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2005 Writers Forum
Anna Balint

Anna Balint is the author of Horse Thief, a collection of short fiction, Curbstone Press, 2004. Earlier publications were Out of the Box, poems, Poetry Around Press, 1991; and spread them crimsonsleeves like wings, poems and stories, Poetry Around Press, 1993. She co-edited Poets Against the War, an anthology of poems protesting the Gulf War, 1991. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous journals including, Calyx, Briar Cliff Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Raven Chronicles, Caprice and Stringtown. In 2001, Balint received the Starbucks Foundation "Leading Voices Award" for outstanding work with urban youth in the Puget Sound Region in the field of creative writing. She currently teaches creative writing at Antioch University, Seattle. Anna Balint photo
Read and listen to excerpts from a discussion between Anna Balint and 2005 curator John Mifsud.
photo credit:
dean wong
Listen to an excerpt of Anna's reading (MP3)

No Parents on the Platforms (excerpt)

It’s a terrible thing to put your kids on a train and send them off to who knows where. Tags round their necks like a couple of parcels. You have to keep telling yourself it’s for the best. You have to put your faith in the government at a time like this. You try to put on a cheery face, but inside it’s another matter. I felt like the world was coming to an end. All of it so sudden. One day it’s just rehearsals, then it’s the real thing.

"What did you do at school today then love?" I asked Maggie when she came in the door one day.

"Practiced for the evacuation," she said. "So we won’t have to be blown to bits by Mister Hitler’s bombs."

"Is that what they’re telling you then?"

That was back in April. And every week after they had a drill.

Then it’s July, and school’s over with and it’s the summer holidays. No one’s thinking about war. You think about taking the kids for a nice day at the seaside. A lovely summer we had too, sunshine every day. Then it’s the end of August and they want all the kids back at school. Their summer holidays aren’t even completely over yet, but they want them back anyway. Another practice they say, except this time they send them home with a list. Things to pack if or when necessary.

One toothbrush, one comb or hairbrush, one pair of plimsolls, one warm cardigan or mac, two pair of clean knickers, and two pair of clean stockings or socks. I don’t know who made that up, the teachers or the government. It’s not much is it? And what do they have to put the word "clean" in there for? What do they think? You’re going to pack dirty knickers.

Then out of the blue it’s the real thing. A Friday of all days. Why not a Monday? Why not the beginning of the week? So there I was, dragging them out of bed at the crack of dawn on a Friday, "Come on Maggie love, look sharp. It’s not the end of the world."

Stuffing all their bits and pieces in a bag, telling them to go have a proper sit on the toilet because there’s no toilets on the train. Stan was no bloody help at all.

"What’s England ever done for the working man? Tell me that Bridget." He’s shaving, like it was any other day, getting ready to drive his bleeding bus. "This isn’t our war Bridget. That’s what you don’t get. Stanley Stevens isn’t about to run like a scared rabbit."

"No one’s asking you run anywhere Stan, this is about the children. You won’t find princesses Elizabeth and Margaret hanging about in London, waiting on Mr. Hitler to drop one of his bombs on Buckingham Palace. You mark my words. Their Royal Highnesses are already tucked away nice and safe in the country someplace. And what’s good enough for a princess is good enough for our two!"

All this before the sun’s even up. Stanley’s problem is he never got over the last war. The Great War they called that one. Nasty coughing fits he gets, from all the gas he breathed. Terrible it was. Well, he still has nightmares doesn’t he? Crying out in his sleep. That’s why he’s down the pub all the time. He’s still trying to forget. I’m just thankful the government is doing something right for a change. At least they’re thinking about the children.

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