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Hello my name is Helen Hagemann. I’m going to read part of a chapter from my novel in progress, The Ozone Cafe.
Outside under the veranda, near a huge Lily Pily with flowers dripping pollen, he pulls out a striped hammock. He can’t quite get his legs in, so he smacks it against the outside post. It whips back and just as he catches it, he notices that the little black bird is back again, chit-chittering and fanning its tail under the shade of the laundry tank.
‘Hey, little birdie, whatcha name?’ he calls, sliding his words into a new language, and slowly padding his feet down the back steps. ‘Pomadina! No, naughty girl, you don’t chase it. Good girl,’ he says, stroking the dog’s mane. ‘It’s come again, hey?’
In the aftermath of his hangover, Vincenzo likens the bird’s chattering and tail action to Maria’s tongue. If she wasn’t going to be with him, or on the telephone when he rang, in Greece on holiday or some such thing, then she would be here, disguised as this brash, air-fanning bird.
For several days he had heard the bird chirping in the front yard, then out the back. When he hosed the garden, it had flown at him, chatting incessantly and disappearing again in between the jacaranda and shed. Once, when he was outside at the washtub, the bird had tapped on the window pane. He hadn’t taken any notice of its further antics, until Ronny Williams arrived to take him to Oyster Bay for a look-see at a property, the bird whirling, landing on the man’s windscreen. Ronny Williams had told him that they were friendly ‘little-creatures’ and if a Willy-Wagtail liked you they would be your protector and constant companion. They also didn’t play havoc in the gutters like those pesky sparrows.
Now, or perhaps it was his heavy night that opened a door of perception, Vincenzo is suddenly aware of the bird’s constant communication.
‘It’s Maria! My Bella. Ha, my woman as a bird,’ Vincenzo chuckles. His good fortune making him so excited that nudging the dog forces Pomadina to fall off the veranda and into the garden.
The next day, Vincenzo, feeling a little healthy and vitality returning, and not drinking the previous evening, opens a packet of crackers and crunches them onto a plate. He leaves them under the tankstand, where he knows the little bird forages. He collects a few things in the house so that he can lie and wait, hidden in the hammock.”
ABOUT HELEN HAGEMANN:
Helen Hagemann’s poetry and prose have been published in Overland, Blue Dog, Famous Reporter, Eureka Street, Mascara Literary Review, Southerly, Westerly and Island Magazine. In 2004, Helen won an ASA poetry mentorship studying with NSW poet, Jean Kent. In 2008, she won a Varuna Macquarie Longlines Poetry workshop in Katoomba, NSW. In association with the Australian Poetry Centre’s New Poets Program her collection Evangelyne & Other Poems was published in 2009. Helen has an MA in Creative Writing, writes prose poetry, and is currently working on her second novel The Ozone Café. Helen teaches prose at the Fremantle Arts Centre and poetry at the Grove Library in association with the Out of the Asylum Writers Group.
“I loved my time at Varuna and was lucky enough to have a poetry chapbook published from the Longlines Poetry Workshop. I’m now writing a second novel which is really the first. My reading from a chapter titled Stealer of Secrets was inspired by a Willy Wagtail who used to visit the Fremantle Arts Centre where the group of writers I belong to, OOTA, meet each Friday at noon. The Willy Wagtail was completely tame and hopped around underneath the tables, so I utilized this for a scene in the novel to show the remarkable patience of my main protagonist, Vincenzo Polamo.” Helen Hagemann
Evangelyne & other poems, Australian Poetry Centre, Melbourne, 2009
The Joyous Lake, an e-book of poetry @ issuu.com/evangelyne/docs/joyous_lake
Par écrit : poetry of the feminine, an e-book of poetry @ issuu.com/evangelyne/docs/par_ecrit
The Attitude of Cups Melbourne Poets Union, (ed.) Susan Stanford (2011)
Indian Ocean Voices, mgversion2_datura (ed) Walter Ruhlmann (2011)
The Weighing of the Heart, Sunline Press (eds) Shane McCauley/ Roland Leach (2007)
The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Newbliss, County Monaghan, Ireland, Mid Sept – Oct 2011
Varuna Writers House, Katoomba NSW, 25th Aug – 2nd Sept 2008
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