This week’s news:
- I’ve secured my writer’s studio for next year through Writers Victoria. Hooray!
- I’ve been working on a new play! It’s a futuristic tale of wasteful wealth, extreme freeganism and helicopter parenting for an all-female cast. I’ve had the idea for a while but I finally figured out how to make it work.
- I got kind of stuck on The Celestial Kris around Chapter 42 (about to throw my characters in the sea during a storm). Instead of wasting the day staring at a blinking cursor, I hopped onto Writer’s Victoria to check out the latest opportunities and writing contests.
Now, generally, I am a person who doesn’t ‘get’ contemporary poetry. I don’t know what it means to
over my own
i n s e c u r i t y
In fact, ‘bad poetry, oh noetry’ is a catchphrase in our house.
But from time to time, I do enjoy solving the puzzle of writing a poem, and they have a way of creeping into my projects.
My play Absolute Legends (a playful retelling of the Odyssey) features Ancient Greek poets and playwrights rapping. Anomalies has The Helpful Little Bumblebee, a twee little piece of nursery propaganda which was great fun to write. Similarly, in The Celestial Kris, my characters belong to a culture without writing. Their oral tradition is very strong, though. As with many oral traditions around the world, they use poems as prayers and spells, because rhyme and rhythm are easier to remember than long passages of prose.
This week, I entered the Whittlesea Word Weavers ‘Spreading the Word’ bush poetry/’yarn’ competition with a poem I’ve been sitting on for some time: The Dumb Chicken. If I’m shortlisted, I’ll be performing it at the Whittlesea Country Music Festival in February.
I know, I know – kinda dorky, but I’ve got a good feeling about it.
I grew up in the country, and I like the generous spirit of these little daggy-cute local writing contests. I like that even if you’ve never heard of iambic pentameter and you think a semi-colon is a surgical procedure, you’re allowed to have a go. At the writers’ community where I’ve been renting a studio for the past eight months, we call light-hearted writing ‘sorbet’, which is kind of lovely. You don’t have to be an aaaartist all the time. Just like it’s okay to splash out and eat sorbet now and then, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in creating for fun.
Unfortunately, I can’t share The Dumb Chicken here today, because a requirement of entry was that the work hadn’t been published anywhere else, including online. In lieu of that poem, allow me to present a different tale of life in the boondocks, which I couldn’t submit on account of it being slightly too rude to perform in ‘Spreading the Word’.
For now, I’ll just say that The Dumb Chicken is the story of a chook my family used to have. She was an ugly accidental hybrid of bantam and Isa Brown, and she was – even for a chicken – extremely stupid. She didn’t sleep in the coop. She didn’t get on with the other chickens. When we threw our table scraps into the pen, she’d run and stand under the cascade of old potato skins and plate scrapings. But this chicken, I swear, survived three or four fox attacks that wiped out the rest of the flock. In chicken terms, that’s a feat worth immortalising in verse.
If you’d like to enter ‘Spreading the Word’, go here. Entry is $5, the theme is ‘Australian rural life’ and you’ve got until the 16th of December.
Got chicken stories? Are you a secret fan of bad poetry? Tell me in the comments!