Peer Review 8

This was really helpful Dave! I read the novel before semester began and although I enjoyed it and found the characters fascinating, I have struggled to find that common essence that binds the story together. You have given me some very useful food for thought.
I am not great with grammar myself, but I don’t think you need the semi-colon in paragraph six. Best to check with an expert though.
Thank you for your insights.


Week 10: Bullies and the Mob Mentality

The mock crucifixion of Mordecai Himmelfarb deeply disturbs me on two levels. The first is the obviously detestable thought that people are capable of such horrendous behaviour. The second haunts me with the question of what I would do if I were present during this display of unmitigated cruelty. Would I possess the courage to step in and try and stop the wild mob?

We are raised on a stable diet of heroes that swoop in and save the day. These noble feats are usually performed in a rather black and white world of good and bad. The valiant hero strides in and defeats the obvious villain, most often with a swift act of violence ending in death or arrest for the bad guy and life quickly returns to normal.

This is rarely the case in real life. What happens if the people you spend most of your time with, the people you identify with and consider your friends, become infected by a misguided rage? They decide to join a vicious horde and partake in an extremely misguided act of cruelty on an innocent human being. Can you alter your feeling towards them from friend to fiend swiftly enough to follow your own inner ethics? Do you need to? Maybe you can restore sanity to proceedings. Maybe not. Maybe you will get hurt. Maybe you will become an outcast. It will probably happen so fast that you have no time to ponder your personal moral standing at all.

I am ashamed to admit that I have witnessed bullying and done nothing. I have also been on the receiving end of it and felt my heart break as someone I considered a friend did nothing to help me. “It wasn’t that bad” the friend would say. “I was just mucking around” the bully might explain later. The mental scars are real though. Mordecai Himmelfarb fucken died!

Moral courage is a priceless thing. For a person to know their own principles and be willing to stand by them takes magnitudes of courage; not just to be willing to die physically, but to be willing to die socially. Not just to refuse to participate, but to have the fortitude to call out your peers, or even your mates, and openly express your loathing of their malice. This is true courage and most of us will never know if we truly have it until we are placed in such a hideous situation.

I hope we can summon it.


Peer Review 7

Your affection for your Grandma really shines through wonderfully in this piece! It is really mind boggling to imagine that every single stranger we pass on the street has their own unique collection of stories and relationships that make up their individual self. You describe your Grandma’s ‘inner humanity’ very well.
Just one suggestion; “The way her soft brown eyes look loving at you framed by purple glasses reveals an imbedded sense of love” I think “lovingly” would sound better”
I’ll try and remember this writing the next time I want to get around “Another slow walker that is in MY way as I hurry through life.”


Week 9: And so we meet…

“Ohhh look at this fucken thing!” Mick thinks to himself as the flamboyantly dressed man approaches the bus stop.

The heavily intoxicated man flops on the bench near Mick. “You don’t have to sit so close mate” Mick grunts to the newcomer.

“Don’t flatter yourself” the man slurs as he slides along the seat.

Irritated at this remark, Mick cannot help himself “see that’s why you blokes get bashed.”

“Excuse me?”

“You walk around dressed like poofters and you make smart ass remarks to strangers at bus stops and then you wanna whinge when you cop a hiding.”

Mick’s companion straightens up on the bench “are you threatening me darling?”

Mick stares straight ahead “Don’t be a gronk, I’m just offering some advice.”

“You picked the wrong night buddy” snarls the other man as he unstably gets to his feet and positions himself in front of Mick in a boxing stance. Mick quickly gets to his feet and puts his hands out in front of himself in a placating gesture. “Settle down tiger” Mick says flatly.

The man begins to bounce on his feet; surprisingly nimble, although wobbly. “I was a Golden Gloves champ as a kid smart ass”.

Mick wants no part of it “good for you mate, congratulations.”

“I boxed out of the Newton Police Boys.”

Sensing an opportunity to catch a liar, Mick asks “me too, around what year we talking?”

The man starts throwing out some feint jabs “eighty five to ninety two”. He staggers badly and nearly trips.

“Bullshit” says Mick “now sit down before you fall down”

“Don’t bullshit me!” the man screams as he moves in for the kill. Mick slips a worryingly fast left jab and is forced to sidestep while he parries the straight right that swiftly follows it. His assailant is now off balance, but is clumsily preparing for another combination. Mick quickly moves in and grabs the sloshed pugilist tripping him just enough to sit him back on the bench. If this bloke wasn’t so hammered Mick could have a real problem on his hands.

The drunk straightens himself in the seat and glares up at Mick “I trained under Johnny Roberts”.

“Me too” says Mick.

A silence settles between them as they take a closer look at one another. Mick sits down beside the inebriated boxer and stares at his face. “Mathew Simpson?” he mumbles.

Recognition flashes across the other man’s face “Mick Caulfield you black bastard!” he announces.

Mick struggles to find his voice “Wh…What happened to you? You just disappeared” Matthew waves his hands over himself in display. Mick laughs out load.

“Newtown was a little different back then” Matthew says solemnly.

“Yeah, rough as guts?” Mick remarks and then chuckles as he says “you’d fit in perfectly now but ay?”

Matthew laughs and notices his bus approaching. “This is me” he says and awkwardly adds “maybe we should catch up for a beer”.

“Yeah sweet, as long as you don’t show up dressed like that” Mick replies.

Matthew hands Mick a business card and jumps on the bus. He hangs his head out the door and blows Mick a kiss “See you later sweet heart” he calls.

“Fuck off” is Mick’s reply as the doors close and the bus pulls away. Mick sits back on the bench and takes a look at the card in his hand. It reads “Mad Matt’s Stunt Services: All your action needs served. Jumping, falling, fighting, driving, riding, crashing, and burning. Performed and/ or co-ordinated”.

Mick giggles to himself “Matthew fucken Simpson”.


Peer Review 6

Well it’s pretty obvious that winning that competition was not a fluke. You really have a poetic flare Daniel. You have captured Blake’s wisdom and trippiness with this piece. It seems that you have the ability to open up your imagination and allow the words to simply flow; that takes courage and a special kind of finesse to keep it from turning out like a jumbled mess. You pull it off brilliantly.

No suggestions from me. I will not mess with anyone else’s poetry man!!!!

Week 8: Are they really MY Characters?

“Only the greatest masters can stand aside and allow themselves to be admonished by one of their creations whose vision, by some miracle of autonomy, is larger than their own.” (David Malouf introducing Patrick White’s “Riders in the Chariot”)

What a thrill it is when your characters actually take on a life of their own! I must admit that I am more often than not a peddler of thinly veiled clichéd characters in my writing, but occasionally one will break free from my banal mould and insist on their own unique and vivid personality. They will demand to make decisions I would not choose for them and have ideas that do not match my own.

I think it is timidity that keeps me, like most writers, from really sitting back and allowing this to spontaneously unleash of its own accord. Maybe it is vanity. We want to keep control of “our” creation. However, if anyone persists enough in writing it will inevitably happen, it must. The muse will take over and you will lose yourself in the writing and that is where the real magic happens. You are no longer concerned about how it will appear to a reader; you are totally immersed in the creative process.

I wouldn’t dare try to speak for Patrick White, but in my own experience as an amateur writer my best stuff has come from a place alongside my brain. I still require my intellect to come up with the actual words and type them down, but the combination and rhythm of the words is coming from somewhere else. It can be almost trance like, as if I too am going along for the ride. I find that the best description I can give others is to compare it to the joy one might imagine a surfer having when they ride a wave. You feel connected to something much larger and although you are definitely playing a part, you are not the only thing involved. You are participating in some kind of mystical dance and it is a glorious sensation.


Peer Review 5

You really write from the heart Mariam! What a fascinating journey you’ve been on. Religious or not, once a person begins the search for something greater than themselves I believe they are all on a similar path and that is definitely a creative and peaceful one. The image you have used is almost Blakean with the Sufi Whirlers dancing in joy of the divine.
Just one line may need revising; “Those who know Blake know that he didn’t necessarily agree with religion, matter of fact most of his works detested against it”
Suggestion; “as a matter of fact most of his works detested it”
I hope you continue your quest.


Week 7: The Visionary Rebel

It takes an enormous amount of moral courage to stick to your guns when all around you are insisting you are wrong and screaming for you to conform to the prevailing thinking of the day. Blake refused to yield to the status quo and insisted on following his own mystical path. He even risked being arrested as a heretic and whatever horrors may come with that. Although he was very stealthy with his message he was still sticking his neck out a very long way. It would have meant a much more peaceful and potentially profitable life if he had just shut down his brain and played along; but for people like Blake that would mean a fate much worse than death.

A psychic warrior would never surrender to the thought police. To silence their inner connection to the infinite wonders of imagination would be to lose their connection with the divine. However there must have been so many moments of doubt; times when it all seemed like a fantasy and certainly not worth risking persecution or even death for. Blake demonstrates a kind of conviction and internal fortitude that I would be proud to have even a tiny bit of. The faith that your inner voice definitely has merit, regardless of the constant antagonism from the ‘great minds’ of the time requires bravery and maybe a little bit of madness. In a world gone mad the crazy man is the sanest.

Blake was a mystical bad-ass; a hardcore hippie hero!





Peer Review 4

“Crazy Psychonaut” I love it! Your title is awesome too. It makes me think of the saying that goes something like “In an insane world, the sane man seems crazy”. People turned against Blake because he refused to join the madness and had the gumption to follow his inner faith. He was a true bad-ass! I think you have just given me an idea for my blog this week. Thank you.
I think you might have meant to have an s after the word give in your final paragraph.
Stay free!

Week 6: Visit to the Brett Whiteley Gallery

Standing in front of Brett Whiteley’s “Alchemy” was quite overwhelming at first. After moving in for a closer look and much discussion with others I began to catch a glimpse of just how profound this thing was. What at first glance appeared to be a hotchpotch mess with no meaning, slowly morphed into an intricate and fascinating peek into the inner life of another human being. Did I make sense of it? Absolutely not. What I did get was much more exhilarating; I got to share in the mystery that is the psyche of another soul.

Our lives rarely move in predictable ways and our memories are often a hotchpotch mess with no meaning. We never know when we are encountering an experience that we will always remember. Of course, our memories aren’t perfect and things change over time, and each time we recall something it gets altered a little bit more. “Alchemy” was for me an explosive, yet intricate expression of Brett Whiteley’s memories, both external and internal; things he encountered both sensually, intellectually and emotionally. Once you throw spirituality and imagination into the mix things get really wild!.

That chaotic rendition that took up two walls of a gallery was the best way an extremely exceptional artist could find to capture his transcendent consciousness. He may well say he was not successful, but I believe the task itself is impossible. Having the courage and skill to make the attempt is what defines a great artist. The rest is up to the audience.

It was awesome!