Showing posts from March, 2017

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 31 - The End Signals A New Beginning

The End Signals A New Beginning
Our lives are filled with endings and each one of them enables a new beginning, even the very last one which we all have to face. I have always held true to the saying I first heard uttered by Jimmy Buffett in his song La Vie Dansante (The Dancing Life)- Every stop is a place to start.

The end of this month long writing challenge represents a new beginning. Many writers begin this Slice of Life Story Challenge with doubts and reservations and finish with renewed self belief and enthusiasm for writing. This is the legacy derived from involvement. The growth of self belief. 

This is my 9th year of participation. That means I have been challenged to create 279 life slice stories I might not have realized without the unspoken, inner pressure to respond that accompanies this month of sustained writing. 

The strong urge to persist once ignited burns strongly within me each year. The inner drive to stay the distance is a powerful thing, it must be said. Overcoming…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 30 -Essential Connections Between Reading And Writing

Essential Connections Between Reading And Writing
I am currently preparing for a conference presentation I am scheduled to present in Melbourne in early May. The conference will focus on the power of reading.

I will be talking about the essential connection between reading and writing and how important it is for teachers to learn to read like writers. Acquiring this skill enables teachers to more readily identify suitable mentor texts for teaching aspects of both reading and writing.

Two strong quotes come readily to mind as I prepare:

‘The writer is careful what he/she reads, for that is what they’ll write.’ –careful of what they learn, for that is what they’ll know.’
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

‘Nobody but a reader ever became a writer.’
Richard Peck

I have always held true to the belief that a highly visible reading and writing life is an essential part of being an effective teacher. Therefore, I must be what I teach -a writer and a reader. In that way the teachers and students I come …

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 29 -Sometimes Poets Must Speak Out

Poets Speak Up Sometimes
Sometimes a poet feels the need to raise a voice, make a statement, or a stand. Sometimes the events of the world prompt and provoke a response.

In 2016, the world experienced a lot of social and political uncertainty. Think about the US election of Donald Trump as President, the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom, the growth of fake news stories and the emboldened stance of xenophobes and racists in many countries. 

It is with such matters in mind that I am writing today. In a world where shallow news reporting is increasingly relied upon, it is important to be an educated consumer of information. Social media displays both positive and negative attributes. We must afford it due diligence, use it wisely.  We must be willing to learn, grow and reflect. We must learn to filter information and question sources. Blind acceptance is dangerous. Our students need to be taught the skills of critical literacy, so they become savvy digital citizens.

And so to my poem. I…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 28 -Things I Will Never Buy

Things I Will Never Buy
Lists are a writer’s life blood. They stimulate thought and ideas and present a creative challenge. My notebooks are liberally sprinkled with lists. I recently read Jason Byrne’s memoir, Adventures Of A Wonky Eyed Boy. One of the things that attracted me to the book was that the author employed a lot of lists to illustrate his thinking and his observances around events and rituals in his formative years, while growing up in Ireland. The lists were often highly amusing and frequently revealing.  It has set me to listing, yet again. 

So, today I am presenting for your edification, a list of things I will never-ever buy! 
Here goes:

Things I Will Never-Ever Buy

A Crispy Crème Doughnut (I’m not mad)
A jetski (Mechanized blowfly)
A Hummer (Ugly box on wheels)
A Red Suit (garish, I’m not)
A tin of tuna (foul smell)
A ticket to Mars (distance issues)
A pair of green socks (Will never be that desperate)
A pink tie (looks like a long tongue)
A gun (look what it’s done for America)
A …

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 27 -Ruby Jean And Road Trip Reality

Ruby Jean & Road Trip Realities

Our road trip became reality yesterday, and after a long day of driving- more than 600 kms we arrive at Tathra. Tathra is a small coastal town nestled on the southern Sapphire coast of New South Wales. Surrounded by National Parks, it displays a mostly unspoilt charm. It is suitably quiet and has been spared the glitz and tackiness that frequently accompanies commercialised development.

However our dream of spending three days in a retro vintage caravan named 'Ruby Jean'  disappears like a puff of smoke when the beds turn out fine for my elfin wife, but impossible for me. It is a Goldilocks  moment  no doubt. Way too short. Way too narrow.

After much manoeuvring I manage to squeeze into the lower bunk but find myself unable to move in any direction. It would prove a good fit for a small child, but impossible for a fully grown man. I am lying there like a cadaver and Vicki is working hard to restrain a laugh. 'This isn't going to work.&#…

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 26 - Alphabet of Life

The Alphabet of Life

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who sadly died in recent days wrote a book titled, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. In the book Amy made a conscious decision to write about events in her life in the form of an alphabetical existence. Today my slice is influenced by this idea.

It goes like this. You may have more than one entry for each letter. It is entirely up to you, the writer. The main thing is that entries are in alphabetical order. It’s a good strategy for getting student writers to think and generate words and ideas connected to their lives. Here’s how it panned out today.

Alvin Riot Is a pen name I sometimes use when writing poetry. It came into existence from people misspelling and mishearing my real name. Anagram Halting war is an anagram for my real name, Alan Wright. I quite like that idea. Conflict is so debilitating. Anxious I get very anxious if I am late for an appointment. I have always felt much more relaxed if I can arrive on time for an occasion. I believe it’s…

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 25 -Road Trip Preparations

Road Trip Preparations
We have just purchased a new car. After admiring it we decided to take it for a spin. An extended spin. And so, we now find ourselves engrossed in planning a road trip. 
Like all forms of travel, there is much fun to be derived from preparing. Accommodation bookings, scouring road maps and calculating distances have increasingly taken our attention in recent days as we edge closer to our day of departure. 
We will be on the road for five days travelling through our home state, Victoria en-route to Tathra, a small seaside town with a population of 1622 situated on the Sapphire coast south of Sydney.

A local attraction, Mimosa Rocks National Park starts at the northern end of Tathra Beach and runs north for about 16 km. 

Travel makes storytellers of us. It is essential for those of us who write to embrace the notion of travel experiences. Travel represents a break from the accepted routines we create around our lives.
As part of my trip preparation, I went in search of…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 24 Spine Poetry

 Returning ToSpine Poetry
Because it is Friday. Poetry is in order. Poetry is always in order, but particularly as the working week ends. I welcome it like wine on the weekend.

To try this poetry idea I grabbed a plentiful supply of books. I went to my personal library, scanned the shelves for suitable titles before arranging them in an order I felt provided some cohesive flow of ideas. This provides some spine splendid viewing fun. It's word play. Spine time. Something all writers need to indulge in, from time to time.

When I was satisfied with the order, I photographed my creations.

Always an easy, fun way to engage young poets, and more experienced poets too, in creating words of wonder and delight.

The top one is brand new. Inspired by some poetry titles in my collection. It has just emerged from the Poet's oven. The other two are earlier creations, re-presented for your viewing/reading pleasure. 

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 23 -Let's Get This Season Started

Let’s Get This Season Started!

Tonight marks the commencement of another football season here in Australia. It is the launch of Australian Rules Football for 2017. As it turns out, my team, the Richmond Tigers are playing the season opener against arch rivals, the Carlton Blues. Melbourne is a renowned sporting city. It prides itself in being the sporting capital of the nation. A large crowd will fill the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) tonight and nationally television sets will be switched on to watch this season opener. But football in Australia has a different dimension to other sports. I read today that this indigenous game of ours possesses the power to bring the community together like a kind of social glue. I agree. You won’t go far in Melbourne today without hearing a conversation about football.

I am among other things a sporting tragic, having supported my football team my entire life, just like my father before me and as my son and grandson do now. A family tradition is runni…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 22 -The Rapid Decline Of Autumn Magic

The Rapid Decline of Autumn Magic
Balmy Autumn days have suddenly spiraled down, transforming from magical to a wet, soggy, humid world overnight.  A month of autumn rain has fallen in a little less than 24 hours. Wind, showers and low grey clouds have erased the sun from our day screen.

Melbourne, my home city is renowned for its interchangeable weather. The classic Crowded House song, 'Four Seasons In One Day' is in part a salute to The city’s variable weather personality. It certainly never gets boring when planning your day’s events. Complacency is a recipe for disaster. Carry an umbrella at all times and sunscreen, just in case. 

In the comparative bleakness of the morning, with rain pitter-patting against the study window, these words rained upon the open page of my notebook:

Yesterday the sky 
Brilliant blue
Inspired hope
The sun on my back
Warmed my bones

The clouds
Wolf grey
Hang despairingly low
Like a sook’s bottom lip
The wind is a bully
It slaps my face
Bending trees to its…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 21 -The Gift Of The Ironing Board

The Gift of the Ironing Board
Because today is the 21 day of March, I allowed myself to wander back in time- way back in time to the year I turned 21. 

It was a big year as I recall. It was the year I began teaching. A year of significant change for me personally. I returned home that year after being away at college for my teacher training. Moving home was a re-adjustment too.  My football team, Richmond Tigers won the Premiership by a record margin. Momentous events all.

But one other eventful thing occurred the year I turned 21 that has had implications right up until today. As part of my 21st birthday gifts, my parents in their collective wisdom, presented me with an ironing board. Yes, an ironing board. It left me quizzical. Head scratching bemusement was my response. The wisdom that comes with living had clearly not descended upon me at that time. 

All my life I had watched my mother ironing for the entire family, myself included. The iron remained an instrument of complete and utte…

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 20 -Moon Memories and Moments

Moon Moments
The moon has been a recurring theme in my writing. As a boy I pondered much thought regarding its magnificence. 

I would lie in my bed staring up and out the window, imagining I could see a face on that distant orb. It remained a mystery. 

In time, I witnessed Neil Armstrong's first tentative steps upon the moon's surface while viewing a somewhat grainy black and white television set during my very first year of teaching.

I have stood under its full beaming reflection in the middle of Australia's heartland and marveled at the light it provided in that vast open space. 

I recall my father crooning the words, 'Blue moon, I saw you standing alone...' The moon even features in the title of my latest book of poetry. The moon has a recurring presence in many phases of my life. My moon memories are many.

These days, part of my nightly routine is to take, Boo,the Wonder Dog out for her end of evening snuffle and pee. She waddles down the driveway head bowed, while I…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 19 -The Joy of Feasting On Figs

The Joy Of Feasting On Figs

I love cooking and creating with figs. Such juicy, squidgy delights. Great in so many recipes. Tonight, I made a fig salad. Simple in its construction and delicious in its taste. The salad boasted figs from our own garden augmented with others Vicki purchased at the Boneo Produce Market on Saturday morning.

Figs provide a rich source of fibre and they’re full of vitamins and minerals. Known for being a healthy and versatile fruit, they add a burst of sweetness to all kinds of dishes...

Figs are ancient. They are one of the world’s oldest trees, and while they are native to the Middle East and  the Mediterranean region, I am forever grateful they are common in Australia. They are a backyard staple. Their high standing among consumers is exemplified in the exorbitant prices they fetch in supermarkets. This makes growing them in your garden such a smart thing to do.

As a growing boy, I recall my Mum buying packets of fig rolls. What a delicious treat they were. Ki…