Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

51. From the ARCHIVES 3: I'm just a station on your way

Peter Elbow says, “If we pay more attention to the everyday, self-sponsored independent writing that ordinary people do, we build a more commodious and complex but more accurate model of writing”.

I wrote my first story …

I wrote my first story when I was very young. I can see the scene vividly still, even though it was almost 60 years ago. I am sitting on the sofa at Aunty Vonny’s house. It is Christmas, I think. all of my cousins are there, and my aunts and uncles – my father’s side of the family. The adults are sitting around Aunty Vonny’s lounge room; my cousins are outside playing. I’m on the sofa, in the lounge room, the only child among the grown ups. I have a duplicate book, with white and yellow pages, and I am writing my story on the back side of the sheet. The duplicate book is one my father has brought home from work; he is a labourer with the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.
I think it must be the Christmas of 1949. I’ve finished grade one. I’m six and a half.
I’m asking Uncle Charlie a question. Charlie Beale has recently married my cousin Verna – Aunty Vonny’s daughter. I am vaguely aware that my mother doesn’t altogether approve of Charlie Beale. He’s older than Verna by ten years, and he’s been married before.
I ask Uncle Charlie: “How do you spell one?”
He says, “Which one?”
People laugh, and I’m embarrassed.
“There are two ones,” he explains, and he is laughing too.
“There’s WON – like in “He won the race “. That’s W …O…N. Then there ONE – like “He only had ONE leg.” That’s O …N…E.”
I bury myself in my book, in embarrassment.

The Farmer and the Crow

Wun day a crow sat on a fence.
The farmer said, “Get off my fence.”
But the crow did not move.
The farmer said, “Get off my fence or I will shoot you!”
But the crow still did not move.
So the farmer shot the crow.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
But he missed.
And the crow laughed and laughed and laughed.
Ha ha ha, he he he, ho ho ho, haw haw haw.
The End.

I do not really know how I became a writer
In an article entitled, On Being A Writer, V.S. Naipaul wrote:
I do not really know how I became a writer. I can give certain dates and certain facts about my career. But the process itself remains mysterious. It is mysterious, for instance, that the ambition should have come first – the wish to be a writer, to have that distinction, that fame – and that this ambition should have come long before I could think of anything to write about.
My experience reflects that of Naipaul. How was it that a quiet little working class boy came to imagine himself a writer at the age of six or seven. How was it that this slow reader, who did not read his first book, from cover to cover, until he was well into High school, aspired to be a writer during his adolescent years.

As Naipual says, “.I can give certain dates and certain facts about my career. But the process itself remains mysterious”. I too can give certain facts: I wrote my first story, The Farmer and the Crow, when I was 6; in form 2, in secondary school, I wrote a lengthy poem – The Malas Hunt – in the meter and rhyming pattern of the Australian classic, The Man From Snowy River.
When I was 13 or 14, I commenced work on a most ambitious project – I would write my own encyclopaedia… This was – to use Peter Elbow’s term – an entirely “self sponsored project. In Forms 4 and 5, I contributed stories to the school magazine. I recall writing a piece around that time: romanticised imaginings about being a writer in which I asserted that a writer needs only a pen, some paper and a rose. I even had a pen name: I wrote that piece under the pseudonym of Edwin Morgan.

I recall writing and performing in a play at a Methodist Boys” Camp in the summer of 1958/9. It was entitled “Operation Underpants: A Story of Down Under”. Ours was the winning performance at the camp concert. The piece was, of course, utterly derivative, and based on the Goon Show. Many of the jokes were recycled, as was the plot.

During my adolescence, the Methodist Boys” Camps, held at Ocean Grove, became the highlight of my year. I attended every year from 1955 until I completed university. Church summer schools and Easter camps became an increasingly important – and influential – part of my life.
These became a “community of discourse” for me. Through them I met an array of charismatic mentors, none more influential than Henry Gay. From the moment I met Henry, I wanted to be like him. He was immensely popular among the boys at these camps because of the rapid flow of his wit, his energy and his performance skills. He was a performer, a joke teller, a man who created puns – or so it seemed to us – at the point of utterance.

I recall two performance pieces he developed, and which he performed, at Boys Camps and also at the huge gatherings of Methodist young people that took place once a month at North Melbourne Town Hall and Melbourne Town Hall. These were a cross between university reviews and a revivalist meeting. There’d be comedy sketches, musical performance, earnest talks by Church leaders … two hours of “entertainment” and evangelism.

These were attended by up to 3000 young people from youth groups all around Melbourne.
Henry’s sketches and performances were memorable. In one, Henry mimed a popular song of the day. That’s not all that difficult, you might say. Except that Henry had rerecorded the song, disrupting its flow with repeated lines or phrases, constant jumps, both forward and back. It went for around two minutes, and its performance was extraordinary.

In the second sketch I remember, the scene was a town in the Wild West. There were two characters: a tough bully and gunslinger and a milksop, in a face off. Henry played both parts, delivering first one line, then running the length of the stage, and delivering the response.

It went as follows:
Tough Character: Hey, you! (Runs to the other end of the stage.)
Weak character: Who? Me? (Runs back)
Yeah, you! (Runs back … and so on…)
I wanna talk to you?
Yeah, you.
…. Okay

And so it went. The sketch involved enormous energy, and involved quite a few one liners, such as:
Tough Character: You been seeing too much of my girlfriend.
Weak character: Well, she shouldn’t wear that kind of bathing costume.

For a considerable time I worked on becoming like Henry. I began to collect jokes. I remember creating a Joke Book in which I recorded one liners:

That pigeon wants to buy my house?
How do you know?
He left a deposit on it.

I’ve got a little dog at home. I call him Handyman.
Why do you call him Handyman?
Because he does little odd jobs about the house.

Hey mister, what’s in he bag?
It’s manure, for me strawberries.
That’s funny. We have cream on ours.

How did they divide parliament into two houses?
They sent a petition.

From whence did this impulse to be a writer arise?Reflections on the years at secondary school
From whence did this impulse to be a writer arise, an impulse undaunted by the traditionalist English teaching of the time. I recall few of the writing tasks we were given during our years of secondary school. One that does stand out was a piece in Form 3 (Year 9):

Write a letter to a refrigerator manufacturer complaining about a faulty part.

Despite the near absence of reading during the first 15 years, I always did well in English, often topping the class. I generally did very well in Composition.

I can date the beginning of my serious reading life with some accuracy. In Form 4 – Year 10 – our English teacher was Ruby Tout. The set text that year was John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. That was the first book I read. I was a laborious reader; each page would take me three, four even five minutes. As a result,, I often gave up on books. But with Steinbeck, I persisted. I loved the book; so much so that I began reading his great work, The Grapes of Wrath – all 400+ pages of it – in the last couple of weeks of that year: 1958. I finished it midway through 1959. Those two books were the catalyst to my becoming an avid reader.
I see now that that year had a huge influence on my life as a writer and reader, and that Ruby Tout was perhaps the most influential of all of my teachers, because it was also in her class that I came to a sudden and inspirational understanding of what poetry is about.
Prior to the moment in Ruby Tout’s class, I’d seen poetry as a game of rhymes and rhythms and repetition, as something to be committed to memory, and to be later performed.

At Coburg 484 Primary School we had been required to learn poems by heart. I remember, in grade five, attempting to learn the poem The Wreck of the Hesperus. All that remains are two lines:

It was the schooner Hesperus
That sailed the wintry sea…

It was written by Longfellow. Looking at it again after all the years, I can see that it was written in the style of the border ballads. The sentimental nature of the poem becomes evident from the third and fourth lines:
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
To bare him company
Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax
Her cheeks like the dawn of day
And purples on white as the Hawthorn buds
That ope in the month of May.

I recall memorising William Wordsworth’s Daffodils:

I wandered a lonely as a cloud
That floats on a high o’er of vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

I learned, too, the Australian poems: The Man from Snowy River, Clancy of the Overflow, and so on. I can remember enjoying the music of the language of poetry: the rollicking beat of poems like The Man from Snowy River:

There was movement at the station
For the word had passed around
That the colt from Old Regret had got away …

And poems like:
And the highwayman came riding, riding, riding …

But the rollicking beat also somehow led me to undervalue what these poems contained; I think I saw poetry as an entertaining diversion. Certainly I had some propensity for rhyme and rhythm. Among my souvenirs is a poem I wrote when I was in Form 2. We had studied the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky, and had been asked to make up a nonsense poem. My efforts began:
There was movement in the village for the word had passed around
That the Malas they were going to have a hunt

What followed is too embarrassing to repeat; it consisted of made up words like zingpree. What strikes me about this is that at 13 I had such a strong sense of both rhyme and rhythm; I was able to produce a tolerable imitation of the rhythm of The Man from Snowy River.
Poetry, however, was something we didn’t take all that seriously – a mistake in those authoritarian days of the mid-50s. I made the error of talking too much during Russell Williams’ Form 2 English class, when I should have been attending to what he was telling us about the poem Mort d’Arthur. My punishment was to copy the poem out six times. Six times! And the poem itself ran for six or more pages! Enough to put you off Tennyson for life!

‘There are moments I remember all my life …'

So year 10 was the turning point for me, when I was taught by Ruby Tout. In many ways she was an old-fashioned teacher, but she was passionate about literature. Under her teaching I came to realise the poetry was about the expression of passionate feeling.

Poetry wasn”t simply: de dum de dum de dum de dum. Poetry was about the creation of stunning imagery, of word pictures that grabbed you by the scruff of the neck and made you look and feel.

Before Ruby Tout, poetry had meant rollicking rhymes or soppy sentimentality. My conversion came about as a result of a single poem: The Death of a Bird, by the Australian poet A.D Hope. It was 1958, and these many years later I still read that poem with almost reverence; it still has the power to move me.

For every bird there is this last migration;
Once more year the cooling year kindles her heart;
With a warm passage to the summer station
Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.
Year after year a place on the map divided
By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come…

Throughout the poem there are striking images; Hope captures in words the experience of the migratory bird. The poem describes the image of sands that are ”green with a mirage of valleys”, speaks of the “ghosts that haunt the heart”s possession’, and of love, pricking her “course in lights across the chart” – these struck me with great force.
I think it was the final 3 stanzas of the poem that most affected me:

Suddenly, without warning, without reason,
The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.
The immense and complex map of hills and rivers
Mocks her small wisdom with its vast design.

I recall being deeply moved by the final stanza:

And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,
Receives the tiny burden of her death.

No doubt there would be those who would criticise the poem for its anthropomorphism – the ascribing of human emotions to an animal – or for its sentimentality. However, as a 15-year-old, I was deeply moved by the poem — and I still am. My ongoing attachment to it is probably sentimental itself; that poem marks a significant turning point in my relationship with literature.
A D Hope played a part a few years later in consolidating my recognition of what poetry was about. I was introduced to his poem Chorale at University. It began:

Often have I found her fair
Most when to my bed she came …
… Love me now, oh now, o long
was the burden of her song …

This was poetry of sexual passion. Such things were almost unheard of in the repressed fifties in Australia. At this time, sport on Sundays wasn’t allowed; hotels closed at 6 pm; the criterion for whether a book should be accepted or banned was: is it fit for the deputy premier’s 15 year old daughter to read? If not, the book was banned. Many books were unavailable in Australia at the time. It was a time when Graham Kennedy was banned from TV for 3 months for doing an impersonation of a crow’s call live-to-air: “Farrrrrrrrrrrrrk, farrrrrrk.” On TV programs, couples – even husbands and wives – could not be shown in bed together. (In “The Nelsons”, a popular American TV series, the parents – Ozzie and Harriet – shared a room, but had single beds! Anything more risqué would not have got past the censors.

Yet here was a poet writing openly, passionately, about the sexual act. (I had read accounts of sex before this: smutty porn, hand written and grubby and tattered, passed around furtively among boys. It was titillating stuff, yes, but sexist and degrading – dirty).
I remember one line from Chorale in particular that resonated; Hope was describing the moment immediately following orgasm:

Dancing fires descend the hill…

The poem ends with a shift with the woman … "crying for the wasted seed”, and with her grief at this lost opportunity to bear a child:

Love may not delay to long
Is the burden of her song.

Looking back it strikes me that what I was responding to was the capacity of literature to touch our hearts and minds deeply. I recognised that poetry was not simply an intellectual exercise, with the purpose of creating rhythmic, rhyming verse, a sort of smartarse playing with words. Poetry was about expressing matters of the Soul.

At 11, I decided to be a teacher, and that ambition remained paramount throughout my adolescent and early adult years. I briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a minister of religion, and was a lay preacher in the Methodist church from the age of 17 till I was 23. During my mid-late adolescence, I was also an athlete, a son, a Fool, a Lover. But the Writer self was there too, not dominant, but emerging now and then, tentatively.

It might soon become an unbreakable habit
I began my writing journal in mid 1976. In the late October, the following entry appears in my diary:
I talked to R today … about the problems of keeping this journal. It was relatively easy while I was away, but now I’m back it’s harder to discipline myself. Still, I’ve kept the average up, and who knows, it might soon become an unbreakable habit.

And two weeks later:
I’m feeling better and better about writing – as though I have freed up all sorts of expressive possibilities. And I now feel writing for oneself – it is now less of a performance for others.
Increasingly in the journal, there are ideas for writing projects – a sign of a growing interest in seeing writing as not simply therapeutic and personally satisfying, but as being work, involving projects to be completed.

In mid November of 1976, the following idea is recorded:

Things that happen while you sleep – a book for children:
myself to be a real audience; I’ve at last taken the notion of Elephants sneak in and keep their trunks warm in your bed. Hippopotamuses turn on the taps in the bathroom, and lie on their backs in the water, and blow bubbles. Kookaburras sit on each side of your bed head, and tell jokes to each other. Then in the morning, they laugh.Wombats …
These are early scenes from a writer’s life, a reader/writer who was, in many ways, a “late bloomer”.

(I realised recently that what was true of my reading life was also true of my life as a musician and song writer. I had always loved songs and music, always sang in the shower, at the camp fire, in the car, walking along corridors … But I didn’t learn to play the guitar until I was 32, and I began writing songs in earnest in my mid 30s – although, as with writing, there are a couple of earlier hints that I might be a song writer.)

And so, what is this PhD about?
In part, my PhD is an attempt to unravel the emergence of a writer – to trace, in a detailed way, the course of this development, the process of this growth. As Naipaul wrote:
… the process itself remains mysterious. It is mysterious, for instance, that the ambition should have come first – the wish to be a writer …
Naipaul writes of Proust’s book, Against Sainte-Beuve. Sainte-Beuve believed that the details of the personal life of the writer can be very useful in understanding his/her work. Proust’s reply was as follows:
This method ignores what a very slight degree of self-acquaintance teaches us, that a book is the product of a different self from the self we manifest in our habits, in our social life, in our vices… The implication (is) that there is something more superficial and empty in a writer’s authorship, something deeper and more contemplative in his private life …in fact, it is the secretion of one’s innermost life, written in solitude and for oneself alone, that one gives to the public. What one bestows on private life – in conversation, however refined it may be – is the product of a quite superficial self, not of the innermost self which one can only recover by putting aside the world and the self that frequents that world.

In this project, my interest is not in the “quite superficial self”. It is not simply dealing with “autobiographical fact”. There is a quite extraordinary book by a therapist and researcher called Robert Romanyshyn, entitled The Wounded Researcher. He argues that researchers must find the “soul” in their work; they must seek what it is in the work that touches/engages their “soul”.
My PhD is about teasing out the processes whereby “the secretion of one”s innermost life, written in solitude and for oneself alone, that one gives to the public’ take place.
Eleanor Rigby, puts on the face that she keeps in a jar by the doorbeatles, 1960s
The outer shells of the self – the personas that we present to the world – are like the mask Eleanor Rigby keeps in a jar by her door. They are the face she wants the world to see, worn “for” other people. The persona is, as Proust observes, a “quite superficial self”. The innermost self – or selves – is achieved by “putting aside” the persona.
The act of writing, of disciplining myself to record and reflect, result in a kind of peace. It is not a control over emotion and experience so much; more, simply, an awareness of it. It is the constructing of some meaning, in an evaluative way, that is happening; so that even if the drives and intentions and deep-born impulses are not under the control of my consciousness, they are at are not under scrutiny. The wild man with unkempt hair and wild sounds of fury can be seen, but cannot be cornered and/or held fast.

Journal, Nov. 21, 1976
This is an early insight, I think, into the therapeutic role of writing; writing creates/enables “a kind of peace”.

On November 26, there is a piece of thinking about experience:
We make the world in our heads, construct meanings of things, construct relations between objects, events, persons. These are “reflection”. “Objective reality” is assumed to exist because of these “constructions” or “reflections” in our minds. The meaning – the shape, texture, size, taste, “feelings” – of an object are made by us. It is Kelly: man makes a “template”; Britton; Persig; and relates to Plato’s forms. Reality is a way of looking at reality. The world is a way of looking at the world. The more primitive the society, the less willing/able to cope with clashes of reality

Naipaul quotes the poet Philip Larkin as saying: “you're finding out what to say as well as how to say it, and that takes time.’

This is, as the title suggests, very much a work in progress. It’s like the words of one of Leonard Cohen’s songs …'I'm just a station on your way/ I know I’m not your lover’. This is a station on the way. There’s quite a distance to go.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

50. Lewis BARTRAM - my great great grandfather

Since discovering last year that I was adopted at the age of 3 months, I have been involved in an obsessive search to discover as much as I can about my origins. My records of family line go back to the early 1700:
Lewis BARTRAM married Elizabeth WHISH in 1761.
Their son ROBERT BARTRAM (born in 1881) married Martha HYAM in 1809.
Their son LEWIS BARTRAM was born in 1816. He married Fanny LLOYD in 1839. After she died, he married Ann WILLIAMS - in 1850.
Their son, Joseph BARTRAM became Joseph BERTRAM - probably throug a clerical error on his marriage certificate. Joseph married Sarah LIGHT in 1886, and their son, NIGAL ARTHUR BETRAM was born in 1893; he was my grandfather. At the end of the First World war, Nigal married Lily GENTLE, and they had 15 children. Their third child,
GWENDOLINE ESTHER BERTRAM, was my mother. She was born in 1922.

The first member of the Bertram family to come to Australia was a 16 year old boy named Lewis BARTRAM. He arrived in Van Diemans Land (Tasmania) on the convict ship Emperor Alexander on August 12, 1833, having been transported to the penal colony for seven years for the crime of having stolen a duck.

Lewis had been charged at the Bedford Quarter Sessions on January 1, 1833.
Genealogical research, undertaken by Charles Rowley, has yielded a little information about Lewis BARTRAM’s background, and that of his forbears.

Lewis BARTRAM was born in Cranfield, England, on January 7, 1816. Thus far, the Bartram family line has been traced back to Lewis’s grandfather - who was also named Lewis.

The earliest record of BARTRAM

Lewis BARTRAM’s grandfather was also named Lewis BARTRAM. That Lewis married Elizabeth WHISH at Kempston, England, on December 10, 1761, which suggests that he had been born in the 1730s or 1740s. There are no details of her date or place of birth at this stage.

In all, Lewis and Elizabeth had nine children.

William September 22, 1762
Married Rebecca WARREN, September 13, 1787.
They had one child: Elizabeth BARTRAM, who married Daniel KNIGHT on January 17, 1811

Mary June 25, 1764
Mary married John FALLDOR on December 8, 1791

Lewis June 9, 1766
Lewis married Elizabeth BERRY on January 31, 1793. They had one son, also named LEWIS BARTRAM, on April 22, 1794.
Lewis was married for a second time, on January 6, 1801. His second wife was Ann THOMPSON. They had one child, a daughter named Martha, born January 1, 1805.

Martha February 3, 1768

Elizabeth June 9, 1771

Samuel May 7, 1773

John November 10, 1776

Richard April 23, 1779

ROBERT October 14, 1781
ROBERT BARTRAM married Martha HYAM on October 3, 1809, at Cranfield. So Robert was 11 days short of his 18th birthday when he married.

Robert BARTRAM, the last-born son of Lewis and Elizabeth, was born in Wooton, England, on October 14, 1781. Robert BARTRAM married Martha HYAM, at Cranfield, on October 3, 1809; he was 18 at the time. There are no details about Martha’s birth date or place of birth.

Lewis BARTRAM’s parents

Robert and Martha BARTRAM were married on October 3, 1809. In all they had six children:

January 6, 1811
Henry BARTRAM married Mary COLE on October 9, 1831. So he was just 20 years of age.

July 4, 1813

January 7, 1816
Lewis married Fanny LLOYD on July 7, 1839, in Launceston, Tasmania. They had one child – a son named John BARTRAM, who was born on April 7, 1849. He was just 5 months old when his mother died. Fanny died of asthma on September 8, 1849.

Lewis married Joanna SHEHAN on April 2, 1850 – seven months after Fanny’s death. Joanna had also been married previously. She was born Ann WILLIAMS.

Lewis died on December 19, 1900.
Joanna died on June 14, 1905.

They had 9 children together.

January 24, 1819

June 30, 1827

October 25, 1829

Lewis BARTRAM – the first BARTRAM in Australia

At this stage we have only tantalising glimpses of Lewis BARTRAM’s life. He was born on January 7, 1816. He was still just 16 years of age when he was charged with having stolen ducks. The law at that time made no allowances for his relative youth – a crime was a crime and he was punished for it. Initially he spent time in goal, where he was described as being of ‘indifferent character, bad’.

He also spent time on a hulk – a prison ship, moored on a river. At this time in England the gaols were severely overcrowded, and old ships – ships that were no longer sea worthy - were used to house criminals. A report on his behaviour on the hulk indicated that he was ‘orderly’ and ‘single’.

The ship’s surgeon on the long voyage on the Emperor Alexander from England to Van Diemans Land indicates that his behaviour was ‘very good’ – he was not reported for any breach of discipline during the long voyage to the penal colony. His trade is recorded as ‘ploughman’. He was 17 at the time, and stood 5 foot. 7 inches. The record indicate that he was of fair complexion, had a round face, fair hair, but no whiskers. He had hazel eyes, a small nose, and freckled arms and face.

Over the next six or seven years he managed to keep out of trouble. However, he was admonished for ‘disorderly conduct’ in June 1839.

On April 18, 1839, Lewis applied for permission to marry Fanny Lloyd. Fanny’s age is uncertain. At the inquest held into her death she was recorded as being either 26 or 29, and was born in 1820 or 1823. Thus when she married she was either 19 or 22. She had come to Van Diemans’ land as a free settler.

Lewis was still serving his sentence. He applied for a Ticket of Leave on June 3, 1839, but at the time of his marriage it may not have yet been granted a Ticket of Leave. Thus he needed the governor’s permission to marry. The pair were married at St. John’s Church of England ‘by consent of the government.’ The marriage was witnessed by William Elliot and William Jones.
[As Clark explains it, a Ticket of Leave could be granted to a convict; it ‘meant they were free to work for wages and to find their own board and lodgings, free in all ways except that they could not move out of their police district, return to any part of the United Kingdom ... or exercise any legal rights in the law courts.’ Nor could they marry without permission.
(History of Australia, Volume 1, p. 241.)]

Lewis and Fanny had one child: John BARTRAM was born on April 7, 1849 – almost ten years after they married. The child was baptised at the Launceston Methodist Church on May 24, 1848. Fanny died of asthma when her baby was just 5 months old. Lewis and Fanny had been married for a little over ten years.

Lewis remarried on April 2, 1850 – seven months after Fanny’s death. His new wife was Ann WILLIAMS. Like Lewis, she had also been married previously. Her birth name was Joanne – or Johanna – SHEEHAN (variously spelt SHEHAN and SHEEHAN). Ann ‘used her mark’ when signing the marriage register – which indicates that she was in all likelihood illiterate, and ‘signed’ by placing an X as her signature. The wedding took place at the Independent Chapel (Congregational Church), in Tamar Street, Launceston, and was witnessed by Richard and Eliza GOUGH. Rowley records that Eliza also ‘made her mark’.

According to Rowley’s genealogical notes, Ann WILLIAMS had two children when she married Lewis in 1850. One of these children was named Mary Ann WILLIAMS; the other was George WILLIAMS. Mary Ann WILLIAMS married Henry KERRISON – and there are extensive records of the KERRISON family.

By this time, Lewis was recorded as being a farmer. In 1867-8, he is listed as owning property in the Supply River area, West Tamar. He lived near the present day town of Winkleigh, north-west of Launceston. In 1861, Lewis BARTRAM and two other men – Mr KERRRISON (The father-in-law of both Mary Ann and Martha) and a Mr Brown – built a church at Supply River. According to Rowley’s Notes, the church is still standing today. In the cemetery at the church there is a gravestone erected to the memory of Martha KERRISON (nee BARTRAM).

Lewis BARTRAM died in Launceston on December 19, 1900, at the age of 84. The official cause of death was recorded as ‘old age’. Johannah BARTRAM died of heart disease on June 14, 1905.

The children of Lewis BARTRAM:

i. The children of Lewis BARTRAM and Fanny LLOYD
April 7, 1849
Mother: Fanny LLOYD
John married Amanda BRADBURY in Launceston on October 29, 1884.

ii. The children of Ann WILLIAMS

Mother: Ann Williams
Father: ?
July 4, 1813
Mary Ann married Henry KERRISON. They had 11 sons and one daughter.

George WILLIAMS Unknown Unknown

iii. The children of Lewis BARTRAM and Ann (SHEEHAN / WILLIAMS) BARTRAM

June 2, 1851
Martha also married into the KERRISON family. She married Solomon KERRISON, and they had 14 children. One of their descendants was Neil Blewitt, the Federal Minister for Health in the 1990s.

March 8, 1853
Elizabeth married Edward FOLEY. They had two children:
Joseph Ernest: born 1882

born 1887

August 19, 1854
Remained single. She died in Launceston on March 17, 1910. She was 56 years old.

May 15, 1856
Rachael (or Rachel) married James Albert MONAGHAN. They had three children:
James Albert: born 1874
Mabel Florence: born 1877
James Claud born 1883
Rachael kept her maiden name, BARTRAM, and her three bore the name BARTRAM.
Rachel died of tuberculosis on November 23, 1884; she was 28.

July 17, 1858
Joseph left Tasmania at some stage in the 1880s. On March 20, 1886, Joseph married Sarah LIGHT – the grand daughter of William LIGHT, a founder of the city of Adelaide – in the Gippsland town of Stratford. Joseph and Sarah
It is believed that the spelling of BERTRAM dates from the wedding ceremony.

August 20, 1860 Unknown

Susannah 1861
Susannah’s married name is unknown. She had one daughter: Theresa

Margaret Anna (Hannah)
December 23, 1863
In 1879 she married Archibald Joseph GRAHAM. They had 8 children. Archibald is listed as a shoemaker, and Margaret is recorded as being a ‘farmer’s daughter’. Margaret died on May 14, 1945, aged 82.

March 23, 1865
Lewis married Mary Jane THOMPSON in 1891, and they had two children:
Cyril: born July 18, 1892
Lewis Russell: ... born April 23, 1894

Monday, October 11, 2010

49. Great teaching and great learning: The Lake Cullulleraine Writers' Camp, 1995-201?

It’s been going since 1995 – the annual Irymple Secondary College Writers’ Camp. Irymple is a 7 – 10 secondary college, with around 600 students. The Writers’ Camp began, all those years ago, as an attempt to lift the profile of writing in the school. It’s now an “institution”. For 16 years, groups of kids from Irymple SC have participated. In the first year, there were just 25 kids. For ten years, the numbers were pretty stable – around 35 – 40. In the past few years, the numbers have sky rocketed. In 2008 more than 90 attended; in fact, over the past 5 years, the numbers around 60- or more.

Bill Sauer has taught English at the school for 20 or more years, and has been the ‘school-end’ organiser of the camp for 15 of its 16 years. He participates in every workshop, and writes stories and poems and songs himself throughout each camp.

Many of the students who attend the Writers’ Camp come back year after year. For me, as a teacher and writer, it is a site of ‘great teaching and great learning’.

Erin Wookey is one attended for 4 years consecutive years. She says of the experience that ‘ ... the energy and passion of the staff’ were in part what kept bringing her back. But it was more than that: ‘… for me it meant finding a place where being ‘bright’, slightly hyperactive and creative was applauded by staff and fellow students rather than being something that had to be contained to fit in with the rest of the class!’

What is the Writers Camp like?

Ten thirty, a.m., on a warm day in May.2007. A bus pulls up in front of the RSL Camp at Lake Cullulleraine. Sixty students are soon off the bus, collecting their sleeping bags and paraphernalia, and then establishing their territory in one of the spacious dorms.

The Camp is not exactly ‘five star’. There are two large dorms on either side of a large mess hall. Each dorm – one for boys, the other for girls - can hold up to about 60 students; they sleep on double bunks. The floor rises and falls, and creaks when you walk on it, and the carpet has seen better days. The old piano in the corner of the Mess Hall is seriously out of tune.

In no time flat, it seems, the dorms resemble what they in fact will be for the next three days: the bedrooms of adolescents. There are mobile phones, guitars, CD players, I-pods, clothes, dressing gowns, towels, toiletries …

There are some familiar faces, kids who were at the Writers’ Camp in the previous year. For us – the workshop presenters – there’s the inevitable feeling of excitement and of apprehension: first day jitters, all the stronger because neither Lena nor Phong have run workshops before. Both are ex-students of mine, from a TAFE Writing course in which I used to teach. (Lena is an emerging writer, a mature-age student in a Writing and Editing course a terrific writer, and she has teenagers of her own. Phong is 26. He’s a graphic artist and animator, and is also a student in the writing course, where he’s wanting to develop his writing skills to complement his outstanding artistic skills; but he’s very quiet and shy – almost withdrawn. He’s nervous about running workshops with teenagers.)

The other two workshop leaders know their stuff. For Sarah, this is her fifth Lake Cullulleraine Writers’ Camp, and she and I have run dozens of song writing workshops, both together and separately. For Myron Lysenko, a professional poet since 1989, this is his tenth Irymple Writers’ Camp. He’s run more poetry workshop than he’s had hot dinners.

At 11a.m. they’re seated in the Mess hall. I introduce myself.

‘Good morning. I’m Barry. It’s great to see so many of you here. How many of you were here last year?’ I ask.

Hands go up; I count 24. We had 36 kids at the camp last year; 24 of them are back – that’s a great return rate, considering that last year’s 36 included quite a few year 10 students who will now be at the Senior College. And we have 25 Year 7 kids. A couple of the students are at their fourth Writers’ Camp – they’ve attended each year, from year 7 till year 10. When I first began to run the camp the participants were almost exclusively girls; this year 14 boys are taking part.

‘Welcome to the 16th Annual Irymple SC Writers’ Camp. You are now part of a unique tradition. This is the 16th year that this school has conducted this camp – and I’m proud to have attended every one of them. Many of you weren’t even born when the first Writers’ Camp took place. I don’t think there’s another school in Victoria that has established and maintained an annual writers’ camp over so many years. There may not be another school in Australia that has such a long-running and successful writers’ camp. Indeed, it may be unique in the world.

‘I know that all of you are here because you enjoy writing. Writers’ Camp gives you the chance to really focus on your writing. For the next three days you’ll be given the chance to write poems, stories, songs and sketches for performance.’

We distribute copies of the program, and a 64 page exercise book to each participant. The workshop leaders then strut their stuff. Sarah sings one of her award-winning songs: ‘Men’. Phong shows the kids some of his art work. They gasp when he holds up his portrait of Yoda. ‘Wow!’ I hear from several places around the room. ‘Cool!’ Lena reads a short story, an autobiographical piece, drawn from her childhood. She reads beautifully; the kids are utterly silent, and their applause when she finishes is strong: they like the piece immensely - they identify with it. Myron reads a quirky rap poem about being a writer, and then sings his song ‘Beauty Spots:

Some people are beautiful
and some have beauty spots.
Most people are handsome
but I am one who’s not!

I round off the introductory performances, singing ‘At Lake Cullulleraine’, a song I composed the day before the camp:

At Lake Cullulleraine

At Lake Cullulleraine, everybody’s busy writing stories
At Lake Cullulleraine, everybody’s busy writing songs
Down by the lake Myron’s teaching people to write haiku
And in the hall people are exploring ways of drawing well with Phong

At Lake Cullulleraine, everybody’s playing ukulele
At Lake Cullulleraine, we have formed a ukulele band
It’s such a thrill to listen as they practice playing daily
You seem to hear the sound of lapping water upon Polynesian sand

At Lake Cullulleraine, they’re driving me insane
I’m going of my brain, at Lake Cullulleraine
Oh they make us suffer pain, at Lake Cullulleraine

Getting down to work

We divide the kids into working groups: six groups, ten students per group. Each group contains a mix of kids from year 7 to year 10, with boys and girls in each group. Each group has 5 minutes to come up with its own name; each year I’m surprised at their comedic ingenuity: Ya Mum, Nothing, The Popes, SBS (which I discover means ‘Slap Barry Senseless’).

Then it’s straight into workshops. The workshop groups consist of 20 kids. They cycle through the four workshops: song writing, drawing, poetry and autobiographical writing. Each workshop is around 90 – 120 minutes. It’s intensive, but engaging. There’s a break of 15 – 20 minutes between workshops.

There are electives, too. These give the kids the opportunity to follow through on the activities that really interest them: Song writing, Drawing, Poetry, Life writing, Learning Ukulele, Lake Cullulleraine Not So Big Band …

During free time, the kids mainly sit on the grass at the lake-side. Most of them work on revising a poem, a story, a song; some rehearse for the concert. The workshop leaders are available during this free time to give feedback to the kids, either encouraging their efforts or pushing them to improve on their work. Lena roams from student to student giving advice: “Show, don’t tell.” … “Good writing often comes from using vivid details, not overt expressions of feelings.” …Myron does the same: “This poem can be about everybody, and so it’s not really about anyone.”

On the first night we have a literary quiz. This year it’s called the The Great Myron Lesmurrayenko Poetry Challenge Cup.

After camp – driving home and reading the evaluations

It’s Friday afternoon, and we’re driving home. We have the kids’ evaluations of the camp. As we drive, Sarah reads aloud what the kids have written. We laugh, we draw breath, we are excited.

Lena’s workshop was fantastic. I think I wrote a really good autobiography… Before Lena’s workshop I didn’t even know what autobiography meant…

I liked this because it let us all express our feelings. Lena’s stories were really inspirational.

Overall this workshop was my favourite. I thought that Lena really brought out the story in me, and helped me put it on paper.

The writing workshop was brilliant. She taught me a lot about writing great work.

I loved it x 50!

It’s the same for all of the workshops – and electives. One boy writes that the camp was ‘Good’. It’s the least enthusiastic response in the whole group. The others write things like:

The Drawing class was awesome. Phong is a master at drawing. He taught me how to draw from simple shapes. Phong’s Yoda picture was awesome!

I loved the drawing class. He is a great drawer, and some of the work his students produced was just amazing.

I will always remember just how much fun it is to write all of your thoughts, feelings, past experiences – anything – just writing down by the lake…

I loved the song writing … I never really thought that you could just grab words and make them into a song. I thought it was pretty cool and I’d love to do it again.

The concert was the best part of writers’ camp. It lets everyone hear your work … there’s songs, dances, poems, stories and more …

I loved the concert. I got to learn more about each person. And it was great how everybody co-operated with each other. I’m glad I presented my poem.

I think the concert is a great idea. We got to produce poetry and songs and boost our confidence in writing and reading them. I loved having a concert.

Myron’s poetry class really gets me going. He explains so clearly what we have to do, and because I’m into poetry more than anything, it’s what I look forward to …

For one student, the highlight of the camp was … the two poems I wrote and read out at the concert. I wrote them from the deepest inside of me

So what is going on? Why such a positive response? Why do kids keep coming back, year after year in some cases?

The reasons are hinted at in the evaluations. Lake Cullulleraine is a place of calm; many of the kids love – dare I write it – the serenity - just writing down by the lake…

Others value the chance to express their confusions and fears and loves and hates – the chance to write… from the deepest inside of me …

In many schools, writing isn’t seen as being all that ‘cool’. Not every kid is like the one who liked Myron’s class because … he explains so clearly what we have to do, and because I’m into poetry more than anything, it’s what I look forward to …

The Writers’ Camp provides a place of safety, a place where kids who enjoy writing and self expression can write and express themselves without fear of being teased or put down or regarded as nerds.

The Writers’ Camp is a part of the Irymple SC culture. The logistics are invariably difficult. The school’s program is dynamic, and very full; the demands on teachers are great; it’s not always easy to find enough staff to provide the required levels of supervision. But each year the school does it.

Last year, Jess and Erin came back for a visit. Erin is now in the third year of her degree in Medicine at Monash. She attended 4 Writers’ camps. Each of her sisters – Stacey, Chelsea and Cassie also attended 4 camps. There was a ten year period during which there was at least one of that family of girls at Writers’ Camp.

This year – and last year - Dan and Ryan came back. They’d first come when they were in Year 9. At that time, they were into rap. Ryan is currently doing year 12 while Dan is studying at TAFE and they are into song-writing and poetry. Both had to get special permission from the senior college to attend last year; it took quite a bit of negotiation on their part, but their persistence won out.

Toward the end of the 2006 camp, Myron and I were chatting to Dan and Ryan about the future, and we mentioned that we’d been thinking about ending our involvement in the camp.
‘After all,’ I explained. ‘I’ll be turning 64 next year … And Myron’s not getting any younger.’

A few days later, Daniel wrote to Myron; what follows are excerpts from his email:

Yet another exciting and highly successful Writer's Camp! There is certainly a lot of new blood in the creative arts world, young kids with lots of talent...

Every Writer's Camp makes memories that are still entertaining to talk about until the next one rolls around.

When other people hear my concert performances from Writer's, I realize they hear dodgy sound, ordinary singing and sluggish timing, but when I hear them... I realise that with focus, practice, and passion, I can achieve what I have wanted ever since I started writing, to bring my songs to life. I have the Writer's Camp to thank for this. All it took for this kid to realise he's not as far away from his goals as he thought is a few modern-day magicians like yourselves. I realise the Writer's Camp won't last forever... But it will live on forever inside my heart.

If I'm ever famous enough for people to care about my life, I'll write an autobiography and dedicate the biggest chapter to you guys... This event has been the turning point and motivation in my life 3 years in a row now. It seems to come along just as I fall into a rut and the whole thing pulls me right out and sets me back on track.

The following year Dan and Ryan came back as workshop leaders, and offered an alternative music workshop at next year’s camp.

So we return each year. After their first Writers’ Camp, Lena Pasqua and Phong Lam are on a high, buoyed up and surging on the wave of positive responses to their workshops. Sarah Cowan is still in awe of the powerful emotions that the camp generates, the commitment and enthusiasm of the kids, and their willingness to have a go.

I’ll let a student have the all-but-final word:

The most satisfying piece of work was the ‘I Remember’ piece I did with Lena … I got to write about something I have never told about or explained to anyone. And that just felt like a huge relief to write it down.

For many kids, the Writers’ Camp is good fun, and they get to try their hands at song writing, drawing, writing poetry and stories. For some, it is deeply moving, and they write from the deepest inside of me. For some, it’s a source of motivation – can even be a turning point in their lives. To be part of all of that is very special: a privilege.

It is great teaching and great learning.