I'm a big fan of Christopher Guest mockumentaries (Spinal Tap, Best in Show etc) and their fabulous ensemble casts. First rate satires one and all. I'm also, but much more guardedly, a fan of the Coen Brothers' oeuvre. Last night these two worlds collided when I watched Inside Llewyn Davis. It was A Mighty Wind done noir, as only the Coen brothers could manage. It has great music, their trademark cinematography, and a much lighter hand on the violence. (I couldn't watch No Country for Old Men.) But if you're looking for a good weekend flick, then Inside Llewyn Davis gets a tick from me. The cat alone gives a command performance. I'd nominate it for an Oscar.
My great grandfather was the captain of a sailing ship. He worked delivering supplies to lighthouses. He had a regular run from the east coast around the bottom of Australia as far as Albany, where he would anchor off-shore. His wife, my great grandma, accompanied him on these journeys and each time she was pregnant he employed a midwife to join them on the ship just in case. That’s how my grandma ended up being born in international waters. As she grew, she took this sea journey with her family many times. Each time her longing grew to set foot on land and see Albany properly. It became her personal Shangri La – a symbol of all that seemed desirable but unattainable. It remained a distant dream.
Although she ended up living in Western Australia she was a grown woman and married and had her own pregnancies to deal with — all eight of them! My dad and my aunts and uncles proved to be — shall we say —distracting. It was not until she was in her seventies that she had the chance, finally, to walk the streets of Albany. It did not disappoint her. It was a long and winding road between her dream and its fulfilment. For women it often is! Tillie Olson wrote a whole book on it called Silences.
Take me, for example. I wrote my first poem when I was eight years old. (That’s me, not long after, praying for further inspiration!) It didn’t help. I also spent decades living with a deferred dream. And I didn’t even have the excuse of needing time out for pregnancy and childrearing. I wasn’t lazy, mind. I worked. I travelled, I cared for family and friends. All good things in themselves. I wrote around the edges of my life, in the left over bits of time. It wasn’t until I witnessed my own mother’s slow slide into dementia that my old dream woke up and howled at me – if not, now – then when? So I resigned my full time position as my 50th birthday present to myself – and leapt into the unknown.
"April is the cruelest month" is T.S. Eliot's famous opening line from The Wasteland. By contrast, October is proving to be the kindest month to me! First of all, I got the good news that I am shortlisted for the Newcastle Prize - Australia's most prestigious award for poetry. I've had acceptances for several poems, including The Spell and Harbour Noir.
And to cap it all off I'm really excited about travelling to Albany where I will be presenting to a fabulous bunch of women on the topic of creativity and leadership. Two great friends are coming with me for a women's road trip. Maybe I'll come home with more poems to write.