Today I had my first meeting with my PR-man to discuss the re-launch of my books Hatched and the Cirrus Chronicles.
While he had to go out to make a call, I read Christy Parker's article again, which he had written after the IMMRAMMA travel writers festival 2006, where Hatched was launched. The article was on the same page in the Dungarvan Observer as his account of the main speaker of the festival, Robert Fisk.
I was in tears reading it, and wanted to share this article with you.
I will republish Hatched, I will find the funding for it somewhere.
AN UNPLANNED JOURNEY Christy Parker. Printed in Dungarvan Observer July 2006
Christy Parker finds Corina Duyn’s account of coping with illness a revelation.
Few interpretations of IMMRAMA’S 2006 theme, Travel and Conflict, surpass the courage, hope and enlightenment of that supplied by Corina Duyn. The Lismore artist did not submerge herself in Baghdad or venture to Cambodia, She didn’t even argue with a bus driver! Rather Corina’s conflict became her journey and resistance her only map as she suddenly herself on the dark road of ME -often understatedly called chronic fatigue syndrome. Her voyage will find resonance with anyone negotiating the steep hills of serious illness and bring insight to those who are not.
At Lismore library on June 16th, Corina launched ‘Hatched’ her art-intoned diary tracing the story of her ongoing, eight-year battle with her illness. The book is a 184 pages ‘diary’ through sketches, photographs and short synopsis. Each visual and literal observation is a footstep formed at that particular time in her journey. It is an inspired and inspiring piece of travel writing.
In 1998, Dutch-born Corina, was a commercially successful doll-maker when, as suddenly as a car crash, her life changed. “One week I was playing badminton and cycling, the next I couldn’t cross the street”, she recalls. After months of desperation deterioration, doctors diagnosed ME.
At 36, her independence gave way to reliance. Friends rallied to provide a rota of care. In November the wheelchair arrived. To the former nurse, it was a crushing delivery. “I couldn’t look at it”, she says.
Yet as she sat in her front room or garden, amongst the spiders, birds, shadows, smells, running water, grass, or visitors’ chat, her world began to re-assemble. Now it had a different shape, the colours brighter. She “became more aware of the beauty in simple things. I also desperately wanted to express myself”, she recalls. Her journey was taking a new direction
Energy might be a mere 10–minute burst in which writing at first was too challenging, but Carina started, shakily, to sketch. Writing, painting and even sculpting would be reclaimed in time as mostly every day she allowed her streams of consciousness to express the moment and make sense of her new life. “Suddenly I was committing everything I was experiencing to paper. It was so fulfilling”, she smiles. “I couldn’t fly a kite but I could painting one flying. It was my escapism.”
Over the years, the captured impression accumulated. Then came another twist on the road, when Patricia Martin of Lismore Arts centre persuaded her to exhibit them. From Lismore to Bantry and Dungarvan to Tramore, people lauded the work. “I couldn’t believe it. People seemed to relate my story to their own lives and take something positive out of it” she muses. A DVD, “Fit to Fly, was launched during M.E. awareness week in May 2004, followed by national TV and newspapers features.
Now, with financial help from the Waterford Co. Council’s Arts Office and personal assistance from amongst others, her good friend Jane Jermyn, comes Hatched. The book is accompanied by Flight Path, a superb CD freelance filmmaker Katie Lincoln, charting the book’s production.
Hatched is not an incidental title. What was a suspected sinus infection in 1998 was to render her fragile. The Egg, in various manifestations, is employed as a metaphor throughout. In June 1999 it was both self-representative and symptomatic as she wrote: “Horrified to realise I do not have the strength to crack a boiled egg”. That first year, the challenge dug its roots in deeply. Her memory failed and life was “a scrambled” egg as she had to “rely on writing lists”.
Yet, Corina equally saw the Egg’s representation as a new life. So, seizing every moment, often-innocuous activity becomes an allegory for progress and growth. As her life is re-constructed, her spirit grows a beak. It eventually breaks through its shell of limitation, hatching towards that quest for eventual flight, discovery and self-destiny.
The book thrives on rampant editing from the original works which, accompanied by colour illustrations, renders every word a potent punch. “Pain-ting” she adds to an acrylic portrayal of a crow in February 2003.
Adding much fancy to the book’s flight are the underlying gusts of wry humour. In 2001, she decides that if she wins the lottery, “I’ll buy a customised van so I can be housebound on wheels.” November 2002: Would someone like to paint a still life? Me lying on a couch”!
Suspected meningitis in May 2004 turns out to be “Just ME”. Her observations are of without as they are within. July 2004: “Birds singing while hailstones are belting down on them”.
Following this compulsive trail of honesty and wisdom, the Egg becomes a bird; sometimes a balloon surfaces and at Christmas 2002 a plane rises as she becomes, literally, a “Flying Dutchman” to visit her mother: “Done it. Made it to Holland”. The spirit refuses to be grounded.
“Creativity knows no boundaries”, Corina observes in February 2005. Therein lurks the ultimate irony of her life and of all our lives. Hatched tells us as much about ourselves as it does about Corina. Compelled to stop and stare, she didn’t find creativity in herself no more than she discovered the kindness and caring of her friends. They found her. They were there all along. The lesson of the deeply personal yet emphatic diary that is Hatched is that you don’t have to get ME to embrace them.