24 October 2009

Pitfalls for young readers

"Look at that view!"
"Yes, it's very picture-skew, isn't it?"

I don't know if this conversation ever happened when I was a child, but it could easily have. As with many kids who learn a lot of words through reading them rather than hearing them, I had a great vocabulary at a young age, but was often a bit off with the pronunciation.

I knew that "queue" was pronounced 'kyoo' (now how's that for unlikely pronunciation?), and was familiar with the word 'picture', so when I encountered the word 'picturesque' I heard it in my head as 'pikshaskyoo', and worked out that it meant 'pretty as a picture'.

And a tall, impressive, good-looking woman was 'statyooskyoo', meaning 'impressive like a statue'. If ever I want to write the word, I have to look 'statuesque' up in the dictionary to be sure of how to spell it - knowing that it's supposed to be pronounced 'statyooesk' doesn't tell me whether there are two 'e's in the middle (one for 'statue' and one for 'esque') or one, or none.

I don't have a clear memory of when I could first read words, but I do have a vivid memory (as well as remembering it as a story told in the family) of sitting in the drawing room with my mother (who was reading), my father (who was reading), and my older sister (who was reading), and being very frustrated because at not quite four I couldn't read yet. Fortunately I did learn to read soon after, first in English (Ant and Bee and Kind Dog) and then some French (Pierre Lapin - which is as far as I ever got).

I also remember being so absorbed in reading that I didn't hear Mum calling me. She thought I was deliberately ignoring her, but I really was deaf to the world - something that still happens now when I'm absorbed in reading, which is apparent to me when I come out of a book and hear that my iTunes has moved on through more than half an hour of a playlist without my hearing a thing.

These thoughts were inspired by reading this post, http://stilllifewithcat.blogspot.com/2009/07/help.html, which for some reason I can't link to.

22 October 2009

Weeds: Real and Metaphorical

Poetry Project #2

Weeds: Real and Metaphorical: poems celebrating the discarded and disregarded, the ugly and unloved

three low-lying hills
mark the boundary of a realm;
a dark cold lake of unknowable depth and beaten-metal surface
is ahead of me;
on an island in this lake,
an ancient tower suggests a history of wizards.
There are no dragons in the sky. Yet

Tim Roberts [part 1 of 'Daydreams and Detour Signs'. for part 2 see Tim's 'Notes' on Facebook]

A weed is a weed
when it's in the wrong place.
At home? It's nature.

Margaret Morgan

old tree--
what have you done to deserve
flowers like these?

Myron Lysenko

lost from the last relocation
boxes of flotsam
my first divorce papers;
goodbye letter from the musician
(his others, long ago, burned)
both my plait and my mother's
hers not so blonde, but longer

forgotten, moving, love relics

Kate Dellar-Evans [from Belated Unpacking]

a marriage break-up
she flirts
he flirts
they're tied up
in sexual knots
not learned
in scouts
or guides

wife watches them
and weeps
silent tears

at what was
destined to be

Carolyn Cordon

my old guitar
in the wardrobe
humming tunes
to itself

Steve Evans

my Dhaka friend
picks uncultivated plants
no farming
herbs greens fruit

the number economy
loved eaten

a chaos of plants
each one
adding to the fractal
quantum of food

pluck them
talk to them
nourish them
leave them be

Susan Hawthorne

Who is to say whether weed or willows
Who is to claim wasted tears or pillows
Who is the one whose work it became
To decide what is worthless
Who is to blame?

Jackie Hosking

The weeds grow here
The weeds grow there
Those dratted plants
grow everywhere.

I pull them up
I rip them out.
I turn around
and more will sprout

I mow them once
I mow them twice.
And back they come.
Not once ---- but thrice!!!

Trevor Hampel

Spare a thought for the hand-written letter
rare as those hen's teeth
shy as a red setter.
A relic of those olden times thought better
by those beneath
the hand-knitted sweater

Belinda Webster

I'd look at the runny blue letters
curved and flowing like waves
and I wouldn't be in the classroom
anymore ---
I'd be down at the beach.
One day it came
to an end.
Inkwells went out.
Biros came in.

John Malone [from 'Inkwells']

In the 50s
in the playground
in the gravel
we found little green weeds
and underneath their clover-like leaves
were little fruit
and even tinier seeds.
We called them "Plummies"
and ate them with gusto
(or relish if we preferred)

Judy Dally

Edited by John Malone, with Deborah Green assisting.

We hope many people read this and add comments so the poets can receive some well deserved feedback.

No copyright infringement is intended with the use of these images; the photograph of the lake is by Slug; the painting of the old guitar is by Geoff Benzing.

The poems are each copyright by the writer.

21 October 2009

but who is Branwell? Voldemort?

A friend of mine posted this pic of a Harry Potter movie poster on her Facebook page recently. Looking at the composition, I was reminded of a group portrait with a similar gap between two of the three persons portrayed.

In the portrait of Anne, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, there is a column of light between Emily and Charlotte where the artist Branwell Bronte painted himself out.
In the poster for Order of the Phoenix, there is a column of dark cloud between in between Ron and Hermione.

So who was replaced by the dark cloud?
Voldemort, who really longed to be part of a group of cool nerds like Ron, Hermione and Harry?
Cedric, come back as a non-glittery ghost?
Or JK Rowling herself, the author of the book, and thus the artist behind this 'portrait'?

PS. my sister Rebecca suggests the dark cloud may represent the tension between Ron and Hermione - interesting thought...

04 October 2009

11 Ways of Looking at a Magpie

The Mag-Pie Poetry Project: a collaborative celebration of all things 'magpie', edited by John Malone and written by John and fellow writers on Facebook, in haiku or haiku-like verse.
These poems were collected over a period of only two days and appear in roughly the order in which they were received:

11 Ways of Looking at a Magpie

low-flying magpie
dips wings, changes direction;
watching child applauds.

deborah green

punch-drunk magpie: pounding his reflection

john malone

black and white;
surely brown and grey?
half there in yellow grass

abigail dunleavy

heat wave ---
a magpie looks up
at the closed tap

myron lysenko

sticky-beak --
a magpie flies away
with the cat's lunch

maya lyubenova

persistent begging
of baby magpie. Gaping
mouth worm-filled. Silence

trevor hampel

cracking dawn
black white flash of
magpie beak

susan hawthorne

evening worship
in the silence between chants
magpie carolling

lyn reeves

after the shouting
two magpies in the garden
keeping their distance

rob scott

The 'Pies are out of the finals.
He sits and scratches at
the Magpie on his chest
but it won't fly off.

andrew burke

spring morn; cycling
through smoggy traffic, skirting parks
with trees --- and magpies

amelia walker

thank you to John Malone for the concept and for editing; John thanks all the contributors for what was for him a first and an exciting project.

02 October 2009

if u liked it then u shoulda put a ring on it

having just seen the football team from William McKinley High give a truly wondrous interpretation of the original choreography for Beyoncé's Single Ladies, I'm moved to list my favourite videos for/about the song:

  • the bestest, for comedy, drama & dance skillz:
    the scene from Glee on the football field

  • the second bestest, for great chorey & dance skillz:
    Penny and Charlie dancing a futuristic vampire routine choreographed by Tiana Joubert (sorry about the fuzzy video clip)

  • third best for chorey (Open category), but first in the Toddler category:
    Cory, in Baby Dancing

  • fourth best for chorey & style (I'm not a fan of high heels), although best for singing: the original, Ms Beyoncé Knowles

  • fifth, not such a great dancer, but full points for courage & sense of humour: Joe Jonas

    and an honourable mention for Justin Timberlake as a backing dancer for Beyoncé in her parody of her own video

    please note: these are my personal preferences; I don't claim to be an expert in judging dance, choreography or video skills, just an enthusiastic amateur who did jazz ballet as a kid :-)

    so no flaming, please!

    but please feel free to respond with your own thoughts and feelings about this important question:
    Which is *your* favourite clip for Single Ladies?