February 7, 2017
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:
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.)
UPDATE: I just I just found out that the Jaipur Literature Festival is coming to Melbourne! Exciting stuff.
December 13, 2016
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.
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 12, 2016
They had insured
still it was not enough.
They hunched over maps,
consulted climate science.
went with the stroke of a pen:
no possible premium
could insure that level of risk.
why do people choose to build on them?
Bigger floods, more often: gone.
East Coast farmers, eyeball-deep
in debt, haunted by drought,
desperate to irrigate:
you backed the wrong horse.
Low-lying suburbs, factories
built next to streams:
there is no mercy
in insurance. The numbers speak,
and then there is no mercy.
This poem is from Tim Jones’s new book New Sea Land, and deals with the effects of climate change in a particularly effective way, using deliberately simple language to describe a practical effect of rising sea levels. It will become impossible to insure all those ‘desirable beachfront properties’, which may soon require scuba gear for inspection.
Tim’s book envisages the further changes that we may see (alongside those that we are already seeing) due to the global experiment that humanity is performing, without a control world to see if it’s a good idea. The effects on the environment and people, both in his own country of Aotearoa/New Zealand, and worldwide, are the subjects of the book. The changes are envisaged in the very title of the book, with the shift from the words New Zealand to something recognisable, but quite different.
If the book’s topic sounds a little overwhelming, the poems themselves are witty, controlled and moving. As someone who is trying to write on the same issues, without breaking into long and unseemly rants, I recommend this timely book to anyone who is concerned with climate change. (Which is a bit like saying anyone who thinks, really.) Personal history is a concern in New Sea Land as well, notably in poems such as ‘The map’, but this is inextricably linked with questions of the treatment, control and ownership of land.
I have had the pleasure of editing a book with Tim, and is intriguing to see how he has moved his political concerns to the centre of his creative practice with New Sea Land. And what a cover by Claire Beynon, showing a person teetering on a thin rope. Tim’s poems are also attempts to find a way of walking the new landscapes we are creating, where loss and uncertainty surround us all.
New Sea Land is available from the publisher, Mākaro Press, who are producing great books. Here are the details:
Title: New Sea Land
Author: Tim Jones
Publisher: Mākaro Press
July 22, 2016
The delayed launch of Suddenly Curving Space Time was held at Smiths late last night, and it was a memorable one. Gerald Kearney was there, and performers included a band called Shoe or Shoo! (or possibly Choux? says the Francophile), a shakuhachi performance by Barbara, and of course poetry. UPDATE: I see from Bandcamp that the correct spelling is S.H.U.! How’s a person supposed to guess that?
I didn’t get everyone’s full name, but here are some photos of performers, including Brian, who has a really great voice. And Gerald, one of the editors of the book (above and below) also gave a memorable performance.
In honour of the weather that delayed the launch I read a few poems with a climate change and/or weather focus. Despite a few people being unable to make the rescheduled launch (notably the co-editor Hal Judge, though Gerald read one of his poems), it was an event that left me feeling inspired and intoxicated, in a good way.