Looking ahead, not getting ahead

tower

Sunday 14th June, 2020

5.58am

It’s raining again. 100% humidity in winter. Mobile phones warn of moisture detected. It’s hard to recall the feeling of that last hot dry summer. The royal commission into the bushfires publishes testimonies of unimaginable horror and analyses of inadequate preparations and responses, yet,  I can’t fully remember or reimagine what it was like, back then. There is the present to deal with; a new set of dramas unfolding. Disease and the economy. Systemic racism being exposed in our institutions. Not even our beloved artists are exempt from this new revision of history and culture. People are massing. Lip service from politicians representing governments that fail to enact the recommendations of repeated inquiries will no longer suffice. Do something, we scream. People now demanding change. COVID -19 a trigger point, the historians of the future will write. The real issues have nothing to do with a biological virus and everything to do with social justice. If the world is not ending just yet, it feels that the era of unfettered individualism has run its course. The “human race”, that ridiculous scramble to “get ahead”, is over. Who do we want to get ahead of? Our brothers and sisters? The other team? Some other state or nation? There is no fundamental right to “get ahead”. We survive and thrive as a society, not as billions of individuals racing against each other. The fires and the droughts and the relentless ocean and the mutating viruses remind us that money and fame, titles and degrees, and beauty and personal health, mean nothing when mother settles the score.

I Protest!

protest

My poem, “Wake Up and Smell the Humans”, has been published in an anthology of poetry of dissent.

Ginninderra Press have just released an anthology of poetry, “I Protest!”

“In these poems of protest and dissent are to be found anger, anxiety, compassion, insight and sharp observation, expressed in the way that is the special gift of poets. There’s humour too, to leaven the more serious poems. I Protest! once again demonstrates the Australia-wide breadth of talent in the ranks of poets who have been published by Ginninderra Press. This is a collection to savour, to ponder and to celebrate.”

The book is available for purchase from the publisher’s website: HERE

Note that Ginninderra Press currently have a 20% COVID discount available.

Interview: Flash Frontier

A big thank you to the editors at Flash Frontier, originally for publishing my flash fiction piece, “Foundation Song”, and now interviewing me about my writing and new book, “Dead People Don’t Make Jam”.

 

Click on the image below to go to the latest edition of their magazine:

FFgulls2

 

Click on the image below to go to the interview:

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Painting by Oliver Jeffers

 

Click on the image below to find my story “Foundation Song”, first published in Flash Frontier in April, 2015:

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Allen Forrest, German Expressionism revisited

So

april sunset

Long Jetty, NSW, Australia, Southern Hemisphere, Earth, Solar System, Universe

 

So

 

So, the world keeps spinning

it hasn’t slowed one iota.

Though the rumbling has subsided,

so say the seismologists.

 

So, consequentially,

due to such spinning,

the sun still rises and yes it still sets.

She never stops moving

either,latitudinally by the season,

or, longitudinally by the hour

 

So, we get out when we can,

to bathe in the reddened light,

and the digital cameras still work

for the moment that is.

 

So, in the light of the day,

when totally lost in the wonder of just being,

when unrushed and unharried,

don’t feel tempted to hug the nearest stranger,

lest you be called a silly so and so.

Juicy Worms

chooks

Since I recently came out as an author, people have been saying to me, “Well this whole corona virus thing must be providing you with lots of material to write about.”

The problem is that I spent a good fifty years living, working and pondering the world before I understood it well enough to scratch out a story or seven.

Essentially, I see the world as a winner take all capitalist economy that pretends to be a civilisation. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pessimist. I also see the world chock-a-block full of decent, kind, generous, hard working, funny and creative people, who everyday punch out loving and meaningful lives.

Now, everything has changed. I haven’t got a clue what to write about.

Now that I know firsthand how long it takes to write a book, then edit the thing, then get it accepted by a publisher, and then for the publisher to get it out in print and/or e-book, I’m thinking, “Hell’s Bells, what on Earth will the world be like at that point in the future!”

I do have another collection of short stories I was working on for my second book. But will they be relevant anymore, after the pandemic? When people are permitted to un-isolate themselves, who knows what decisions will be made about the economy? Will it, as I fear, be a simple matter of kick-starting the beast back into action. Business as usual. Back to work folks, debts to be paid off, got to keep the economy growing. Or will we wake up a bit and understand that a growing economy is the problem and not the solution?

In the meantime, I’ll scratch around a bit. The chooks out in the backyard have taught me a few things. Don’t stop scratching, there’s a juicy worm or two out there in the dirt.

Uncertainty Reigns

I’m not sure what I am going to be allowed to do tomorrow.

Things are changing rapidly.

There are new rules for Australia everyday and then there are the rules for NSW. When the day dawns, this Monday, I’ll turn on the transistor radio to get an update. This may, or may not, enlighten me as to whether or not I’ll be working later this week, and, if walking to the beach for a swim will be banned or frowned upon as NON ESSENTIAL.

But here’s something I do know:

from 23 March to 30 June Ginninderra Press are offering all customers 20% discount on purchases made through the Ginninderra Press website – just enter COVID in the coupon code box.

It looks like this:

book sale

Click on image above, or HERE, to take advantage of this fabulous reading opportunity.

Shameless marketing of my own book, I know! But, you can of course buy any book you desire from the fabulous collection of Australian Literature published by Ginninderra Press.

Take care everybody.

Apparently

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Image courtesy of

David Clode

Apparently, now is the time to get on with all those creative ideas that we’ve had bubbling away on that back burner in our brain. Because, apparently, up ‘til now we’ve been so occupied by sprinting flat out in the human race to get ahead, that there has been no spare time or energy left over for pursuits, such as writing or sketching or nurturing a garden.

Apparently, we are so programmed to achieve, that even in lockdown, or self isolation, we need to still be productive!

Or, what about being nice to others, and reconnecting with family and loved ones. Apparently, we haven’t be doing enough of that while we’ve working, or searching for work, to keep that roof over our heads and food on the table.

Now, if creative pursuits or human relationships aren’t your thing, apparently, according to fifty squillion emails in my Junk folder, the winding down of the rat race is the perfect time to make a small fortune with bitcoins! Apparently, even while a microscopic life form is teaching us an important lesson about the dangers of exponential growth, the economy still trumps everything else.

How about we just have a rest? Put up the feet and shift the nervous and endocrine systems into neutral. Do that for as long as required. Let our own minds and bodies decide when we’re ready to go again. Apparently, that could be good for our health.

Happy Leap Day

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This date only happens every four years. Is it called Leap Day? I could check on Google but that would take me away from writing and I want to write, not Google. Let’s call it Leap Day.

So, I wrote a story:

Life and Death Are Not Simple Matters

On Leap Day, it is traditional to move around the place in small leaps and to eat frog legs for dinner. Frog leg eating has been banned due to the severe lack of frogs, due to the severe lack of reliable weather, due to the severe lack of humans doing anything about spewing mega tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air.

Read the rest HERE

Houston, we have lift off!

happy punters

 

Last Sunday, Dead People Don’t Eat Jam launched into the rarefied atmosphere of Bookworld. My good friend, Geoff Eagar, did a crackin’ job both acting as MC and also giving a memorable and dramatic reading of Tall Tales and True. The CWA Hall proved to be the perfect venue for the gathering and I must express my humble gratitude to all who came along.

nice spread

Linda, my trusty sidekick, who incidentally got me into short story writing in the first place, womanned the sales counter with impeccable style and cash handling ability. Cask wine and beer flowed, the Jatz biscuits loaded with French Onion Dip were scoffed with gay abandon, and those little toothpicks skewered with a red, green or plain cocktail onion, a cube of cheddar cheese and slice of cabanossi, were sampled by the brave and nostalgic.

For those of you unable to attend, I have books for sale still at a cheaper than anywhere else price. Please contact me directly, HERE, if you wish to purchase.

cover

The Price of Paradise

anson

Anson Bay

Just back from a week on Norfolk Island, lovely. A local custom when driving on the island is to wave at every vehicle that comes your way. I tried this when I got back into the car in Sydney – apart from getting RSI of the wrist, by the time I got onto Southern Cross Drive I’m sure I nearly caused several accidents.

The islanders, the Pitcairners and later settlers alike, are friendly and welcome visitors to help boost their struggling economy. The Australian federal government, against the wishes of the majority of Norfolk Islanders, passed the “Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015”.

You can read more here:

https://www.norfolkschoice.com/october-2019-where-do-we-stand-now-a-timeline-of-political-events-for-norfolk-island/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-03/norfolk-island-grapples-with-australian-rule/10772744

In the nutshell of my brain, it appears that the Government of Australia has given the territory, without consultation, Medicare and Centrelink, with the cost being the imposition of income tax and the dissolution of the island’s legislative assembly. Pay up and shut up. We were told many times that the island is broke. The current drought, on top of the issues of governance, is not helping.

Anyway, no animosity was shown to us Australian tourists.

The island is spectacular and the history, which has been shaped by its difficult sea access and four waves of human settlement, is well worth putting on your bucket list (if you subscribe to that sort of thinking).

Now, several hundred emails to deal with and a book launch to prepare for.

In the meantime, some holiday snaps:

sunrise

Sunrise bursting through the pines and the old prison wall – Kingston, Norfolk Island

exterior

St Barnabas Chapel

interior

St Barnabas Chapel – interior

desk at anson

A place to do some paperwork is provided on the beach at Anson Bay

old boat

Old lighter down by Kingston pier

ships

Ships anchored off the west coast of Norfolk Island