How to: Make a spare ribbon bookmark for your journal 


This is for the type of notebook with a spine you can look down when the book is open (hardcover or case bound).

  1. Cut the cardboard to go down the spine: Cut a strip of light card. It should be about half the height of the book, and just wide enough to slip down the spine when the book is open. 1cm worked for this Moleskine journal. If in doubt, cut it a little bit too wide, then trim it down until it fits.
  2. Cut the bookmark ribbon: Use a ribbon that is narrower than the thickness of the closed book. Cut a piece that is at least 6cm longer than the book (A bit over 2 inches). I like to keep the ribbon long, then trim it to length when I’m finished (cut it at an angle, to stop fraying). You can also use more than one ribbon, if you want lots of bookmarks.
  3. Attach the ribbon to the card: Attach your ribbon(s) to the top of the strip of card. Overlap the ends, rather than matching them up (see the photos above) – basically, the ribbon should come off the card like a whip off a handle. Staple ribbon and card together, then wrap the join with masking or duct tape for durability.
  4. Attach bookmark to book: Open the book flat, then slide the strip of card all the way into the hollow spine, leaving the ribbon hanging out. When the book is closed, it should hold the card snugly in place.
  5. Reusing the bookmark: The bookmark should pull out easily when you want to add it to a new journal.

(Edited for clarity)

The Grand Tour Part One: The USA

Part Two: Dartmoor

Part Three: Iceland

As usual, this is a best-bits version of the trip, where “best-bits” = anything that stayed still long enough to be sketched. You should be able to see a larger version of the pictures by clicking on them, which in most cases will take you through to their Flickr page.

So: Once upon a time it was almost winter in Brisbane, as you can tell by… the shawl on the left hand page, I guess. Then I flew north. I am reliably informed that was the only cold week Brisbane had this winter.

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At the airport I drew various hi-vis dramas out on the tarmac. This is one of my favourite things to draw.

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On the aeroplane, I drew Cinderella-Die Hard mashups but that is for another post.

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In LA, I stayed with Katharine (aka The Fictator: a lot of you don’t know her but you should) and in a surprise to absolutely no-one we talked about books and stories and old movies. She was the best person to stay with in LA because she actively loves its geology, geography, history and likes driving. She took me to very odd museums, such as the cumulatively bewildering Museum of Jurassic Technology which feels like it was created by the protagonists of Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum and had Borges in the bookstore.

We also went to the Last Bookstore.

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California is full of palm trees. Someone should have warned me. I got Josh Ritter’s California stuck in my head.

 

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NEW YORK! I like New York. I like the New York in which my friends live. Ellen and Delia sent me to the theatre (Something Rotten and Fun Home, the latter with Eliza and Karen), took me to the theatre (Shuffle Along) and to Klezmer concerts. I accidentally wandered into a theatre reading.

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I ate pastry with editors and lunches with art directors and found my pictures at the Society of Illustrators! (Thanks Irene, Miriam and Christine!IMG_0104
Genevieve took me to the Museum of the Moving Image and (almost as importantly) a grilled cheese cafe. We both promptly downloaded Ginger Rogers and the Mystery of the Scarlet Cloak.IMG_0079

 

Then a final evening of wine and chocolate among the New York rooftops before I caught the train to Massachusetts to stay with Kelly and Gavin.


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We had a lot of pool parties in Massachusetts. And writing, of course! It was a pretty productive week: workshopping novels and reading manuscripts and finishing illustrations off for Small Beer Press. I also met Cassie’s Scottish Fold, Maggie, a beautiful creature who regarded me with deep suspicion. And of course the writing barn which is even prettier than this article makes out.

 

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This were some of my notes from a workshop with Holly.

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Then: Readercon! It was my first Readercon, and I had a grand time, catching up with and meeting many very excellent people and lying around talking about theatre and Sayers, Broadway and Dunnett. If I try to list everyone I will (a) sound like I’m namedropping and (b) forget people.

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I moderated two panels, was on a third and gave a reading from my Masters novella-in-progress.

And the next day, I left for England.

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Next: Dartmoor

Dancing, and ducks: Sketchbook update

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I frequently post pictures of my sketchbooks-in-progress on Facebook, Twitter etc, but hadn’t realised how long it has been since I uploaded the scanned pages! The sketchbooks themselves were taking longer to complete, as well, since if I wasn’t in the office I was working on commissions. But I’m catching up now!

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Here’s a taste, with some dancers from late 2014.

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(Clicking on the photos of the full pages will take you to the Flickr page, which should let you see a larger version).

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Ducks are always rewarding.

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American Sketchbook 2014 Part 4 – New York again

Note: If you’d like to see more detail, just click on an image. You should go through to its Flickr page where you can look at a larger version of it.

The previous parts of the report are at:

And from there, back to New York. I caught a lift with Andrea back to Secaucus Junction, a train to Penn Station quite late in the evening and found a hotel – the Bellclaire, which was quite pleasant.

The next day, I set out for the Museum of Natural History.

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It makes for wonderful people watching. Everyone gets so excited about dinosaurs, the children flock to Lonesome George, and people get lost in the anthropological collections.

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I got lost in Central Park and rode the carousel (of course) before going to the Society of Illustrators’ Sketch Night.

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I am not used to drawing people standing still anymore, and digressed into making notes on the composition of the Leo and Diane Dillon exhibition.

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Then it all wound up too quickly. I spent the next few nights visiting Ellen and Delia, with whom I went to see the musical of The Fortress of Solitude, visited Michael Kaluta’s studio (and then got distracted discussing early aviation and obscure films), and went to see several delightful editors at the Tor/Forge offices in the Flatiron building, where I was loaded up with many extraordinarily beautiful books (which have just arrived by post).

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And then after viewing Ellen and Delia’s art collection it was, alas, time to sketch people in high-vis at airports again.

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There are still some assorted notes and scribbles to put up, but that is the end of the trip.

American sketchbook 2014 part 2 – Boston and Salem

Note: If you’d like to see more detail, just click on an image. You should go through to its Flickr page where you can look at a larger version of it.

The first part of the report is at Part 1 – New York, New York

I caught the bus from New York to Boston, through hours of autumn foliage. Here are some tree sketches from a moving vehicle, trying to approximate colour with a limited range of pens, and to catch the shape and pattern of leaves from a distance and at speed.

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Boston! Where the squirrels are tough and muscular and will beat you up for food. Also, Leif Erikson.

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A visit with Theodora Goss, full of books and fairytales. Then off to the Goya exhibition at the MFA! It is always striking to see paintings in the life. In the case of the Goyas, there was such a wonderful, candid, intense, scribbly nature to the art – both texture (ink and engravings) and air. The Family of the Infante Don Luis is enchantingly candid, like a photo during the setup for a family photoshoot – some are posed, some are wandering in or distracted by an adjustment, one man grins directly at the viewer…

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Francisco de Goya. The Family of the Infante Don Luis de Borbón. 1783

Lively and all of them full of more than one story – full of story.

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(I also visited the Jamie Wyeth exhibit, but was running out of time so only sketched one seagull).Goya, o guarda-sol

I then visited my first Blick Art Materials store, which was marvellous. Fortunately, I was travelling light on this leg, having sent my luggage ahead with Kelly to Northampton.  And on Thursday evening, I took the ferry to Salem.

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Halloween is an interesting time to visit Salem! Between the costumes, the views of early colonial American history are frequent and fascinated me because the visual vocabulary is so different from the corresponding period in Australia. Our European images really start off with Georgian aesthetics.

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Here is the detail of some notes on the progression of gravestones – the skull-and-wings which is most common in the earlier, pragmatic, puritan, ‘in the midst of life we are in death’, and is replaced by romantic imagery of angels, willows and urns.

Untitled-11Detail

The Nathanael Mather inscription “an aged person that had seen but nineteen winters in the world” was used by Hawthorne in one of his stories, but I am not entirely sure what it means.

Next, the Peabody Essex Museum, which was full of small wonders, and a brace of brave figureheads.

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A lovely little velocipede. And I did visit the House of the Seven Gables, of interest for many reasons, including that the restoration for tourists was based on a novel rather than the history of the book, and is old enough (over 100 years) to of itself be of historical interest.

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By now it was Halloween properly. I sat out on the sidewalk with the neighbours to man a candy table in the cold (we had warming beverages), then went out to roam the streets, eat deep-fried confectionary and sketch costumes.

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Next in the series is Part Three: Western Massachusetts and World Fantasy Convention

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This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, part of the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts. thumbnail

American sketchbook 2014 part 1 – New York, New York

Note: If you’d like to see more detail, just click on an image. You should go through to its Flickr page where you can look at a larger version of it.

So, as you may have noticed from my updates on this blog, I have been away for a few weeks. If you were following me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have gathered that I was in the USA, having a grand time and drawing all over the place. This was an illustration-focused trip (thanks to an Arts Qld grant), and as usual I kept a sketchbook instead of taking photos. In between I looked at a great deal of art and talked a lot (but not nearly enough) to many wonderful and dazzling people and ate everything except vegetables. But here, in accordance with tradition, is an account of some of the slow-moving things I saw. (1) People in hi-vis gear in international airports. (2) Spectacular views between LAX and NY (tip: if you can get a window seat in daylight on that stretch, do). (3) New York, being New York. Page 1 The week I arrived was (would have been) the week of Dylan Thomas‘ 100th birthday. After church (where I met three lovely ladies from Holland, with whom I met up for dinner the following night) I showed up at the sold-out production of his Under Milk Wood at the 92Y, and was able to get a ticket! It was a live BBC Wales broadcast, from the stage where it was first performed, with a Welsh cast directed by and starring Michael Sheen. I may have cried a little. (Tip: if you are visiting New York City, check out what’s on at 92Y). Then on to the Bowery Poetry Club (tip: if you’re visiting, check them out for events) for Dylan Thomas readings, featuring , Dr Elaine CanningBob HolmanKevin Powell and Gwyneth Lewis (which reminds me, she had an essay in the latest Poetry magazine and I should subscribe). Page 2 Afterwards, it was open-mic night, but there were so many poets left over that they pretty much alternated poets with singers, and I even stood up and gave a reading! (I read ‘Bears My Mother Brought With Her‘ and ‘Print is Dead‘). More New York the next day, including many gallery visits (I met a very nice lady from Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery at the 92Y and discovered many neighbouring galleries as a consequence). Page 3 A gorgeous exhibition of mourning dresses at the Met, but I was particularly taken by the humour in medieval art elsewhere in the museum. I find it easy to get a fossilised, received view of historical periods, and there is a delightful jolt of rediscovered humanity in seeing the actual artefacts. Saint Emerentia jovial and mysterious, crooked iron crows, misanthropic owls… Page 4 A visit to the Society of Illustrators for lunch with Irene Gallo and Greg Manchess (who are wonderful), followed by sketching Mario Reuben Cooper‘s choices in hands in the stairwell, and assorted details of the picture book exhibition. Page 5 Then I sketched hands on the subway and missed my stop on the way to the Village and McNally Jackson Books, where we (Kelly Link, Sarah Reese Brennan, Joshua Lewis, Alice Sola Kim, Greg Purcell and I) gave readings from Monstrous Affections before going out for far too much pizza. The account of exactly how I gave a reading from a comic is a subject for another post. Page 6 Next in the series is Part Two: Boston

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This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, part of the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts. thumbnail

What I Did On My Holidays: Part the Third – World Fantasy and Brighton

Note: If you click on a picture, that should take you through to its Flickr page, where you will have an option to view a larger version.

Part One is here: Brisbane Airport and Oslo.

Part Two is here: Dartmoor.

After a last farewell to Dartmoor, a walk along the Cobb at Lyme Regis, an altercation with a lorry near the New Forest (huzzah for steady-nerved passengers and comprehensive insurance), and the GPS in a final effort to establish its supremacy taking us to Arundel Castle instead of the Metropole, Ellen, Delia and I arrived in Brighton for the World Fantasy Convention 2013.

That is Brian Aldiss with the tea.

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I don’t sketch at conventions as much as I used to, now that I know more people (one reason being Artist at Large at the Brisbane Writers Festival was so much fun was that I was officially meant to be drawing over talking). So I had a marvellous time at WFC, but did not draw many pictures. Most of my drawing was scribbling ideas during panels, e.g. this during the “Broads with Swords” discussion:

Swords

I did sit at the signing tables during the mass signing in order to draw everyone else – I learned last year that was a good vantage point. And one person did come up and ask me to sign a book I have a story in (ahem), so that was thrilling!

Here are two panels  of people you probably haven’t heard of: A YA discussion with Delia Sherman, Susan Cooper, Garth Nix, Neil Gaiman, Will Hill and Holly Black, and Nifty Shades of Fae with Tanith Lee, Joanne Harris, James Barclay, Angela Slatter, Lisa Hannett, Grahame Joyce and James Barclay. There are also a few Irene Gallo cameos in the pages, because I usually draw the people with cameras.

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Unfortunately, I was taken violently ill on Saturday evening and had to leave the art reception early to be miserable in my room. The hotel reception sent up Twinings Peppermint Tea as a sovereign remedy. Ellen also plied me with medicinal infusions the next day.

Taken Ill

As a consequence, I only have a tiny picture of my art at the show. I will post some better images of the pictures later!

Pictures at World Fantasy 2013

Absence of pictures aside, I had a wonderful convention – talked to a lot of people, mostly, which is the point. It is difficult to narrow down particular highlights, as I keep remembering things and people to mention – charming ladies’ literary dinners (after the ladies in question unpacked our car in a team while I sat trembling in the driver’s seat), operatic serenades over dinner with the Australian contingent, lunches where no-one simply shared common gripes or tried to curry favour but simply waved their hands and discussed shared enthusiasms (stories, Dianna Wynne Jones and Dorothy Sayers). And of course I wasn’t drawing during any of those conversations – I will try to draw you all next time!

Following the convention, Aimee (Aimee L, not Aimee-my-housemate) and I went touring Brighton. I drew Aimee photographing the giant seagulls. We also ate giant meringues. I bought this marvellous panorama history of Aviation (I want the Nobrow Press Leporello series to be longer and also all of them) and we visited the Royal Pavilion, where we both fervently wished for a coffee book on the subject of wallpaper restoration.

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The most touching moment was seeing the paintings of the music room when it was used as a hospital for Indian soldiers in WWI. It had the most beautiful ceiling, which Aimee is photographing here. We ate horrible hotdogs on the pier and collected Shelley to go to Thor II, and all the English people in the audience laughed at the scenes in Greenwich.

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The next morning, I caught the train to York, en route to Perth and London

What I Did on My Holidays: Part the Second – Dartmoor

Note: If you click on a picture, that should take you through to its Flickr page, where you will have an option to view a larger version.

Part One is here: Brisbane Airport and Oslo.

Then I flew to Heathrow, hired a car and drove across England to the middle of Dartmoor. This was not as simple as it sounds. Reverse was in an unfamiliar location, I’d never used a GPS before, the lanes when I reached them were as wide as the car, I kept forgetting which side the indicators were on and for a while I didn’t think I’d ever escape the gravitational pull of Heathrow.

Scattered impressions:  Driving

But I made it to Dartmoor, unscathed. After a day I was scampering happily around the lanes, and did not have an altercation with a lorry until after Dartmoor was behind – but I am getting ahead of myself.

That week was enchanted. Art and music, poetry and puppetry, commedia dell’arte and rosehips, cream teas and rambling.

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Paths lined with blackberries, evenings with lady writers.

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Bells and pubs and bushy-eyebrowed lurchers.

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Driving over moors and meeting black dogs.

Scattered impressions: Black Dog

Dashing outdoors with my pockets full of pens whenever the sun shone.

Scattered impressions: Sunshine

Bell ringing and Jacobean manor house hotels.

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Musical evenings, with dogs and hearth pipes, violins and accordions.

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The haunting beauty of Wistman’s wood, like the garden at the heart of an emerald.

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Moor ponies and honour boxes.

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Endless kindness and hospitality, conversations, walks. The swift familiarity of a tiny town, the constant astonishment of finding oneself in any of a dozen fairytale landscapes. Quiet hours in the cottage with Ellen and Delia, writing and reading, brisk walks across town to visit everyone. Walls of art, Terri’s poem-lined walls, lives lived as art, indistinguishable from their retellings, sunlit studios, studios reached by a ladder through a trapdoor. Puppets and harps, masks and puppetrymusic, songs and bells. Painted worlds bleeding from the spaces of one house to the next. People and objects from movies which have shaped my life – from my Narnia, the goblin worlds. Trees and faces which I knew from illustrations in my favourite books – Middle Earth in a stand of oaks, the mists and tors of The Hound of the Baskervilles,  Virginia Lee‘s strong sweet fairytales, Rima Staines‘ crabbed and earthy myths. Houses through which the civil war was fought. Birch and alder gardens haunted by sculptures and geese. Words and books, stairs steep and twisted as a screw. Stiles.

I do not know how long would be enough, whether that week was a world which can be returned to. I hope it is.

Too soon, it was time to leave for Brighton.

What I Did on My Holidays: Part the First – Brisbane Airport and Oslo

Note: If you click on a picture, that should take you through to its Flickr page, where you will have an option to view a larger version

This is a record of the slow-moving things I saw on my trip to Oslo and England for (among other things) the World Fantasy Convention 2013.

My flight out of Brisbane was delayed by 6 hours. Parts had to be flown up from Sydney twice.

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Raced through Changi airport (which is very long) and still made the connection! This is my confused impression of the flight. The part where I’m holding the blanket over my face is when I was watching Tarantino movies on too little sleep.

Scattered impressions: Flight

More sketches of the delay. But I and my luggage reached Oslo, via Helsinki (Helsinki airport is full of Moomins), as planned! I arrived in Norway as a blank slate, only having a few days and planning on spending that visiting an old friend. We had a lovely visit but Oslo, as it turns out, is also wonderful! We went to the Vigeland sculpture park, famous from lists of unintentionally terrifying statues. The inclusion on that list is unjust (also the least alarming of the statues). It is unsettling and beautiful – vast, weighty, humanist, nebulously meaningful and Giger-esque in the sense not of darkness but of belonging to a visual language which is almost but not-quite intelligible.

Also: Viking ships! A spare, dignified museum, with lines and artistic language utterly intelligible, but astonishing for scale and fluidity.

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It was getting cold and late, so my sketches from the Norse folk museum are merely “remember-to-come-back-here” sketches. But oh, that museum! It is acres of outdoor paths – a museum of buildings and streets, relocated entire. It was like walking through an Eyewitness Guide in the 20th century part, and back into East of the Sun, West of the Moon everywhere else.

The next day we went to the city hall. In my experience, civic buildings are usually either ancient and weighty or modern and utilitarian. This was 20th century and pregnant with meaning and detail – norse myths, World War II, vikings, mid-century art, painted ceilings, murals, mosaics. It reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones’ technologically developed fantasy worlds – deep, foreign and familiar.

Then some photography students asked us to pose for an assignment.

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It was too short a stay, (although quite a long time to have “To Noroway, to Noroway, to Noroway o’er the foam” stuck in my head) but I had to fly again – this time to England.

Next stop: Dartmoor.

Brisbane Writers Festival 2013 – Artist-at-large

And I’m back from my stint as artist-at-large at the Brisbane Writers Festival! The final fate of the sketchbook is yet to be decided – in the meantime, photos of most of the pages may be viewed on the album on the BrisWritersFest Facebook page (I don’t think you need to be logged in to see them).

Here is the book in progress on a copy of the program:
BWF - book

It was a little Moleskine Japanese Album (accordion fold) sketchbook. The drawings are with Pitt Artist Pens and a 0.05 Staedtler. I had free rein to run upstairs and down, in and out of panels, perching at the edge of workshops, hanging out in the green room and the cafe, an excuse to talk to anyone and to meet – oh, so many people, watch Briony Stewart (artist-in-residence) construct a dragon, rave about topics and then find a conversation partner had written the book on it, hang out in the festival tent telling ghost stories and reading tales printed on pillows…

I sketched watching panels:
BWF - panel

And watching from above:
BWF - perch

Dragons:
BWF - dragon

And sights sights more familiar to habitués of the State Library:
BWF - pigeon

There are some observations on (rather than of) life:
BWF - observation

And here is the book opened up (also the new blog header), although there are a few more pages not shown here:
BWF - book extended

The last hurrah of the festival was “Glitter and Dust”, where those left standing talked (read, recited, praised) for two minutes each. Sarah Wendell graciously was my assistant, and I opened out the sketchbook listing (as it could not be seen in detail, only in length), some key images from each page. I have reconstructed it as follows, as my notes were written in the pink twilight of the tent and adapted as I went:

An accountant’s shining silver boots
Ibises stalk, possessive, on the grass,
Fingers clutch coffee like a rope to safety
And writers stare into a glowing void.
Twinned, rabbit-headed children.
A dawn of sunflowers,
Cerulean platform shoes,
A Blyton-novel’s worth of uniforms.
The self-abandoned intensity of browsers in bookstores.
Writers eating, holding forks like pens.
Wallace Stevens’ poem of pineapples,
Fishing rods with a catch of ferns,
New friends, hands raised, exclaiming over books,
Professional pigeon-harriers of the library cafe.
Steve Kilbey’s hands.
The Green Lantern impersonating Marianne Dashwood,
Small boys rolling laboriously downhill.
Fairytales peopling the long night,
Fashions glowing in the field.
Tigon, the literary hound, sits pensively.
Serious study in the high green room,
Graeme Simsion marches dully for a point.
Ibises swoop, delighted, on the lawn,
And Red Crow sets a stage for coming night.
[And folding the sketchbook in again] A tickertape of greeting and goodbye.

It is not a poem, but I like to think the tremor in my voice extended the syllables in the shorter lines to create a consistent pattern.

And of course it doesn’t include Elizabeth Wein’s Spitfire necklace and how that directly led to my current emotional fragility on finishing reading Code Name Verity, or how Kate de Goldi’s editing workshop took a detour into poetry recommendations, or discussions of first-person accounts of mastectomies without anaesthetic in 1812, or how Rob Spillman has caused me to now read Elizabeth Bishop’s “An Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore” out to anyone who will hold still long enough, or, or, or…