I wait for you and while away the days – A Villanelle


I wait for you, and while away the days

I shake my coat and reset time again

I sense your irritation at my gaze


We lost each other in that strange malaise

I feel your absence like an open chain

I wait for you, and while away the days


So many sad excuses and delays

There you stood unravelling your lament

I sense your irritation at my gaze


Tonight’s dark presence obscures your distaste

I look up to see motes of dust ascend

I wait for you, and while away the days


Midway on our journey I found a trace

White noise obliterates your discontent

I sense your irritation at my gaze


My cold skin is blemished with hope and praise

Today I will be melting in the rain

I wait for you, and while away the days

I sense your irritation at my gaze



Catherine Russ









A Villanelle is a verse form of French origin consisting of 19 lines arranged in five tercets and a quatrain. The first and third lines of the first tercet recur alternately at the end of each subsequent tercet and both together at the end of the quatrain.

Within the rigid structure of the Villanelle is a sense of the ancient and a wisdom as if these words might have existed in the far reaches of our time and the poet has called upon words – an incantation with repetition that keeps you in the moment.

Here are some ideas if you want to tackle a Villanelle.





And some Villanelle.

I enjoyed listening to M. Mark discussion on Elizabeth Bishop and the ‘typography of silence’ before she reads ‘One Art.



Surrealism and Free Writing

Surrealists were influenced by psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud as a way to stimulate the creative process.




André Breton was born on February 18, 1896, in Tinchebray, France. In 1920’s Paris he was one of the founders of the Surrealist movement. He penned a manifesto encouraging free expression and the release of the subconscious mind.




It was ‘Andre Breton, leader of a new grouping of poets and artists in Paris, who, in his Surrealist Manifesto (1924), defined surrealism as:

pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.’[1]

Here’s a short video on Surrealism…



And here’s some free writing inspired by the Surrealists and the word ‘radio’.



Grandad had a radio. It sat in his shed so he could listen to the horse racing. Margaret named the shed Casablanca. She’d painted the name on a piece of wood that hung above the doorway. If I had a shed I think I might call it Casablanca too. In the Summer Grandad sat smoking a cigarette in his deck chair. We were allowed to blow out the matches. The races would drone in the background. Early autumn they started getting ready for duck shooting season. Duck decoys and planning for the maimai at Lake Ellesmere. In May they sat in chairs outside the shed plucking ducks. Feathers floated all over the back yard and into the shed.





[1] Surrealism – Art Term | Tate. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/s/surrealism

Image of Freud – formation psychanalyste, Bordeaux Poitiers Limoges Toulouse. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.formation-psychanalyste.fr/

Image of Breton – Andre Breton. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.surrealists.co.uk/breton.php

Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Life of Ma Parker’

Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp was born in Wellington, New Zealand on 14 October 1888. At school one of her teachers described her as ‘a surly sort of girl’ who was ‘imaginative to the point of untruth’.[1]

Mansfield left New Zealand aged 19 to write in England.






Mansfield is described as having ‘revolutionised the 20th Century English short story.

‘Her best work shakes itself free of plots and endings and gives the story, for the first time, the expansiveness of the interior life, the poetry of feeling, the blurred edges of personality.’ [2]

She died at the age of 34 after spending her last five years with tuberculosis.

‘Life of Ma Parker’ (1921) considers themes of death, loss, social dislocation, class barriers, the role of the female and poverty.

The story considers a few hours in the life of an older woman who works as a cleaner for a gentleman living on his own. Ma Parker has suffered a terrible loss – the death of her beloved grandson Lennie, and as her thoughts turn to Lennie the enormity of her own tragic life unfolds through a series of flashbacks and Ma Parker is overcome.





Mansfield establishes character and class division in the first few paragraphs. She does this in two ways. Firstly, the clumsy way the literary gentleman enquires after Lennie’s funeral, and while the reader might see this as an awkward social interaction Mansfield clarifies the literary gentleman’s character through his thoughts:

‘You simply dirty everything you’ve got, get a hag in once a week to clean up, and the thing’s done.’

And further when he alludes to the disappearance of a teaspoon of cocoa:

‘Very strange. I could have sworn I left a teaspoonful of cocoa in the tin… You’ll always tell me when you throw things away – won’t you, Mrs Parker?’

Ma Parker’s character is developed by her thoughts and humble approach to the literary gentleman:

‘the floor was littered with toast crusts, envelopes, cigarette ends. But Ma Parker bore him no grudge. She pitied the poor young gentleman for having no one to look after him.’

Mansfield uses metaphor and simile in her writing:

‘sad-looking sky, and whenever there were clouds they looked very worn, old clouds, frayed at the edges, with holes in them, or dark stains like tea.’

‘There was a great lump of something bubbling in his chest that he couldn’t get rid of… his eyes bulged, his hands waved, and the great lump bubbled as a potato knocks in a saucepan.’

Towards the end of ‘Life of Ma Parker’ Mansfield describes what Ma Parker sees on the street:

‘The men walked like scissors; the women trod like cats’

While the story is focussed on Ma Parker it is when Mansfield describes (with incredible insight), the men and women in the street, that the context is broadened and the rest of society is drawn into the story.

Here’s a link to the short story –





[1] Mansfield, Katherine – Biography – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3m42/mansfield-katherine

[2] NZEDGE Legends — Katherine Mansfield, Writer — Culture. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nzedge.com/legends/katherine-mansfield/

Image – Unknown Mansfield stories found | Stuff.co.nz. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/books/7332071/Unknown-Mansfield-stories-found

The Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell, born in 1904 in New York paid particular attention to the hero’s journey. He made observations on their journey in his books the Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Power of Myth and The Inner Reaches of Outer Space.

George Lucas responded to reading Campbell’s work with Star Wars. I’ll never forget seeing the first Star Wars movie with my dad and sisters as a nine year old.

I’ve gathered up some video resource on the HERO’S JOURNEY beginning with the allure of Greek tragedies





…and then consider – What makes a hero?





And have a look at Buzz and Woody’s hero’s journey.



Reading Like a Writer – Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis, an American, was born on 15 July 1947. Davis describes herself as ‘both fiction writer and translator. I’ve been both for as long as I can remember, and they complement each other nicely.’[1]

Davis’ shortest stories can be one or two lines. She writes about the mundane and banal moments of human existence. In 2013 Davis won the Man Booker Prize and Sir Christopher Ricks, chairman of the judges, said:

‘her writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorise them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers or simply observations.’[2]

The clip below is titled: Advice to the Young ignore the ‘young’ part as Davis’ advice is for anyone who wants to read like a writer and it’s great!





And here she is discussing the blank page. I was intrigued by the idea of collecting blank pages belonging to writers – and Davis’ response – fabulous!





On Samuel Beckett…





her attention to detail is fascinating…





and you see this in her meditation on a small herd of cows.





Finally a link that follows the development of one of her short stories.






[1] Translator Profile: Lydia Davis – Asymptote Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.asymptotejournal.com/blog/2016/08/24/translator-profile-lydia-davis/

[2] Lydia Davis wins the Man Booker International Prize 2013 | The Man Booker Prizes. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://themanbookerprize.com/news/2013/05/22/lydia-davis-wins-man-booker-international-prize-2013