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

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Song of the Slums

Song of the Slums by Richard Harland
Allen & Unwin. 2013.

a gas filled airship
leers over
Swale House 
swollen with the warts of wealth

she played a harp in those days

but chance
 Astor into
the beauty of gang music

in the slag heaps of Slumtown

and she finds
the drums

Astor through
Granny Rouse's world
gives her the friendship of
the eerie Mav
the dynamic 
curious excitement of

and the 
chance for a role in
the Rowdies

she lives
the drums


a world cluttered with
steam-powered charabancs
stream-lined velocipedes
basketwork rickshaws

swollen with militia
and political mania

slum music 
the tiaras and
conventional pomposities

stirring the soul of the street

giving it a voice

giving her
a voice

a drumming soul

Linking to:
Poets United - Poetry Pantry


Song of the SlumsSong of the Slums by Richard Harland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's the Age of Steam with a vibrant heartbeat growing in the slums. Astor has been groomed in the harp, but when she is left in the wealthy Swale household under rather strange marriage circumstances, and escapes, she inadvertently grooms a whole new lifestyle with matriarch Granny Rouse and her slum gang. It is there that Astor finds her real music, her real rhythms and her soul.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Red Shoe

The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky
Allen and Unwin. 2006

red shoes

stories of thoughts
and emotions
laced by
red shoes

think Dorothy
travelling in a parallel land
pushed into life by 
multiple tornado effects

Matilda craves her mother's red shoes

chance lets her  feel them
in the bush

but one is lost
when she climbs a tree

fresh echoes of war
like some angry ghost

polio outbreak
all framed by
the Petrov affair

newspaper clips
drift by

Elizabeth is brushed with a kind of madness
and cannot go to school

dreams of growing up
and loses the friend
she imagined she would marry some day

Mrs Petrov loses
a shoe
as she boards the plane

the girls' mother
receives a gift of red shoes
when her husband returns
from war nightmares

his brother Paul could not help him
but fortunately
the swinging rope
this time

think post war 
and stars

think the Land Oz
with many Dorothys

and red shoes

Linking to:
Poets United ~ Poetry Pantry

The Red ShoeThe Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The scattered debris of post war worlds is all here. The headlines of the day cut into the home lives. Disturbingly, perspectives of home mirror the crises on larger scales. This is not a novel based on a traditional, linear narrative sequence. It is like mini memoirs co-existing spiced with flashbacks; mainly the memoirs of children growing up in a world they barely understand. The effect is mesmerising; a sense of sadness grappling with the right to find some kind of happiness - with a little help from some red shoes that could be magical.

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