- The Ampersand Award announcement: www.hardiegrant.com/au/egmont/ampersand-prize
- @Mamamia: www.mamamia.com.au/author/frances-chapman-5/
- Twitter: @fchapmanwriter
- Facebook here too
Ali Whitelock is a poet.
Hailing from Glasgow in Scotland, her writing is both brave and bold.
I’ve been fortunate through this podcast to meet so many people who’ve decided to put creativity at the centre of their lives.
Ali’s path to poetry wasn’t a straight forward one and maybe the journey has made her writing all the richer for the experiences she’s had and the decisions she’s made.
On the page her work squirms and wriggles and challenges at every turn. Through performance her poems come to life.
You can find Ali this Thursday, 21 March @ Kinokuniya bookstore in the Victoria Galleries in Sydney city centre.
She’s one of an amazing line up of poets as part of “The Celtic Word: an evening of contemporary Scottish & Irish poetry & prose” which includes Anne Casey, Magi Gibson and Ian Macpherson.
You can find more info on this event here: https://www.kinokuniya.com.au/events/the-celtic-word-an-evening-of-contemporary-scottish-irish-poetry-prose/
On today’s pod Ali reads two of her poems, The Time It Takes To Boil An Egg and Please Do Not Pee in The Sink.
You can follow what Ali’s up to here:
Podcast homepage – https://widtaabbqs.home.blog/
It’s about the dishes.
But it’s also not about the dishes.
The dishes benefit.
Me, not always so much. Same goes for those around me.
There are times when keeping busy, being task-focused and immersing myself in the myth of productivity is all I can do from facing whatever it is I can’t.
(Edit: Whatever it is I haven’t the courage to face)
I might be upset about something.
Chances are I’m caught up in a loop of negative self-talk.
(Edit: I am for sure caught in a web of negative self-talk)
Not every time I’m doing the dishes, though. Sometimes they just need to be done, and not everything fits in the dishwasher.
Let’s take this opportunity to expand the range of what I’m talking about here:
Doing the weekly grocery shop, filling and unpacking the trolley meticulously.
Getting home and putting all my purchases in their proper place, meticulously.
All the while there’s some broken record in my head going over and over and over how hard I have it, how much I have to do, how little appreciation there is for all I do.
It goes on like this and it gets hard to stop.
So, no, I don’t want to talk.
I don’t want to talk because I’m afraid of what I might say.
I’ll snap for sure.
I’ll be all like poor little old me and I hate being like that.
I know my thoughts aren’t rational, aren’t right. But I can’t get my thinking all ironed out inside, so whatever I say it will come out all muddled and I’ll be misunderstood.
Please, just leave me alone.
But don’t leave me alone.
I want to be on my own.
But I need to know you want me around.
Join the club.
Somehow this stuff bottlenecks around Friday evenings if I’ve let it get out of control.
I’ve written off whole weekends by my inability to get outside of my own head.
Not so much the last year or two, though I’m prone to the odd afternoon, or maybe even day of intense self-loathing mixed with an overwhelming sense of importance all tied together with feeling completely ignored and unseen as I move about my day to day life.
So, I do the dishes.
I pour my energy and my focus into being productive.
Getting stuff done.
Showing others, no matter how badly I feel, I can still do, still function, still be a man and keep my domain together.
Sometimes, I just do the dishes because they need to be done.
Good luck figuring out which reason is which if you ever catch me elbow deep in suds at a sink!
I think it’s hard, and I don’t mean to divide the sexes here, but men, in particular, find something in the way that, not just me but The National, certain comics, say things in a way that’s, it’s what they feel, they know they feel it, but they don’t know how to tell people they feel that because it might seem emasculating to admit how completely destroyed you are, but there’s a way of putting it and if you put it in a poetic or funny way, and along to a heroic, joyful soundtrack then all of a sudden it’s not so weak anymore and it’s fine to admit it.
– SCOTT HUTCHISON
I’m not overly obsessed by zombies. I haven’t watched a single episode of The Walking Dead.
I appreciate the importance a film like Night of the living Dead has in the lexicon of the horror genre, though I’m not drawn to watch it over and over again.
I do, though, get a thrill out of is a good end-of-days yarn.
An all-consuming virus.
An out of control contagion.
When apes rise up or, in this case what happens when a swell of zombie hoards climb out of the earth and begin to hunt us, one by one.
And here’s why:
I want to know if I would survive.
Would I make it to the place of sanctuary, a second eden, where we are safe, at least for now, from the clutches of the living dead?
Would I have what it takes to make it?
And in thinking about this it gives me space to contemplate the broader question Do I have what it takes?
Am I a winner or a loser?
Am I a survivor or am I fodder for the mindless, gorging masses?
Am I worthy or unworthy?
Am I special or, you know, not?
Tales of survival fascinate me.
Whether from the zombie apocalypse or as one of the lucky few who followed Gene Hackman to the stern in The Poseidon Adventure.
Would I align myself with the right people?
Would I make the right decisions under enormous emotional strain?
Would the other survivors see enough value in me not to:
I think really what the coming of the zombie hoards represent for me is questions of self-worth, self-acceptance and the yearning to know what I am capable of when all I have to rely on is who I truly am.
As if this this is these scenarios where these values are tested
They are tested every minute of every day.
Each time I step out into the world, each time I interact with someone, each time I am called on to intervene in a situation.
I am questioned. I am tested.
Whether or not I have the infrastructure capable of dealing with the myriad of challenges that come my way is always under the spotlight.
Because while it’s not the zombie hoards breathing down the back of my neck, my own expectations are.
It’s not everyone else judging me, it’s myself.
I want to be tested and not found wanting.
I want to know I’ll make it, that I have what it takes to survive.
Yet I’m leaving validation for this to others, not trusting myself.
This realisation sits heavily on me. I know better than to engage in the tyrannies of what I should do or how I should feel.
I simply must believe all I’ve done to get here and know I have what it takes to keep going.
Whatever the test.
Whatever it takes.
I think we all have it within ourselves.
I’m going to go from here believing I do to.
I’m never certain.
There’s always another perspective to consider.
Another option to weight up.
There is no black or white, right or wrong, good or bad.
Life is lived in the third way while I struggle to squeeze round pegs into square holes.
I’m seeking security and safety certainty, solid ground to stand on, and all the time drifting in an in-between state where is there no beginning and no ending, no winning and no losing, only the labels I put on the things and the emotions I feel and how they inform me about the experiences I have.
This is where my life is lived.
This is where I rise and fall, stumble and pick myself up.
This is where I laugh till I cry and cry till I laugh and try to work out why.
May I never be certain.
May I always be searching and learning and discovering.
This podcast means a lot to me, and I’m grateful that you’re here.
I love to create. Ideas excite me but ideas alone are not enough. They can be like eating a Mars Bar to deal with my hunger when what I really need is a good meal.
This podcast is my good meal.
It’s helping me have the type of meaningful conversations with people I’ve always wanted to have.
Each time I sit down to record with someone I learn something about them, about me and about our world.
I’ve also learned to check the remaining memory on my digital recorder’s SD card!
What moves us?
What events in our lives have led us to where we are today?
What are the stories we tell ourselves that have shaped how we see our place on this planet?
I like to get into it with people and I hope you enjoy the results.
You can follow all that Gabrielle is up to here:
Podcast homepage – https://widtaabbqs.home.blog/
Oh, what a sample this is. One of the most joyous I’ve dropped yet. Join Gabrielle and myself on Sunday 24-February were we really get into it.
Ep3. I’m learning folks.
Every time I sit down to record with someone I find out something new. In this episode, I’m grateful to some advice from soon-to-be guest, Jason Dibbs, for telling me to always have a Plan B when recording.
Today with Sheree there was a moment when I could have given up, could have said, ‘Sorry Sheree, this just isn’t going to happen in exactly the way I want it to.’
But that’s not what happened.
This is a podcast about people who find a way, despite the obstacles, no matter what it takes.
When I met up with Sheree we face background sound issues, memory card storage space issues and my own inexperience as a podcaster. We found a way though.
So around the 22, 23 minute mark of this pod when there’s a distinct change in the quality of audio, STICK WITH IT. What Sheree has to tell us is worth it.
Her story is filled with courage and commitment. She is not afraid to make bold moves in her life, to take a risk.
This is a great chat and I’m honoured that Sheree would share her stories with me.
Do it up.
You can catch up with Sheree and what’s she’s up to here:
Keeping up with the Penguins – http://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/
Twitter – @shereestrange
Medium – https://medium.com/@shereestrange
And, Sheree MCs each month @ https://www.facebook.com/thesydneypoetrylounge/
eight and a half for “Piece by Piece” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U_MC4mabNM
Tara Ward for the art and design – http://www.tarawardphotography.com.au/
Podcast homepage – https://widtaabbqs.home.blog/