Tag Archives: QLD Poetry Festival

Recordings and other things…

I have been in Junicho heaven this past couple of weeks and as a result have held off posting some of the other things that I have been up to. So here’s a few bits and bobs that you might enjoy checking out…

betweengiantsweb

Between April 15 and 19, good friend and fine poet Ashley Capes launched his book between giants via his blog, with five days of guest readings and a handful of videos. I was honoured to read one of Ashley’s poems ‘man about town‘ to kick off the blog launch. Here’s a link to my reading of man about town and while you are there, be sure to check out the readings by Robbie Coburn, Jane Williams, Mark William Jackson and Ashley himself. And if you like what you hear, why not grab a copy of between giants.

qpf

I have also been chatting to the organisers of Brisbane’s regular poetry gigs as part of a series called Live and Local. These are the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep Brisbane’s poetry community vibrant. You can read the first two interviews I have done with Tony Mutton organiser of Poetry Open Words and The Reverend Hellfire organiser of The Kurilpa Poets on the QLD Poetry Festival website.

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Review of Stolen Moments

With a number of exciting publishing projects on the go – Brisbane New Voices IV, First Words vol. 2Same Sky by Cindy Keong, my new chapbook, I, land and Nathan Shepherdson’s fifth collection, the day the artists stood still (vol. 1) – it is great to see some of the Another Lost Shark Publications back catalogue getting some positive attention.

Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke has written a wonderful review of Stolen Moments by Andy White for the Queensland Poetry Festival site, and with their permission, I reprint it here:

stolenmoments_SandraDyasPhoto

Listen, Don’t Merely Hear: A review of Stolen Moments by Andy White
by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

There is beat, beatific beat, and rhythm in this book.  Its refrains sing of Brisbane; of Bono; of life shared on a planet where popular culture is a common language.  Andy White speaks a language of Now; mindful, though, as a good bluesman does, to pay its dues to Then:

ginsberg with a mandolin and a
strangely-stringed eastern instrument
in ginsberg beard and
ginsberg glasses
talking about iron john
bob dylan &
new york city in the fifties

“owl”

The 1950s matter to White, we feel its jazz in the way his lines swing and syncopate.  To quote from the conclusion of the same poem:

now once more
I can encounter
the super
realistic

“owl”

The poet is squeezing the very juice of the real, shaking it, mixing it, and serving it alive, and cool.

Foundations of popular culture all are on display.  Music: notably in a series of poems featuring pop culture icons.  Literature: with its casual paeans to the Beats and Bukowski.  And cinema, with two delightful poems about French films:

cut to the next day and a different old man in a sweaty t-shirt hangs
his enormous beer belly over the balcony, listening as the young french
woman moans in ecstasy, she’s busy making love in the apartment below.

he looks over to the chinese man. they nod. they sigh, both expressionless.
the music swells, the moaning increases. the scene fades to black.

“french film #1”

(Noting that this poem’s structure is not typical of the book; but its quietly sharp humour surely is.)

Yes, there is smarts, wit, contemporary cool to be had, but there is a depth of emotion, expressed in a pellucid way through image, that broadens and enriches the book:

we lost
the love we had

not left out
in the rain

but scorched in
summer sun

baked too long
under
convict sky

“convict sky”

White’s sky, his experience, is ours—it runs deeper than the sheen of culture into the eternal verities of love.  I am left with a feeling that White has done much living, and has come out of it into the Now not unscarred, but less willing to be naive:

time takes its
revenge and
who cares
who is
wise

“mall thoughts 2/3”

I will answer for myself White’s open question: he is; and he is part of a tradition of lyric poets that offer to us, give to us, gently wrought bon mots, that are easily digestible yet linger on the palate.  Check this book out: I’m glad I have.

Stolen Moments is now available from http://anotherlostshark.bigcartel.com/product/stolen-moments

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Ginko through the Seasons in 2013

To celebrate the four seasons of 2013, I will be leading a ginko (haiku walk) at four exciting locations Poet’s Rock (Karawatha Forest), Boondall Wetlands, JC Slaughter Falls and Venman Bushland.

Karawatha Forest

Masaoka Shiki, one of the four pillars of haiku (along with Basho, Buson & Issa), believed that haiku poets should practice shasei – sketching from life – in order to heighten their powers of observation. A traditional way of developing these powers and opening yourself up to the everyday magic that awaits, is to participate in a ginko.

On a ginko, participants are encouraged to jot down notes about what they can see, hear, smell, touch and taste as well as making notes on other thoughts and feelings that may arise during the walk. At the conclusion of the walk, participants then share their notes and spend time writing and work shopping their haiku.

To coincide with each ginko, a group renga (36 linked verse) will also be written online, using one of the haiku written during the ginko as the hokku (opening poem).

So, if you want to develop your haiku-eye and revel in the subtle seasonal changes, book yourself in to enjoy this unique experience. Each ginko is strictly limited to 8 participants. Costs are $25 for one ginko/renga or $80 to participate in all four.

Places in the series will fill quickly, so to book a spot visit: http://www.queenslandpoetryfestival.info/program/ginko-w-graham-nunn/

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Want to be part of QLD Poetry Festival 2013?

This year has flown by, but QPF 2012 is still a warm glow in my head and heart. So if you want to be involved in the finest poetry festival in this country, here’s what you have to do!

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Queensland Poetry Festival is currently inviting proposals from poets, spoken word artists, and performers interested in being part of the 17th annual festival, spoken in one strange word.

QPF looks forward to hearing from individuals and groups interested in performing at the three-day festival ‘spoken in one strange word‘. We are looking for submissions that embrace the wide possibilities of poetic expression – page poetry, readings, slam, spoken word, performance, music, ekphrastic poetry, collaborations, installations, cross-platform creations, and more.

While all projects must have a relationship to poetic language, we encourage submissions from artists wishing to explore the relationship between poetry and other art forms.

For submission guidelines and form download: QPF 2013 EOI Form

Expressions of Interest should be sent to: Queensland Poetry Festival, PO Box 3488, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Submission deadline: Tuesday 19 February, 2013

QPF 2013 runs from 23 – 25 August at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Festival Director, Sarah Gory: sarah.qldpoetry[at]gmail.com.

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QPF 2012 Feature Poet: Jill Jones

It’s edging ever closer… QPF 2012 feels like I can reach out and touch it. So to bring it even closer, here’s an interview with one of the featured poets, Jill Jones. You can catch Jill at the following sessions:

The Phrasebook of Silence (w/ Nicola Easthope and Robert Adamson)
Saturday August 25
4pm – 5pm

A Million Bright Things (a showcase of every artist on the program)
Saturday August 25
8pm – 9:30pm

Whisper Me Awake (w/ Vanessa Page and Nathan Curnow)
Sunday August 26
12:15pm – 1:15pm

ALS: Since Dark Bright Doors was released in 2010 (Wakefield Press), you have co-edited ‘Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets (Puncher & Wattman, 2011). I would love to hear about the process of editing such a major work.

Jill: Editing Out of the Box was a long process for a couple of interlinked reasons. We took a while to get a publisher sorted out, a few years, a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, initial interest from publishers not followed through for various reasons. We were finally happy that David Musgrave decided to take it on, but because the whole process was drawn out, we kept finding new poets to approach, or people we’d initially approached then having newer work to check out, and all of that sorting takes time. There were poets whose work we were interested in who were difficult to contact as well. Not everyone is within email distance. Some sent recent work from which we chose. Others didn’t want to do that, or we did not know how to contact them initially, so we went through their publications to find what we wanted. A lot of reading and negotiating.

The two of us also had to decide what it would look like, both physically and organisationally. I was keen not to have separate sections for lesbians and gay men. Luckily, Michael was of the same mind, though we toyed with it for a moment. It was his great idea to order the volume alphabetically by poem which got away both from age, and alpha order by poet and, therefore, an instant reckoning of who had more and who had less poems. So, less hierarchy and less generational.

We deliberately used ‘poet’ in the title. Both of us wanted poets who identified as gay or lesbian rather than poems with a specific kind of subject matter. So, although there is obvious subject matter there, a lot of the poems aren’t necessarily about sex, or identity, or coming out, or discrimination, or queer history, etc. I think some readers wanted more out-and-out (so to speak) sex writing, identity writing. That was never going to happen, not with the mix of writers we included and not with us as editors.

We had other constraints which are summed up in the ‘contemporary’ part of the title. There are other writers who would belong in an historical overview, obviously, but we wanted to present something new and fresh, and quite a few of the poems make a first appearance in Out of the Box. The other idea awaits the work it would take to do it.

We did divide the tasks so that, by and large, I edited the women and Michael men, but we came up with a pretty even amount of work, and shared what we were doing along the way, often by email but we met up plenty of times, mainly in Sydney or Melbourne. We agreed to do separate introductions and that I’d do a bit of historical overview as I’d had those connections going back a ways with gay and lesbian literary publishing.

Since publishing the book, and even as we were finalising the proofs, we came across other writers that we could have included but it was too late to take it all apart. We did have a last minute drama when another publisher insisted we withdraw poems by a writer they were publishing but luckily we saved enough, after a bit of negotiation. If there is ever a second edition, there are obviously other writers who would be in it. There were a couple of writers whose work was difficult to excerpt as well and we had to pass on that. It’s always hard to do justice to what’s out there and to bring it into focus in the limited space of an anthology. The anthology you do in your head is easier than the one that can get published.

So, the process was incremental and the shape of the anthology changed over time, either due to practicalities or changes in our own thoughts. The title also changed a lot. One idea was ‘paintbox’, picking up from a Malouf poem, so in a sense, ‘box’ led us to ‘out of the box’, which then led to the shape of the book.

ALS:  I also wanted to ask about the poems you are currently writing and the themes that are emerging for you. And is there a new book in the pipeline?

Jill: My own writing at the moment is fitful. Time is a problem but, in saying that, I do get bursts of ideas and lines that come together. I work, as I probably always have, in two kinds of ways. There are the poems that begin with a free flow of writing based around things, dialogue, ideas, images, that I’ve come across, or come across me, during a day. The sort of writing that begins in a notebook. It’s the writing that people want to mark, in my case, as writing about place, ie the material base of the writing is apparent.

The second kind of writing is more based around language play (not that the other isn’t), is more processual or very, very loosely conceptual. I’ve spent a bit of time collaging my own older work by using chance or constraint procedures. If in doubt, recycle.

Themes? I get bored with projects and dislike being bound by themes. Which probably says a lot for where my poetry sits. It’s fairly heterodox. ‘Hard to pin down’, I’m told some people say. I know what I’m doing and if it doesn’t conform to current poetry fashions, I’m certainly not bothered. Nonetheless, I did start a project recently, sort of, of writing poems that had one true autobiographical feature (often very insignificant) and were written deliberately in the first person but are essentially, lies, or somehow wrong. I called them ‘histories’. I’ve also been writing a lot of short poems, often begun with some kind of constraint (syllable counts, n+7, or abecedarian, for instance) These poems are then usually worked over while wearing my surrealist hat, or I simply break my own rules, get a bit of a swerve happening. I can’t imagine who would publish them, but some people have liked them.

I do have a book in the wings. I was hoping it would be out by the time of the Queensland Poetry Festival but alas not. It’s called Ash is Here, So are Stars. It’s based around a selection of poems that was shortlisted for the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize last year but I’ve extended it significantly, rewritten parts of it. That’s the central part of the book called ‘In Fire City’. Then I’ve included three longer self-contained older poems. Nonetheless, it’s still a slim volume. I have another older manuscript in the wings, a larger work, but getting it to see the light of day has been, still is, umm, difficult. But I am most grateful to Ralph Wessman who asked me for Ash … Stars for Walleah Press and he’ll be getting it to the presses soon.

Here’s a poem, not published anywhere else yet, from Ash is Here, So are Stars:

Whose Words Did These Things?

Whose workbenches made these thirsts
pounding out like stereos, stiffening
the air-conditioner? Who can tell
when you’re lonely?
But we’ll survive wisecracks and wishbones
or loaf amongst the dead of the crossroads,
the proof to which we are not entitled.

There’s an expansion of sinew containing
the freewheeling we undergo;
loosening our gymslips we turn on kaleidoscopes
then watch our hands as the similarity electric
charges dryness — but we are not static
and we are not grief, but fill
our hands with the spill and as it fizzles
it frets and comes fullest ‘til it breasts
yes, you know how it breaches anew though
it’s old, much older than workbooks.

But breathe and merge, then lug down words
don’t pussyfoot round the sidelines. And if
you die a little here, you might embrace the wrench
and relish workdays again.

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August Pin-Up Poet: Max Ryan and Where Were You At Lunch (part v)

With the QLD Poetry Festival 2012 knocking on the door (that’s right, it starts this Friday!), it’s time to wrap up my discussion with Max & Kishore Ryan. It has been nothing but a pleasure rambling with both of these gentlemen and I have a stirring in the gut that there show together this coming Saturday (August 25), alongside avant-blues trio, Bremen Town Musician is going to be talked about as a festival highlight!

So with that said, let’s check in with the Ryan boys one last time…

Don’t miss Max Ryan and Where Were You At Lunch + Bremen Town Musician at QLD Poetry Festival 2012, Saturday August 25 from 10:00pm – Midnight as part of the session, Pierce the Salty Darkness.

ALS: The way we listen to music and read poetry has changed so much in the last 5-10 years. As artists, how does this affect on you? I am also interested to know how the experience of working together on Before We Lose Each Other Again has influenced you.

Max: The more it changes, the more it stays the same I guess. A great poem or a great song in the right hands will get you every time but I suppose in terms of music and poetry coming together there’s definitely more collaboration these days. Maybe we’re just reaching back to the roots of all verse which was chanted or intoned in some kind of musical setting? Poetry with music has never gone away really in terms of popular song, especially in the hands of the great songsmiths. Poetry recited in a more loose and not strictly song-structured form can be something else again. In some ways, without the defined structure of verse, chorus, bridge etc it can be harder to pull off and can easily run off the rails or, just as badly, end up with the music and words chugging along together but never really merging or sparking off each other. So I do hope our collaboration can’t be accused of that, which leads me to your next question…

One of the real delights of working with WWYAL has been the overall sense that we’ve been creating something bigger than the parts: it isn’t just their making some kind of background sound to my reciting the words. This kind of performance demands a deep listening, especially, I’d suggest, from the musicians and I think the band (and producer Nick Huggins) have managed this splendidly. There are so many little instances where I can sense a real dynamic between the music and the poetry (Kishore’s organ chord on the line ‘the tide moves one step closer’ in the poem halfway home is one off the top of my head). I think we’ve made a fine little album and I’m happy with the way we’ve captured a strong sense of spontaneity in it all. As Bob Dylan says though: ‘Time will tell just who has fell and who’s been left behind!’ Still, one of the best things to come from this project for me is how we sailed through with a deeper sense of trust and openeness with each other which often ain’t necessarily so.

Kishore: The way I read poetry hasn’t changed much in the last decade. For the most part I still read it in books and rarely on the internet. But the moments when I sit down at home, put on a record and listen to it in its entirety without doing something else at the same time are rare. Despite the fact that listening to an album with friends, as an event in itself, is such an incredibly nice thing to do, I have only done this a handful of times in my life. But people must have done this more often in the past. Surely. Max has said that as a child he would sit around the radio with his family. I often listen to albums in their entirety by myself on my ipod while riding, driving, etc. but concentrated listening to recorded music with others is a rare thing. As a listener I can see the change you’re talking about, but it’s hard to know how this affects my creativity. I’ve never collaborated with anyone over the internet. Samaan has though. He’s done some small releases with people he’s never met. He did a small release with a noise artist called Soma from Japan and another one with with Rolf Wong from Hong Kong.

For me, music is, among other things, a way to express emotion that you can’t express elsewhere. It is an expression that is perhaps impossible to accurately describe with words. But even though it escapes description, to a certain extent, it can of course have a solid relationship with words. Great songs and poetry come close to we might call the sublime, whatever that is. I will always have an interest in music, with and without lyrics. I love poetry and I love music, but they don’t necessarily work together. But I’m proud of our album. Working with Max underlined the fact that limitations can be helpful. Writing music which is based around great lyrics is very fun. Making this album was a special way to spend time with my dad and also my friends.

ALS: And what’s next for Max Ryan & WWYAL, both individually and as a collective?

Max: I can only speak for Max Ryan re your last question… just to keep on truckin I guess. There’ll be more collaborations with us all I’d say, can envisage maybe something more thematically structured even. Main thing is to be there on the night at QPF. I’m really glad there are four of us. If it was just me I’d be terrified!

Kishore: I’d love to record many more albums with Max and WWYAL and because of the inexpensive nature of the recording process, that is, an absence of overdubs, this is very foreseeable. In fact Peter is already talking of recording another one when Max comes down for our Melbourne album launch in November. Pete is one of those humans who has endless enthusiasm for music and life in general and we have him to thank for making this collaboration happen without too much procrastination.

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We all need more poetry in our lives

With QLD Poetry Festival a mere 7 days away, my life is about to be whirled up in a wash of strange words… if you have not yet run your eyes over the program, then you can do so here. Without doubt, this is my ‘weekend of the year’.

But poetry needs more than just a weekend… for those of us who keep its fire lit, it has become part of our everyday, but there are many who I am sure feel distant from its spell. So if you are wondering how poetry is part of your life, Seth Abramson is here to reassure you, in no less than 100 ways, that it most certainly is.

Here’s three of my favourites:

When there’s a single word no daily tribulation permits you to forget for hours on end.

When you exhibit, in any fora or through any media, a passion for honest communication.

When you dare to be spectacular, and when you dare admit the spectacular to the workaday.

(Read the whole article here)

Now I’m off to chase poetry in the lights of this elegant Friday…

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