The Leaky Pot : Session 6 (Form as Freedom)

leakypot

Before a quick recapitulation of the last five sessions in this series of Poetry Workshop, four participants (including me) shared the translations we did for the Wang Wei poem Deer Enclosure

Today’s topic is Form as Freedom, during which a guest speaker, poet Yeow Kai Chai, spent about an hour on Twin Cinema and Zoetrope. Besides a short explanation of what these forms mean, several poems were read aloud and discussed. (For example, For the End Comes Reaching by David Wong Hsien Ming, which can be found at http://www.qlrs.com/poem.asp?id=959 and poems from Yeow’s anthology Twin Cities.) Video clips of Pixar’s animation and the 1949 experimental film Begone Dull Care helped to explain the Zoetrope further.

There were of course exercises in which participants were expected to come up with a short Twin Cinema poem. I’m amazed by how quickly the young minds work (most of the participants are in their 20s or early 30s): I took the longest time to come up with some “rubbishy” 12 words!

The next segment (by Tse Hao Guang, the trainer) is on Vers Libre (Prose Poem). Though it has its origins in 19th century France, it is a relatively new form. I’ll need to read up on Robert De Sousa (1912), 17th century Japanese Haibun and a poem titled On the Personification of Cumbersome Objects by Stephanie Bishop in order to properly digest what was discussed as my head was pounding furiously this afternoon.

This means I wasn’t able to complete the Prose exercise within the time constraint. Neither was I able to do the Nonce exercise, though I was able to enjoy those shared by five of the participants.

What I need to do first in the next few days is to submit a few poems for Tse’s comments and feedback.

 

The Leaky Pot : Session 5 (Form as Repetition)

As in the previous four session, yesterday’s workshop began with a quick recapitulation of what had been covered so far : Form as Prompt (The Leaky Pot: Poetic Form Workshop Series), Form as Play (The Leaky Pot: Session 2 (Form as Play) ), Form as Notation (The Leaky Pot: Session 3 (Poetry as Prosody) ) and Form as Thought (The Leaky Pot: Session 4 (Form as Thought)).

Since there was no “formal” homework, there was no sharing before an introduction to the day’s topic: Form as Repetition. A distinction between some of these Received and Nonce forms are introduced: for example the ghazal, pantun berkait and translation.(Details of which are found in the recommended ‘text’, Unfree Verse: Singapore Poetry in Form edited by Tse Hao Guang, Joshua Ip and Theophilus Kwek, 2017.)

Then the guest speaker, Ms Aisyah Lyana (in the photograph below) took over the session on Pantun and Pantun Berkait. She spoke about their origins, a brief introduction, the basic features and the objectives of a Pantun, followed by a hands-on exercise:

P2

The participants had to create original Pantuns on the theme of Love. within a short time. (We were told at competition level, the time limit is usually 2 minutes, though there some are as short as 20 seconds!) If I recall correctly, we were given 15 minutes, during which I only managed four unsatisfactory lines whereas a number of participants shared really amazing ones.

More examples followed, and more complicated hands-on exercises were given. I was completely at sea! The segment about the ghazal and the meter called hemistich were totally beyond me, even this one which I enjoyed:

P6

(The ‘blackened’ word is the name of the poet, who is our trainer.)

I only perked up and my brain resumed functioning at the next segment: Translation. As I’ve already written about this (Crossing Languages), I shall not repeat here.

I look forward to next week’s session, as it is the last session and there will also be another guest speaker.

The Leaky Pot: Session 4 (Form as Thought)

thought

 

After the CNY (Chinese New Year) break, the series of poetry workshops resumed yesterday. As in the previous three sessions, there was recapitulation (Form as Prompt – Image and Metaphor, Form as Play – Non/sense and Rhyme, Form as Notation – Prosody and Line) and sharing of homework from a few participants.

Sometimes the rules of form are a little thematic and metaphysical. Even counting syllables changes thoughts. With more writing, it gets more organic. Repetitive forms are good for expressing frustration and obsession (for example Sylvia Plath’s poems). In a sonnet, the octet seems to setting up a problem and the sextet will be solving it or turning it away.

Then the class is introduced to the French Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielie. I got a bit lost here but I think it’s a novel without the letter ‘e’ and an example of how form shapes thought. Apparently, the same situation can be written in a hundred different ways. For those who understand French, it would be enlightening reading indeed.

The reason for introducing this novel is to bring us to a form called Oulipo.

oulipo

Here, the writing is without the letter ‘e’ (called a lipogram), every line has 7 syllables, and the poem is one sentence long. A fellow participant, Ms Shamimah, shared this:

This is a lipogram but

you must find out what’s missing

as I cannot say but just

know that it is tricky to

scratch out a stanza now.

I find this interesting. Hopefully, at the next workshop, the trainer Tse Hao Guang would remember to share with us the title of the book where poems are written in different forms which explain the forms.

Next is a brief introduction to the history and development of the Sonnet, with the following guidelines:

  • 14 lines                                         octet/sextet
  • Iambic Pentameter                    volta (a turn)
  • Rhyme Scheme                           love (thought/guiding and changing the theme)

Two examples (Coast by Toh Hsien Min and Earthworks by Tse Hao Guang) are read and discussed in depth, followed by an exercise in writing one in 15 minutes. I came up with this:

Parachute- Jumping

The sky, like a big blue bowl;

A chilly breeze, tinged with a

smell of fuel, not freshness.

Like birds, flipping and flapping,

screeching instead of singing,

in terror, beyond numbness,

lost in a fog of panic.

To die from fright is senseless.

Lest the heart explodes into

the blooming white mushroom up high,

or the fear accelerates

into rapid blurred visions,

a parachuting novice

tenders his resignation.

 

The next half of the workshop is about the Haiku. Some guidelines are:

  • Season word                                     Nature
  • Cutting word                                    2 contrasting images
  • 17 syllables or less                          A single moment

Haikus do not have any plot of deeper meaning, simply a moment in time. There is not supposed to be a metaphor. The contemplation is intense. It is like a photographer finding the right moment to capture the picture. An example is Basho’s haiku:

 

basho

 

Another type is the American Haiku. Of note is Jack Kerouac:

 

jackkerouac

I must look for the recordings as they are accompanied by music, like jazz and blues.

There are many classical haikus that ought to be read. And then there are haikus written by Singaporean poets, such as haikuku by Gwee Li Sui. I will borrow it the next time I visit the library.

I managed to write only one haiku in the 15 minutes that many other participants took to write three or four (based on a common theme, CNY, since was the 6th day of CNY):

Fumes from cooking stove

like haze but there all year round

sucked into her lungs

 

In conclusion, having thoughts will change the direction of writing through a poem, be it a sonnet (more argumentative) or haiku (less argumentative). The homework for the week include writing sonnets and haikus.

The Leaky Pot: Session 3 (Poetry as Prosody)

tom

 

The third session of the Poetry Workshop The Leaky Pot yesterday was the most interesting for me so far. The first few minutes were spent watching a YouTube video (Tom Lehrer’s 1959 studio solo of We Will All Go Together When We Go) and we were supposed to pay attention to the rhymes. This serves as the introduction to the day’s topic: Form as Notation (the trainer, poet Tse Hao Guang, decided to use the word ‘notation’ instead of ‘prosody’, explaining that ‘prosody’ in poetry is the equivalent of ‘notation’ in music). He then showed something like this on the screen:

 

notation

Notation in music is compared to poetry: the music notes (with the clefs and key signatures) are like the letters of the alphabet which form words; the note values (and time signatures, not shown in the PowerPoint slide or here) tell how long/short a note should be (like the number of syllables in a line); the phrase marks and cadences indicate pauses (like punctuation); the expression marks like crescendo and diminuendo (not shown) indicate dynamics and so on. Poetry contains meter, punctuation, rhyme and intonation, very similar to music.

 

Tse also talked about the classical poetic meter:

 

poeticmeter

This was very interesting to know. I refrained from asking about quadruple time, or compound time signatures as I thought other participants would probably not be interested or might think me a ‘show off’. Anyway, it was ample information as there was so much more to learn, like mono meter, di meter, tri meter, tetra meter, penta meter, hexa meter, hepta meter and octa meter. I’m also as yet not well-versed with the Iambic Pentameter, covered in the previous session (The Leaky Pot” Session 2).

This is followed by discussion on four poems we had to read as homework; now focusing on five areas: What images/metaphors are used? Where does the poem make least common sense? Is there rhyme? What is the meter? Where are the line breaks?

The first is Frost by Midnight by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

frost

followed by The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

 

windhover

 

followed by I like to see it lap the Miles by Emily Dickinson:

 

dickinson

 

and The Fish by Marianne Moore:

 

fish

 

Following this, the participants were asked to write, in 15 minutes, a poem where we had to think about the rhythm/structure of one of the four poems discussed. I came up with a rhyme scheme of ABBABB-ABBABB and the rhythmic pattern 157157-157157, but wasn’t able to complete the last line within the time limit:

Puzzles

Cut

in various pieces

of different shapes and sizes

for

fitting together

to form a complete picture.

 

Good

for stimulation,

hand-eye coordination,

in

identifying

colours, shapes and (arranging)

 

After sharing from two volunteers, we learned about what it means to be sonic, with a short poem called To a Poor Woman (poet not credited), and Catherine Wagner’s  six dimensions (how line breaks can affect a poem): Speed (shorter lines seem to read faster, especially without end stop), Sound (how rhyme can break a line), Syntax (line break is possible at an expected or unexpected place), Surprise (set something unexpected), Sense (whether to break it for maximum or minimum effect), Space (line breaks are not necessary all to the left as breaks could be within the same line).

With that, homework is set: one is a Relineation exercise where we have to insert slashes to indicate line breaks, using the six dimensions. The other is to write poems (minimum two) that use images/metaphor, where there’s a line which makes the least common sense, rhyme, meter and line breaks.

And I suppose it is expected that we continue to do Free Writing every day for the next two weeks! (The next session is after the Chinese New Year break.)

The Leaky Pot: Session 2 (Form as Play)

jabberwocky

The poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll is one that we are asked to read before the session. On my first reading, I couldn’t make any sense out of it and concluded it is a nonsense poem. (I then googled to understand it.) It turns out to be so.

In this session, the focus is on Form as Play. Nonsense poems such as Jabberwocky (included in the 1871 novel Through The Looking Glass) and  impossible sentences such as  ‘Colourless green ideas sleep furiously’ (from Noam Chomsky’s 1957 book Syntactic Structures) are grammatically correct but semantically nonsensical.

This session is so much more interesting than last week’s because the participants could play many games to help reinforce the idea of PLAY, and making meaning out of nonsense. (Although, in all fairness, it is more likely that I was overly tired from a hectic week before the first session.)

Other examples are Incandescent War Poem by Bernadette Mayer and a YouTube video of a nonsensical Italian song (Adriano Celentano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol) created to sound like American English.

Tones, beats and shapes are elements of note. (This is definitely more appealing to me than metaphors.)

After a fun-filled and interesting Word Association Game (1 dialogo, silenzio, sogno, sonno), and making our brain get used to the idea that we can associate with sound and meanings, the participants are introduced to Rhyme and Rhythm.

There are four areas:

Same same but different – identifiable similarities and differences like cat-bat (sound similar but meaning far apart), Jesus-cheeses (juxtaposed), brief-chief, sieve-heave-sleeve, metal-petal

Stress vs Unstress – different stresses for nouns and verbs, for example ‘record’; Singaporeans tend to speak in a flat tone with no stress

Masculine vs Feminine – ‘cat-bat’ is masculine whereas ‘ending-sending’ is feminine; ‘tyger, tyger, burning bright’ is masculine because of the effect created whereas the feminine rhymes are softer

Iambic Pentameter – consists of five pairs of beats (unstress-stress-unstress-stress-unstress); Shakespeare (‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ from Romeo and Juliet) and Tennyson (‘To find, to seek and not to yield‘) and a lot of poetry in the past are in iambic pentameter because it was thought that people spoke like that.

We then had an exercise on rhyme with collaborative writing. Through fun and laughter, we learnt about the Heroic Couplet (two lines that rhyme with a sense of closure), ABAB rhyme scheme (a quatrain, with a feeling of waiting), ABBA rhyme, Chiasm (N)/ Chiastic (V) (everything radiates from the centre: CBABC) and the Petrachian Sonnet (abab-cdcd-efg-efg).

The form is both playful and showcases the human mind at work – making sense of what is essentially random.

 

An Unusual Reunion

reunion

 

A rare opportunity

For a meeting

Of three cousins who

Lost touch five decades ago,

Trying to catch up

On their childhood, adolescent years,

Adulthood and early parenthood.

Dumbfounded and shocked

More than mere surprise

By news of a suicide

Of a teenage gay cousin.

Devastated but

Discriminating and unwilling

To acknowledge

A lesbian daughter,

The parents’ anguish

Was complete with finding

Their youngest (two)

A transgender and a bisexual.

 

This poem is part of the homework for the workshop called ‘The Leaky Pot’. The underlined words are taken from a piece of Free Writing done during the first session. Disclaimer: I was not able to include any METAPHOR (though preferred). Other comments from the trainer include: it is a sad/bad situation; poem is pure content; it could have been a prose piece or short paragraph.

We were supposed to talk about the writing process, but perhaps due to time constraints we did not do so. I had made notes on how I came up with the structure and how I perceived the form arising from the rhythm. (RHYTHM in poetry will be covered in Session 3.)

The Leaky Pot: Poetic Form Workshop Series

Slightly more than a month ago, I sent in my application to take part in a poetry workshop series organised by the National Library Board (NLB) that teaches how to write poetry and think about poetry through the paradoxical lens of form. Though I studied Literature, I had not learnt much about the poetic form; I learnt about form only through music theory. I started writing poems about two years ago, after attending two other workshops also at the NLB, and I’ve tried to ensure my poems have form, by drawing from my experience with music compositions and structure. It is fascinating that there are many forms in poetry and I’m eager to learn more.

The instructor is local poet Tse Hao Guang:

tsehg

He will share the different aspects of form over six weeks, of which the first this afternoon is about Form as Prompt. Form is important because it’s something natural: all creations have form. Form in poetry is special as it is unlike dance, drawing, short story or pottery. An example is the nursery rhymes as they are poetic and have form.

The first exercise is free writing where the participants just write non-stop, after which we’ll read through what we’ve written and underline the words and phrases that are interesting or useful. Then I got quite lost from the third exercise where we have to think of an image or a moment and capture it in a poem. It has to be finite and contained. Luckily, Tse shares two examples: a poem called The Wheelbarrow and another called Old Pond (translated from Japanese). I learnt about paying attention and forming an idea (both abstract and concrete), taking on a texture as the image changes from line to line. I also learnt that something that is poetic contains metaphor, rhyme and contrasts.

The section on Image Generation just about flew over my head. I would need to digest this information over the next few days: it is relatively free of abstraction; poetry can exist and be made up of purely images but not purely imagination; by and large, the human mind is drawn to more concrete things; how to identify images and make them and bring in ideas.

This is followed by a video clip (Moods and Images of Singapore). Participants are supposed to list images that are “same-same but different”. I would need to go to YouTube to watch it again and figure out what I’m supposed to do about what good images (concrete) and bad images (abstract).

Next: What is a Metaphor? It is a more interesting way of saying something by comparing it with another. The connection of having two images next to each other could be good (fulfills the criteria of “same-same but different”) or bad (such as “as short as a giraffe”). To help illustrate the power of a good metaphor are the poems, the short In a Station of the Metro. (The apparition of these faces in the crowd;/ Petals on a wet, black bough.) and a longer Only the Moon (written in 1962/3, which I must google and revise another day).

The handout given for the day, a poem called Ars Poetica by Archibald Macleish is discussed for its metaphors and images, concrete and abstract, ideas and contradictions, paradox and more. Again, I would need to digest this when my overworked brain cells come alive.

It has been an interesting session, but due to whatever reason or excuse that I can come up with, rather heavy and taxing. On top of having to digest everything imparted during the session, there are many pieces of homework! We are required to free write for five minutes every day (or add a minute every day), besides composing a poem out of the underlined words and phrases from the pre-writing exercise done during the workshop.

All the topics for the next five sessions are equally, if not more, interesting. I hope it’s not true that as age catches up the brain slows down. Somehow, I feel that everyone in the class has no problem following the instructor whereas my brain gets more and more tired each minute and could not absorb any information, especially in the second half of the session.

Book Authoring

bookauthor

When I picked up a brochure (shown above) at the Toa Payoh Library last week, I was very excited. I hoped to learn something useful about the process of book publishing as I have on hand a project that would be a living legacy for a cherished friend. It would definitely be worth tapping on my SkillsFuture Credit, I thought. I also hoped I sent in my application on time as there were only two vacancies left.

On the first day of the Workshops, (yesterday), I was surprised to see my guru there. (This is Hew Lee, who helped me set up this blog during a session on ‘How to Create a Blog’ back in August 2015.) I thought he was the trainer; and I knew him to be an IT expert, not a writer, so I was puzzled. I asked him what he was doing there and he said he was there to learn about book authoring! (He was to find out that he ‘shouldn’t have bothered’.)

We were both puzzled why the PowerPoint Slide showed “Digital Book” and each participant issued a tablet for use in class. The trainer is Richard Cheong, a volunteer from RSVP Singapore, the organisation of Senior Volunteers. There are two other lady volunteers assisting him. He started the session by ‘apologising’ for the misleading synopsis that must have attracted the participants, and explained that he has pointed this out many times to the sponsor, Apple Singapore. Nevertheless, he hopes the objectives of Listing and Using at least three Features of Pages, Identifying the Features of a Good Story, and Creating a Digital Multimedia Book can still be met. He also promised to provide feedback to Apple Singapore again, and he would do some homework to answer whatever queries we might have.

In his Introduction, Richard stressed that he would share with the participants the features, design and layout of e-books and not anything about the publishing realm. This means the workshop is on how to use a programme called Pages, which include words, images, audio and video features.

At least half an hour was spent just on the iPad basics and an hour on the Features of Pages. This was totally uninteresting, and I preferred the contributions from fellow participants (sharing their experiences in journalism, writing and editing). My biggest takeaway for the day is being told about a talk on Publishing on Saturday at the National Library Building, registering for it, and listening to another participant sharing his experience on self-publishing.

I was not at all surprised when the attendance for the second session went down by more than 30%. (I was tempted to skip it too but thought it would be a waste of money and I was looking forward to more sharing by fellow participants as a Patrick Tan promised to bring his 2011 book and share more about his experiences.)

Richard, the trainer, kept his word and started today’s session by sharing his ‘homework’ with us. Among other things, he mentioned that participants could look up http://www.singaporebookpublishers.sg and kdp.amazon.com (this is Kindle Direct Publishing) for more information. He also shared some tips from author Pearlin Siow, the author of Boss Of Me, who was a journalist at Singapore Press Holdings:

  • Write a book synopsis, including the theme (what it is about), a short introduction (background information about the topic),
  • Mention in the synopsis the benefits to the readers,
  • Credentials of the author,
  • Include the draft of the first chapter to give an indication of the skills and ideas when looking for a publisher,
  • Do some market research (publicity through talks, book launches, seminars, website, blog etc)

That, by far, was the most interesting and ‘relevant’ part of the workshop. The rest of the session is a waste of time because participants were given more than half an hour to ‘go out’ to take photographs, then came back and worked on a ‘project’ (a ‘story’ with a theme on either an object, an event or a place, including at least one page containing text, images and audio) for over an hour before sharing with the class. And the session couldn’t end early enough (though it was already well before the stated time).

Creative Writing Workshop 3

creativewriting

 

Over the weekend, I was worried that the sore throat that started last Thursday night would turn into a full blown flu, and I would have to miss the ‘Big Event’ at the last session of the Creative Writing Workshop. Thankfully, though my throat is still sore and I have lost my voice, I’m otherwise well.

It was an enjoyable session, even though a third of the participants did not turn up today. I wonder why the numbers kept dwindling – we started with 15 at Creative Writing Workshop 1 (and I have a group photograph to prove it), then it was only 12 attendees at Creative Writing Workshop 2, and only about 10 of us today.

Despite my bad throat (or maybe because of it), I really enjoyed the session today because I got to listen to the poems and stories of all those present yet I didn’t have to read mine as Sally McHale, the main Writing Through facilitator, did the reading instead, and did a much better job than I could have!

Before the reading, though, Sally shared some Presentation Skills with the participants: Stand Proud, Be Loud, Eye Contact, Read Slowly. A volunteer then read the Group Poem (written on Thursday) to all, to demonstrate how voice could be modulated to suit the tone of the poem. This was followed by all of us practising reading our poem and story with a partner (I was the exception but I sat with two others and listened to them).

After a ten-minute break, the ‘Big Event’ began. The presentation was done in the order in which they are published in the little magazine put together by Sally and her assistants, Patty Bierley, Ally Dishong and Stephanie Nyugen. They all sound very good and interesting, much more than just reading them as there was dramatisation that brought the characters in the stories to life. (Even the group story which I didn’t like, when we wrote it on Friday, is so much more interesting.)

 

Creative Writing Workshop 2

creativewriting

 

Yesterday was Day 2 of the Creative Writing Workshop (Day 1 was on Thursday: Creative Writing Workshop 1), and I enjoyed the session on writing a short story. The stimulus was Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, played twice. From an analysis of the lyrics to a discussion on the images, the participants are made aware of the five main elements of a story:

1. Who? – this would be the characters, which could include people or animals or even things, male or female, young or old;

2. Where? – this would be where the story takes place, such as the town, countryside, here in Singapore, in another/foreign country, or even in space or a place of imagination;

3. When? – this could be the past, the present or the future, and may include a season;

4. What? – this would refer to how the idea or theme is built into the story, such as what is going to happen and what challenges there may be;

5. How? – this would be the genre or type, which could be funny or sad, dramatic or a fantasy and so on.

 

The next hour and a half was spent on writing a story in a group. Much time was taken to brainstorm ideas and coming up with details for each of the five elements. As with the poem on Thursday, nobody else seemed to be inclined to start the ball rolling, so your truly came up with a random first line/sentence. Then the other participants built on it to come up with something along our earlier brainstorming session. Just like for the poem, I feel it was a case of having ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth‘, hence I’m not totally pleased with it. Just for the record, this was the result (unedited):

A Celebration Gone Wrong

Music plays in the background. Rosmah, looking glamorous, wearing a brand-new wig, and her husband Richie, are getting ready for their party on their private yacht, listening to the gentle lapping of the waves. Celebrating their Golden Anniversary, they had invited fifteen close friends and family along with a private chef. They also have a group of musicians to play and sing their favourite songs. Rosmah is showing off a dazzling diamond anniversary ring, a gift from her husband. Her friend Elizabeth, recently retired, is green with envy because the diamond cost more than what she earned in her entire career.

Just as Rosmah is standing on the edge of the deck taking a selfie, in the midst of the revelry, a  loud sound is suddenly heard. The musicians stopped in mid-phrase. That was a gunshot and Rosmah fell overboard with a loud scream. She flailed in the water. Her wig floated next to her.

The gunshot came from a fast-approaching motor boat with six masked and burly men, menacingly brandishing their guns. Then Richie realised he hadn’t brought along his bodyguards.

Rosmah shouted, “Help me! Save me!”

The leader saw the dazzling ring and ordered one of  his men to jump in the water. He swam towards Rosmah. Richie shouts desperately, “Take her and the ring and leave us alone!”

Elisabeth was so pleased as the pirates sailed away with Rosmah.

 

*     *     *     *     *

 

After a short break, the participants had to each write her own short story. The following is my story, written in about half an hour, unedited:

Half-Sisters

“Oh! It’s another day, and a gloomy one too,” moaned Catherine, a pudgy 14-year-old who lives with her mother, two sisters, her step-father, and a half-sister. Unlike her two sisters, Catherine has never been to school. Though there was no emphasis for females getting a formal education, Catherine’s two older sisters are well-educated, one having attained a Grade One in her Senior Cambridge exam the year before, in 1960, and the oldest one already a freshman at the Chinese University. It was their late father’s idea that Catherine stayed at home to learn how to be the exemplary housewife and mother. When he died suddenly by alcohol intoxication, his wife struggled to bring up three teenage girls on her meagre salary as a clerk.

It was fate that led Catherine’s mother Gim See, to remarry only six months later. Gin See’s new businessman husband is a widower with four children who all live with their maternal grandparents in Seremban; so he insisted that Gim See bore him at least one child, preferable a boy, as he already had four daughters and, to him, girls are a lost cause. Alas, as destined, Gim See conceived quickly but gave birth to a girl, whom they named Sarah.

Being a girl, Sarah felt neglected from young; (she would say, from the day she was born, as attested by Catherine, who described how the two of them are treated like second class citizens by their own mother and father). Catherine also claimed she was mentally and physically abused by her mother. Ironically, her step-father, Sarah’s father, treated her better than he treated Sarah who was a disappointment in everything she did.

The two girls, now 14 and 10, began to form a bond over their abuse and neglect. Over time, they developed feelings for each other that was unnatural but kept it secret from the family. However, their intimacy was suspected by the oldest sister, the undergraduate. She confided in the second sister, and they brought it to the attention of their mother. But before the mother could confront either Catherine or Sarah, something unexpected happened.

In the quiet, private residential neighbourhood, people kept to themselves and nobody knew anything about anybody else’s business; so when patrol cars and men in uniform appeared on their street one day, they were all shocked. The two younger sisters have run away! Where have they gone? And why? What happened? And why are the police here? Would the girls be found before darkness fell? Or would it be another day, and a gloomy one too, for all?

 

    *     *     *     *     *

 

Since the sooner I submitted the story, the sooner I could go home, and I was not feeling too well, I just made do with a piece I was not entirely satisfied with. I look forward to the final session on Monday, and hope to get feedback/comments from the trainers.