Third Poetry Show Is Reading Elitist?

Stories about life, love and travel that inspired the poet to write. Listen to poetry readings and responses.

Stories about life, love and travel that inspired the poet to write. Listen to poetry readings and responses.

I’m going to talk today about literature and dance, and recite and talk about the poem, ‘ Speaking to The Universe’. If you’d like to listen to the audio click ‘play’ on this player. If you explore Sound Cloud, you’ll find it in Spanish, along with other audios.

When I first lived abroad, I made a set of tape recordings to send to them. So, do you think that reading is an elitist activity? As a child, I found reading difficult. Looking back, I think it had a lot to do with my cultural background and the fact that I couldn’t relate to the stories. Many of the stories I heard came from my parents, about the Greek heroes, myths and legends and so on. So at school I felt dumb and left out.

On my Facebook feed today I found a quote about self-care. I had some decisions to make and these helped me out. It’s hard to battle it out in your head alone, so I decided to be proactive and do something about my problem. So I read the quote’ Don’t be afraid to say yes.’ And it worked! I realised I wasn’t saying yes because I was honouring the don’t say no.

So how do you know when to say yes, and when to say no?

Listen on to learn more about this as I talk about how we are all different. So listening to others sometimes doesn’t work because they give you advice based on their experiences. You know yourself better. I go on to talk about reading comics and alternatives to reading and writing through multi-modal texts.

Now to have fun, you need to feel accomplished. So making right decisions are important to me. I’d like to meet new and amazing people. And what I like about that is that also feel brand new. There are no expectations.

So is reading an elitist activity?

I found a great blog called Critical Margins where I got some perspective on the topic. There’s a sense that literary writers look down on genre writers, and visa versa. How do you choose a book?

There’s a wonderful book store in Frankfurt, a few floors high. Lots of books are in German, and there’s a section in English. It’s wonderful because you can have a cup of coffee at the cafe there, as you read your books. The atmosphere is fantastic- lots of energy and enthusiasm for books! So almost each time I go there, I find a book.

You don’t want to buy a book, just so that it sits on the shelf. A best seller doesn’t always suite my taste. So the library is a great place to try out a book before you buy it.

Why do you write? I’m still exploring this issue. I also find genre writing hard because it doesn’t allow me to be my creative self. So is literary fiction then the way to go? (At least in my case.) If you read the definition, then perhaps it is.

If you are thinking of writing a book, looking into the categories is a good idea. But don’t be ruled by them. The problem with reading too much for those purposes, is you might compare yourself. You also want to find your own voice.

Doing these podcast episodes have helped me articulate my thoughts, and this in turn has helped my writing along. Find what’s right for you.

The challenge of blogging for me is reaching other people. It doesn’t seem to be as easy as it used to be. Perhaps because of tighter filters and now with companies who ask you to pay an amount to promote your book or blog. I don’t want to do that, and can’t afford it for that matter. And why should I? It definitely is harder. But I don’t think about that and focus on enjoyment, and the quality, not the number of followers.

signature Maria Grujicic Poems That Dance

Thanks for reading and listening today. If you’d like to publish your own book, connect with me on Fastpencil.

12 Steps for Self Care

12 Steps for Self Care

I don’t often share quotes from other pages, but this one stuck. It’s so simple to read, like a set of principles. I refer to it on my Podcast.

If you found any value on my post, feel free ‘like’ or write a comment.

Copyright © Maria Grujicic and, from February 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Maria Grujicic and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Puzzles and Poetry Titles

Wings like vacant whispers
From above they hide
Dampening sweat
Trees falling see mist
But the dormant don’t fear
Panicked, you venture deeper
Water it, watch it
Filling despise of dependency
An angry face laughs hysterically
Bouncing off walls
A mouse wants it all
Invading the waters
Patchy truth
All creatures live long
Cracks are heard in the distance

-Maria Grujicic-

I wrote my poem at the last Writer’s Group meeting. Mary, one of the members, gave a poetry workshop. Every now and then I enjoy poetry workshops because it connects me to other poets and the structure reminds me of what I already do naturally.

Lately, I’ve thought about punctuation.

Do you capitalize your poems?

I capitalize each new line because I don’t use full stops. It shows there is a break. Sometimes I use a comma to emphasize a stronger pause and capitalize important words within a line. For example, Break Up or Wind, Air. I certainly don’t use full stops because of aesthetic reasons and the poems don’t need it. After reading other forms of poetry that don’t capitalize, I did some research. Read on to find more here.

The next puzzle is finding a title for my poems. I used to use the first word that came to mind and sometimes struck an interesting title. But now I take my time and have enjoyed the pondering, dreaming and this has been a valuable part of reflection. I go back and edit my poems again with the title in mind, and change some of the wording to make the meaning stand out more. For ideas on titles read here.

I haven’t decided on a title yet and the poem is a work in progress. A title needs to reflect ‘a story’ and ‘speak’. As I think of ideas, I see new poems forming. Which are your favourite? Any suggestions for a title for my poem?

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© Maria Grujicic and, from February 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Maria Grujicic and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How Story Writing Leads to Poetry

Poetry QuoteI imagine your face
Your lips shifting
Your eyes slowly approaching the pen
Pressing softly
Beautiful dialogues remain in my head
Translating your words
I forget because of the thought of
Meeting you again
Absorbing the enclosure of my small life
Slow simple words magnify you
They soften through your delicate lips
Enabling silence, a paradise
No scope for the presence of you
My senses are not enough
Dulled, I’m sent to a magical world
You disable me beneath a barrier
Each word results in you
Imperfect me idolizes you
I notice the way you turn your face
Your mouth, each time you’re about to speak
Comforting my anguish
For the impossible rests to the side
And enters the waterfall of calligraphy

By Maria Grujicic

Picture this poem as a story and you are a part of it. It sends you in a dream, you ponder and this entices a thought or two or more. You read the poem again and this brings new imagery to enter your head. You rest as you play with the words, and you feel a slow surrender. Peace finds you. You listen to music, you enjoy the sensations the outside brings. You are free to enjoy the simple pleasures of life as you recreate your story.

Poetry writing to me is made up of images I recreate using words. Simple words that don’t try too hard. I revise a poem many times by taking out excess words and rewording ideas to give them the exact meaning I want to express.

My poems open up things in our lives that go unnoticed. My poetry paints a picture and allows the reader to recreate their own story. I’ve tried using my poems as prompts for stories but haven’t found this to be as enjoyable and successful as creating poetry from the stories in my head.

Many of my poems have been the result of stories that I have never published and probably never will.

Poetry allows my imagination to roam free and faster than I am physically able to write stories. It’s a creative energy release and my ideas reach instant gratification, which is what I need. With so many ideas, I can’t put everything into practice, so I write them. I invent words too and in a sense, I’m highly sensitive to words.

As I write I put myself in place of a character I create through my imagination. Many of my poems are inspired from real people and life events. I hide identities by sometimes mixing these up. For example, when I write ‘I’, this might mean ‘he’ or ‘she’.

‘Fictionalizing’ my work allows me creative freedom and courage to publish, in the same way a novelist would write fiction based on their life. What are some of the stories you’ve experienced through poetry? How have they affected your life?

Unpredictable Spaces and A Beautiful Dialogue

Turning My Picture Book Into A Novel

In my experience people often avoid giving critique to poets because poetry is deeply personal. Is this true for you? My best poetry comes from the stories I’ve written and those in my head.

Through poetry I can be myself and pretend to be someone else or both, and use double meanings. I often make up stories within the poem, based on people I know and people watching.

…. undergo the daunting task of writing a novel. She prefers writing short stories. Is she avoiding hard work or is short story writing, like poetry a different skill set that can lend itself to novel writing?

The challenge of writing a novel is keeping the thoughts in my head and carrying them onto other chapters to connect them. Much like the way I linked the ideas in my picture book from one page to another. After some thought on this, I decided to change one of my picture books into a novel.

Pictures in a picture book tell the details of the story, interpreting in depth what is written on the page. It does some of the work for the reader, and of course this can be interpreted in more depth. I’ve integrated this into a picture story map strategy.

In fact, I have different story maps that work in parallel to each other as the story is told. Because in a novel, one must consider the perspectives of all the characters. It’s exciting because the outcome can vary depending on the attention to detail you give to the characters and the setting, and the choices you make.

This is when feedback is important – what to keep and what not to keep- like a choose your own adventure series. The story can go in any direction. Picture maps make this task easier because I draw sequenced pictures of different alternatives to the story. It’s quick!

I’ve focused on my picture book ‘Colour My Ball’ for my novel idea. (See the clip below.) I’ve used material from my main novel that I’ve been writing for years now and added to it. Originally, it was an adult’s book. Sandra, from WordHugs suggested that it would make a great novel for young people. Can’t recall what age she suggested but it’s lending itself more and more towards young adults.  Establishing the audience is important because this will direct the novel.

It’s tricky… I prefer not to write about the storyline just yet because by doing so might set it in stone. I know why I’m writing it and this is the greatest power that gives it direction. I look forward to publishing it so that I can hold it and read it. It will be like looking into my life and the lives of my family members for the first time.

I’ve been using Scrivener and adding my work to my Fastpencil writing tool, and have found that this works well. I enjoy my time at my favorite cafe when I can write with no distractions. I usually sit at the same table – it’s usually not occupied – and there are other regulars who do the same. Last Sunday I had tears in my eyes after writing two chapters and had an ‘aha’ moment. No one seemed to mind.

Do you have a favorite place to write?


© Maria Grujicic and, from February 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Maria Grujicic and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Silent Fruits

The Gift of Appreciation

This is a poem dedicated to inspiration that bloomed from a party, of all places. I haven’t written for a while. Did I drift to laziness? Hibernation? Down on confidence? A mix of these and more? The theme for the night was mirror white and we all dressed in white. Silent fruits relates to the quiet, unnoticed seemingly little things we do for people that are actually quite fruitful. Instead of ‘flowers’ I used fruit, of which stem from flowers. I won’t give too much more away but the fact that love is quiet, unobtrusive and unseen until it touches us unexpectedly. Impressions welcome and a gift.

Silent Fruits

Night rose to meet its bloom

All who played with it subtly died

But you were the exception

White in the garden

Brightening as night rose

You danced among the green

Highlighting the unseen

An elevated smile elected mine

As humble eyes slid to a close

Softly penetrating me to a close

Under the light of the moon

Synchronizing all as night rose


-Maria Grujicic-

The Job I Didn’t Want

I wrote this post before the Christmas holidays and didn’t have the courage to post it. I needed to wait until after the event. It led me to trying to answer the question, Is it possible to write like no one’s reading? Is there an audience for everyone’s work?

The several times I tore up a piece of writing after reading it and disliking what I read.. you might relate to. Often we forget ourselves as an audience, and if anyone’s the same, I’m my own worst critique. But why?

Lately I’ve been kinder to myself. Lately, meaning these last 2 years or so, and beyond. Imperfectionists if I may invent a word, do make better friends. Though I don’t want to write crap, I have come to an experimental stage of my writing where I’m willing to share my work with the world.

I wrote a post about accepting a job I didn’t want. And to be honest, I was thrilled to have it, but uncertainty lurked. Are these normal feelings of discomfort when the unexpected happens? It makes me sick to my stomach to say that I’ve repeated this decision-making process several times.

A few years ago, namely 8, I left my permanent job for an adventure abroad. I felt sick to my stomach then too, but it was different. Change tends to do that to a person. I may think I’m perfectly fine, and I feel sweaty, tired, and my body reacts to my feelings. Goes to show that we aren’t robots, right?

The worst thing about these feeling is that they sink into you every single minute of the day and one has ups and downs, and not knowing if it was the result of accepting something you weren’t sure about was the cause or life being uncomfortable because of change. I then wish with all my heart I could be somewhere else.

I start to feel weird and put my emotions to the side! My mind says thank you, I have a job.

I make the most of every job I have and do the right things.  People seem to like that, or perhaps not.. I feel invisible, alone with the small space I’ve made within my job in place of my art. I try and incorporate my art into my job.. Funnily, I’m creative and an excellent teacher but I feel small.

I begin a love hate relationship with my job and perhaps with this person outside my box that makes these decisions.

I squeeze in every moment left from every given day to relax and write. But this only occurs in my mental state because of limited time, and I feel a pain. Don’t worry, I say to myself, not to worry … this bad dream will be over soon. I just have to sleep, wake up and I’ll have more time on the weekend for everything I want to do.

Is it possible to write like no one’s reading?

The cool thing about writing is that you can be anyone. You don’t have to care what anyone thinks because they don’t have to read your writing. You show your real self and life from your art. But the best thing is that people aren’t caring about figuring you out; they have interest in the work that you do and try to relate it to themselves.

I know this is a good piece of writing because I’m afraid to publish it. I kept it private and returned to it after the event and then published it with confidence, knowing that I’ve written like nobody’s reading but me.

And why today of all days did I decide to publish? Funny how one event leads to another, revealing bits of one’s self. I don’t tend to reveal all the bits in one go, and wouldn’t do justice in today’s society to do so. How could one really know oneself without exploring the unknown variables? What you are now, is not static and through positive change we find happiness.

We never stop learning. But there is one aspect of this learning that I didn’t predict. I spent most of my education tied to a chair.

I escaped to find myself in Europe, where I started dance/music/singing and somewhat bordering a career along with my teaching, and after almost 10 years of teaching in Darwin I escaped to Europe and reluctantly came back. I started teaching at a school I was drawn to and didn’t understand why until now.

POW! Just like that.

I’ll leave that bit of me for another time. For now, enjoy this video, one that I can watch again and again.

My Most Memorable Travel Experience


My two friends and I had an idea to dance in the parks of Paris. But there was a twist. Because of work commitments I could only travel in winter.

“We will put on layers of warm clothes, drink wine and tea, and dance to keep warm.” We chatted about as we sorted our costumes and routines. After not having seen each other for a year, we had a lot to catch up on.

I lived in Europe for 8 years and left to return home to Darwin, Australia for personal reasons. We’d kept in contact via Skype and I continued to practise the dance moves. Another twist? I could hardly speak German. “French is more important,” Gala insisted. “You are in Europe and you are a dancer!”

At that moment, my heart almost stopped and I took a deep breath to wake up. My living, breathing dream was to be that. And what better place to dance than in Paris!

Besides, I had a crash course on French weeks before. Our Bohemian Weekend adventure in Paris was born.

Gala’s apartment in Frankfurt is a beautiful high ceiling old German building. The most memorable pieces were a bookshelf that covered a wall in one of the living rooms that doubled up as a bedroom, dividing the space with a white silk curtain. The large windows and classic white walls gave the sense of more space, and mirrors were placed everywhere in arty ways. A perfect setting that set the mood for Paris that weekend.


The getting there said it all. I was so excited to enter the train and find our seats. Cherishing every moment, of course I had my camera, pencil and pad paper with me. I’d started learning to draw and had some coloured pencils packed in my suitcase that I never used.

Oh, well.. next time! Before we knew it, we’d arrived in Paris. I packed much more than usual, because like every woman and dancer, I needed to have a variety of clothes and jewellery to choose from. I stepped out quite awkwardly but found the strength to walk with my luggage in confidence. It is, after all, why suitcases come on wheels!

Upon arriving at our apartment we were greeted by a large beautiful fluffy cat at the counter. “So French,” I thought smiling at the humour.

That night, we decided to explore the place where we planned to dance. I had my high black boots on that weren’t the ideal walking shoes for the distances we had to do. I was so relieved to finally arrive, I didn’t mind the dodgy look of the place. It had a charm I couldn’t put into words, possibly because of the colourful lights that reflected on the water.

CYMBALS BY THE SIDE OF THE RIVERI saw many young people, especially men loitering about outside a club, surrounded by walls of graffiti art. It was midnight and dark, but the lively atmosphere reassured me as I began to play my finger cymbals Tak-takka-tak, tak-takka-tak, as Gala joined me with the hypnotic dance.

Almost forgetting where we were I was startled by a guy who approached us, asking for a light and wanting to know what we were doing. Another guy followed, and thinking the worst we quickly fled.

3 artists, 3 silent voices walked the living streets of Paris late that night back to our apartment,  wondering what to do the next day.

What impresses me most about Paris is the way it embraces the good and the ugly, opening avenues for self-expression and beauty. Graffiti art and collages of posters were everywhere, encouraging my senses to explore further. My attempts at speaking French were welcomed by beautiful pouts of moving mouths. How do they do it?

Everyone is beautiful in Paris because French beautifies their souls and integrates them into the Parisian unique style.

Paris has a place for everyone with quarters that appeal for every taste. Our quarter was accessible to other famous arty quarters such as the famous hill of Montmartre and in the other direction was Moulin Rouge. We placed our food shopping in plastic bags on the ledge outside our apartment window, which we used as our outdoor fridge and went to bed.

The adjacent building from our apartment block with 3 floors was the focus of my wonderings. There’s a dancer in the middle floor. She is not seen at nights because of the reflections by the lights and so she dances alone.”

Gala and I exchanged ideas for writing as we got dressed the next day with colourful layers of skirts, pullovers, scarves, and dangly large earrings.

“Oh my gosh!” I cried, “I have no more foundation. “Danke liebe Gott,” Gala replied, “that it will do your skin good to have a break.”  PICNIC AT NIGHT BY THE FRENCH PYRAMIDAfter a long day of preparation we finally arrived at a spot across from the brightly lit Louvre. We chose a tree with a bench surround its trunk, where we made our home for the evening. We were in good spirits as we drank sweet wine and set up the picnic, laughing and joking at the novelty.

We had fine cheeses, salad, bread and meats that we ate as we got ready for our performance.

I noticed many men in the distance hanging around looking like shadows but this time I felt safer with just the right amount of traffic nearby not disturb the scene.

Maria Grujicic Dancing In ParisI took my cymbals and danced with the Arc de Triomphe du Carroussel as the beautiful background of the outdoor stage. Later, Gala and Lena also started to dance with hypnotic moves that synchronised and mirrored those of a partner. It felt like I was dancing on air.

Later, we walked a little and came to a  structure that felt like the Arc de Triomphe du Carroussel. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what the name of it was because I was too involved in the moment to care. “How does the Manchegas song go?” Gala asked as she suddenly halted, a cue for me to sing instantly.

“Tarralum, tarralum, tarralum, tum, tum,.. My voice rang so loudly that it felt I was waiting for this moment all my life.

The voices of my friends followed with echoing sounds that brought back memories of my time in Albacete, Spain. Listen to the song here:  01-Manchegas de Albacete We walked on after we noticed a security camera and took a train over to the river Seine.

We looked for different backgrounds for our dance by the side of the river. First we stopped at some steps and did fun dance poses, taking lots of photos.   I climbed up high on the podium at the bottom of the steps and posed like a dancing statue.

Gala wrapped a beautiful red satin scarf around my head that exposed my large earrings and kept me warm. We continued closer to the water, feeling more confident and energetic as the night progressed. We stood on a large wooden plank where the boats dock, making sure we stayed in the middle and not fall into the water. This time, we used our veils to dance to the music from the ipod compact speakers.

The life of people still out and about seemingly pulling us as we walked on, arriving at a bench across Moulin Rouge, a street away from our apartment. We took out the dessert part of what was left of our picnic hamper and some hot lemon tea, sat quietly and people watched.

It wasn’t until later I realised I lost one of my finger cymbals that must have dropped by the side of the river. Losing a piece of dance accessory means a lot to me because of the history attached to it. Nevertheless, I got over it and the greatest souvenir of this trip will stay in my head.

Words can’t describe the sensations of a weekend French Bohemian life but I managed to keep these by publishing a book, Poems That Touch The Soul. Paris by night is my favourite and the thought of this theme, along with the river and lights, the surrounding shadows of loitering men, I started to compose ideas of the mirror of the night, my poem later to be titled, Glorified Queen Bee which probably encompasses my impression of the weekend of Bohemian Paris.

The next day was our last, and we explored Paris by day.  We bought food from the grocery store which incidentally, was carefully chosen by Gala who was studying to become a naturopath. We walked to the famous hill, Montmartre on our last day to have an outdoor picnic lunch.

As we headed towards the river we detoured into different streets, specialty shops, places to eat and a market.  Gala helped me choose earrings, practise makeup with the right shades of colours, a tribal dance costume, and other accessories to go with our tribal fusion and American tribal dance style look, bought at chains of budget shops.

I promised myself upon returning to Darwin, Australia that I will do more dance practice because I tend to write more than I dance. I don’t take learning dance routines as seriously as I possible should, or to be kinder to myself, I’m forced to prioritise because of lack of time, and so I fluke the steps and improvise, relying on my reflexes and natural instincts.

Gala believes that it is more important to have graceful dance technique and natural style than know the steps. ;) This trip taught me the value of stepping-stones and the giant leaps that are possible by travel because through travel I have gained perspective.

Perspective is what helps me see my progress and ways I can improve. My Paris trip didn’t go totally to plan. Certain things happened that could have turned out better but it was a way forward to better things.

Now, I keep positive and hope to one day return to Europe and continue my life there. Until then, I’m enjoying the moments I have.  Perhaps my luck will turn and I win this competition, and relive my dream for 6 months of my dancing in Europe. Look at the link here if you’d like to vote for me.

A career in education was how I kept focused and justified my travel addiction over the 8 years abroad. “Just one more country,” I told myself. From London to Madrid, to Albacete, then Frankfurt. Finding another job in a different city was as easy as a click of a button on the computer at the local internet café and a phone interview.

“Yes, I speak very good German,” I lied. I was learning at the local school of languages but it would never be enough. And so I found myself in the most unlikely place, Frankfurt, Germany!

Throughout my experiences abroad, I have always incorporated dance in everything I did but was always disappointed in myself for not starting at a younger age. It was just a few years ago upon making friends with Gala when my writing matured and realized that in belly dance age is not a barrier and in fact an advantage.

To be honest, I don’t really need this competition to find myself back in Europe. I can do this in time, but I wanted to enter because I think it’s a cool way to express myself and my passion for travel. Little excuses for travel transformed into unique, memorable experiences. A glass of wine in Paris or a tea in London and a why not try a different city, learn the guitar in Spain, another language, and getting totally lost in a big city, pursued me to places I may not have experienced with a travel guide.

Once a traveler always a traveler. In fact, my mind is always traveling because I’m the ideal dreamer. I can create anything from nothing everywhere I go because inspiration is inside me.  A traveler can be anyone, and once abroad, of course you then become one! The crunch is that my experiences changed me forever and I can’t remember the person I was. It’s like I disappeared!

Before heading overseas for the first time, I spent weeks packing and unpacking. You might know the scenario.. taking stuff you probably won’t need but taking it anyway. Comfort stuff like maybe a teddy bear memento, a favourite inspirational book to keep you going, a comfort blanket, and enough toiletries to last for months. How things have changed…