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Community highlights: poetry and imagination

This week was our community council’s first in operation. While that means for me the best posts this week were those you didn’t see, that doesn’t mean we can’t highlight a few you might have.

Sometimes a regular comment isn’t enough to express yourself. Graeme Henchel, on an article about the on-going attention paid to Hockey’s budget, shared a twenty-line poem about the Government.

Smokin Joe and the mendacious monk

Announced a budget that really stunk

Ever since they’ve been on the back foot

Their Tea Party dream is all but kaput

First they concocted a crisis of debt

A dodgy audit echoed the threat

Labor, they said, was the party at fault

So all of their promises could be in default

The “Age of Entitlement” is soon to be over

But not for rich who will still live in clover

The burden it seems will be foist on the poor

The unemployed, pensioners, students and more

Their budget has gone like a lead balloon

Their popularity lies in ruin

The public have never seen such deceit

Where white is black and bitter is sweet

Now they are trying reverse class war

Gee up the middle class against the poor

This latest ploy will be counterproductive

Their ideology is self-destructive.

Problem is they’ve told too many lies

Listened too much to the IPA dries

Now every time they open their mouth

The opinion polls go further south

Smokin Joe and the mendacious monk

Have seen all credibility really sunk

The time has come for the only solution

The time has come for a double dissolution

While it won’t tip e. e. cummings’s Since feeling is first from atop my Favourite Poems list, I admire Graeme’s contribution. I’d appreciate it if someone worked the High Court’s decision on Manus into a haiku.

Speaking of literature, Diana Hodge wrote an article on the power of issue-based young adult fiction and its ability to help readers through dark times. Ben Marshall offered his ideas on what makes a ‘moral story’.

I’ve long felt that a good story, well written, is, by default, a moral story. A writer need not have a pedagogical agenda to write something that will engage the mind of the reader, and allow them space to think about issues in the story, regardless of reading age.

A moral or pedagogical agenda in writing is, to my mind, death to good storytelling, but I notice many gatekeepers - teachers, parents, librarians, publishers, NGOs and government agencies - use the language of pedagogy, ascribing these motives to writers of books deemed naturalistic, ‘gritty’ or worthy to make it somehow acceptable for young people to be allowed to read certain books.

Elsewhere, discussion was on shaping the minds of children. Rebecca English argued we should just let kids engage in some good, old fashioned play-based learning. Rachel Richardson shared her experiences of undirected play and the capacities of a young imagination.

I agree that there seems far to much ‘predetermination’ in children’s playthings these days. I know it might sound like an ‘in the good old days’ comment but I honestly believe there is great value in learning through play where the tools of play are far less defined - a stick becomes a boat, a dandelion flower a ‘helicopter’, charcoal and mud - makeup! I used to play a game with my sister with the marbles from our family Chinese checkers game where the coloured marbles were alternatively cowboys and indians, farm animals, and occasionally people in our made up stories - sometimes they were just plain old marbles!

Finally, today we ran a Q&A about text messaging and grammar. Our managing editor Misha Ketchell got involved and expressed dismay not at the grammar of texting, but at the banality text conversations involved:

The problem with teenage texting isn’t bad grammar. It’s the banality of the exchange. “Was'up?” “Not much. You?” Now much" “Watching The Voice… (smiley face).” We once lived in a world where it was acceptable to shut up when you’ve nothing to say. Now my 12-year-old son spends the evening texting banalities to his friends (of both sexes, though the ones directed at girls have a special air of reciprocal inarticulateness). Surely he should preserve those banalities for me. “How was school?” “Good.” What did you do today?“ "Not much.” The joy of conversation is what’s at stake here, not the English language.

I happened to reply to his comment and revealed something about myself I’m not entirely proud of. If that doesn’t whet your interest I’m not sure what will.

Did we miss anything interesting? Let me know in the comments.