Self Seen

Standard

 

photo (1)At the beginning of this year I was asked to read my poetry at The Woman Scream International Poetry Festival in Sydney. The festival is celebrated in March every year in many countries throughout the world, and seeks to bring attention to issues such as violence against women, as well as to support and showcase the voices of women in the arts.

It was an honour to be asked to take part, but it was also rather nerve-racking! I was punching above my weight with this one, reading my work alongside other Australian poets who are much more widely published and well-known than I am. Scary!

Happily, it turned out to be a wonderful night; everybody was supportive and gracious, and I even made a few new literary friends. :-)

However, when I saw some photos of the event afterwards on Facebook, I was dismayed. Everybody else appeared so at ease and animated; I had tried so hard to look calm that I ended up looking completely expressionless: zombie-like in fact! The only clue to my anxious internal state — a very shiny (ahem, some would say sweaty, but we all know that ladies don’t sweat) face. Oh well! Poet Michelle Cahill kindly gave me some make-up tips for next time.

On a more serious note, the experience got me thinking about the dichotomy that often exists between our external appearance and our internal reality…and so, dear reader, I do what poets do — I wrote a poem. ‘Self Seen‘ was first published in the fabulous Blue Hour Magazine: read it there, or here below.

Self Seen

Impassive as a mountain
I sit, hands resting reverentially in
the infertile valley of my lap,
face glowing like the gibbous moon
and hair as vaingloriously glossy
as the Jewess’s wedding wig.

Others incline inquisitively
their thoughtful hands cup jutting jaws
their sharp eyes peck the gold from dross
and their hair like blazing halos
is conspicuously mussed.

Only I seem to sit
insensate as Vesuvius,
internally vibrating on the verge
of deliquesce—

Flowers

Standard

flowers2
I  have had a new poem, Flowers, published in Deep Water Literary Journal. You can read it below, or go to Deep Water and enjoy some of their truly wonderful poetry, fiction, and art.

The journal publishes “works which engage with the psychological and physical aspects of the darker side of the human condition.”

Please take a look, and perhaps consider submitting something yourself.

 

Flowers

Flowers, swaddled
like the babies you keep
losing, are a meagre offering to place upon
the altar of your abysmal grief;

their dilated eyes
and flaring heads
are sucked
into that cruel void.

I can feel
your pain’s gravity distorting
everything I dare approach with.

The hospital a monolith
to suffering, our suffering —
but how could a mere building
contain such suffering?
What kind of feeble bastion
against the unbearable black seed
that grows inside is this?

Standing, bereft, in the stark car park,
hungry for a shred of grace to ease my heart,
the only suggestion of God I find:
a flickering light; the aroma
of rain; electricity
quickening the air.

The Blue Stocking Poetry Jam

Standard

So The Blue Stocking Poetry Jam was AMAZING!

Rhyll McMaster

Rhyll McMaster

We had Australian poets Rhyll McMaster,
Elizabeth MoraEden Riley, and myself
(reading for Tricia Dearborn, who 
unfortunately was sick on the night). 
These ladies have great blogs/websites 
which you can explore - just click on 
their names to read some of their work.

Elizabeth Mora

Elizabeth Mora





Many people commented on our 
particularly strong open-mic 
section, which had a lovely mix 
of new and experienced female poets. 
There was some serious talent, 
and a very generous and supportive 
spirit, in the room.

 


Eden Riley

Eden Riley

It was a fun and intense experience 
being both MC for the evening and 
stand-in poetry reader. (No photos 
of me unfortunately, I was too busy 
taking them!) However I enjoyed 
it immensely, and will probably 
do it again some time, when I've 
recovered. :-)

 

 

Tricia Dearborn

Tricia Dearborn

 

I'm going to leave you with one of
Tricia's wonderful poems,
which I read out on the night 
to some musical backing. 
It's from her latest collection 
The Ringing World, which you can 
purchase here. I highly recommend 
buying one - I did!

 

She reconsiders life on the run

Sadness always knew where to find me, though I kept on giving it false addresses, and moved house when it got too close. It discovered my silent number. Tired of its voice on the answering machine, I disconnected the phone.

I took to leaving the lights off so sadness couldn’t tell   when I was at home. I didn’t put music on. I moved around as little as possible in case it had sonar. I wasn’t sure how it was tracking me.

It got so that it was hard to go out. I’d be standing in the supermarket choosing a brand of shampoo and sadness would touch my elbow. I’d realise in the cinema as the lights went down that sadness had the seat next to me.

Eventually I saved up and had my fingerprints removed and my face reconstructed by a plastic surgeon so sadness wouldn’t recognise me, even if we bumped into each other on the street.

The day sadness saw me and knew me in my new face and hands I realised it was going to take a heart transplant to shake this thing. The excitement of living like a get-away driver was beginning to pall.

I decided to reclaim my face, my actual address. I know that sadness will choose inconvenient times to visit, arriving as I’m getting dressed to go out, or at 2 am, or while I’m watching my favourite show on TV.

But it doesn’t unpack its suitcase all over my bedroom, or drink all the milk, or run up a three-figure phone bill calling long-distance, or expect to stay for months like an English backpacker.

And now I don’t have to avert my gaze when sadness catches my eye, or block my ears when it knocks at the door. Now I say, Is it you, sadness? Come in, come in, it’s been a while.

The Blue Stocking Poetry Jam!

Standard

blue space
I’m very excited to be MCing a special women’s edition of The Blue Space Poetry Jam! The Blue Space is a poetry and musical evening which takes place every third Thursday of the month in inner city Sydney. I’ve been a featured poet there in the past, and it’s a lot of fun!

We’re calling this one The Blue Stocking Poetry Jam, since it will be featuring  four AMAZING female poets, plus an all women’s open mic.

So if you’re in Sydney please consider coming along!

Pièce de Shakespeare

Standard
Joyce_Better_Contrast

Joyce in Zurich, c. 1918

I have had a new poem, Pièce de Shakespeare, published in Bluepepper.

This is a found poem written to celebrate Bloomsday, which falls on the 16th of June. On this day every year literary nerds such as myself pay homage to James Joyce’s ground-breaking novel, Ulysses.

I initially wrote this poem in response to a call out from The Found Poetry Review, which asked writers to create poems from a nominated chapter of Ulysses.  Pièce de Shakespeare is created from chapter 9, where Stephen Dedalus expounds his views about how much of Shakespeare’s life we can deduce from his writing.

Unfortunately Found Poetry Review did not accept my poem (aaw), but if you would like to read their Bloosmsday Issue, you can do so here. There are some great poems in there, although I will leave it up to you to decide which chapter 9 poem you prefer!

Luckily, editor Justin Lowe did take a fancy to my poem, and published it on his excellent site,  Bluepepper. You can read it there, (plus much more) or alternatively, below. Happy  belated Bloomsday!

Pièce de Shakespeare

Come, sheathe your dagger definitions —
the Father, Word, and Holy Breath,
the swan of Avon, has returned to die.

Lord of language, auric egg,
he lies laid out in stiffness —
bronzelidded in the secondbest bed,
lips twisted by Venus into prayer,
coffined thoughts embalmed in a spice
of words which rise like crooked smoke
up to the nostrils of God.

Why even his errors are portals to discovery!
Following his lean unlovely lines
through spaces smaller than red globules of blood
we creepycrawl after his buttocks
meeting robbers, ghosts, old men, young men,
wives, widows, brothers-in-love;
the molecules all changing, the I becoming other,
the unquiet father reborn in the son —
but always, always, as we walk through him
we are walking into ourselves.

 

* A found poem sourced from chapter 9 of James Joyce’s Ulysses

 

A Sudden Absence

Standard

Vilhelm Hammershoi, femme dans un interieur, 1905

I have had a new poem, 
A Sudden Absence, published 
in Bluepepper. Read it below, 
or better still, read it online 
at Bluepepper, where you will find 
an array of fine poetry on offer.
This wonderful site, edited by 
Australian poet Justin Lowe, 
has recently been included in 
Pandora,the National Library of 
Australia's Web Archive — which is  
a testament to the high standard 
of poetry it publishes. Just sign 
up via email to receive a regular 
dose of good quality poems into 
your inbox. Enjoy!

A Sudden Absence

When a sudden absence opens
where before there was a lover, or a child,
(a child’s worse, we must all agree
a child’s loss is worst), the everyday
grows almost perverse.

Routine grinds around and round the lack
and identity, devoid of vital purpose
withers back…

Autumn’s raw draft rankles from her room —
but I don’t look; instead I close the door,
and try to cover up by loving
the others a little more.

 

 

 

 

Grand Mont

Standard

 

Leda-by-Emmanuel-Benner

 

I have had a poem, Grand Mont, published in Verity La, an online creative arts journal which publishes short fiction and poetry, cultural comment, photomedia, reviews, and interviews. I absolutely love Verity La, which prides itself on showcasing “writing that gets you in the head as well as the gut, that has a point, that isn’t afraid.” My kind of journal!

Grand Mont is a found poem – a poem created from other texts – in this case sourced from one of my favourite novellas, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart. It’s a passionate account of the author’s tumultuous love affair with the already married English poet George Barker, with whom Smart had four children. The novel has been likened to Madame Bovary blasted by lightning”, and the poem I wrote based upon it is similarly dramatic.

You can read Grand Mont below, or click  here to read it — and many other wonderful things — at Verity La!

 

Grand Mont

A cat scrambles in the cave of my sex

my heart is infested by desire;

Jupiter has been with Leda

and this typewriter is guilty with love.

Electrified with memories of dangerous propinquity

(to my verboten lover, beautiful as allegory) I rise

from this jungled bed, virile as a cobra –

my obstreperous shape of shame a colossus

whose snowy thighs soar, obliviously, out of sorrow.