Yamba resident, Noel Charles is one of 100 authors featured in the latest edition of Seniors’ Stories, a much loved publication that includes inspiring short stories written by seniors from all walks of life, Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis has announced.
Seniors’ Stories Volume 4 was launched at Parliament House by Minister for Ageing Tanya Davies.
“Noel tells me he’s written 107 poems, with 14 of them being published, including his latest in Seniors’ Stories,” Mr Gulaptis said.
“I think it’s terrific to give older people the opportunity to share their stories with others and I congratulate Noel on his latest achievement.
“Society can benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of our seniors and this book allows older people to pass on their stories to younger generations to enjoy as well,” Mr Gulaptis said.
A copy of Seniors Stories Volume 4 can be found at all local libraries across NSW from December or downloaded from www.seniorscard.nsw.gov.au.
A new beginning
BY Noel Charles
When I was no longer a member of the council of the city of Botany (37 consecutive years), I suffered a heart attack and had four bypasses. It was at a time when I had been doing a correspondence course in writing. It gave me a complete change of direction to what I wanted to do with my life.
I wanted to be a writer. That seemed simple enough as I always liked writing letters, but my tutor warned me that I may have to submit plenty of work and could possibly paper my walls with rejection notices before I was successful – and this is the way it became until I noticed a request for poetry submissions for an American publication called The International Library of Poetry, why not have a go at this?
I may point out I liked poetry and all the nuns at my school were very good at teaching this. I had carried in my mind about four good ones so, in sending one of mine overseas, it wasn’t as if I was not completely aware how hard it would be achieve anything.
I decided I would write about an old man who lived in a shack beside an old clay road. It would be that he had a pile of pippi shells outside his place, that he was eccentric and, as it was a fictional piece, I needed a name that would capture the viewer who saw the title to then read it. So I called it ‘The Patient Love’, and the concluding lines were very sad. They fitted the poem and made it seem good to me and I quote them, ‘The saddest thing was his note opposite her portrait on the chair I’m coming to you darling, just you wait and I’ll be there’.
What a surprise! I was informed my poem would be printed in a book called An Endless Place. I was overjoyed at this, even though it was in an anthology and would cost me money to purchase a copy. I could not contain my pleasure at showing everyone the lovely hard copy book, yet there was more to come. I had an entry form for the next publication, The Tide of Hours, and I sent them a poem called ‘Goldie My Goldie’. It was about our Labrador who my daughter and I held in our arms when the vet gave him his last needle. Poor Goldie, he always thought he was going to get a biscuit after his needle, but not that time. We left the surgery with lumps in our throats and tears running down our faces. The most loved dog in all the world just had to get old and his pain was our pain. He will always be remembered in that book.
Meantime, my love of poetry saw me writing and learning more. Year after year I went over to Tenterfield to learn and compete with bush poetry and I began saying it in various places until, finally, in one of the competitions, I won on that weekend two ‘Oracles of the bush’ shirts and $100 and I was getting more engagements and learning more.
It is something I work at and from time to time I have a little slip up, which most times no one notices, but I am not happy with myself when I do this.
I have joined Toastmasters and also I’m on the committee of Yamba Country Music and at each monthly muster I usually say a couple of good Australian poems or ones of my own.
I have been line-dancing with my wife and some wonderful groups of women and men for the last twenty years and am also a member of the ‘Seniors’ in Yamba.
In concluding, I have been to so many groups and organisations as their guest speaker, I have in my head forty-two poems I can recite and vary them around if I get invited back on a second or third occasion – I only want a thankyou card to put in my diary.
People wonder how I can remember so much poetry. I do work at it but my wife keeps on saying I never listen to what she tells me to do. Heavens, I am 85 years old and can’t be expected to remember everything – and I sometimes get away with that answer.