A strange equation

Beach Mimosa Rocks National Park, Australia

Camping plus a slight cold = 4 great books!

While camping, and relaxing in a hammock (a habit acquired in Venezuela) at Mimosa Rocks National Park, I finished two outstanding books by Australian authors:

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

and   Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe 

When I first began reading The Shepherd’s Hut, I thought, no, too fast, too much slang… I can’t stay with this. But I kept going and going and going until it was over. Some references to plants, land and Aussie slang that I didn’t know, but no matter… a terrific read.

Easier entry to Stone Sky, Gold Mountain, a novel about the incredible suffering of Chinese migrants in the gold fields of North Queensland, Australia in 1877.

Returned from Mimosa Rocks (on the south east coast of Australia) to Canberra, I had several days of not feeling too great – runny nose and congestion. So more reading!

I finished Ta-Nehisi Coates novel, The Water Dancer. Densely written, submerging the diligent reader into the underground war on slavery in the United States.   (Look up the Underground Railroad on Wikipedia for information about the underground). 

Fourth book: Louise Erdrich, The Night Watchman, a novel based on the life of her grandfather, Patrick Gourneau, who successfully fought to stop the termination of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe by the United States Senate in the 1950s. Gloriously written, with poetic language, memorable characters embedded throughout.

I tend to immerse myself in books, read them very quickly and then regret when they’re finished, as if I’ve lost a good friend.

All of the above HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Joyous reading!

Poems in the haze of bushfires Part III

Poems in the haze of bushfires Part III
25-27 December 2019
Camping at Pinch River, Kosciusko National Park NSW

Found objects
at the camp site
A footy ball
A rusted hammer
Size twelve men’s black canvas shoes
A green and purple tennis ball
Sunglasses missing one lens
What else has been
left behind?

Camp site Pinch River, Kosciusko National Park, Australia

What hopes                                                                                                 dreams
prayers
words
hugs
games
music
occurred
at this campground?

Were lives changed
enriched
enjoyed
from being here?
Who is to know?
Only trash
burned out campfires
left behind

Someone built
a rock dam
We enjoy the pool
as do the birds
kangaroos
who come by
for a drink
and watch us
watching

Pamela crossing the Pinch River, Kosciusko National Park

Sadness comes and goes
Beauty of the trees
the creek
Sadness of the grey haze
Smoke of bushfires
cover the sky
devour the land
Where is the future?

Poems in the haze of bushfires Part II

Poems in the haze of bushfires Part II
25-27 December 2019
Camping at Pinch River, Kosciusko National Park NSW

Climbing up a hill
through grey trees
stepping over residue
Rabbit droppings
Horse manure
Kangaroo dung
Huge white bones
of a dead horse

What is alive
in this forest
ants
cicadas
occasional birds

What is alive
in the flowing creek
No fish
No frogs
A bird takes a drink
A kangaroo hops by
A red and orange wasp
flies over

Poems in the haze of bushfires Part I

Poems in the haze of bushfires
25-27 December 2019
Camping at Pinch River, Kosciusko National Park NSW

25 December 2019

Blue sky above
after weeks of
smoky haze
The world on fire
or at least
a continent on fire
The glory of clouds
only visible when
against blue sky
The sun
shining through
spreading out
its rays
after days
as a red ball
surrounded by
grey smoke haze
The sounds of
the river
and the cicadas

 

Pinch River, Kosciusko National Park, Australia

In the stream
water rushing over
a rock dam
Cicadas crescendo
Orange ball sun
Shrouded in smoke haze
Bushfire season

Cleaner birds
Black feathers
Red eyes
White tipped wings
when in flight
Waiting in trees
Will they drink
at the stream
if I leave

Dried up forest
Adult kangaroo
Two juvenile roos
Forage by the creek

Juvenile Kangaroo foraging by the stream

Stream colour changes
brown green gold
Boulder colour changes
grey blue orange pink
The sun decides

Two Novels by a Poet

I urge myself to write
after days in a daze
due to a head cold
the aftermath to
sitting in a tent for hours
at the Majors Creek Festival
(a tiny historic gold mining town,
301 km south of Sydney and 16 km south of Braidwood in New South Wales, Australia), listening to Emily Rose and the Wild Things (high energy) followed by Great Aunt, a folk duo on guitar and bass (quiet competency). 

I have lost the plot. What did I want to say about Kei Miller’s two novels?
See my blog https://bettehutchisonsilver.wordpress.com/2019/11/01/you-never-know/ ‎about meeting Kei Miller, the poet.

Inspired, after meeting Kei Miller at the Poetry on the Move festival in Canberra, I found two of his novels at the local  public library:

The Last Warner Woman
and
Augustown
 
The title of The Last Warner Woman confused me. When I see the word “Warner”, I immediately think of two brand names: Warners bras and Warner Brothers, a film production company.These are brands I grew up with in the USA. I have never consciously thought of either one - perhaps in my entire life (although I have seen the WB logo of Warner Brothers in movie credits). I have never bought a Warners bra.

So I wondered why a writer from Jamaica would write about Warners bras or Warner Brothers? The cover of the book did not relate to the Warner brands.  Think about it. Shocking that a word “warner” became embedded in my mind with two brands. The power of advertising that changes the lens through which we understand words.

Warner… means a person who warns… that is, a seer or prophetess. 
A warner is someone who can “see” what is going to happen and then warn people.


This book is as beautiful as the cover. The writing is so evocative that I had to read it carefully - word by word - the way I usually read poetry.

I often speed read novels. Satisfied with understanding the main story line, following the principal characters and immersing myself in the story without carefully reading each word. Not possible to speed read The Last Warner Woman.

And then Augustown

Augustown started slower for me. Something ominous surrounded the people in the novel. Something was going to happen. I read the novel with anxiety. At one point I put it aside. I didn’t want to know what was going to happen next.

Both books are based on Jamaican history and folk lore.

After reading Augustown, I looked up “Bedward“ and found the following:
“Between 1891 and 1921, Alexander Bedward, an African-Jamaican healer, led the Jamaica Baptist Free Church in August Town, Jamaica, on the Hope River. . .
In the 1930s, Bedwardites and Garveyites transformed Bedward's millenarianism into the more antiestablishment and durable Rastafarian movement…”
https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/historians-and-chronicles/historians-miscellaneous-biographies/alexander-bedward

Enjoy!

Who is the Queen of Australia?

What?

You didn’t know that Australia has a queen?

Well, the Queen of Australia is not Australian.

The Queen of Australia is…..

The Queen of England…

Yes, indeed folks.

So if and when you become a naturalized citizen of Australia you are supposed to pledge allegiance to the Queen (of England). This is irksome, if you don’t believe in royalty and you do believe in social equality. Very irksome.

Australians have been trying to do something about this anomaly for some time now.

According to the book This Time by Benjamin T. Jones, “Republican voices have been heard since the early colonial days (in Australia) but they were never mainstream.” Jones documents the first Republican Campaign in Australia in 1850.

As an Australian citizen born in the USA, the fact that Australia still is NOT a republic and that the head of state is the Queen of England is almost unbelievable.   In terms of everyday life, it would seem that the Queen does not play that significant a role.

But look again, as Jones does in This Time, an easy-to-read, well-documented book about Australia’s Republican Past and Future. http://benjaminthomasjones.com/new-book-this-time-australias-republican-past-and-future/

Look again at the symbols that surround us in our everyday life in Australia.

The flag: the Union Jack is in the upper corner of the Australian flag. So what is Australian about this flag? We need a new flag. Ausflag is a non-profit organization working towards a new flag. Many beautiful and appropriate designs have been submitted to their website. Check it out at www.ausflag.com.au

Just two of many beautiful designs submitted to http://www.ausflag.com.au

Jones noted, “For many Australians, the relics of empire and monarchy are so ubiquitous that they become invisible. ” For those of us NOT born  in Australia of British background, it is quite noticeable. I already mentioned the flag, which is British rather than Australian. The coins all have the Queen of England on them, as does the five-dollar bill.

Three of the five states have British names: New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. As noted by Jones, “Every major city, and indeed most regional towns, have a central business district marked with George, Edward, Victoria and Elizabeth streets, in honour of royals past and present”. Jones asks, “What constitutional model and national symbols best represent modern Australia?”

All Australians and people interested in Australia are encouraged to read this book and think about “What does it mean to be an Australian?”

Your comments are always most welcome.  Thank you.