A Quick Catch Up!

23380370_10156149005577437_3240837475916989235_n

Photo: Morgan Hardy Bell for Girls on Key

I’ve neglected this blog of late, so am playing a quick catch up!

I had a wonderful time being one of the inaugural feature poets for Girls on Key Sydney with Eileen Chong and Anne Walsh, and will also have the honour of being a feature poet for the inaugural Sydney Poetry Lounge with Lorne Johnson this coming Tuesday 3 April.

I’ve had poems published in Other Terrain Journal, FemAsia and Cordite Poetry Review.

And next weekend, on Sunday 8 April, I’m chuffed to be taking part in two events at Newcastle Writers Festival: Women Of Words and How Poets See The World.

My thanks to all the editors of these journals and organisers of these events — poetry is by large an underpaid and underappreciated endeavour, and the people who put their time and energy into keeping the fire alight are very special indeed!

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!

Upcoming Appearances

httpsmithlibrariesorgexhibitspluginsdropboxfiles4776_ae80b2ce8a

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

sunset-991945_640
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!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Reviews for Engraft

1engraft_cropped_cover_02-12-15-2I’ve been lucky to receive a number of very positive and thoughtful reviews of my poetry collection, Engraft: one by Mary Cresswell in Plumwood Mountain; another by Magdalena Ball in The Compulsive Reader; and a third, by Alyson Miller, in Cordite Poetry Review. My sincere thanks to the reviewers and to the editors of these excellent journals — Anne Elvey, Magdalena Ball and Kent MacCarter, respectively. Below is an extract from the Cordite review:

In ‘Sky Burial’, a poem about ‘the secrets inside / that we shamefully hide’, Seminara offers a provocation: ‘So listen / why don’t we share them? / Cut our guts open / and air them?’ It is an invitation to confession, but the visceral imagery is also a confrontation, an insistence on exposure which characterises much of Engraft, Seminara’s debut collection of poetry. Indeed, Engraft is often focussed on conflict and opposition, on a brutal pulling away of surfaces to reveal – and at times, even revel in – pain, loss, and confusion. The consequence of such fierceness is a series of uncomfortable realities: the cruelty of love and birth; the violence of frustration; and the disappointing failures of self. In cutting open that which is hidden, and allowing ‘birds of carrion’ to feed on what is found there, Seminara constructs a hopeful, albeit macabre vision, in which ‘dark feelings’ might ‘transmute […] to food’. This suggestion of transformation and consumption (and even of transubstantiation) is gothic in nature, yet an apt metaphor for creativity; a kind of vampiric leeching. Certainly, in explicitly drawing on poets such as Shakespeare, Dickinson, Plath, Hughes, Bishop, and Lowell, as well as Kafka, Duras, Solzhenitsyn, and Joyce, Engraft is both polyphonic and parodic, including letters, prayers, homages, re-mixes, erasures, ekphrases, and found poems. The combination of so many modes and voices ought to be jarring, yet a synthesis is achieved in a repetition with difference that is as concerned with tradition as it is renewal.

You can read the rest of the Cordite review here, and buy a print or ebook copy of Engraft here.

i

464e0c5a676269079415cf559744d64d

every morning i wake, i wake
surprised. that life appears
again with each
opening of these eyes.
that eyes arise
with opening of each day.
that when both close, all i’s
fall away.

I Review The Special, by David Stavanger, for Mascara

the-special-674x1024Reviewing is a labour of love, and in this case the labour was a long one — elephantine in fact — nearly two years gestation! Thank heavens this review popped out in the end, of David Stavanger’s intriguing poetry collection, The Special:

 

This book is dedicated to the dead
who are bravely living
(and to those who wake wild-eyed in the dark)

 

So begins David Stavanger’s first full length collection, The Special, published by UQP as wining manuscript of the 2013 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. As the dedication suggests, this book is an unsettling read; one feels, intentionally so. The poems deal with what is dark and broken in the human psyche, informed, presumably, by the poet’s own personal and professional experiences with mental illness. This is Stavanger’s first serious foray into the world of ‘page’ as opposed to ‘performance’ poetry (a distinction he eschews), the leap between these two hotly fought over territories no doubt entailing a certain risk of the poems falling flat on the page. Yet while the book may, on first reading, appear somewhat stylistically and tonally ‘flat’, upon deeper reading it becomes clear that this has less to do with Stavanger’s poetry not transitioning well onto the page, and more to do with the nature of what the poet is trying to achieve. When exploring states of mind such as depression or psychosis, an emotionally disconnected, disjointed, or even dissociated style of poetry may indeed be the perfect mode of expression…

 

If this tickles your fancy, please read the rest over at the wonderful Mascara Literary Review, where you can also enjoy their latest issue comprising some of the finest writing in the land. A huge thanks to editor Michelle Cahill, who works hard to support the publication of a diverse range of Australian Literature.