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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Have My Say on Bishop on Poetry Says

elizabeth bishop

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.

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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