It’s Spring Again!

It’s Spring Again!

It’s Spring Again!

 

My windows and doors

have been closed all winter as

hermit-like, I shunned

its bluster.

As winter weather wanes,

westerly winds bring

dry heat,

dust haze.

Ants gather at my kitchen sink,

a million and more

form a black

magnetic maze.

Frustrated, I forget

the sixth commandment and

curse,

crush, kill.

The sickly stench of formic acid

fills the air. I reach for

the dust pan, and

air freshener.

 

My windows and doors

have been closed all winter.

I open them and invite

Spring inside.

She obliges, bringing Jasmine and

Peach Blossom with her.

I breathe deeply, and

step outside.

Spring blossoms attend my garden, refreshing my soul.

 

 

This blog post was originally published September 21, 2017.

As I was unable to transfer it directly to my new website, I’ve copied and pasted the comments from the original blog below.

4 Replies to “Mazzy’s Musings: It’s Spring Again!”

 

Nola Passmore says:

September 25, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Thanks for those musings, Mazzy. Love ‘magnetic maze’. Spring must truly be here because I massacred my first Huntsman spider of the year last night. Maybe he could have eaten your ants 🙂

 

Mazzy says:

September 25, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Haha! Shall I invite your Huntsman spiders over next time the ants visit? You could tuck them into your pocket while you drive here. Or … not! Perhaps, you could just write a poem about them – moaning the massacre. 🙂

 

Adele says:

September 25, 2017 at 11:49 pm

What a breath of fresh air, Mazzy. The ‘magnetic maze’ also captured my imagination, perhaps even more because I spent time this afternoon removing such a maze. And so lingers the acrid taint of formic acid … LOL. Ah, spring and all its goodness. Thanks!

 

Mazzy says:

September 26, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Thanks Adele. Gotta love ants for their industry and persistence, if not for their presence in the wrong places.

Mazzy Adams: Q & A

Mazzy Adams: Q & A

Q & A: From Mazzy Adams CWD Member Interview 02/2019
Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.

Who am I?

I’m an evolving story—with a title change along the way. I have poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction, and spiritual devotions published under my real name and as Mazzy Adams, the penname I adopted about four years ago. I’m also a word addict. I am totally hooked on those incredible lettered delicacies that pepper pages, tantalise tongues, trip through teeth, evoke a million images and emotions, flood curious minds with knowledge and wisdom and release springs of love, hope, compassion and understanding from responsive hearts. Not to mention, words can be oh so much FUN to play with!

Photo above: My shape poem, Maple Music,was listed as chosen by the judge in the 2013 Poetica Christi Press Poetry competition and published in their 2014 Anthology, A Lightness of Being

Where do I come from?

I’m Queensland born and bred and, after a five year dalliance with Northern Beaches Sydney, New South Wales, my husband and I settled in Toowoomba to raise our three amazing children (I look at them and marvel). I’ve also been blessed with wonderful grandchildren. Currently, I help my Maths/Science genius husband support my writing habit by working as a creative and academic writing tutor and manager in our Education Consultancy.

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?

What do I write?

I’m a PAGE—Poet, Author, Genre Rebel, and Encourager—or Essayist if you prefer. At times, I’m PAGES, either because I’m writing Songs, or Scripts, or Spiritual devotions, or I’m being long-winded, at which time the E stands for Editing and the S stands for Strike that/ Slash and burn/ Stalking typos and grammar gremlins or Scratching my head and tearing my hair out.

I’ve also written a New Adult Thriller. (Throw Ludlum’s Jason Bourne into a bowl with a metaphysical worldview. Sprinkle with quirky acronyms and allegory. Add a dash of Calvin and Hobbes’ Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat’s philosophical humour. Bake with a fertile imagination. Enjoy.)

Despite my concerns, the suspense of writing the novel didn’t kill me so I expect I’ll survive the Indie Publishing learning curve. Then, Licence to Die will be a living, breathing, deadly intriguing debut novel available in paperback and e-book—before 2019 expires. (Edit: I did survive; LTD finally hit the stores in August, 2022.)

Why do I write?

Because I can. And because I can’t not write. The urge to collate words with intention and purpose has become both a passion and a divine commission. And it’s FUN! (Yeah, even when I’m tearing my hair out.)

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?

Readers of the dozen Australian, US, International print and online anthologies in which my poetry, CNF, short fiction and devotions have been published.

Also, my compassionate, encouraging, and helpful Quirky Quills writing companions. Several Beta Readers and my Editor have read the novel as a WIP.

While my children were young, I managed to woo and entertain enthusiastic audiences with my drama sketches and puppet plays (especially during the lolly meteor showers and dust storms), but technically they were hearers and viewers, not readers.

Who are my target readers for Licence to Die (and other works-in-progress I’m percolating)?

That mysterious and wondrous group recently recognised in their own right as New Adults; 16-25ish, they’ll have conquered—or be in the process of conquering—the trials and tribulations of senior schooling, university study, earning a living, or generally nailing Introductory Adulting—or giving it a good bash. Also, Advanced Adulting students (25-106ish) who remember what it was like to be a young adult, and can cope with adulting being used as a noun and a verb, not just an adjective (You’ll be relieved to know I haven’t nouned or verbed the word ‘adulting’ in the novel).

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

Process? It usually starts with a couple of words, a line of poetry, or a sentence that intrudes upon my everyday activities or my attempts to go to sleep and gives me no rest until I’ve written it down. Many of my published pieces (and my novel) began life as ‘quick writing exercises’ for my Creative Writing degree. I focus on the ideas that have promise and those that are downright demanding till I give in and write them, like Licence to Die. I either go with the flow, or formulate a plan which I modify, as flow and coherency directs.  

Challenges? The poet in me likes to slip ‘writerly’ masterpieces into the mouths and minds of my characters which I then delete for POV authenticity. Sigh! Like so many writers, balancing the financial budget also creates challenges.

I am most helped by the assurance (and reassurance) (and re-reassurance) of the Holy Spirit that this is what he wants me to do. Frequently, he uses other Christian Writers as his mouthpiece in this regard.

 

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

I found Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon invaluable in managing and simplifying the complex structure of my novel. I also appreciate the wealth of quality wisdom and advice available online. In terms of influence, I found Janice Elsheimer’s The Creative Call helped me realise the hand of God had written ‘writer’ into my DNA long before I learned how to read his writing.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

Absolutely, Nola Passmore—writer, editor, Quirky Quill and my most significant influencer. Some people won’t let you down. Nor will they let you let yourself down. Nola is one of these rare and precious friends.

Also, Iola Goulton—not only for her excellent work as copy editor for my novel, and her informative blogs, newsletters and social media links to all things writing, editing, publishing and marketing, but as a significant early influencer who, along with Anusha Atukorala, sent me out from my first Writers Conference believing I had writer’s stuffing inside me—and it wasn’t all fluff. (Now you’re singing, ‘Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, funny little tubby all stuffed with fluff’, aren’t you?)

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?

Indie Publish Licence to Die, acquiring new and necessary skills in the process. Start pushing up the word count for the next novel. I hope to achieve this one step and one day at a time.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

I’ve been a Christian believer from my childhood. I survived life’s wild, stormy weather long enough to become a writer because Jesus Christ is my anchor. We’re tethered together in love and trust. Just as nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus, so nothing can separate Christ in me from the words that I write. Sometimes that connection is overt and obvious. Sometimes it is as inconspicuous and deeply layered as the rock beneath the ocean’s currents. 

As Galatians 2:20 says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ 

That sounds like a licence to die, don’t you think? And also freedom to live (the ultimate sequel). 

Scripture quoted from: Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

My Coach and I

My Coach and I

My Coach and I

‘Last piece of assessment—complete! Happy dance!’

Those words, posted as my Facebook status over eight years ago, marked the final strides of a marathon I began in 2011, when I enrolled in Tabor Adelaide’s creating writing program. For seven words that were so easy to type, winning the right to type them took much disciplined effort, many taxing training sessions, and even more unruly bouts with angst.

Writers constantly line up at the starting blocks. Sometimes we’re running a fast blog sprint or a 200-metre short story dash. Some jump hurdles by writing outside their comfort zone; others embark on a cross-country exploration of history or memoir. Long distance bravehearts pace themselves to finish that novel, or series. Some of us are crazy enough to try a literary decathlon.

One thing is certain—every race takes preparation, inspiration, dedication, commitment, and the support of others. We’re more like relay runners than individual athletes. We pick up the literary baton and run with it, producing the best text we can. Our fellow writers, friends and family members urge us on from the sidelines. Editing moves the text forward in an effective slipstream. Publishing increases its momentum through polished presentation and aggressive marketing. All this, just to get that important baton to—not the finishing line, but its starting position! It’s our readers who pick up our literary batons and run with them. Our task is to make sure they enjoy the run, making it a win-win experience for all.

To be honest, when I signed up for this creative writing gig, I envisaged more of a fun run than a marathon. I wanted to try tertiary study and creative writing seemed far more appealing than … well, just about everything else I could think of. Tabor offered external study options and dedicated, qualified lecturers. My choice to enrol seemed like a no-brainer—until that first day in February 2011, when I sat alone at my computer, sporting a stylish set of headphones as my new fashion accessory, poised to listen to the orientation lecture. As I positioned the mouse on the starting blocks, ready to click ‘play’, the enormity of the task ahead exploded like the shot of a starter’s gun. I was off and running, but did I have the wherewithal to reach the finish line? Maybe. Maybe not.

What I needed was a strong, central motivating factor, a personal coach if you like, to inspire me as I ran. In literary terms, I needed a strong chiasmus, a central point of intersection to connect the beginning of my study story with a successful conclusion. As I tackled my first assessment task, a chiastic poem, the perfect Chiasm offered to become my writing coach:

And after that study marathon? The practical application of all the wonderful things I’d learned beckoned me forward to the next starting line … and the next. Submission opportunities for poems, creative non-fiction, short fiction, devotions … blogs to encourage fellow writers … novel outlines called me to the starting blocks. Each new race would require renewed enthusiasm, more preparation, and stamina. Could I keep going?

So far, the answer to that question is yes—thanks to the consistent training and input I receive daily from my faithful, enduring Coach, who also has a passion for words, pictures, and the positive potential in people.

This post (and original comments) was published on the Christian Writers Downunder blog in February 2012.

Veils, Halos, & Shackles

Veils, Halos, & Shackles

Veils, Halos & Shackles …
restoring women’s dignity,
autonomy, and self-worth.

‘Rape is not only a sexual crime; it is an abuse of strength and power, which strips its victims of their dignity, autonomy, and self-worth. Those who use their strength and power to manipulate and abuse others, in any form, rape the collective soul of our humanity.’ Catherine Sercombe (now writing as Mazzy Adams)

That quote is from my personal statement, included in the story behind Special Clearance/Exposed, my poetic contribution to Veils, Halos & Shackles, an international collection of works by over 180 poets from around the world.

In her related blog post, editor, former psychology academic and writer, Nola Passmore, reflected on her contribution to Veils, Halos & Shackles and explained the background to the anthology. Nola (who is a paragon of literary encouragement and a playful wag) also announced the first of our VH&S online launch competitions by asking entrants to comment on a protest poem or protest song that has resonated with them personally. As I write this follow-on blog, a song most poignant in subject, influence and timing for me personally comes to mind: ‘I Am Woman’ by Helen Reddy.

When the Australian singer-songwriter’s iconic anthem was released as a single in 1972, it sold over a million copies. When the United Nations declared 1975 to be International Women’s Year, they chose Reddy’s song as the theme and established 1976-1985 as the Decade for Women.

In 1976, I commenced full-time employment as a junior bank officer with one of Australia’s leading commercial banks. On my first day, my heart sang and my head rang with my recruitment officer’s enthusiastic assurances: the national hierarchy wished to ameliorate the existing management gender imbalance. Gender equality was the catchphrase of the day. Because I was female and I had outstanding academic results I’d been selected along with several male recruits for a rapid training and advancement program. Local branch management had been advised.

Harsh, dark, reality eclipsed the daydream. As the new junior, I was the floor that senior staff walked on. As a female, I was a doormat for dirty boots and a carpet to cavil. I endured four frustrating years before I escaped to a very different type of employment.

In 2012, forty years after ‘I Am Woman’ topped the charts, I penned my reflections on those negative experiences into the first draft of Special Clearance/Exposed, later crafting its current format as a blended poem which connects the abuse of power with rape.

In 2016, forty years after the United Nations Decade for Women began, Special Clearance/Exposed was published in Veils, Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression & Empowerment of Women. This landmark anthology, coordinated and edited by poets Charles Adès Fishman (United States) and Smita Sahay (India), and published by Kasva Press (Israel) has received excellent reviews and is available for purchase as a print book or e-book.

Although issues of gender discrimination and sexual harassment are more readily addressed in the workplace today, the vulnerability of the weak in the hands of the powerful continues to darken and stain society in too many places worldwide. The fingers of physical, emotional, psychological and religious abuse still grasp the neck of nations, strangle the voice of protest and extinguish the breath of human kindness.

But as my writing colleague, accomplished novelist, friend, co-conspirator and fellow VH&S contributor, Adele Jones blogged in her recent launch prelude, ‘One voice can inspire others to speak up. Over time, one voice can change the world.’

On Saturday 8 October 2016, Nola, Adele and I hosted an online launch of Veils, Halos & Shackles on Facebook. The launch included a poetic video presentation and podcasts of our poems, interesting discussions, and competitions with prizes offered, including books, a gift voucher, a metallic hummingbird bookmark and an hour of editing services.

I was delighted to present the hummingbird bookmark to Melinda, a worthy winner, and women’s advocate, who entered the competition by suggesting an analogy or metaphor that exemplified the message behind Veils, Halos & Shackles based on one or more of these facts about Hummingbirds:

  1. They are small, colourful birds with iridescent feathers.
  2. They have been observed chasing … hawks away from their territories.
  3. They hover and hum by rapidly flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern.
  4. They can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and upside down.

Example: It’s not the size of the bird in the fight, but the size of the fight in the bird that counts.

Though the launch and the original date this blog was posted occurred in October, 2016, there is a timelessness to the power of poetry. And it’s never too late to create a change for the better.

Every voice raised, any action taken that encourages, supports, guards or restores the safety, dignity, autonomy and self-worth of an individual is significant.

Please click here if you would like to view my visual presentation of Special Clearance/Exposed on YouTube.

This blog post was originally published in October, 2016.

As I was unable to transfer it directly to my new website, I’ve copied and pasted the comments from the original blog below.

7 Replies to “Mazzy’s Musings: Veils, Halos & Shackles” (As originally posted.)

 

Nola says:

October 5, 2016 at 6:16 am

Great blog Mazzy. I wonder if Helen Reddy ever imagined the impact that song would have. I had the ‘Explosive Hits ’73’ album and played that track over and over.

Thanks for sharing your experiences as a bank junior in those days. Things have changed a lot since then, but my involvement with this anthology has reminded me that there is still a long way to go. Many women (and men) are still objectified, harassed, abused and disempowered. Hopefully this book will help raise awareness and facilitate positive change.

I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve done with the visual presentation of your poem. Thanks for sharing.

 

Mazzy says:

October 5, 2016 at 10:06 am 

Thanks for your response Nola. The Wikipedia article speaks about the impact of the song and quotes Helen Reddy as saying, “Women have always been objectified in showbiz. I’d be the opening act for a comic and as I was leaving the stage he’d say, ‘Yeah, take your clothes off and wait for me in the dressing room, I’ll be right there’. It was demeaning and humiliating for any woman to have that happen publicly.” It is disappointing that even today there is such a huge gap between what should be and what is. We must never lose sight of the tragic impact abuse of any kind has on each and every individual. As for the video presentation … the blog images provide a sneak peak. Technological challenges notwithstanding, I’m exciting about the way it is shaping up.

 

Jeanette O’Hagan says:

October 5, 2016 at 9:04 am

Hi Mazzy, It’s sad that the harassment you experienced is still a reality in many work places – and has taken on new forms with the unreal beauty standards, focus on image and proliferation of easy-access pornography which seems to have reversed many of the hard-won gains of the 60s, 70s & 80s. Hoping for change.

 

Mazzy says:

October 5, 2016 at 10:13 am

You are so right Jeanette. I’d venture to say it is not only sad; it’s an outrage. But positive change has occurred. Positive change is occurring. And positive change will continue as long as we keep speaking up about it, provoking it, insisting upon it and praying for it. Thanks for your comment.

 

Adele says:

October 5, 2016 at 10:17 am

Powerful blog, Mazzy. I have been fortunate to gain employment in environments where gender was never a determinant in workplace opportunity or respect. It can be easy to overlook the former struggles to establish that platform of equal recognition based on capacity and a job well done, irrespective of whether the worker is male or female. I’ve come to realise not everyone has had this fortune. Even in this day and age, there are people like yourself who have experienced demeaning work situations. To measure those experiences globally, we are reminded there are still many challenges in this area which require change.

Looking forward to hosting the V,H&S SE QLD online launch with you and Nola on Saturday.

 

Mazzy says:

October 5, 2016 at 1:12 pm

And I with you and Nola, Adele. It seems to me that generational turnover must influence the cycle of change for the better; hope arises as each generation chooses to shed the negative attitudes and behaviours of the former one. Consider this: In 1902, the Commonwealth of Australia gave women the right to vote. In 1942 the Women’s Land Army was formed to overcome labour shortages resulting from the progress (and ghastly male attrition rates) of World War Two. When the surviving men returned, women were expected to relinquish their employment positions to them. In 1982, when 39-year-old Queensland lawyer and academic Quentin Bryce (who would later become our governor-general) was appointed Convenor of the National Women’s Advisory Council, the National Times newspaper headline described her as “Brisbane’s best dresser”. Forty years on from that in 2022? Who knows? Perhaps this generation will finally get it right. Let’s give them every encouragement to do so.