaves them free
Why do some children take red nets
and break wings of such beauty?
Why can’t they let them be?
Two friends at a round table
discussing Emily Dickinson
and how she had to speak to others
from another room.
She needed so much room
to write her words but
still she hid them away.
Butterflies hiding in the grass
sing of Emily and wonder
What would she have made of cyclones?
(c) Words and Images by June Perkins
I am busy preparing for the ‘Illumine Exhibition with Ruha, Minaira and Temily. Just 4 weekends to go!
I’m not absolutely decided on which of my pieces are going in, but I enjoy the process of creating things and then working out how to present them.
I have been searching for the best specials and reasonable quality for printing and mounting, so that things attract the viewer but are not super expensive.
We are exhibiting at Magda Community Artz, which is not often used as an exhibition space, but is more regularly a performance space. To adapt the space we will be using easels as well as the walls, and finding safe places to hang things from, and may even make use of some of the outdoor space. This is making me think carefully about how to print and mount the photographs and what kind of materials to print them on. You can print on canvas, metal, fabric (cotton, silk), wood board, different kinds of paper and more. Each of these has a different quality.
I have been on big searches in pinterest to look for inspiration. One day I might even write a blog on it!
Another thing I have been looking at is how to present the poems. Will it be on posters with the images like the photograph on this post, or will they be simply written under the photograph on foam core? I might also read the poem under the image it goes with?
We’re having some performances of dance, music and poetry on opening night and charging a small door fee to help us cover the costs of the exhibition. If you are in Brisbane and able to attend you can book for our special opening night HERE
1. When is the kickstarter for Magic Fish Dreaming running? We’ll let you know when this launches and the kickstarter page is live.
If you want to see this book happen please keep inviting people to the facebook page and blog in preparation for the kickstarter.
The video is in production, the rewards for supporters are being sorted and well there’s all that behind the scenes stuff you have to do before LIFT OFF!
The campaign launches in a few months from now.
2. Why are we kickstarting the book? The world, with all its challenges and joys, most definitely needs poetry for children and their families to read together and to each other, to perform and enjoy and which reflects their experiences of environment, family, and adventures but . . .
The situation in publishing is that poetry books are not taken on by most commerical publishers and yet it remains a loved art form supported by independent small presses and literary presses, and taught in school curriculum.
A major tendency in creating poetry books for children is to publish collections of much loved no longer alive poets (who did not necessarily write with children in mind) like Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman, centred around themes, and illustrate them. Exceptions to this are well known poets for children and families like Shel Silverstein, and Pam Ayres who have written some fantastic books of poetry that are not really just for children.
Another tendency is to publish poetry for children that is all about rhyming and sing song rythmns or completely tied to school curriculum needs and to stick with spelling list words. There is nothing wrong with poetry like this but poetry is much, much more.
Did you know a poet is considered a best seller in Australia if they can sell 500 books? Most poetry presses have their publishing books full up for up to three years in advance.
It seems poetry is one of those things that is really up against it when it comes to traditional publishing. Yet, it is something so much part of our everyday lives, especially when we consider songwriters at their best are poets at heart and the growing popularity of spoken word poetry events – slam poetry.
3. Why Poetry? Poetry is powerful. Poetry has champions like Maya Angelou, Judith Wright, and Oodgeroo. Poetry can move the heart and change the world.
Poetry can be many things, and appear in all sorts of shapes and forms and appeal to all ages and background- perhaps though it is its capacity to explain things through similie and metaphor, and to take on the point of view of others that gives it, its greatest power to help humanity cross boundaries.
Poetry is something you can take with you beyond what is taught in the classroom and the home, into a way of being and relating to the world.
This poetry book is about breaking down barriers, and sparking a love of poetry and language for children and their families with themes that are relevant to their lives. It is about working together with an illustrator, Helene Magisson, to attract children and families to poems, and bringing the visual and poetic art forms together.
4. Are you with us? My dream is that you will be enchanted by our samples to want to see this book happen, and will help us kickstart this book into the world. I have chosen to have this book illustrated by a wonderful artist who knows how to appeal to children through her art. I am enjoying this collaboration greatly.
We’d love it if you can invite any of your friends who you think would love a project all about the love of poetry, nature, family, adventure and more!
Join us on facebook and the blog, and at Kickstarter soon.