October 10, 2016
‘…Transient creatures that swarm and multiply…’
Galaxies expanding —
every grass patch blinks
with five hundred petalled suns.
Bees travel between them
mining pollen from stars.
Aliens hover amongst us,
just like us in gold lust
and frantic accumulation.
For us, though,
it’s always spring,
exempt from rumours
of compromising change.
Our ears are buzzing
with far less than bees.
The canals are Martian,
quite epically empty.
The quotation in the title is from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. The quote refers to microscopic creatures, but we shall not quibble. The canals on Mars, exploited in the poem for a pun, turned out to be mere features of topography (Here I must insert a green alien saying ‘That’s what you think!’ followed by a sinister laugh. It’s compulsory.)
Mining anything from stars would be a tad difficult, I know, but I’ll flourish my poetic licence on that one, to any cruising and literal minded traffic cops of the blogosphere.
There’s a great tradition of books about creating a breathable atmosphere on Mars, and I’m also harnessing that to a poem partly about our rabid experimentation with earth’s climate.
It’s amazing where a patch of daisies can lead you!
UPDATE: So the gutless NSW Premier has changed his mind on banning greyhound racing. Cruelty 1, Compassion 0. I’ll be interested to see what the ACT government does in response.
October 3, 2016
Here’s the cover of my new book, Quick bright things: Poems of fantasy and myth. It features an excellent illustration by Paul Summerfield, based on the poem ‘The Laws of Cricket rewritten for the Fairy World’ inside the book. It’s a chapbook, with 28 pages packed full of striking gnomes, somewhat sporty fairies, unpleasant elves, skiving but environmentally responsible goddesses, underachieving ghosts, paisley pitbulls, and similar oddnesses.
I particularly like the see through paper after the front cover (and before the back cover) but you can’t see that here. (A kind of parchment, I think.) It feels great, and adds an appropriate air of mystery to the chapbook. I am celebrating its arrival with a coffee in this photo.
The title, by the way, comes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where Lysander says:
And ere a man hath power to say “Behold!”
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.
The book is available from Ginninderra Press in the Picaro Press imprint. It costs $5 plus postage. Or buy it direct from me if you are in Canberra. I’m thinking about a wee launch for this wee book, although I’ll certainly be selling it at readings before any such potential extravaganza. (The ISBN is 9781760412197, by the way.)
Note that this is not a book intended for really little children, as some of the fantasy creatures are fairly awful. This is my first collection of purely speculative poetry, if we ignore The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, which I edited with Tim Jones. And that is full of Other People’s Poems. Here is the cover in greater detail:
Overseas (or local) buyers can also contact me via the contact form. This is the best option if you’d like to arrange a signed copy.
September 25, 2016
Firstly, if you want to hear me talk about poetry at some length, and read a few poems, please go to the Verity La podcast. Michele Seminara and Alice Allan are the interviewers/fellow discussants, which means that they like hurling questions like flattened orbs, but in a polite kind of way. I am just getting up the courage to listen to myself.
Secondly, I was in a most excellent night at The Salt Room on Friday 23rd September. I was the first reader, armed with lectern, and stayed rooted to the spot, even if my poetry didn’t. I read about fantastic creatures and climate change.
Then came Miranda Lello, who read a long poem, or poetry sequence, called Election Day 2086 (a memoir, a map), which she had written for the reading. She also made a zine specifically for the night. The election described in very grounded in Canberra, but a Canberra that stands as a kind of ghost of the current one. Black Mountain Tower
‘…rises from the forest pointing
To our neo-retro-future selves
Empty for decades beaming signals to the stars –
Stories of school groups’ noisy chattering
The cruelty of children…
She is a great reader/performer, and I enjoyed her travels in time, and the way she recasts the very familiar in a slip of unfamiliarity. She needs no magic call box. Or lectern, either!
Scott Wings also dealt with time, but for me his use of space was the most remarkable thing; his crawling up a tree by lying on the floor, his pacing the room, so that even the shyer people up the back were made part of the performance. If you gave Scott a lectern, I think he’d probably use it in some unexpected way. His work is quite moving, too, dealing with aspects of his life and how he came to poetry. Here we all are:
Joel Barcham and Andrew Galan were their usual form of excellent, too, and I am very happy to have been asked to read at The Salt Room.
Yesterday (and thirdly) I went up to Sydney for the
inagaural first Poetry at Sawmillers reading, and enjoyed the brief taste of the lower north shore. Some really good poetry read and performed, and I’ll post a link to the winner’s poem if it is published. For me, sitting at a local pub with a view of a bay and a bridge, sipping booze was so pleasant I can imagine another poet, say SP (“Sippy”) Cottier, who would miss the reading and simply stay on the terrace, sunning herself like one of the lizards living under the succulents on the deck who have no idea that they have a view worth about 3.5 million dollars.
But I am not that poet, and really enjoyed reading my poem, which I present forthwith:
7 ways to look at a sculpture
Firstly, it seemed a frozen poem,
which I read in different drafts
as I skirted around it.
Then it was time captured,
as if to trap the watchers,
and so release us from fervent rush.
By Wednesday I saw it more
as a mere mirror to catch
any cracked thought I threw at it —
but the next day it restated
its being as a question, set to
disrupt our certainties with what?
Friday, it seemed to push up the sky,
a small, persistent fist clenched
against wind and mess and change —
but this changed on Saturday.
The grass seemed to give birth to it
as tulip, rocket and shining tree,
which unfurled into beauty
on the stretching, languid, seventh day,
an exclamation, an endless ah!
Now I am off to stare at the Verity La site to see if I’m brave enough to listen to me.
***I have also received my new chapbook, and will post about that very soon. That’s a fourthly.
UPDATE: I listened to the podcast and I’m not as inarticulate as I had feared. I particularly like the discussion on ecopoetry and climate change.