Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Artist and Society - Biggest 'Ah-Ha!' Moments in Writing - Allyson Bird

     After settling into my new life on a farm in New Zealand, and although I live in my rural wonderland, I’m daily aware of the issues which face us all, and tackle them in my writing. What with the rise of fascism again in Europe and a world where corporate greed and selfishness seem to prevail with little thought about society I’ll not run short of inspiration. 

     As life gets harder for most of us, struggle will be reflected in literature— in art—as it always has. I could mention George Eliot, William Blake, Balzac, Thomas Hardy, Mark Twain, Henry James, William Morris, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, William Golding, Margaret Atwood, J.G. Ballard and many more who wanted to explore the problems each of us face within society.

     Shelagh Delaney just came to mind. ‘A Taste of Honey.’ Set in industrial Salford and first on stage in London in 1958. The play explores gender, sexual orientation, race and class. Poverty.  A few generations of my family lived in the city—for over a century from 1807 to the 1912. Infant mortality—high. Living conditions terrible amongst the poor. I went to university there in the 1980’s. ‘A Taste of Honey.’ That play is firmly rooted in the theatre of realism. Exploring themes with honesty and compassion…add John Osborne, Lynne Reid Banks, and ‘Cathy Come Home’ By Jeremy Sandford, amongst others. As ‘austerity’ cuts make their mark we are taking that awful backward step and class is once more thrust before us. That word seems outdated. How about simply the divide between the rich and the poor which is getting larger each year, now. Where once I saw hope I feel sadness. Hunger, in the so-called first world countries, should now be a thing of the past. Monsanto. Monopoly. Madness. Since when did you hear the word monopoly and ever think that a good thing. In a game perhaps and yes perhaps we could call this a war game of sorts where the only winners are the large corporations. Nothing for the poor. In 2013. 

     I’m reading Ballard’s ‘High Rise’ again, too. ‘Lord of the Flies’ comes back to me time and time again. Ray Bradbury and ‘Fahrenheit 451’. Perhaps in reading these I’m hoping that it will never get that bad. 

     After all this what is my point? My advice to new writers. Write what you want. Write about what you believe in. Be brave. Write for yourself. Be honest.  Don’t hold back. Words have power. Perhaps they can change the world. Say what you feel you need to say.

Allyson Bird now lives and farms in the Wairarapa Valley, New Zealand. Occasionally she is drawn to strange places and people and they are occasionally drawn to her. Her favourite playground, as a child and adult, has been the village graveyard. Once she wondered what would happen if she took one of the green stones from a grave. She has been looking over her shoulder ever since but has never given it back.

Accomplishments : Winner of the HWA Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a first novel 2011 for 'Isis Unbound.' Winner of the British Fantasy Society Award for Best Collection 2009 for 'Bull Running for Girls.'

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