Tag Archives: Women and Cars

Brisbane New Voices IV: Women and Cars by Trudie Murrell

With the launch of Brisbane New Voices IV only two days away (Tuesday April 23), the excitement is building like a storm. Once again, if you are anywhere near this fine city of Brisbane, I hope that you are able to join us on the Riverbend Books deck as we welcome this collection into the world. Tickets are selling fast, but there are still some available here.

As part of the ‘build up’, I want to share a ‘first taste’ from both poet’s collections. So let’s start with Trudie and the title poem from her debut micro-collection, Women and Cars. This poem kick starts the collection and its freewheeling energy resonates throughout the remainder of the poems. For me, it is one of those poems that once read/heard, is never forgotten.

BNV IV Women and Cars

 

Women and Cars

For three generations the women
of my family have held
an abiding love for their cars.

No trading up or trading in
for this lot. They name their cars
Bathsheba, Aphrodite, Boadicea, Regina.

Call on them, count on them
trust and depend, festoon them
with tokens of adoration
because their cars are the opposite
of their men.

It’s not about speed
or even prestige —
I don’t think any of us
has owned a car with more
than four cylinders.

It’s about freedom.

A car can mean a quick get away
or at least a change of scene.
It doesn’t matter what
sort of a day you’ve had —

maybe your man
didn’t come home again
or got drunk or dropped dead
or fucked your friend on your favourite sheets —
Egyptian cotton, fantastic thread count
and now you’ve got to burn them.

It doesn’t matter, you still have Cleopatra
the 1973 2-door Celica
and if you have a car you’re free.

It’s a little room
a place where you can go
play loud music and watch things slide by
until you’re somewhere else.

Maybe there’s a touch of the
gypsy in us – we’ve  just traded the horse
for horsepower.

So the next time you see a clapped out shit box
beetling down the highway
woman behind the wheel singing like she means it
kids strapped in the back while the crayons and
board game pieces roll about the floor
forming alliances and rifts
with every undulation of the road

give the lady a wave.

She’s probably one of my mob and even though
she’s barely pushing 100 km/h, in her head she’s flying.
She’s going somewhere, anywhere
and believe me
she’s free.

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Brisbane New Voices IV: an interview with Trudie Murrell

Seven days to go until the launch of Brisbane New Voices IV (buy tickets here), so let’s catch up with the second featured poet, Trudie Murrell as she talks about life, future projects and Women and Cars.

BNV IV Women and CarsBrisbane New Voices IV featuring your micro-collection, Women and Cars is about to be launched at Riverbend Books. When did you first become serious about publishing your work?

I have been writing for performance since 1988 so I know the satisfaction of hearing a live audience respond to my work.  I’m sure it  was around the same time I began to fantasize about my work being published.  I use the word fantasise because it seemed, for a long time, to be something so unachievable and mysterious that I didn’t take any steps towards making it happen.  That kind of thing (publication) happened somewhere else, to other people.  I simply couldn’t conceive that a young regional writer’s work, my work,  could be published.  Who would be interested? I thought I’d have to finish a degree, move to a capital city adopt a strong political voice and write about controversial topics to be published.  Besides, I never felt that my work was polished enough, finished enough for publication.  This kind of limiting thinking stayed with me well into my thirties.  I gathered other reasons for why I could never be published along the way – I was older, I had children, I didn’t have enough time to devote myself to being a disciplined writer who sought out publication opportunities.  I still wrote, whenever I could, I was filling quite a few desk draws with my work, I still fantasised about being published one day, but I didn’t do anything about it.

In 2006 I moved to Brisbane and met you, Graham, at a Queensland Writers Centre poetry workshop you were conducting.  Afterwards, I remember you extended an invitation for us to submit to the SpeedPoets zine.  I decided to do something about it.  Two of my poems were accepted.  This seemed to blow all my theories about publication out of the water.  I was so rattled, I didn’t submit anything else for consideration anywhere until 2010. The Queensland Writer’s Centre continued to let me know about publishing opportunities and competitions through emails and their magazine.  Each poetry workshop or event I attended you, along with others from the Brisbane poetry community continued to ask ‘Where are you submitting?’ Not only that, people were providing me with information about how to go about submitting to publications.  The first time a poem of mine was published in an anthology I was terrified about having to work with an editor. I decided to be honest about my inexperience and asked for her advice and guidance.  Even when I held a copy of the book in my hand I didn’t feel like I was serious about being published – I’d just lucked out.

I guess I became serious about publishing my work when you asked me to be part of Brisbane New Voices IV.  Anyone involved in the Brisbane poetry community knows how supportive and encouraging you are towards fellow poets just as they know your drive, attention to detail and consistency as an independent publisher to produce quality publications. You set the bar high, so I  had to step up.

Women and Cars seems deeply personal. What are the events/happenings/aspects of your life that have made you the poet you are?

Aren’t you supposed to write what you know?  This is what I know, so of course it’s personal, but I come from a long line of story tellers – yarners and bullshit artists so not all of it is completely true, some of it is poetic license.  Women and Cars is my way of weaving a path back to where I began.  It’s a poetry map of how and where I was born,  recording how I got to who and where I am now. I miss North Queensland and these poems help me reconnect with it. It’s also a tool to help me remember I was not always a wife and mother.  It’s parts of my story but not the full story.  I listened to Peter Bakowski speak at Avid Reader last year.  He talked about telling his story in the particular, the importance of writing specifically, not universally, his desire to write authentically about his own experiences and observations so that it might resonate with others. Everything that has happened and continues to happen in my life makes me the poet I am. It’s a vulnerable way to write  and daunting, but it’s something I tried to achieve with these poems. I guess it has to be deeply personal to make the reader want to get into the car a take a ride with me.  I am surprised and pleased that the poem Women and Cars, in particular, continues to resonate with others.

Who are the poets that you return to; the one’s that continue to have a profound influence on you and your work?

I return often to poetry, all kinds of poetry, it has been a part of my life from the earliest time.  My mother loves poetry and would read it with me when I was a child.  I was reading predominantly Australian poets from the age of 11,  Judith Wright and Oodgeroo Noonuccal in particular.  Through my high school years I was reading Shakespeare, the Romantics, the Victorian poets, early twentieth century war poets and (of course, surreptitiously)  Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickenson, Ted Hughes and e.e.cummings. Bruce Dawe, Gwen Harwood, Dorothy Hewett and Rosemary Dobson became firm favourites in my late teens and the 20th century Australian female free verse poets have become my go to poets for inspiration.  A couple of months ago, I was reading Banjo Patterson’s The Man from Snowy River aloud to my 8 year old daughter when we were both overcome with tears at the description of the mountain pony’s decent.  I love any and all poetry that moves me but I love Australian poetry best.

What do you hope readers will take away from Women and Cars?

A few wry smiles and a small windswept hole in the heart that can only be filled with wanderlust and the dusty Queensland coast road.

And looking to the future… what’s next for Trudie Murrell?

I am trying to figure that out.  My husband has requested more poems that don’t involve women and cars.  More discipline in my practice is something I need to achieve.  I am interested in learning more about recording and sequencing and how to overlay that with performing poetry live.  Submitting more poems, starting a blog and finally collaborating with a good friend to bring a musical element to my work are on my to do list as well.  If I achieve any of these things this year I’ll be pleased.

*****

trudie-poetry-burlesqueRaised in the tropical North, Trudie Murrell has been writing since 1988.  She has spent most of her life in transit along the eastern seaboard of Queensland.  At the moment she lives in Brisbane with her husband and three small hitchhikers.  In the past few years she’s come to the realisation that everything she writes, really wants to be a poem. She’s decided not to fight it … Her poems have been published in The Green Fuse, Macmillan English 9 for the Australian Curriculum, Cordite and on Graham Nunn’s blog Another Lost Shark. She performs her work regularly at various spoken word events throughout Brisbane.

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Next Big Thing: Brisbane New Voices featuring Trudie Murrell

Earlier in January (can you believe that it’s no longer January…), I announced the two poets who would be published in this year’s Brisbane New Voices collection, and posted Vuong Pham’s Next Big Thing interview.

Now it’s time to post Trudie Murrell’s Next Big Thing interview, to give you a feel of the energy she will bring to her half of BNV IV. Over to you Trudie!

bnvweb

What is the title of your book?

Women and Cars

What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A series of poems mapping a road trip from childhood to parenthood.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Life. This series of poems grew from a short story written after the birth of my first child in 2001.  The idea that these poems might ever be published was planted by 2010 Brisbane Poetry Festival poet in residence Emily XYZ.  The idea for publishing this selection of poems in this form came from Graham Nunn who asked me to choose fifteen poems from my larger manuscript of forty-seven poems, to be considered for Brisbane New Voices IV.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Some of the poems included in this collection date back to 2007.  I have slowly been accruing poems on this theme since 1990.  The task of writing a first draft of the full manuscript has happened in two fortnight long bursts of frenzied activity, one in mid 2011 and one at the end of 2012.  Much of my ‘concerted effort’ writing tasks coincide with visits to my parents’ house or my husband taking holidays so that I have other people to take care of my three children.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The women of my family and where I was born inspired me to write these poems.  Growing up in North Queensland, road trips and telling stories were large parts of childhood and moving on.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The micro collection of Women and Cars will be independently published in Brisbane New Voices IV by Graham Nunn through Another Lost Shark Publications. It will be launched in April this year and will appear with the work of another Brisbane poet, Vuong Pham.

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?

As I am an emerging poet and still finding my voice, I can’t compare my style to others.  I was raised on the classics.  More recently, I have been reading the work of Dorothy Porter, Bruce Dawe, Dorothy Hewett, Julie Beveridge, Nathan Curnow and Michelle Dicinoski  and I hope my work has been favorably influenced by that.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

We all know the author doesn’t really get a say in casting – but if I could choose, I would choose someone unknown, someone emerging, someone who would surprise everybody with a brilliant performance because someone took a chance and chose her.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope it would make people who read it realise that poetry is not dry, dusty or esoteric. It’s about everyday life.

trudie-poetry-burlesque

Trudie Murrell is a child of the tropics who now lives in Brisbane. Since 1988 she has been writing poetry, plays and short stories.  She is also teacher, performer and a parent of three children.

Her poems have been published in The Green Fuse, Macmillan English 9 for the Australian Curriculum, Cordite, SpeedPoets zine and on Another Lost Shark.  She’s featured at Black Star’s Words or Whatever, Confit Bistro’s Back Room, Jam Jar and Fresh at the Library and she is a regular reader at SpeedPoets open mic.

*****

Brisbane New Voices IV will be launched at Riverbend Books on Tuesday April April 23, so stay tuned for more details closer to the event.

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