How to Write Poetry- Four Lines a Day

IMG_3092Not so long ago, when the faceless abyss of freelance writing seemed particularly jagged and packs were set down on the snow in silent pause, a friend threw me ‘a loop of rope’. Four lines a day he said. Poetry. Four lines a day, and we’ll get through this.

I had written many things before, some poetic in nature, but none of them in Iambic pentameter. I loved it. Instantly. I hadn’t even tried it yet and I loved it. I loved that it was a frivolous challenge void of a point, that it was a dialogue, that it had purpose and that most of all, it was driven by the spirit of writing just for the heck of it. Brooding clouds faded, the sun came out for a moment, and every day forthwith was a picnic in a storm in the brilliant shadows of poets long gone.

Being both in the possession of mildly obsessive temperament we rarely wrote four lines a day, as four lines was never enough. The poetry became a touchstone by which to measure the quality of each day, a meditation, a conversation, an archaeological investigation, and an affirmation of the collective writer’s mantra “I write therefore I am”.

And so the poetry set about its healing work, but it wasn’t always deep. In fact it usually wasn’t When you’re set the challenge of writing poetry every day you’re bound to authenticity. Sure some days the exaltations were fine and high. But when they weren’t , well, you simply had to be happy with what presented itself. A limerick about the boy beach band phenomena, rhyming verse about spinach pie, the first four lines of an epic science fiction tomb. Bad poetry, recited with a cockney accent.

On the days we wrote poetry we actually wanted to like, trusting another writer was invaluable. Happily, my friend was a disciple of precision, and would nae reward a badly written poem.  In his dedication to editing he was my perfect teacher.  Calling for last drinks and hailing the metaphorical taxi home, he kept my writing sober. And he was compassionate to the end about my need to write in a sort of semi possessed spontaneous style during which I had little space for re-reading and refining. Though, in my defence, I may have occasionally produced quality in this state. Still, I concede, much can be gained by a brave and thorough revisiting of one’s work.

Collaboration, the very thing my churlish ego had rejected was my now an irresistible muse. And in the end I wrote not for quality, but the joy of writing every day with purpose.

And so my lesson was spelled out in the sand.  When it comes to matters of the craft, whatever that may be, we must approach them with open hearts, hold them lightly and practice them often. The subsequent joy is exponential.

So next time you find yourself sitting before a half written page that taunts you like some stagnant ponding wasteland.. or parent in law..reflecting in ill fashioned shards the failings of your eternally misguided or worse, mediocre soul…get out of your head, find a writing pal and try it.

Four lines a day.

 

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Why I Love Fiverr

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I love Fiverr

I love its  ‘how fiverr works’ video.

Its strobe-like, migraine-inducing medium- voltage  diatribe, and its pushy, careless Haviana wearing voiceover.

I love its generous contribution to the overdiagnosis of ADHD, a mythology in which the problem lies with the individual, not the machine.

Its Tinder-like exploitation of the collective non-committal psyche. I love that it has two rr’s so you sound like a young American when you say it.

Its brazen pimpyoface profiles, its shiny, smiling writers driven drunk by the compulsion to simply exist, discounting their five dollar rates as though being paid for your work is a primitive habit we should have grown out of.

I love its broken promises to hardworking people in developing nations who just spent hours answering the inane questions of clients who were never going to pay anyway.

Most of all , I love its swift delivery of the final humiliation for us first world Loserrs who dedicated their youth to the humanities and took out unspeakable student loans for their craft. The years spent share housing with country club vegans, the guy with Tourettes and the cocktail glass twins while we huddled under a camping store blanket in the corner reading Tolstoy, throughly convinced an education would somehow lead to a roof over our heads.

If you haven’t heard of it, Fiverr is an online freelance discount store, where just behind the oversized moustaches and toxic scented votives you can bag yourself a freelancer for a fiverr. Fiverr is another welt on an already suffering body of workers, which captures perfectly the zeitgeist of our times. But the gall of its unapologetic exploitation, the limp assertion that this is a platform empowering people,  the laziness of its pitch, as though we have all fallen asleep at the wheel and won’t actually realise what’s going on..well  this is truly worth a round of applause.

More Soma anyone?

 

 

Penguins

International Women’s Day

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My daughter throws her bag in the car and hides her face under her hat. I can hear her crying and its not like her. I give her some space. Then.

“Are you ok?”

“It’s just…”

“It’s just  so …..”

“It’s just so unfair.”

It’s hard to get the words out sometimes, when you’re nine, and you don’t have “relentless gender inequality” or ” blazing masculine ego” in your vocabulary.

“What happened?”

She is red in the face but it’s not from shame.

“I can run faster than all of them. But the boys are so …. they  say I can’t run as fast as them, when I can.”

“I know you can.”

“Then why do they laugh at me. Why do they call me stupid?”

“Because that’s what boys do.”

I sigh and remember the day I cut off all my hair. The same age. Addicted to Overalls.

I am momentarily amused to find that this incident co-incides perfectly with my plans. To speak to my daughters about the whole thing. International Women’s Day. The path ahead. The fact that this year, on  Women’s Day I have been reminded all day in the media about the importance of taking into account how men feel…about Women’s Day…so as not leave to them out.

But my usual righteous tenacity has lost its shine and I am weary.

Instead, I calmly explain what this dynamic is all about. To my relief my daughters seem already to know what I mean. My 7 year old chimes in with a few cheery suggestions for a special Women’s Dinner tonight. The comforter. The mediator.  7 going on 25.

As evening falls I regard the day with an unexpected sadness. Because there is so much
still to be done. Because I’ve barely heard the word Feminism since I wrote my thesis. On Angela Carter. In 2002. Because a woman dies from domestic violence every week, in Australia. Because I have two growing girls and I am tired. But tired will pass.

To all the courageous women who have gone before, I can still see your footprints and I will not let them fade. I am always, as I must be, close behind.

 

Anna O’Faolan is a freelance writer, poet, editor and children’s author.

Creative Thinking – The Next Big Thing

scan-005According to recent research.. don’t you love that..I’m just going to start every sentence with that line for the next 24 hours and see what happens. Anyway , apparently the people who make the big decisions on the planet have decided that cultivating Creative Thinking and Emotional Intelligence are the most “lucrative” investment you can make in your future.

The reason for this is simple. And does not involve any of that altruism nonsense.These ‘skills’ are the ones we are least able to replace with robots. And apparently, research has shown, we humans actually like to connect with one another. That talking to each other is important.

Perhaps by the time we are Elders, storytelling will have returned to its mantle and will once again hold a respected role in our communities.

 

 

 

Sing a Song of Protest                                            

“Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown”
                                                Bob Dylan                   
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Words. One of their many uses is letting others know when we don’t like something. Sending a message from deep in the soul or the hippocampus and making sure it reaches someone, somewhere. You can take action of course. Throw spaghetti at the wall, burst into tears or dance it out. But words do the job quite well.

Protest        

noun                                                         ˈ
prəʊtɛst/        1.a statement or action expressing  objection to something

Independent Press and nowadays Social Media can accommodate a wide range of voices and this is a good thing. But now that the amount of people speaking is so vast it almost defies comprehension, how do we know if people are still listening ? And here we fade away to a mumble if we even bother to finish that sentence.

Many of us have lived through the transitional phase from 2 channels on the television, to the digital vortex we now accept. So we can recognise the difference. But  young people are growing up in a world where it getting hard to hear yourself think. We are talking more, but are we being heard?

Over the last few hundred thousand years humankind have come up with a nifty way of being heard above the rabble of stampeding mammoths, clashing swords, and the din of factory cogs.

“…accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.”

Song

Singing is a deeply harmonious act. It fills an otherwise empty room, it unifies estranged elements of self and other, it opens its arms to retreating endorphins and lets them shine. And grow.  Singing is a brilliant way to express deep emotion while still looking relatively together. Singing is COOL. Kids get this.

Over the course of history many a narrative text has been put to the rhythm of music to help with the remembering. And this is where song becomes useful when we are trying to be heard. Singing activates a centre in your brain which helps you to remember the words. And those words carry the message. We repeat the song, we enjoy the song, we hear the message. We change the world!

Contrary to what Aunty Beverly or  your not so sweet-heart told you, everyone CAN sing. And you may start anytime. You’re an adult. Further to this if you have young people in your life, singing with them is a great way to spend time together. If you can’t agree on a song to start with why not try writing one?

Writing a Song?

In response to about the last 6 thousand years of discord on the planet The Lark Magazine is offering kids the opportunity to voice their opinion about an issue that moves them, in the form of a song. Some parents have already begun writing with and for their kids and you can listen to their songs online in the Reading Nest on the website. This is a growing archive of songs, audio stories and poetry recitals for kids to listen to and join with.

In the Current Issue of the magazine, The Lark looks at the Protest Song movement and the works of Nobel Prize winning poet Bob Dylan. Kids are invited to write a Protest song of their own and yes there are some great prizes to be won.

There has never been a better time to encourage young people to form an independent opinion, an informed opinion, and one they feel good about sharing with the world.

And once you get them thinking about things that move them…. it can be hard to get them to stop. You don’t have to be an already musician. You can be a wanna be, a never was, a starting today. So grab a vegemite jar , throw some rice in it and let’s begin.To Sing.

Yes.

In words of my kids’ favourite band, Canadian Percussive Maestros Walk Off The Earth,

“Sing it all away, my darlings.”

www.thelarkmagazine.net

Meet the Artist Andrew Hewkin -Inspiring Children to Create

Highly acclaimed artist Andrew Hewkin joins us in the latest edition of The Lark Magazine for our Meet the Artist feature.

 

 

Plus! Enjoy wonderful works by Australian Artists Zoe Mullins and Leonie Chinn.

 

 

The Lark Magazine exists as a celebration of creators, from manifold backgrounds and stages of life. In its short life span, The Lark has been most fortunate to feature some very talented artists. Issue 2 of The Lark- A Magazine For Children, proudly features artworks from the following creative beings.

Andrew Hewkin

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London, United Kingdom.

Andrew Hewkin is a London artist who has been painting for over 40 years. In 1973 Andrew Hewkin won the John Minton Travelling Scholarship, and thus began his deep connection with painting the world he saw as he travelled. Andrew’s creative odyssey has allowed him to experience a stunning diversity of landscapes, cultures and social settings. From London galleries, where he has exhibited consistently since 1974, to remote Islands, colourful urban settings to serene natural landscapes, Andrew is a painter who is always in life. Andrew has been a highly acclaimed artist since early in his career, the breadth of his works profound, with many enlightening the walls of well-known identities. Here is a being who was born to paint, and has dedicated his life to this great love.

Andrew features in our Meet the Artist segment in the current Issue of The Lark Magazine.

Meet the Artist is designed to inspire children who have a calling towards the artistic to follow this path, despite, and because of, a world where the artistic may have fallen in the wake of materialism.

Andrew gave his permission for The Lark Magazine, to feature his painting, Free Flight, and in doing so enlightened our pages as well.

To find out more about Andrew and his work, visit www.andrewhewkin.com

Watch: Andrew Hewkin- Painting the World: a film by Rob Nixon-https://vimeo.com/92727233

 

 

Zoe Mullins

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

“Melbourne based artist Zoe Mullins, has developed a practice which looks into the delicate patterns and forms found in nature, in a way which seeks to draw attention to the intricacies and inherent beauty present in our environment and in the internal structures of the organic. Now as a fine artist working predominantly in oils, her style has evolved through experimenting with a variety of mediums, techniques and subject matter.  The works place an emphasis on tonality, simplicity and balance and are imbued with the symbolic in their detail of various amalgamations and abstractions of nature. The character of the work lends itself to a transparency of interpretation.

Having complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts and the V.C.A in 2012, Zoe has since exhibited in selected Melbourne Galleries. Her work is also part of several private collections.”

(Extract from artist’s bio: http://www.zoemullins.com)

Zoe’s works have brought beauty, reflection, whimsy and inspiration to the pages of The Lark Magazine.

To find out more about Zoe and her work visit:   www.zoemullins.com

 

Leonie Chinn

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South East Queensland, Australia.

Leonie first began making work in 1993 under the tutelage of the artist Roland Weight. Developing her creative exploration of the world through an academic application, Leonie went on to study at the University of Queensland. She has a First Class Honours Degree in Philosophy, and has conducted Post-graduate research into Aesthetics and The Metaphysics of Form. After a break of ten years, Leonie has resumed making works, and has done so prolifically. Her work centres on the devotional, and covers multitudinous aspects of this fascinating and beautiful subject.

In speaking of her work, Leonie says:

“From a formal perspective, my drawings combine elements of gestural, tonal and contour drawing techniques, using natural marks and figure describing line work.

The human subject, in states of spiritual exaltation, expansion and contraction, has been the primary object of fascination for me. At its most satisfying, I consider art making a devotional practice.

I am interested in drawing as a process for revealing levels of consciousness beyond/beneath conscious awareness. I also view drawing as a means of imbibing information directly from artistic predecessors through, for example, drawing from the masters.

I maintain an energetic art practice in south-east Queensland where I live with my family.”

The Lark was blessed with a devotional work of Leonie’s titled “For the sun must also rise in you” which features alongside The Lark’s History of Storytelling, in Issue 2 of The Lark Magazine.

To find out more about Leonie and her work, visit: www.leoniechinn.com

 

You can also follow these three artists on Facebook or Instagram.

Many thanks to all of the artists who have allowed us to feature their works.

If you would like to support creativity in a child in your life, why not subscribe to The Lark Magazine. Full of art, stories, poetry, and more, featuring works by and for children, and  100% free of advertising.

Subscribe Here

       Free Flight by Andrew Hewkin

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9 Really Good Reasons Not To Be A Writer

Customer: Can I eat it?

Writer: No.IMG_2521

Customer: Can I wear it?

Writer: No

Customer: Okay Bye.

Being a writer is seriously one of the stupidest things a person could try and do. If you are one of those miserably afflicted by Remington dreaming, it’s time to take up something else, anything will do…   go now swiftly, while there’s still time.. …oh all right read on if you must, and then let it rest, because… and you know this already…

1. Writers have no career prospects.

Getting published is about as easy as rescuing a beached whale with a cheesegrater. While you are waiting to be published your ego will suffer so extensively that by the time you give up on being a writer you will have the professional confidence of a postage stamp licker, and have lost most of your hair. If you persist, you will find that..

2.Writers cannot say they are writers.

It is impossible to actually call yourself a writer and keep a straight face. No matter how you try and say it, a casual aside, purposeful optimism, raw bravado or self-deprecating cool, something will give you away. A twitch of the nose, an eyebrow, a hair flick. You cannot in all seriousness, be taken seriously, when you say you are a writer. You will inevitably cite your day job first and if you don’t have one, invent one.

3. All writers who do say they are writers, are tossers.

If you do somehow manage to get through the introductory sentence, you will then be required to describe what you are writing about. This second stage, is hardly ever traversed, unless you are Salman Rushdie, without sounding like you are in Grade 2 and you’ve just announced you plan to be an astronaut. However earnest your topic may be, you can guarantee the person listening is not actually listening but concentrating on nodding and shifting their gaze in equal parts, so as not to reveal their inner smirk with a nose twitch, eyebrow or hair flick.

4.Writers can’t speak properly.

Writers are constantly shifting their pitch between the affected English lyricist and the street wise, salt of the earth, common folk.So their sentences come out like this:

     Yes I quite agree my dear, One does tend to see things in an awfully

        feckin odd, bloody bizarre way

    when one is out there on the precipice of one’s life staring into

       the bloody great big cosmic nothin’, hey brother.

5. Writers have no friends.

Writers cannot have friends. Any friends they have are fodder for absurdist theatre, in which case they are no longer friends. Friends who are not satirised, feature in tragi-drama, and are equally deeply offended. Any friends that are left after that, are getting ready to leg it as they are tired of you never having any money to pay for lunch.

6. Writers are Thieves.

There are now so many thoughts in the world, that Writers have to constantly google their original thoughts to make sure someone else didn’t say it first. Which they inevitably did. So writers feel disproportionately guilty, false . Indeed, the range of new thoughts available are now so few, it makes a writer feel …. like butter scraped over too much bread, when one would rather feel sort of …unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life.

7. Writing poses a serious health risk.

When I was a young adult I discovered my favourite writer Richard Brautigan, had committed suicide.  Wha? Ba…? How?

RB was the coolest cleverest, funniest ,most unique Remington wielding individual on the planet.  How could he leave like this?

I soon discovered most writers commit suicide at some point in their lives.

8. Writing cannot be eaten or worn.

If you have tried, like me, to sell your wares at the local market, you will discover the true idiocy of this pursuit.

Customer : Can I eat it?

Writer: No

Customer: Can I wear it?

Writer: No.

Customer: Ok Bye.

9. Writers are terrible at maths.

10.   Writers cannot be happy.

If writers were happy, stories would go like this;

Once upon a time, they all lived happily ever after.

The End.

To all you writers who venture on…I take my hat off to you. And yes I am wearing a beret. ..What?…

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