August 22, 2016
I apologise profusely for no original poem today. I am a tad busy at the moment.
Thursday 25th at 7.30, I am reading poetry at Manning Clark House, Tasmania Circle, Griffith. Many of the poems will have first been published on this very blog, or at Project 365 + 1. I will be reading for about 30 minutes, as will Hazel Hall, the other reader. There is an entry fee of $10, I think, which covers wine, some small items of food and the wee literary stuff.
On 27th August (Saturday) I’ll be moderating a discussion on The Poetics of Politics, at the National Library of Australia (a big building by the lake). The immoderators/speakers are Lizz Murphy and Susan Hawthorne, and it happens at 12pm, just after a launch of novelist Kaaron Warren’s new book, The Grief Hole, at the very same library at 11am.
On the 31st August I’ll be going to the launch of Award Winning Australian Writing in Melbourne, and reading a poem, and then attending the announcement of the Australian Catholic University Poetry Competition results the next day. I am short-listed for that, but I don’t think I won a prize this year, for various reasons. Still, they produce a really nice collection of poems short-listed in the competition.
Then I will hopefully get some writing done. Plus I’ll soon be proofreading a new chapbook of poems. More about that later.
August 15, 2016
A short wander through the head of a poet
‘I am finding a lot of this poeting business is learning how to hack your own thinking.’ (SB Wright)
Axing myself near every day
with nouns like blades
or is that the verbs,
sneaking and executing
behind my weary back?
Adverbs are the worst,
obviously, and I try
to expel them from thought.
Does a bear? Does a bear?
It doesn’t work, naturally.
My head is a jungle
of the old Tarzan sort,
and even a cunning machete
won’t clear a way,
despite avid hacking,
and the sticky tape I use
to reattach feckless fingers.
I will staple a handy volume
to my brow, perhaps
one that tells how
to write truth slant,
like Dickinson E,
and to be picaresque,
and appropriately Byronic.
A coupling that, of itself,
will cause sparks to leap
as if one were to jump start
an elderly ute gone bad.
Now, where are my cables?
Is this an Allen key
I see before me?
Statbadgers of the world unite!
Pick up your tongues like sticks,
and lick the befuddlement of brains
from cracked and gnarly windows.
SB Wright is a poet who, this year, is detailing the process of writing and learning more about poetry at his blog. It is well worth a look. He is far more honest about the struggle involved in writing than many of us, particularly when it comes to how he manages a ‘real job’ (my words) while trying to write. He posts actual numbers, written by helpful Statbadgers for those who like that type of thing.
Occasionally he also posts one of the results of these struggles, aka a poem, and he frequently directs you to poems by others, or books and talks about poetics. (Poetics is like choreography, but involves people who are a lot more clumsy.)
SB Wright is not plagued by adverbs in his poetry, incidentally. That was poetic licence.
August 13, 2016
I just had a long review posted at Verity La, of a book called Backlash: Australia’s Conflict of Values over Live Exports by Bidda Jones and Julian Davies. I love writing for Verity La, as it published both great poetry (modesty doesn’t prevent me…) and long form reviews. Check it out.
August 9, 2016
He wouldn’t know a poem…
…if it had a business card that said A. Poem
(‘read me and weep’) which it presented to him
while waving a bright purple beret under his nose
(which organ is unable to detect the whiff of poesy)
while reciting itself, excitedly or coolly,
while pouring itself a sixth large glass of wine
(which would be hard, because of clutched beret and card case,
except that it would first return the beret to its poeting head,
at such an interesting angle, and would put the card case back
in a voluminous tote bag, full of its brother and sister poems
gathered into slim books which are now remaindered)
while squatting and shitting lines of the purest gold.
He just wouldn’t know it,
for what it seems to be.
Now I could have the heading ‘nasty little poem’ for that but I’ve become a tad bored with that self-generated meme.
I’m been working on a little manuscript of fantasy poems at the moment; more about that anon. Speaking of that type of thing, there’s a nice competition on at the moment, run by the Science Fiction Poetry Association in the US, for poems of all lengths written in a speculative genre (fantasy, horror, science fiction etc.). If you write such things, why not have a go? It is only $2 (that’s the ‘somewhat more valuable than the Australian $ at the moment, but we’ll see after their election, American $’) to enter. You don’t have to be a member of the SFPA to enter (I am a member), and it would be lovely to have more Antipodean entries.
It closes at the end of the month, and entries can be lodged on-line.
August 2, 2016
Turn away from the night.
Too much freedom is implied.
Trap stars in flags, pin them down,
render them national, bordered,
an angular abacus to figure normality.
Adorn children’s essays with thin
gold paper star stickers.
Wonder is juvenilia that we must
grow to despise, jettison
like milk teeth swapped for coin.
Yet those million suns, flickering
light sirens, keep calling, ululating.
Day demands in clear clipped diction
that we make work’s timed rituals
the sum of all equations. From such
abbreviation, each star whispers
turn away, turn to me,
turn to me, and turn away.
I can’t remember if this has been published before; it’s not on my List, so probably not. There’s going to be a lot of flag waving soon at the Olympics (and, of course, in the final grim push to the US elections) so it seemed appropriate.
My poem ‘Criminals who are no longer criminals’ has been included in this year’s Award Winning Australian Writing, which included poems and prose that have previously been awarded first place in a literary competition (as you can probably read on the cover). The annual is published by Melbourne Books, and I’ll be going down for the launch late this month and reading the poem, which will be fun.
The poem qualified as it was placed first in the Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, organised by the New England Writers Centre, and it is concerned with the definition of crime changing over time. It also has a speculative element, as there are ghosts involved.
I believe that the current Thunderbolt Prize is still open for entries: check out the rules and categories here.