Red Dirt Talking by Jacqueline Wright

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rdtAhhh, there’s nothing I like more than the bush. Wide open spaces, wind in your hair, flies up your nose….

As soon as I saw the title of this book, I immediately felt nostalgic.  I grew up in red dirt country myself; I love the vibrant colour of the red dirt and the way it sticks to your skin.  I know what it’s like living in a small town where gossip spreads like wildfire and coming from an Indigenous family I always love being intrigued by the mysteriousness of the old people and their knowledge, with them only telling you as much as you need to know.

All of these things Jacqueline Wright infused into her story.

Red Dirt Talking is set in the north west of Western Australia amongst the red dirt, spinifex and relentless heat in the town of Ransom and the Aboriginal community of Yindi. It’s centred around the mysterious disappearance of Kuj, a young, blind Aboriginal girl which has people gossiping. It seems everyone has a story to tell.  Annie is an anthropology graduate who goes to Yindi to do research on the Rumble Crossing massacre.  She wants to interview the people of Yindi because she believes that she can give them a voice and get their story out.  But she quickly becomes frustrated as the old people won’t talk to her about the massacre and the deadline to her research study looms.  Annie learns with the help of Mick, Yindi’s project officer and the women she becomes friends with at the art centre, to listen instead to their silence.  While the key to discovering what happened to Kuj may be within the snippets of info Annie has gathered.

The story interchanges between two narrators. Maggot, the local garbage collector from Ransom is in 1st person and tells the story after Kuj has disappeared.  Annie is in 3rd person and tells the story leading up to her disappearance and towards the end their timelines meet up.  I found that I really liked this style of narrating; it was combined together really well.  While some parts of the story appeared as interviews that Annie had transcribed.

The theme was a combination of cross cultural issues and mystery. But the main message that I took away from the story was communication.  It was shown throughout the story in various forms like gossip, research, storytelling, interviews, Muwarr language, and connections between people.

But specifically and what I think is the most important part of good communication, listening.

She is reminded how listening is an important human trait, but not any old sort of listening. What the artists say is so inextricably intertwined with what they don’t say.  She begins listening to the silences as much as she listens to the story; a huge, unspoken presence resides there and it wields enormous power.  She recalls how she often padded out those silences with her own interpretations when she first arrived at Yindi.  How many stories about Aboriginal people are out there, she wonders, their silences filled with the stories of others?

Red Dirt Talking won the TAG Hungerford award and was long listed for the Miles Franklin. You can see that Jacqueline spent many years working within Aboriginal communities.  It shows in her writing that she has an understanding of Aboriginal people and respect for their culture.

This is why I thoroughly enjoyed Red Dirt Talking; it had a mixture of interesting characters, a sense of humour, a touch of romance and focused on cross cultural issues. The story kept me intrigued with what might have happened to Kuj; even her blindness is a little mystery itself.

My Rating: 5/5

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Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014

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awwbadge_2014

For some reason over the past week I’ve been wanting to delve into the world of being a book reviewer.  I don’t know why that is and then I discovered the Australian Women Writers Challenge and decided is was perfect for me and signed up.

Here is a little explanation from the AWW Blog about what it’s all about

What is it?

The 2014 Australian Women Writers Challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women. The challenge encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female,

Australian and non-Australian, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year. You don’t have to be a writer to sign up. You can choose to read and review, or read only.

You can visit them here http://australianwomenwriters.com/2014-challenge/ if you would also like to sign up.

Because I’ve joined late in the year I’m only going to do the Stella level – read 4 books and review at least 3.

Ok, I’m looking forward to this challenge, hopefully I get to live my week long dream of being a book reviewer 🙂

 

 

 

Shades Of Blue

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For this writing prompt I used the Ace of Cups and the colour blue.  I wanted to try and describe the colour blue without actually using it in this free verse poem.

Ace of Cups from Silver Era Tarot

Ace of Cups from Silver Era Tarot

I hear it as the fluttering of wings

It’s the sound of a baby bird learning to sing

It’s the feeling of standing in the shade

Once the sun begins to sting

I hear it as a gentle breeze

Amongst old whispering trees

Cooling down the heat outside

But inside it starts to chill the air

As the tone in your voice is like a winter frost

As the colour of the blood pumping through my heart hardens

Like a pond of deep water, slowly freezing over

Face of Illusion

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Tarot cards from Silver Era Tarot by Aunia Kahn and Russell J.Moon

Tarot cards from Silver Era Tarot by Aunia Kahn and Russell J.Moon

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about the masks that people wear.  The reason for this is because I’ve been working on one of my story ideas which I’m writing in the style of the unreliable narrator.  I know most people probably view any 1st person narrative as being unreliable because you’re peering through their looking glass, which can be distorted.  But in the case of the unreliable narrator the whole point is to purposely mislead you.

I also noticed that this happens to coincide with today’s new moon in Cancer which is very close to my ascendant or rising sign. Some astrologers view the ascendant as the mask you wear, it’s the way other people view you as a person, but it doesn’t necessarily show who you really are.  In the Astrology Bible by Judy Hall she describes it as the face that a person presents to the world as a shield to protect their inner sun sign self.  It all depends on your birth chart, you can learn more about the ascendant here http://www.cafeastrology.com/risingsignsascendant.html

In my weekly tarot reading using my Silver Era deck, I got the combination of the 7 of Swords and the Magician.  This to me showed the perfect description of an unreliable narrator.  The sneaky seven running away because she’s not being completely honest.  Believing she can get away with it but not realising she’s left two swords behind that can be traced back to her.  This card to me is the saying one thing, thinking another card.  Then the Magician who is the master at creating an illusion by using words, knowing exactly what to say to make you believe whatever it is she wants you to believe.

This combination also shows my favourite unreliable narrator, Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.  I honestly believed that he was an unstable maniac until I got to the end and was left thinking, wait…I don’t get it !?  I love the film and the opening monologue is one of my favourite scenes.  Especially the part where he is talking about the mask that he wears as he’s removing his herb mint facial mask.  He uses more beauty products in one day than I do in one year!  Here is what he says:

“…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there.”

So for me this new moon is a time for me to think about how I want to define myself and what identity I want to put out into the world.  Maybe I should think about getting some business cards to go with that (that’s a little American Psycho humour!!)

Private Eye

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Hermit card from Ludy Lescot Tarot

Hermit card from Ludy Lescot Tarot

Spirits of the Dead – By Edgar Allan Poe

Thy soul shall find itself alone

Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone

Not one, of all the crowd, to pry

Into thine hour of secrecy:

When I look at the Hermit card from my Ludy Lescot tarot deck, the image brings to my mind the first verse from the above poem by Edgar Allan Poe.  There are so many different decks with varying interpretations of the Hermit, but this one in particular reminds me of a private investigator.  It gives me a strong feeling of mystery and intrigue.  Being a Poe fan, to me he is what I would imagine Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, the detective that Poe created in The Murders in the Rue Morgue would look like.

There are two reasons why I view the Hermit as a private eye.  He is a solitary person who prefers to work alone with his thoughts.  Second of all I think a private investigator would probably have some personality traits of a Virgo, the astrological sign associated with this card.  Virgo’s have an eye for detail and because they have an active mind, they like to collect information and then break it all down so they can categorise, analyse and organise everything.  The Hermit is always depicted alone at night like it’s showing the inside of a Virgo’s mind, shining his lantern into the darkest corners so he can examine everything in detail.

I think Poe summed it up best in The Murders in the Rue Morgue when he wrote:

“ As the strong man exults in his physical ability, delighting in such exercises as call his muscles into action, so glories the analyst in that moral activity which disentangles.  He is fond of enigmas, of conundrums, of hieroglyphics…”

I also like that this version of the card has a black cat in it, which to me is another symbol of mystery but also curiosity as just like the Hermit, cat’s are very inquisitive and will stick their nose in the dustiest corners.  So together they would make the perfect crime solving companions.  With the character starting to take form my creativity is sparking like a match being struck to light the Hermits lantern.  He’s in a graveyard like he’s searching for something or waiting for someone, is he looking for a freshly dug grave?  Now to set the scene I’ll finish with the last verse from Poe’s Spirits of the Dead.

The breeze – the breath of God – is still

And the mist upon the hill

Shadowy – shadowy – yet unbroken

Is a symbol and a token

How it hangs upon the trees

A mystery of mysteries

 

 

A Mind at War

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Tarot cards from Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Prompt: 5 of Wands and 9 of Swords

The 5 of Wands is a card depicting a battle, it can be a competition amongst other people or simply an internal struggle you are having within yourself.  The 9 of Swords is a card about insomnia, someone fighting anxiety and a head filled with dark, negative thoughts.  When I first look at this combination of a group of men fighting and an insomniac, I immediately see the movie Fight Club.  I then start to hear a song off the soundtrack; This is Your Life, By Tyler Durden – Brad Pitt’s character.  From this the following images and character started to form.

She despises the screeching owl that lives across the street amongst the trees, with its endless wailing like someone being stabbed to death.  It fly’s directly past her window at the same time every night; as if it knows the sound it makes chills the girl to her very bones.  Plugging her ears with the headphones of an iPod, she lays back and listens to her idea of what a self help teacher should be like.  Tyler Durden’s voice begins with…

“And you open the door and you step inside, we’re inside our hearts.  Now  imagine your pain as a white ball of healing light….

                                                                                 ….. I don’t think so,”

She works alone in the basement of a hospital, filing away the medical records of strangers she doesn’t care about.  The only sun she get’s is a half hour lunch break every day.  Emotionally distant from her family, only see’s the parents three times a year, Easter, Birthday, and Christmas.  She lives alone in a tiny one bedroom apartment and covers the mould by wallpapering everything with her amateur photography.  Her greatest strength is perseverance, while her greatest weakness is self loathing.

“You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.  You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else.  We are all part of the same compost heap.  We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

Her deepest desire is to be free, to sail around the world in a little sailboat. Her deepest fear is losing her mind amongst the sea of loneliness and to forever roam the world a lone woman, tormented.

“I say, may I never be complete.  I say, may I never be content…”

If there was one thing she could desperately change about herself, it would be her insomnia.  Just one night of sleep is the only thing she craves.  What she doesn’t know about herself is that she is the screeching owl across the street; the terrifying screams are an echo of her own thoughts and fears.  What she doesn’t know is that she’s her own worst enemy.  It’s always in the coldest and darkest part of the night the war in her mind rages.

“This is your life, doesn’t get any better than this and its ending one minute at a time.”

 

 

Wheel of the Year

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Because the four seasons of the year are represented by the four suits of the tarot deck.  I was inspired to write haikus that represent how the changing of the seasons and the different suits of the tarot cards feels to me.  I also loved these Four Seasons artwork by Alphonse Mucha to put alongside them.

summer

 

Summer ~ Cups

Heat mirages rise

I hide beneath deep water

Sultry nights on ice

 

 

autumn

 

Autumn ~ Pentacles

Fresh soil scents the air

Watching the shadows creep in

Red wine on my tongue

 

 

 

winter

Winter ~ Swords

Winter chills bone deep

Soft winds whispers of sorrow

Lost amongst the trees

 

 

 

spring

Spring ~ Wands

Late blossoms of spring

Broken shells in lonely nest

Joy at wings first flight

 

 

 

 

Whoever Holds The Sword, Holds The Power

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Tarot Card from Silver Era Tarot Artist - Aunia Kahn

Tarot Card from Silver Era Tarot
Artist – Aunia Kahn

There’s something glistening beneath a thick cover of dark green ivy.  As you push the ivy aside you see before you a long, sharp, silver sword clutched tightly in the fist of a Knight’s iron glove.  Even though they look like they have been here for centuries, there is no rust to be seen anywhere.  The glove is polished to perfection, just like the sword.  Gripping hold of the handle you try with all your might to pull the sword out.  It’s extremely heavy and you strain up, down, side to side but it won’t budge.  The iron glove has it in an iron fist and will not let you have the swords power.  You take a stand back and rethink the situation.  Finally you decide to try putting your hand inside the glove.  The feel of it on your skin is icy cold but it fit’s so snugly…like a glove.  You move your fingers and the glove opens up letting the sword drop with a heavy thud to the ground.  With the glove still on you pick the sword up and raise it high above your head.  It takes great strength but all you feel is it’s power.  Now you have what you need to clear away anything that’s standing in your path.

The Ace of Swords, the raw element of air, your thoughts, ideas, communications, knowledge.    Using this sword you can see the truth and seek justice in any situation, giving you the strength to cut away what no longer serves you any purpose. This card represents the power of the mind and shows that when you have complete control over your thoughts your intelligent mind becomes a powerful weapon.

Inside The Hermit’s Mind

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hermitI was looking for a quote which I thought described what the Hermit card means to me and this is what I found:

Everything that matters in our intellectual and moral life begins with an individual confronting his own mind and conscience in a room by himself.

~ Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr ~

Tarot card of The Hermit comes from Crystal Visions Tarot