These poems are a part of series “Songs from my Grasslands”. Music by Canberra-based composer Harvey Welsh.
The Lost Ark
“The Lost Ark” is an opportunity of learning together. This series of drawings, linocuts and etchings brings back the focus on the aftermath of the 2019-2020 bush fires and their impact on our unique Australian fauna.
An interim report, “Australia’s 2019-2020 Bushfires: The Wildlife Toll” commissioned by WWF Australia concluded that more than three billion animals were killed or displaced: 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds and 51 million frogs.
I am an art educator, working with young children. Often, I find myself embracing their spontaneity in my own artistic practice and for this body of works I chose the same informal approach, where feeling and playfulness prevail, taking over realistic/ natural illustration detail.
Through these images, I hope to bring to limelight some of our unique species and I would like to encourage the public not only to learn more about our wildlife, but also to donate their time and to support financially the Wildlife rescue program.
* 10% of the works on sale will go to two local charities, ACT Wildlife and Wild Talk.
Please consider donating to these two charities. Thank you
Click here for a donation to ACT Wildlife:
Click here for a donation to Wild Talk
About the Eyes
“About the Eyes” – a collaboration with the talented musicians Harvey Welsh and Chris Holly. I love their gentle conversation with the poem.
I wrote this a while ago, but under this new way of living, I think now it is most important than ever to acknowledge that we all live under the same sun, that we are all equal.
I imagined 4 different characters, with different languages, different eyes colour and different life experience. They are made by the different memories each of them carries.
The black eyes remember storms, wars and their mother, trying to find her children’s next piece of bread. Even when they found peace, living in a different country, a country of blue-eyed people, the memories come back.
The green eyes remember different kind of storms and Spring nights.
The brown eyes remember the enchanted forest of their childhood.
The blue eyes have never known famine and they reassure the black eyes that they will never have to worry about the bread.
Have A Blue Christmas!
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!” – it’s a phrase I wish I could say and savour this year.
I love all things Christmas but I do happen to have a couple of favourites. Perhaps what I enjoy most is giving. I love giving unconditionally. I love seeing that little sparkle, when the others unwrap their presents and find the things they secretly wished for. I also love placing random gifts under the wishing trees and imagine the joy of someone I have never and will never meet.
Over the last decade or so, I found it hard to adjust to this entire Summer Christmas business and I have been secretly longing for the White Christmases of my childhood; where the trees were really glistening and the sleighs, bells and snow were real. While I love with all my heart the uniqueness of the Australian landscape and the peace of my grasslands, I do long for the snow too.
This year, however, I find myself wishing away the white. The skies have been ashen and the horizons have turned orange for what it now feels like an eternity and a half. We’re only a couple of weeks into the summer and the temperatures are already breaking the records. The air is impossible to breathe and the grounds are scorching. With all these fires raging out of control, so much has been lost. People’s lives, existences, farms, houses, crops and ecosystems are gone. It doesn’t feel like Christmas at all. The most demoralising thing is the lack of leadership we are seeing at a time when we should all unite forces. We have lived through a couple of long drought seasons, followed now by unimaginable destruction caused by the fires. The outlook is grim and untenable. Some of these fires might be out of control for a longtime; and when the current leaders do not believe in climate change, do not want to fund the firefighters properly and do not take charge in crisis situation, the thing we need most right now is rain. I wish you all a very blue Christmas, where the heavens will open, the skies will pour down and the dams will be full to the brim once more. Stay safe wherever you are and don’t forget to hug your loved ones.
An Army of Her Own
Recently, I had the privilege to be part of Mother Tongue’s Multilingual Poetry Night at Smith’s Alternative. During this event, “An Army of Her Own” poem finally took flight after a long time in the making. I didn’t know it at the time, but this event was part of the Poetry On The Move 2019 fringe festival. I was so impressed with their program. I look forward to seeing more in the future.
“Open Up” Update
Not long ago, I developed “Open Up”; an art installation with the purpose of bringing forward the forgotten power of words. It is a simple construction, where several origami shurikens with poems written on them are placed (both visibly and in hiding) in a book. This is an interactive installation; the public is invited to contribute to this installation with their own thoughts and to reflect on what words mean to them, how they use it and how it affects the others. I was overwhelmed by the generous support received from my fellow artists and poets, as well as from other members of the public.
During the critical feed-back session in my class, I really loved one particular comment, coming from my teacher. She had this vision of shurikens through the book shelves. I struggled with how to achieve this. I have a great respect for libraries and would not do anything that could be deemed as littering, or disrespectful. On the other hand, I felt that concealing the shurikens around the shelves or in the books may be exactly what is needed, to bring up the hidden power of words. It made me think with nostalgia back to the pre-internet times, when borrowing books from the library, I would find a random note from a total stranger, writing about the reasons they loved the book you were reading and asking you to continue writing about it. It resulted in charming chain-letters placed within the book for the next person to find.
However, what helped me make up my mind was the fact that mid project, the question was raised from members of the public not living in Canberra whether they could be considered to participate. This, and the willingness of other participants to keep on contributing poems, made me consider giving this project a new life, both on Social Media and around libraries and cultural institutions in Canberra, both in an analogue and a digital form.
I have created a QR code that links to the project’s explanation. This QR code will be attached to shuriken-poems who will be placed randomly but respectfully around cultural institutions. If you are the one finding our shurikens, please consider contributing your own, placing it in a location significant to you.
Also, you can chose to take images or selfies and upload them on the Social media with the hashtag #OpenUp.
About this poem:
Some 20 years ago, I set out to explore the world. I was lucky enough to do so; I went around the globe 3 times and a half. but I was always the traveller and never the settler. Until the right time came.
I have always felt permanently lost in translation. Thinking in one language while you speak another one allows for lots of funny conversations, let me tell you.
But then, one day I met Jacqui and Lauren. They were two brave women running a Mother Tongue multicultural poetry workshop and they have shown me how to put my puzzle together.
Everything changed since then.
Now, when people find out I am Romanian, most of the times the question I get is if I speak Russian. I don’t. However, quite a few people asked me in the past months if I write in Italian. It’s a more appropriate question, given that we learned Latin as a mandatory subject in school. I don’t know a lot of Italian, sadly, but I thought I’d try it anyway and I played with a couple of words i learned in my travels.
I don’t know how many of you remember a movie called “The Point”. It is the story of Oblio, the only round-headed person in the Pointed Village, where it is the law that everything and everyone must have a point. Because he is different, he gets banished to the Pointless Forrest but in the end he manages to prove that even seemingly pointless things do have a point.
As a child, I was inspired by his journey, which is one of self-discovery and uncovering truth. This poem is just that: being different in an oddly shaped world. And my close friends will even know where the Iron Maiden reference is in this text 🙂
Everything Is Normal Blues / Fractures
I feel privileged to have so many creative friends and to learn from them, share ideas and create new works together.
The very talented local musicians & composers Harvey Welsh and Chris Holly have came up with a new song that resonates with me quite a lot, in light of the latest political and economical developments. Harvey has given me permission to share it with my followers. In fact, he would love to see it shared by everyone, so please feel free to do so. Until they upload their song on a platform, you can follow them on triple J unearthed or on band camp, by clicking on these links. Listen to their other songs and give them some love here:
You can listen to “Everything is normal blues” right here:
It also reminded me of a poem I wrote last year, but I never managed to put it out there, so here it is:
The world is mad, and we’re all falling through the fractures
Of things half done, where we’re half right amidst the clamours;
Half spoken truths, to hide intentions and to ease the conscience
Just like half-hearted love, sold for a petty halfpence.
The world is staring through the bottom of the barrel, half-aware
Of all the halfwits and madmen who hold the mighty triggers
Over impressionable youngsters, bereft of father figures.
And we’re half way to chaos, delusion and despair.
Half whispered wishes abandoned in a lonely patch of green,
Half-hardy crops and chains of thoughts that wither unforeseen
A life half lived in fears of others and their hissing,
A pitiful existence, where half the words are missing.
Automatons perpetually trapped in rushing hours
Without a lot of feelings, half-broken and half-free,
Leaders of no one, sealing the deal that always sours,
Who know they’re only half the men they used to be.
A moon – half hidden, raising high above this madness,
Lights up the sky just like the full moon, with just the same bright light
And in the end, all gravitating halves will even out in roundness,
Making the world a whole again, setting its new and unexpected flight.
Re-launching “A Hat of Many Dreams”
After a very long and unplanned break, it’s time for the Hat stories to make a comeback.
Here is a short recap of the existing collection of Canberrans who shared their innermost dreams with me. If you’d like to know more, please head over to the “A Hat of Many Dreams” blog and read the old and the new stories, as more will get posted.
Thoughts from the Grasslands – an interview for Jalmurra Magazine
Interview published by Jalmurra Magazine on February 2019.