August 28, 2015
Just got back from Melbourne where I was awarded third prize in the Australian Catholic University’s Poetry Prize, on the topic ‘Peace, Tolerance and Understanding’. I wrote an angry, occasionally funny poem on the topic, called ‘Route 9’, which I may post at a later date. I tried to embody the way we judge people by appearances in a narrative poem, so my raving on about clothes is almost relevant. I just saw an article in City News about the awards:
(The City is question in Canberra, not Melbourne.)
First prize was awarded to Kristen Lang, and second prize to Josephine Wilson. The judge was Kevin Hart. A lovely book of the poems was produced by the university, with a cover designed by Chandler Brooks-Smith. I think that producing such a book is a great initiative, as it allows a full exploration of the topic. It is humbling to see how good many of the short-listed poets works are; I particularly like ‘Little Pup’ by Heather Taylor Johnson.
Thank you to Moya Pacey, who took the photo, and who has a very strong and intelligent poem in the book.
Prize winners were asked to read our poems right at the end of proceedings. Because of the Copious Free Wine, my brain resembled my dress by that stage…but I managed.
I will put my $1000 towards a new computer, so I can produce more angry and funny poetry about social justice, politics and perceptions. And read them out wearing really quiet dresses.
Speaking of which (I segue like a devil on speed) I am reading at The Gods on September 8, along with Owen Bullock and Melinda Smith. Hopefully the Anglican Church where I scored that dress will be having an early fete this year. But in the meantime, I’m out to ride my bike in the fresh Canberra air, wearing shabby, comfortable jeans.
August 17, 2015
The ones wearing suits
are the only ones with polished shoes catching wedged glimpses of the blue eye sky. Their ties are well knotted and the women’s hair constrained like ostrich eggs on their heads. We slouch by, wearing jeans, wearing ironic slogans like brands. We are comfortable enough to slob; comfortable enough to break traffic laws. We sip our coffees and flick through sullen mags; our thumbs fidget only on phones. We complain if we wait too long, and swear at meters mouthing our change like madeleines.
The ones wearing suits wait for the piece of paper from the ones behind that other counter (yes, those other ones sometimes wear suits, but beige and grudgingly). Ah that I could unknot those papers! I say nobly to myself, as I sip my expresso, and watch those queuing, watch those forming a border around the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Framing my coffee with their neat ties of anxiety, their perfect, uneasily bunched hair.
That prose poem was first published in Awkword Paper Cut (US) last year as part of an essay I wrote about writing, the Australian flag, nationalism and immigration, called ‘Mild flapping’.
I remembered it yesterday, as I was flipping through a Real Paper Paper, and came across an advertisement for a senior position at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. It is obviously in the HR area, but the title given to the position is ‘Head of People Division’. I read that as the person responsible for drawing a line between those of us lucky enough to be in Australia, and those trying to make it here. People Division with the Border as the vinculum. Call me silly!
The poem above describes Lonsdale Street in Braddon, Canberra, where people on visas of various sorts in Australia go to a branch of the Department, often, it seems, trying to have their stay extended or made permanent. A couple of doors up is one of my favourite cafés, where those of us with citizenship sip our drinks and write poems.
And of course, there are the people we can’t see, locked up elsewhere.
I used to do a bit of book reviewing in The Canberra Times. Indeed, I once won $200 of wine in the ACT Writers Centre Awards for a book review, which was damned useful. My reviewing seems to be taking off again. Here is a link to a review of a book about ageing by Rudi Westendorp which was published recently. (Sydney Morning Herald site.)
Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.
August 13, 2015
That’s a link to a very nice appreciation of my chapbook Paths Into Inner Canberra, written by Ian Warden. He is kind enough to write that:
‘She writes poetically, deftly and quirkily. The needle on my highly sensitive cliche-detector didn’t flicker once during my reading.’
Lovely stuff! I write hoping that I may surprise a few readers with an image or a reflection, and it is gratifying to read that this was the case with Ian Warden. Here is the cover, with a photograph by Geoffrey Dunn:
The book can be purchased from me (for those who ride bikes/drink too much coffee at cafes), from Book Lore, Lyneham, in Canberra, or from the publisher, Ginninderra Press. It is $4 (plus postage, if you order online). It is a prose essay with two poems.
It snowed yesterday in Canberra, so I was not on my bike. Snow is an occasional surprise here, and everyone was armed with their smartphones to record the phenomenon of cold dandruff. It has never settled on the collar of the pavement, though, that I can remember.
August 10, 2015
No, there is not a poem called ‘Via link’ at that link, but there is one called ‘The laws of cricket rewritten for the fairy world’ and one called ‘All the ships of the world’. I am obviously overwhelmingly worldly. The publication is Eureka Street.
I am very happy with the cricket poem, as it combines a couple of interests, namely, weird imaginary creatures and sport.
It was written a couple of months back, and is therefore not a feeble attempt to escape the true hideousness of the Ashes* by an escape into fantasy. But please, if you wish to read it that way, be my guest. Leave a comment at Eureka Street, if you feel that way inclined.
The ships of the world poem is far angrier and political, although it does contain several puns. You have been warned.
Other Tuesday Poets may or may not be celebrating England’s victory in the Ashes. Some may not even follow cricket. Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.
I’m going to watch some netball.
*That means the Ashes series for men in this post.
August 3, 2015
Crying over spilt light
About one-fifth of the world’s population can no longer detect the Milky Way with the naked eye due to light pollution. (Reported in Cosmos magazine, August/September 2009.)
Obesity of light blankets black,
clogs the arteries of recognition.
Blindness comes from the stroke
of too easy ignition; the fatty candle
of conjoined cities chokes imagination.
No matter; search the lost skies
by screen’s unblinking gaze,
and rediscover what Neanderthals
once mind-wandered quite for free.
Erasure of night by carrion globe,
pecking out eyes of speculation.
I wrote this one back in 2009, and it was published in The Specusphere. I thought I would republish it as this year is the International Year of Light.
It struck me as ironic that the light we use to free ourselves from darkness in fact blinds us to the stars.
Have other poets have been writing about light?