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Burns Beach – Frances Macaulay Forde © 2013

Some may know I was the resident poet at a local cafe for 6 months as part of a program with Poetry Australia during 2013.  Going through my notes of meetings, I thought I’d share these.  I presume the married owners were in dispute about who was the boss:

30th May 2013:  THE POETRY READING.

After rushing around Joondalup frantically trying to source a small amp to use at the reading and $167 later, I was 10 minutes late for set-up with the advertised event due to happen in 20 minutes.  It was pouring and I looked like a drowned rat.  The hubbub in the cafe was loud because every customer was squashed into a small space with the heater turned up high.

As I lugged the amp and my bag of books etc in, I rushed to my usually reserved table to find it occupied.  “Good Morning, are you ladies here for the poetry?”

Frowns; “No.”

“Oh, OK, sorry – it’s just that’s usually my table but I see they’ve reserved this one for me.” and smiled.

I bend to my task of plugging in the amp and about to test the microphones (one for me and one for my guest poet, Rashida Murphy) when a sour faced woman approached (looking quite similar to one of the ladies at the 1st table).

“I am the owner and I don’t want my customers disturbed.”

“Sorry?”

“You can’t use that – I don’t want my customers disturbed.” pointing to the amp with a nasty smell under her nose.

“So you don’t want me to do the reading?  It’s been advertised for three weeks and this was all arranged…”

“I don’t want my customers disturbed.”

“OK, but a media statement went out and the newspapers mentioned they may attend.  I have no idea what they look like so if anyone asks would you mind apologising?”  I’m not really good at sarcasm.

I think that did it – and she walked away.

The atmosphere had changed and you could have cut it with a knife.  I’d never seen that ‘owner’ before and the wait staff who usually looked after me so well, were obviously feeling bad.  They knew how much time and effort I had put into the event, not to mention the advertising with brochures and posters.

The whole experience was to offer customers a chance to share their words as well – many had expressed real interest and said they secretly wrote poems.  I wanted to hear some, so was very disappointed.

I packed up the amplifier and made some frantic phone calls to say it was cancelled.  Thank goodness the international poet I had invited had been unavailable; I would have been mortified to have her arrive with my friend, the Professor of Language and Literature at Edith Cowan University – and both unable to read!

So, with my face bright red, I took a deep breath, did my usual and placed a poetry postcard on each table inside and out, smiled and chatted when customers expressed interest.

One chap outside greeted me with “Hello, Poetry Lady” and a big grin.   He said he’d been looking at my face for three weeks and seemed quite happy about it – not ‘disturbed’ at all!

I couldn’t get hold of Rashida in time, but she was good about the cancellation and we thoroughly enjoyed catching up and reading poems we’d worked on since our last chat.

7th June 2013 Update:

Yesterday although I was at Burns Beach Cafe, I was outside, distracted by photographing the waves crashing, so walked in a couple of minutes late. There stood the manager,  Lynda waiting to let me know there were two ladies waiting to see me – locals Maureen and Ginny.

They said they’d just completed a 6 – week poetry course at a near-by writers group and had heard about me from Maureen’s hairdresser who picked up one of my poetry postcards from the cafe. 

20 minutes into our poetic chat Maureen remarked ‘how much (she) had learned from me – already!’ We’d shared our work, critiqued a poem or two and did a short exercise which we promised to write and bring back to critique next week. 

Our session ended just short of two hours because they were off to attend a prose class. They’ve promised to come back next week and every week they can…

And they did, for the rest of my residence!  We even met each month for 6 months afterwards at Ginny’s house to talk about her book and Maureen’s play.

#FrancesMForde  #FrancesMacForde  #BurnsBeachCafe

 

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160319WorldPoetryDayW

My (current) ten favourite poems for World Poetry Day 2016:

  1. “Don’t make me fall in love again…” by Nan Witcomb © 1979, from ‘Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, The Thoughts of Nanushka, Vol I – VI’.  I discovered Nan in the early  80’s when I needed to find solace in words and simply beautiful illustrations.  Soaked with romance, this poem resonated – seemed to speak from my own heart.
  2. “The Dolly on the Dustcart”  by Pam Ayres © I’ve loved this poem since I first read it, even before I watched her perform it at the Perth Concert Hall in the early 90’s.  It was hard to choose just one of her poems (I have a few of her books) this one makes me smile with its many layers.
  3. “Fascination Waltz” by T.A.G. Hungerford © 2005 p. 223, ‘Whatever Happened to Joseph’, 1st pub by Jacobyte Books.  Tom most graciously allowed me to spend an afternoon with him, talking about his writing while a full Pages Cafe/Poets Corner audience listened to him reading his wonderful words.  He told us about this being his wife’s favourite, so Kevin Gillam kindly played the song on his double bass for Tom – I know he was touched.
  4. “Honey” by Gerry Murphy © 2002  P. 14, ‘Torso of an Ex-Girlfriend’, Dedalus Press.  I met Gerry whilst attending workshops at Munster Literature Centre in Cork, Ireland and instantly connected with his searingly honest, concise poetry.  No fluff. 🙂
  5. “As Autumn Leaves”  by Bee © 2014 on ABC Tales.  Such a close examination of feelings and beauty – micro writing, which like many well-woven words, has stayed with me.
  6. “Making Tracks” by Gregory O’Donohue © 2001, p.59, ‘Making Tracks’, Dedalus Press.  This man was an absolute inspiration.  He read and considered my work with great experience and knowledge, so every critique was harsh but helpful.  This poem is sad but then, he often seemed to be…
  7. “Wounded Leopard” by Harry Farrell © 1968 from ‘Copper Dust & Other Gleamings’, self-published in Northern Rhodesia.  I met Harry in Africa in 1971 and tried to buy a copy of his book but he had sold all he’d printed.  So he lent me one to copy, for my own enjoyment.  I still have and treasure the original, typed on an old Olivetti.  Africa comes alive for me, through his poetry.
  8. “Fifth of November” by Esther Morgan © 2001, from ‘Beyond Calling Distance’, Bloodaxe Books.  Glen Phillips introduced Esther to my class at Edith Cowan University and I’ve been a fan ever since.  She was good enough to edit a series of poems I wrote in Ireland, while based at UEA and editor of ‘Reactions’ New Poetry;  three journals of which I still read.
  9.  “Just for Raema” by Glen Phillips, © 2005.  This poem was sent to me privately.  It spoke to my heart of pain and loss – but never ’emptiness’.
  10. “No Bowl Of Cherries” by Silver Spun Sand  a.k.a. Christine Ann Chatworthy © 2012 on ABC Tales.  Seems a very suitable poem to end this list on… all about life and the cherries thrown at us.

I can’t believe how difficult it was to list just 10 favourite poems, I know there are so many more!

 

@FrancesMForde  #FrancesMacForde   #WorldPoetryDay2016   #NanWhitcomb  #PamAyres  #TAGHungerford  #GerryMurphy   #ABCTales:Bee  #GregoryO’Donohue  #HarryFarrell  #EstherMorgan  #GlenPhillips  #ABCTales:SilverSpunSand  #Begorrathon16   #Poems  #Poetry  #Word-weaving  #Top10FavPoems  #MunsterLiteratureCentre

 

 

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160315ScissorsW

Has anyone else found scissors inspiring?  Never thought I would but as my favourite Professor said, the scissors chose me – I didn’t choose the scissors.  Very Zen.

To encourage you, here are the first & final versions of a poem written after 10 minutes of  Scissor contemplation & manipulation…

1st Version:

Cutting into my life.
Sharp edges that define.
Cruel severance.
Pointed.
Cold steel ‘ shiny, hard, distant.

Cream/grey plastic
warm, smooth, closer.

Why is?
Unnatural – closer?
Cut/pain ‘ endings,
Death/severance ‘ no going back.
No return ‘ finality.

Blades slicing together
teamwork ‘ severance.
Teamwork – blades;

actually touching.
Wiltshire Staysharp,
a warning of actuality;

‘THIS IS WHAT I AM’

engraved,
scoured into the hard steel,
un-erasable,
undeniable.

Circular pivot – the turning point;
the axis of action.

Inspired by these original words – I linked them to my (then, 2002) romantic dilemma: a man I loved 28 years before, contacted me on the net in 2002 – only I’d  sworn never to be fooled by love again!

Shear Love

You sever my reason,

shape my feelings with your

steely blades of perception.

 

You use the twin edges

of measured analysis

and practical application,

 

to rotate on my axis of impatience,

 

defining our new existence

with that swinging efficiency

of open – closed action. 

 

You manipulate me

with metal precision,

held in a warm moulded grip.

 

My paper reality

waiting for words

that define an Us.

 

Frances Macaulay Forde © 2002

Here’s My Challenge: 

Get a group of writing friends together & tell them to bring something odd.  

If no friends willing, do it by yourself…  I still use this exercise to kick-start a writing session & have loads of bits and pieces on my study desk.

Pile the odds & ends in the centre of the table (or desk).  

With eyes closed, mix them up & hover a hand over them.  

Still keeping eyes closed, pick one thing & take 10 minutes to write about it.    

Please share your results in my comments – I’d love to read them.

 

@FrancesMForde  #FrancesMacForde  #POEM:ShearLove  #Poetry  #PoetryChallengeNo1  #WorkshopWriting  #Writing  #Poems  #PoetryPostcards  #FMF:PoetryPostcards

 

 

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0906PloughPrizeList

I was very proud to find my name, next to my poem ‘Left Field’ on the long list for The Plough Prize in 2007, discovered quite by accident years later.

So I can imagine how pleased Afric McGlinchey was, I’m sure just as thrilled, when her poem ‘A River of Familiars’ appeared in this year’s longlist.

I proudly own a copy of the E-book  “The Star of Hidden Things” published by Ireland’s foremost publisher of poetry; Salmon Poetry – a literal feast of magnificent word-obsession.

t_luckystar

Like Afric McGlinchey, I was raised in a kinder Africa where, I felt loved and accepted and totally enfolded in the arms of my melting-pot community.

Beautiful book of Photos available © Gregg Robinson

Her poems brought my African childhood back to me so clearly, I’m about to order her latest publication through Salmon Poetry; “Ghost of the Fisher Cat” which includes the Plough Prize longlisted poem, “A River of Familiars”.

ghostofthefishercat

@FrancesMForde  #FrancesMacForde  #PloughPoetryPrize  #POEM:LeftField   #AfricMcGlinchey  #SalmonPoetry  #ARiverOfFamiliars  #TheStarOfHiddenThings  #GhostOfTheFisherCat  #Africa  #Poems  #No1IrishPoetryPublisher #Begorrathon16 #IrishPoets

 

 

 

 

 

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Artwork 2 of 4 from the ‘Play’ series, sketch in progress. 

Jessica McCallum © 2011

 

ELEPHANT WALK                                                                      

When I was a child

I remember thinking

that chain around

the elephant’s leg

wasn’t strong enough.

 

Elephants are tough!

If he wanted, he

could free himself just

by lifting that mighty foot

shaking the metal loose

and walking away…

 

Why does he stay?

 

No-one could stop him

If he chose to go,  take

his own path. No more

performance on command

– he could find some green.

 

Walk through jungles again!

 

Elephants are tough so

why does he stay, stroll

through sawdust, put up

with that lady who leans

into his ear, whispering…

 

It’s because he loves her.

 

Frances Macaulay Forde © 2011

 Written to the art of Jessica McCallum for her 2011 Exhibition:  “All the pretty Ones Are… “

 

@FrancesMForde  #FrancesMacForde  #JessicaMcCallum  #ArtAsTheSpark  #AllThePrettyOnesAre  #AnimalArt  #ForTheLoveOf  #ElephantWalk  “ART:Play2  #Poem  #Poetry

 

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…you’re not really.

There are millions, just like you who either don’t acknowledge this day as anything to do with ‘love’ or find themselves alone either by choice or by circumstance.

So no – you’re not alone.

And if you feel you need a greeting – say ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ to yourself.

Take all those images, sayings and special touches applied to this day – turn them around to face you.

Take yourself out and do something that makes you feel wonderful – because you must be.

We are all worthy of a celebration every day of the year – not just today.

I’ve seen all of these movies and couldn’t resist sharing these quotes because I know, if you want love it will find you… eventually – if you let it.

???????????????????????????????

Committed Skin

I crave committed

skin.  Pale, pink tones

of a fragile heart.

Silky strands tantalize.

 

Forest of words

– thoughts, forcing

forward movement

careful continuation of

 

soft, subtle actions.

Reassurances

given, refusing

to provide any more until…

 

absolutely sure,

when our surfaces

eventually meet

– rub together in love-making,

 

no other skin will suit.

 

Frances Macaulay Forde © 2003

1st pub: ‘Hidden Capacity ~ a poet’s journey’ MMB Publishing, Ireland, 2003.

 

 

@FrancesMForde  #FrancesMacForde  #HappyValentinesDay  #ToTheLonely  #IfYou’reAlone #POEM:CommittedSkin  #CommittedSkin

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Dear Love Doubters,

I once dreaded Valentine’s Day so much I wrote a scathing article about it.  Then I changed my mind and wrote another one in 2005:

I now believe love can happen at any age.

Yes, I admit I was a doubter for a long, long time and hated – even dreaded Valentine’s Day thinking I’d used up all my chances when I was young and that being older meant love and romance shouldn’t be on my wish list… so it wasn’t!

Well, I am here to prove to you all that it still should be.  I am 54 and have just found romance again.  I’m not slim, rich or famous but I am in love!

I’ve finally married the man I was in love with (in Africa) and ran away from to Australia, 30 years ago.  

In Ireland, he found my name quite by accident (on the net), contacted me,  and although continents divided us, proceeded to systematically smash down my not-inconsiderable barriers.  He deleted all my negatives; wooed me with words, romance, flowers and finally, convinced me to try love again.

Our love story began in 1974.  I was 23 and living in Zambia, I fell madly in love with an Irish rock-n-roller who wasn’t quite ready for me.  Broken-hearted and determined to get as far away as possible, I caught a plane to Western Australia and wallowed in poetry. 

I met and just weeks later married a bronzed Aussie on (wait for it) Valentine’s Day – 14th February 1975, saw him through Uni, produced two beautiful children and divorced in the 80’s.  From then on I hated Valentine’s Day.

But I worked hard at any job I could get, loved my kids and kept busy and distracted from my divorcee label with part-time courses and community work.  I thoroughly enjoyed being in charge of me and secretly kept writing, even wrote a novel but never had the courage to let anyone see it.

Until 1998, I always treated writing as a side dish and love was never on the menu. I couldn’t even write about romance except to say that I dreaded all the hype of Valentine’s Day.  I didn’t want or expect romance in my life.

After seeing both my children through University, they left home happily stepping in their own living-dreams directions.  The empty nest loomed large. There was just me – only me to concentrate on.  So I threw away the safe cocoon of full-time Bank employment. 

At the age of 48 I took casual jobs and began my dream – a full-time degree in creative writing at University.  Surrounded by clever young things used to study, it was very hard. Not the writing – never the writing; but paying bills – you learn never to waste precious sheets of paper again.

But I didn’t give up – I kept going because my kids were so proud of me.  Romance still wasn’t necessary.  I was way too busy with myself to spend any time on or with anyone else. I didn’t recognise that I was busy romancing myself.    

After graduation I was taking my first tentative steps into a new writing career; it was January 2002.  My Irish rock-n-roller recognised my name on the net  – a million-to-one chance!  Both now over 50, he lived in Ireland and I was in Australia, neither of us looking for each other or love.

To prove the point, I sent him a scathing magazine article I had written filled with the hate of romantic hype.  Undeterred on Valentine’s Day he asked if I was accepting Valentines from old boyfriends and my still-youthful heart zinged, surprisingly pierced well and truly by Cupid’s arrow.  I was a terrified cliché! 

Three screamingly silent days later I admitted; “I have always believed that if I ever found my ideal love – a complete acceptance of all that I am; absolute loyalty, unconditional support, encouragement and equality, from someone who would accept and expect nothing less than the same from me… then also mix in intellect, curiosity, humour and chemistry… I WOULD GRAB LOVE – with both hands and never let go!

But I would have to be sure that it was real and not another illusion. An illusion created by my own idealistic and romantic pedestal-placing heart, projected onto a smooth talker; a charming, talented, kind and careful person who has lovely manners, is courteous and doesn’t want to hurt me… I’ve done that before and it didn’t work out!”

Phone lines and emails ran hot for six months between Ireland and Australia, while we explored the possibility of romance and dealt with doubts from both sides.

“I’m not your 23 year old with a ‘girl next door’ look, anymore… I’m over fifty and although I present well socially, once the wrapping is removed… It’s not that I don’t want to consider the possibility and I admit; since the surprising thought hit me, I have spent a lot of time completely distracted by that. But I don’t think I’m ready – I’m not a tease (I’m talking about actions, not flirty words) and can’t promise what I can’t deliver… this is all new…”

He climbed aboard his silver charger, brandished words with conviction, clothed in romance and arrived in Perth. Thirty years melted away when he touched me.  We married last year, surrounded by family and yachts.  I am in love again AND living my dream to write full-time! 

Recently I was asked to write a poem for a wedding.  Three years ago I couldn’t have written any poem about romantic love. Thankfully, my Irish rock-n-roller proved me very wrong. 

 

Frances Macaulay Forde © 2005

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@FrancesMForde  #FrancesMacForde  #UnchainedMelody  #Valentine’sDay  #ForeverLove  #LoveDoubters  #LoveRomance

 

 

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