April 27, 2013
I was thinking about the different ways of being in groups as I went to Conflux today; how some people plunge into things like, say, the Australian swimming team at the Olympics, whereas some of us are always at the side, looking on. Are we just frightened of being hurt? Of drowning? Or of attempting the social butterfly, and performing the dog-paddle?
I like a chat, but choke on gossip;
threads of conversation become barbed wire
glutted inside fairy floss.
Sometimes I despise my comparative lack of conviviality, despite my ability to make excellent small talk:
Small talk so fine
that the Higgs Bosun
can’t find a trace
And yet, you can look on things and still feel engaged; exchange truly well-meant pleasantries. Sometimes reticence is no bad thing, but another way of saying that the other person matters. I’m having a great time, but more in my own head than anywhere else.
So, just a quieter time than some. Here’s that picture of the hat again; I think the Victorian expression should be noted. All I need is my embroidery, or its modern equivalent, the smartphone.
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.