These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not reach any destination... Rabindranath Tagore

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past...F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
On the way to the river are the old dormitories, used for something else now, with their fairy-tale turrets, painted white and gold and blue. When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.
--from Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
- Joyce Carol Oates

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Lost Thing

The Lost Thing (2000) - Shaun Tan
The extraordinary website for this book is HERE!

Wandering a beach
Collecting bottle caps

Just an ordinary day
In the life of a child

But then
Some unknown
Beautifully odd

They take time to connect with
Identity and
Place and

And taking time to connect with

Can we grow older
And retrieve
The magical miracle
Of a child
Lost in the joy of
Questions of



The Lost ThingThe Lost Thing by Shaun Tan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A book that dares to explore the fanciful shapes and meanings of the imagination! Beautiful illustrations suggest that this could be a child's picture book! But don't be deceived. The child on a quest could be the inner you! Here is a unique meeting of the child and the adult and the hollow haunting of loss.

View all my reviews

A 15minute, animated short film was created for The Lost Thing.
Here is the trailer.

Linking to:
Real Toads - Open Link Monday

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Red Poppy Begins

The Red Poppy (2012) - David Hill
opens with the words:
Jim McLeod wrote to his mother and his sister Edith. He said nothing about the day to come, nor the mud and the rats. He didn't mention the piles of stretchers waiting for the dead and wounded.

Even in war time
Even when the winds are sour
Somewhere is sweetness

I wrote a poetic review of The Red Poppy HERE!

Linking to:
Book Beginnings on Fridays

The Red Poppy

The Red Poppy (2012)  – David Hill – Illustrated by Fifi Colston – pub. Creative New Zealand

Thousands of soldiers
Marching through the night to their trenches
In the dark
So the Germans can’t see them

Ted a stretcher bearer
His friend Matiu

And the messenger dog
– like a puppy.

(Soldiers found him in a ruined village.
Soldiers could write messages and tuck them in his little leather bag.)

And a German
Finding a special connection
With the help of
A little dog
And a field of

Imagine finding a book
That takes moments to read
But lingers
A lifetime


The Red PoppyThe Red Poppy by David Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A story set in World War I, where the public enemy is not always the private enemy; where red poppies are not always a symbol of death.
And a little dog knows.
Could the ravages of war possibly hold some beautiful moments?
The illustrations by Fifi Colston are a delight!

View all my reviews

Linking to:
Poetry Pantry

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Farmer Giles of Ham

p.9 The time was not one of hurry or bustle. But bustle has very little to do with business.

p.22 The warm summer was followed by a hard winter. It was bitter cold in the mountains and food was scarce. The talk got louder.

p.25 He was a hot dragon when he felt in the mood.

p.33 ...if it is your notion to go dragon-hunting jingling and dingling like Canterbury-Bells, it ain't mine.

p.38 I will pay for the funerals of all the people I have killed, especially the parson of Oakley; he shall have a noble cenotaph - though he was rather lean.

p.40 He was a grammarian and could doubtless see further into the future than others.

p.45 You cannot offer excuses to the King as you can to your neighbours.

p.55 ...nothing pleased him more than finding the miller at a loss for a sneer and the blacksmith quite out of countenance.

p.60 ...the man who has a tame dragon is naturally respected.

Linking to:
Quote It Saturday

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Midnight Zoo Begins

The Midnight Zoo (2010) - Sonya Hartnett
opens with the words:
If the old bell had been hanging in the steeple it would have rung to announce midnight, twelve solemn iron klongs which would have woken the villagers from their sleep and startled any small creature new to the village and unaccustomed to the noise. But the bell had fallen from its height weeks ago, and now lay buried in silence beneath rubble; no small creature foraged in corners, because every scrap had already been carried away in beak and mouth and paw; and no woken villagers lay grumbling, for the people, like their bell, were gone.

In my last post, Poetry of the Midnight Zoo, I wrote a poetic review of this book.
But that opening still haunts me.

The fall of the bell
Like the fall of living souls
Like a parched silence

Linking to:
Book Beginnings on Fridays

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Poetry of The Midnight Zoo

Gypsy child
In a world of rumbling 
12 year old Andrej
Leads 9 year old Tomas
And both share a Mum role for
Baby Wilma

Imagine these shreds of life
In the cloak of midnights
Stumbling into a zoo

For a star gate of  
Magical time
The animals who sense more than
You will ever know

Try to tell you

And Alice
In her dark
Woollen cloak 
To lead them all

p.1 ...the tower now stood against the sky like a blunt unfinished question.
p.3 They were younger than Night had ever been, two scraps of life with scanty limbs clad in worn jackets and boots.
p.91 We Rom are closer to the animals than to people like that. Unburdened, unowned and free.
p.155 But there are many kinds of hungers.
p.157 Her muzzle wrinkled, and Andrej saw a glimpse of teeth and pale tongue. 'They smell the same,' the lioness murmured. 'My cubs smelt as she does. Like pollen.'
p.162 These are cages, so there must be keys.

The Midnight Zoo (2010) - Sonya Hartnett


  The Midnight ZooThe Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is a novel about children but hardly for children. It needs an adult audience (touting some historical baggage) who seeks a glimpse of a child's world. Here are the Rom, those gypsy wanderers persecuted alongside the Jews in Hitler's madness. And Andrej, Tomas and Wilma are parentless, Rom children. But don't seek some historical jaunt. Feel the cursed? wandering spirit of a child seeking answers of place and identity. What is freedom? There are many kinds of freedoms and hungers. The animals know.
This novel has the fantasy of a parable and the realism of a holocaust.
Imagine these shreds of life
In the cloak of midnights
Stumbling into a zoo
- Extract from my poetic review on my blog Songlines on the Winds

View all my reviews

N.B. Sparkle and Nightflower (1986) - The first book I read by Sonya Hartnett.
A delicious journey of mother and son through some tawdry, weathered inner and outer landscapes.
I read it aloud - cover to cover - to my wild, "non-reading" bunch of Year 10's at the time, and they loved it!

Linking to:
dVerse Open Link Night

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Hamilton Case

Pater loved parties 
Champagne and horses 
A giver to those who craved 
 While Mater was a smasher 
A beauty 
The giving of 
 Flying crystal 

 What Sam remembered most about his parents in 
This monsoon 
 Colonial world of 
 Befuddled Ceylon was 

His parents 
Weren't there 

 A whirlwind of faces and spaces 
Greed and need 
Spin by 

 The Hamilton Case 
Embroiling white and dark tensions 
Test Sam's legal powers 
But his insights are coloured 
Not clear 

And Sam was not married

 Beyond the Hamilton question 
Life bumbles on 
Cramped with jungle fever and 
Tangled insanities 
Maud his mother 
Ekes out her time in 
The refuse of tattered glamour and
The ghosts of  her son Leo

(The one who plods) 
Emerges from Sam's old "Neddy" school world 
Like some quasi-spiritual seer
 Some mysteries for Sam's son 

 So many 
Rich glimpses of 
A colonial 
Monsoon world where a 
Social fabric is 

Not there 

 The Hamilton Case (2003) ~ Michelle de Kretser

The Hamilton Case by Michelle de Kretser
If you are seeking an intriguing crime mystery, (implied by the title) warped with a few red herrings along a linear narrative of progress, "The Hamilton Case" does not deliver. Instead, the novel explores colonial worlds of old Ceylon - embedded with character detail, past and present lives, driven by 1st and 3rd person speakers and all in a pendulum motion defying time sequence. A glorious tropical world becomes matted with fevered images, irritatingly vague but always intriguing. Finally the novel unveils the last version of Maud, strung with out of date glamour. Then the multitude of previous detours tumble in, tying up threads, like a cascade of relief. And the Hamilton Case, not mentioned till one third of the way through the novel, (then left swinging), returns, like a re-incarnation, with some answers and new questions. The Hamilton Case becomes a symbol for so many other crimes lurking insidiously beneath the social masks. Ultimately, the novel is a paradox, offering bizarre glimpses of a dysfunctional, colonial society in a sweltering conglomeration of personalities.
I still don't know if I love this novel.
And yet, I still don't know if I don't.
 My rating: 3 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Linking to:
Poets United ~ Poetry Pantry #105

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Black Water

 Swan Island near Queenscliff
Near to the bustling conundrum of life
Yet far enough away to be
But not so indifferent to World War I

Far enough away to be different...
A different Farren needs to deal with life
Without a Mum
A different Danny returns from Gallipoli
And the two brothers need to deal with
A different guest
A young girl
From the sea
From Furneaux Island

And all the while there is
The sadness
Turned to enchantment
Turned to sail boat extraordinaire of
The rabbit
The weaver of

Black Water (2007) by David Mezenthen
Black WaterBlack Water by Metzenthen, David
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book to delight teenage boys! The main characters, brothers, Farren and Danny, galumph and thrash through the emotional, physical and mental challenges of living on an island near the mainland. Even the female characters have their wild streak; even the young Souki from Furneaux Island. It's amazing what gifts may be hidden on a wind scourged beach of black kelp.
p.91 " crossed Farren's mind that although death seemed big, life was even bigger..."

View all my reviews

Linking to:
Poets United ~ Poetry Pantry #106
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