Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Little Bit More Light…

With the set of photos Cindy sent through to me this week, I couldn’t just select one… they are so frisky & innovative. So here’s a handful more for you to roll your eyes over. The lights were most definitely bright this Friday!

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all photographs by Cindy Keong

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Perfect Saturday Morning Music: The Cherry Thing

Neneh Cherry, who rose to stardom in freewheelin’ punk-jazz troupe Rip Rig & Panic (for those of you old enough to remember they performed on The Young Ones), has returned with her first album since 1996’s Man, an album of covers titled, The Cherry Thing. But this is no ordinary album of covers… teaming up with Scandinavian free-jazz legends, The Thing, they meld their worlds of avant-pop and improvisational muscle to push the boundaries of each song, until they collapse and reform into something truly exciting. I know the year is only at the half-way point, but this is going to be a major contender for album of the year! Here they are transforming MF Doom & Madvillain’s, Accordian. This is bound to get your Saturday morning jumping!

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The Zen Parables of Steven Carter

The art of haiku is never far from my mind, so it is always a joy to discover a new collection that has been released. Steven Carter’s latest book After Blossom Viewing: Zen parables with Haiku was released by Alba publishing in May this year, so when Patricia Prime offered me the chance to publish her review of the collection, I of course said yes.

After Blossom Viewing: Zen Parables with Haiku by Steven Carter. Uxbridge, Alba Publishing. (2012) p.b. 36 pp. RRP: US$10. UK£7.00 / €8.00. ISBN 978-0-9551254-7-8. Reviewed by Patricia Prime

Steven Carter is a linguistic virtuoso; his work encompassing haiku, tanka, haibun and now his latest offering – Zen parables. Carter’s work is often self-referential, based on his experiences, travel and nature, but the viewpoint in this new book is different, distinctive, disarming in some way.

The set-up is straightforward enough, featuring in twenty-six parables either a Zen Master and his novice or a group of novices, or a monk narrating a fable. What’s notable about them is that they’re almost all narrated in a one-on-one conversation. It’s a remarkable feat: dramatic, sometimes humourous, often very wise. There are moments of comedy, sombre moments of fasting and hunger, revelatory moments, as when a jolly monk tells the story of a cruel emperor in “The Unhappy Emperor”, which ends on a suitably merry note:

“Tell me the secret of happiness,” he thundered, “or I shall have you beheaded.”
“There are two secrets to happiness,” the man said, “The first is being     summoned to such a grand palace as this, to see the towers, the coats of arms, the torches  – “
“What is the second secret?” the emperor cut him off gruffly.
“The second secret is not being beheaded by the emperor,” replied the man.

Cloud Mountain –
the world
seen through a ruby

All the personae are vulnerable to shock and change: the circle of novices in “The Meadow”, one of whom announces that he has no illusions, only to be advised that everything is an illusion. There’s the Zen Master in “The Message” who tells a story from the outside world about a man who receives a letter from his lover only to discover there is no letter inside the envelope, but “the man keeps the envelope very carefully.” A once worldly monk in “Of Love” shares a parable concerning a man sitting beside the sea when a single drop of water lands on his hand and he believes “that the entire sea was contained in that drop. . .

The plain, effective language of “The Monks”, a humourous parable of two monks, allusion and image deal with the theme of comfort in the likeness of their shiny bald heads:

Two bald monks sit down at a table. Pointing to his shiny pate, one says, “On me it looks good.” The other agrees, “On you it looks good.” Both are comforted.

knitted brow of clouds –
seeking a horizon
the summer moon.

In contrast, in “Three Birds” he describes a lay monk remembering a fable about a yellow bird and two sparrows:

A yellow bird flew onto a branch next to two sparrows.
“A canary!” the first sparrow said.
“All canaries aren’t yellow, my friend,” the yellow bird said.
“An all yellow birds aren’t canaries, my friend,” the second sparrow said.
“So I am content to be a yellow bird.”

harmony –
mountain winds
mountain shadows

There’s enjoyment in nature and the countryside is evoked in many of the parables, as we see in “Last Day of the Sixth Month”:

Sitting in a bamboo garden outside the Fukushima Temple, two Zen monks wax philosophical.
“We don’t agree on much, my friend,” observes one, “but you will agree that there are things in life that do not change, that they are, I mean to say, immortal?”
“Yes.”
“And will you agree that the immortal things of this world cannot bestow immortality?”
“Yes, my friend. That’s why they are immortal!”

once again
yesterday’s birdsong –
a different branch

The landscape is beautifully evoked in both the prose and the haiku: “a tree bowing over the steam”, “a grove of poplars”, “mountain shadows”, “the summer moon and “a spreading bayan”. But Carter’s focus is on personal landscapes, the parables he is recounting and their effect both on the novices and the readers of the parables.

Towards the end the book, and perhaps where we see the duality of prose and poem at its best, is the long parable “Near Kyoto” in which Carter uses his poetic skill to ensure that this story crucial to an understanding of parables is neither forgotten nor mythologised by telling it in controlled language. The voices speak plain English: “You know, my friend, doing things right makes one happy. You ought to try it.” Yet the man who did get things wrong prefers to ignore his talkative friend and replies: “But I am happy, my friend; happy as the proverbial mollusk!”

Funny and poignant, tender and wise, the author’s virtuosity impresses. The book contains much fine writing and some positive endings to his tales.

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Introducing 2012 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence a.rawlings

The arrival of the Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence is always an exciting time, so it is with great pleasure that I welcome Canadian interdisciplinary artist a.rawlings to our shores for the next few months.

After chatting with her over lunch the other day, it looks like she has a full-on schedule that will see her traveling north to the tropics and west out to big sky country to harvest sounds and visuals for her legacy piece that will be launched as part of A Million Bright Things on Saturday August 25  at the QLD Poetry Festival (the full program is online here).

But before she heads off on her explorations, she is running the first of many workshops at QLD Writers Centre this coming Sunday, July 1. There is still room for anyone interested in enrolling in her Ecopoetics workshop where she promises new work will be devised through an exploration of contemporary poetic forms such as erasure and collaborative cut-up. The workshop is just $15 and runs from 6pm – 8pm. To book a spot email Talina McKenzie: qldpoetry@gmail.com

Here’s a.rawlings in full performance mode, collaborating with maja jantar from their Centre for Sleep and Dream Studies project:

Can’t wait to see her back on stage! To keep up with her residency, I recommend checking out her site: http://qldpir.tumblr.com/

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swinging the axe
sunlight splits
the firewood

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winter rain
reciting you
a love poem

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Another Lost Shark 2012 Tour: Let the Words Take Flight

After sitting in on drums with The Lucky Ones last night at The Back Room, I am eager to hit the mic for the first home leg of the 2012 touring season this coming Friday.

David Stavanger (aka Ghostboy) has put together an all-star jam featuring some of the hottest poets and performers this city has to offer to launch the 2012 Australian Poetry Slam.

Aptly titled, Let the Words Take Flight showcases the word in all its glory with short sets from curator of the highly successful ‘Spoken’ shows  Mandy Beaumont; Slammer extraordinaire Robin ‘Archie’ Archbold; fresh from Canberra, co-creator of Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit!, Adam Hadley; the swoon-inducing duo of Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson; folk-punkers, Mr & Mrs Woolf; bush poet and entertainer, Noel Stallard; host of the JamJar Slam, the irrepressible, Darkwing Dubs; the always outlandish, Pascalle Burton; founding vocalist of The Winnie Coopers, The Educator; and the oceanic swell of Sheish Money & this Lost Shark.

All this plus performances by hosts Tessa Leon and Ghostboy w/ Sir Richard Grantham.

Fireworks will have nothing on this gig!

Here’s the details:

When: Friday June 29, 7:00pm-9:30pm.
Doors @ 6:30pm
Where: The State Library of QLD, QLD Terrace
Cost: Free but reservations preferred (for numbers)
More info/reservations: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/calevents/general/awards/APS12/flight

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Another Lost Shark Publications: home{sic} launch special

After the rousing success of Tuesday night’s launch of home{sic} at Riverbend Books, Another Lost Shark Publications is now offering a launch special that is too good to refuse!

For just $20 (+$2 postage in Australia, $5 postage overseas), you can score a copy of home{sic} + a copy of the first in Julie’s poetic trilogy, Home is Where the Heartache is.

If you already have a copy of Heartache and are just chasing a copy of home{sic}, the special launch price is $15 (incl. postage in Australia, if overseas add $3 for postage)

If you are in Australia, payment options include Paypal, cheque / money order and Direct Deposit.
If you are overseas, payment is by PayPal only.

Here are the full payment details:

PayPal – make all payments to geenunn(at)yahoo.com.au – replacing the (at) with @ – and clearly state that payment is for home{sic}.

Note: All overseas payments should be made in $USD.

Cheque / Money Order – make all cheques / money orders payable to Graham Nunn and post to:

Another Lost Shark Publications
86 Hawkwood St.
Mt Gravatt East
Brisbane QLD 4122
Australia.

Direct Deposit – email me off site at geenunn(at)yahoo.com.au – replacing the (at) with @ – for bank details.

 

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New Poem in Chrysanthemum

I have just had two haiku published in Chrysanthemum #11 in both English language and German translation. The issue contains some stunning work and can be downloaded here. A fine hit of haiku awaits!

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Artistic & Culinary Fire: The Back Room Lights Up This Sunday

If you are feeling in need of a little warmth, The Back Room is the place to be this Sunday. There is a stunning line up of artists ready to set your synapses sparking and a menu that will make any belly warm. Jason Peppler and the crew at Confit Bistro (4/9 Dogget St Fortitude Valley) sure know how to celebrate the languid glory of a Sunday afternoon / evening!

Doors for the event open at 3pm and as always, entry is free. And remember, if you have a poem that is burning a hole in your chest, dying to be read, be sure to arrive nice and early to register for the Open Mic. All poets welcome!

This month, you can take in the voices of three Brisbane word dynamos.

First up there is Fern Thompsett, who grew up with a view of the ocean, an overactive imagination and not enough sports skills to keep her out of the library.  A compulsive scribbler from an early age, it wasn’t until she found the Brisbane poetry scene much later on that she put her words into wavelengths.  Since then, she has been a feature poet at events including Words or Whatever, SpeedPoets, Avid Reader’s Poetry Month, Confit Bistro’s Back Room and Spoken, as well as having created and hosted 4ZzZ’s spoken word show, Waxing Lyrical.  She now daylights as an anthropologist and moonlights as a musician, but dreams of working as a Notional Park Ranger, catching words and releasing them back into the wild.

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Then there is Rob Morris, one of Brisbane’s truly ‘hip’ voices. His words are rhythmic and his performances are hypnotic and real. His last collection, So Much Weather was published by Small Change Press in 2007 and a limited edition art book featuring a selection of poems  from this book was also published. Rob is one half of the publishing team that produces the legendary Small Packages and they are currently looking for poetry submissions for their landmark 12th issue.

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And finally, there is Israel Mukasa. Israel is a poet with a deep sense of spirituality. He is a regular reader at Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, SpeedPoets and is also an accomplished photographer. His work explores the intricacies of the human spirit through a multicultural lens. Israel released his first collection of poems The Dreamer’s Disease in 2011 and is set to launch his debut poetry CD this Sunday at The Back Room.

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You can also experience an exhibition of photography by Therese Morgan. Therese owns and operates the freelance photography business A Little Room To Bloom, specialising in Art Portraits as well as Wedding and Special Occasion (baby dedication, engagement, birthday, art-glamour) photography. A Little Room To Bloom also offers poetry and story writing, and other mixes of the arts. Therese Morgan is particularly interested in collaborations between art forms such as dance and poetry, photography and music, story telling through exhibitions and any combination of these, with a view to public performance, when opportunity arises.

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Frankie V will also be there to steam up the stage with her own daring brand of burlesque. A Canadian idiom residing in Brisbane, Frankie is a burlesque dancer, model, butoh performer, physical theatre collaborator, writer, director, dramaturge, and day-dreamer, with over 17 years of experience in art and performance. She is the MC for the monthly burlesque, spoken-word poetry, and performance event FRESH, held at Brisbane City Library. She is passionate about seeking out and cultivating Brisbane’s incredible, yet largely hidden, creative community.

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And let’s not forget the beautiful noise of The Lucky Ones, featuring Sheish Money, Giselle Sheehy & Leanne Davie. Their blues-fulled romps rocked the first Back Room event this year, so it is with great anticipation that we welcome them back to close what is a stunning line-up.

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