NCWQ Arts and Letters Report, April 2019

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser


The sound of LAUGHTER is Life Affirming!


Close observation, the telling and re-telling of human stories around the globe, and curiously different meeting places,  repeatedly demonstrate the truth of this, without undermining the seriousness of life events or mishaps. The sound of laughter is life-affirming!


Queensland audiences roared laughing with the zany Kitty Flanagan who ‘smashed’ love songs, sex, algorithms, chimps, clowns and psychics in recent stage performances! “From the moment she walked on stage…she had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand.” wrote the Herald Sun.  Cited as ‘stupidly funny’ and incredibly charming, Flanagan was also a stunning hit in the Far North….one can still almost hear the laughter!


SBS Viceland: 25th March 2019 brought audiences brave women in Pakistan, who are changing their worlds and the war against terrorism, by their courageous words and actions. Women now work in the police force and in special combat forces. Their stories are serious yet threaded with laughter!


The preposterous and prolific Janet Evanovich brought us an hilarious holiday novella “Visions of Sugar Plums”, bursting with clever language, images, characters and events which generate laughter all the way to the finale, this is a great tonic! Grandma Mazur delights and amuses over and over, tickling the fancy of all!


A successful meeting in South Africa included a talk on African beads. Valued in tribal culture, the art of bead making is diminishing; but on the coast of the Transkei in Zululand, agate beads can still be found washed up from Dutch and Portuguese wrecks from 500 years ago when the world traded with India! The African bead makers, council members, Alison Bell and Daphne Hansen enjoyed the meeting and all was ‘glued’ together with happy friendship and laughter!

Mad Hatterz, Yungaburra, Queensland is a nifty treat for good food amidst rare ‘Alice in Wonderland’ books and memorabilia – where you can enjoy a ‘pot pie’ and freshly snipped garden greens wearing a crazy or beautiful hat; returning a grin to the Cheshire Cat himself! Check it out! The cards are on the table! Literally…..did I hear ‘Queen of Hearts’?


‘Green Book’ filmed and set in 1962 America tells the heart-warming true story of Tony Lip, a working-class Italian-American bouncer who takes a job as chauffeur for Dr Don Shirley, a highly-educated African-American classical pianist. The mismatched pair tour the deep south, form a unique friendship, suffer and laugh!


Betty White “If You Ask Me” (And of Course You Won’t) writes about getting older.  Her first note to readers? ‘Growing older – humour needed!’ p.4 Grateful for the blessing of good health, White keeps track of her weight.  She wears glasses to read or drive, lives in a two-storey house, has a bad memory, so all the trips up and down the stairs take care of her exercise, she claims!  A generous supply of energy and a love of animals has infused her life – “…animals don’t lie…don’t criticize and handle moody days better than humans.”  Betty laughs all the way through her book; an hilarious, profound ‘take’ on life, love, celebrity and everything in between! Random House Australia.


Palm Cove is a delightful beach getaway. Approaching a small ‘boutique hotel’ one is startled to spot a bright red, Dr Who, genuine London PHONE BOX! – The UNDERGROUND is another interesting, amusing, quirky spot to have coffee, eat, chat and is dog friendly. The restaurant is a family concern, and the accents, décor, bangers and mash AND mushy peas are grand pommie treats!! Funky, friendly and lots of fun!


After flying with Hummingbird, Owl and Eagle, I thought Hawk would understand. “Of course growing up,” I said. “Rae is closer to being an adult, one more year away from being a child.” Hawk landed at last upon a lonely beach. “One more year from being a child? That does not sound like growing!” And she lifted into the air and was gone. ‘There’s No Such Place As Far Away’ Richard Bach, Harper Collins, London. Readers may both sigh and laugh!!


WOW! evo/hair – Several hilarious statements caught my eye, providing relief from the eternal ‘organic’ ‘natural’ repetition! – The range is stated to be made from the finest globally sourced ingredients. Functions of products?

  • Repair love is in the hair
  • Volume fat and happy
  • Curl twisted for life
  • Smooth tame the strays
  • Style great sculptors don’t use tofu

Social Responsibility?  …all damaged stock is given to homeless shelters – a simple idea and practical to do. (Makes one laugh and IS simple, zany and impressive!)


Thusly, woven through and into the stories, paintings, sketches, textiles, performances, films, poetry, posters and presentations; are humour and laughter. These do not, however, diminish the serious, the chilling, the chaos, the violence, the suppression; yet help, for a short time, to create a buoyancy, a genuine lightness, a feather-like lift to the spirit….


World Weavers collect, wind, trim

New threads, colours, patterns

Into the cultural fabric

Of Now.  Smiling.


World Weavers, feather-light, move

North, South, East, West

Synthesising the cultural fabric

Of Now. Laughing!    JAD 2019




In 1990, Denise Pommeranz expounded her love of working with textiles as a young girl. She was inspired by her very artistic mother, who, like many of our own mothers, encouraged her daughter to create her own clothes.

Although adept throughout secondary and tertiary studies, Denise had written that it was only after 1986 that she had realistic opportunities to explore her own knowledge and develop skills in works of her own!

Ultimately successful, this creative Woman provided the platform, groundwork, efforts and experiments to develop beautiful, lucrative and formerly unacknowledged expertise in smocking, embroidery, patchwork, applique and quilting – all of which were in their infancy then, as commodities in the commercial and artistic worlds. Salut! Denise Pommeranz! NCWQ/NCWA archives: 1990.


We also pay tribute this month to Israel’s Lily PERRY, who studied general and Jewish philosophy at Tel Aviv University and started work in 1973 as a journalist and editor for the Peace Magazine, ‘Haolam Haze’. Interspaced with an impressive publishing and editing career, the second of Lily’s six published novels “A Golem in the Circle” ran into five editions, a movie and numerous theatre performances! – Salut! Lily Perry.



Louise ERDRICH: “Future Home of the Living God”

“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greeting, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.” Hildegard of Bingen 1098-1179.

Evolution stops as mysteriously as it began. Pregnancy and childbearing quickly become issues of state security. Twenty-six year old Cedar, the adopted daughter of idealistic liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest…for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Startling originality! This novel is a moving meditation on female agency, love, self-determination, biology and natural rights.

Prolific, profound, creative and canny, Louise Erdrich is the author of sixteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories and a memoir of early motherhood. A multi-prize winner, she is a Turtle Mountain Chippewa and lives in Minnesota with her daughters. She is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.  Corsair Great Britain 2018 (Hachette UK Company:



“Our world was everything and it finished at our walls.” ‘HIVE’ A.J. Betts

A.J. Betts is an Australian author, speaker, teacher and cyclist. She has a PhD on the topic of wonder, in life and in fiction. Betts has written three novels for young adults; her ‘Zac and Mia’ works televised and is an Emmy-award winner. A.J. is originally from Queensland and has now lived in Perth since 2004.

PROLOGUE: We had no word for OCEAN. Why would we? We had no words for BOAT or LAND or SKY. Why would we? SKY. I think I dreamed of it once. Such a small word for a big thing.p.1

“All I can tell you is what I remember, in the words that I have…”

“We have other words you haven’t. More words for cool and warm, colours and light. Words for flowers and seeds, flavours and textures. Words for the water of the source. Words for cravings and hungers. Words for pain…” p.2 Pan Macmillan Aust P/L Sydney NSW 2018.



UWA Publishing, Crawley, W.A. 6009/

“This is a work that wears its significant research very lightly and provides the reader with a tremendously original and imaginative set of pictures about the ideas of creativity and using language to make stories, over and over.” Judges’ Report for this winner of the 2016 Dorothy Hewitt Award for an unpublished manuscript.

This unusual novel gives us stories, stories and more stories, from women, over time – space – from different places. We ‘swim’ in different streams of existence. Language and art connect– weave – continue – discontinue – change – reveal – nourish- celebrate- fulfil – make us laugh!

“I have treasures stored up in my room and I unwrap them at night….People, faces I have seen, all pour down my bedspread.” pp19-20. “I cannot lift my eyes from Sybylla and the delirious patterns that have swamped my paper..”

“See, your leaking pen has made a river.”- a splash of accidental spill over the edge

  • onto the table. Constant movement. Never in the same river twice.


“The Celts measure time in this way; a fluid element, tangible..” says Sybylla. p.32 Between the Chapters. NARRATOR: I recall reading about the Celtic otherworld. The faerie realm had its own river of time constantly crossing the flow of time in this world, changing humans who were touched by its spirit. To enter the faerie realm was to step outside earthly time into quite another stream of existence.

Character, Susanne, 1979, in the text: “You know when Cyclone Tracy tore through Darwin, the government sent the women boxes of lippy.  For their self-esteem. If anyone gave me lippy after I’d been tossed in a cyclone, I’d ———-sock them! p.126

Sybylla whispers – We will lie between the worlds, you and I, pressed here against the letters and the page, caressed perhaps by a hand in passing, a rare touch that moves us for years.

That night, the narrator wraps her daughter, Byron, in a blanket. “I begin to tell her a story. It is one that will take a long time to finish…even I do not know the ending. But I like the beginning, and for now that is all we need.” p.163

“Every so often, in one moment of a day, it falls on a person to do one small thing that changes the course of that day for many people. This is one of those days.” p.164

A truly wonderful read! – (Sibyl/Sybylla/Sibyl: Ancient prophetess: voice of a god: Oxford Dictionary does not state which god*: muse: moves through and across time: mouthpiece uttering oracles and prophecies).


May you all enjoy the sound of Laughing!!

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