Beyond the Father’s Shadow, a film by Saba Vasefi

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saba posterBeyond the Father’s Shadow to be launched at NSW Parliament House August 26

Beyond The Father’s Shadow is a short film by Iranian-Australian feminist documentary filmmaker (and my good friend!) Saba Vasefi. It’s the story of Australia’s first female parliamentarian Edith Cowan. The film portrays the struggles behind Cowan’s ascent to power, revealing how her traumatic childhood experiences motivated her to become a social worker and, ultimately, the first female member of the Australian parliament.

The film will be launched by author, patron of the Full Stop Foundation and UNICEF Ambassador Tara Moss; hosted by Greens Member of the NSW Legislative Council Dr Mehreen Faruqi; and MC’d by ABC’s commissioning editor, Andrea Ulbrick.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on misogyny and politics.

Panelists for the evening will be:

♀ Dr Mehreen Faruqi: Member of the NSW Legislative Council

♀ Tara Moss: Author, Full Stop Patron and UNICEF Ambassador.

♀ Saba Vasefi: Filmmaker, Poet, Refugee Council of Australia Ambassador for Refugee Week.

♀ Lee Rhiannon: Senator for NSW

♀ Sarah Hanson-Young: Senator for SA

♀ Hon Linda Burney: Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Education & Aboriginal Affairs

♀ Van Badham: Guardian Columnist, Writer & Social Commentator

♀ Dr Wendy Michaels: Historian, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Newcastle; Director, The Women’s Club; Convenor, Rose Scott Women Writers’ Festival.

 

So basically, a stellar line-up!

If you’re in Sydney, please come along. I’ll be there, proudly supporting Saba, who is both a very talented filmmaker and a tireless supporter of others.

 

Location: NSW Parliament House, Sydney

Date: August 26,2015

Time: 6-9pm

Tickets: $10 Bookings: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/film-launch-at-the-nsw-parliament-beyond-the-fathers-shadow-a-film-by-saba-vasefi-tickets-17384411242

 

 

Two reviews published in Mascara Literary Review

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I recently had the pleasure of reviewing two new Australian poetry collections: Distance, by Nathanael O’Reilly, and Fixing the Broken Nightingale by Richard James Allen. Here’s a little taste of each review; please follow the link to read the full versions at the wonderful Mascara Literary Review. (And a big thanks to managing editor Michelle Cahill.)

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Distance
, Nathanael O’Reilly’s first full-length poetry collection, is separated into three sections – ‘Australia’, ‘Europe’ and ‘America’ – the first and most substantial section (which deals with the experience of growing up in Australia) functioning as the emotional cornerstone of the collection. The title and section headings immediately alert us to the major themes of the book – distance, separation, identity, expatriation, connection and disconnection – but the distances and proximities explored here are not simply geographical or physical; they are also temporal, cultural and emotional. (Link to the rest of the review here.)

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Fixing the Broken Nightingale
, Richard James Allen’s tenth poetry collection, is a small treasure of a book – one you might pop into your bag and dip into at idle moments for bursts of inspiration, contemplation or solace. Indeed, the physical design of the book (it’s part of Flying Island’s petite Australian Pocket Poets Series) recalls a more romantic time when poetry was indeed carried and savoured in this way; while the title – evoking Keats’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ – suggests that similar themes of mortality, bliss, suffering and the power of words to save us will be explored. (Link to the rest of the review here.)

 

 

 

 

Lotus

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Lotus

Gurgling sounds woke me — (perhaps I needed to pee?) —
the sink had filled with water abundant enough to spill
out onto the floor and flow
in a sacred stream under the bathroom door.
In this lucid dream
within a dream I rose
from your father’s bed and followed the trail
to you, my son, a lotus blooming
improbably from a golden yoke on the belly of my ocean —
and I knew, like queen Maya upon receiving
a visitation by the sublime white elephant
that soon you would appear.

And now here you are — yes, here you all are! —
little lotuses mired in my mud.
Tying your nooses around your necks each morning
strangling yourselves a little more each day:
obediently becoming (for me)
what I never wanted
you to be.

*First published in Bluepepper

My interview on The Australian Poetry Podcast

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The Australian Poetry Podcast is a new initiatave started up by poets Nathan Hondros and Robbie Coburn. When ABC’s Poetica series was closed down late last year due to lack of funding, these brave poets decided, Hey, why not fill the gap and start up our own thing!

Armed with some rudimentary equipment, a wealth of poetic knowledge, passion and a go-get-’em attitude, they set about chatting to poets — and the resulting interviews are relaxed, informative and, I believe, an important contribution to the Australian literary scene.

To date they’ve interviewed well respected poets such as Andy Burke, Jill Jones, Mark Roberts, Beth Spencer, MTC Cronin and um, me! How I got onto that list, I don’t know, but I’m very proud to be there, and the interview process (while initially a cause for terror) tuned out to be hugely enjoyable. At the outset I do talk a little too much about my kids and my cat (who doesn’t?) — but hang in there, we do eventually get to poetry!

So please have a listen to episode 5 of the podcast, and while you’re there, subscribe to the Podcast feed so you can do what I do — listen while cleaning the bathroom; it makes a dreary job almost a pleasure.

Stop

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Let’s leave everything be.
Let’s just stop fixing.
Perhaps if we let everyone settle
clarity will be revealed.

Today I entered the cathedral of the bush—
sought permission to walk the land; felt it granted.
Was buoyed by a chorus of cicadas ulullating
their adulation to the Gaia of this world.
(On Facebook a slowed down recording of cicadas—
Oh my, what exaltation! Beyond the range of men.)

As I traipse through the bush
in my rag of a dress,
great slobbery dog lopping
at my side, a dishevelled woman
with hands clasped behind her back
like some unhinged Confucian scholar—

a brown snake crosses my path.
It’s an intimate moment, as if
he has been waiting for me.
What does one do in such a moment?
Acknowledge, pass…

Let’s leave everything be.
Let’s just stop fixing.
I want to open like that naked flannel-flower to the sun.

*First published in Bluepepper. My thanks to editor Justin Lowe.

Verity La!

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Basic CMYKI’ve been remiss in not letting readers of this blog know about an exciting new developement in my writing life. Late last year I took over the reins of an exceptional little online literary journal, Verity La. How this came about, and what it’s all about, you can find out in this editorial, which I wrote when first taking on the role of managing editor. As you’ll see, I was TERRIFIED! However, so far so good: it’s been a hugely rewarding experience, and I haven’t run it aground — yet!

So please take a look. At Verity La we’re privileged to have some of the finest writers and artists in Australia — and the world — share their work with us. I’m also privileged to have an extraordinarily talented and passionate team of volunteers helping me make it happen. We publish only one very, very fine thing each week, and you can subscribe to receive posts by email completely free of charge. Enjoy!

Two Poems (and an interview!) published in Tincture Journal

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cropped-tincture_banner1I’ve had two poems published in the wonderful Tincture Journal – ‘Epistle to my Paedophile’ and ‘Dear Ottla’. You can read the first of these below, but if you want to read the second (which is a found poem sourced from the letters of Franz Kakfa), you’ll have to buy a Tincture. Tincture is a quarterly e-book of fine writing from Australia and around the world, and it will only cost you $8! In this issue (nine), I’ve also been interviewed by Tincture’s poetry editor, Stuart Barnes, and you can read that interview as part of their free content. If you like what you read, please support them!

Epistle To My Paedophile

Doubtless you won’t comprehend
my writing you this way;
for you are harmless
now, breathing

in laboured rasps, your body
neutralised
by the karmic stroke
of luck which all the girls
you might have met
don’t even know
they should be glad of.

I was not so fortunate.
I knew you when your limbs
still had the power to insinuate
themselves into Christmas lunch
and re-calibrate the trajectory
of uneventful lives.

(Strange, I never thought to tell,
the chest of smut beneath your bed,
the dancing doll’s skirt, lifted to reveal —
Or your pudgy hands which turned like moles
in the incestuous burrows of their pockets,
jingling coins that lured, and repelled…)

What a relief it was today to find them stilled.
Pale members, no longer in the service
of the perverse familial compulsion
which thwarted me, as it did you.

Instead, you have become the baby
you once must have been:
helpless (hapless?) in your cot,
as I was, legs akimbo;
and this is perfect, a perfect way of seeing
because the unsullied space of your mute
presence allows me to impute
whatever version of this I want to —

from your side, recognition, remorse;
from mine, forgiveness, love.

But I don’t need that now.
We are at peace, you and I,
our transaction complete.
There is no more fear.

Only wonder, at how one clot of blood
lodged within a flawed man’s brain
can assuage so much suffering:
what a wise solution, so elegant,
the vessels swollen to bursting
with compassion for us all —
surely that drop was placed, just so,
by the delicate hand of God.