Tuesday poem: On editing

September 11, 2017

awaw2017.jpg

Irma Gold has written a thoughtful piece about writing her story ‘The Line’ that appears in this year’s Award Winning Australian Writing.

My poem in this book, which covers both prose and poetry, is three lines in length, although I did not write it as a ‘real’ haiku. It won a contest for a poem in 50 characters or less, which means that the emphasis was on what was not spoken as much as the words that appeared. Editing and writing become virtually inseparable when the poem is so short.

I took the ‘How Tweet It Is’ title of the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ contest literally and wrote a poem called ‘The Cat’s New Beard’ which is not in the least bird-friendly. It’s about a cat eating a bird. I won’t post it here, as the book just came out, and I can’t really post an extract of a tiny poem. But here’s another short poem about the process of editing a wee poem about a bird.

Plucking words
too many feathers —
bantam or robin?

Now a bantam is bigger than a robin, just as Batman is bigger than the Boy Wonder, so robin is probably the better option.

I am enjoying reading the book, which contains everything from evocative stories (Irma) to dead canaries (me). Why not purchase one? The editor is Pia Gaardboe.

This little story was the winner of the RedBeard Bakery 50 Words Microfiction Competition, at the Words in Winter Festival, Trentham, Victoria. It is up by link on the Word in Winter site, but I thought I’d post in here now. Prize winning entries in the other categories can be read here. The story had to be exactly 50 words long; hence the rather clipped tone! The theme was ‘Origins’.

Fittest

It was hidden in the op shop, behind fifteen copies of Fifty Shades. First edition Darwin. Original Origin.

He grabbed it from me, paid $5, and ran. I followed, did only what was necessary, and reclaimed the book.

It sold for £100,000.

That’s only fitting, if you think about it.

PS Cottier

murder

I also have a micro-poem just published in Award Winning Australian Poetry (Melbourne Books) which is being launched in Melbourne on the 30th August, at the Athenaeum Library in Collins Street, at 6pm. I went last year and it was a great launch.

So, after two micro awards, I’m obviously getting big in a small way. I received $200 in vouchers from a great bakery in Trentham for the story, which probably works out at a large roll a word, and will have to drive down and stuff myself some glorious and calorific day.

***
And on another note, over at Overland there’s an extended debate about whether ‘bush poetry’ deserves to be included in ‘Best of’ collections. I find it fascinating how this sort of debate tends to attract so many more men more than women; what is it about definitions and certainties? But, anyway, here’s my less than serious contribution.

Mayweather v McGregor was more entertaining
than trying to know poetry by explaining.

It’s all so pugnacious.
(Is rhyming contagious?)

Next week: post-structuralism summarised in a limerick, and semiotics in a haiku.

***
And on yet another, far less frivolous note, send a thought to the home of real haiku, who just had a missile sent over their northern island.

This one is via a link to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, site.   If you scroll right down the page you will find a free PDF anthology to download, full of excellent poems about plants.  The anthology is called New Shoots, and was created by Red Room Poetry, Rochford Street Review, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

wattle et moi

My poem, at page 50, is called ‘The Cootamundra Wattle’, and here’s a somewhat coy looking poet peeping out from behind a wattle last year.  The anthology is really worth a look, and hopefully, a printed copy will also appear at a later date.

I am very happy to have my first publication in India.

The poem ‘Canberra’ appears in the book Capitals, edited by Abhay K.  The anthology contains poems about nearly all of the world’s capital cities, and is published by Bloomsbury, India.  I came across this YouTube film of the book being launched recently at the Jaipur Literature Festival, by Ruth Padel:

Canberra is represented by two poems; the other one is by Michelle Cahill, which I am hanging out to read.  So we’re really writing above our weight division in terms of population, particularly as Oceania is merged with Asia in the book.

I am very much looking forward to receiving my contributor’s copy.  Here is the cover, which is stompingly cool:

cover-image-of-capitals-3

I responded to a call-out for poems for the anthology on the Australian Poetry website, and feel honoured to be included with my mild little poem about Canberra.  Poets in the anthology include Ms Padel, the late Mahmoud Darwish, Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva and Derek Walcott.  Just shows that you should always submit a poem if the project interests you. You have nothing to lose but your quatrains, as Marx didn’t say.

Most of all though, I’m delighted to be published in India, which is home to the world’s second largest number of speakers of English.  It makes a welcome change from Oz or the USA.  My poems are becoming much more well-travelled than I am!  (I’m usually beyond rapt when I do a reading in Melbourne or Sydney.)

The book can be ordered through Amazon India, from late April, according to that site, or from Bloomsbury, also in April.  No doubt it will be available elsewhere as well.

UPDATE: I just I just found out that the Jaipur Literature Festival is coming to Melbourne!  Exciting stuff.

paths cover

Very happy that my wee book Paths Into Inner Canberra has been short-listed in the non-fiction category of the ACT Writers Centre Publishing Awards.  Last year the book I edited with Tim Jones called The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry was highly commended in the poetry category, which is a different kettle of aliens.

The photo by Geoffrey Dunn above shows me pedalling vigorously (or coasting) between genres.  Of course, poetry often describes the world in all its maddening detail from a slightly different perspective.  Slant, as one Ms Dickinson put it.  So rather than speaking of the bike-path running between poetry and non-fiction, perhaps we should picture two lanes separated by a weirdly curving, vivid orange line.  Poetry as high-vis non-fiction?  Non-fiction as poetry elongated into paragraphs?  Mmm, I think I need to do a bit more thinking from under my invisible helmet.

I’m afraid I haven’t read the other non-fiction books nominated.  Here is a link to all the nominations.  I have read the two poetry collections nominated, and they are both excellent.

Looking forward to the announcement on Thursday, and I am more than happy that a book that retails for $4 (plus postage) has made it to the short-list.   Makes an excellent alternative to the type of Christmas card in which Santa hovers over the chimneys like a rum-filled Hindenburg.

My new poetry collection, Quick Bright Things: Poems of Fantasy and Myth, marks a return to fairies. But often rather unpleasant ones, not so far removed from reality.  It is also available at that link.

UPDATE: 16-12  Very happy that Paths received a Highly Commended at the awards last night. Building a City – C.S. Daley and the Story of Canberra by Jennifer Horsfield was the winner in this category, and well done to her.