March 3, 2015
a persistence of jellyfish
flesh liaisons bloom
sea-flowers have no soul
This bluebottle is the sort of lovely Australian creature that delights visitors. The image (PD Wiki Commons) is very fine, but doesn’t show the long tail of the creature, which is the bit that stings.
I have a vivid memory of swimming out of my depth, when one of these wrapped around my arm like a mad doctor’s blood pressure tester. I had to swim to shore, against a slight overtow, with a band of pain tightening around one of my arms. I developed a delightful weal on my arm, resembling a string of rubies given by a particularly sadistic Prince from a fairy tale by Angela Carter.*
At the time, I didn’t know how bad the sting of these creatures was, in terms of how poisonous. Fortunately, they are not too bad for most people, unlike the small invisible jellyfish found further north, which are deadly. (Some people have bad reactions to them though, as with bee-stings. See this article.)
Interestingly, the bluebottle is actually a co-operative of creatures that band together, rather than a single life-form. I believe that these are the sorts of things that we will find on other planets. ‘Other planets’ here means the south coast of NSW.
I believe that Australian wildlife may be touched on in the central Tuesday Poem this week. Press this link and find out.
*UPDATE: I have been flicking through other posts by Tuesday Poets, and just noticed that Helen Lowe is featuring a poem by Tim Jones about Angela Carter. There is an absence of jellyfish in the fine poem, but the coincidence tickled me. Like a bluebottle, but a lot less painful.
March 1, 2015
The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry was just reviewed for the Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times and elsewhere. A lovely review by Peter Pierce, which states that the book is a ‘splendid anthology, that entertains from start to finish’. Adjectives such as ‘enterprising, unusual and rewarding’ are used, which is always a good thing, providing retrospective solace to editors on their long trips through the unknown reaches of the poetic universe*.
Seek out the book here, or, if necessary, through those on-line bookstores.
You could even ask a physically constituted bookstore to order it for you, you intrepid little time traveller you.
*’Poetic universe’ is here defined to mean Australia; a small solar system on the outskirts of the English Andromeda.
February 23, 2015
Suddenly enough, all the computers yawned, quick gape of electric jaws, and we fell inside their crocodile bytes. Gusting through googles of guts, airy programmatic colons, we were curtly expelled onto other users’ chairs. I am now John le Carré, and he has swapped Cornwall for my Canberra. He pecks up the slim crumbs of poetry, that elegant confetti of wordy Gretels, tracing back the route to nowhere known at all. He likes the sun-dipped cockatoos, the nestling hills, and the pungent gums; their leaves such shy apostrophes, punctuation in all four seasons’ sentences.
You’d think I’d favour it, being famous. Heaving shelves of unborn books with my name on them groan out to a midwife agent, so patient and alert. But anonymity has its charms of liberation, and cover stories (as John would know) can thin and fade, and sometimes even fray. For England, Cornwall almost has a Summer, or at least a Summer’s spritely maiden Aunt, out for a jaunt, recalling dead youth spent in War. I have felt something approaching happiness, writing of Berlin or terror on the cliff edge of this little island, staring out to frown of dark, deep grey sea.
I want to go home now, to space and lancet light, but this white dumb screen stays obdurate; locked square surface, on which so many best-sellers have been keyed. Teases of postcards beckon in front of portal mouth; I tempt it with treats to open up, chew, and spit me back. It likes this latest tray of toffees so tightly wrapped in silver. Now it quivers; a glassy jellyfish on firm dry sand of desk. Now
Prose poem? Flash fiction? Unclassifiable weirdness? You be the judge.
I read somewhere that John le Carré does not write on a computer, but we’ll call that detail poetic licence, hm?
I hear that there has been a dead drop of poems here. Press this link and find out.
February 18, 2015
For yesterday, that is.
I just drove back from Orange, about three and a half hours from Canberra. Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson was born here, and the 17th February is his birthday. I went courtesy of a competition offered through Australian Poetry Ltd and attended a poetry competition, a birthday breakfast, a dinner, and undertook my own Banjo-related activities.
Soon I’ll write something about the Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Festival for Australian Poetry’s website. (There are too many similar words in that sentence, but that can’t be helped!) I’ll talk about how much I enjoyed this experience in Orange, but for now I must rest, having eaten about as much as I eat in a week over three days. Here is a photo of a bust of the poet, erected just near his birthplace. It can be found in a park dedicated to him:
And what other Australian poet gets jokes made about his or her birthday by coffee shops? (Yes, that is rhetorical…)