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16 October 2014

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Penguin Memories

By Susan Richardson
December 2002, Cardiff
A digital story from Capture Wales

A passion for penguins

Susan is fascinated by penguins. Even though she has been on countless journeys throughout the world, there is one parade that is still vivid in her mind.

"When I grow up, I'm eight and on a day trip to Bristol Zoo. I've seen giraffes, polar bears, seals and lots and lots of penguins. How come they have wings but can't fly? How come they're so clumsy on land and graceful in water? For the rest of the day I watch and wonder. When I grow up I want ... I'm 16 and in the middle of a really vivid dream. An Emperor penguin gets delivered through my letterbox. He feels trapped and out of place, can't adjust to being a suburban bird after the wide horizons of Antarctica. When I grow up I want to travel all over the world. I'm 26 and on Philip Island in Australia. I've spent most of the past five years overseas both working and studying.

Right now, I'm waiting for Philip Island's daily penguin parade when hundreds of furry penguins return from feeding at sea to their burrows in the sand. Before dusk falls, predictable as breath they start on their long swim home. When I grow up I want to travel all over the world and write. I'm 34 and back in the place where I grew up in Wales.

I'm writing poems, lots of them. Some are getting published, a couple have been broadcast and two have won prizes in competitions. My favourite is a poem about balance:

"Yin and Yang
Land and sea
Black and white
Emperor and Charlie Chaplin."

Please tell us about yourself?
I'm a writer and tutor of creative writing. Most recently I worked as Project Manager of the Great Cardiff Poem - writing and persuading hundreds of others to write poems about Cardiff to support the city's bid to be the 2008 European Capital of Culture.

What are you currently working on?
A collection of poems about penguins - some of which are written in the voice of an Emperor Penguin who arrives in suburbia from Antartica and makes wry observations on contemporary life. It seemed appropriate at this time, to make a digital story which reflected my long-term passion for penguins! I wanted to make something which was both comic in places, but also had a more serious 'message'.
In my digital story - the black-and-white penguin becomes a metaphor for the notion of balance and for the quest for balance in life.

Did you enjoy creating your digital story?
I was initially apprehensive about having to learn the necessary software and couldn't quite believe that I would end up with a completed story after just a few days! The workshop was extremely supportive however, and everything did, indeed, come together as planned. I'd now really like to continue making stories - and perhaps work on some with the various writing groups I teach in different sectors of the community.

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