Winner of About My Mother announced; artist Charlie Whinney goes against good parenting and chooses favourites
29th March 2015
As an artist in my mid-thirties, reviewing the entries for this week’s Hour of Writes I felt a little emotionally ill-equipped and immature. The genuine love that shines through most of what was written for this week’s title 'About My Mother' is heart-warming and often harrowing. About two thirds of the entries I read were written after the death of the mother or deal with role-reversal: the child turned carer. All three of my choices deal with these themes in some way.
The winner this week scored the highest points – it cuts right to the bony issue of old age, caring and mortality. The five stanzas speak directly, with generosity to the reader, describing with sincerity a scenario and drama that I imagine to be repeated in different ways daily throughout caring for a very old parent:
Defeated by hair fall,
her face resembles a plant
that's stayed unwatered for too long.
Her eyes are full of longing -
like a child's in a candy store.’
My first short-listed piece is the one I enjoyed reading the most. It is a high-quality poem that tackles the title in a brilliant, imaginative and unlikely way. 'Genesis of a Dryad ' draws seamlessly on mythology, fantastical anecdote and biblical themes to build a complete narrative that is both descriptive of nature and also a life story with tenuous but tantalising analogies. I might be reading too much into this, but I liked the use of myth for this title as for young children 'Mom' or 'Mummy' is a concept bigger than the mere practical and physical; 'Mother' is the solid unmoveable reference around which the rest of life revolves, a force in nature like gravity. The mythical Dryad in this poem has many of these qualities, but also has its own life, rhythms and agenda described that children could never perceive, and the Dryad becomes more and more 'human' as the poem progresses.
‘Since childhood I have run,
from dwelling place of men,
into her welcoming arms
to sleep contented nights
upon her warm earth,
to wander fields and thickets
on winter's clear, crisp days.’
The second short-listed work is a wonderful bit of prose, 'dedicated to cooking by mothers… '. May I dedicate this editorial to the writer's mother? Written in a very palatable journalistic style this piece gives the reader a tasty glimpse of life growing up in (I am guessing) rural India, and the importance of food in the family. There are qualities described here I hope to bring to my own parenting, and it was a joy to read:
‘She had an uncanny way of knowing when I was likely to fall sick, she would start fretting, and worrying well before the illness would set in. No amount of cajoling would force her into rustling up anything other than what she thought would be good for my stomach. Her life revolved around cooking for the family, guests, relatives, and friends. Whatever she made turned out to be a delight. Memories are triggered whenever some particular spice reaches a certain level of roasting and releases its flavors that immediately connect me to my mother’s cooking and a host of flooding memories of that particular day/event or surrounding.’
Finally, for those winners who have received your 'Solutioniser' object, I hoped you liked the experience - it has been an unexpectedly enlightening and challenging process, and a pleasure seeing you develop your work and ideas further to manifest physical objects. If we have not contacted you yet we will be in touch over the next few weeks. Images and details of all this work will be released as features in the up-coming Ephemera magazine, which looks to be a very exciting and worthwhile new title, and addition to the literary world. I have been sworn to secrecy so cannot say too much (or know too much), but have been told the magazine is designed by artists, will be weekly, and if successful, half of the proceeds will go the writers as royalties.
29th March 2015