December 20, 2012
Here’s a link to a new review of Triptych Poets Issue Three: http://verityla.com/peaks-from-start-to-finish-blemish-books-triptych-poets-issue-three/ in Verity La, an Australian journal. Tim Jones also reviewed the book previously, on his blog. Way back in November.
Spoiler alert: Mark William Jackson likes it!
Now, it may be just a tad late to stuff it into someone’s stocking in a Christmas related capacity, but why not make your New Year’s Resolution to read more poetry? I intend to read only poetry next year. But that’s just me. I’ll be boring on about that soon. In the meantime, your fingers are moving towards this link. They will press it. You will find that they are delving into your purse or wallet, and extracting your credit card. Somehow, your pesky digits enter your number. And in a while, the book will arrive, with three poets for the price of one. You will kiss your wise fingers, and run out to buy them gloves (should it be cold where you are), or to have a manicure (if, like me, you are a tad vain).
But you will thank your prescient fingers, again and again, as you read the book which Mark William Jackson describes as ‘just straight peaks from start to finish.’
I’m blushing as I paste in that quote, but modesty, they say, is a virtue. So it’s good to parade it.
Christmas. Good. Have.
April 12, 2012
The very best poetry readings are where you manage to discover something about your own work while in the act of reading; that is, you forget the notion of performance while performing. Happened to me on Tuesday at The Gods, where I found a pun lurking in one poem that I had not previously noticed, and had to swallow an inappropriate laugh. (They do breed like rats just released onto a Pacific island in my work, it must be said. Puns, that is.) I also enjoy the response of the audience. A good turn up it was too, for Melinda Smith, Russell Erwin and myself.
I wore a Vogon poetry shirt, as a little reminder that if it didn’t go well, there are definitely worse poets out there, somewhere in the universe. But it did go well, and some very intelligent questions were asked of the three readers after the readings. You can see Melinda answering one being put to her by Geoff Page in the last photo, while I try and disappear behind the microphone. (Russell was there too, but out of shot. He’s the one in the striped top above.)
Reading one’s work is fun, as is discovering the work of others in their own voices. Melinda’s tart, elegant and poignant poetry, Russell’s dive-in and discover expansive explorations, and whatever it is that I write made for a varied menu. I managed to put in a plug for humorous poetry, too, during the questions. And people were laughing during parts of the reading, and I think in a good way.
Now back to the serious, beret-ed business of writing some more poetry, having scuttled out into a public place for a couple of hours.
November 17, 2011
Here’s a link to my review of 11.22.63 by Stephen King, a time-travel novel about trying to prevent the Kennedy assassination. The review was just published in Eureka Street. Today, President Obama has been in Canberra, and fortunately, that visit by a US President to the South seems to have gone a lot more smoothly. I travelled back from Melbourne to Canberra today, and we taxied quite close to Air Force One. Amazing to see a plane treated like a celebrity!
When you witness the level of security that necessarily goes with a visit from the US President, it makes you very glad to be living in a less important country, globally speaking.
October 21, 2011
This is the cover of my third book, with a somewhat pensive sheep under a very blank sky. (It’s a poetry collection.)
Hal Judge launched The Cancellation of Clouds at 6pm, Thursday 20th October 2011 at Smiths Alternative Bookstore, Alinga Street, Civic. (Civic is another name for Canberra’s ‘city’ centre – a non-existent thing, really – and the name is intended to contrast with political, governmental, national Canberra.) Hal gave a very thoughtful speech, and I read a few poems, and drank a poetic amount of wine. Senator Nick Xenophon, an independent Senator from South Australia, also read a poem, after he launched the bookstore’s new bar.
(Thanks Lily Mulholland for this photo.)
If you would like to order the book, please go to this page, within the Ginninderra Press site. The first review of the book, by Professor Peter Pierce in The Canberra Times, describes it as ‘droll, intelligent and varied’, which was a very positive thing to read. And totally right, too! Another reviewer, Michael Byrne, states that ‘It is…love for (and embracing of) the different that seems to define Cottier as a poet.’
And in the book’s first international recognition, New Zealand poet and man of letters Tim Jones describes The Cancellation of Clouds as an ‘Australian poetry collection with a distinctively wry yet dark tone and very effective use of long stanzas and densely packed lines.’. All very gratifying, especially hearing I’m more dark wry than white bread…
Now I return you to the real piece that bears the title given above. I originally wrote what follows below back on January 22, 2009, and it still seems a good inclusion for my blog, although I notice a recent trend to write a little more often here than I did originally. For a long time this was the first post the reader saw on my blog, and I only recently allowed it to move away from its ‘sticky’ position on the first page.
In my case, cicadas and tortoises seem apt metaphors for the process of writing. My first book, The Glass Violin, a poetry collection, has just been published by Ginninderra Press. Some of the works in the collection go back twenty years, so the easy option of comparing myself with a tortoise comes to mind. There’s nothing like a good old shell of cliché in which to hide an idea.
Yet I actually write quite quickly. I’ve just been a shocker about trying to have my work published. About a year ago I decided to put an emphasis on seeking publication, and I have been quite fortunate in finding places that liked my work.
Cicadas spend most of their life underground, only emerging after years and years to produce an ear-splitting cacophony. They only live a short while after emergence. As a practising poet, I feel a lot like one of these insects, pushing through editorial mud, but hopefully the process of publication has just begun. I wrote this poem about the vocabulary used for referring to poets as emerging, developing and established:
White, shovel-shaped finger-nails,
rotten smell, the world’s worst bulbs.
Like durian fruit mushrooming,
zombie poets emerge, pushing
through editorial soil, groaning,
after a decade’s slushy stew.
Perhaps some emerge politely,
quaint chicks toothing oval eggs.
Others make neat papier mâché
cocoons from rejections, wait,
then one day, poof! Harlequin
wings, trembly antennae. Most
are born bogongs, banging on
bright lit windows. Any more sir?
(I like to think that my poetry is a little more melodic than the noise of a cicada, although this example is admittedly a little less than elegiac. Incidentally, all poems on this site are by me, unless otherwise indicated.)
This will be a very occasional blog, as this cicada prefers to work on her poetry. It’s always a temptation to bury yourself away, once the soil has been so very comfortable for so long…
And since then, a second book, this time a short collection of short stories:
Both can be ordered from Ginninderra Press, under poetry and fiction respectively.
September 30, 2011
That’s to say this is the first review on this site. Fear not dear discerning blog-lover, I have written quite a number previously. Indeed, my reviewing efforts were once rewarded with the prize of $200 worth of wine by the ACT Writers Centre, as part of their annual awards. That’s what a poet calls ‘Breakfast’. I have the pleasure of judging the same award for book reviewing, sponsored by Z4 wines, this year.
And actually, I’m lying. There is a link here to a review written by a Canberra writer who calls himself or herself Poetix. So the review is not really here at all. I assume Poetix is a Canberra writer as the review of Canberra and Beyond by well known Canberra identity Bill Tully appears on the RiotACT, a Canberra-based discussion site about all things Canberran.
Sometimes you can have just too much Canberra.
For those 99.999% of the world’s population who have no interest in Canberra (which is the capital of Australia, for those overseas who have never heard of it) please enjoy this little poem about the frustrations of astronomy. The night sky differs between the hemispheres, but there are always stars.
Kicking the telescope
All this antic fiddling
when I wanted wonder
injected from you
like a syringe of pure white.
Fingers work, and thumbs,
in order to make a handle
of space, my grip as dumb
as a paralytic’s knee.
Perspicillim, sounds like
a Martian’s green-snot cold.
Ugly tripod, alien crouching,
on those three ungainly legs.
I swing mine to make a fourth.
You bow your one-eyed head.