Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Hey Rachel – thanks for having me back again. It’s odd to have two books come out back to back but they are from two different publishers. The poems are actually all rather recent. The pamphlet Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car in its entirety was my (winning) entry into Templar Poetry’s pamphlet competition. I had entered in 2008 too so I decided to enter a completely new set of poems this year.
I think poetry like short fiction is about the personal obsessions of the writer and so there are themes and motifs that re-occur a lot in all my writing: fertility, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, children, sex, relationships, the break-up of relationships, art. These are all things that occupy me and fascinate me, so inevitably that spills over into my writing.
So, to answer your question about timing, the stories were written first (2005 – 2008/9) and the poems came after, (2008 – 2009) but the same themes are with me even now.
In “When You Are Ready” you begin with a line about Narcissus:
To be honest, it’s mostly me. My poetry tends to come from a personal place. Some people talk about ‘confessional poetry’ as if it’s a disease or something. For me, as a poetry reader, I’d rather read a personal, moving poem than an impersonal treatise. Some of my poems are persona poems (I’ve never danced with poet Paul Durcan, for example!) but mostly the poems come from my life and the lives of women I am curious about. I’m a feminist and that can’t help but spill over into all my work. Readers can – and will – take what they like from a poem; once it’s out there people will put their own spin on what a writer means by a poem.
I am going to ask you about your reference to Paul Durcan (poet and author of “Golden Mothers Driving West”), your dance with him, and if the “three Polish boys” in the title poem of your collection are a nod to Durcan's own poignant tribute to motherhood?
The Durcan poem is a bit of whimsy. I invented the encounter with him in The Winding Stair, which is a favourite book shop of mine in Dublin. I’m a fan of the man and his work; I love his style of reading and the diverse and very Irish voices in his poetry. I’ve only met him once and I just gushed briefly about his general wonderfulness. He smiled and nodded sagely.
The Polish boys in the title poem were nothing to do with Durcan. There are a lot of Polish immigrants in Ireland and watching them with their crap car, as I sat in my own crap car, got me wishing for better cars for us all. That thought process led me in the poem to me and my first husband’s car crash and I had my poem. I didn’t know where the poem was going when it started. I never know where any of my writing is off to when I step into it; that’s the mystery and fun of it, I guess. And I love that. On a slight tangent, it struck me lately that writing is the one place where I allow myself to be chaotic – I’m intensely organised in all other parts of my life.
I can't help thinking back to Nude again and how after I had interviewed you I was struck by how odd it was (to me) that I hadn't asked you about the art references in there and I'm not going to this time either, but I am going to thank you for coming all the way over here - here's a box of shortbread I made earlier, car shaped and iced in red - I'll take a photo before...oh, they're tasty, eh?. Readers, you'll have to imagine what they looked like!
Rachel, thanks again for having me over. It’s always a pleasure and I’m delighted to be here again.
If people want to buy the pamphlet it costs €6 (about NZ $12) from Templar Poetry here: http://www.templarpoetry.co.uk/publications/portrait-of-the-artist-with-a-red-car.html
Thanks again, and thanks TFE for the great tour logo.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Had they driven all this way
to come face to face
with the head
of a fat soaked
beast and a slick
intestines whose hosts
in the thick of it.
Was this the Styx,
bloodied and carcass
strewn? Had they
crashed, head long, into
hell? Their own
bodies mingled with
limbs, livers or hearts:
none could determine
in the horror as they
clambered from the
wreck of it. Merged
by-products of human
nature; the wish
to consume slips over
the tarmac, the verge,
the wayside: wasted.
The road is closed,
only for now.
Two posts for you this week - I'm going AWOL from blogging for a couple of weeks as I need to sort out some issues I am having with my WIP so please be patient with me: I'll try and keep up to scratch with comments on my blog but I may not be as visible in the rest of blog land for a while. Thank you. Your comments are, as always, very much appreciated.
This is death: the slow shuttering up of the drive to achieve
or the need to be desired. When all of my lines
accumulate and can be read "I don't care","I'm tired",
this is death. A dry stone wall in disrepair
for want of the stonemason
who built me. A monument:
all that remains of me.
A cairn: the weight of
living upon me. Stone,
not carved: cast.
This heap of me.
in want of a roof,
a lifetime in want
of a shelter;
Friday, December 4, 2009
Todays post is bigger than I wanted it to be.
There are three in jars on the sill: insects.
You'd have to hear them to know what they are.
Mute: I have captured their identity
but the fear they infect me with cannot be kept
or even held. Reduced to a pencil tap I collect
their facts, memorise their features through that
which is featureless. You can see
their difference more clearly through the safety
of a jar. They have travelled the equivalent
of miles around a glossy ellipse: each one slips
as it tries to scale the side, all those legs and not
one can get a footing. I've never liked them
and to think I came all this way to find a fear
with features I recognise only by my reaction to them.
Window ajar: I return them outside, lesson learnt,
to butt noisily against the pane (still
ignorant of my sensitivity), or silently wander.
The moth "eyes" - and I laughed at how funny it was that I had cropped off the part which scared me - see the little furry critter in the left hand corner ("LITTLE" USED HERE TO SHRINK FEAR TO MANAGEABLE PROPORTIONS).
I looked at my husband who was looking at me and I saw an expression register on his face which I felt ought to have been on mine. Especially considering the fact that my hair was still travelling towards my eye.
A flush of adrenaline had me flick my hair from my face. I felt nothing. I saw nothing. I did the thing they do in horror films when you shout "NOOOOOOOOOOoooooo"!
I peered over the edge of the bed and saw:
which one did I pick? Go on, click the link - I dare you.
I want to say that I rushed to grab my trusty bug hoover and carefully disposed of this fellow to hoover up some spiders of its own (white tails are unusual in that they only prey on other spiders - veritable gladiators of the bug world).
P.S. Sleep tight, mind the bugs don't bite! Oh, and the scale...it's all wrong, the one on my head was much bigger, about five centimeters across, bigger than my eye in any case, or in my head!
Short story newsflash - there's a competition over at the Tomlit blog if you're interested. Get your entries in quick though, deadline is December 14! Think I'm going to enter.
Monday, November 30, 2009
This is where it all began, except that it didn't really. This picture was taken at a secret location in New Zealand's South Island. P.S. It's a secret because it's also the setting for my novel in progress. Shhh!
I recently had a second story/poem up at Ink, Sweat & Tears (remember The Fish Wife?) and for any of you who didn't see it, you can read it by clicking on the moth below. As I mentioned in this post, I am going to tell you what inspired this piece, which I called "Your Favourite Colour".
Insects photographed in Dunedin airport.
These pied, pseudo-eyed lovelies were pinned onto five sides of a foam cube in Dunedin airport. Imagine my joy when I saw them - no really, I was completely fascinated by them! I may be frightened by most bugs, (and moths and butterflies, if large enough, do flutter at the periphery of this phobia) but I do find them captivating and spend a lot of time looking very closely at them - in books/jars/cabinets. More on the critters later: I am still working on the bug poem I posted a couple of weeks ago. I began drafting it two weekends ago but it turned into an 8000 word story - oops! Last weekend I typed that story up, as well as doing more research reading for my WIP and a little writing for that, also. I'm as busy as a bee...enough of the creatures for a moment...and am currently decorating my daughter's room. No intrigue yet?
Image taken from "Homes & Antiques" back issue.
Well, it was whilst thumbing through old "Homes & Antiques" magazines and paint colour charts with a view to finding my daughter's favourite colour - you see, it's coming together now - that I came across this image, above. I wasn't sure what it was but it looked to me like a seat cushion made from old papers. What do you think? And I thought the blue looked very soft and worn and lovely. But I also remembered watching this Ted Talk on colour and illusions:
Remembering this, I took a second, closer look at the blue and noticed how the fibres were breaking away and that the seat was in fact made up of many different shades of blue, and that the blue only appeared that shade of blue in relation to the other colours in the picture: the neutral shades - the warm tones which accentuated the blues - and then I played around adding different colour cards to see how they would alter my perception of the blue seat.
The rabbits I had read about in the museum on my South Island trip, the hunting also, plus I had masses of similar imagery archived in my memory, as well as our own pet rabbit. There were deer farms in South Island and we saw a dead doe with a chunk of flesh bitten out of its rear: tufts of its fibres breaking free and blowing in the breeze. Old buildings had shingled roof tops.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
However, I did look at the list of things I had to do and my brain short circuited (not to be confused with the book Short Circuit by Vanessa Gebbie). There were simply too many numbers, sorry Thomas, and I would have felt like a fraud if I had copied the awards onto my blog and then not followed through with the terms of acceptance.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Bit of a school jumble sale of a post for you today. Got to be in quick to get the best stuff!
Thomas Taylor, over at That Elusive Line has generously nominated me for a couple of awards which I will gladly accept and do what is required of me at some point over the weekend - yes, it's Friday here, come on rest of the world, get your act together! (Note - deferring attention from my own tardiness!)
Got another piece of flash fiction up at Ink Sweat & Tears which I shall be dissecting for you in a week or so if you're interested to know what went into it and how it all started (this is my code for - you might think it's a little strange and therefore, that, by default, perhaps I am, also, but I'm not, honest governor, it's all got a very simple explanation, and phewsh, I'm normal really - and could I fit in another clause break? Probably not). It's called "Your Favourite Colour". Let me know what you think.
Goshkins, on a mish not to start a sentence with "so" and yet to cause the maximum agitation to all you grammarians out there! Any takers? We've sold all the quality goods now, can I ask anyone to take the last few items of this post off my hands - c'mon, it's pence. Nope?
Back in the van it goes then, you'll all have to wait until the next jumble to know what else I had to tell you!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Well, managed to stave off that disaster. So, here's the thing, I was going to write a really interesting, stimulating, nay, I say veritable lyrical Officer and a Gentleman assault course for the mind, and I was going to tie that whole film thing (tenuous link for those of you reading between the lines) in and wow you all with my wit and...yeah, well look where that got me.
Well, what happened was, there was this dog. No, scrap that, there was this pack, big, hugemongously fearsome braying, barking, belching pack (if only the collective noun for dog began with a b) - heck, there was a back of belching beasts (why let stupid spelling rules spoil a quality bit of alliteration?)...and then I faffed about and read these and was more tickled by the degeneration of the comments thread than the jokes themselves and completely forgot what I was going to blog about.
And then, just like a flash of flashyness, I remembered: I was going to answer Steven's super duper questions from the comments in my last post about how do I write a poem and, specifically, how do I know it's a good one.
Remarkably it all ties in because the way I go about writing a poem is much the way I am going about writing this post: I think of something, I hear/read/see something and I think, that could work together, so I stick it together and something else pops into my head and then I go, wait, this is better....you see? I make it up as I go along and sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't. The ones I don't like can, often after a period of solitary confinement (for them, not me) be redeemed with a little wordy personal trainer. The ones I do like I ask politely to wait in the green room and if we still get along after the show I invite them to dinner.
Here's one that's doing hard labour for being a crime against my potential for publication - hey, I'm not proud.
Won't get used to cicadas
breaking up the air with their
too loud noise, a cross between
electricity and clock.
Biting spiders will destroy
my quality of life whilst
flies continue to taunt me
with their filthy aerial
arrogance, refusing to
die when sprayed: insecticide
does not do as it says on
the tin. Won't get used to here.
Friday, November 13, 2009
The internet - a world of mischief and ideas.
I have a poem to post today but as I was rooting around in my pictures for a suitable image - I know how you bloggers like a picture with your post - I came across this, which I had saved a couple of months ago, and thought I'd give a big high five to my blog readers in Bulls, and a thank you for making me chuckle. Yes - I'm immature, what of it?
Inspiration, it's everywhere, especially in these times when it's no more than a click away. It would be possible to sit here and never leave the knowledge well that is the internet. Sitting in front of a screen for hours on end is not the way I find inspiration, however, even if it is the medium which transforms my findings most quickly into stories and poems. I still like to get out and about, hence blog AWOL lately.
And here's why:
Come on let's go
I'll say and I'll
scoop up your two toothed, grinning,
compliant softness and we'll head
out into civilisation. Note book in hand,
we'll listen to random snippets of stranger
conversation you don't yet understand,
and notice peculiarities of description
to translate into language; and when
the notebook is heavy with
inspiration and my arms are tired
from carrying you, we will return,
and as you sleep I'll write,
and one day you'll be inspired.
If you want some more inspiration, Women Rule Writer is hosting a blogeriffic interview with poet Liz Gallagher where Liz talks about her collection of poetry "The Wrong Miracle", and where Nuala invites you to enter a draw to win the book. But if you prefer to buy your own, all royalties go to SANDS, the stillbirth and neo-natal death charity. So it's a win win situation. What are you waiting for? Check it out.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
intertwined with golden vine.
I was going to post today about how I go about writing short stories but this arrived in the post and I want to read it, and if you are interested in writing or knowing more about writing short fiction, you should, too.
One face turned aside, ear lobe cushioned to lip, receives the hidden word. Curiosity runs its fickle fingers down your contorted spine as you lean in closer.
I was going to pick out a painting to top my post: a pixilated prize for those who seek a visual lure. And then the words came and made a frame. Now all I have to do is fill it, or do I?
He, or is it she, stares ahead and would close her eyes if she thought she could hear better for doing so, and doesn't see anything but the shape of the words going into her ear. She doesn't see the way the body at her side is poised to flee; doesn't see the the thing that glistens in the hand, inches from her neck: a ring? A blade? A torch, perhaps? She is unaware of how the eyes set intent upon her do curve with narrowed lids which mask their unreal colour so that only a tease of it can be seen by you. But you know that the eyes are shaped by ugly satisfaction or grim enjoyment. Lies, you say? Lies it is.
But what's a painting if not words coloured into shapes? We squint at clouds, at clods, at the mottled colours until we can find lines which our eyes translate.
Now it's your turn. Go on? No? Then end it.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
It's been a strange period, since I returned from my research trip: I don't seem to be making much of a dent in the information I've accumulated, but I have been busy.
I have written another short story (and when I say short, I mean SHORT: less than a thousand words). I seem to be able to write about an eight hundred worder in an hour. Oh how I wish it were then finished. Sometimes it is. Rarely. More often than not I end up going over them, again and again, tweaking and chopping, syntax juggling, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, for me, I did not allow myself time for double checking with two stories I sent off recently - won't be winning that competition - and found a typo and a ridiculous primary school crime "loose" instead of "lose". I fear my neighbours may have increased the volume on their idiot's lanterns when I saw that one and went AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
It's not all been a waste. A valuable lesson therein, me thinks. Me often thinks a tad too much in the hind of sight as opposed to the fore of it. Oh sight.
Since returning from South Island, where I tried to get a feel for what it would be like to live in the place I was studying (walking the streets so many times I knew what was where enough to give other tourists directions and describe landmarks in a way as to make them think I lived there), I have been feeling retrospective. I have been thinking about my "place" there and here. Obviously, there, I was fulfilling a role - researching, but there was more to it than that. I was thinking - and this is useful for my novel in progress - what makes a place "home"? Answers on a postcard, please.
Anyway, why was I posting today, ah, yes! Award winning short fiction writer, reviewer (to name a few credentials) and blogger extraordinaire (extraordinaire here is defined as "how does she do all of that?"), Tania Hershman very kindly asked me to write a guest blog for her series on "Writing and Place", and you can read it here.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Please keep your seat belts fastened as we seem to be experiencing a little turbulence.
It's been peculiar, to say the least, being back in Auckland. I have a huge stack of reading material to get through, plus hundreds of photographs to label and scrutinise. I have maps and memoirs and, curiously, memories of my own to sift through and work out what is valuable to my story and what is merely of value to me.
This is your captain speaking, to notify you that we will be landing shortly. We are currently (bunch of numbers) high and with a wind speed of (bunch of numbers), I hope you have had a pleasant flight on behalf of Too Small for Sense and Comfort Airways and I wish you an enjoyable and safe remainder of your journey.
And I have to catch up on blogging and general real life as I know it.
Thank you for choosing to travel with us and I hope to see you all again soon.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Fig.1 Barley twist table.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Bugs: they really bug me!
I don't have a positive relationship with spiders. I am okay if I know they are there - unless they are larger than my thumbnail, or, in the case of the one pictured above, larger than my whole thumb with legs outstretched! - But it is the element of surprise which makes my nerves jangle and the hairs stand to attention on the back of my neck. This wee beastie (note humour used to diffuse fear) brushed against my little finger as I reached for a teaspoon off the sink drainer. I vomited. Don't worry, if you were thinking of popping in for tea and are now concerned abut hygeine - it went on the floor tiles and I bleached! Luckily, I had the bug hoover my daughter bought me for my birthday handy! It was difficult to suck it up - the spider probably weighed as much as the battery used to power the hoover! But the really strange part is, once I caught it, I had to look at it.
(I think it was only there because it was dying, otherwise I doubt it would have hung around long enough for me to lay my clammy hand to the bug catcher.)
It's similar to when you're watching a horror film and the unwitting victim is about to go into the darkened room where you know the evil bloodthirsty thingymebob is lurking in wait, and you shout "don't do it, don't go in - RUN!" And then they go in and get mutilated and you squirm and don't look, and tuck your knees in to your chest. That's me. And then I peek. I repeat this ridiculous behavioural sequence a non-sensicle number of times until I feel unafraid. But I don't touch the thing that I'm afraid of. That would be sick.
So I write about bugs. I find them fascinating. Beetles I find beautiful in their own many coloured intricate way. Spiders: "Know thine enemy"! I embrace my fear for the benefit of my writing.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
"But as I look at all the cherishable, unusual, unexpected and simply beautiful little books on my shelves, held...loved...written in...with flowers pressed, letters hidden and tears stained...I'm afraid the ebook will never match that!" James Mayhew's point - about those things we keep between the pages of our beloved books?
Here are just a few mementos I found in one of my cherished books of childhood.
"Don't jump off of the roof dad, you'll make a big hole in the yard. Mother's just planted petunias, the weeding and seeding was hard..."
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I emailed an agent and asked if he would be interested to take a look at my short fiction collection as well as my novel about memory. Hahahah.....silly me assumed he'd say thanks but no thanks - I've really been practicing my rejection acceptance, I no longer get excited when I see a letter with my name in my own handwriting, in fact, I'm so okay about my fiction being rejected that when he asked to see some of my writing it took a while for me to work out that it wasn't a rejection! And then I realised...I don't know how to submit a collection of short fiction!
I have spent the last two years working out how to write a synopsis for a novel! Now I realise I don't know how to present my short story collection.
I could view it as a novel in one loose sense but I want the distinction to be made that it is not a novel - it is a collection of short fiction - connected, inter-connected, cleverly linked, themed, but individual short stories as well. Every story in it works on its own - apart, aside from the others, and that, I think, is key. That is what makes the short fiction collection different from the chapters of a novel. I get really excited by both novels and short fiction, what I don't get excited about is people who view short fiction as the novel's poor relation. It's not.
I am proud to write short fiction. It is a completely different process for me than writing a novel.
If I were to write my novels as I do my short fiction, people's heads would explode - seriously - I'd make the headlines for completely the wrong reasons! People would be running from book stores screaming "I just cannot take any more! It is too much!"
Short fiction doesn't have the benefit a novel has of time to grow your appreciation. It has to grab you and hit you. We suffer, I think, as readers, through a lot of lacklustre prose in some novels because we have been wooed by a few chapters or glimmering moments, clever devices and such like, and we put our faith in the author that we will be rewarded for our perseverance substantially. Usually the characters develop enough that we care about them to see them through to the end regardless. Not always, but usually. Short fiction does everything a novel does but in a fraction of the time and page space. That is not something to turn your nose up at. That is a skill and, as someone who has spent a huge portion of my life to honing my own style and approach to the discipline, I can tell you it is not easy. Sure, short fiction is easy to start - ooh, I've got a great idea - but how many of those ideas actually get finished? I have dozens of almost rans, dozens! One day, I'll say, one day I will finish you, and what is more, you will know you have been finished. And that's it - that's what I love about short fiction. You get this feeling in your guts about a good short story and it stays with you, which, when you think about it, is testament to their power because it didn't take you a day, a week or whatever to read it, it didn't grow on you gradually, like a novel, it was there - strong and powerful, moving and devastating, elating and hilarious right from the first line and in every single line until the last. Now, show me a novel that does that!
So, you know I can write them, right? Anyone got any pointers on how to present them?
Oh, and while we're on the subject of what I don't know, does anyone know how to write a synopsis for a triptych?
And, before I forget - which I won't (but sometimes I do) - Mr Agent, Sir, my query and synopses will be with you shortly!
AAANND! For anyone still interested in the ongoing e-reader debate, here's some more news. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/02/kindle_pay_off/
All I need to do is NOT PANIC! AAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
so hop to his blog where you can find
And I was reminded of this picture when I wrote this post.
It was merely the pile of laundry which triggered my memory. Memory is like that. I've written a novel about memory, and the title of that post, Family Are Rare, is also the title of my collection of short fiction. See how it all comes together?
And I'm writing about this table, but you'll have to wait for that! I will come back to it - eventually!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
"Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag..."
When I was seven my grandfather taught me to paint with watercolours. It became my hobby. I have his tartan printed shortbread tin with his paints and brushes, a pencil and a putty rubber, and a piece of charcoal.
When I was seven I wrote my first story and showed it to my primary school teacher. She didn't believe I had written it. Writing became my secret.
When I left high school I had failed my mathematics. I wanted to study journalism because I had to be able to get a "proper job". I was refused entry to the course because the then head of the course thought I was too shy to make it as a journalist. I was brought up to accept the advice of my elders and of professionals: these people knew what they were talking about, apparently.
I looked to science - I had an aptitude for chemistry and biology - I had no mathematics and was refused entry onto the science courses. I enrolled to study art, modern history and English language, and to re-take mathematics. A few months into the course I had dropped history and was re-failing maths. I was deemed unworthy to go to university. I hadn't thought about university. On the advice of a lecturer I dropped out of my other courses - because what use were they if I wasn't going to university?
If I wasn't studying I had to get a job.
I signed up for an art and design course when I was still seventeen, it included fabric and fashion design, jewellery design and ceramics, and in the summer break I got myself a job at my college - painting murals. I still have a great interest in fashion and fabric design, I still make my own jewellery, I went on to study and make ceramics. I still paint. My writing is no longer a secret.
A while ago I was asked if I thought my writing and art were connected. I know the thought processes behind the two definitely are but it took me a while to step away from myself enough to be honest about my work to see what my painting and my writing, and, therefore, what I am about.
"And smile, smile, smile..."
We all have an image of what we want to be. We all aspire to be the best that we can be. We all want to be open to others and embrace difference. And underneath all that - if we were paintings and someone x-rayed us, beneath the layers of what we've told ourselves and everyone else what and who we are - there would be us; raw, rough and unfinished, but us nonetheless. I call this potential. Every blank canvas has it. Every empty screen, clean sheet of paper, new beginning; they are the tabula rasa, the potential. But when we create upon them a mark which we later decide we do not want, do we say - that's it, that was your one chance? Or do we continue with another sheet, another layer of paint, a new document; a new beginning. Does potential cease to be because we didn't achieve it in the first draft?
So, anyway, last week I found the design of the mural I painted in my summer job and I thought of this poem. I wrote it last year.
She wore VERY FLAT
sandals, the type that
history tells us
were worn by Jesus,
though I doubt if He
were real He would be
inclined to wearing
successes such as
these samples of mass
production nor source
skin making designs
dyed a lurid lime.
And even if He
were He probably
could not find any
sandals SO VERY
similar; with the
chrome buckles and the
gluing of the straps
concealed within flaps
tucked inside the SO
FLAT soles. Who would know
for definite? No
real proof exists though.
As is commonly
the case, like her, He
more than likely had
soiled, cracked skin: a pad
resulting from too
much wear of a shoe
looks. Feet which tried to,
shed in blocks only
with dirt and the dead
skin becoming grey
in pallor. I say
the word probably;
was I couldn't see,
well not properly,
her feet, because frayed,
from being trodden
upon and sodden
in all weathers, hid
them. I think she did
this on purpose, part
of a student's art
project, a no jest
Lurking within brown,
corduroy worn down
to the ground were no
doubt legs that were so
hairy they were part
of the protest art;
intrinsic to what
it is to be that:
a feminist. I
realise that my
description does, on
the whole, rely on
In my short story collection there are two semi-autobiographical pieces: one is called Potential. With age comes the ability to project confidence. People who meet me are intimidated by my height and outspokenness - ironic that in school I was bullied for my height and quietness. I was called scaffolding (as well as cardboard cut-out and dictionary) I couldn't shorten myself so I upped the volume. I wear bright colours. I speak my mind. I am honest even when it would serve me better, and those around me, to lie. If I have offended you with this or any other post or comment I have made please tell me; directly. There are, as any writer or reader will know, multiple interpretations of any word or combination of words - it all goes back to that slippery chain of signification - and it would be a fool who professed to know what any one person means by a small selection of words, or to take from that comment an assumption of what a persons views might be. I would say to such people, go back and look again at what offended you from another perspective. I am many things. Other people think I am different things; but, underneath, I am still there, shy as I ever was; writing.
"What's the use of worrying? It never was worthwhile."
I could tell you another version of me, and another, but really, what difference would it make? You'll each have your own perspective, some of you will have more than one - hopefully.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
For the past week I have been hosting Nuala Ní Chonchúir for the first leg of her virtual world tour, to promote her book of short fiction, Nude. Nuala has now travelled over to Tania Hershman's blog, TaniaWrites, where you can read more about Nuala and Nude. As past of my interview with Nuala I had the opportunity to ask three questions but I thought it would be a great idea to offer one of my bloggers the opportunity to ask one question, in exchange for me giving a little blog showcasing, and Lori was that lucky blogger!
Monday, August 31, 2009
Portrait of this artist looking very sleep deprived and in need of make-up, photoshop, or editing out altogether, and staring oddly just a little bit too close to the camera. I have such lovely eyebrows - what a shame they're hiding.
Regular followers may remember I offered a little challenge for one of you to come up with a question for Nuala, in exchange for a little blog showcasing. And the lucky winner was (is), Lori Tiron-Pandit. Lori is here now - lovely hand shaking ladies - to ask Nuala her question first. So let's begin.
Lori: "You write both poetry and fiction with success. What is the process of choosing to manifest a thought as either a poem or a short story?"
Rachel: There is the feeling, as the reader of Nude, of not being a reader at all, in the sense that we are not spectators but are brought to take part in the events; almost as if we can intervene at any moment, or that a character may pose a question to us; and I notice that you have used (with success, more so in ‘Unmothered’, I think) that uncommonest of narrative forms, second person narration, and I wondered if this, and your employment of first person narration, was a deliberate means to make the reader feel that the stories are not escapes at all, but to make the reader feel the same need to escape as the characters?
Nuala: I think so much of peoples’ lives are about secrets – most people won’t share the detritus of their minds with others for fear of being exposed. One of the great things about fiction is, as you so wonderfully put it, the undressing of those secrets and the sneak-peak into privacy and personal truths. We all have an image of ourselves and other people’s image of us is often quite different and in stories, as a writer, you get to expose and explore people’s foibles and weirdnesses. I love that. I also love fiction that rings true and I hope that no matter how weird the situation I present in a story, that there is a dose of reality and truth in it.
Thank you, Nuala, for such detailed and insightful answers, and for choosing to stop off here in New Zealand first. No peeking, I've got a few finishing touches to make first.
Sorry, did you think I was painting Nuala......? Oh, I meant her book of short fiction, Nude! Her Nude! Words, eh? Slippery as paint.