A huge thanks to Tony Messenger for reviewing Engraft and interviewing me on his excellent blog, Messenger’s Booker. Tony is an indefatigable supporter of Australian poetry and his blog is a fantastic resource. I particularly love his author interviews. Here’s a taste of mine:
Q. Both of your works are very “unsettling” and in “Dead Ottla” (a poem sourced from the letters of Franz Kafka) you say “(Writing is a form of prayer, Dear Ottla,/ a key to the chambers inside oneself:” Your work is very personal, leaving yourself open and raw on the page, is writing cathartic for you?
Absolutely. Especially writing poetry, which expresses the inexpressible best of all, in my view. Basically, when life feels intense, I pick up a pen. I also write to have fun, relax, learn, experiment, grow and communicate – but I’m first and foremost of the Bukowski school:
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
(‘so you want to be a writer?’)
That might sound naff, but that’s why and how I write poetry, and also why I read it. It’s a solace for the soul…
Read the rest at Messenger’s Booker & explore Tony’s blog while you’re there. If you feel inspired to buy a copy of Engraft or HUSH, hit me up!
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.
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.