Summative Entry – Thank you.

I would like to start out by saying, I love literature. I always have, even back in Vietnam. However, the method of teaching there did not suit me, as I lost my own voice and was unable to express my interpretation the way I wanted to. Here, in Australian Literature unit, not only did I get to open myself to new and different authors and literature works, I found my voice again. I found my love for literature again.

Starting from my first blog, I was afraid about how I would write it. Not because I did not know how to write, but rather how to make it fit with everybody else. That was what I was taught, to follow a single line if you want to get high marks. Nonetheless, following my own tuition was the best decision I made. The blog got overwhelming feedback and a lot of people enjoyed reading, because I was giving them a perspective they did not have. That’s when I realized, instead of hiding my difference, I should embrace it and share it with everyone. If I can summarize my blogs, it would be: different.

That was the theme for my next blogs, to try and express a different view on the matter. Of course, I could have followed the majority and made it easier for myself, but I wanted a challenge, and this weekly blog assignment was the perfect challenge.

Even though I have yet to know any of these authors prior to taking the course, it is amazing how much I found myself relating to a lot of their work. Especially Kim Scott’s “That Deadman Dance” and how all the characters in the story represented a different side of my own personality.

I believe that my perspective on these works is a perfect representation of me, a unique being not afraid of being different. This is just the start, as I still have long way to go. However, I am grateful to have been given such an opportunity to express myself. I am looking forward to the next semester and the challenges that come along with it.

Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who have viewed my blog and gave me such wonderful constructive criticism. I am better than I was before because of you.

Thank you.

Blog 8 – Green Inferno

Take the first line of any of the poems that we have looked at today and write your own poem based on the idea in the line you have chosen.

Inspired by Les Murray’s “The Cool Green”

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Money just a means to our ends?

Or a slippery slope leading to our end?

 

Working nine to five to stay alive

Or so we tell ourselves

Working everyday to survive

Are we really? Ask yourself.

 

Look at the stars, how lucky they are

Filling their hollow self with dollars

Friends or just materialistic leech? They’ll never know

The light inside, killed by man-made dark.

 

Asleep on the pavement, poor unfortunate souls

Having nothing but all the time in the world

Going nowhere except anywhere they want

Unbound by money, poor unfortunate souls.

Blog 7 – White Eyes

Create a topic of your own that links into the readings this week and that includes some reference to your own personal experience.

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I find myself in a situation quite similar to that of Patrick White. As someone who has only spent months in Australia, I can imagine his experience coming back after such a long time. His quirky writing style makes me think deeply about the tiniest of details and dig through all the layers to get to the real meaning of things.

My favorite work of White is “Miss Slattery and her Demon Lover” as it is a representation of the partying scene in Australia, which is something I see almost every night coming back from work. It is not at all my intention to be judgmental, but once I have seen people vomiting by the sidewalk, girls carrying high heels in their hands while walking barefoot & drunk, guys doing drugs & crying in corners of buildings, I start to think the story was an understatement. However, Miss Slattery & Tibby Szabo’s sleazy encounter is just a thin cover hiding the depth beneath, which is the intimate connection they both experienced afterwards. I also got to thinking what forced them to do all those things they did. Those people I saw, they are just as nice, horrible and ordinary as I am. How hard or excruciating must their life be for them to resort to alcohol and drugs to help them reach a level of euphoria easily mistaken for peace of mind? Of course, I would not want to involve those who enjoy going to clubs and drinking healthily and responsibly. I am only talking about those going to the extreme, hurting themselves to, ironically, take the pain the away. What is also interesting is even though this story takes place in 1961, it is still an appropriate representation of today’s society. It just goes to show how talented Patrick White is, as his works transcend time.

Patrick White’s work is his way of interpreting his surroundings, and I felt quite honored being able to see the world through his eyes.

Blog 6 – Blood Orange

Write a short creative or critical piece that is inspired by any of the works that we have looked at this week (in lectures & tutorials).

Inspired by John Shaw Neilson’s “The Orange Tree”

The 10-year-old me would be terrified of me now. He would not even recognize me. I can’t blame him. I’ve changed. We all do. Not just our appearance but also internally. My eyes have become sadder, seeing things in black and white. My mouth is scared, only saying things that are filtered, not from the heart. My mind is critical, looking at everything under a magnifying glass except myself. My dreams have changed, trying not drown in this river called life. “Who are you?”, he would ask.”You can’t be me. You and I are nothing alike. What happened?”. I wonder the same thing. “Life happened”, I would tell him.

“Do you remember the tree?”, he would ask. “We went there every day after school. Don’t tell me you forgot”. Luckily, I haven’t. “Of course I remember”, I would reply. Those were the days. Not a worry in the world. It was a huge tree near my childhood home. I would always run to it after school just to sit down in the shade and eat the orange my mom packed in the lunch box for me. I don’t know why it made me so calm but it did. There was nothing there but the tree, me and an orange. However to me, it was my own world. I would only leave until it got dark. Not that I was scared of the dark, but that’s when the frogs started to come. I hate frogs. Creepy slimy bastards.

“Don’t you like to go back?”

“I’d love to, but I can’t, buddy. The tree’s gone.”

“What?! No! What happened?”

“Look around”, I stand in the same spot where the tree used to be. “It’s been 8 years, dude. Of course it’s not gonna be around for that long.”

I feel guilty visiting home after 8 years. Everything has changed. I’m like a stranger here.

“Look again. It’s right in front of you.”fall-orange-tree-leaves-art-prints-autumn-nature-baslee-troutman-fine-art-photography

“What? This is a different tree.”

“It’s our tree. Look at the carving.”

Damn. I forgot about the carving. It’s what I did to tell the frogs the tree’s mine. They couldn’t have it. That is the same tree. I looked right at it yet I couldn’t recognise it at all. What happened to me? Why can I no longer see the things I used to see?

“You’re right buddy”, I sighed. “I can’t be you. I’ve turned into someone else.”

I looked at the tree one more time before going back to my parents’ house. I can’t call it home anymore. I don’t feel anything anymore. I stayed with them for a week before going back to the city.  That ‘s the only place I can recognise anything anymore.

Blog 5 – Feminist

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With reference to Mary Gilmore’s “Eve Song”, what is the meaning and force of the repeated phrase “I span and Eve span”?

What  makes this poem so striking is the fact it even existed at all. In the 1890s, when women were still perceived as objects bound to men, the idea that any women, let alone a writer like Gilmore, would dare to speak her mind is absolutely absurd. Even more so, she did not just speak her mind, she did it unapologetically.

“I span and Eve span”

Bound to men yet also neglected by men, it is a tale old as time, or in this case, old as Eve. Gilmore repeated the sentence over and over in her poem, as if trying to imply that such circumstances have also happened over and over: a woman sacrificing everything for a man that gives nothing in return. This was considered normal, that it is a woman’s duty and she must comply without argument.

The sentence started out and also concluded the poem, without any progress. The women poured her heart out, screaming out all her aspirations, hoping for a change, no matter how slim a chance of that could be. There was no reason for her to stay, and the man did not even try to keep her around, but in the end, she still stayed. Why? What else could she possibly stay for? Her children? Did she still have a glimmer of hope that things would turn around? Or was it simply her responsibility told by society?

Gilmore built the poem up, bringing readers along thinking it would lead them somewhere. Instead, it went back where it began, with the woman still spanning threads. It’s a depressing and vicious cycle that seems almost fictional. It’s quite difficult to believe such was the reality of many women in the 1890s.

Blog 4 -Painted with words

Looking at these two poems describing a natural scene (“A Mid-Summer Noon…” & “Bell-Birds”, say what you think each poet values and how they differ in their appreciation and their expression.

As an art student, I have always tried my best to capture the slightest of details in my work as to make it as authentic as possible. It is something even the best of artists would still struggle with. Having read the amazing works by Charles Harpur and Henry Kendall, I realized I still have a long way to go. Both authors painted a beautiful scenery that is quite vivid and detailed. Even more amazingly, they did it with words.

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Harpur’s “A Mid-Summer Noon in the Australian Forest” as a whole can best be summarized with the word: climatic. He started out telling readers about the calm, quiet, almost eery atmosphere the same way an artist would draw the background. All in nature is put on hold, even the most active of beings, in anticipation. Then appears, in such a glorious and majestic manner, the “dragon-hornet” beetle, the focal point of Harpur ‘s written painting. Such a small creature yet it is all we saw, all we noticed. With the quiet as the background, “yon bright beetle” rose bringing life and color. Intellectually and aesthetically pleasing, Harpur gave me a new appreciation for the rare beauty of nature.

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In contrast, Henry Kendall’s “Bell-birds” doesn’t just stop at the surface of describing the landscape but also digs deep, emotionally. It possesses a nostalgic feel, with every single word served a purpose of helping readers connect with Kendall. Different from Harpur, Kendall’s focal point lies at the end of the poem rather in the middle. Remembering his childhood in the countryside, Kendall uses it as a tool to help him adjust to the new life in the city. Other than that, he holds onto it dearly for help to get through his own tragedy. I connect to this poem on a personal level, as having moved to Sydney only recently. Everything was new and strange. My mind travelled back to my time in Vietnam automatically almost as a self-defense mechanism. Although not as detailed, I went through what Kendall had gone through, which made me appreciate his work even more.

If Charles Harpur’s poem was a detailed and structured painting celebrating nature then that of Henry Kendall is an abstract artwork using nature to evoke emotions. Both works share similarities yet couldn’t be more different.

Peer review 3

“Mid 19th C OZ Poetry”

This is a very detailed and great read. Your interpretation of the poems gave me new insights I had never thought of. I quite enjoyed the way you expressed the contrast between these two works. The down side to this blog is that visually, it is quite bland. You should try to put in photos relating to your ideas so it can be easier for readers to follow. Another thing is your sentences are unnecessarily long. I feel they should be broken down into shorter sentences so that the message can be delivered more clearly.

https://jakematthewsblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/mid-19th-c-oz-poetry/