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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Coming Clean – Leonard Ottone

In and out of juvenile detention as a youth, Leonard Ottone graduated to prison as a young man and eventually ended up in Pentridge Prison (affectionately known by some as the college of knowledge).

There he continued to access drugs and maintain his habit. With the help of the other prisoners, Leonard finally learned to read and write as he struggled to write letters home to his family…

… I spent the weekend reading your story. It was raw and confronting, but such a touching and amazing story. As young as I am, I know there’s people in the world that have never been strong enough to stick and progress with positive change like you have. i’ll never forget when Dean finished your book, the tears that rolled down his face. Tears of happiness and relief of your achievements. I couldn’t wait to read to see why he was feeling like that … Now I’ve finally read it and want to congratulate you. – Ella Callaway.

To order your hard copy : http://www.leonardottone.com

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Writing for Hope

I’m honoured to have been given the opportunity to perform one of my short stories in support of Knox PLEDGE for gender equality.

The high tea serves to launch a series of creative writing workshops I’ll be giving next year for survivors of family violence.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful mediums we have to convey our truths. I’ve laid to rest many inner demons that way. The short story form lends itself to autobiographical reflections. Above all, the effort of writing our truth in a form fit for other’s eyes leads to personal transformation and empowerment.
2017 is set to be an extraordinary year!

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: domestic violence, family violence, Gender equality, Knox PLEDGE, short story, women’s refuges, women’s shelters, Writing for Hope

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Celebratory book sale of The Drago Tree!!

Super excited to announce a special deal on The Drago Tree for UK only, to help celebrate the completion of its sequel. Yours for just £12.50 incl P&P — that’s a discount of £5!!! Stock limited. Simply leave a comment below to arrange.

“The Drago Tree is a beautifully crafted, exquisitely written novel brimming with grief and heartiness, pain and joy. Unputdownable from the get-go. ” – writer Jasmina Brankovich. Read more reviews on https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/…the-drago-tree
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Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Canary Islands, Lanzarote, literary fiction, The Drago Tree

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The Drago Tree review by Elizabeth Jane Corbett

I’m delighted to re-blog this lovely review of The Drago Tree.

Elizabeth Jane Corbett writes: – “Book one on my list (yes, a two book week) was, Isobel Blackthorn’s, The Drago Tree. Being published by Odyssey Books, a small brave, independent press giving opportunities to emerging writers, would have put this title high my list. But, actually, the content of the story proved the ultimate qualifier. Set on the tiny island of Lanzarote, it tells the story of Ann Salter, a middle aged geologist fleeing her failed marriage, Richard a popular crime novelist plundering the island for his stories, and, Domingo, the indigenous potter whose love for the land goes beyond the shallow financial gains of western tourism. As the three explore the island, aspirations and tensions, undermine their friendship. The result, a reflection on artistic integrity, relationships, and ultimately our responsibility towards the environment.
A brief reading of Lanzarote’s history includes the words conquest, enslavement, piracy, drought and volcanic eruption, the result being an indigenous community struggling with the consequences of a post conquest society. It was not hard for me to draw comparisons with Wales’ history (without the piracy, recent volcanic activity, or levels of enslavement). I found myself wanting to experience the island community Blackthorn so wondrously evoked. Which is a sure sign the story has worked, if you ask me.”
Read the whole post here: http://elizabethjanecorbett.com/2016…odds-entities/
Thank you Elizabeth!! The Drago Tree can be purchased @ Amazon and through all good booksellers.

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Book review, Canary Islands, Elizabeth Jane Corbett, Lanzarote, literary fiction, The Drago Tree

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THE STATE OF PLAY

Let me break the news to those who haven’t awakened yet to the terrible reality of politics. There is no Left or Right anymore. There is just the craven lust for power and to keep the globalists happy in their bid to create a New World Order. By the way, this vision of an Utopian world may not include you or I, unless we make a heap of money rather quickly.

Of course the Left Wing Parties will still campaign on the pitch that they’ll raise taxes so that us little folk will get looked after but after they’re elected the bundle made out of increased taxes won’t trickle down to us but will be squandered on incompetence, stupid decisions, and their campaign to be re-elected. Or have I missed something?

The Right Wing Parties will run on a campaign of strength (usually meaning starting a new war somewhere and raining bombs on ordinary people like us who have no idea what the fuck is happening), business acumen, cut taxes (so us poor people have more money in our pockets for luxury items like bread), and will then proceed to squander money on incompetence, stupid decisions, and their campaign to be re-elected. Sadly, I haven’t missed anything.

My dad was a staunch Labour man all his life and was so far to the left he may as well have been a Communist. He had an intense dislike for bosses, police, the Royal Family, priests, June Allyson, Prime Minister Menzies and anyone he thought was a “big hat, no horse.” After several drinks he’d  want to start a petition to have a statue erected to Ned Kelly. Dad had lived a tough life losing his mother at the age of two and then being given up, with his two brothers, to relatives to bring up. He’d been denied much in his life including parental love and struggled all his days to show the great love he felt to those he cared about most.  I don’t think he’d have much time for the Chardonnay sipping new age Left Wingers. But that was him. And it was a different world. A slower, simpler place where people, if you were any good, did the right thing regardless of the cost.

But politics, nowadays, is mostly a game. The system rarely throws up someone who stands for anything other than getting elected,  and if it does, that naively principled person will either be crushed under the wheels of the machine or stabbed in the back by colleagues eager for the spotlight. And therein lies the problem.  The ego. Candidates want the top job for the wrong reason. General Ulysses Grant was a shy man who drank excessively not only to go into battle but in order to face people. To him, becoming President was his worst nightmare. But within days of winning the Civil War (there’s an irony in those words), his leader, President Lincoln, was slain and Grant knew that unless he ran for President everything that they had achieved in that long and bloody war would be undone. So, Grant sought the position not out of ego or a lust for power but out of a sense of duty to benefit the country he loved. People like this don’t come along often but history does have a habit of producing them at the right time.

I have met many politicians in Australia and Los Angeles in my time and save for a few good people, most of them were elitist phony snobs pretending to have a purpose in life. Having spent most of my years in the theatre I can judge a performance when I see one.  This great disappointment has made me totally apolitical. I am not a card carrying member of any political organisation so I am not shackled by party lines and rooting for “our” designated leader as if it were a football game. My party isn’t officially registered.  It is the Party of Common Sense. But no one is hated more these days than a free thinker. People have to categorise you. Put you in a convenient box and tick it. Sometimes I agree with the Left, sometimes I agree with the Right. It depends on what the issue is and what the arguments are. And when you think about it it’s the free thinkers that actually elect the government. The swinging voters, as they call them.

So at this time with all the problems facing our world I would implore voters to ignore the smear campaign ads, the dirt (whom amongst us can throw the first stone?), and all the manipulative side tracking issues they throw up to take our attention away from the real questions, like, “What are your policies?” “What are you going to do differently that you haven’t already done to disastrous effect?” “What are your plans to get people back to work?” and, if the heavenly powers above have stated that one must attempt to help one’s neighbours, “What are you going to do to ease the struggle of the aged and the unwell amongst us?”

Then take a good long look into their eyes and back your instinct on who, if any, are sincere and true.

After that, God bless us all and lead us not into the valley of darkness. Amen.

(c) Frank Howson 2016

BOBBY DARIN AND THINGS (like a walk in the park)

Bobby Darin sacrificed himself to entertain us. Public adulation gave him life through one vein as much as it took from another. Once you’ve awakened that sleeping beast it can never be conquered – only lived with until that fateful day when your body becomes still from the exhaustion of hanging on too long.

Bobby now sits at a table with Hank Williams and they discuss loneliness and lost highways that bring you to nowhere. Oh Father where is art in thou heaven?  And why did you allow us to break our backs working in the fields only to have our crops contaminated by the ignorance of others?

Strike me down for uttering the truth.

Strike me down with the pain of living it.

Strike me down with the regret that I could’ve made a difference if only I’d wandered from your path.

Strike me down if you think it may help someone.

(c) Frank Howson 2016

The Songs of Robert Lloyd at Holy Trinity Church

MelbourneEast Arts Festival

Robert Lloyd has served the Australian and International Arts/Music world since 1986. Beginning in Adelaide he has travelled the world performing and composing his unique music and songs.

I have a couple of Robert’s albums but have seen little of him live so it was wonderful to be invited to see his performance at Holy Trinity Church in East Melbourne, a show that is part of the MelbourneEast Arts Festival.

The Holy Trinity has amazing acoustics and is the venue for some of our major Chamber Music exponents, and as Robert’s music is of a similar style this was the perfect venue for this concert.

Robert’s music and poetry is very potent, dark and often moody yet at the same time very uplifting, His show was a mixture of acoustic songs from his past albums, some poetry, a reading from his latest book and the wonderful Raija taking a featured couple of songs through the performance.

Robert’s 3 latest songs were played accompanied by his electric guitar and show a depth of growth in his style.

His Internationally recognised achievements include completing the writing and performing of his music in New York city followed by world tours of the dance works “Feral” [“shimmering, driving score” – New York Times] and “Nullarbor” for New York Choreographer, Molissa Fenley.

Robert has also written and performed for Australian Dance Theatre and The Alvin Ailey Company.

“Genius”- Adelaide Advertiser.

Since 2000 Robert has been writing, recording and touring his deep songs and poetry with guitar and piano to critical and audience acclaim in Australia, UK and USA.

Discography:

“Nullarbor” 1996,

“Starting from Zero” 2003,

“Songs of Robert Lloyd” 2007,

“Songs of Here and Now” 2011

“The Same Tree” 2012.

All available through his website robertlloyd.com and ITunes.

Black Guitar

Robert’s first book of song lyrics, poetry and prose BLACK GUITAR was published in 2009 by Littlefox publishing in Melbourne followed by TIME BEING TIME in 2015.

EMPTY

I woke with an immense feeling of emptiness. Perhaps it’d been brewing for years and things had gnawed me until I was hollow. I got out of bed and summoned the strength to walk to the window and look outside. I saw empty streets, empty freeways, empty bridges, empty buildings and empty skies. I considered the thought that I may be dead. Perhaps there is no heaven, just another dimension filled with familiar surroundings and this was my location in which I could spend eternity trying to make some sense of the life i’d lived. What was most surprising was that I felt nothing. No panic, concern, fear – nothing.

I switched on the TV but all I got was static. After a few moments I started to find it entertaining. Then mesmerizing. No more ads, no more sitcoms with canned laughter of dead people, no more politicians lying for my vote. I’m not sure how long I watched it as the clocks had stopped.

I went for a walk. For the first time in my life I felt safe. I passed many empty parked cars and wondered about the people who had owned them. I walked into a supermarket but there was nothing I wanted anymore. I left empty handed.

I continued to walk and thought about love and how it had robbed me of my best years. I laughed out loud at my foolishness. There was no regret or bitterness, or anger. It now seemed all so clear.  Love was just a dream. And all the best dreams are those that remain dreams. Unrequited. Untarnished. Unsullied by not dragging it down to earth to be played out by two dumb, needy people seeking themselves in the eyes of each other, only to awaken one day to realize they have nothing in common but the rooms they shared.

I walked up the steps to the National Art Gallery. There were no lines or admission to pay. No irritating muzak. No need to utter a comment about the masterpieces that were so exquiisite mere words would only devalue them anyway. But then again, these art pieces were of no monetary value anymore. Their only worth being the joy it brought to gaze upon them.

I walked home again, slowly. There was no need to rush anymore. No one was waiting for me.

I sat in my favourite chair and read from “A Tale of Two Cities”. My concentration was not broken by telephone calls, unexpected visitors, or the nagging feeling that I should be somewhere.

If this wasn’t heaven, it’d do.

(c) Frank Howson 2016

When Love Dies

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Loves light burns so hard, enough to meld hearts, then flickers, then dies…no one yet on Earth has figured out the wherefores or whys

RAY’S LAST STAND

Ray Macky sat at a table for one. He was used to it by now. It wasn’t like the old days. In those days it had been tables for two, or four or twenty-four. He’d been wildly popular in his younger days. In those times he thought it’d been due to his personal charm but now looking back from the cruel vantage point of having lived too long he saw it for what it was – he’d had success and that’d brought truck loads of money in its wake. He must’ve wined and dined every opportunist in town and even married some of them. He’d enjoyed the crème de la crème of the beautiful and sexy who were, at their hearts, the very worst of humanity. Had he learned anything from all this? No. Zip. He still melted inside when a pretty one smiled at him. These days they smiled at him out of pity – he seemed like a kindly old harmless fool instead of a wealthy one. It seems the last faculty to die is one’s stupidity. Each marriage had grown shorter and the settlements larger until there was nothing left. Ray, in his few honest discussions with himself, lamented the small deaths that led up to the big one. The death of his trust; the death of his respect; the death of his generousity; the death of his health; the death of his longing; the death of his libido; the death of his caring.

Sometimes on a summer’s night at an outside table for one, surrounded by young couples in love, he held on momentarily to the conceit that on one such night a beautiful, kind, understanding woman would notice him and walk into what was left of his life and everything leading up to this would suddenly make sense. But he was also smart enough by now to know that this was only the dream of an old man who needed something to clasp onto to bring sleep each night.

Ray liked to walk home from his favourite restaurants on such nights although friends had warned him it was no longer safe to do so at his age. It was a different time and now young boys roamed the streets filled with enough anger to pleasure themselves by bringing down the vulnerable. As if life hadn’t hurt them all enough.

On these late night walks home Ray would try and remember the sound of his parents’ voices and it’d comfort him. Step by step back into the past until he was a young lad again. Back to a time when he was loved…no…treasured, and the future was so filled with options and adventure that he couldn’t wait to be older. Where did it all go, he wondered. Was he so busy running to and from things that he forgot to savour the pleasure of each moment? Or did he enjoy them so much that time accelerated? Whichever scenario, the result was the same – he was now weary. Not just in body, but in spirit. And sad. Sad that he had had so much love to give and dissipated it on all the wrong people. The worst of them had damaged him for the best of them. In recent years he’d had the opportunity to have relationships with certain women but had always declined the offers or let them die on the vine from his lack of interest or follow through. All he knew was it felt good to finally have all the power. He could now no longer be seduced by a pretty face, a sexy body or a woman with a wicked mind. It gave him some satisfaction to see their surprised expressions when their games and charms no longer worked on him. Alas, they were too late. He had no more chips to bet.

His nightly walks also made him think of those that had gotten away. The ones he should’ve stayed with and the ones who broke his heart by leaving each time the money ran out. He’d had such rotten luck in love, although he wasn’t quite sure that some of the horrific scenes he’d endured should be classified under that sacred four letter word.

He wished he could go back in time and give his last wife the things that she’d needed that now seemed so clear but back then were unfathomable. What an idiot he was not to see. And now he was being punished for it. A life sentence. A dead man walking.

He wondered where his son was and what lies he must’ve been told to have distanced himself so much from a father that loved him more than life itself. But such things were too painful to think about if one was to keep going forward. He preferred to think of him as the young man who had worshipped his father. A dad who could do no wrong.

On his last nightly walk home, Ray Macky heard his son’s voice yell out to him from behind and he turned, smiling, his eyes suddenly filled with hope of a new beginning, or a miraculous renewal of what had once been the most loving of relationships. For a few moments Ray was taken aback at how much his son had changed. His face had grown hard and cruel in ways that he couldn’t quite grasp. And he was older than his years. Had he caused this damage to the one he had so loved?

Then he heard the suddenly unfamiliar voice demand money, “Give me your money, old man, or you’ll get this!”

Ray looked down to see a knife in the boy’s hand. Surely his son wouldn’t pull a knife on his own father? If he wanted money all his son had to do was ask and Ray would’ve given him anything. Ah, but then again, Ray no longer had anything. He was back in the here and now, and the cold realisation that he was of no longer any use to anyone.

“I only have twenty dollars in cash I’m afraid. But it’s yours, Tommy, take it, my boy. I can get you some more on Friday when my pension is in my account..”

“Tommy?…Who the fuck is Tommy you stupid old bastard?!”

“Tommy, don’t you recognise me? I’m your dad. I’ve never stopped loving you…”

Ray didn’t get to finish his sentence before the boy grabbed his wallet, thrust the knife into his stomach and ran from the stranger.

Ray fell to the footpath as a warm pool of blood formed around him. Lying there he wondered what he had done to make his son hate him so. Didn’t he know that life just got in the way sometimes and people had no control over where it led them?

Ray attempted a laugh that a monetary figure had finally been placed on his life and closed his eyes in peace that all debts were now paid.

Ray’s last thought was that he hoped the twenty dollars would be of some help to the boy.

(c) Frank Howson 2016