April 18, 2013
Horror novelist Kaaron Warren, who is not at all horrible, has just posted a short poem of mine on her blog, with a Very Snappy Title:
‘A Short Poem Inspired by Two Shopping Lists Found Hidden Inside a Cookbook Purchased at the Lifeline Bookfair by Kaaron Warren, Novelist, March 2013′.
That word snappy is a very bad joke, which you will not understand unless you look at the poem. Here’s the link: http://kaaronwarren.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/refreshing-the-wells-20/
Kaaron’s novel Slights is really truly scary, and I recommend you chase it up. It is horror in a true sense.
The woman herself is the Special Guest at the Conflux SF convention next week in Canberra, and I hope to hear her read and perform on panels there. Here is the Conflux link: http://conflux.org.au/ This is the Australian national science fiction convention this year.
I hear there is a poet reading too, but that may just be a rumour…
April 9, 2013
Ten million green commas punctuate blue sky,
quick breaths of swooping wonder, multiplied.
Water-hole is your target; liquid rope pulls you
and the whole emerald sky is diving,
as miniature bodies scoop down to pool.
Your individual markings have taken you
further than native flight; outside the Louvre
I saw you, cold, trying to break in, as pointillist
as Pissarro, but so acrylic in your finish.
Proud but damp escapee from French balcony,
regretting the lost seed and the found liberty.
Plump and fresh, I have heard you were good eating,
a winging fast food charred to a turn;
as far from stringy battery chook as fingers in the fire.
Most know you singly: whistling in cages,
bowing and bobbing, rattling plastic mirrors.
Driven mad you ring and ring chink-chinky bells
or make love to that hard, hard-to-get reflection.
What joy to see you
just once, as you swoop,
one stitch amongst the tapestry,
a blade of grass in feathered turf carpet,
transforming dreary waterside
with that fallen sward of Eire.
Swift dragon of twenty million wings,
fluorescing with your simple, beak-filled joys.
I wrote this poem quite a while back, but haven’t found the right place for it. Until now! Budgerigars live in huge numbers in inland Australia. Apparently they are our most successful animal export (excluding the woolly things). They are, I assume, no longer exported, but their proclivity for breeding makes them the world’s most popular cage bird. I’m sure they’d rather be back in the wild, if birds were capable of such choices.
For further poetry, click this feather, which is most definitely not that of a budgie:
March 18, 2013
Today I edit the main blog post of Tuesday Poem, and it’s a wonderful work by Hal Judge that takes centre stage. Click this feather to read his poem:
On Sunday I drove out to Yass, about 50 minutes from Canberra, where the inaugural Yass Show Poetry competition was held. I had entered a poem in the adult contemporary written category; a free verse poem about Banjo Paterson who lived in Yass as a child, and later in his life.
There was also a bush poetry section, a performance section, a children’s section, and an open mic. We read next to the exhibit of prize wool clips, and the smell of the wool permeated the readings. Here I am with Lizz Murphy, who lives at Binalong in the Yass Valley, and who has had many books of poetry published:
Sorry about the light in that photo! I am doing my best impression of a drunken owl, too, although not a dram had been taken.
I was a little nervous reading my free verse poem in a rural setting, but it was well received, and the judge, Robyn Cadwallader, was kind enough to have awarded me first prize in the written section. I listened to her very thorough judge’s report after winning and took in about 5% of what she said; I hope I get a chance to read the report. Here I am leaving the stage after reading:
Thank you to another Robyn, Robyn Sykes, for organising the event.
UPDATE: Robyn Sykes sent me a copy of the judge’s report before this was posted. Will read it at my leisure.
Transferred to head office
They slip into green spaces curved
to double-headed infinity’s
dizzying, snaking, roundabout sign.
Young chameleons adapt,
quite emerald in their ambition.
Friends at home write and write;
and then the letters cease.
The transferred are erased,
slowly disappear by degrees.
Colours leach from former lives,
transfused into memory.
Letters after their names
brought them to the suburban
Babel of BAs, this civil, know-all
vacant town. Transparent,
buried in clean clear air,
they float up into cloudless nothing.
Ghosts rustle like dead glass leaves.
When I first arrived in Canberra about twenty years ago (!) I hated it. I was desperately unhappy in my job, and after inner city Melbourne, it seemed peculiarly barren. This is reflected in my poem, first published in a chapbook produced by the ACT Writers Centre. When I find my copy I’ll add the date.
Now I find there are more arts and writing related things to do than I can possibly manage, and the beauty of the place strikes me every day. Cockatoos in inner city streets. Kangaroos in inner city nature parks. Little pollution, although, with the spread of hideous new suburbs, we are working on this.
I no longer care about the ignorant slurs of people from other States or countries about Canberra. Slurs to which I once added my own sneers. I have fallen in love. Which is not to say I am enamoured with every aspect of the current Centenary Celebrations in this city, some of which are so beyond daggy that they would make a sheep blush.
But as I rode my bike through inner city Canberra yesterday on purpose made bike-paths, under a very clear and blue sky, I thought that this is, indeed, peculiarly pretty. I came across a tree decorated with fly-swats. No explanation as to who or why. It is that quiet quirkiness that I love about Canberra.
There are no flies on Canberra, I thought, trying to put myself into the mind of the person who had decorated the casuarina tree in this way. Although that is an exaggeration, for every city has its problems. But there are relatively few in this little metropolis, which is partially explained by its being the capital of a wealthy, developed country intent on selling its minerals overseas like the world was ending tomorrow…
And perhaps we’re all just slightly mad here, caught between the great normality of suburbia and the ritualistic weirdness of the bureaucracy. There are a surprising number of artists and poets and musicians in Canberra, holding up the creative weirdness end of the seesaw against the very beige lumpenmiddleclass. Or do we hold the seesaw down?
Today, Tuesday 12th March, is Canberra’s 100th birthday. Of course, there were people here long before that date; long before Europeans. But 100 years ago, the city of Canberra was officially founded, and given its name. I think it is the only major city in Australia that has a non-Anglo name, let alone one that refers to Indigenous people. (No offence, Wagga Wagga.) All those years the name of the capital was whispering of previous ownership, even before we admitted that the country had been previously occupied!
Happy birthday, Canberra. You are now my home. Once all the celebrations die down, I’ll post a loving poem about you.
Next week I’m posting the poem for the hub position at that link, and it’s a poem you really should read, by another poet who lives in Canberra.
February 5, 2013
‘…a lock of Jane Austen’s hair has just sold at auction for £5,640 (on today’s exchange, that’s AU$11,640.73)….’
The Australian Writers’ Marketplace blog, June 24th, 2008. A photo of the hair appears in The Guardian, June 2nd. It has been shaped into the crude representation of a tree.
Do they stroke it with avid fingers, this palm tree lock
that once grew from the full head of quietest genius?
Scalping would be too much, headhunting too tropical
but buying the hair of a dead woman you can’t know
is quite the thing. Your age, Jane, would craft sad crap
like this weeping whale-spout from bits of loved ones,
so willowy wrists were always kissed by absent lips,
dead, or gone to Australia. Perhaps the buyer loves
your wit and grace, balanced like a cat walking over
a bark of craning dogs; the way your corseted matter
could expand beyond tight binding without showing
the pumping. Or perhaps your dead snips are stalked
by modern zombies of celebrity, shameless and bloody.
A bit like Bath, but bigger. Personally, I blame the BBC.
Two hundred years since Pride and Prejudice this year, and I thought it was appropriate to post this little poem (first published in Eureka Street and then in The Cancellation of Clouds) about the author. I hate those BBC dramas where the clothes seem to be the main feature. Austen’s strength was her prose style, not her embroidery.
Tap this quill and be taken to a site where many poems appear: