In Response

In response to a number of statements made online and in the media about my poetry, I’d like to tell you about my creative process. I was not given the opportunity to respond to some of the claims before they were made, so I am doing so here, and I am doing so now.

Reading and listening to music are a vital part of my process. And there are times when I’m reading a poem or listening to a song that a door opens and my mind flashes with images from my personal history. It may be a phrase, a line, a metaphor that triggers this, but when it occurs, I give myself over to the images and ensure I capture them. In doing this, the framework of the poem is used to tell my own story and parts of the original text are creatively appropriated in the formation of a new work.

Have I credited the original work the way academia would have? No. Does poetry and music have a long history of sampling, of re-purposing, of homage? Yes. Will I continue to seek inspiration and motivation and keys to my memories and experience from outside of my own head? Yes. It’s impossible to do otherwise. But let me be clear, my motivation has always been to charm the moment that has found me into a poem and only that, not to steal and never to cause harm.

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Another Self Portrait: The Bootleg Series Vol. #10

I have to admit, I have always struggled with Dylan’s 1970 album, Self Portrait, but from what I have read (and heard) of the just released box set, Another Self Portrait: The Bootleg Series Vol. #10, I am excited to uncover some of the lost music from what was a strange period in Dylan’s career. And as always, there is a release to suit every fan, including a 3 x vinyl set and a 4CD box set featuring the first official release of Bob Dylan and The Band live at the Isle of Wight. This series has never failed to deliver, so I can’t wait to spend some quality time with the 30+ rarities that have been rescued from the vaults.

Here’s a glimpse of what has been uncovered …

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Happy Indigenous Literacy Day

get_caught_reading_promo_1

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day, and you can help make a difference. For as little as $10, you can help change the lives of people in remote communities. Visit the Indigenous Literacy Foundation website to find out more about the remarkable work they are doing.

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Spring Breeze

To celebrate the changing of the season, I have been collaborating with Rose van Son, Gary Colombo De Piazzi and Meryl Manoy on a Spring Junicho. Here’s our offering to the new season…

marmalade

[photograph by Rose van Son]

spring breeze
we raise a kite
into the sound

(GN)

*

hands on my face
the sun’s rays

(RVS)

*

the flush
on her cheek
first kiss

(GCD)

*

a bee caresses
the rose blossom

(MM)

*

dawn light
I slip between
two waves

(GN)

*

a shell on the beach
unknown

(RVS)

*

butterfly
its last spiral
to the ground

(GCD)

*

leaves fall
and the forest catches fire

(MM)

*

yellow bursts
from the crocus bulb
washing day

(GN)

*

season’s end
marmalade jars fill the bench

(RVS)

*
through the glass
the sun’s orange glow
traps a moth

(GCD)

*

higher still
clouds scud a waning moon

(MM)

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Pascalle Burton & Tylea live at SpeedPoets this Saturday

gnunn:

This is going to be something!

Originally posted on speedpoets:

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about the ‘SpeedPoets Only’ collaboration between Pascalle Burton & Tylea that will envelop one and all at the Hideaway (188 Brunswick St) this Saturday, August 31. Anyone who saw them together on the stage at QPF 2012, will, I am sure, share my excitement.

To get you buzzing, here’s the film that won Pascalle Burton the 2013 QPF Filmmaker’s Challenge and an absolute gem from Tylea’s former band, Gota Cola. Now imagine the combined adventurous spirit of these two ladies on stage… good times ahead!

And of course, there will be bountiful open mic opportunities, free zines, raffles and the guitar roar of Sheish Money. Be there to experience something special!

Date: Saturday August 31
Venue: The Hideaway, 188 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
Time: Doors at 1:30pm for a 2pm Open Mic Start until 5pm
Entry: Gold Coin Donation

View original

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Nathan Shepherdson wins the Josephine Ulrick Award

Let me be the first to shout out a huge congratulations to Nathan Shepherdson for taking out the 2013 Griffith University Josephine Ulrick Award with his poem, Selling Meaning in Negative Space. I received this exciting news at the same time I peeled open the first box of books containing Nathan’s latest collection, The Day The Artists Stood Still [Volume One]. The book looks and feels like an object of beauty… truly fitting for the astounding work that lies within the pages. Here’s a pic to show you what I mean.

The Day The Artists Stood Still

And don’t forget, you can pick up a copy of Nathan’s new book at the launch this Saturday, August 24 as part of the QLD Poetry Festival session, Dancing in Abstract. The session will be held in the Shopfront Space of the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts from 4:00pm – 5:00pm. Hope to see many of you there!

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Words from the West

It was a real thrill to travel back to Western Australia last weekend, for a solid hit of poetry, courtesy of WA Poetry Inc. (WAPI). This was my second visit to the WA Poetry Festival, so it was great to catch up with friends and poets and to share the stage with Australian poetry pioneer TT O, and some fine WA Poets including the anti-poet Alan Boyd and the luminous Jaya Penelope (here’s the full program). I had the opportunity to do many readings, in some truly beautiful spaces; my favourites being Crow Books and the Moon Café, home of the mighty Perth Poetry Club. I also had the privilege of running two workshops with some really inspiring people. And although I may still be a little on the weary side, I have not yet lost that poetry glow!

Reading at the Perth Poetry Club

Reading at the Perth Poetry Club

[photograph by Rose van Son]

Another highlight of the festival was our ginko through Queens Gardens. The rain and cold weather that dominated most of the weekend, could not dampen the spirit of Gary de Piazzi, Rose van Son and Meryl Manoy, so together, we walked, sat and dreamed big in the beautiful surroundings, penning some fine haiku in the process. Here’s a selection of poems from each of the poets to give you a snapshot of our Saturday morning…

***

broken wing -
a stick in her side
unbalanced

*

red cannas
mother’s chiffon
pleated

Rose van Son

Red cannas

[photograph by Rose van Son]

bridge over water
I look on my reflection

*

siren
out wails the coot
water shimmers

Gary de Piazzi

Graham, Meryl, Rose and Gary

Graham, Meryl, Rose and Gary

[photograph by Rose van Son]

kookaburras laugh at the watery sun

*

pyramid trellis
creeper climbs
to capstone

Meryl Manoy

***

I want to say a big thank you to organisers, Karen Murphy, Chris Arnold, Mar Bucknell for taking such good care of all the poets; the crowds for turning up, braving the weather and making every poet feel welcome on the stage; and all of the other poets for their generosity of spirit. And I want to say a special thanks to festival organiser, Gary de Piazzi for his big-heartedness and for making his home, my home on the weekend…

Experiences like this are what keeps the poetry fires well and truly stoked.

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When I Have The Body Of A Man: Collaborate with Sachiko Murakami

qpf_2013_web

QLD Poetry Festival 2013, is just days away, and one of the many exciting guests about to land in our fine city, is Sachiko Murakami (Canada). Sachiko is well known for her collaborative online projects - Rebuild and Henko - so we are thrilled that she has cooked up a new online project especially for QPF.

When I Have The Body Of A Man (WHITBOAM) is a collaborative poem that you are invited to help write. It’s an exquisite corpse with a twist: it steals the form and first line of Elizabeth Bachinsky’s “When I have the Body of a Man”, from The Hottest Summer in Recorded History, (Nightwood Editions, 2013). Let’s call this a formal hijacking of Elizabeth’s poem.

In WIHTBOAM, you are invited to contribute a line to a poem, that is prepended by a “When” clause (i.e. ‘When I have the body of a man’). Your line then becomes the leading “When” clause of the next contributor’s line. After adding a line, you may view the whole poem. Or, if you really are too shy to contribute, you may sneakily view the poem here.

The collaborative poem WIHTBOAM, created for the 2013 Queensland Poetry Festival, opens on Friday, August 23 at 12 AM Brisbane time and closes on Sunday, August 24 at 11:59 PM. People can play around before then, but the poem OFFICIALLY opens on Friday – all lines added before then will be deleted.

So, no matter where you are in the world, be sure to be part of When I Have The Body Of A Man. Projects like this strengthen our global poetry community.

[WIHTBOAM was created for the 2013 Queensland Poetry Festival by Sachiko Murakami under the tutelage of Bill Kennedy.]

***

WHITBOAM will also form part of the Poetry Unbound workshop with Sachiko Murakami, Friday 23 August, 10.30am. There are a few precious places left in this workshop, so check out the details below!

Sachiko

Poetry Unbound with Sachiko Murakami

Poetry is a living artform – one that adapts, adjusts, can be renovated, extrapolated. Canadian poet Sachiko Murakami has been doing just that with her online collaborative sites Project Rebuild and Henko. Join Sachiko for a three-hour demonstrative workshop that explores in greater depth the various forms of poetry unbound – collaborative poetry, constructed poetry, found poetry, interactive poetry. Explore further at powellstreethenko.ca and www.projectrebuild.ca.
When: Friday 23 August, 10.30am
Where: Room 1.A, State Library of Queensland
Cost: $40
Booking: limited spaces so BOOK ONLINE NOW to secure your place!

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Queens Gardens Ginko: WA Poetry Festival

It’s been a gloriously hectic few days of poetry over in the city of Perth. The WA Poetry Festival has been quietly taking over venues all around the city, and one such venue was Queens Gardens. Yesterday, I was joined by a small group of haiku enthusiasts, and together we gave ourselves over to the beauty of the gardens. This morning, I am off to run a haiku workshop, but before I go, here are three haiku that Rose van Son, Meryl Manoy, Gary De Piazzi and I wrote collaboratively as part of the ginko.

creeper climbs
the space between
bird and watcher

*

tip of the jacaranda surrounded by concrete

*

flame tree
I look on
my reflection

 

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An Accident That Thinks: Lee-Anne Davie interviews Nathan Shepherdson

Nathan Shepherdson has won the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize twice (2004, 2006), the 2005 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Award, 2006 Newcastle Poetry Prize and 2006 Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award. His first book, Sweeping the Light Back into the Mirror (UQP 2006), won the Mary Gilmore Award in 2008. In 2008 also he released what marian drew never told me about light (Small Change Press) and in 2009 Apples with Human Skin was published by University of Queensland Press. In 2012 Nathan collaborated with print-maker Julie Barret to produce the limited edition, concertina fold book, clouds in another’s blood (light-trap press) and in 2013 he will release his fifth collection, The Day The Artists Stood Still (volume one).

Nathan will be launching The Day The Artists Stood Still (vol. 1) @ QPF 2013 in the session, Dancing in Abstract (Saturday 24 August, 4pm. Shopfront Space).

Shepherdson

I was introduced to you, Nathan, in 2010 following the success of your third work, Apples With Human Skin, and I am amongst many who are in awe of the talent you have for giving words their own breath. The use of space and suspension around your words just adds to the physical and philosophical dimension of your poetry. Where have you drawn your creative inspiration?

In the simplest sense poetry is a form of thinking. Things occur and the decision is whether to write it down. Even unwritten it’s still poetry. The choice pertains to its physical form. It’s a big question, and not easy to elaborate. It’s a bit of a mantra, but essentially it’s a reductive art, so the elaboration is part irony, part head scratch. For better or worse my brain seems to operate in a visual way. So as the images form as words the words also become another set of images. So your allusion to space and suspension is very important to me. Mostly reading is a silent act, but the physicality is internal. One breath invites the next – and reading what you’re writing or what others have written can transform you into a machine for language. I want to be used as fuel for this process. For all the minimal aspects of its language, poetry makes the highest demands on the space within the page. This space allows the thoughts to approach the words, almost as objects – a few words can jell together as a static object holding a magnetic field. You take your bearing then turn the page. So in some ways the smaller poems demand more space. One face instead of the crowd. In Apples I was fortunate that my editor Felicity Plunkett backed this idea of one poem per page. It was questioned by UQP, but I convinced them of the physical punctuation of turning the page. Obviously this is not always possible, and I was very grateful to UQP for the latitude I was given. As to the philosophical dimension, I guess there’s something going on, but it’s difficult to say what. Perhaps it’s a quest for perfect self-contradiction. The consistency rests in being at odds with yourself. Where possible remove the ego and then try and re-trap it by direct confrontation, sleep or even sabotage. With any art what is attempted won’t necessarily be what is achieved. Things can come about via different gradients of failure. I accept failure as part of the process. After all you need to be defeated to complete a work. I know when a work is finished, but sometimes it’s just as much relief as satisfaction. So when you look at the words on a page, it’s like a photograph of the wreckage. Does that mean the editor is a mortician? Octavio Paz said something like “we are an accident that thinks”. I can’t do better than that really. To be there you can’t be here. Thinking is somewhere else.

Currently, on the QPF website, is a conversation with Rachael Briggs, winner of the 2011 Val Vallis Award followed by the 2012 Thomas Shapcott prize, and her feelings of winning back to back prestigious prizes.  How did you feel Nathan having also won both literary prizes back to back in 2005 and 2006, but in the reverse order of Shapcott followed by the Vallis?  How has your success in these poetry competitions influenced your poetry to date?

I was very lucky for a few years there. The ball (or full stop) started rolling in 2004 when I was fortunate to win the Ulrick Prize. (One of the judges was Tom Shapcott in that year). My work had never appeared in journals. I’d probably sent out two things in 20 years. I’d never given a reading. My mother died in 2003, so I guess that jolted me into taking work out of folders and doing something with it. I think that was a subconscious yardstick. The manuscript awarded the Shapcott Prize was Sweeping the Light, which consisted of 72 elegiac poems about my mother.  Of course without the vehicle that is the prize, those poems may still be in a folder. For a poet who had no idea how any of it worked, I ended up with a book in the pipeline, and with Bronwyn Lea as my editor at UQP. I was naïve, but that experience was invaluable. Bronwyn was very generous with time and ideas given my lack of pedigree. She is very astute, and unsurprisingly has a delicate editorial eye. The book was all the better because of her involvement. As a result of that period I got to know Tom Shapcott personally. Without doubt he is one of our finest poets.  You learn a lot in a short period through the contact and presence of someone like Tom. His knowledge not just of poetry, but of music, art and life is vast. You just hope to soak a bit of it up.

The history of the Shapcott and Vallis awards is probably known by many, but is worth repeating. Matt Foley was a minister in the Goss Government. He is steeped in the poetic tradition. He came up with the idea for the two awards. The consequences in what words have seen the light of day has been palpable. The fact that the Shapcott prize is a manuscript prize cannot be underestimated. It gifts the poet a full survey of a body of work with a leading publisher. Is there a better opportunity for unpublished work in Australian Poetry? In all modesty, I’m very pleased to be on the shelf with such a quality group of poets pre and post my own success.

With the Vallis Prize I guess it was a kind of reverse order to what might be expected. Perhaps (as in Rachael’s case) you would think an individual piece might pick up a prize before a manuscript. But naturally I have no cause for complaint. The piece awarded the Vallis prize was very different in content and context to the Shapcott material. That work ended up in my second UQP book so there’s a circular relationship of sorts there. I never met Val Vallis, but he lived to a great age of 92. He went blind in his later years. Again I feel fortunate – because Paul Sherman made a point of reading the winning work to him each year while Val was still alive. My poems in that sequence are perhaps a bit baffling, but for their part they were given due consideration and credit as part of a ritual designed by Paul. Paul very kindly related this process to me in a letter, with a congratulatory notation from Val. I’m very pleased to have this, something that provides connection however small. Poetry is the perfect vehicle for tenuous connections, that’s where the capacity in its imagination resides.

So you can see how anecdotally none of the above could exist without those awards. However the writing was about the writing. With or without the awards those poems would still exist. The awards allow the passage of the internal to the external.

You never cease to be evolutionary with your poetic projects, having produced four collections with a fifth on the way, and enjoy collaborating with spoken word artists and artists of other mediums.  Can you tell the readers about your concertina fold book, clouds in another’s blood, and how the complement of collaborating with other artists has worked for you?

Clouds in another’s blood was written at the invitation of Angela Gardner. In the year I won the Vallis, Angela won the Shapcott; that’s how we met. So there’s another tangible between the two awards. Angela and her partner Kerry Kilner had formed light-trap press. Their idea was (and still is) to produce very high quality poetry publications in very limited numbers, built around the idea of putting the work a particular poet and artist together. She asked would I be interested? After a long deliberation of half a second I said yes. (Angela is also an artist, so has both streams flowing as a matter of course). There is a wonderful tradition between the two art forms. With any project of that sort I prefer to produce new work that at least attempts to cater to what is being proposed. However this is an inexact science, so you just hope that something lands in the right field. I see it as three-way collaboration. No such thing as a two cornered triangle. The artist Julie Barratt and typesetter Janine Nicklin did a wonderful job. It’s beautiful to hold in the hand; and its concertina format allows the 32 poems to roll around like a horizontal spinning wheel when you read it.

David Byrne said something to the effect of “there’s no point in collaborating if you end with what you would’ve done anyway”. I agree with this idea. You either have to stretch or contract your usual self to be at the service of what you’re doing within a shared context. A few years ago I wrote some micro pieces for Arryn Snowball which he absorbed into a series of paintings. Arryn pushed this to the point where the words are almost illegible. But they work. Whether you can read the words or not, they’re still there. It’s an open process. Subvert or illuminate. It goes the way it goes. Whether the result ends up as a diagram or deepest abstraction, the trick is to wear a blindfold and let intent be the driver.

In 2010/11 I produced a series of works for Alun Leach-Jones, six of which we chose for use as the basis for a suite of screen prints entitled The Philosophy of Objects (printed by Marnling Press in Sydney). I was amazed with what he came up with. The text and images are side by side on the same sheet of paper. Yet the images he produced were not illustrative at all. Alun went about it all in a very meticulous way, injecting his own responses into the words. A bit like slicing a psychological onion as fine as possible. The pungent translucence. We were both surprised with what the other came up with. Without Alun’s invitation neither poems nor images would exist. They become each other. Alun is a massive reader of poetry. It’s a primary tenet in his make-up as an artist. It goes beyond the thought. He believes in the inherent capacity for art and poetry to fit together. I agree with him totally.

While I’m more comfortable with the art/poetry collaboration, I’ve also done some work as writer and reader that involves music. Sometimes in a more casual way with people such as Leighton Craig, Sandra Selig, Eugene Carchesio and Ian Powne. Then at other times in a more structured way with Pascalle Burton and David Stavanger in the Outlandish Watch project (from QPF in 2011). I’m not quite as confident in this area, but really enjoy the process. If the opportunity ever arose it would great to work with a composer on a song cycle. In general collaboration is rewarding because it gives you the opportunity to break down the singular self.

You’re about to release a new collection, The Day The Artists Stood Still (vol. 1).   What has been your inspiration for this particular work and what are your plans for more volumes?

Again as good fortune would have it this book will be published courtesy of an invitation from Graham Nunn via his press Another Lost Shark. As a by-product of what I’ve been talking about above; I written a dozen or so sets based on different artists I know. (Some as friends, some as acquaintances). The poems are mostly short, what I call lingual drawings. They were produced between 2008 and 2013. In a way they’re discourse based; with many coming from an overflow of energy after writing the collaborative pieces for Alun.  My conversation is with the ideas within their work, rather than direct interpretation. Given that they’re written for each artist, I hope that something of their work is discernable, but as poems they also need to be able to stand by themselves. For reasons practical and aesthetic we decided to split the pieces over two volumes. The first to be published this year, with volume 2 coming out in 2014. There’s a wide range of artists, different ages, early to late career. The personal connections, or at least respect for the work of each artist evolves into a silent curatorship of words. Which is interesting for me, because I can’t imagine these artists would ever end up in the same exhibition with the way the contemporary art world operates under certain aesthetic, economic and intellectual camps. I was not trying to address that idea in writing these poems, but it’s an intriguing aside. They’re part dialogue, part homage, and maybe part collaboration – although ironically without consent from the other party. If readers have made it this far into the interview, they’ll no doubt realize I’m an art obsessive. There is no surprise really as my father Gordon is a highly regarded painter. He has been a very powerful influence on the shape of my creative thought. It’s a pleasure to know artists of a certain generation like Gordon, Alun Leach-Jones, Madonna Staunton and of course on the word front Tom Shapcott. Art itself may come from or be about the moment, but for the artist it’s a long haul process. These artists keep milking their minds and skills in order to continue living in their work. As people and as artists they’re wonderful examples. No matter what the fashion – a blank piece of paper will always be a blank piece of paper. Whether the line is written or drawn doesn’t matter.

Nathan, I’m really looking forward to your performance at this year’s Queensland Poetry Festival.  Can you give the readers a teaser of what we’re likely to expect from you?

QPF is always an event. I feel part of it. I’ve had some great experiences there – with reading my own work, launching my first book, and being able to listen to and discover the work of others. It does alternate between exhilaration and exhaustion, (which I know you understand better than I as a former director of QPF). It’s an important point on the calendar for our somewhat marginalized art form.  My focus will be on the launch of the day the artists stood still. Generally the poems are sparse. The language is concise, with elements bordering on the aphoristic. Hopefully the words and images float off the page. In reading poetry to an audience, it’s about trying to wake the moment. It would be good if a few people are standing around the bed when that happens. Even in our own language we’re in a constant state of translation. Here’s one poem from the sequence absent landscapes written for Peter Hudson. It taps in to what the book is about.

V.

if birds

ever learn to paint

painter’s hands

will be found in cupboards

Interview with Lee-Anne Davie first published on www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

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Book Launch: The Day The Artists Stood Still

Another Lost Shark is excited to announce the launch of its latest release, the much anticipated first volume of The Day The Artists Stood Still by multi-award winning poet, Nathan Shepherdson.

TDTASS circle sml

Here’s a preview of what Felicity Plunkett (poetry editor, UQP) had to say about the book:

Here in Nathan Shepherdson’s dazzling gallery of the impossible, a single thought can rip the nails from the floorboards. The poet curates an assemblage of the exquisite and uncanny, imagining the harvested wings of angels alongside ribs sucked and discarded, and splashes from a poetics of painting.

The launch will be held as part of the QLD Poetry Festival session, Dancing in Abstract, alongside Felicity Plunkett and Jon Paul Fiorentino.

Date: Saturday August 24
Time: 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Venue: Shopfront, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

Copies will be available at the QPF Bookstore on the day and at anotherlostshark.bigcartel.com following the launch. We would of course, love to see you all there! This book will make your shelves much richer…

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Haiku in Translation

Got some exciting news today that a second haiku has been published in translation (in Chinese) at NeverEnding Story, by poet, publisher and translator, Chen-ou Liu. To know that this poem will be read in more than one language is a great honour. Here is a link to read the poem and the translations (yes, there are two).

And as you may know, it is a tradition of mine that with every haiku published, I compose a new one to celebrate. This one is fresh from rolling around my head …

Buddha_stone

stone buddha
the thought of myself
at peace

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It’s show time here in Brisbane… one of my favourite times of year. So to celebrate, here’s a new haiku capturing a little bit of the Ekka experience.

ekka-ferris-wheel

into the lights
of the ferris wheel
the smell of cow shit

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Winter Ginko: City Botanic Gardens (part ii)

As we head into the weekend, it’s the perfect time to slip into that haiku headspace… here’s a few poems from John Wainwright, Tamara Fletcher and Jonathan Hadwen to help you on your way.

*****

44th k.
the iPod has no song
for this

*

suburb of sailboats
neighbours
compare masts

Jonathan Hadwen

Ginko Group

[photograph by Andrew Phillips]

length of her pink tongue
a standard measure of happiness

*

magenta t-shirt
a Sunday caricature
of himself

Tamara Fletcher

City Botanic Gardens

[photograph by John Wainwright]

one curlew
alone
the widow learns to walk again

*

bird of paradise bows to the noisy mynah

John Wainwright

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The first Brisbane New Voices V poet is…

the magnificent, Simon Kindt!

Simon Kindt

About as suburban as you can get, Simon grew up on the southside of Brisbane, began a career as a teacher in 2003 and has been writing poetry since 2012.

In 2013, Simon has flung himself into the Brisbane spoken word scene and is currently working on developing a performance poetry crew of ruffian teenagers at a major metropolitan high school. Watch out for them.

Simon has performed at the Brisbane Emerging Arts Festival (2013), was selected as a SpeedPoets call back poet (2013) and once won some strawberry jam at Jamjar Slam.

*****

Here’s a taste of what’s to come…

Flinders 3

From the mesa the town below
was just another map of itself,
peeled back skin pinned by eucalypts
and leaning fence posts,
the river dry a spine dissected,
edges fraying into ghosts of Elysian Fields.

From the east the thunderheads rolled in
heavy and crackling,
magnesium flares sparking,
lighting up the sky’s belly and
drums, drums and drums.

We were golden jokes,
strange shapes in stranger places,
mermaids high and dry.

You, proof of a lower case god,
a driftwood cathedral bell tower rung,
singing for the slick and honey wet.
Me, opening my copper throat with flints,
to drink the sky from red and flashing gills.

We sat, sails flapping and jaws reaching as
the sky broke open overhead,
the storm clouds, waves following each other in,
throats popping and gushing,
the rain, molasses thick and wine dark,
falling over itself to get to us
before we drowned in air.

*****

I hope there are many poets reading this, and sharpening their poems for submission to Brisbane New Voices V. I’m ready to read!

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Brisbane New Voices V: Submissions Open

The Brisbane New Voices series is something I am incredibly proud of. So far I have had the privilege of working with Jonathan Hadwen, Fiona Privitera, Chris Lynch, John Koenig, Carmen Leigh-Keates, Vanessa Page, Trudie Murrell and Vuong Pham; a stellar line up indeed!

Next year will see the series celebrating it’s 5th anniversary, so to keep things fresh and interesting, a special edition featuring five Brisbane poets will be published and launched in the first half of 2014. Planning for Brisbane New Voices V is underway and two poets have already been selected for publication. I will be announcing the first of these two poets later this week, so be sure to keep an eye on the site. That leaves three places in the final publication, so it is with great excitement that I am, for the first time ever, accepting submissions for Brisbane New Voices.

Here are the Submission Guidelines:

bnvweb

Eligibility Criteria:

  1. Entrants must reside in the city of Brisbane.
  2. Entrants must not have previously published (including self-published) a collection of poems sixteen (16) or more pages in length.

Submission Guidelines:

  1. Submissions marked ‘Brisbane New Voices V’ should be posted to Graham Nunn, 86 Hawkwood St. Mt. Gravatt East, Brisbane QLD 4122.
  2. Submissions should include between 15 A4 pages and 20 A4 pages of poetry. Each new poem must start a new page. If the poet is submitting haiku or other short poems (no more than 10 lines), please place no more than three haiku  / two short poems per page.
  3. All submissions should include a cover letter that includes the following information – Name, email, postal address, phone number, short biography (no more than 80 words) and a brief introduction to your poems. The cover page is not included in the total pages of poetry submitted.
  4. Poems should be typed in an easily readable 12 point font (e.g. Times New Roman) with 1.5 line spacing.
  5. All poems submitted must be the entrant’s original work. Submissions will not be returned.
  6. The author’s name, email address and postal address must appear on every page of the submission.
  7. Prior publication of individual poems in literary journals and newspapers is encouraged. An acknowledgements page should be included with the manuscript, listing all the poems previously published and where they have first appeared.  This includes on-line publication and any broadcast performance (radio or television). The acknowledgements page is not included in the total pages of poetry submitted.
  8. Poets may submit only one entry to ‘Brisbane New Voices V’.
  9. Three submissions will be accepted for publication in ‘Brisbane New Voices V’. If selected, the poet will be required to engage in an editorial process to prepare no more than ten pages of poetry for the final publication.
  10. Deadline for submissions is Friday September 27, 2013. Submissions received after this date, but postmarked on or before September 27, 2013 will be accepted.
  11. The editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. The editor reserves the right not to select any of the submissions received. A decision will be made by October 31, 2013.
  12. All poets will be advised of the result via email 24 hours prior to the results being published on http://www.anotherlostshark.com in November, 2013.
  13. ‘Brisbane New Voices V’ will be published in early 2014 and launched in the first half of the year.
  14. There is no submission fee to ‘Brisbane New Voices V’.

 

Any questions about the guidelines should be emailed to geenunn(at)yahoo.com.au.

I am looking forward to the reading ahead and hope that many of you will get behind this and help to spread the word wide and far.

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Winter Ginko: City Botanic Gardens

The sun was blazingly beautiful again today, and my head was still swimming with haiku thanks to yesterday’s ginko. I am excited to post these poems from four of the poets who joined me on the day, and later in the week, I will post poems from the three remaining poets. It’s always a thrill to see so many fine poems written into being…

*****

masts swing -
hundreds of joggers
up the tempo

*

muddy hull takes the river to the sea

mr oCean

Web Bird

[photograph by Andy Smerdon]

sunday shadows
a soldier bird
breaks bread

*

through the fence
a chinese boy tries speaking duck

Andrew Phillips

 Wb Haiku

[photograph by Andy Smerdon]

august wind
tight strings resonate
a winter song

*

blue feathers and orange beak
a subtle enquiry

Andy Smerdon

044

[photograph by Andy Smerdon]

light and shade on the duck pond       passing

*

partitioned park seats
for the homeless
no sleep

Trish Reid

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winter sun: a haiku sequence

This morning, while thousands pounded the pathways of the City Botanic Gardens as part of the Brisbane Marathon, eight of us walked, sat and opened our minds to the lush green landscape, the chorus of birds, the emptiness of sky. This was the third in the QPF ginko series, and while it was officially the ‘winter ginko’, the sun had a sneaky bite to it. I will be posting a handful of poems from the eight poets who joined me this week, but for now, here’s a handful of poems I collected today.

brisbane-city-botanic-gardens-482x298

winter sun
the ball in
the collie’s eyes

*

shooing the ibis
she lets the toddler
cry

*

V of gulls
in love with the shape
of the river

*

finish line
the marathon runner drags
his shadow

*

crows
in the bamboo grove
the wind rattles on

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Nocturne for Eleanor

her face next to mine and
we are kissing so deeply
we unlock the soft darkness
inside each other

its naked endlessness
blood and wonder

 

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Eleanor prepares

Blood-Orange-sliced-in-Half-iStock

a blood orange
slit like a magician’s trick

two cheeks of light
so beautiful

a passing bee
loses itself in

the unkinking
scarf of juice

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National Science Week Ginko: Sunday August 11

As part of National Science Week, the good people at QLD Writers Centre have asked me to host a ginko and haiku workshop on Sunday August 11. Science and haiku… it’s the perfect partnership, as writing haiku is all about activating the senses to inform your poetic voice.

Here are the full details of the event and how to book a spot:

Date: Sunday August 11
Time: 10:30am – 4:30pm
Venue: QWC Offices, Level 2, State Library of Queensland, Cultural Centre, Stanley Place, South Brisbane
Price: Full Price – $160, Concession – $144, QWC Members – $110, QWC Member Concessions – $99 Book Online here or call 3842 9922

And it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t leave you with a haiku…

 cockatooburst

fire season
a blue gum explodes
with cockatoos

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Break Open and Burst: Talking with Jacqueline Turner

For my final interview in the QPF series, I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to a lady who has had a profound influence on my own work, Jacqueline Turner. Jacqueline is a QPF favourite, so it is wonderful that she is returning for her third visit.

*****

Your first visit to Australia and QLD Poetry Festival was back in 2005 as the inaugural Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence. What is your memory of that first visit and how did it change you as a person and poet?

That visit had an incredible effect on all aspects of my life. First, what stands out in my memory is the amazing people I met from getting off the plane and going straight to lunch with a room full of poets at the Red Chamber to the folks at the Judy, to all the small town writers up the north coast to everyone who came out at NOGO in the outback and then to cap it off, all of the spectacular poets who performed at the festival to huge sellout crowds. Literary types, musicians, performance poets, bush poets all mingling in green rooms and then pushing it out on stage. It was a version of a poetic life I couldn’t have even imagined existed.

The land had a huge impact as well — my work deals with place so the tectonic shift of locale for me was significant. The light, look at the light! I kept saying. I was also slightly traumatized by the kangaroo road kill on trips to regional Queensland and mesmerized when the jacarandas in New Farm Park burst out. The stars were different in the outback and I felt like I was on the edge of the earth, could feel the curve of the planet.

The time and space to work on my writing changed everything for me. Personally, it allowed me to step out of my life for a moment and reinvent myself outside the domestic sphere I had inhabited since my early 20s. In terms of my poetic practice it created a loosening, an opening up to the vast potential of language beyond the ways in which I typically operated. I engaged with the lyric form in a new way and the credibility of the position gave me even more confidence to go with my particular poetic inclinations. I stopped censoring myself. I experimented with connections to music that events like SpeedPoets provided. The flow of the river my hair blowing on the CityCat and me opening. The world. Really it meant everything.

Your residency had a profound effect on the Brisbane poetry community too and in many ways, set the bar for every other residency to come. You have also been a return visitor to QPF since your first visit in 2005, so what is it about the festival that keeps you coming back?

It was great to see such tangible and vibrant manifestations of poetic communities when I arrived in Brisbane the first time and it only seemed to get better and better every time I returned. If my residency did anything, it was to merely encourage what was happening in Brisbane and regional Queensland already and to just reinforce the idea that community is vital to creative practice. It was also really important to me to come back and launch my book Seven into Even since I had written much of it during my residency and that QPF accommodated that desire was completely thrilling to me. QPF is unlike any festival or poetic event because it combines an intimate community feel with the expansiveness of performance with huge but particularly attentive audiences. To be in the presence of so many people who are genuinely seeking a poetic experience is intoxicating and gratifying. I could feel the way that certain lines were landing in the room. And then to combine that with the multi-disciplinary aspect of the festival made the conversations around the main events, in the lobby and out for drinks after, incredibly nuanced. It is a unique experience that I keep subjecting to the forces of repetition for my own pleasure!

We are so glad you do Jacqueline! And again, there are many fine Canadians sharing the QPF stage with you. In fact, QPF has had a real love affair with Canadian poets since your residency. What creates that spark of connection between Canadian poets and our audiences?

I think it’s the similar but different kind of thing. We have shared concerns resulting from similar histories with aboriginal people and the land. Also cultural considerations in relation to the dominant American culture. We all bring varying perspectives on those kinds of concerns. Aesthetically we push in a myriad of ways too that seem to both connect and echo with and maybe sometimes even provoke QPF audiences. And those audiences are amazing! Every Canadian poet I’ve talked to about being on the QPF stage is wowed by the particular responses to their work, but also to the fact that poetry is so important to this city, this country. That spark also comes from the opportunity for conversations around the pleasure and practice of writing, as well as the development of some genuine friendships that exceed distance in the age of social media. I’d also be remiss without acknowledging the support of the Canada Council of the Arts which helps to fund travel to bring lucky Canadian poets to Brisbane over the years as well as the incredibly dedicated work of people at the QWC.

This visit, Australian audiences will get the opportunity to hear you read from The Ends of the Earth (ECW Press, 2013), which is really exciting. I am also keen to hear about any other new projects you are working on that QPF audiences may get a preview of.

I’m working on a new manuscript called Flourish because I’ve spent quite a lot of time on dealing with the ends of things so I thought it would be good to explore how language operates when things are going well. I like the idea of an exuberant text so I’m experimenting with letting the writing break open and burst forth. The rush is an element I’ve used formally in my writing — the rush of the long line prose poem — as well as the mode of compression where language is put under pressure in short imagistic stanzas, so I guess I want to see what’s between the extremes of concision and excess. An recent example would be the Presence piece I did for the Cordite chapbook you curated and I hope to keep working that vein for awhile. It feels exciting. I’m curious to see how those stellar QPF audiences will take it all in…

*****

Jacqueline-TurnerJacqueline Turner has published four books of poetry with ECW Press: The Ends of the Earth (2013), Seven into Even (2006), Careful (2003), and Into the Fold (2000). She reviews for the Georgia Straight and lectures at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She was the inaugural Arts Queensland Poet In Residence.

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Same Sky Preview: Not Ready Yet

The launch of Same Sky by Cindy Keong is now just a handful of days away… so I thought that it was time to open the covers of the book here at ALS and share a poem with you all. Here’s the achingly beautiful Not Ready Yet.

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Not Ready Yet

My mother is serene in her hospital bed.
Comfort is the slow drip of saline and
her out-of-tune breath.

Days are connected by a footbridge
of waiting. I expand my scientific
vocabulary with words that mean death.

My brothers huddle in the courtyard
sipping coffee from paper cups.  The plate glass
prevents me from hearing, but I can read faces.

We talk, well at least I do.  She slides off
her engagement ring, places it my palm
warm and worn thin from 50 years of marriage.

I hold the ring for hours thinking, what I’d give
to wake at dawn and hear her
whistle in tune with the radio.

*****

I would also like to thank everyone who has ordered a copy of the book this week. I can announce that the lucky person who will receive a free copy of First Words Volume 1: Private Conversations by Cameron Hindrum is Martha Landman. The pre-launch special ends this Saturday, so for all of you who still want to take advantage of this deal, you can do so at: anotherlostshark.bigcartel.com

 

 

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In the Mind’s Ear: Talking with Lawrence English

The third interview in my QLD Poetry Festival series, sees me chatting with renowned composer and sonic explorer, Lawrence English. I have to say, I am excited beyond words about Lawrence’s involvement this year and this interview explains why…

*****

QPF is thrilled that you will be taking the stage as part of the Saturday night event, The Star Folder. This event sees you working with some of the poets on the program to produce a new body of work. What excites you most about a project like this?

Well I have to say I find the name a rather exciting proposition to start with. It’s part Arthur C Clarke, part tabloid – it could be some intergalactic compression or an aspirational dossier young Hollywood types hope to end up in!

In all seriousness though, this is a wonderful opportunity for myself and video artist scott morrison to trial a series of deconstructivist approaches to language, text and ultimately poetry. We’re both very interested in the transition of the macro (sentence, phrase etc) into the micro (phoneme) – and what the spectrum of possibility might be along that pathway. Once words or phrases become repeated they take on new capabilities as tools for both visual and auditory stimulus and we’re keen to test in just which ways that can be played out.

The poets we’ve been fortunate enough to work with have all kindly handed over their words and voices for us to transform, extend and explode.

I love that you are excited about the title of the event. The Star Folder is the title of a poem by MTC Cronin. Are you familiar with her work? And speaking of poets you are familiar with, who are the poets you love to read or who have had an influence on you over the years?

I’d confess to being aware of the reputation more than the work itself. Everything Holy is in fact the work that I first came in contact with her work. I’ve not had a chance to read any of the books for the past half decade or so.

I have to say it’s only very recently that I’ve found some poems that directly feed into my work – that’s not to say I don’t value the form – more just that the written word has not been a place I’ve sought inspiration for the kind of pieces I’ve been exploring. That changed fairly radically with the book ‘The Peregrine’ (which I honestly feel is a very long, free flowing poetry work…of sorts) and most recently I’ve been spending some time thinking on Gerontion – specifically the phrase ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’, which is in fact the title of a new solo LP I am working on presently. That collection of words I find profoundly provocative and insightful – somehow so very fitting of many of the challenges of the modern age.

Gerontion is right up there with my favourite poems by Eliot, so I can’t wait to hear how his words are helping to shape your new album. With your last album, The Peregrine, how did you discover J.A. Baker’s text of the same name? And I am really interested in what role the text took in the creation of the album.

I first discovered The Peregrine some years back whilst I was visiting with a friend, David Toop, in London. He’d just ordered a copy and it was sitting on his desk. Being an admirer of the bird, I picked it up and within a page, I’d decided I needed to order a copy for myself. What struck me first was the articulation of sound in his writing. To me, Baker seems able to create sound in the mind’s ear in a way very few authors can – truly stunning.

In terms of how the book shaped the recordings – often it was quite literal – taking Baker’s phases and descriptions of spaces and objects and using them as kind of compositional shaping tools. It was an interesting way to work and I’m not sure all texts lend themselves to this approach, but Baker’s work more than surely does.

Will you be transforming the poems of Jennifer Compton, Ian McBryde and Anna Fern in a similar way, or are you taking a completely different approach?

I’d say this will be an entirely different process – for the peregrine – it was taking those written materials and using them as a way to shape abstract musical concepts. For this work, myself and scott morrison are working with the poets – jennifer compton, ian mcbryde and anna fern – in very ‘concrete’ ways – using their voices and faces as material sources from which the sound and video world can be created. It’s an exciting process of discovery as we reduce the texts, gestures and voices into radical new forms.

I want to finish off with a grandiose kind of question… what do you think should be the relationship between an artist and the society they live in?

Well, that is a wide sweeper of a question.

Honestly, what keeps me involved in making works is a very simple proposition – ideas.

We have these quite amazing brains encased in our skulls and it sometime surprises me how much time, as a species, we spend trying not to use them.

Lets take something like TV as an example. Now not all TV is bad, but lets face it, a lot of it is there to ‘help me wind down’ or ‘turn my brain off’ – and lets be clear there’s nothing wrong with rest…but what other daily activity would you spend 3-5 hours doing consistently. People watch an awful lot of TV that does nothing but occupy time…if even a fraction of this time collectively was spent on other pursuits – writing a letter on a topic you feel important to your local politician, taking a moment to visit with people who might need company or assistance, tending some native trees in your yard that might provide food for other native mammals or birds – just a little bit of time spent thinking about ways to make this world somewhat better than what it is – to me, that sounds like a good plan…

So to summarise, I guess, my role I’d like to think is to share my excitement about ideas. About using these wonderful clumps of soft tissue that can make so many wonderful things happen. We’re faced with challenging times in this country – questions about who we are and ultimately who we want to become – a small bit of thought and the odd bit of action for all of us might just make a world of difference.

*****

Lawrence-EnglishLawrence English is a composer, media artist and curator based in Australia. Working across an eclectic array of aesthetic investigations, English’s work prompts questions of field, perception and memory. English utilises a variety of approaches including live performance and installation to create works that ponder subtle transformations of space and ask audiences to become aware of that which exists at the edge of perception.

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Same Sky Pre-Launch Special

ALSP logo lowres

As the launch of Same Sky edges closer, it’s time to celebrate! For this week only, I am offering readers of Another Lost Shark the chance to purchase a copy of Same Sky at the special pre-launch price of $12 including postage anywhere in the world.

The Another Lost Shark Store is also offering a First Words special this week. For just $20 (including postage anywhere in the world) you can purchase Volume 1: Private Conversations by Cameron Hindrum and Volume 2: Same Sky by Cindy Keong.

And to add to the excitement, the first person to order Same Sky will receive a free copy of Private Conversations.

Here’s the link to the store: anotherlostshark.bigcartel.com

Happy shopping!

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Under the Same Sky with Cindy Keong (part 2)

Same Sky is due to launch in exactly one week, so here’s part 2 of the recent chat I had with Cindy. And keep your eyes on the site as from tomorrow night, I will be offering readers of Another Lost Shark the opportunity to pick up a copy of this elegant, limited edition book at a special launch price. But for now, it’s over to Cindy!

van small

Because there is such a strong sense of place in your work, I am keen to know if you do your ‘creating’ behind a desk or out in the world. Can you share with us the process you go through to get from idea to finished poem?

My process for developing ideas comes from a few different sources and is a little like stalking really.  People watching is a favourite past time; I also draw on my memory of the moments (both big and small) that in some way have changed me. I find that these are great sources of inspiration for possible poems.   My passion for photography also generates inspiration for poems.

There is the rare occasion that an idea flows directly into writing a poem, but usually I need to process things for some time. I like to sketch out the idea to test where it is leading.  To transform these sketches into a poem, I would say I am often inspired by the reading of other poets. I like to explore how they have conveyed their ideas and consider why the structure they have used is successful.

Who are the poets that you constantly go back to? What is it about them that keeps you coming back?

I have a tendency when writing to get a bit waffly, or try to put too much in.  So for me, reading poets who are adept at creating poems that are rich in imagery and paired back, is essential.  I also gravitate towards poets who convey a strong sense of place in their work; those who are able to take you to a place, be it physical, or emotional and somehow make you feel, you too have visited. The likes of Robert Adamson, Aidan Coleman, Ashley Capes, Pablo Neruda, Michael Ondaatje, Lidija Cvetkovic; I could go on, these are just a few of the poets I have re-visited lately. And I often turn to haiku to help me try and reign in those unwieldy poems that have taken a wrong turn into prose country.

Another Lost Shark Publications
launches
Same Sky by Cindy Keong
When: Saturday July 27, 1:30pm – 5:00pm
Where: The Hideaway, 188 Brunswick St Fortitude Valley
Entry: Gold Coin Donation

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Delightfully Slant: Talking with Jon Paul Fiorentino

Here’s number #2 in my QLD Poetry Festival interview series… a chat with the delightfully slant Jon Paul Fiorentino, who is keeping his promise and making his way back across the Pacific to launch Needs Improvement at QPF 2013.

*****

2013 is your second visit to QPF. What is it about the festival that has drawn you back across the Pacific?

When I was asked to read in 2010, I was able to launch Indexical Elegies and read with Ken Babstock, Angela Rawlings and August Kleinzahler. It was like a dream. I was overwhelmed to discover this amazing community of poets and writers. The positivity and kindness of the people was infectious and reminded me very much of the arts community I grew up in in Winnipeg. Brisbane quickly became one of my favourite places in the world. I promised myself that when the next book was ready, I would do everything I could to launch it at the QPF. Thankfully, I was invited again and my publisher, Coach House Books, helped to make it happen.

I am really glad that you have been able to keep that promise! What can you tell us about the new book? Is there a poem that you would like to share here as a preview?

Needs Improvement has three sections. “Things-As-Facts” which is a series of alyrics; “Needs Improvement” which is a series of misreadings and appropriations of various pedagogical materials as well as some visual schematic poems; and “Moda” which is a series of villanelles linked to various geographic places. It’s a very strange book, but I am a very strange person. Sure. Here is a poem called “Gag”:

GAG

Entirely my idea not a great one but entirely mine
There was a bicycle and an objectivist poet sort of riding it. Not
red or blue. Entirely my idea all twig and spoke and gag

I gag often these days like as if it wouldn’t catch up
Never my bicycle always entirely my idea and I share
the poet with a post-mountain time scholar from out east
Grey. Not silver but entirely grey

How does it feel to share the QPF stage with another bunch of fine Canadian poets – Sachiko Murakami, Jacqueline Turner, Paul Vermeesch & Shane Rhodes? And are there any particular events/artists on the program that you are really excited about seeing?

When I heard the other Canadians who were coming, I was thrilled. I am a fan of all four. I know Sachiko very well from the time she lived in Montreal. We have worked together on various projects and I was pleased to recommend her first book, The Invisibility Exhibit, for publication. Last time, I discovered the works of Jennifer Compton, Andrew Burke, and Jeremy Balius. I hope to discover more new voices this time.

What is your earliest poetry memory?

My earliest poetry memory is a memory of my grandfather’s laughter, and feeling shag carpet on my skin and being without words but longing for them. My earliest true engagement with poetry happened when I listened to The Smiths and heard Morrissey’s lyrics. The song was “These Things Take Time.” It prompted me to go out and steal a book of Oscar Wilde’s collected poetry. I read “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” over and over again. Since then I’ve never looked back but I’ve often looked sideways.

The root of the word ‘poet’ is ‘maker’. You’ve made wonderful mention of sense memories such as your grandfather’s laughter and lyrical memories such as hearing The Smiths for the first time, so what are the things that are currently influencing the ‘making’ of your poems?

I’m influenced a great deal by critical theory. Barthes is still my go-to guy. I’m very much moved by collaborations / discussions / healthy arguments with other writers these days. Also, I find that if I skip a day of anti-depressants, I see the world in a delightfully slant way.

*****

Jon-Paul-FiorentinoJon Paul Fiorentino’s first novel is Stripmalling, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Hugh MacLennan Award for Fiction. His most recent book of poetry is Indexical Elegies which recently won the 2010 CBC Book Club Award for Best Book of Poetry.  He is the author of the poetry books The Theory of the Loser Class which was shortlisted for the 2006 A.M. Klein Award for Poetry and Hello Serotonin and the humor book Asthmatica. His new book of poetry is Needs Improvement (2013: Coach House Books). He lives in Montreal where he teaches creative writing at Concordia University, and edits Matrix magazine.

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Blissfully Losing My Mind: chatting with CJ Bowerbird

QLD Poetry Festival is fast approaching (August 23 – 25) and in the lead up to the event, I have been lucky enough to have been given the job of chatting to some of the festival artists. First up in my interview series, I chat with winner of the Australian Poetry Slam, CJ Bowerbird.

*****

You were the winner of last year’s Australian Poetry Slam. How has this experience changed your life?

Winning the Australian Poetry Slam threatens to ruin my life as it currently exists. I have always written creatively in my spare time, the little spare time that exists between having a family and a non-creative career. But it is only in recent years I have shared my work with live audiences. And I love it!

It is the performance aspect of spoken word that particularly appeals to me. Winning the Australian Poetry Slam has given me opportunities to break out of the strictures of slam poetry to develop longer, more theatrical pieces. These have been well received by audiences in Australia and China, encouraging me to write and perform more.

Writing creatively does not necessarily fit well with a balanced home life or a regular 9-to-5 job. Now I have been given a taste, though, I am hooked. Through exploring concepts and situations creatively, I am re-discovering things about myself and about others I did not realise I knew. I am trying to find ways to continue developing as a writer and performer without risking everything I already have.

And I believe I am slowly, blissfully losing my mind.

I know what you mean about balance. I have come to think it’s almost impossible… there’s always a sense of something toppling. But if the slow losing of the mind helps the process of discovery, then let the unraveling begin! I am really excited to hear you perform some of the longer works you have been working on. The opportunity to perform this type of work in China must have been incredibly exciting. What will stay with you from this trip?

Taking part in the Bookworm International Literary Festival in China was tremendously rewarding and satisfying. I performed my 45 minute piece ‘Meta’ four times, in three different cities. The audiences varied from diplomats and ex-pats to Chinese university students.

One of the strongest lessons I gained from this trip was the power of performance as a complete activity. While some of the attendees at my shows reacted to my words, others were strongly moved by my actions. This variety was reinforced by the fact English language ability varied through the audience. It was very gratifying to have the freedom to engage with people in different ways.

That said, it was the conversations I had which focussed on the words that were most satisfying. These conversations often led in unexpected directions, as others found things in my work I didn’t realise were there.

Is it that ‘sense of discovery’ that keeps you eager to hit the stage? And speaking of hitting the stage, what can audiences expect from you at QPF 2013?

It is the sense of discovery that keeps me writing. The more I write, the more I learn about myself. It is the thrill of connection that keeps me eager to perform, the feeling of shared experiences and common emotions.

These are the two constants I find in performance poetry – learning and sharing.

I will be doing two 15-minute performances for QPF. For one, I am planning a conventional set of poems. For the other, I will put together more of a themed performance, where the poems link together to offer a more complete narrative. I have a bit of a love and loss story arc I am working on that should be ready for the festival.

To finish up, what are you most looking forward to at QPF? Are there any sessions, or artists that have really peaked your interest?

To be vague and general: everything and everyone. Winning the Australian Poetry Slam has allowed me to attend several festivals this year and meeting other writers and performers has definitely been the highlight of every one of them.

More specifically, TT.0 is someone whose work I have followed for some time. I am looking forward to hearing the work of Canadians John Paul Fiorentino and Paul Vermeesch. I have recently started following them on Twitter (@stripmaller and @paulvermeesch) and their conversations have caught my attention.

I really want to meet Betsy Turcot, having seen a lot of her work online. Catching up with Kelly-lee Hickey, another Australian Poetry Slam winner, and seeing what she is doing now will be a highlight, as will seeing Scott Sandwich.

Bertie Blackman will be a standout. I get a thrill out of cross-genre/form collaboration and have had some good experiences hearing contrasting story telling in poetry and in song.

Finally, I am really looking forward to meeting you Graham, and catching up with friends on the QPF committee, Scotty Darkwing Dubs and Eleanor Jackson.

I can’t wait!

*****

Australian Poetry Slam-FinalsCJ Bowerbird is the 2013 Australian Poetry Slam Champion. He tells stories through verse and explores what it is to be human. CJ crafts poetry into paper planes of performance, taking audiences on flights through despair and salvation without ever losing his sense of humour.

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Presence

It’s been all systems go here at Lost Shark HQ this last month or so… three books about to launch, the residency at Varuna and now this gem… a chapbook titled Presence that I had the immense pleasure of curating for Cordite.

presence_keong

Presence features artwork by Cindy Keong and new poems from Nathan Shepherdson, Pascalle Burton, Aidan Coleman, Louise Oxley, Ross Donlon, Tim Sinclair, Jean Kent, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Sachiko Murakami and Jacqueline Turner. Each of the artists responded to the idea of Presence in their own way, making this a unique reading experience.

Here’s a link to the chapbook… and please, spread the word as this deserves to be read widely!

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The Day The Artists Stood Still

I am on launch countdown at the moment… as many of you will know, in just 13 days, I will be launching Cindy Keong’s stunning debut, Same Sky and then on the last weekend in August at QPF 2013: spoken in one strange word, I will be launching Nathan Shepherdson’s latest collection, The Day The Artists Stood Still. It is exciting times!

I am incredibly proud of both of these books, so for now, let me leave you with an excerpt from Nathan’s poem, racking up dialogues on blue felt from The Day The Artists Stood Still.

TDTASS circle sml

7 – burgundy – solid

the body as always
is an unsigned contract
time-paid in percentages and reason
it presents as a mirror
fed on its own rivalled hunger
as it slowly learns
to pronounce life
through its burgundy lips
heavy with charcoal dust
and the insecure shadows
thrown out with unlicensed light
from a cannibal moon

art is a permission
reconstructing an entire anatomy
from one thought

*

13 – orange – stripe

frequently asked
to perform surgery on a metaphor
he often finds himself
putting stitches in an apple

and the orange thread
he so diligently uses
was sterilised in the sun
and has the breaking strain
of unique internal argument

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Snow on the Lake reviewed by Patricia Prime

It’s been a little while since I published a review by Patricia Prime, so I was excited to receive this in my inbox today… Discovering a new haiku/haibun collection is always a joy so I hope that this review resonates deeply with many of you.

Snow on the Lake

Snow on the Lake: haibun and haiku by Glenn G. Coats. Virginia. Pineola Publishing. (2013) Pb. 87 pp. ISBN: 978-615-799-117.  The book is available at Amazon books for US$12. Reviewed by Patricia Prime

It is good to find a haibun poet’s efforts in print and Pineola have done a satisfactory piece of work in publishing Glenn G. Coats in this volume.  We are told in the blurb that the book is a “memoir of another time, narratives about being a son, a brother, a friend.” Coats is also the editor of haibun for the online journal Haibun Today.

The book contains four sections. “Baptisms” presents a range of mostly autobiographical poems telling of Coats’ childhood; “Night Brings Peace” deals with personal encounters; “Believers offers reflections on the pleasures of a youthful life spent fishing, swimming and camping, and in “Remains of Myself” the author reflects on life through the eyes and words of his grandsons.  Each section of haibun is divided by three pages of haiku, each containing four haiku and illustrated with a small drawing of a bird. These haiku complement the haibun. I quote one haiku from each section:

distant moon
one shirt holds the scent
of another home

late winter
I shake father’s watch
back to life

end of summer
rain pools
on a flip-flop

ripe strawberries
my grandson wonders
if I am old

Coats is always perceptive and often witty, and he writes with restraint and great care in his use and juxtaposition of prose and haiku in this book. More importantly, he is able to introduce an unusual perspective or unexpected viewpoint that amuses, compels thought, gives new insight, or occasionally startles or disturbs.

From the first haibun, “The House in Lawrence Street”, Coats has us eating out of his hand, wanting to read on, wondering why the child “can’t stand still, climbs up on everything in the house.” We don’t learn why the girl acts the way she does – it could be polio, but he asks why, then, is she able to “fly like a bird or jump like Tarzan.” In the lengthy haibun, “Baptisms”, he is perhaps laughing at himself remembering his cousin Jack as a child:

I see him the night before trout season opens. We are up all night talking; picking through my father’s ashtrays for butts long enough to smoke. In the morning Jack puts on a new fishing hat, and his boots and creel are also new.

But, later we see Jack as a man after he returns from the war in Vietnam:

I see me not much later reading Jack’s one letter from Vietnam, the one where he tells the truth, the horror, and the pain of it, but I am to promise to tell no one. He survives the war only to crash a motorcycle back in the states and for a time he is sucking food through a straw.

We don’t know whom to pity more, author or Jack. The simplicity of the narrative deceives. The spotlight Coats turns on himself and his cousin both amusing and poignant.

The haiku in this section are deceptively simple:

honk of a goose
no answer
to the loneliness

snow bound –
keeping the sock with a hole
one more day

If there is something cool about the descriptions in the first section, those in the second are warmer, yet there is an undercurrent of boldness.  Coats sometimes throws his spotlight on the bizarre or unusual – the “evil eye” of Father Henry in “Beginners”, after he catches Coats and his young friend smoking cigars; or about the poet’s thought processes when he is recovering from a car accident (“Deer in the Headlights”) or the scene where three generations are on a fishing boat in “Harbor Lights”:

My son’s legs begin to wobble. We send him into the cabin for a Coke, but he doesn’t return. An old salt curses through the door, says some kid heaved near the kitchen. We lead him back on deck where he falls like a coat on a bench.

Coats’ imagery is highly visual; we could wish he would engage the other senses more often and directly, but we are glad of his use of dark and cold in the second section’s first haibun “In the Hours Before School”:

We fall down the road like raindrops from a tall tree. It is dark, no lights yet in the houses. Bicycles whir down the hills and fishing poles point like antennas from the handlebars. Canvas creels flap against our sides, Thick hip boots tug at waists. Fingers are numb from the cold.

In this section, there is some concession to other senses, notably in “Night Brings Peace”:

The year that I had wood shop, I made a broom holder out of poplar and a book shelf. The wood was green in color; easy to cut and sand.

It is no coincidence that throughout this section we feel closer to the poet, as he takes us through his youthful pranks, as in “Three Speeds on the Column”:

It is Saturday night and the band at Turntable is warming up. A few of us linger on the sidewalk. Our conversations are muffled and hard to understand as if we are talking underwater.

The haiku here are more considered with the poet’s personal stories:

crunch of gravel –
in one of his last breaths
my name

moonlit cove
my son walks a lure
across water

Description again comes to the fore in the third section. There is clever, controlled writing about his youthful adventures: shooting with bow and arrows or a shotgun, a neighbour’s boy who “never comes out”, a man strumming his guitar, a bullying teacher. In “Believers”, his father attends Mass under duress:

By the end of Mass, he is ready to bolt. Mother and I have to hold him back, make him wait as one aisle after another exits in turn. Outside, in the cool spring air, my father gives Father Henry a big smile and a handshake. “Thanks for a fine sermon,” he says. “How about those Phillies?”

The haiku which follow this section are primarily concerned with nature and human nature:

spring pastures
the farmer calls each cow
by name

It is in the final section that Coats comes closest to engaging our emotions. In the first haibun, “Dove Season”, after describing four boys painting a bicycle with cans of spray, he later discovers that the stolen bike belongs to him and the police are called:

The police know the boys and say they are always getting in trouble. Nothing they can do about the bike. Mama doesn’t keep a record of the serial number and the policemen say it is our word against theirs. No proof.

In these poems there are glimpses of childhood, youth and personal growth in which Coats opens the door a little of his own feelings. In “A Safe Distance From Home”, after describing purchasing a dog from the animal shelter, he writes:

A few hours later, after her first bath, her first walk around the yard, Angel slips away while I am talking on the phone. We call into the woods for an hour, a name the dog doesn’t recognize. Angel returns at dusk covered with mud and briars,

The dog has been ill-treated by a previous owner and Coates is speaking not only of his own feelings, but those of his grandson when, after the passage of a few weeks and “Angel has become Millie”, as

Conlyn lays his stick down beside the path. “I don’t need this stick anymore,” he says as he stoops down to pat Millie on the head.

In “The Snap of a Line”, after describing how his grandfather “bends over the bow”, he writes, “My father drifts in an aluminum boat across  man-made lakes”, while his son “waits for the high waters of spring to settle down then crosses islands on the river to where catfish are breaking the surface in the dark.” Coats is speaking of a family event that has moved him greatly. The restraint of expression in this haibun is eloquent of one who knows the limitations of language to tell such things:

summer barbecue
the scent
of singed eyebrows

Coats has developed as an interesting haibun poet. His craftsmanship is impressive: language honed to be the instrument of intellect, wit and observation.  Occasionally he lets us into that closely guarded inner sanctuary, as much by implication as by direct words.

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Under the Same Sky with Cindy Keong (part 1)

The launch of Same Sky by Cindy Keong is edging closer, so in the lead up to the launch on Saturday July 27, I have been chatting with Cindy about the call of poetry and how it feels to have her first publication out in the world.

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How does it feel to be holding Same Sky in your hands?

Strangely enough, a mixture of pure excitement and relief.  Same Sky is a mix of older and newer work that evolved considerably during the editing process.  So after spending so much time with the same set of poems there is definitely a feeling of accomplishment. I am also starting to feel deep within me, the stirring of new work buzzing to be written.

When did you first feel the calling of poetry in your bones?

With a brother called Clancy it is no surprise that bush poetry was a feature in my childhood.  However, my earliest memory of really being fascinated with poetry was reading a collection of Kath Walker’s (Oodgeroo Noonuccal) poetry when I was nine.  I distinctly remember a short poem about Albert Namatjira, and even as a child it conveyed a profound sense of loss and cultural injustice.  Fast-forward a decade or three and the inclination to learn how to write poetry became more significant.  Through the local poetry community and the fine poets I have met along the way I have been guided and inspired to write, share and perform my work.

The work in Same Sky covers three distinct landscapes; the east coast, the big-sky country of Western QLD and the the interior landscape of love and family. Was this a distinct choice when you began writing the poems? And what is the significance of these landscapes to you?

I did not necessarily start out to write poems that could be grouped distinctly by physical or interior landscapes, but would say my initial writing process was all about feeling satisfied I could write a poem that not only meant something to me but would hopefully resonate with an audience. Starting with what I know and had a deep connection with seemed like the place to start.

The poems that explore aspects of my interior landscape were probably the most deliberate in choice as these experiences whilst unique to me are ones that connect us all.  The specific physical landscapes that locate my poems are born out of lived experiences as a child and as an adult.  I calculated recently that in total I have moved 21 times in my 41 years so it is no wonder this has vicariously made itself a distinct feature of my poetry.

*****

Another Lost Shark Publications
launches
Same Sky by Cindy Keong
When: Saturday July 27, 1:30pm – 5:00pm
Where: The Hideaway, 188 Brunswick St Fortitude Valley
Entry: Gold Coin Donation

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On One Foot: a review of Balance by Luke Beesley

I recently had the great pleasure of reviewing Luke Beesley’s sophomore collection, Balance. Here’s a section of the review and a link to where you can read it in full on Sotto.

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It is clear after reading Luke Beesley’s sophomore collection that he is deeply aware of what the great American poet Robert Kelly meant when he described poetry as ‘perfected attention’. What makes Balance such a thrilling read is its dual focus. At its core, Balance is a detailed exploration of India’s glittering topography, but throughout the book’s thirty-two pages, Beesley never shifts his focus from the language itself; language that is muscular, evocative and bursting with surprises.

Read the complete review here.

And if you would like to get yourself a copy you can do so here.

 

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