Friday, November 11, 2011

Fremantle Writing Class

There has been a running joke here about my inability to orientate myself in Perth - I'm blaming it on the change in hemispheres (A poem there perhaps) but this morning I managed to catch a bus from Melville to Fremantle and walk to the  Fremantle Arts Centre. Fremantle Arts Centre (FAC) had been going strong for 36 years. The historic site was originally the first purpose-built ‘lunatic’ asylum in WA and is a wonderfully spacious collection of buildings with great grassy spaces.

Out of the Asylum Writers Group Inc. is an independent organization that provides creative writing opportunities for new and emerging writers. The group meets socially & for writing classes every Friday in the leafy grounds of the Fremantle Arts Centre and are also involved in the Voicebox readings.

I  had been told at the Voicebox readings of a Friday morning poetry class conducted by poet Shane McCauley and with nothing else on the schedule I decided to attend. It was very worthwhile with about sixteen participants in a well organised, friendly session. We were asked to do three exercises, each of which was well introduced and had a "sample" poem.

It being the 11th of November, the first topic was rememberance and war. Being Irish, neutral in WW2, meant that I felt a little outside the group, almost neutral in fact. After reading the great In Flanders Fields by John McCrea, Shane distributed copies of a war poem by e e cummings, the bigness of cannon to help us focus on the exercise.

My effort reflected Ireland's neutrality and included a reference to my Uncle Paddy, who had a distinguished career in the Irish army, and often told the story of being ordered to open fire on an allied aeroplane overflying Leitrim during WW2. Uncle Paddy sadly passed away since we arrived in Australia. I ended with a reference to Paddy serving with the UN in a post-colonial situation in the Congo, a reflection on the unfinished legacies of two world wars. Only a first draft but it might become a poem yet.

After each exercise we were invited to read our efforts and it was clear that participants felt comfortable to read rough drafts. I read mine which was well received.

A second exercise dealt with Wants and a third shorter one with the sense of touch. We finished with a short poem by Rumi - Who makes these changes. A most enjoyable and instructive session thanks to Shane and all the participants.

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