Arts and Letters Report, January 2018

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Report

 The Languages of Living, Looking and Listening!

Accredited performance storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, Kate Forsyth, has written: “…books are a magical gateway to other worlds and other times…For a while you walk…in someone else’s shoes, and you travel their journey of discovery with them.  When you come back to your own body, in your own place and time, you have changed.  You have grown. So books are a true kind of magic.”

 Living – Looking

“Little Bee”

Chris Cleave, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, NY 10020, 2008

“One of the most memorable and provocative characters in recent contemporary fiction.” The Boston Globe

“Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means this storyteller is alive.” p.9. Little Bee also says to the reader – “We must see all scars as beauty. Ok? This will be our secret. Because, take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.” p.9.

“Immensely readable and moving…an affecting story of human triumph.” The New York Times Book Review

“It would be a disservice to give away the powerful conclusion of this absorbing and gutsy story, which deals with ethical and personal accountability.” Oxford Times UK

Author, Natalie Goldberg, once said: “Ninety percent of writing is listening, which we do in order to receive ourselves.”


Children – 4 (Listening)

Hear the Earth’s heartbeat, way, way down.

Put your ear to the ground and you can hear

Life beat and breathe and move.

You can hear the grass crunkling

Worms wriggling and ants toiling

Snails trailing and beetles toddling

Small, secretive creatures ploffling

Busily harmonious in unison

With the rhythmic pulsing

Of the beating heart of Earth Herself.

Musical, this becomes a symphony!

Hear the Earth’s heartbeat, way, way down…

Jennifer Ann Davies: Book Five/Always Becoming: A Few Thoughts from Me to You: all editions c.


Looking – ‘The Other Side of Hope’

Aki Kaurismaki’s new film ‘The Other Side of Hope’ (Finnish/English/Arabic), is a heart-warming, funny and melancholic tale of a friendship between a Syrian refugee who arrives in Helsinki as a stowaway and a travelling salesman who decides to change his life, and invests in an unprofitable restaurant. Kaurismaki works effectively, to shatter prevailing perspectives of refugees as pitiful, arrogant or wilful invaders of our societies.

With his unique sense of humour and an optimistic world view, it becomes evident that a gentle elation infuses audiences, sparked by the story’s evidence of human kindness amid cruelty and indifference. Sydney Film Festival –


The language of aliveness is in everything – nature, earth, the ocean, silence and friendship. Mark Nepo

“Listening is the doorway to everything that matters,” claims poet and writer, Mark Nepo. “In a world where we try to make ourselves known by making noise, that’s a revolutionary claim!”

“If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day.” Leonard Cohen

A look at a shadow side – ‘The Teacher’ (Slovakian – tff) Slovakia’s Jan Hrebeik disrobes a nasty, unscrupulous teacher, who carefully notes the professions of her students’ parents and exploits their goods, services and fears to a degree where the unwilling were ‘punished’ by failure, poor marks, abuses and public humiliation for their students.

Whilst cleverly satirical, credible and scary, this film is very close to home to numbers of us who have experienced the illicit student anomalies, dire conflict and absences of honesty and integrity, in existing systems.

If, indeed, this satire is a ‘microcosm to make cutting points about society at large’ (Screendaily), viewers must digest the richness of this snapshot to, perhaps, review the presence or absence of honesty and integrity in contemporary educational systems. Change is always possible.

A joyful, uplifting first novel comes to the reader from Catherine Bennetto, who has worked as an Assistant Director on shows such as ‘The Bill’, ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Death in Paradise’; loves travelling, is an excellent writer and a woman with a superlative, highly entertaining sense of humour – and one who has few illusions about honesty, people, media and life itself!

Bennetto’s rendition of Emma George’s unruly, fractured life, is truly hilarious and heart-warming and will make you laugh and cry, yet reassure you that perhaps your life is not that bad, actually….! Emma inherits a little house and neighbour, Harriet – pedant, Doberman-owning, handicam-wielding, felony obsessed octogenarian…lots of fun!


Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.2017 –

‘THE LADY AND THE UNICORN’ – The Mystery and Myth of Art’s Greatest Enigma from Shona MARTYN.   SMH.COM.AU Dec 23-24, 2017 p.8

Subtly lit, in the Musee de Cluny, Paris, a mysterious and influential series of artworks throw a magnetic spell over many visitors.

Author, Tracey CHEVALIER, who wrote a fictionalised version of the creation of the tapestries, said: ‘I have spent hours in that room…unable to leave. Watch the behaviour in front of those tapestries. There is a magnetic pull which keeps sucking people back.’ 

Sydney writer, Charlotte Wood, pays tribute to these artworks in her award-winning novel ‘The Natural Way of Things’; and celebrated German-Austrian poet and writer Rainer Maria WILKE wrote of them in his influential novel ‘The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.’

It has often been said that everyone, from the oldest to the youngest can find something special in these tapestries. Australians will be able to experience these extraordinary tapestries early in 2018, at the Art Gallery of NSW as renovation work at the Musee de Cluny means that the series will make a rare trip away from France!

The allure of ‘The Lady and the Unicorn’ has touched every art form! An excellent history is presented by Shona MARTYN, of the Sydney Morning Herald. Shona travelled to Paris as a guest of the Art Gallery of NSW.



Art Gallery of New South Wales

March 10th – June 24th 2018


Cherries! Uncomplicated, unadulterated Joy – ‘…sometimes all it takes is fresh fruit.” Caroline BAUM “ONLY” a singular memoir. Allen and Unwin NSW Australia 2017.


LUNAR calendars are used for many traditional festivities, rituals, parades, feasts and family reunions, by our Asian neighbours. The New Year was welcomed with all of these events, dancing with ancient and traditional music; accompanied by giant Dragons and the Dragon Boat; abundance symbols and tokens swaying in the breeze with the outstanding, vibrant red which invites good health, wealth, good fortune throughout life, protection from evil spirits, fertility and long life!

CHINESE New Year features strongly throughout our Australian history and is celebrated in country, town and city, in our great state.  Greetings abound –

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Many of our towns and cities have special relationships with other in China – Cairns has a valued cultural and commercial relationship with the


HMONG New Year differs, and is not as tightly interwoven in our social fabric, perhaps, yet is particularly beautiful, sacred and lots of fun! The Hmong people who live in the Far North belong to different tribes, some of which are Flowery Hmong, Blue-Green Hmong, White Hmong, Black Hmong and Stripy Hmong. Whilst each tribe has particular plants and flora embroidered on traditional costumes, their language, customs and rituals, are singular, beautiful and create great excitement! Cairns Hmong New Year and USA Hmong New Year on Facebook


NEPALI New Year is generally celebrated between 11- 15th April, according to the Gregorian calendar. The Nepalese, however, for their spiritual and cultural festivities, continue to follow the traditional lunar calendar. Website to be updated


Just received from the Netherlands! “Gellukkig Nieuwjaar!” This Happy New Year Greeting I transmit to you all! – Every Best Wish!

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