Graham Davidson and Emily S. Smith have created “Storytime Lane”, a YouTube channel with regular storytelling webisodes and a corresponding website (which also sells picture books written and illustrated by Emily and Graham), in response to the declining literacy rates in Australia. They hope their project will support the development of young children’s literacy skills by providing adults and children with access to visual storytelling and free resources and activities that extend on those stories. The webisodes will have an Auslan interpreter signing the stories so more people have a greater access to the content. In conjunction with the Hunter Writers’ Centre, Graham and Emily will be launching the first webisode, the website and also the first book “Betty the Yeti’s Disappointing Day” at Wallsend Library on January 27th 2018.
By Anne Walsh
she eats a banana
big hush of peel
in her cow onesie
her cud: my attention
I cannot write
her banana peel
her eating my attention
never was there a noisier silent consumption
than of my attention
By Rosemary Bunker
My mother barely noticed when, not yet three, I took off for the one-teacher school next door. She had cooked breakfast and, depending on the day of the week, would then light the copper for washing, dampen the clothes for ironing, mop and polish the floors. All this done, my mother too took off for school. She was her husband’s teacher’s aide.
The family lynch pin, my mother was, before her marriage, a renaissance woman: a science graduate, a pianist, a trained soprano, student of drawing. She knew the social niceties – the correct table setting, the approved introduction rituals, the value of religion. She knew her place and that was by her husband’s side.
So it was, my mother left the house for part of the day to teach eighteen children from farms, fettler and road work gangs.
‘Like this’ she’d say, holding up a blue crayon, then a yellow. ‘Blue and green don’t go.’ And we’d draw on plain paper. She made each child’s drawing a recognisable flower, a daisy or a bird. We’d stand by her side as she demonstrated a run and fell seam, then help our awkward fingers to manage scissors or thread a needle. Knitting and crochet were slow processes of handing over the work and picking up the stitch. She guided the boys’ hands folding blue and orange paper to create an origami bird. Sheets of newspaper became pirates’ hats. When it was time for music out came the tuning fork and we sang ‘doh’ after her. Then, reading the words written large on the blackboard, we sang ‘Hush little baby’ until we knew the tune and the words. She listened to us reciting ballads we learnt by heart. Making up our own plays, putting on a red shawl or a sword was to give unruly boys too much licence! Control was man’s work. In that, my father, cane sitting across the table, was supreme. Mother and I were sent home for father’s control sessions.
I returned home often through the day to help skim the milk and beat the cream by hand to make yellow butter. Bought butter was a treat I longed for. We staked the tomatoes, cut newspaper with pinking shears for the lavatory, a deep hole with two wooden seats, or plucked a fowl. The smell of hot, wet feathers was unbearable. Because we were poor and idleness was a sin, mum made everything we wore and used. She turned her talents to making pot holders and peg bags of hessian, hemmed flour bags for tea towels and aprons on the treadle Singer sewing machine. Best dresses for Sunday, aprons, tough cesarine pinafores, knitted dresses with hats, gloves and bags for best or town sprang from her hands with pyjamas, nighties and bedsox. Once mother made a georgette dress for herself, dark wine in colour, in case we were invited out. She wore it once when, by invitation, women were invited to provide supper for the Lodge men. As mother worked at home, so did I, I learnt to make scones, plan and cook a baked rabbit dinner, make a mandatory sponge cake for the minister’s pastoral visit, preserve eggs with keypeg for the winter, stack the pantry shelves with bottles of dark red tomato sauce, fill jars with melon and lemon jam and sterilise Fowler jars for fruit – plums and peaches. How I longed for ice cream instead of boring fruit every night. Now and then mum played the piano and made me practise Czerny exercises or a Chopin Prelude. Home or school did not matter – mother could not stop working or teaching.
The war changed her life. We moved to the city. A teaching appointment meant paid work outside the home. Her domestic duties became mine after school. Looking back, I see a rational woman who embraced what she knew was best for her. I wonder if she regretted her choice. Did she marry at twenty-nine to escape spinsterhood with, she told me once, ‘a good man’ two years younger? Did my father, with a weak heart, one eye and minimal training, marry her to survive? That they melded is all I know now.
– those mist covered mountains –
By Ellen Shelley
I followed our friendship over mountains.
exploring our dreams.
I followed our friendship into the unknown.
Our first taste of liquor
the first taste of love.
I followed our friendship through the fog.
Stumbling into adulthood
the death of your father.
I followed our friendship to the summit.
The warm glow of loyalty
the birth of our children.
I followed our friendship into a crossroad.
A division in our choices
an unspoken disharmony.
I limped after our friendship.
Scavenging for a connection
to bind our lives together.
I poked carefully around our friendship.
Avoiding awkward exchanges
nothing left to say.
I relinquished our friendship,
and am left asking the question:
am I where I am now because of you
At the recent Scone Writing Workshop attendees were invited to write a 3-sentence short story to see how sentence length can make your writing more engaging. Here is a members’s piece using a long, medium and short sentence:
By Eryl Carter
It was bound to happen sooner or later, of course, as things had become sufficiently unstuck over the previous five years that they each secretly knew that the end was inevitable. So, when he shouted at her and threw a glass of wine over her, they both knew. This was it.
By Eva Harris
Well listen ladies, and I will tell
Of the sad, sad state in which we dwell
If looking for a cultured fellow
I’ve many tales of shock and sorrow-
In recent months I’ve looked online
For someone with whom to share my time
And let me tell you my lament
Of wasted hours vainly spent
In wading through the boors and clowns
The men on-show – it gets you down!
The downright scary, the awful frights
Enough to make you sleep well at night
Knowing you are on your own
Not wanting ever to leave your home
Let me tell you what I have seen
I’m being honest – not being mean –
Self – portraits taken where they look blind
Drunk, I mean, not the other kind,
Of spelling errors so bizarre.
Misspelling coffee, dinner and car,
Of thinly masked displays of lust
“I like ladies with a nice large bust”
Oh you can tell they’ve had a few
Then gone online to write their views –
“afeckshunate male who really likes
Fishin’ and campin and motor bikes”
And all of them are easy goin’
They like their beer ,-fishin, and boatin’
They do not read; they cannot spell
They consider foreign movies ‘hell’
They love their footy
They love dirt bikes
They love their “country ‘n western” – yikes!
Look, that’s all fine
Just not for me
I’m different and peculiar, see?
I’m looking for a different gent
Who’s mind is of a different bent
Who wouldn’t think his life was tame
If he never went to see a game
Who likes reading, writing, books and art
Who has a kind and gentle heart
So I’ll keep on, that much I know
I’ll give it yet another go
But meanwhile I’m not losing sleep
If my own company I keep
I live a really quite fine life
I have no wish to be a wife –
So off I dance to outings new
With wrinkles many, assets few
I do not know and don’t much care
Whatever that I do when there
I’m happy just to have a laugh
And walk my own distinctive path.