From Hook to Book

Archive for the tag “poetry”

Celebrating Poetrix, Poets and Adieu!

Poetrix 40 coverSaturday 1st June saw the birth of this new poet with the publication of my poem Life in the final issue of Poetrix. It was a thrill to see my first published poem in print and have the opportunity to read it aloud in front of poetrix peers and poetry lovers, all gathered to celebrate the launch of Poetrix 40 and herald its farewell at the Williamstown Literary Festival.

It was inspirational to hear the thanks of poets who read their work and how Poetrix gave many their first chance at publication too. Some said that first acceptance also gave them the confidence to continue submitting to both Poetrix and other publications and grow their body of work.

Chris reading "Life" at Poetrix LaunchI am honoured for my poem to be included in this final issue alongside some powerful and beautiful poetry and some very well-known, well-published poets. I mourn the closing of Poetrix, just when I am just starting out, but none could argue that Sherryl Clark and her editorial team deserve a rest after producing two issues a year for over two decades. That’s a lot of reading, editing, collating and organising!

Sherryl Clark launching PoetrixPoetrix has seen twenty years of production, the publication of hundreds of poems and the birth of many new poets. In her launch speech, Sherryl explained how Poetrix began in 1993 after a survey revealed the disparity between the numbers of female to male poets being published and reviewed, and after a reported slur by an editor who refused to publish women’s poetry calling their poems “domestic, suburban vignettes”. Western Women Writers went to work to remedy the disparity and through lots of hard work raised the funds to set up Poetrix magazine.

I loved Sherryl’s explanation for the logic behind the title – how if a female aviator is called an aviatrix, a female poet must be called a poetrix.

Thank you Poetrix for enabling my poetry debut and for the warm encouragement of those I spoke to on the Committee. Now to honour your faith by continuing to submit and hopefully see my poetry further published. And now, I can call myself a poet.


Never poke a writer (or a Mama Bird)

This time last year I made a vow – after discovering a tiny baby bird alive but flopped on our back deck with a bleeding cut on its back – that if Mrs Pigeon showed any sign of setting up house this year, I would wave her off sans hésitation. I had no wish to repeat that worry or ensuing mercy dash to the vet. I never rang to enquire after the baby’s health but chose instead to believe that she pulled through and grew up to rear a family of her own.

But when the day came a few weeks ago that Mrs Pigeon flitted and fluttered around my deck, carrying twigs and fluff and the usual building blocks of a pigeon home, I couldn’t bring myself to stop her. What if she was ready to nest and I upset the process and as a result another chick was lost? The dilemma was momentary and I gritted my teeth, hoping for windless days and no premature barrelling overboard this time.

We’ve watched and listened while Mrs Pigeon cooed and sat, sat and cooed until finally, after her comings and goings recommenced, we got to see a little head poking up yesterday and one eye peeping over the top of the nest. A short time later when I went out with my camera, Mama bird had returned and so I asked hubby if he could climb the ladder and take her picture. To my absolute horror, he ventured too close, (we have zoom Mr B, 10x zoom!), and Mrs Pigeon panicked. She flew out of the nest, under the pergola, crashed into both windows before flying away into the treetops. I’m not sure who got more of a shock, her or us, and I was bereft fearing she may not return and what would happen to baby bird then?

Thank goodness, an hour after we slunk inside, out of sight, she returned. This morning, she is cooing and peaceful and I assume that means baby bird is too.

Baby birds are as fragile as new stories and Mama birds as flighty as any writer of a new work. Don’t poke the nest or creep too close. Any interference or perceived danger can send the writer fleeing, project abandoned and all the promise of that new work doomed without persistent warmth, heart and gentle coaxing. It may never take wing at all without a long gestation, application, and a writer willing to stick around long enough for it to be ready to throw it out of the nest.

Yesterday’s episode is a reminder to me too not share too much of my new WIP at this very early, fragile stage. Sometimes interested others can poke the writer’s nest without intending to and we can be such a flighty bunch. I have great hopes and plans to stick around, but I also have a feeling I’ll be nesting and sitting here a lot longer than Mrs Pigeon.

Do you share your WIP? Talk about it? Discuss it with family, friends or the postman?

My Year of Reading Challenge

Book 6

In the Human Night by Peter Bakowski 1995 (2000)

I love Peter Bakowski’s poetry. I can actually understand it and with its varied and recognisable subjects, refrigerators, mountains, clocks and kings, it speaks to me. So many gorgeous lines like “back under the axe of being alone: hearts eaten by banknotes: In your arms I find puddles, xylophones and all my chains turned into skipping rope”.

 Hale & Iremonger ISBN: 978 0 86806 539 0

Book 7

 We Don’t Know We Don’t Know by Nick Lantz 2010 

My daughter introduced me to the poetry of Nick Lantz. I found much to love in his lines but my favourite poem has to be Of the Parrat and other birds that can speake, an amazing poem on Alzheimer’s that resonated keenly with me. You can read it by clicking this link

Graywolf Press MN ISBN: 978 1 55597 552 4

A Writer’s Fear



A writer’s fear grows

not in the fresh page

but in the many pages;


the truth, the reveal,

the commitment, the test,

damned if abandoned

judged if complete

a soul on show

a creed laid bare

terrified by readers waiting

agonised they might never meet

dependent on a nod

despair come disbelief

come hope,

the shatter of rejection

the joy of acceptance

I taste them stronger than sweet bitters on my tongue.

                                                                                                             CM Bell 8.4.2011


Best (Poetry Comp.) Advice I’ve ever had…



“The more unique your perspective, the better your chances of success…”   skb

[Image: Night view – beneath the Eiffel Tower © Chris Bell]

Freeing the Poet Within

January has proved a fantastic and fun writing month for me. I’ve absolutely loved participating in Month of Poetry organised by Kat (Katherine) Apel. Each poet, or aspiring poet, commits to writing a poem a day throughout January. The more conscientious, confident poets upload their poem/s a day for critiquing and sharing with others.

MoP is a fabulous opportunity to exercise the poetry brain. Even though I felt a bit of a fraud at first, since my poetry brain has been virtually put out to pasture since my teens. I was really excited and eager to bring it back into the home paddock and start cracking the whip. I needn’t have worried, all comers are welcome from award winners to novices.

I wasn’t confident I could complete a poem a day, let alone share it. You don’t have to post. It’s up to you. The “occasional poetry” posting section is a fabulous opportunity for those just dipping a toe.

I focused on simple subjects and those close to me. I was amazed how most of my efforts tried to turn into stories. Sometimes I reined them in, other times I let them go. The thrill of MoP is that you are free to write whatever you want to write. I totally enjoyed exploring some intricate trajectories, and the dark little corners others squirreled into.

Some were great fun to write, like solage poems and limericks, and others more serious, tapping into emotions and memories I’d long forgotten.

I have to admit I didn’t write a whole poem every day. Sometimes I only gathered images, ideas, and words, in preparation. I can go back to these now and develop them. I have a notebook full of ideas, and small collection of completed poems to rework and polish.

I loved taking the time to read poetry too. Learning some of the different forms and seeing how diverse and individual poetry can be. It freed me to write my poetry the way it emerged, but also to try different techniques. I’m converted. Poetry – better than any new whiz bang toy. How can something so much fun be free?

Month of Poetry has unlocked the door and freed my poet within. From now on, I plan to read, and write poetry often. I’ll be lining up for MoP next year too, hopefully confident enough to stand up and be counted with the big kids.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to make a start by being brave. So here’s one of my efforts – a subject close to my heart of late.


Over the road

the tree lopper is chopping out my view,

annihilating the competition of birdsong;

graders shake up the earth,

refugeeing rabbits, and voiceless others

with roars and thumps, tearing

up the solidity of memory,

doorways, pathways and landmarks;

trees groan and creak, unheard, until

crashing to the earth are

silenced into mulch,

and then,

they will come –

brick carriers and truss trucks,

houses and people,

and my street becomes

the same as any other.

CM Bell 27.1.2011

Where Writers Write

There’s nothing like the sound of graders and diggers jack-hammering into rock to send a  writer out of the house and into the “real”.

They’re laying new pipes and digging up old drains in the land across from our street. Tearing at my solitude and banging in my headspace.

Sending me out to write in the world out of doors. What a treat! One I forget that I can easily have – anytime – instead of sitting within the same four walls. Today, I rediscovered writing out of my normal environment is also a great idea generating activity. One I intend to utilise more in the future. (And I might need to, if only to escape and preserve my sanity while the new estate goes in over the road.)

Have laptop, and/or notebook, can travel. And where better than to the park on a day like today. Warm and sultry and lulling. SNAP. Into the writing, please. That’s what you’re here for, not to snooze and daydream all day. Oh, scratch that. Daydreaming is good. I’m a writer. I’m allowed to daydream whenever I want – it’s called working for us writers.

Yet, how often was I told as a child to get my head out of the clouds? Oh, what brilliant novels might I have written already if my head had stayed up there imagining all these years. Anyway, time to get those daydreams down. On with it now.

Ideas abound all around the park.


From that dog over there – off his lead – sniffing all the wonderful smells and checking out who’s been visiting before him. What stories he could tell.





To the ibis wandering around the picnic tables, waiting on crumbs. With such a long beak, I bet that fellow’s ventured into many a body’s business. I’m sure he could tell some tales.



If ideas enough aren’t found in nature, look at the old man sitting on the bench in his old scaffy suit coat on such a warm day. His shopping bags don’t look much like they hold groceries. What stories lie behind the deep grooves in his cheeks, dark with ingrained dirt. What life has he led? Once upon a time did he have a small boy who called him daddy and wanted to grow up just like him? What happened in between?

Or the lady gardener wrenching around the hose on her weed spray with such ferocity like she’d like to pick it up and strangle someone. Who’s she mad at? What was the screaming match about before she left home this morning?

And why is that icecream vendor scowling out his window inviting the customers closer. Not! What does he go home to? Who is not waiting for him at day’s end? Is that why he trundles around the streets into the evening playing his shonky tunes? Why doesn’t he want to go home?


Do you ever write in the real? Where do you go? How does it change your writing? Do you take your laptop or write longhand? Love to hear your thoughts, just leave me a comment.

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