It has been a topsy-turvy sort of summer for me, but I finally caught up with my writing friends at Eastwood/Hills Fellowship of Australian writers and was able to take delivery of my copy of Assorted Dreams. The members who took on the job of editing and publishing the anthology have done a fine job of putting the book together, with a nice balance of poems and short stories.
So many dedicated writers have participated in the Eastwood/Hills meetings, workshops and competitions since the beginning of the group. This anthology publishes work by twenty-two of the current members. It demonstrates what writers can achieve, when we meet together, learn from each other, and provide a supportive environment for creativity to flourish.
Blithe Spirit: journal of the British HaikuSociety Volume 33 Number 1 2023 pp 91-92 review by A.A. Marcoff
This is a little gem, a little book of 100 tanka, one to a page, by a well-practised hand, editor of Eucalypt: a tanka journal since 2017. Tanka (or waka) originally meant ‘short Japanese song’, and Julie Thorndyke’s poems really do read like songs, and sing form the page with all the music of time and existence. Her tanka are accessible, the very stuff of life and death, and they show a shining generosity of spirit. They share with the reader so much of Julie’s own life and ‘her singing heart’ – a life lived with all the vitality available to us—the whole panoply of experience.
In these pages you will find a 747, a teacher’s blackboard, an owl, a sister and a mother, lost love, red camellias, stars, a train, a paradox, a bowling alley, a father, wedding vows, jacaranda petals, a quilt, silence, laughter and friendship. The poems move and delight and echo through the valleys and hills of our own existence. William Blake might have called them ‘the productions of time’ :
the stillness of this evening lake we remember what it is to stop, listen, wait
Julie invites us into her life to do just that, and she shows us that we are all interconnected:
no matter on what cliff I stand salt winds tell me we are all part of one ocean
The book’s title, Borrowed Riches, suggests how fragile remains our purchase on this world, how fleeting and transient our presence here. We are left with ‘dream-echoes and life-songs’ and Julie’s work ‘yields a story of flame and ash’. Perhaps all we can do in the circumstances of this life is to ‘feel the breeze kiss the ocean’. It is a shared experience:
have you not learned tomorrow comes, regardless? lie with me, my love and dream on this shared pillow
Julie gives us a book that manifests the world in miniatures, that offers us tableaux of emotion, scenes from the reality of dreams, colloquies of experience expressed with all the possible vitality of being. It is a fine book indeed, truly authentic, translucent, and it will repay many more readings, all within her lingering, compelling, and resonant spell.
Twenty-seven short stories from renowned Australian fiction writer and poet Julie Thorndyke will take you on tantalising journeys in the company of artists and musicians, mothers and daughters, writers and lovers, as they make brave, desperate and audacious life choices.
Survival, desire, disaster; misadventure, murder and magic combine in this unique collection of tales set in locations including old rural Australia, present day cities and the distant mystical past.
Earthquake, flood, fire; stolen babies and lost children; homelessness and betrayal; ghosts, mystics and dreams— each story offers a chance to step into the shoes of closely imagined characters as they act out their unique answers to the question: “What if?”
Divertimento offers a chance to step briefly into the shoes of a protagonist and discover how it feels to steal, love, and murder . . . and live to tell the tale.
“skilled wordplay and gorgeous imagery”
“enthralling right from the beginning”
“a delightful read”
SOCIETY OF WOMEN WRITERS NSW BOOK AWARDS SHORTLISTED AUTHOR
Like many people, during lockdown I have missed being able to celebrate personal milestones in the normal way. Significant birthdays, anniversaries and book releases have had to wait for another day. Ginninderra Press also have milestones to celebrate: and have published a book of poetry from 160 poets in this, their 25th year. I’m very glad to be included with my poem “Clean Lines”. Congratulations to Stephen and Brenda Matthews for another publishing milestone, and thanks for the brilliant support they offer to so many Australian writers.
So pleased to see my poem BIMBILLA in The School Magazine ORBIT May 2021 with a vibrant illustration by indigenous artist Leanne Watson.
This poem is a tanka sequence, written in 2006. In the same year, I wrote a short story for children with the same title, Bimbilla. Bimbilla is a Worimi word for a pink cockle shell. I discovered the word on an information sign at a beach north of Port Stephens, New South Wales, where the story and the poem are set.
So often a visit to a place, and encounter with an object or word, will provoke some new writing.
My story was a finalist in the Ginninderra Press short story for children competition, and was published in the anthology SECRETS. That was the beginning of my association with Ginninderra Press who have published my two tanka collections and two fiction books (Mrs Rickaby’s Lullaby 2019 and Divertimento 2021).
I’d love it if an indigenous artist would collaborate with me to make an illustrated book of the story. Writing is a long game, and publication sometimes comes after a long time. A story like this has longevity, and I think there is still more to come.
I don’t know if you realised, but there is a mouse plague in New South Wales.
The latest news is that the most intellectual of these critters, showing excellent taste, have reached the literary epicentre of the universe, namely Castle Hill! (Patrick White at Dogwoods, me in Forest Knoll, who else could you want?)
Yes, these sweet little connoisseurs of literature have been leaving calling cards on my tastefully arranged, carefully selected, eclectic black bookshelves. Apparently, there was a mouse-sized gateway into this reader’s paradise from the cosy roof void. Now sealed.
My desk has also been cleansed of suspicious debris. Anyone who has ever seen a desk of mine, at work or at home, will know that this is no mean feat. The resident canine, who sweetly alerted me to the presence of the invaders by insistent nuzzling and silent pointing, has been rewarded and his cheese-laden food bowl moved to the outer reaches of our domicile.
Will these measures be enough to restore peace and tranquillity?
I’m sorting through so many books and papers, it will be a while before peace and order truly reign once more. But I have discovered some treasures on the shelves, mercifully un-nibbled, that I had saved for a rainy day.
Nothing in this book is true—please believe me when I tell you that these stories are complete fabrications. Lies. Fantasies plucked from thin air, dreams recorded after deep sleep, tales spun from nothing. This is what a fiction writer does.
The stories in Divertimento were learning pieces written over a decade or so. University and writing group assignments, competition entries, and stories written just because.
Don’t look for people you know in the pages of this book—they won’t be there. What you may find is a familiar turn of phrase stolen from a shared conversation; a setting described in a way that makes you feel you have been in that place; a situation that you have heard of in gossip or the nightly news. There any similarity ends.
It is the craft of a writer to steal details from life and blend them into a story of sufficient veracity that readers will swallow the tale, plausible or not, without needing to spit out indigestible gristle or bone.
I invite you to read my words and see if I have managed to weave my characters, settings and situations into stories that pass the test. If I have succeeded, all to the good—if not, that’s okay, all writers are on a learning curve and there are always more tricks to discover, more characters to invent, and more places to visit.
Thanks for coming along with me on the journey.
Ginninderra Press, publication date – 24 April 2021 ISBN – 9781761090905 (ebook 9781761090912) RRP – $30.00
There’s something romantic, mysterious and exciting about a rail journey. The cover of this new anthology, Last Train Home, captures the feeling so well. Canadian poet Jacqueline Pearce has selected around 600 short form poems including haiku, tanka and rengay, all addressing the theme of trains and train journeys.
Who among us didn’t enjoy playing with a toy train in our childhoods? Who hasn’t responded to the atmospheric film scenes of arrivals and departures on a fog-shrouded railway station? Who doesn’t long for the thrill and excitement of a new journey into the unknown?
I’m delighted to be included in this new book, with a fanciful tanka written in response to a literary favourite. I hope that you will come on a journey with the many wonderful contemporary haiku, tanka and rengay poets represented in this book.