Eloquence - Voices of the Sublime, the Ridiculous and Everything Between
I am rather honoured to be assembling a few words of wisdom, as a preface to introduce this publication.
In the literary world, my claim to fame is that I have been Chair of Ipswich Libraries since 2004. I also founded the fabulous Ipswich Poetry Feast, which is an annual national and international poetry competition. The Feast is in its 14th year and attracts over 1,000 entries each time we hoist up the flag.
This book, Eloquence, is independently published and is really interesting, colourful and varied. The book has provided a written venue for our very own Ipswich creative writers and promises to be the first of a continuing series.
These Wordsmiths are the unknown story tellers of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. It is amazing what a summer writing school, via U3A, can roll out. These tales are from a special class of older writers who reflect on life experiences and local stories. Friendships were bonded between these pages and the eloquence of the writers is to be enjoyed.
I dips me lid to Philip J Bradbury and his group of wordsmiths.
Now, where did all those words come from!!!!!!
Cr David Pahlke, Chair of Ipswich Libraries & Ipswich Poetry Feast
Join us for the book launch on 4th May at Ipswich Library ...
... the Queen will attend Ipswich Writers book launch – will you?
Books, entertainment, free food/drink, conviviality and more ...
The launch of Eloquence by the Writers of Ipswich is your opportunity to enjoy the talents of these writers – impersonations, music, readings, humour and more – with friends and free food and non-alcoholic drinks. Your opportunity to purchase advance copies of their latest book – personally signed by the authors who’ll be there for you to chat with.
The Writers of Ipswich are a group of writing enthusiasts who attended a 6-week summer writing school – in the middle of a heat wave! The stories in this book are a response to a weekly topic set by facilitator Philip Bradbury, and reflect the great diversity of style, approach and life experience of the participants. There are big ideas, small gems, touching accounts, high drama, satire and lots of humour.
Topics including chickens, fairy tales with a twist, embarrassing incidents, ‘how to’ descriptions, and poems about clothing, have resulted in a unique collection of work which promises to be as much fun to read as it was to write, and contains something for everyone.
Blood, sweat and tears were shed and shared in the creation of these stories and poems, (but mostly sweat on account on the heat wave) so take it easy and ‘chill out’ with Eloquence – an offering from the (Summer) Writers of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
Excerpts from Eloquence:
There is now a president called Trump,
Who gave his opponents the hump.
When they called him a cheat,
He replied with a tweet,
You can all take a long running jump.
There was an old man up the creek
Who had really incredible cheek.
He sat in the water
Which he never did oughta –
Fed the freshwater fish for a week!
More excerpts from Eloquence
The Sacrifice Is Accepted
“Chickens, we need more white chickens to avert further catastrophes”. The speaker of these ominous words was Marie, a wizened voodoo mambo of indeterminate years. Three weeks earlier, Port-au-Prince had been ravaged by a 7.2 earthquake that collapsed most of its buildings, destroyed the water supply and killed thousands of people.
Aftershocks still racked the city but cholera was now the main concern. The limited medical services were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster and more people were dying every day.
Marie’s clan was reduced to hoping their well-practiced age old voodoo rituals would avert further deaths in her clan. Already nineteen of her vodooists had perished.
Traditionally the sacrifice of chickens had been sufficient propitiation to the invisibles, the intermediaries between Bondye, the supreme unknowable creator and humans. Despite several recent ceremonies, the tutelary spirits had rejected their entreaties and failed to avert the spread of the dreaded disease.
Marie was in a privileged position as mambo as she was supported by her clan. But she sensed their allegiance was waning as more and more fell ill. Thus she decided on one supreme ceremony, never before seen in the lifetime of any of those present.
She had her acolyte Celine prepare the secret mixture which diminished the will of the participants and enabled them to gyrate for many hours without tiring. Its active ingredients were an extract of puffer fish toxin and crushed datura seeds, the plant known as witches weed in the middle-ages. The effects of ingesting this potion was the source of zombie folklore. Celine was a mulatto girl in her mid-twenties, tall with a flawless complexion - indeed more than once she had been called a dusky beauty.
Now, she secretly harboured the opinion that she would make a better mambo than Marie and that the invisibles would (like the men in her village) respect her obvious qualities. As she sharpened the sacrificial machete, she imagined it cutting Marie’s throat rather than that of an underfed chicken. She obsessed over how she might be able to do it and, more importantly, get away with it. She viewed it as an entree to a life of relative ease, far better than toiling in her father’s hot laundry every day.
The time of the big ceremony arrived. The company removed themselves to the sacred waterfall under which they symbolically washed away their sins. Their present practice had wisely incorporated much of what the Catholic priests had taught them over the centuries.
Thusly shriven, they repaired to the adjacent ceremonial ground where persistent scrubbings had failed to entirely obliterate the traces of blood from previous sacrifices. They each imbibed of the sacred mixture and commenced dancing to the steady beat of African rhythms brought over in the slave ships.
The slow ritual dance and the drink combined weaved its spell and person after person entered the liminal state of consciousness that signified access to the invisibles. Celine led the dance and was handed chicken after chicken. She deftly cut the throat of each and whirled around faster and faster holding the sacrifices one by one by the legs and spraying blood over the white clothing of the gathering.
The frenzy had begun and Celine as the main participant started to vocalize messages from the other world. By intent, she had drunk very little of the mixture. Her glossolalia became more insistent that she, Celine, should be made Mambo if the contagion was to stop.
Upon hearing this from the sidelines, Marie grew strangely calm and entered a deeper state than ever before. It was as if she became one of the invisibles herself and that the gathering was under her control.
Faster and faster Celine whirled in an unearthly frenzy spewing a mixture of blood and sweat on the others who despite the drug started to pause and view the unnatural display.
Suddenly she dropped to the ground dead.
Marie voicing the will of the invisibles intoned, “The sacrifice is accepted,” in a model of laconic eloquence.
Judy de la Mare
There once was a poet called Walter ,
Words flowed from his pen without falter,
He wrote with great speed,
Paying spelling no heed,
Yet few words he needed to alter.
They met every six months. This arrangement had been ongoing for the last ten years. The four women had worked together for most of their working life, and when retirement had been welcomed, they had decided upon this regular meeting. An understanding city hotel had allowed them to sit for hours over coffee and sandwiches, as long as it was on one of the less busy days. In return the friends had praised the hotel to many subsequent customers.
Today was the meeting day and Beth was looking forward to seeing the other three. She dressed with care. She had lots to tell her friends of a recent holiday that she and her husband had enjoyed in Scotland. She drove her car to the station car park and caught the train into the city. When Beth arrived at the hotel she found her three friends were already there and were seated at a discreet corner table. With their usual affectionate greeting, it was obvious they were delighted to be in each other’s company again.
Barbara, Margaret and Helen told of their previous six months, which had mainly consisted of the usual family affairs, all thankfully of the pleasant variety which included the birth of a baby before the next get together. The friends knew each other’s families well and were most interested. They turned towards Beth and asked her of her exciting holiday.
Beth described arriving in Edinburgh in time for the Festival and of the enjoyment of the half a dozen performances they had seen. Also of walking the streets that had been described in some recent novels by Alexander McCall Smith. The main purpose of their visit, however was to explore over seven days the Inner and Outer Hebridean Islands. They had travelled to Glasgow and were collected the next morning by a small bus with the other ten travellers, to travel to Oban driving the length of beautiful Loch Lomond. After a lunch at Oban, they travelled by ferry along the Sound of Mull to Craigmure. Then a bus to the loveliest small township named Tobermory. The houses lining the quay were all painted in different colours and were so picturesque. The group was booked in to a large old hotel built of stone and were grateful for the comfortable four-poster beds. The views were lovely. That evening the travellers met together socially for dinner. At this stage Beth became somewhat breathless as she described that evening.
“We were sitting with three others, an elderly man and his wife and a much younger woman whom I took to be their daughter. They were extremely pleasant and told of some of their recent trips, which included a walking tour. As we had recently walked through some Swiss villages I mentioned how we had so enjoyed the beauty of the mountains. I don’t know how that comment lead to talking about mountain climbing … but it did! I then spoke of climbing some mountains near to where we lived. At this stage my husband quite obviously changed the subject, he evidently couldn’t reach far enough under the table to kick me, but I got the message that I should shut up. Later that night in our room, I asked why he had stopped me talking. He then told me we had been dining with Sir John Hunt and his wife. When I still looked puzzled he explained that Sir John had been the leader of the successful conquest of Mt. Everest in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Oh My Goodness, I felt so stupid!”
As Beth completed her story, her friends realised that she still felt dismayed at what she considered her foolish attempt at dinner conversation with such distinguished persons. They tumbled over each other to reassure Beth that none of the others at the table would have even remembered the conversation. They encouraged her to tell them of the rest of the Hebridean adventure.
Beth sketched in a few of the highlights that followed that night in Tobermory, a visit to Fingal’s Cave, near Staffa , the Island of Iona, and all the while travelling over the beautiful shiny, silvery grey waters of the lochs and the more open waters towards the Outer Hebrides. They had travelled by bus down the islands of Lewis and Harris, finishing up in Barra where the ferry would take everyone back to Oban.
As they departed, Beth decided to remain on the top deck of the ferry so as to remember every last detail of the fascinating island and the sparkling silvery-grey waters. She thought she was alone as it was a cold afternoon and most passengers had stayed in the warm interior. Suddenly in one corner of the deck she noticed a young woman with her elbows on the railing and holding a handkerchief to her face. She was dabbing at tears running down her face. She looked so distressed that Beth approached her and gently asked her what the matter was. The girl said that it was just because of leaving. She loved the islands so much and had been spending her summer holidays there for some years, and each time leaving affected her as if departing from a beloved friend. Beth was glad the reason was not as dire as she had anticipated, but as the girl was so distressed Beth remained with her and as they chatted the lass regained her composure and sometime later they returned to the ferry’s sitting room and farewelled each other.
At last they reached Oban and general farewells were made as all were heading in different directions.
Beth continued her story. “We said goodbye to the Hunts and wished them a safe return to their home. Mrs Hunt kissed us both, me first, and then as my husband hesitated Mrs Hunt leaned into him and kissed him on the cheek also. My husband responded by saying to her, ‘that’s the first time I’ve been kissed by a lady.’ I just muttered under my breath, thanks a lot!”
The friends all laughed at that conclusion, and asked Beth if she felt better having told them the story. She said she did, and now understood the saying that confession was good for the soul. They shared one last coffee and made a date for their next meeting.