Archive for March, 2007

Here are the final student responses.

Kathryn says: “You have to dive deep into yourself and the work for the best idea. You don’t know how long you’ll be able to hold [the writing] for, but while you do you can immerse yourself and have clarity with everything involved.”

Mitchell says: “Writing, as all things in life, can be difficult. It is a difficult endeavour. Good writing cannot be spewed out continuously. Like swimming under water, while holding your breath, some people can do it longer than others, and it is a trained response. The better at writing you become, the longer you can, in one sitting, pour good writing, as opposed to just writing everything that comes to mind. With a continuous effort, like writing every day, this amount of time can be raised significantly.”

Thanks, everyone, for contributing. It’s amazing how many things people can take from one little quote. Really does exhibit the power of words — something for all of us writers to think about!



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The Fox- Darren Poetry2

This is just from an exercise we did in yesterday nights class. We were told to write what comes straight into our minds after we looked at the painting.

The Fox

Live a life in fear,


you’re known for your wiles,

a survivor

a shape shifter

the fox-

a deceiver

a lonely predator,

masked with cunning slits for eyes,

a strategist,

a bullfighters cape-

attract the enemy,


By: Darren

Click Here to view “The Fox” by Franz Marc

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How much is too much?

Writing poems can be all about delving into your psyche and dragging up unsavoury or hurtful bits. But where do you stop? How far do you let the audience into your life? Do they really want to know, or are they relieved that someone else out there has issues to deal with as well? I recently read a narrative poem in class. I felt good when writing it, but as I was reading it out aloud a sinking feeling come over me. Maybe, this was just a tad too personal; I was leaving myself wide open for criticism. But perhaps this is a good thing. I’ve thought about it a bit more since, and realise that that’s what poetry is all about really, isn’t it? Putting yourself out there. What do others think?

Here is a poem I have written after viewing The Scream by Vincent Van Gogh.

The Scream

streaks of blood stretch across the sky

primary colours swirl beneath

a scream released that will never be heard

water edges under the bridge over the sand

bucket and spade gently rise

ride the swell to a deeper hue

frantic calls from the beach carpark

rattle between the weathered boards

echo out to sea between exposed


hours later in deeper twilight

night is congealing

and a broken thong is found


in a mound of kelp

Thanks, Trudy.

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More from Novel 2

Here are some more responses to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote from last week’s Novel 2 class.

Matt says: “When the right words and sentences come surging into your mind, the pen hand reacts. It knows you’ve stumbled upon original wording, evocative images, whatever it may be. It can sense your impulses then ink them to the page before they’re smothered by other thoughts. Now it’s a race to transcribe the syntax in your imagination. Breath held, head down, you swim deeper until you’ve used every whisp of air in your lungs, and must surface to a new page of blank lines.”

Eva says: “For me, swimming under water and holding my breath is an unnatural, surreal, unusual experience, so perhaps he [Fitzgerald] means that he thinks most writing is not good, and that good writing is obtained by doing unusual things.

“I also find the experience of swimming under water holding my breath to be invigorating and life-affirming, so his statement could also mean that (reading) good writing is such an experience.”

Sarah says: “When you are writing, words can flow like water, literally pouring onto the page. You can become quite thoughtless in the process, in terms of grammar and spelling, and the point where you choke is inevitable. A writer is like a battery: there’s always a point where you need to recharge — emerge from the flow to take a breath.”

Nick says: “What I believe Fitzgerald is trying to say is that writing isn’t always crystal clear, or visible from the surface. We as readers have to dive into its depths to get a better insight. As with water, writing is in a way just as mysterious under the surface and when something good is written, it usually takes time to find the right words. When you plunge into the water and hold your breath, it takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust and see what’s around you.”

Teresa says: “This quote reflects that when you aren’t swimming and are out of water, all that you see and do is life, is normal. Whereas when you submerge under water, you go to a whole new world and have the chance to explore and discover this other world that can’t always be seen from the surface of the land above.

“Writing is one big adventure and journey of discovery into the unknown, and extending our knowledge of the known.”

Pauline says: “I think this means that in order to write well, you have to be able to persevere with whatever it is that you want to achieve. At times, writing may feel tiresome, and it leaves you feeling exasperated. You may feel like you want to give up and come up to the surface for air, but if you don’t keep your head down and submerge yourself in your writing, you’ll never be able to complete a piece of writing that allows you to breathe a sigh of relief.”

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Novel 2 comes online
Our Novel 2 class meets on Tuesday mornings, and this week I’ve asked the class to reflect upon about the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote “All good writing is swimming underwater and holding your breath”.

 Here are some of their responses:
Alice: “When I sit down at my computer and stare at the blank screen, I sometimes feel as if I’m holding my breath. As I write, I feel as if I’m exhaling. Sometimes I have no idea what is going to come out and end up on the screen – my characters will have conversations of their own which are barely directed by me. At other times, I know exactly what I’m going to write before I even sit down at the computer, but more often than not I only have a rough idea.”

Brewster: “It’s feverous stridings for a sentence of engagement that causes the reader to panic, to feel desperate, to be overwhelmed with urgency. It’s the reader who must come up for air after being exhilarated.”

Chris: “I believe it means that if you want to be a writer you have to persevere, challenging yourself daily to see how long you can hold your breath for. Remember, we only need to come up for air when the job’s done.”

 Brenda: “When you swim underwater your vision is limited and sands are ruffled. The whole focus is getting to the surface before you run out of air, but to have gone far enough to surprise someone on the surface when you emerge.
“Because it is an under-view rather than an overview, it requires the questioning of subconscious motivations, hidden drivers, cross-currents and amazing sights usually not seen above.
“Under water we can see the rocks and gullies that change the flow on the surface – we are below the obvious. This is the place in the mind that Freud opened up and can never be closed. He made the subconscious, conscious.
“The way a boat travels over the water appears to be under the control of the captain, but it is really controlled by the unseen world beneath the surface.”

I said to the class I would post selections of what they’d written, but I found their responses so interesting that I decided to post them in their entirety. I will be posting more over the next few days, so stay tuned and enjoy!
Tracey Rolfe

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Four weeks in already, and still far from being in the swing of things. Something to do with missing the whole second week to clean jets in Newcastle I think. It’s not normally a priority, but the need for a new computer tore me from study. Anyway, we’ve been concentrating on narrative poems in class, taking a story or an experience and crafting it into poetry’s longer form. It’s given me the chance to look closely at certain parts of my life, to find new meaning in them, and to express them in verse.

I need an addiction,
a wordless companion for
the inbetweens,
those removed moments
of thought and re-
cuperation that sustain my sanity.



Addiction, maybe smokes, maybe drink,
is an excuse
to make this time
accessible, eventually
far too accessible,
so that the inbetweens
become life, and solitude
threatens the sanity
you were striving to preserve.


I wrote this while I was trying to quit smoking. Still am, but its getting easier.

Matthew Buschmann


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Poetry 2

Our second year poetry class meets every Tuesday night. There are nine students, and they will be taking turns to post.

First up tonight is Nick.

“This came from an exercise in class – it’s short and sweet.”

You are like water
sometimes you soothe
sometimes you help
but sometimes you make
the truth so unbearable.

“I like hearing everyone else’s ideas and poems in class. You can get inspired by what other people writer

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