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.

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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!

 

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

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.

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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Engraft – A Sneak Peak!

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Good Lord, it’s a book! My first poetry collection, Engraft, has just been published by Island Press, one of Australia’s oldest and most well respected independent poetry publishers. Which is all rather exciting!

Here’s a sneak peek from the book:

pirate

up on the plateau
dog running sprightly in the wind
ears flapping triumphantly
teeth bared in what is surely a grin

your kite stingrays against the sun’s
dazzle painful to observe
while down below it menaces us —
prey too dense to fly

And some very nice things that some very nice people have said:

Engraft is a masterwork. Seminara’s deep gift lies in her fusion of the viscera of life with a transcendent poetic vision. By turns terrifying and tender, loving and lost, Seminara is a major new voice in contemporary poetry.” – Charles Bane, Jr.

“Michele Seminara’s analytic prayers, domestic fables and eloquent centos work their ludic wit and charms in the house of loss and disturbance. She is not afraid to say ‘beauty’ in the language of economy engrafted with careful flourishes.”
– Michelle Cahill

“There is a great restlessness in this collection – the poems grumble, push on, then soar. The reader is drawn progressively into that fascinating morass called life… It is no small treat to immerse oneself in this collection: let yourself in.” – Les Wicks

Engraft is chock-full of tender, brave poems with emotional depth. Seminara’s work displays control, deft pacing, and a fierce commitment to witness with clear eyes the horrors we commit upon ourselves and each other. A book filled with variety and surprise which you will want, and need, to return to many times.” – Melinda Louise Smith

And some info on the 1st Sydney launch (in case you’re in the vicinity!):

ENGRAFTIsland logoISLAND PRESS

Michele Seminara’s first poetry collection Engraft explores the darker aspects of the human psyche and relationships.
This debut collection by a strong new poetic voice is being launched by distinguished poet Martin Langford.

ALSO LAUNCHING ON THE DAY
Les Wicks’ Getting By Not Fitting In – the 13th book
by one of Australia’s most well loved and respected poets.
Launched by Chris Mansell

We are having a launch for both books at:

Friend in Hand Hotel
58 Cowper St, Glebe
(upstairs bar)
Saturday 6th February 2.30pm

You can order a copy of Engraft directly from this blog via Paypal.
Or contact micheleseminara@hotmail.com to organise a direct credit.
Cheques should be made payable to Michele Seminara & sent to 1 Seebrees St, Manly Vale, NSW 2093.
You can also order direct from Island Press at 29 Park Rd, Woodford NSW 2778. http://islandpress.tripod.com/ISLAND.htm

 

 

Three New Poems, a New Book and Some Kind Words!

I recently had the honour of featuring as a guest on the excellent blog of poet Julie Maclean. She has some very generous things to say and has published three of my new poems! Please take a read, and thank you Julie!

juliemaclean

michele

This new year kicks off very happily with a dynamic new poet who is forging a dazzling path through the poetry scene. A full collection after so few years  is testament to the talent, energy and passion that Michele has in spades. But not to give you the wrong idea,  Michele was a writer of fiction before she was seduced by the beauty of poetry so is not altogether a raw beginner.

What amazes me about her place in the literary world is the way she is already giving back. She has shown courage and enormous generosity in taking on the position of Managing Editor of a high profile online literary journal, Verity La, as well as writing, attending readings and raising three children. I think this is where her Buddhist training must come in. In interview Michele comes across as humble, modest and thoughtful. She is always positive and life-affirming. I look forward to this debut collection (love the cover and title) which…

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