Uppgivenhetssyndrom

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My poem Uppgivenhetssyndrom has been published in Issue 7 of the wonderful Other Terrain Journal. The theme of this issue is ‘We Too’ and includes a powerful introduction by Tom Meagher who writes that “in this issue we explore the tragedy of the untold stories of forgotten people and the unseen scars borne by those who survived, while we remember those who did not”. It also includes a searing poem, ‘Promised Land’, by my friend Mohammad Ali Maleki, currently detained on Manus Island.

My thanks to Other Terrain’s poetry editor Anne Casey for including our work in the journal, and my congratulations to her and the team on producing such an important and timely issue. 

*Uppgivenhetssyndrom

The unconscious is a precise and even pedantic symbolist. — D. M. Thomas

All over the camps / children’s eyes / revolve inwards / like moons
Their muscles wane / as minds release / cruel world

They scored their grief with razors / they lit their flesh / like flares
But now their knees lie still / as metaphor / for resignation

Behind fences / limbs grow thin / enough to slip / through loopholes
Force feeding tubes tether / life to life

Judges sanction portals / mothers’ bodies flail glass
Porous eyelids gauge / time to retire

First thirst / then speech / then sight / then sense expire

Beneath the ice / you wend the blank / pathways of your mind
Your body / crossing borders / liquefied

Withdrawn / so far / so far / so far / inside

What interim world are you hiding in?
In dreams / I hear you calling / with the voice of my own child

I keep turning vacant corners / looking
For liminal beings / lost little ones / my loves

*Resignation Syndrome is a rare psychiatric condition experienced by refugee children in Sweden and now by children detained on Nauru, who withdraw, as a result of trauma, into an unconscious state

 

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Engraft Turns Three!

I cannot believe Engraft has turned three! (Better get onto that second book, ay?) Here I am with the long-suffering Hubby, who tirelessly played bookseller during launch time. But to celebrate, I’m giving away Engraft for free! (Well, the eBook, anyway.) Head over to Lulu or Apple Books to nab yours, and while you’re there, why not leave a review or rating? (If you like it, that it is — as my mum said, if you don’t have anything nice to say…)

 

Queensland Poetry Festival 2017: Distant Voices

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QPF 2017 kicks off next week and I’m thrilled to be attending and to be involved in a number of events.

These will be co-presented by Verity La and will introduce the journal’s Clozapine Clinic mental health writing project to the Festival. A huge thanks to Festival co-directors Anne-Marie Te Whiu and David Stavanger for inviting us to take part and help shine some much needed light on the critical issue of mental health.

At 10-11am on Thursday 24 August at Brisbane Square Library there will be readings by me, Tim Heffernan, Alise Blayney and Ariel Riveros Pavez along with members of Words on the Street (from Brisbane’s School of Hard Knocks), performing work that draws upon lived experiences in the mental health system.

At 11 30am-12 30pm I’ll be chairing ‘Thieves of Fire’, a panel discussion with Tim, Alise and Ariel about how mental health has shaped their work and how the power of poetry can assist in reclaiming one’s voice in times of psychological distress.

At 6-7 30pm my co-judge Nathan Sherperdson and I will be presenting the Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award at the Festival’s Opening Night in the Judith Wright Centre. There’ll be drinks and music in the foyer from 5 pm – woohoo!

On Friday 25 August, 12-1pm, I’ll be appearing with Haider CatanAriel Riveros and Max Ryan in Before the Sky: Poetry Readings.

This will be followed at 2pm by Pray Ho’tell, where poet and mental health advocate Alise Blayney will screen a short film and talk about the work of her former partner, and late surrealist poet, Benjamin Frater, exploring the relationship between automatic writing and the schizophrenic vernacular.

These are FREE EVENTS, as are 75% of the other exciting things on offer over the four days of the Festival. So if you’re within hollering distance of Brisbane and love your poetry, spoken word and music, come along, say hi, and join the festivities!

 

 

‘Family Tree’ Published in the Canberra Times

I’ve had a poem published in the Canberra Times! Which feels rather exciting as it means that ‘normal’ people (you know, not just those strange ones who buy poetry books) have clapped eyes on it. Wonder what they thought?

A big thanks to former CT poetry editor, Melinda Smith, for accepting the poem, and to new ed. Lizz Murphy for sending through the pic. I’m a big fan of both these poets’ work, so it’s a thrill to be published by them!

Family tree

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I contemplate your arc, which has been cut.
Your projected ghost limb twitching in the glare
of my grand truncated hope.
Grief breaking bounds and bearing us
fused into myth.

Listen, I’m a mother, your mother —
It’s my job to scout ahead.
Even in a world that scoffs
at maternal prescience
I persist,

baying like a bitch at spectres —
no one heeds me.

Your sight’s been severed;
you can’t see what I see,
the absence
of what could have been.

But you sense it, approaching,
and I watch as you race
with determination
to recalibrate
your fate.

 

This is one of two poems I’ve had published in the second edition of Have Your Chill, a magazine published by Pete Spence’s legendary Donnithorne Street Press. This poem will also appear in my upcoming chapbook, HUSH, to be published in June by another incredible independent Australian publisher, Valli Poole’s Blank Rune Press. My thanks to both of these publishers for their inspirational work.

 

 

 

Hush Published in Cordite Poetry Review

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Image by Therese Ritchie

I’m chuffed to have my poem Hush appear in the recent Confession Issue of Cordite Poetry Review. There are some extraordinary poems in the issue, as well as some stunning photography by Therese Ritchie. My thanks to editors Keri Glastonbury & Kent MacCarter!

Hush

You’re bloated and there is
fear in your gaze.
You’ve demanded the right
to be this way and I
have acquiesced.

Mirtazapine bought no peace.

Food wrappers, razor blades, beer bottles, bong.
Your body is an energy pushing
pain into a form which it commands
the world to witness —

I witness you.

I look into your eyes and whisper
— with my eyes — I see you.

Bitch, you shoot, from the dark side of your mouth,
your head in chaotic orbit.

I’m whatever you need me to be, baby.
Let’s croon the moon to sleep like we used to.
Hush.

 

Launch of Engraft by Martin Langford

12654248_10153963895347437_5224428608965360806_nWell it’s done!  Engraft has officially been launched, and I couldn’t be happier. The room was full, the crowd were kind, and some books were sold. Phew!

Distinguished poet and critic Martin Langford was generous enough to launch the book, and Rochford Street Review were good enough to publish the speech he gave.

Martin said:

“Writing has a complex relationship with Buddhism. It is so weighted with the dirt and doubt and slew of ordinary living that it can never hope to walk in that territory where one is free of such encumbrances – the territory, that is, that Buddhism aims for. For this reason, some schools of Buddhism dismiss the arts altogether. What the two do share, however, is a common engagement with understandings. They may come at them from slightly different routes, and neither of them may quite have understanding as their ultimate aim – there is a point in Buddhism where one hopes to move beyond one’s understandings, whereas in literature, the aim is usually to take those understandings and work them into some sort of overall aesthetic experience – but both revolve, in important though different ways, around that fragile, verbal confrontation.

I was thinking of these similarities and differences reading Michele Seminara’s new book, Engraft. Many of the poems are attempts to shape the forces at play in experience in a credible and accurate way: in short, to understand them…”

You can read the rest of Martin’s thoughtful launch speech here. Many thanks to him, to fellow poet Les Wicks (whose 13th book Getting By Not Fitting In was also launched on the day), to my publishers Island Press and to all who attended or sent good wishes. I feel very fortunate to have actually published a book, let alone to have anyone read it!

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