Writing to the Wire

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I’m honoured to have a poem published in Writing to the Wire, an excellent new anthology edited by Dan Disney and Kit Kelen (University of Western Australia Publishing).

“Writing to the Wire is a collection of poems by Australians and people who would like to be Australians. It is a book about the idea of being Australian. It is about who we are and who we would rather be. Writing to the Wire offers new ways to understand injustice, to speak out and tell stories. Poetry can show us what we’re thinking and feeling in a way our politics has failed to do.

The seeking of asylum in Australia has been politicised in recent decades. Our national conversation has vilified people fleeing persecution and desensitised the Australian polity to human suffering. We are further marginalising the most vulnerable groups in the world and at greater expense than accommodating refugees in the community. What impact does this have upon our collective ethics and national identity? And if our public conversation is steering us into murky moral territory, where may a dissenting voice be heard?”

There are so many fine and thought provoking poems in this anthology. You can read a book extract here and purchase it here. I strongly urge you to support this important publication!

 

Public Statement by Humanities and Social Sciences Scholars on Australia’s

                              a moral            Prime Minister, Tony Abbott,

                                                           whose human rights

record is profoundly flawed. As academics
                  we are dismayed to hear our Prime Minister deny the ethical
responsibility of this                                     nation

The government’s mandate to ‘stop the boats’  is
 
                                                 profoundly disturbing in the
context of          self-harm by refugee             children,
                            suicide by refugee mothers
                 and other traumatic incidents. In       crisis situations,
                    the moral is not                 expendable.
  

 

*A found poem sourced from a joint letter published in New Matilda on 10 Jul 2014. The letter was signed by 137 academics from across the globe and condemned the Australian Government’s treatment of refugees.

 

Engraft Reviewed in Mascara Literary Review!

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I’m thrilled that Engraft has received its first review, and that it didn’t say anything terrible, and that it was published in such an esteemed journal. My thanks to Michelle Cahill, editor of Mascara, Anna Couani (for not saying anything terrible!) and, of course, to Island Press (Phil Hamial, Les Wicks and Martin Langford) for publishing the book in the first place.

Island were fantastic to work with and I feel honoured to be among the long list of incredible poet’s they’ve published.  Founded in 1970, they’ve made a significant contribution to independent Australian publishing, and I dearly hope that their recently cut Australia Council for the Arts grant will be reinstated so the press can continue.

If you’d like to learn more about the colorful history of Island, take a look at the first and second installment of this article published in Rochford Street Review. It’s a fascinating window into the world of poetry and publishing in Australia over the last 45 years.

And please click over to Mascara to read Engraft’s first review!

 

I Have My Say on Bishop on Poetry Says

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I had a blast talking to the lovely Alice Allan on her new podcast, Poetry Says. We spoke about a poem I’ve become rather obsessed with, Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘Giant Snail‘. I liked the poem so much, in fact, that I wrote one of my own inspired by it! You can listen to the podcast here and read my homage to ‘Giant Snail’ below. And please subscribe to Alice’s podcast! She records a new episode each week.

On Reading Bishop

after Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘Giant Snail’
(for PS Cottier)

A peaceful life is arduous
to attain; desire’s
not enough, nor positive aim —
one side’s withdrawal is always the other’s gain.

What germ inside us inclines towards hate?
It seems to me there must be something
rank and spindly
tangled in the hub of our hearts
disordering their true rotation
until we become beings whose frequency
is attuned to blame.

Therefore, I hold my words
on a parsimonious rein.

Reading Bishop, a distinctive stillness comes.
Like her giant snail I too inch forward
my own amorphous, unguarded
foot absorbing sharp barbs of gravel
avoiding rough spears of grass
as I push, bull-headed, to gain a crack
in God’s sanctuary before sunrise.

Grafitti

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7a3bc954b0f2243401c52a2bbe456476I’ve had an angry little poem published over on the excellent Bluepepper — the place for poetry with bite. This poem certainly has some! Thanks to editor Justin Lowe for his unfailing support.

Graffiti

Degrade degrade degrade yourself
take care to curl up small.
Have I grown
compact enough?
Unfurl me at your peril.

In the lengthening autumn
of my shadow skirl reams of discontent—
Am I sitting meekly?
No? Forbid me speak!

Deface deface deface yourself
until you disappear.
Leave no glyphs to sign this space
(she wasn’t even here).

Poetry & Place Anthology, Launch & Giveaway!

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My poem, Mourning Morning, has been included in an excellent anthology, Poetry & Place. It’s a collection of poems which explore ideas and experiences of ‘place’ in a variety of forms, from free and structured verse to concrete poetry and haiku. I just got my contributor copy in the mail — it’s terrific!

There’s been a virtual launch of the book, with poets reading their poems over at the Poetry & Place website. You can hear my reading here, along with some great readings by others.

A free copy of the anthology is being given away through Goodreads. Just click here and press ‘enter giveaway’ for your chance to receive a copy in the mail. Or hey, even consider buying one! Both print and e-book formats are available.

A big thanks and congratulations to editors Ashley Capes and Brooke Linford. They’ve produced a really beautiful collection.

 

Mourning Morning

My mother’s house surrounds
me in a shroud: the tinkling
of the teaspoon as my father stirs
his tea, his tea; the chug of the washing machine
that never dies. The tubular wind chimes casting
their cool auric spell around us; the complaint
of the floorboards bearing up our lives.
And the busyness, of the birds in bush nearby… I

lie with eyes shucked open, not turning
to what waits to be let in.
I hear the phone shriek—and again—
then footsteps up the hall; the sound
of hesitation at the door—
as I elongate this moment,
try to dwell inside before.

*first published in Bluepepper

 

 

 

 

 

My review of Hook and Eye, by Judith Beveridge, published on Mascara Literary Review

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HookandEye.jpgJudith Beveridge’s Hook and Eye is a collection of previously published poems selected to showcase the highly regarded Australian poet’s work to an American readership. The poems are for the most part imaginatively — rather than autobiographically — conceived, lyrical while still remaining largely outward looking, and full of the sensual imagery and sound-play for which Beveridge’s work is prized. Yet what is most striking about the book, comprised of work written over a twenty-five year span, are the enduring and distinctive spiritual concerns of the poet, and how these inform her praxis.

As Maria Takolander points out in a recent review[i], the book’s first poem, ‘Girl Swinging’, seems deliberately placed to give the reader insight into (perhaps even guidance for entering) the poet’s creative practise.

I often think about
the long process that loves
the sound we make.
It swings us until
we’ve got it by heart;
the music we are.

(‘Girl Swinging’)

The process of creation rather than the creation itself is paramount, a process which (like Beveridge) ‘loves’ playing with ‘the sound we make’ and which ‘swings us’ until we come to understand, at a heart level, ‘the music we are’. There is a profound desire for personal transformation: the speaker, longing ‘to be a symphony / levitated by grace-notes’, turns quietly within, ‘listening to myself’ until ‘that feeling comes / of being lifted into the air’. Takolander has convincingly argued that lyric poetry is fundamentally a poetry of embodiment and senses a paradox here in the way the remembered sensations of the girl’s body ‘swinging’ generate the adult speaker’s spiritual disembodiment. Yet it is not merely sensory experience which leads to this state – it is the poet’s attentive focus upon the girl’s sensory experience which foreground a form of mindfulness and lead the narrator of ‘Girl Swinging’ to her own kind of lyric elevation. Beveridge’s poetry could perhaps be called a poetry of conscious embodiment; here, physicality acts as tool for deepening the narrator’s awareness until she rises into a space of ‘…clear singing / …above / the common rattle / of chains’.

 

You can read the rest of the review over at Mascara. My thanks to editor Michelle Cahill. 

Engraft Launched at the 3rd Sydney International Women’s Poetry & Arts Festival at NSW Parliament House

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2016posterpage001-600x848A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be part of the 3rd Sydney International Women’s Poetry & Arts Festival, an inspirational event directed by poet, activist, feminist and filmmaker Saba Vasefi. I first read my poetry at this event in 2014, and have since become firm friends with Saba, working with her on the festival each year as its communications editor. Which made it all the more thrilling to have her launch my first poetry collection, Engraft, at this year’s festival on 16 March at NSW Parliament House. It was an AMAZING night — one look at the festival poster will tell you that. What a talented, intelligent and passionate group of women!

In her generous introduction to Engraft, Saba said:

“It’s a great pleasure for me to launch Engraft, the first poetry collection by Michele Seminara. Ever since I’ve known her, Michele has been a poet who is always at the forefront of supporting platforms for subaltern writing and multicultural cohesion. Engraft charts the darker waters of the human psyche, exploring themes of abuse, loss, family dynamics and the role of women as mothers, lovers, artists and spiritual beings. It is Michele’s fierce commitment to witness with clear eyes the challenging and joyous experiences that unite us as women which give the poems of Engraft their power.”

Thank you, Saba, for your heartfelt book launch, and for your work supporting women of all ethnicities to express themselves. The Women’s Poetry Festival is emerging as a unique and important contribution to the literary and feminist movements in Australia, and I am proud to be involved.

Saba Vasefi

Saba Vasefi launching Engraft

Michele Seminara

Me, looking slightly less nervous than I felt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My poetry roadie, aka the long-suffering husband.

My poetry roadie, aka the long-suffering husband

 

 

 

 

 

Srubbing up OK for the night.

We scrubbed up alright on the night!

 

 

 

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A full and culturally diverse audience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to read some poems from Engraft you can do so here and here, and if you feel inspired to buy a copy (hooray!) please click on the button to the right of this post.