Tag Archives: Creative Writing

Writing Myself to 30 – A very personal project #writeme30

So tomorrow (or today really by the time I publish this or you happen to be reading it) is my birthday. I’m turning 29. And I’ve been thinking lately about how very far I’ve come and all the beautiful, inspiring, frustrating and wonderful people who’ve touched my life in a variety of ways.


2014 also happens to be a really big year of personal transition for our family – Nic and I have both taken on new jobs, Mr Z is at a new school, we’ve moved from my regional heartland to the smelly city (Adelaide actually is quite a beautiful city but I’m still struggling with this transition) and in approximately six weeks we’ll have a new baby in our lives. There’s also a lot going on in our professional worlds – including my participation with the Foundation for Young Australian’s ‘Young Social Pioneers‘ Program and all the learning, dreaming and strategising this program is further inspiring.

Life is both terrifying and exciting right now and the tension between the two is making me ask myself all sorts of glorious questions about my creative practice. What it has been, what is is and what it could be. And most importantly what I want it to be.

And so.

I’m embarking on a year long project to explore and deepen my writing practice through the relationships that have shaped me – I’m writing myself towards my 30th Birthday, 18th March 2015.

Over the last week and a bit I’ve asked selected people in my world – some constants, some visitors, some past moments, some new additions – to provide me with a photograph.  I said the photographs could be anything, a streetscape, their smiling face, a rubbish bin in an alley. They might have special meaning. Or they might not.

With each of those photographs I’ll be writing a creative response. It might be a poem, a short story, a piece of personal memoir, a scene in a play or a general blog post. I’ll be publishing a photograph and it’s personal response every week starting tomorrow (18th March 2014) until I turn 30 (18th March 2015).

I expect that the way I engage with and respond to the photos will change a LOT over the year and it might start out pretty rough. But you know, I’m all about the being vulnerable thing and sharing my process as I go. So welcome to this journey with me. Wish me luck!

*If you want to follow along with this project #writeme30, subscribing to this blog (from the sidebar) will send you an email update every time I publish a new post so you don’t need to remember to keep checking back. 🙂

The Hunger #willieverbegoodenough?


Psstt…..I put in an entry to SOYA this year.

Loads of other way more qualified and talented people have as well, so please go over and take a peek and support my entry so I don’t feel so small and alone….


Take a look here – http://www.soya.com.au/entrant/alysha-herrmann/


Voices Project


PS – Also don’t forget you can buy a copy of The Voices Project (here).

Late Night Poetry – #reallyshouldbesleeping

I don’t want to live in a world like this

A world with no sorry. No goodbye.

Just slipping and tripping and saying like this

A world with fences


Soft, smooth toys

I don’t want to live in a world like this

A world with boundaries

And risks too terrifying to face.

I want to live in a world

With breath



Smiling children



This thing we call responsibility

No one else is going to take it away from you

Rise for you

Be you

Just you



I want to slip




Out of


This aching, sweeping, needing hunger

I want to turn it off

And turn in

Tune myself to another station

And not see

What I see

What you put before me

I want to sweep all the joy in

The laughter

And leave behind






Made of Men

Made of sorrow




because_a little awesome fear is all it takes

Sometimes you’re just going about your work day.

In amongst it all you scan blogs, emails, social media for the latest grants/opportunities/news to share/engage with/devour.

Sometimes in the middle of all that you discover the gems. The large and small things that hit you in the best kind of way. The kind that sing to your inner longings and remind you why you do all this crazy stuff. The stuff that makes the people you know shake their head at you, because, because they don’t know the hunger in you.

The ache.

Sometimes you read words like these:

because of a sickness that says I can never be content where I am
always searching around for some new thing
because of a laziness that says never make something that lasts
only keep running for the next project
because of a fear that keeps me moving
that if I stop it will all fall apart under me

because half of life is breaking what i have
and the other half is trying to put it back together

because hummingbirds
because buenos aires airport on a winter night
because sound artists playing laptops and bamboo flutes in a gallery patio
because stoned and mumbling awkward spanish on a balcony

because to test ourselves against some kind of measure we don’t know what

I stumbled across this gorgeous poem while stalking the doings of the ever fabulous David Finnigan. Because was written during a residency in South America by Finnigan and Brother (David and Chris’ ‘band’ – so much cooler than a band, they’re exploring the messy edges of sound, word, song and music). You can read the full text of the poem here and download yourself a copy of the tracks developed during their residency.

David also happens to be a producer of the You Are Here Festival. Check it out and get involved in some of your own awesomeness.

My contribution to the interwebs/musicality recently? This. Enjoy.

Breath deep. Ache and hunger with me.


More on Home and the Fragile Soup of Family – 26th March Cafe Poet Update

This month has become all about home and family. Every poem I’ve written and every poem that’s been written to me. I’ve had this preoccupation with trying to pin to paper my range of feelings about the Riverland, the complexity of my family. What home means to me. Reading through everything I’ve written there have been some obvious patterns emerging. Home needs a sense of connection to others, a sense of safety and inspiration from the landscape, home needs the people that you love and the people that you love are complicated and messy.

I’m lost in this place. The place between who you were and who you are. I’m trapped there with you. My fear traps me. My love. My hope. My baby brother. Because I see. What you could be. What you have been. What you are. My heart is breaking. Breaking. Broken. A broken soft footed thing. Reaching. Are you reaching? Falling. Just falling. No. Reaching. You reached and I reached. Now we’re waiting. To fall. To fly. For something. A tipping place. A new face. A way through. It’s worth it. It is. I believe absolutely that it is worth it. Actually truly worth it.

This is the last day of Café Poeting for March, the next time I’m here it’ll be a new month and I intend to make a concerted effort to explore a completely different theme and place – but for today it’s still March and I’m thinking of those people I love. Those people who make the fabric of my life. Complex, damaged, precious and unnameable.


Hear the catch.
The smash.
The something.
Voice on the other end breathing.
Is this it?
All there is?
I’m saying
All the wrong things
Reminding you
Of what you’ve
I hate that
Hate you
Hate me
Want to keep you safe
Want to wrap you in love
In hope
Instead change the subject
Ask a question
Tell a funny story
Pretend I don’t hear you
Losing control
Pretend I don’t know that you’re close
So close
I’m so small
So far away
I can do
I’m afraid



An awkward boy. A less awkward time. And something else slipping quietly past. Someone loved. Someone precious. Who are the people we’ve lost? The people we’ve left behind. Snapping shadows on your shins. Gulping windows in your eyes. Forgotten over and over and over and over and over.

A better brain – 19th March Cafe Poet Update

After a three week break I return to my little Café corner – pleased to find an envelope waiting for me in the poetry box (yay!). The residency has been slow to start. I’ve been busy and tired. Not giving the time I should to promoting and sharing what I’m doing. I know it. I feel guilty. I smile at the people that come through the door. Think I need a better sign. A better poetry box. A better brain.

The poem I find within that envelope is about home. This home. The Riverland. This place of opposites. This place of hope within the fear. I like this place. I think about this place as home. What is it to me? What will I write? How will I say it? How will I stretch what it means to me across this accusing blank page?

I’m forcing them. The words. Having to work three times as hard as I expected to. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. A heavy feeling. A something, something feeling.

I know there are so many people out there who tap a bit of poetry into their laptops or their phones or their diaries at night. Where are they all? Why can’t I hear them? Find them? Reach them? I’m trying…..really I am.


So home. I said to you. Sit down. Be quiet. Let me think.

My dreams dance around
Something precious found

Home, another place
A new lonely face

Teach myself to sing
Still a broken thing

I try to reach, past
The fear, still the last
To Love


Describe to me that tree. The man said with a sweetened voice.
I said. No. Maybe. I can’t.
Deep rich red. Scarlet in a rainbow. Only shades of scarlet on my plate.
He said try harder
I said. It’s big. It’s lost. I’m small.
Reaching, swaying, a woman’s curves, a smoothed over hill.
He said it’s not those things.
I said. It is. It must be. That’s what I say.
The river runs by. An eternal friend. I’m like to be swimming
He throws his hat at me. Dives deep.
My words are small. I sit.


Family Soup, a little overwhelming – 20th February Cafe Poet Update

No real update -just some of the poems I’ve been working on….

So hello said the little sleepy town
Waking gently.
Not quite on the road to ok just yet.
Who ever is.
Something and no one and everyone and everything
That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?


And my brother. Strong and silent.
And me. Loud and scared and something else.
It’s the moments between those places
The words beneath our eyelids.
A hand on a shoulder
A quiet word
Letters on a tiny screen
Trying to.
Missing you.


Red face
Angry eyes
I’m sorry
Not at all
I sipped in a breathe
Caught myself before I cried
Looked at your puffing cheeks
And felt
Only a remembered pain
Half lit
I’m big now
A woman
Or something


I want to wrap you in this feeling I feel
Tell you somehow everything will be wonderful
Or at least alright.

I want to kick those fears from your eyes
That’s what I’ll do, I’ll chase them away
Further than the furthest star

I want to ask you – who are you?
And hear your reply with both my ears and my heart
Walk forward
I’m just spilling out a spray of words. Half connected, barely formed thoughts. Searching, reaching, slipping. Finding my feet in this big wide aching world. I’ve covering the white with questions. Knowing it isn’t supposed to be this way. But not quite knowing what it is supposed to be…

A catch. A rip. A tear. A twinkle in your eye. Softly. Slowly now. We’re building a life.


A big wide street. Tansplanted palms. It’s not the tropics. It’s another sleepy somewhere town. Trying to pretend we have the water to last forever. Too much pride. Need a little more love. Not enough pride. To shout and stamp out feet and say ‘We are here’. We fold our thoughts behind our eyes. Sit with it. The fear. The knowing. The believing. Stopped reaching for each other. Now just waiting. For someone to tell us it’s all over. I want to be braver. Stronger. Harder. Faster. An aching. Aching. Aching. Aching. Something without a name. When did this happen to us? I remember your eyes under the fluro lights. Your cheeks were red and our hands were hot and sweaty and we thought this feeling would last forever. Now the hall is empty. The fluros dimmed. And my darling I don’t think you’re ever coming back to me and it actually. Breaks. My. Heart.


Family. It’s a soup. Spicy and hot and warm. A little pleasant. A little overwhelming.

Poetry Anyone? 6th February – Cafe Poet Update

6th February 2012

So…..poetry anyone?

Today is the second day of my residency as a Café Poet in partnership with Australian Poetry and Sprouts Café…….I arrived today (still with my misspelt sign!) to check the poetry box and get set up.

The box was empty – sad face! However, not unexpected being the first week and our media only just starting to jump on the bandwagon. I’m looking forward to reading and responding to all of your poems next week. Remember you can drop in any time during the week and pop a poem you’ve written into the poetry box and I’ll then write a poem in response to yours the following Monday. This isn’t a feedback service – it’s a creative conversation, so let’s talk!

But I’m pleased to report I’ve had a productive morning speaking to the local Youth Development Officer and Magic FM about the residency (and other creative things) and finally now sitting here getting stuck into some personal poetry writing.

I’ve spent the last half hour or so losing myself in the lovely paintings (by Heather Wasley), which adorn the walls of Sprouts Café as inspiration. My early efforts thus far have been fairly clumsy however there are a few glimmers of gold I think I’ll take the time to work on this week. See you soon!

War, Love & other metaphors

The following piece of writing was written for a university assignment in 2009 (I think – I didn’t actually date the work so it could have been 2008). It’s a piece of writing I intend to return to and heavily rewrite at some point in the future so very open to what is and isn’t clear (I expect the piece to become a performance work which will likely clear up some of the issues around time and who’s speaking but *shrugs* – we’ll see)….

1st Person

The Creative Piece (Untitled)

Weirdly tangled dreams struggle
Against my skin, straining to
Rip their way in

Melissa sleeps. Gently, deftly he folds himself on to the bed beside her. Down, on to that broken warped monster of a bed, with the metal frame sagging and bowing to the ground beneath it, groaning beneath the weight of unspoken words. A packed suitcase crouches impatiently at his feet. Waiting, biding its time, yet ready. He speaks to her, a whisper, a sigh,
His eyes flicker in time with her strained breath, dancing around in his head, itemising each and every hollow of her sleeping face, tracing the line of her stretched limbs and the sweat soaked spaces between sleep and waking. He strokes stray licks of hair from her damp skin. He folds his hands back towards his body, begins to twist his fingers around one another, twisting and searching, scratching at the imperfections, the raised hardened spaces of skin

In another time, in another place, another Melissa, the same but tangled into the past enters another room with another bed. Her clothes are torn and ripped and beginning to seep dirty water onto the floorboards.
“Fucken bastard. How could he? Am I stupid? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Fuck Fuck Fuck.”
It becomes a litany of sorts, a conversation that will never be over. It will play in her head for the rest of eternity. Even when she ceases to notice it, it will still be there playing over and over again in a never ending loop of words just beneath her reach.

My dreams haunt me. Have I travelled deep enough?

“I’m awake.”
“I know”, he says it quietly, sighing the words into her hair.
“How long have you been sitting here with me?”
“Long enough,” the words slowly slip between them. His eyes hang on the curve of her jaw; weight hangs between them, the weight of other lives, other loves, half remembered dreams, “I’m leaving.”He breathes in, she breathes out.
“I know,” she reaches for him. They collapse into one another. Hands reaching, pressing, searching, their eyes dart away from one another’s face.

And the curving curve of wanting you. You press your hips into my belly. Knead your hands into my skin. You melt into me; Or I into you. I want to consume you. I want to wipe away the indents of the past and melt into the future as part of your skin. I’m trembling.

“Will you talk to him before you go?”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, what would I say? What is there that I can say?”
“Just that it’s not him, he didn’t do anything wrong. He’s so small. He’ll miss you.”
“I know”

It’s a flicker between then. An awareness of wanting. Her smile is thin, brittle. They sit on opposite sides of a table, discarded drinks and nibbles strewn across the space between their hands. She’s hiding the real curve of her lips from him. Trying to stop them both from giving in, closing the gap between what they want and what they need. She angles her body ever so slightly towards him. He’s a replacement person and he knows it. And is she trying to please him or herself? She’s trying to leave him clues. A broken pencil. A bent nail. A half chewed feather. He spreads the plastic tiles across the table, counts out the wall, readying the game. She waits. The tiles in his hands are asking for him to name her as his. So he does. And they begin creating a new story. A new tragedy to build into the layers of their lives.

So this is what we’ve become? The pawn of a man? Look at his suitcase, He doesn’t love us. Shut-up. I don’t want to hear you, little voice inside my head. You’re the angry ruined part of me and you’re wrong! YOU’RE WRONG! …He never stopped loving the girl I could have been. He gave us everything he could. And I did love him. But not once did I tell him as I should have. Without flinching from the past

The walls begin to close in around her. Blue walls with barely concealed cracks and photographs of faraway, unreachable places stacked from floor to ceiling. Each box still sits where it was dropped on the way in, every item in the room waiting for the chance to unpack itself. These things all so casually disregarded, inch their way around her now, blocking her into the fear.

That other boy is holding her hands down, pressing his heaving body into her insides. She’s a fish on a hook thrashing, doomed to fail. He’s rising and falling within her, punishing her. Ruining her. Crack. His hand lands on her face, a conquerer taking his due. The bedding heaves and shifts around them, the heaving shifting weight of time. It’s raining.

“I’m sorry. I’m not him. I can’t undo what the past has done to you. I loved you then. It’s choices you know. Choices. We wreck each other – for what? To prove that we’re real? To prove we’re all ALIVE?”
“Don’t,” she forces the words through dry lips.
“I would have smashed his face in if I’d known.” Inside of his skin is the burning searing memory of betrayed. He knew I loved her. He knew. She was so beautiful. All fire and midnight. And life. She was real. In a room full of fake tans and tissue paper breasts. She smiled at me. And I thought the rest of my life was waiting for me.
“I didn’t blame you. Never. Not then and not now. But sometimes when you look at me, I’m 15 again with his eyes looking at me. Holding me down. Making me broken.” She’s reaching for his hand as the words tumble out, her fingers slipping and sliding amongst the sheets, searching for a sign. A crack in the armour of his leaving through which she can find herself again.

I had his dirty hands on me for weeks.

She stands beneath the water, soaping and rinsing in a seemingly unbroken pattern. Steam soaks the air above and beyond her outside edges. Her skin vibrates and hums in its frail attempts to keep her inside thoughts locked in. She exits now, moves slowly from room to room. Brushing past all the signs of reality, the stained coffee coasters, the left out milk, the shoes kicked off carelessly in the hall, all the signs of a life that once was. Before.

Before he was there, over me, pushing his way into my dreams, shattering me from the inside out and nothing then could feel the same again. They were brothers. Brothers with their own broken past, they loved and hated each other in equal measure. We were seventeen. I was seventeen. My beautiful life was just about to begin. I couldn’t look at either of them in the real world after that. The one who loved me. The one I’d thought I loved. Stupid girl. I was 23 when He found me. The father of my child had slit his wrists. Confessed everything in a letter. So he wanted forgiveness. Bastard. And you were there, standing right in front of me, asking me to let you heal me. I tried.

“I can’t I’m sorry,” he says the words, “I thought I was strong enough,” with each pause he comes closer, “Thought I could save us. I love you. I always have. But there is someone waiting for me. Who doesn’t claw my heart out every day. Who doesn’t look at me and see my brother.” He leaves the room now. Picking up the suitcase as he extends his body into the space beside the bed, his left hand wraps itself around the handle, a new life curled now within his deft fingers.
She curls into a ball. A broken, empty, bereft stained thing without the words to bridge, to heal the gap between lived and believed. A little blonde haired boy runs into the space she’s attempting to empty, he throws his awkward body against her back. His jeans are faded, worn into living by other children’s legs.
“Mummy why are you crying?”
“I’m just a little sad.” The lie falls so easily from her teeth.
“Don’t be sad mummy, I love you the best of everyone,” her hand covers her mouth, muffling sound.
“How much do you love me?”
“Four infinity!! when I’m a growed up I’ll marry someone just like you, coz you are the beautifullest i have ever known in my life.” She tries to answer, she sucks great deep breathes of air into her hands, her shoulders heave into stillness and she finds the words then.
“I love you little one” And the sobs burst now from her eyes and chest, her hair, her whole being, spilling out everywhere. She takes the bedding in her hands and flings it across the room, out and away from her body. In the aftermath of action, in the overfilled room, yet vacant now without his weight, she notices the gift he’s left. The small black box, with the peeling edges sits quietly by the bed mocking her with its innocence. Her hands reach out carefully, lifting the precious memory into her arms. She turns the box in her hands, taking in what it means to her. As it hits the wall, as the little black plastic box bursts, tiles spill across the ruined floor, clicking loudly against one another as they fall. The little boy watches with wide eyes, child’s eyes. She digs her nails into opposite hands, forcing the sharp edge against the precious skin. She sucks in breathe after breathe after breathe with her tiny child running his fingers through her hair.

Where did you quicken?
Your butterfly wings within my skin.
You give my layers light
You are my echo
More than that
You are my arrow
My living breathing arrow
My child
With eyes
And sighs
Tiny veins
Beating heart
The depth of love
In us

Reveal – the baby play

This piece is in the very early stages but feel free to comment all the same. It’s one of the few pieces of my writing that is autobiographical.

Singing as if rocking a baby to sleep:
Tora Tora
Don’t you fear
Tora Tora
I am near

It’s about the story. Building the story. Building the life. Building the home.

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. We don’t always know where to place and mark each of the segments but they are there somewhere. This story started before I became a mother, maybe even before I became a person separate from my own mother. It’s not a story I’ve written alone certainly, parts of it were written for me by women who I’ll never meet. And men. It always somehow comes back to men.

When life first moved inside of me it was the deepest, lightest joy. It was some vibrant, tearing light reaching beyond my fingertips into this fragile world of ours. I loved my son before I knew his name, his face, his voice. I loved him because he was mine and I was his. I loved him because he needed me, he was my responsibility and I accepted that, I chose him and I welcomed him into the world despite all the reasons I might not have.

There are things men do to women that can’t be undone or forgotten and fears built into us by men and women both that echo these demons. My son came from a relationship that wasn’t love and wasn’t pure, it was toxic and rotten and broken. I was so deeply flawed and afraid of loving myself that I let my life fill with memories I wish I didn’t have. My son, my beautiful soft breathing child came from the wreck of a 4 year relationship between a child and a child that will never grow up. I’m someone else now though the ties will never leave, they’re written in law and blood but they mean almost nothing in the face of what it really means to love a child.

I didn’t love my son because he was related to me, his being related to me is what put me in the situation that caused me to love him but his being related to me in and of itself was not the road to love. The road to love was responsibility, choice. The choosing of life, the accepting of ‘I will take care of you. I will be yours and you will be mine and I will keep you safe from the darkness in the world as best I can’. And so it was and so it is.

He saved me, that tiny squashed pink and white bundle of skin and bone and sinew and breathing sighing screaming life. He saved me because I loved him enough to demand a better life. To stretch into my life with a greater courage than I thought I had because I had a promise to keep.

So what is the story for me? The building of a life, the building of a home?

I became a parent before I became an adult.

There was no time for pressure, for expectations, for a woman’s duty. I fell into this love, this choice quite accidentally.