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!

Poetry finds the way

Although I had to ditch Life Expectancy, the title I had chosen for the novel about my father because it was the title of a book by best-selling author Dean Koontz, I did find a title for my blog: Family and Fiction

For the blog, I decided not to use the title of the book. The blog is about the book and more… about investigation, research, reading, writing, rewriting, soul searching, self-doubt related to the book and beyond.

Discouraged about not finding a title for the book, I put it aside. Better not to think about it. Concentrate on issues at hand – an open house party for a visitor from Venezuela, helping my older son and his spouse to move from Nairobi, Kenya to Canberra, Australia, activism on climate change and for human rights for asylum seekers.

The book and the title were shoved out of sight, out of mind. Neglected, yet festering in the background, telling myself I should do it. I should continue. It had to be done. But I ignored those interior voices and kept myself busy with everyday life.

Until…Poetry finds the way.

I attended a panel at the poetry festival, Poetry on the Move, in Canberra. I brought with me a blank journal with illustrations by Ebenezer Edward Gostelow (1866-1944) that I had purchased at the National Library of Australia. I’m a sucker for buying beautiful journals as gifts. But not for myself. Easy to write on the computer when you can change it anytime but in a journal? More thought and better handwriting required.

A side journey:

Ebenezer Edward Gostelow was born in Sydney Australia in 1866. From 1889 he taught in country schools across New South Wales. As a self -taught artist and lover of Australia flora, he livened up blackboards in his classroom with captivating chalk drawings of flowers.

My journal is livened up with a drawing of a banksia on the front cover (photo) And on the inside with 10 full-page color illustrations as well as small sketches of flowering plants that pop up when least expected.

Back to the poetry festival: 

While waiting for the poets to begin a panel discussion, I sat down in the front row and read previous entries in my Australian flora decorated journal. I found quotes copied from books I had been reading, including Land Fall, a poem by Clive James and several quotes from Tim Winton, Island Home. Then a quote from a poem by Gary Snyder, Rip Rap and Cold Mountain Poems:

“Tracking the human future of intelligence and despair.”

That was it. One sentence that says what I’m trying to do in the book I’m writing.

The title found me: Tracking the Human, with a subtitle from a poem by Kenneth Patchen, Nobody’s a long time.

                         I’m on the road again… to writing, blogging, publishing….

How did you find the title for your book, short story or poem?

Your comments are welcome.  Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                               I’m on the road again… to writing, blogging, publishing….

 

Word Count: 456

Keywords: Poetry, Poetry on the Move, Canberra, Ebenezer Edward Gostelow, National Library of Australia, Banksia, Australian flora, Clive James, Tim Winton, Gary Snyder, Kenneth Patchen, Tracking the Human, Nobody’s a long time, title

Unseen people

At the Gallery

Paintings by Kate Stevens: Scenes from an Afternoon

Gorham Art Centre Canberra, Australia

IMG_3410.JPG Landscape

Sweeping landscapes

on small canvases

Heavy oil paint

applied in thick daubs

Foreground mauve

purplish colour

Distance implied by

yellow fields

massed green trees

Big sky

light light blue

 

Just when I’m getting bored

seeing similar landscapes

the same colours

over and over again

I step away

and am captured

 

Australian pastoral landscapes

not my favourite

and yet the

sweep

space

colours of

rippling land

low rising hills

attract

 

Quietly appealing

limited colour palette

mauve

yellow

dark grey green

light blue sky

hint of fencing

daubs of black

cows with white face

Inhabited land

controlled by unseen people

IMG_3405 landscape.JPG