Shaping the Fractured Self

I have been fairly silent here for a little while as my migraines spiraled out of control with a long six month period of daily (nightly) migraines that robbed me of sleep (and sanity). Fortunately for me, a change of neurologist who made some subtle changes to my preventative treatment and some more drastic changes to my rescue treatment, my brain has now calmed down to a much more manageable level.

This Thursday, along with some other writers, I will be reading at the DAX Centre for the launch of Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain. I am chuffed to have three poems and an essay included alongside some wonderful writers*.

My poems and essay in the book speak about my experience of over thirty years as a chronic migraine sufferer, but I am pretty sure anyone who has suffered from any long-term and chronic (and often invisible) pain will relate.

All of the writers have captured their experience of chronic illness and pain in their poetry. It is a great read. I’d love to see you at the launch and you can either grab at copy at the launch, or via the UWA Publishing website.

A massive thank you to Heather Taylor Johnson who came up with the concept, found us all, found a publisher and pulled it together.

*The other writers in the anthology are: Andy Jackson, Anne Carson, Beth Spencer, David Brooks, Fiona Wright, Gareth Roi Jones, Grant Cochrane, Gretta Jade Mitchell, Ian C. Smith, Ian Gibbins, India Poulton, Jessica Cohen, Kevin Gillam, Kristen Lang, Leah Kaminsky, Margaret Owen Ruckert, Peter Boyle, Quinn Eades, Rachael Guy, Rachael Mead, Rachel Robertson, Rob Walker, Sid Larwill, Sophie Finlay, Steve Evans, Stuart Barnes, Susan Hawthorne and Heather Taylor Johnson –also the editor of the anthology

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On small wins and finding energy

…and self-doubt, ploughing on and remembering what I do.

You know the scenario. Life gets busy, real busy. You open your computer only to realise that there are over 300 unread emails, bills to pay, workshops to prepare for, short stories to edit, manuscripts to work on, manuscripts to edit. So you shut it. Then you worry that maybe you are not a writer after all, which stops you from opening the computer other than to deal with the basic administration for the family.

This year, on top of normal life, I have been juggling daily migraines and care of a child who has spent more time this year in hospital than out. It is easy for this to take away from my writing, and the writing I have done has been intermittent and angry. I am fortunate to have an excellent cheer squad who buoy me on and remind me that I am a writer.

Today I opened my computer and waded through the admin in the hope to find the headspace to write. While I was doing this, a new email arrived announcing the book launch of Shaping the Fractured Self: poetry of chronic illness and pain. It is brilliant to see the cover of the book that I have some poetry in. I am humbled to have an essay and my poems sitting alongside some of Australia’s finest poets.

The book launch is on 11 May, 6-8pm at The DAX Centre in Parkville, VIC and I would be stoked to see you there!

Of course not all great art has its genesis in pain, and not all pain – not even a fraction – leads to the partial consolations of art. But if lancing an abscess is the surest way to healing, can poetry offer that same cleansing of emotional wounds?

Shaping the Fractured Self showcases twenty-eight of Australia’s finest poets who happen to live with chronic illness and pain. The autobiographical short essays, in conjunction with the three poems from each of the poets, capture the body in trauma in its many and varied moods. Because those who live with chronic illness and pain experience shifts in their relationship to it on a yearly, monthly or daily basis, so do the words they use to describe it.

Shaping the Fractured Self gives voice to sufferers, carers, medical practitioners and researchers, building understanding in a community of caring.

Shaping the Fractured Self is available for preorder from UWA Publishing

an apple a day

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eyes wide shut / ears plugged in
white cords a-hanging / to life support
no one misses out / we’re all in this together

an apple a day / one for the teacher
an apple a day / one for the doctor
an apple a day / one for mama and dada
an apple a day / one for the kid

eyes wide shut / ears plugged in
white cords a-hanging / to life support
no one misses out / we’re all in this together

white cords a-hanging / hearin’ but not listening
straining to see / those tiny screens
bleary-eyed people / messaging absent friends
with selfies and besties / on spacebook and ‘stagram

eyes wide shut / ears plugged in
white cords a-hanging / to life support
no one misses out / we’re all in this together

shoes, food and banalities / of life passing by
real time friends left waiting  / conversation dries up
dries up with clicketty-clack / waiting for post and send
it’s easier to chat online  / than wait for your turn in real time

eyes wide shut / ears plugged in
white cords a-hanging / to life support
no one misses out / we’re all in this together

phones are a-shrieking / singing and beeping
teens are lying and lounging / texting and murmuring
in parallel play / and plugged to their life support
an apple a day / is here to stay

eyes wide shut / ears plugged in
white cords a-hanging / to life support
no one has missed out / we’re all in this together

Spring is sprung

blossumsI love spring. I know it’s naff, but I am incredibly weather dependent and once the blossoms begin to open and the air is sweet scented, I do smile – just a little more.

And there is the age old poem that runs through my head, and sometimes spills out of my mouth at that first whiff of spring in the air. It’s the poem that my dad would say every year at the first bud. Continue reading