The Think Behind the Ink

If you can get past the fact that I’ve deliberately used the wrong word in the title just so I can have some internal rhyme, this post is an explanation of the reasoning or meaning behind my recent body art.


In a general sense, both tattoos are representations of the professional aspects of my life – teaching and writing.

The inverted commas on my wrist allude to the style of writing I am prone to write; poetry and short stories. In Standard Australian English, when these text types are discussed in reviews or analyses, their titles are presented in inverted commas (because they are “texts” within texts). I’m also a big advocate for the power of spoken word poetry and have coordinated two TEDx events and attended three others, so speech marks feel incredibly apt. Beyond that, I like the fact that at any given time I can hand write whatever quote I want in the space in between – so my tattoo is fluid rather than static like most body art.

The larger tattoo, on my back, is by deviantart user GoodFella2582. I hope he doesn’t mind that I used his design. It really spoke to me as a writer. I think writing is a part of my genetics, a talent that is heaven sent (if you believe in that sort of thing). For me, the halo is a symbol of goodness and references the cathartic benefits of creative/artistic pursuits. The wings suggest an unhindered imagination and a desire for achievement, to ‘rise up’. The pencil carries connotations of creativity and potential but it also means I can make mistakes without fear of them (or their effects) being permanent. I like the fact that it is bent too as that could signify writer’s block, an obstacle that afflicts many authors.

The quote, “The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink” is attributed to T. S. Eliot. I teach some of Eliot’s poetry and I enjoy reading his work too. He has been hugely influential on modern and postmodern writers, and there is no doubting his talent, intelligence and breadth of literary knowledge. To me, this is as much about bringing texts to life as it is about breathing life into texts. It also reinforces that writing is hard work, as alluded to by Ernest Hemingway when he said, ‘There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.’

Anyway, that’s me. Thanks very much to the team at DH West Coast Tattoo – especially to Emily who gave me these pieces.

If you’ve got tattoos, I’d love to know what you’ve got and why you went with that design.

AFL Round Review: Round 3 in Haiku

Collingwood (21.14.140) def St Kilda (10.6.66)

The Magpies took flight

in a dominant display

after quarter time.

Carlton (11.18.84) def by Essendon (16.9.105)

The Dons won the game

but Chris Yarran won the fight

with a strong left hook.

Adelaide (12.8.80) def Melbourne (7.13.55)

Feathers were ruffled

as Vince roughed up Dangerfield

and the Dees played hard.

Sydney (16.15.111) def GWS (12.18.90)

The Swans got the win

in the Battle of the Bridge

but they lacked the Goodes.

North Melbourne (16.9.105) def by Port Adelaide (17.11.113)

Port got their first win

in an absolute thriller.

North were valiant.

Brisbane (8.10.58) def by Richmond (21.11.137)

The big cats faced off

but the Tigers roared loudest

and scared the young cubs.

Hawthorn (19.13.127) def Western Bulldogs (8.9.57)

Cyril owned the skies

as the Hawks thrashed the Bulldogs

in Tasmania.

Geelong (16.9.105) def Gold Coast (13.18.96)

One thing is certain,

bad kicking meant bad footy

for the wayward Suns.

West Coast (12.9.81) def by Fremantle (17.9.111)

The Derby was won

by the quarter time siren

as Freo ran hot.

AFL Round Review: Round 2 in Haiku

West Coast vs Carlton

Kennedy kicks 10;
as a team, Carlton kicks 9.
Mick’s on a knife’s edge.
This year, these Dogs bite
– as the sluggish Tigers learned.
Bont was fantastic.
A game of two halves
but 14 unanswered goals
saw the Giants win.
The Crows swooped early
to murder the Magpies’ hopes
and top the ladder.
The Sun is setting.
Two losses to underdogs
must hurt Rocket’s boys.
Kennedy conquered
as Port felt the pressure of
Buddy’s brilliance.
Fyfe was in full flight
as the Freo midfielders
stormed the Cattery.
The flag was Hawthorn’s
but their grip slipped a little
as the Dons held on.
Red-faced in Round 1,
Roos fans didn’t have to Waite
long for redemption.

AFL Round Review: Round 1 in Haiku

So, Haiku are normally about the seasons (or at least that’s what Wikipedia tells me). The footy season counts, right?

Whatever! Here goes anyway…


Carlton vs Richmond


An explosive start

but Blue dreams died with Daisy;

Kamdyn came to play.


Melbourne vs Gold Coast


Seven new faces

help the Dees break a hoodoo

on Ablett’s bad day.


Sydney vs Essendon


Unseen for some time,

the Swans won just one quarter

to get the four points.


Brisbane vs Collingwood


The Lions were Rocked

as the Pies took possession

– of the ball, that is.


Western Bulldogs vs West Coast


The result was clear:

the Yanks call it a Brown out

and Dogs love to run.


Saint Kilda vs GWS


Nick fought like Maddie

but was hit from behind

as the Saints succumbed.


Adelaide vs North Melbourne


The Kangas put in

an “insipid performance”

– Tex had a day out!


Fremantle vs Port Adelaide


Fit, fast, ferocious.

Two teams that are finals bound

fought to the finish.


Hawthorn vs Geelong


The only question

after that Cat-astrophe;



It’s NaPoWriMo

April is NaPoWriMo, the loser cousin of NaNoWriMo that sits in the corner of the bar in its skinny leg jeans, flannelette shirt, hoodie and sunglasses. NaPo has a cigarette (not necessarily the tobacco kind) in one hand and a pen in the other. NaPo has feelings and it’s not afraid to write them down or recite them in a voice that has a rising intonation and pauses where you don’t anticipate them.

That’s right, it’s National Poetry Writing Month. Just like its November counterpart (National Novel Writing Month), NaPoWriMo should really drop its ‘National’ tag as it has become a worldwide creative pursuit. Basically, regardless of whether you’re NaPo-ing or NaNo-ing, the name of the game is to write each day. If you’re writing in April you’re aiming for a poem a day; if it’s November you’re writing to a word count.

The greatest challenge in writing a poem a day for a whole month is coming up with the inspiration. If you’re working towards a novel you’ve got a clear direction and focus but, unless you’re writing a series of themed poems, coming up with a new idea for 30 consecutive days can be quite difficult.

So here are three activities to get the creative juices flowing, just in case you need them.

  1. Take on a new voice

Sometimes the reason you can’t write is because you feel as if you’ve exhausted your voice, so take on another one. Imagine what poetry from your favourite fictional characters would sound like. What would Gwen Harwood’s sonnets look like if she was writing today (“She sits in a park, her iPhone screen is cracked…”)? What poems would Hollywood produce?

If you can’t think of what your favourite celebrity would write, type their Twitter handle into

Poetweet takes your tweets and makes them into 1 of 3 types of poems. You can put your own username in (as I have below) or type in the profile of a celebrity. It won’t necessarily give you a poem you’re happy with but it could provide the spark you need to write something better.

Poetweet Sonnet

  1. Write to a pattern

Knitters use a pattern. You can paint-by-numbers. So why not write to a formula too?

It works for an academic piece. High school students everywhere write theses that go: “In (text), (author) uses (generic conventions) to (generalisation about the human condition).”

So why not set yourself a pattern to follow when writing a poem? I’ve written a poem about the seven deadly sins that contains seven stanzas of seven lines, each with seven syllables. Why not do the same? Or, you could come up with your own numerical concepts like:

  • 9 stanzas, each one reflecting a different life of the same cat (presuming cats have 9 lines as the old wives’ tale suggests)
  • 9 stanzas on the 9 wonders
  • 4 stanzas on the 4 seasons
  • 5 stanzas on each of the 1 Direction boys – sorry, 4 stanzas
  1. Find a poem

Found poems are awesome. Do a Google image search of found poetry or erasure poetry and you’ll be blown away by how creative found poets are.

Essentially, all you need to do is take an existing text and ‘find’ a poem by erasing, adding, reordering or refashioning the words and/or phrases therein.

So, there you go. Happy writing, people!