A Review & Author Interview on Messenger’s Booker

Engraft_Cropped_Cover_02.12.15 (2)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!

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Upcoming Appearances

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I’ve been invited to appear at some really interesting poetry events over the coming months.

First up, on Sunday November 5th, is Spirit of the Land, a poetry reading organised by Aussie poet Les Wicks. This reading takes place at the beautiful Many Art Gallery & Museum, not far from my home, and comprises of twenty poets who’ve been asked to write works responding to the art on exhibit. The Northern Beaches of Sydney is not generally known for its poetry, but this event is an exception and is always full to the brim with poets, artists, and those who appreciate both. Good to see!

GOK NSW FlyerThen on Sunday November 12, I’ll be reading with the fabulous Anne Walsh and Eileen Chong at the inaugural Girls on Key performance in Sydney. Girls on Key provides performance opportunities for female-identifying and non-gender-conforming poets, spoken word artists and musicians. Event organiser, writer Anna Forsyth, has been facilitating these popular readings in Melbourne, but has now moved to Sydney and brought them with her. Lucky us! Girls on Key will also be running regular events throughout NSW next year, so check out their website for news of future perfomances.

fourwOn Saturday 25 November, I’ve been asked by David Gilbey of Charles Sturt University to launch the Booranga Writers Centre latest edition of fourW at Gleebooks. It’s the twenty-eighth year of continuous publication for fourW and many contributors to the journal will be at the launch to celebrate and read their work, so it should be a lot of fun! Details here.

Finally, on December 2, I’m thrilled to be running a poetry workshop and giving a reading at The South Coast Writers Centre Little Mountain Poetry events at Sturt Cottage. These events are organised by the dynamic Rhiannon Hall, and I’m delighted to be reading with her father, esteemed poet Phillip Hall, as well as with local school students, at the evening  performance. Can’t wait!

 

If you can make it to any of these events, or know someone who might be interested, it would be great if you could get along, or spread the word!

Your silence

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Your silence

masses upon me;
a familiar wait/weight.
I contain it lest it cedes and leaves
a more incisive absence.

Silence as accusation, veiled
self-violation. I try it on,
rehearsing how I might feel if—

This is the white noise
you’ve always prophesised:
a resounding of renounced pain
hope     words     memory     mother.

 

HUSH, My New Chapbook, From Blank Rune Press

HUSHcoverenhancedI’ve recently had a chapbook—HUSH—published by the wonderful small Australian Blank Rune Press. The publisher, Valli Poole, was a dream to work with—she’s so passionate and particular about what she does, and as a result the books (which she hand-makes) are exquisite. Blank Rune only do a very limited print run, and Valli has told me HUSH has almost sold out. But I have a few copies to sell, so if you’d like one, please hit me up! They’re $15 (which includes postage). Here’s a little taster from the book.

Facetune

I crop your girth of grief
so it won’t show.
Coruscate your under-eyes
in the hope that hope might grow.

Destain your teeth, raze blemishes,
out damn spot!
Blood the lips, lend bloom
to what’s worn off.

I pray I could move deeper—
sweep the lungs. Restart
the heart, the mind;
unspool the past.

Return us to the prescient game
I played,
when my unconscious
conjured you this way.

 

Thrilled to be Judging Queensland Poetry Festival’s Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award

‘LS06_ 2011 by Michael Zavros

‘LS06’, 2011, by Michael Zavros. One of five images in this year’s QPF Ekphrasis Award.

I’m thrilled to have been asked (along with Queensland poet, Nathan Shepherdson) to co-judge this year’s Queensland Poetry Festival Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award.

This award, now in its third year, is named after one of Australia’s premier art dealers, Philip Bacon. The word ekphrasis comes from the Greek ek (out) & phrasis (speak), and is a rhetorical device in which a visual object, usually a work of art, is described by another artistic medium – in this case, a poem under 12 lines in length.

Open to all Australian residents, the award is now accepting entries, and will close at 5pm July 10th 2017. The overall winner will receive $500 in prize money, the runner-up will get $250, and the top 3 poems will be published online at Verity La

Philip Bacon has selected five paintings from his own collection to which poets can respond. You can download the guidelines, submissions form and images here

I love reading – and writing – ekphrasis, and look forward to seeing how poets respond to these exciting images. Please consider entering, and don’t forget to check out the website for QPF 2017. The festival, themed Distant Voices, will take place August 24 – 27, and will include 80+ sessions, 120+ artists, and poetry in all its forms. The full program won’t be launched until 21 July, but the website already contains loads of information, and many other QPF 2017 Poetry Awards are already up and running, so check it out!

 

A Word from the Wise Guy

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I’ve had some poems published in Have Your Chill, a magazine published by Australian poet and publisher Pete Spence. The magazine also includes poems by fellow Aussies Robbie Coburn, Valli Poole and Ariel Riveros Pavez, along with a swathe of international poets. Pete is renowned for publishing innovative independent print magazines via his Donnithorne Street Press, and I’m proud to have my work included in this one.

Here’s one of the poems, ‘A Word from the Wise Guy’. It’s a found poem sourced from the Introduction to The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.

 

A Word from the Wise Guy

Speaking Personally
(and if a man speaks
any other way shove
a pellet up his arse) beyond
a certain frequency the Sacred
is UNNECESSARY.

I have no precise memory
of the borrowed flesh
of the human form
—a condition of total exposure
tilting quixotically at NOTHING—
but in my psychic delirium
apparently I took notes:

Protoplasm Daddy
Step right up
and crank one in the Mother Cell;
there’s room for one
more back-brain baby—
shack up at your peril!

But it’s COLD OUTSIDE
and so nice-warm in here
with NAKED entities man and bestial
piled high on thermodynamic
tranquillizers, energizers, hallucinogens,
The Living Source and my own
special cure for the hourglass run-out
a spine like Fro-Zen TIME
approaching metabolic ZERO.

Tractacus Logico-Philosophicus:
How long will this trip last?
Mutatis mutandis:
As long as we can keep it going . . .

So Slow-DOWN dross eaters;
no mater how
you jerk
the handle the result is—

 

 

 

 

 

SCAR TO SCAR: A Collaborative Chapbook with Robbie Coburn

scar-to-scar-front-coverI’m thrilled to announce the publication of a new chapbook written in conjunction with my dear friend and stellar poet, Robbie Coburn. Scar to Scar was conceived when Robbie sent me a poem and I replied, in kind, with a poem I ‘found’ within his, re-ordering his original text as a form of poetic alchemy.

Our collaboration developed over the next few months, in part due to the impetus of Kit Kelen’s Project 365+1, which requires writers to publish a new poem every day for a month. Before we knew it, Robbie and I had enough poems to fill a small book, and so we did! The result is Scar to Scar, which has just been published by the excellent PressPress.

Thanks to Robbie for sharing his beautiful words with me, and to Chris Mansell, from PressPress, for publishing them. This book is very close to my heart and it’s wonderful to see it out in the world.

I’ll be doing an unofficial launch of Scar to Scar at The Wollongong Writers Festival this coming Sunday 27 November, as part of the Mad Poets Panel along with poets Tim Heffernan, Ariel Riveros Pavez, Alise Blayney, Phillip Page and David Stavanger.  It should be an amazing afternoon of poetry and performance!

You can find out more about those events here and purchase Scar to Scar from PressPress here. And to whet your appetite, here are the original pair of poems which started it all…


Scars

Robbie Coburn

within landscapes
sealed off   and positioning the body

you watch the breath enter the stilled atmosphere.

along the blade    poised
against your palm
where blood begins to run,
the framed nature of panic
is forgotten.

the wound is only preservation, remember.

when the skin begins to fail
blood draped along the decayed bone-lines
a pulse will run along the nerve ends.

you corner the vein and drive the object in again
finding a point of collapse —

with the same impulse the passage will lead you back.
for a while the red painted on your arm
feels distant
your body does not belong to you.

in this   there is

permanence.

 

Counter Scars

Michele Seminara 

the cry of my voice is enough

to collapse skin.

becoming survival
you cross    a passage
preservation wounds
forgotten.

the panic of blood
against blade along poised palm

stills.

my breath enters

your sealed

landscapes
within.