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Tag Archives: J.R.McRae

Presenting – the Lockyer Arts Festival

Can’t remember when I’ve had so much creative fun with such a fantastic group of multitalented folk! 13th to 16th January  we arrived in from all over – WA, NT, Vic and  ‘locals’ Christian and self.  We were housed in the Gatton Motel, a leg stretch away  from the main venue, not that we needed to walk. We were chauffeur driven everywhere by local Minibus/taxi owner Sue.

12a/aka 13

This is the door to my room, the non-existent  No. 13, on 13th January, a Friday, how lucky can you get!  Interesting how many places omit room 13, floor 13 etc etc. Do folk really think we are so bound by superstition and hangovers from the dark ages that we will eschew  a room or a whole floor just because of a place in a numeric sequence? Evidently it is so.

Presenting

Craig and I had joint sessions with small groups of ardent attendees in a series of workshops. All interacted with us freely and kept us on our toes with their questions.

We started with a draft of my story about the cow that swam the Brisbane river during the January 2011 floods. It was  over 700 words [too long for a picture book] but gave the background Craig needed to locate the story and characterise the little cow. This is a link to a newspaper article about her amazing survival swim.

It was a revelation and a privilege to work with Craig one on one as he sketched out his visual thoughts on the story with me reading excerpts and the audience  interspersing with comments. I cut swathes from the text as Craig’s expert hand created  wonderful image after image.

This is a glimpse of the creation process –

  1. A view of the Brisbane Rive in flood provided by Kim Byron from her newspaper collection on the event.
  2. Craig working on a charcoal image of  the little cow. He has a strong feel for movement and can create a whole range of emotions with sometimes the barely there addition of a line or a smudge.

I love the way illustrators  climb into the  visual universe of a story. Text says a family is sitting in a kitchen. The illustrator will look over their shoulders, look out the window, go out into the next room, climb the stairs to the attic or down to the yard and see where the  house is located in a community.

[more coming… I just need to sleep now…]

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Tribute to my Mentors – the late Gloria Benjamin Yates and the very “LIVE” Les Murray!

Gloria and Les are two very, very different poets, both conjurers with words, both larger than life and exuberantly celebrating language with every stroke of the pen.

My favourite poem of Gloria’s and one she signed and retitled at our last meeting (I wish I had the power to illustrate this as it deserves!):



Memorial Collage by Gallit Shaltiel

Memorial Collage by Gallit Shaltiel

A Perfect Moment

I went to walk around the park

before beginning of the dark

and saw a single pink galah,

alone.

In all my life I’ve never seen

the grass and trees so very green

and such a rosy pink galah,

alone.

I’ve seen galahs so many times

in flocks, with friends, or on the wing

but never one so pink and so

alone.

If you’d been there you would agree

and be just as surprised as me

that any bird could be so pink,

alone.

by Gloria Benjamin Yates

[published under GALAH AT SUNSET in J.R.Poulter ed., “Let’s Jabberwocky!”, KBS, 2005 ]

Gloria’s humour and zestfulness, her fearless tackling of any topic and her performances – with Gloria, performance added a whole other dimension to her work. She was a master at delivery – she coloured in her words with her tonal qualities, incredibly expressive face and body language!

This is an tiny ‘taste’ from my favourite poem, “Airscapes” in Les Murray’s latest collection, the evocatively titled “Biplane Houses”. If this appeals, you need to read the whole yourself:

Here be carbons, screamed up
by the djinn of blue kohl highways
that have the whish of the world
for this scorch of A.D.

‘djinn of blue kohl highways’ is breathtaking.

{ Interestingly, Martin Duwell has pulled out part of the same poem in his review : http://www.australianpoetryreview.com.au/0609murray.htm%5D

I am constantly surprised and blown away by Les’ use of imagery – others have paid tribute to this, notably Gorton in his review where he refers to Les and a select few others as “Martians’.

The “Martians’ Australian = poets noted for their wild and wonderful imagery – http://home.vicnet.net.au/~abr/JunJul06/Gorton%20review.htm

Another good review: http://www.smh.com.au/news/book-reviews/the-biplane-houses/2006/04/24/1145730846723.html

Biplane Houses cover
Biplane Houses cover

Australian Poetry – cross section – links worth looking at:

http://www.convictcreations.com/culture/poetry.htm

Poetry books are books to dip into and savour – to refresh the soul or heighten the sensibilities. “Biplane Houses” is one of the best collections by any poet anywhere!

Write Realities

Words are something I play with – blend, bend, break and mend, shape, shift scape and grift into wild and wonderful patterns of saying! Words can make stories, dramas, poetry, songs, information and I work with all of these. I love showing others how to use and express themselves with words in hands on workshops.

I also illustrate the poems I write with line drawings and photography and I make jewellery. That’s me plus spouse, five kids, two cats, possums and geckos and water dragons….

Mending Lucille by J.R.Poulter, illustrated by Sarah Davis

Mending Lucille by J.R.Poulter, illustrated by Sarah Davis

I have just had my 9th book released, “Mending Lucille” with Hachette Livre, and it has had the most amazing reception! It sold out the first print run in the first week, got picked up by ASO (Australia’s biggest distributor) and within the first fortnight was a recommended book for counseling/biblio-therapy by the Australian Centre for Grief Education, Monash Medical Centre. The story in itself did not take long to write – under 15 minutes, although it was ‘cooking’ for many many years whilst I was growing up, listening and observing the devastating effects of childhood grief/loss played out in the lives of those around me. The story was important to me, so when it was accepted by Lothian (Hachette LIvre), I was keenly interested in who would illustrate my story. To be given the opportunity to find my own illustrator as a relatively unknown author was HUGE! I found Sarah on the internet – her style was perfect for the story. Sarah intuitivley saw all the layers and the result – stunning!

Sarah and I had the honour to be asked to present our story of creating “Mending Lucille” at the SCWIBI International Conference in Sydney, February, 2008. A huge deal for two relative ‘newbies’.  The Conference was a BLAST! Met numbers of amazing folk and networked with amazing writers, illustrators as well as publishers from all over the globe. I highly recommend SCWBI membership to anyone!

Poem,
Poem, "Fledglings", and illustration by J.R.McRae

This is an example of my illustrative work. I write poetry under my maiden name, J.R.McRae. The illustration of the tree came first, then the poem (“Fledglings”) and I added the screen of leaves to the right. I drew it with my mouse in Paint and imported the colours into the palette with the dropper tool.

The illustration can add a whole further dimension to the poem, but generally the poem and picture work hand in hand. I like the experimentation and the extension that working with line and color give to my writing.

I also make jewelry – beading and what I call RaptRocs – these are semi-precious rocks that have been tumbled to take off the roughest bits. I hold them in my hands and feel their texture, the fissures and shape, any faults – then I wrap them in silver to make pendants etc so that the best features of the rock are highlighted. Now they will say something about the wearer as well – one of them is now in Germany.

RaptRocs

RaptRocs

semi-precious rocks wrapped in silver wire

Word Play!

This is another poem with image that I created recently. The image came first, then I wrote the poem. The photograph in the banner is one of mine – I wrote a short poem to go with it. The whole image plus poem:

Poem and illustration by J.R.McRae

Poem and illustration by J.R.McRae