new year’s eve
hot with the pleasure
Whatever your plans for 2013, carry them out with an open heart… especially when it comes to the little things. Much love to you all; step safely into the new year.
We are standing at the switch, ready to flick. 52 weeks of Friday Night Lights pinned to the screen… incandescent, glorious. This project has been a creative highlight in my writing career. Together, Ashley, Cindy and I have produced a proliferation of poems and images that speak to each other in a unique way. And it is the unwritten dialogue that has kept the three of us on the edge of our collective seats week in, week out. Checking my inbox on a Saturday morning will no longer be the same… there will be less light. But this project will reappear in other guises… for now, it is time to go back and tinker, reimagine and revel in the glow. Thank you to everyone who has followed this project and commented along the way. Your words have been welcomed and along the way have generated some interesting discussion between the three of us. Now to let the light speak one last time…
The geese have flown early this morning
leaving behind them storm clouds and
the purple of abandonment.
I become as bruised as fallen fruit
and as redundant. Returned from the garden
my thoughts are tenebrous:
the broken spade, crescents of
blood under fingernails, one
large stone t0 hold in the light.
I have spent all my Christmas money.
It was chocolates and electronics,
two hundred thirty-eight thousand miles to the moon
never staked out with surveying pins
but there it is, a known number
almost like your phone number
and no farther than a stick pony can ride
if you got one
ribbonned and ready, under the tree.
Christmas delivered some truly amazing artefacts and experiences, the most incredible of which is a fully paid week at Varuna, The Writers House in The Blue Mountains, gifted by my lovely wife and son. The magnitude of it hasn’t really settled as yet, but it is giving the new year a mighty bright glow. Here’s a pic of the house and its surrounds.
The thought of a week with nothing to do but write has got my insides simmering.
Two other incredible gifts I received were, Cut-Ups, Cut-Ins, Cut-Outs: The Art of William S. Burroughs and The ABC of Reading by Ezra Pound. I have been busily reading ‘Cut-Ups’ and have fallen in love with Burroughs all over again. His intellect and fervor for experimentation produced some of the most groundbreaking work we are ever likely to see.
Reading an essay by Barry Miles, The Future Leaks Out: A Very Magical and Highly Charged Interludes I was energised by the idea that all writing is a ‘cut-up’ and that the cut-up technique lets the future leak out. After reading, I put the technique (or a permutation of it) to work using two poems by Ezra Pound – The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter and The Return – and two poems by Robert Adamson – Letter to Joanne Kyger and Bolinas Bay, An Ode to see what happened when these minds met. Why these minds, you may ask? Well, when I had the privilege of spending some time with Robert Adamson at this year’s QLD Poetry Festival, he spoke at length about Pound’s book, The ABC of Reading and how it is was his poetry education (and now, it will now add to mine).
With this knowledge, I was excited to bring the two poets together and see what leaked out. Here’s one result.
You came by on bamboo stilts;
the monkeys made sorrowful
noise overhead, sniffing the tide of air.
I looked up at the dome of your sky
as half-awakened; an animal spirit
called to a thousand times.
I desired my dust to be mingled
with yours, leaving traces of
silver powder on the globe.
The two of us walking through
a future we’d not actually lived
forever and forever and forever.
After answering the Next Big Thing questions, I have had the urge to post a preview of the work, I, Land. Here’s the first three parts for you to enjoy:
Far from the howl
of children and sirens
we found music in
the wind’s toothless mouth
moored our boat
long ago, left it to the weather —
abandoned all plans of
A heron drifting up from the river
this morning means nothing; it disappears
back into the mangroves.
The sky is empty, my mouth is dry.
On the dune where I sit beneath she-oaks
a few feathers are scattered.
I let my skin fall to the ground:
become sand, salt, sky.
A lone osprey pays us
an early visit from the mainland
long before the first storms
of summer have formed, gliding
high over she-oak and fig
great nesting territory
is harried by a daredevil
troop of gulls, small-jawed
disembowellers trying to
drive their imposing cousin out
of this private airspace.
Let me first extend a thank you to Ashley Capes, who tapped me on the shoulder to take part in this self-interview thread, started by Ivy Alvarez. I am not sure that my next project, ‘I, Land’ will be a ‘big thing’, but I am excited about it, so thought I would take a swing at the questions.
What is the title of your book?
What genre does your book fall under?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A long poem that explores the idea of escapism and ‘the island’s’ liminal zones.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was going through a particularly uncertain period in my work life (people losing jobs, having to reapply for my own position), so to deal with this, I took myself to ‘the island’.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I wrote the original 10 parts of the poem in just two weeks at the end of 2010. Since that time I have revisited the poem on many occasions and it is now a poem in 15 parts… many of the original parts have either been completely deleted or so significantly rewritten that they bare little resemblance to the original work. There are however, some parts that remain untouched.
So in short, it has been simmering for about 2 years.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Discomfort was the spark for this poem… For me, this is where most ideas come from. The idea that discomfort leads to new learning is at the heart of much of what I do in life.
My wife (unbeknownst to her) was also my spiritual companion on ‘the island’.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I know it’s not what the question asks, but I have a serious quibble with the term, ‘self-published’ as no-one ever truly ‘self-publishes’, by which I mean, does absoluteluy everything themselves… there are always other people involved which is why I prefer the term, ‘independently published’. I, Land will be published by Another Lost Shark Publications (an independent publisher).
What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?
Somewhere in these words, there are echoes of Adamson, Oliver, Kerouac and Issa. These are the poets I was reading during the time of writing this poem.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
One thing I know, it wouldn’t be Tom Hanks!
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
A performance of the work will be developed in collaboration with some exciting Brisbane artists. I will be sure to announce more details when they are finalised.
It’s now my job to tap five other poets on the shoulder, so keep your eyes on this site for their responses!
breaking bread with
We had a blessed Christmas… family, friends, food and of course, backyard cricket! Seeing the spark in t.h.e.’s eyes as he woke Christmas morning made life magical. I even found a quiet moment to share with the much maligned crows that frequent our neighbourhood, as it is at times like this we must spread the love to all living things around us. Wherever you are, I hope that you too were surrounded by love. It is, after all, what keeps us afloat.
Christmas is all about the gathering of loved ones in our home; about sharing and reveling in the joy we bring each other. One thing that has brought me great joy for much of my adult life is the music of Vic Chesnutt. Sadly, Vic took his life on Christmas day 2009, and since that time I have made it a tradition to share Vic’s music here on Christmas eve. This year, I have chosen the track Granny from his last studio album, At The Cut. This is a live version from his final Canadian tour, and it captures all the things I love about Vic… his openness, his wit and his ocean-sized heart.
Thank you Vic… and thank you to everyone who has been a part of this increasingly extended blog family. 2012 has been a year of wonder and growth and 2013 has already got excitement written all over it.
We took t.h.e. nunn for his annual Christmas photo the other day and like so many wee ones, it took some convincing to get him to sit on the knee of the ‘bearded one’. There was however an enormous bear that he took a shine too, so with that moved over into the camera’s focus, we got a really beautiful shot of him cuddling said bear. But even so, you could see the trepidation in the corner of his smile… so we then went for the ‘knee shot’ and you guessed it, there were tears, but only briefly. All in all, it was a successful mission and it even inspired a poem.
in his smile
a fear of santa
And while we didn’t go with the ‘after tears’ shot, the above photo captures the essence of what I am talking about. I took it from the Elite Daily website where they have a showreel of some other classic shots!
December 21, 2012 has come and gone… the calendar continues, and we break new ground. And with that new ground there is light. Last night I found it in a memory of tigers, Cindy created her own, lighting trees with blossoms and Ashley made plans to become electricity.
I hope you chased the light last night and if not, I hope it found you…
The song on the radio says Do
what you want, as if I knew
a time or a place to get in line
I only want to
take pictures, make plans
with light and be this
in every Christmas window.
We are the oldest people waiting to have our photograph
taken with the white Bengal tiger. Teenagers in front of us
pat the tiger on the back, stroke the strong line of its jaw. But
when it’s our turn, I freeze. The trainer reminds us to rub the back
in just one direction, or like all cats, it will raise a paw to let you know
you’re doing it wrong. I start to sweat. The tiger’s eyes are feverish and
the air in the room smells like meat. You tell me to hurry up, the seal
show starts in less than ten minutes, so I run my hand down the tiger’s
back. Its ears flatten and a sound like distant thunder rolls in
its gut. The trainer tells us it hasn’t made a sound all day. But it speaks
to me. I lick the sweat from my top lip and you laugh and ask me
if it tastes like tiger. Later, when we are watching the seals jump
through their hoops, I grab your hand and say it’s you that I could taste.
The fear of rubbing you the wrong way, salty and raw.