Tag Archives: Poetry is what happens when nothing else can

QLD Writer’s Week Feature #14 – Barbara Brown

It has been a real blast to bring so many exciting voices to a new readership… so I hope you enjoy the words and wisdom of feature #14, Barbara Brown.

What excites you about poetry?

The brilliance and madness which co-exist within us all.  Poetry sings outward, into & unto itself.  I find it fascinating how peoples’ minds work; subject matter, creative process, interpretations & unravelling it (reminding me of being a child playing pass the parcel).  I’m naturally drawn to mysteriousness, and poetry offers that to me.  Poetry is many things to many people and discovering those reasons can be just as exciting.  For me right now, it’s unleashing pent up ideas and attempting to create something magical that I can call my own, hopefully before they or I go rusty!

What are the themes that interest you / that you like to explore in your own writing?

I’m not sure if particular themes are making an appearance in my writing yet, because I’m experimenting with different themes, styles & settings as much as I can.  Having said that, I enjoy dark fantasy, reflective, wit & sarcasm, love/sexual and generally try to play with words/phrases/concepts.

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can.’ How does a poem happen for you?

To some it may seem an unlikely candidate but I love to pull random words and sentences, which I hear internally and spoken aloud and attempt to craft them into something altogether different from their first intent & purposes.  Poetry can be extremely cathartic (when given the opportunity) – I sometimes find myself working through & reflecting on issues which may otherwise go unaddressed.

 

SWOLLEN FEARS

distant dreams stifled by swollen fears
plagued by city beasts, tall poppies and
concrete.
walking under cas-
cad-
ing
tears
herded by roaming sheep no longer black.
 
grappling with pens as if they were guns
firing words to a page
paper bleeding fiercely
the only wound is my own in the form of rsi
coupled with not knowing
if these actions
make
a difference

 

About Barbara:

I love arty & funky stuff and have always dreamed of doing something creative/artistic.  Ideally, I would love to one day organise music festivals, art & theatre shows.  I feel like there has been a slow burn in my hearth.  But it needs more fuel.  With the encouragement and support of my partner I am currently exploring and building my poetry writing (having dabbled in it since childhood) – I walked away from the Queensland Poetry Festival refreshed and inspired, a proud participant in the QPF open mic (my first) and am really enjoying the offerings of Speedpoets each month.  As usual, my mind is busy contemplating ideas to hopefully put together a small performance, fundraising event and perhaps see what publishing opportunities lie ahead.

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QLD Writer’s Week Feature #13 – John Parke

Still a couple more features to round out my QLD Writer’s Week series… lucky #13 introduces John Parke.

What excites you about poetry?

I find it the best way to capture the essence and emotion of a story. Recently, I have started using poems as the basis for short films that incorporate footage, photos, animation, and music. There is plenty of scope to get the creative juices flowing in this approach.

What are the themes that interest you/ that you like to explore in your writing?

I am using poetry to capture the stories of the commercial fishermen of Wynnum Creek on Moreton Bay. They have fished from the creek for 150 years and were responsible for the second largest annual catch in Queensland. Around 150 fishermen worked from the creek in the 1950s. Today there are only 8 fishermen left and their stories haven’t previously been recorded.

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can’. How does a poem happen for you?

I find a topic for a poem and let my subconscious ‘chew it over’ for a couple of weeks. I then often write the first and last lines for the poem. find a start and an end for the poem. Then I think through the journey the poem will take. Finally, I fill in the details. Often the first draft of a poem takes about half an hour to write and then I revise it over the few days.

 

The view from the front steps

Our homes have nestled here since 1900
on the creek bank, watching boys become men.
 
Watching boats crafted to master the waves, in search of mullet,
watching nets tarred and fish sorted.

You were part of our family.
We shared our lives together within your walls and around you.

Those first tentative steps in the nursery rejoiced with glee by all.
The familiar smell of the Sunday roast, the laughter of welcome guests.

The slipway now a relic
Our memories, rubble.

The menacing truck collects its load
our kitchen, lounge and our past bound for Coffs.

It will return tomorrow for our bedrooms
and the corridor where we once played.

My hand on my cheek
brings small comfort.

Our family homes are gone.
They now build duplexes that surround me.

The grief so heavy is not mine alone
but that of our forebears.

What will tomorrow bring
to this place where we once built boats?

 

About John:

I live in Manly and am assisting approximately 60 unemployed people in the local area and Bay islands to establish their own business. My career has focussed on community development initiatives using a capacity building approach for both Indigenous and no-Indigenous communities. At present I am establishing an initiative called the Friends of the Fishermen of Wynnum Creek. The initiative involves collecting and making available stories (particularly through poetry) and images of the fishermen to the general public.

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QLD Writer’s Week Feature #12 – Marilyn Roberts

Still a few more features to keep the QLD Writer’s Week celebrations going… feature #12 showcases Marilyn Roberts.

What excites you about poetry?

I crowd myself with pens, and paper and notebooks, in which and on which I
scrawl, scribble and play. Sometimes the play of words come unbidden, finding tiny cracks that I had not know were niggling at the very edge of my conscience. Sometimes I dig and find nuggets of thoughts that just lead, and lead and into intricate musings. This tiny poetic thoughts help me recognize myself and others. The give me courage to express the world as seen through MY eyes. They give me a chance to say the unsayable, think the unthinkable and and the courage to let others know THIS is where my mind takes me, on colourful rambles through the epoch and ages that make up my life.

What are the themes that interest you/ that you like to explore in your writing?

I don’t follow themes, they follow me and seem somehow to always come back to ME. If today I start to write a Halloween type poem, I am never surprised that somewhere in there I am discovering something about me or my relationships to others and the world. My experience of choosing a rather difficult life, with quite a bit of tragedy, colours all that I write. Some people become victims of their lives and take on the role survivor as an atonement, I like to think that I been given a world to explore in poetry, particularly performance poetry, other voices, the voices of of those who aren’t.

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can’. How does a poem happen for you?

I am a messy writer, I like to reach out for a notebook and grab a pen,
usually something bright and colourful and just go for it. I have a large array
of notebooks, coloured pens and highlighters. Sometimes I write words meaning nothing, going nowhere, and sometimes I simply draw coloured lines and sometimes some of those words jump off the page and begin a poem, that leads to a place of discovery and acceptance and joy.

 

The Visitor

It’s just outside the little town.
    The Land of the Not-Forgotten.

Follow out beyond the pub,
          the men all drunk and rotten,
    and up around the village school
where laughter skips all day
and echoes of a class of mates
can still
be heard at play.

Then out around the banyan trees
and well beyond the pool
where sunlight
broken splashes through a dive,
I fancy ripples still.

And keep the mountain on your right
    the canefields to your left.
And past the stacks
    and steam and lights
keep heading for the west.

And there you’ll find the houses mean
they fall away
  in drunk despair.
The shoulders of the road will cease
  and sink
your pathway to impair.

You travel light,
    it’s just as well
      now through the gates and straight to hill.
You have a climb, ’tis hard to reach the top
    where marble vaulted palaces
peer out to guard the lot.

Oh! On your way, though,
    would you mind
    there is a spot that you should find?
It’s halfway up and near the tap
  and there you’ll find my little chap.
He’s resting now, but as you’re bound
    you’ll find him sleeping undergound.

Tell him I’ll come,
I’ll come for him
when my time is done.
But tell him that it’s not quite yet
  my race is not yet run.
And tell him that we miss him
  I have so much to ask.
But
    tell me first why you make this trip
    you must have some odd task?
And tell me why you go at night?

What’s that! Accompany you?
I look an awful fright.
And I really am too tired now
    just let me have some sleep.
  Perhaps a nap and while I do
    return my soul to keep. 

 

 About Marilyn:

I love to write – any eavesdropping from the universe will do, regardless of its source. I pop them into journals of all shapes and colours spreading across my house. But it is the magic of story, in its many forms, and its ability to bring the inside out (or is that the outside in?) and make deep connection that truly inspires me. As a librarian my life has been immersed in story; ‘selling’ story and telling story and encouraging others find and share their own stories. As a professional storyteller and workshop facilitator I have thrilled as songs, poems and stories have sung to the listener’s heart. I am still  urprised when I’m writing just how much clarity and healing I get although my poetic writings as the “Nag Hag” aren’t exactly about finding peace!!!! Writing for me is profound experience of giving a story a chance to be relived.

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QLD Writer’s Week Feature #11 – Vuong Pham

Feature #11 in my QLD Writer’s Week series showcases the words of Vuong Pham.

What excites you about poetry?

I am enthusiastic about poetry because I strongly believe that it is the highest form of written communication through use of clever and intended purpose. For example, poetry steers away from societal norms of: “red hot sex” or mind-numbing sayings like: “I miss you so much it hurts”. So I do strongly believe that poetry expands the imagination not just for the individual, but also for society as a whole. Also, what excites me about poetry is the happiness, understanding and knowledge I obtain from reading and writing poetry.

What are the themes that interest you/ that you like to explore in your writing?

Love.

Nature.

I like experimenting with Shape Poems.

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can’. How does a poem happen for you?

Poetry comes to me instinctively, whereby words, thoughts, ideas ‘hit’ me spontaneously. When this occurs, I then progress the poem through a continual process of editing.

 

Elegant Night
 
As I ponder the peppered and salty skies of royalty, I behold
Mirror-light curls and carves on the moon-dyed
Willow trees and velveteen seas.
Yet so soon in the horrific horizon ghostly clouds haunt closer.
Moreover, I feel that Cupid is marshalling his archers near,
To laden me with lead-headed quarrels.
For I shall nay glimpse such pearly elegance upon firmament.
 
Naught to feel love’s venom throughout veins flow,
Nor pain on one’s feet with a walk measured and slow,
Like the naivety of an octopus in the jelly jar and not the sea,
Or like the feeling of the ravine’s minuet of sadness
Amongst so much societal gaiety,
These instances of blazing lust detain:
Again – Again – Again.
 
And now, shipwrecked, on the generous shore
Of weeping willows and sighing seas, I witness
How a wandering hermit crab outgrows its cabin—
Moreover, I feel once again that my heart is a shell,
Not precious or beach-like, merely
A shelter for someone else to occupy.

 

  About Vuong:

Like Atticus Finch, I am unwaveringly dedicated to doing what is righteous and beyond my capacity with humility and genuine empathy. I am a first year high school Teacher of SOSE and English. Funnily enough, this is also my first year of writing poetry and I am immensely enjoying it. I have been reading and studying poetry ever since grade 9, and now my “poetic tongue” is finally coming to life! Here’s my poetry website: http://versesoftheinnerself.blogspot.com/

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QLD Writer’s Week Feature #10 – Cindy Keong

Many of you will be familiar with the work of Brisbane-based poet and photographer, Cindy Keong. Feature #10 showcases gives us a taste of her latest writing all the way from Tanzania, where she is currently working as a volunteer.

What excites you about poetry? 

For me poetry is a busy person’s literature.  I am always fascinated with the impact of a how a few stripped back words in a poem can explore both the complex and ordinary everyday concepts or ideas.  Poetry for me is another way of looking at life, relationships, concepts and ideas as if seeing them for the first time.

What are the themes that interest you / that you like to explore in your own writing?
 
Themes that are accessible always seem to feature in my work.  I love the idea of creating meaning by evoking imagery in the mind of the reader, whether it be an intended meaning or one derived by the readers own experiences.

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can.’ How does a poem happen for you?

I am profoundly moved by visual imagery the whole picture paints a thousand words concept.  Poetry does the same for me I love the way words attach themselves to images in the mind of the reader or sends you off with inspiration for your own writing.

 

Mzungu eyes

(Nairobi to Arusha)

i

Leaving Nairobi sprawling
peak hour traffic we crawl like
insects over glass

ii

Miles of red dust blankets
a bleached canvas crying for
the artists brush

iii

Zebra sprawled across bitumen a red
ribbon tied around its neck, a vulture
swoops to claim its prize

iv

12 foot Coke bottle stand on the
corner of nowhere, selling nothing,
its neon sign flashing promises it won’t keep

v

5 hours of driving potholes and diverted
highway, our bus a time capsule, as
Michael Jackson plays on loop

 

 About Cindy:

I am a Brisbane based photographer,poet and teacher.  Currently exploring life in Tanzania assisting with a community based education program.  I usually live in breathing distance to the Pacific Ocean which continues to inspire my work. 2010 has been an exciting year with both my poetry and photos published in Page Seventeen as well as being shortlisted for Queensland Poetry Festival Filmakers awards and receiving a highly commended for film submissions at the Melbourne Overload Festival. You can see more of her work at: http://clk27.wordpress.com/

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QLD Writer’s Week Feature #9 – Trudie Murrell

QLD Writer’s Week is winding up, but there are still quite a few features to come. Feature #9 introduces Trudie Murrell.

What excites you about poetry?

What’s not to be excited about?  For me, poetry is life, distilled.    The words on a page are exciting, the sound of it spoken, how a poem can change me.  I am excited to have so much poetry in my life right now. 

Living in Brisbane and writing and performing here I am surrounded by poets who surprise me, share ideas, encourage my writing and give me feedback.  I am reading, writing and hearing more poetry this year than I have in perhaps the past ten.    For the first time in my life, writing is not necessarily a solitary activity and that excites me.

When I work on a poem it swallows me up and though I am living, I am living through its filter until it is finished.  I love the feeling of finishing a poem, knowing that it works.  Poetry catches my ear, it makes me look at things closely, it makes me think and makes me wonder.  I find art and discipline balanced in a good poem.  It is a new and joyful experience to find myself with  people who say ‘yeah, me too.’

What are the themes that interest you / that you like to explore in your own writing?

The human experience.  I like to turn things on their head.  I write about things I see and feel and hope that others can relate.

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can.’ How does a poem happen for you?

Finally my writing is assuming more of a disciplined routine, thanks to external deadlines.  Previous to this I’d potter about until a poem grabbed me by the shirt front and shook me until I sat down and wrote it out of me. Often I’d dream a poem and wake up to write it.  Now days I am trying to make time while my youngest child has her mid day snooze.  I’m trying to sit at a desk and focus while I write or edit.  Although I can still be found scribbling notes on food wrappers while children demand my full attention, the garden grows wild and the house work has to tend to itself.  I find I come grudgingly to routine – but it is worth it.

 

Waking Salome
 
The minutes stilled and folded
into the old chook shed.
On its threshold the girl,
a red plastic bucket,
the curl and release of
fingers on a handle.
 
Mid morning heat
flattened everything,
the breath from her chest,
the chooks on their nests,
corrugations in the roof.
 
A tentative step,
creaking of feathered
disapproval,
her grandfather’s face
nodding her on.
 
She reached the broody hen;
stab and sting at her temple
and the trail of blood
it’s beak had drawn
crossed her cheek.
 
In her grandfather’s hands,
glossy feathers and a half finished scream,
in her grandfather’s eyes.
only her,
full of his cracked open heart.
 
Triumph coursed cool
through her small
body, whispering
he would kill for her.

 

 
About Trudie:

I am a Brisbane writer, raising three children together with my enormously patient and supportive husband.  For the past twenty-five years I have performed and written plays, poems and prose for adults and children. I find poetry sneaks into everything I do. I have been published for the first time this year.

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QLD Writer’s Week Feature #8 – Betsy Turcot

Feature#8 showcases one of Brisbane’s exciting new voices, member of The Broken Record Collective, Betsy Turcot.

What excites you about poetry?

What excites me about poetry is its ability to inspire.  I remember the first time I heard the slam poets, Alix Olson and Saul Williams perform. I walked away thinking, ‘you can do that with words!’  I knew that it is what I wanted to do with my life. 

What are the themes that interest you/that you like to explore in your own writing?

I got into poetry through slam and while most slam poets preach politics, I preach love and empathy.  I enjoy telling a story in each piece that I write or perform.  I am interested in identity and what constitutes the make-up of an individual. 

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can.’ How does a poem happen for you?

A poem happens for me when something from my ordinary, day-to-day life touches a nerve.  It often takes a stimulus like biking to work or listening to music for ideas to bubble up from my subconscious. I have learned to embrace those moments of inspiration, stop what I’m doing and write.

 

Ash

Summer smoke swirls
     soothe battered breasts
elbows on knees
     we sip lazy speech
breach barriers
      on the cool concrete
ash falls between
       naked feet

we smoke
       in remembrance
lay you to rest
broken hearts beat
       in present time

she’s not the siren
       I expected
can’t remember why
       I was jealous

take her hand
       inhale
burnt chestnut hair
       turning
               lead her in

to where I swim
     in sea green eyes
dive
     to where her bruised soul
             touches mine

we lick each others’ wounds
     heal
beneath the green cotton sheets
in that tiny apartment
     on King Street.

 

 

 
About Betsy:

I am my parents’ mistake. Wedding night insemination. A life’s collection of baseball cards driven though a blizzard.  Sold at auction.  I am Nanny McPhee. Gone by the time you see my beauty. I am the battered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, endlessly singing of empathy.

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QLD Writer’s Week Feature #7 – Justine Reilly

Feature #7 showcases the work of Justine Reilly.

What excites you about poetry?

The honesty of it. How it can convey things that are intangible to other forms of communication.

What are the themes that interest you / that you like to explore in your own writing?

Outsiders. Matters of the heart. The truth about being human. Rhythm.

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can.’ How does a poem happen for you?

Quite immediately. A feeling evolves into a thought, depicted by words. I start writing the words and follow them to the end.

 

Sapling

For five minutes
we are alone together
at the table
where your arthritic fingers
carefully inscribe details
into the page to a day diary
so the days don’t blur into one.

Moments alone together are precious, stolen, fleeting;
wise words
while balancing the pool pH,
soothing counsel
while driving this
destitute daughter to the station.

But one moment alone together
remains a trophy in our heart.
It is a shared heart, an inheritance
too giant, gentle and soft,
a troubled survivor
of a world beyond comprehension.

I pose the question:
Do you remember the night we got the Christmas tree?
His eyes regard me
with their dark stormy blue of the North Sea,
a hue once reflected in the eyes of ancestors
who brought us here via the desert.

The moon shone through the clouds,
he says, and the treasure was unlocked.

I wasn’t scared, I say
as we silently reflect
on a dirt road in a quiet forest.
We would have been home by sundown, he says,
if all had gone to plan.

But the wheels motioned
our vehicle deeper into sand
And a gammy elbow
couldn’t support expert hands
to lift it, laden as it was with an orphan sapling.

So we walked
toward the moon.
There was nothing to
be scared of, he says.

Steadily we paced along,
suspended in the freedom
of clear air, towering pines
and the single sound of
feet crunching country byways
in our own little black forest realm.

Your feeling for direction
delivered us to the nearest outpost
of rural civilisation
and alone together
our heart rolled home again.

 

 
About Justine:

Formerly a high-flying journalist, I now tend to prefer journeys that don’t necessarily involve jumping on planes and travelling great distances.

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QLD Writer’s Week Feature #6 – Yolanda Newman

I am fresh back from teaching tonight and have that hum of poetry coursing through me, so wanted to post another feature on one of the many emerging poets in Brisbane, Yolanda Newman.

What excites you about poetry?

Being able to see into the inner mind of the poet. Knowing how he/she thinks and feels. Being able to have feelings and insights identified.

What are the themes that interest you / that you like to explore in your own writing?

Feelings/questions/emotions/other people

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can.’ How does a poem happen for you?

A memory followed by a feeling. A wanting to understand why that memory is important and what I can learn from it.

 

The room is hot
Tiny, no door
Just a screen of thin cloth taking up half the space
My mother is with me
Her fear taking up any room left
I am not allowed to take off my clothes
To try on the Chinese dress
It’s called a ‘Cheong Sam’ and is
Blue and red, patterned in flowers and birds
With fabric buttons diagonally from neck to hip
I have no idea why I am trying it on
I didn’t ask for it
Didn’t see it in a window
And we are in Aden, the tip of
Saudi Arabia and not China
But I have to have it
Our family, unlike some
Follow the rules told us on the boat
We don’t drink the water
Wait to eat till we get back to the ship
Don’t buy except from proper shops
And we escape the white slave traders
Apparently eager to get their hands on my
Teenage body
Unhappy in Australia
I escape my family by trying to create another
We move often
But I never wear the dress again
It doesn’t fit and besides my husband
Shows no interest in undoing those buttons tenderly
Running his hands down the smooth material
Discovering me, sweet and vulnerable underneath
He doesn’t work and in one of our many moves
He leaves the dress behind
I wonder where did that dress go?
Who wore it after that one time in the small changing room?
I’ll never know
And I don’t know where that girl went
That confused girl
Standing in the changing room
Having my mother’s fears fitted over me
Tightly
Never to be taken off

 

 
About Yolanda:

Yolanda Newman is a Brisbane-based poet currently enrolled in QLD Writers Centre’s, Introduction to Poetry #2.

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QLD Writer’s Week Feature #5 – Lee-Anne Davie

As you can tell, Brisbane is bubbling with poets… this time around I caught up with Lee-Anne Davie.

What excites you about poetry?

For me, poetry is the architecture of words.  I enjoy the ambiguity of words to create different dimensions to intended imagery, allowing a layered effect to what appears an honest and simple selection of words.  I am in awe of poetic verse where the poem remains simple and beautiful, yet evokes a kaleidoscope of colour, depth and purpose for its reader.
 
What are the themes that interest you / that you like to explore in your own writing?

I am drawn to themes such as nature, weather, places, landscape, but find that I am happy to write about almost anything.  I’m happy to toy with words and phrases to develop something interesting.  I am inspired by visual art, such as photography, to incite my imagination.  In offering this information, this is how I feel right now.  Since embarking on learning about my style and developing words through workshops and spoken word opportunities, I am finding my poetry interests widening and the more I explore poetry, the more I am inspired towards different styles.  I view this learning as a progressive development.
 
Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can.’ How does a poem happen for you?

At times I am inspired to write a poem following a simple comment in passing conversation.  At other times I am inspired by what I see and the events around me, and am likely to reflect and draw from my own experiences.  I find clarity with composition when I first wake in the morning, and so could commence a line, which could develop then or wait until I have more time.
 
 

Interruption

Their arrival consumed our evening
Brutal clouds alarmed the sky and
Cassie’s kennel lay empty

We found her whelping in torch-light
Desperately unloading her tiny missiles
Into the dugout below the hand made trailer
Lying gutted in the corner of the yard

Before her time she’d popped them
One by one into the scratched out ditch
Between bluestone and rubber
While thunder whaled across the blackened sky

Her tongue licked the slime from their sealed bodies like an elixir
Nuzzling them to her swollen belly
They hung from her milking machines
Torpedoing down for the fattest, she suckled them all

Not even the bolt from the fuming sky
Could shift her from that place
But Dad did

With soft towels spread on star speckled lino
Dad gently carried mother’s drenched body
Into the night’s sun room
Ears pricked like beacons

We followed closely carrying two small protests each
Pint-sized pup pulsed wildly tuning to locate their sonar
Lowered they scrambled blindly littering the floor
Clambering like shell-less turtles until six became one 
 

 
About Lee-Anne:

I have enjoyed words and their composition since studying English and Literature at school.  For more than two decades life and career seem to have arrested opportunities to write poetry and literature, and it has been all too easy to excuse the lack of writing for a lack of time.  However, I have consciously decided to reignite my enjoyment to write poetry and make the time.  Workshops and spoken word opportunities here in Brisbane have allowed me to have my poetry critiqued in a safe and trusting environment, which will add to my development in future compositions.

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