Ali

Mad Skillz: Ali on being poetic

Ali writes a poetic blog. Which by default means it’s deep. It’s not necessarily all about poetry but it’s the type of blog where just reading makes you feel more artistic and creative. That’s her milieu (to steal an artistic French word). To my knowledge we’ve never met – but we’ve both lived in Townsville. Ali is a former “Steve Irwin” style animal wrangler (as indicated by her link). This gives her some sort of credibility with those who don’t like poetry…

Here are Ali’s tips on how to be, or appear, poetic.

Let me first just say, I don’t get around calling myself a ‘poet’ so I feel like this is something of a joke, and there are those out there who with more credibility than me, so feel most free to comment/differ/add stuff. (My other option was editing, which might have been more use to some but would have been just as farcical. However, if you would like to know how to catch a koala, read here.

I supplemented this with some material from a course I did with Judith Beveridge, so you get something from a real expert.

  1. Read poetry. Read lots of it, and read the great poetry so your bar is high, but also read contemporary poetry (they are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but a lot of the known greats are actually dead). Having said that, the thing that actually started me writing poetry – even though I’d read it since school – was a friend giving me a poem they wrote for me, and it suddenly came within the realm of possibility, when I had never really thought about it before.
  2. Find out what sort of poet you are, your sympathies and approach. Then learn by imitation. It is actually the way to learn all art forms.
  3. Know the elements and rules of poetry. Read a book like “Rules for the Dance” by Mary Oliver (otherwise this post will never end). Only when you know the rules (rhythm, metre, line, form, sound, image, metaphor etc) can you break them effectively and do the “freefall” (as Mark Tredinnick called it) nicely (same goes for grammar might I add – that’s what MT was actually talking about). As with all creative writing, show and don’t tell. (So mostly don’t use abstractions – eg a word like “beautiful” is an abstraction so describe the elements of the beauty instead – or else interpret the concept/abstraction with an object eg “quiet as a house in which the witch has just stopped dancing” – “quiet” is the concept, the rest is the object (and obviously the whole thing is a metaphor) – I snitched this example from Judith Beveridge.)
  4. Work hard on language and find the language appropriate to the experience, and the appropriate form. The style and the content are inseparable. With the language you want the reader to feel like they are going through the experience and to be engaged on a sensory level. The vocabulary doesn’t need to be sophisticated necessarily but using ordinary words in different ways is good. (This is a kind of summary of stuff from the Judith Beveridge course.)
  5. As with all creative writing or creativity or skill, keep practicing and writing and also revising and editing and be prepared to fail along the way. (Seeing some drafts from the masters is enlightening – we tend to think poetry just rolls effortlessly off the tongue of the greats – not so, so be encouraged.)

iBlog 2.0

A similar nomenclature was enough to sink the latest Vegemite flavour – so perhaps I should expect too much from this. But I’m fiddling with some new Facebook connect options that have recently been developed before I unleash it on our work websites.

To do this I’ve had to make a fan page on Facebook – you should join up. I’m hoping people will use it to give me ideas for things to blog – like Ali has been doing lately via her comments.

Here’s the link to the fan page, and feel free to add me as a friend (I may ignore you if you look weird).

Eventually you’ll be able to do all sorts of funky interactive stuff between here and Facebook – if I can get it working. I love being a technological guinea pig. You can keep tabs in the sidebar – where I’ve also added a live traffic feed. Interesting times.

If Facebook isn’t your thing but you’ve got a google account why not join the Google Friend Connect thing also on the sidebar… it’ll even add my blog google reader automatically if I’m in the “blogs you follow” category.

Finally, while I’m talking technical stuff and appealing for online friendship – check out my link list in the sidebar too. If you think you should be on it (or would like to be) let me know… and if you’ve got one, well, you could always add me too…

So that’s how these things work

I’ve wondered what it is that makes Macs cool. I think it might be that they’re powered by guinea pigs.

I’m not sure how they fit them into the laptops…

Actually, this makeshift animal cage is pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to turn an old TV into a fish bowl. But it’s really dangerous. There are things in old cathode ray TVs that can kill you. Apparently. Anyway, kudos to Ali who worked valiantly to find something on the internet that I hadn’t posted before…

My (not yet) famous Spag Bol

I’ve now been tagged in two memes. I’m a good sport when it comes to such things. So thanks Ali. I will use this opportunity to once again share one of my recipes with the world.

According to the rules of this “meme” I’m to pick an ingredient from Ali’s recipe and share a recipe that uses the ingredient. Luckily there are a few ingredients to choose from… I’m going to go with butter. Because that rules almost nothing out. And I’m going to share my recipe for spaghetti bolognese. It’s not quite a “from scratch” special – I could, given the inclination, probably use fresh tomatoes. But I haven’t yet. And I like this one a fair bit…

What you’ll need (I normally do a big batch of this because it’s just as good the next day, and the next, etc.):

Ingredients
(some quantities are estimates)

  • Spaghetti
  • 1kg Mince
  • 1 big tin of Heinz Tomato Soup (500ml)
  • 1 big tin of crushed/diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar of sun dried tomatoes
  • Lots of mushrooms
  • A carrot (grated)
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Assorted herbs and spices (of an Italian bent)
  • 100ml of cream
  • Enough butter to lubricate the saucepan/wok, and nicely brown the onions and garlic

What to do

  1. Slice the onion, crush one clove of garlic, cook on medium to high heat with the butter.
  2. When the onion starts browning, add the mushrooms.
  3. Add the mince.
  4. When the mince starts to brown add the sun dried tomatoes (I normally add a little bit of the oil from the sun dried tomato jar/container too. Stir them through.
  5. Add the tinned tomato and tomato soup – tomato soup is great because it has a rich, slightly salty flavour. This mix is, in my opinion, better than any pasta sauce on the market.
  6. Cook your spaghetti while letting the bolognese simmer.
  7. Add the carrot.
  8. Add the cream, stir through, the sauce should be a goldy colour.
  9. Crush your other garlic clove and stir it through the bolognese. Add your herbs based on taste and personal preference.
  10. Your spaghetti should be ready soon – throw a piece at the wall to see if it sticks (remove any water from the spaghetti strand first).

Serve in a bowl with cheese.

The end.

I tag whichever four of you volunteer first.

We’ll probably be doing this with our cooking friend this week – let me know if you’ve got ideas for ingredients that I might not have considered.

Visible Holiness

I mentioned my theory of the “Holiness Shelf” back when I had about ten readers (but curiously could attract 31 comments on a trivial post).

The Holiness Shelf is a dedicated space on a public bookshelf. Typically at eye level. The idea is that people judge you by the books in your collection, and your music and DVDs. If the first thing they see is overwhelming holiness manifested in your well thumbed “Gospel and Kingdom” or “The Cross of Christ” they’ll judge you positively.

It’s a tactic I recommended to many single guys, while I was myself single. I’m not sure it works.

Ali makes a good point in this post that people are now judged by their online presence. Facebook has replaced the bookshelf. Which is why it’s important to list good bands and intelligent books in your Facebook profile (I’ll post a list of impressive books for your profile later). Christians are pretty bad at judging each other on the basis of faith and holiness too – so the availability of information like what books, movies and music you like opens you up to all sorts of questions from others. Should I tell everybody that my favourite movies are Fight Club and the Godfather (both R rated)? Or should I pretend I love the Passion of the Christ (which I’ve never seen), and Amazing Grace (which I did like)?

The personal “brand” we build online opens us up in a new way to Christians who may or may not be weaker brothers, and may or may not be the judgemental type who emphasise the “not of the world” part of “in the world, but not of it”. This raises questions about what you should and shouldn’t blog about if you’re bloggingly inclined. You should read Ali’s post, and join the discussion there.

I post just about anything. I’m not sure I’d want people making an assessment of my holiness on the basis of that which appears in the right hand column of this page. Especially the bits about toilet paper.

I don’t want to be more discerning about what I blog about, it would take away half the fun. But nor do I want to be judged solely on what I blog about.

All quiet…

Simone hasn’t posted since Monday. Stuss has posted just once this week, while Ben has posted just once today. Izaac has posted twice. Tim and Ben (Bathgates.net) once. The usually reliable Craig has posted only nine times this week. The man known around these parts as “The Moff” (I saw somewhere that someone called him that to some consternation) – has posted four times.

Amy and Tim are off to a promising start with six posts since Monday. Ali, who I missed out in the last little round up post, has posted three times this week…

Maybe the threat of traffic induced by this post and all the other bored desk jockeys out there will cause these people to update their blogs soon…

And the rest of you… what are we procrastinators to do?

Commenting would be a start. Lets talk.

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