Vale Ursula K. Le Guin

January 24, 2018

A wonderful writer just passed away in Portland, Oregon. I’ll never forget puzzling over new views of gender in The Left Hand of Darkness when I was about 10; long before I heard the word ‘gender’. Ursula K. Le Guin introduced me to a disturbing and surprising new world.

Fantasy and many science fiction books seem to have been fed a diet of steroids recently. They seem to grow bigger with each year, as if strength and length were the same thing. But in her often compact books, Ursula K. Le Guin broke down the unnecessary and intellectually inexcusable divisions between ‘serious’ literature and speculative fiction, with thoughtful complexity and beautiful prose.

Her books will live on for a very long time.


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’.


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


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.


She stalks them, device in hand, in a modern bloodless hunt. They hide near buildings, the cute light beings, and she captures them with her e-net. The one she desired most appeared; half hedgehog and half platypus.

‘Great!’ she said. She had been searching just for him. He was king of all the cute light creatures. She lined up the e-net with the furry ball, with his fringe of pink spikes.

The hedgepus pounced, all claws and teeth. He skinned and ate her, with the efficiency that only practice brings. They stalk humans, the light things, and no nets are necessary. Their hunt is not bloodless.

His cuteness returned, with only a few stains on the fur near his mouth. People would assume that he had eaten too many berries. The hedgepus is said to relish the raspberry.

A kidney marked the spot, flung out like confetti.

PS Cottier


This micro story  was highly commended in the Microfiction category of the Fellowship of Australian Writers National Awards for 2016, just announced.  (I’ve edited it a little since then.)  I also won another category, called the ‘How-Tweet-It-Is Poetry Award’.  I won’t post that one, though, as I have submitted it for publication Elsewhere.  That second award allowed me to try out a poem short enough for Twitter, without joining that foul and parasitic ‘conversation’.

I also enjoy writing the occasional wee story, like the one above, safe from the constraints of character.  And often plot… Prose poetry morphs into story quicker than seagulls wolf chips.

Very happy to be highly commended for a tiny horror story, too.

Next week, I promise fewer internal organs, and even a different image.


I feel almost forced to reflect, like a cross between Narcissus and the kid in that eye device in Clockwork Orange.


I leg pressed 200kg, which is pretty damned good.
Lots of publications. Lots!
My chapbook Quick Bright Things came out.
I did more live readings this year.
I was highly commended in many a poetry competition, which is winning’s peculiar cousin, sitting in the corner playing endless games on his device.

Not so achievey:

I spent too much time worrying about the news, and letting it affect me.
My budgie won’t talk.
My canaries won’t sing.



I don’t do resolutions, partly based on the fact that I heard two very fit people at the gym sneering at those they called ‘the resolutionists’, who join in January and are never seen after February.

But I will continue with the poeting, the gym, and letting the budgie teach me budgie. And this blog will continue as long as blogging is a thing, and Tuesdays exist.  Back to Tuesdays after the celebrations end.

Happy New Year, and easy on the Rabbie Burns!

That’s a link to a very nice appreciation of my chapbook Paths Into Inner Canberra, written by Ian Warden. He is kind enough to write that:

‘She writes poetically, deftly and quirkily. The needle on my highly sensitive cliche-detector didn’t flicker once during my reading.’

Lovely stuff! I write hoping that I may surprise a few readers with an image or a reflection, and it is gratifying to read that this was the case with Ian Warden. Here is the cover, with a photograph by Geoffrey Dunn:
paths cover

The book can be purchased from me (for those who ride bikes/drink too much coffee at cafes), from Book Lore, Lyneham, in Canberra, or from the publisher, Ginninderra Press. It is $4 (plus postage, if you order online). It is a prose essay with two poems.

It snowed yesterday in Canberra, so I was not on my bike. Snow is an occasional surprise here, and everyone was armed with their smartphones to record the phenomenon of cold dandruff. It has never settled on the collar of the pavement, though, that I can remember.