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.
January 30, 2017
Moderately threatening bird
Between budgie and hawk
you flutter your mild wings,
which still cause wee jumps
in heart rate or blood pressure －
more wallaby than pole vault.
You don’t pick eyes out
like ravens of ill repute
(though I’ve always been partial
to those most Victorian birds).
You don’t trade messages with the dead,
or lead the undead back to tossed bed
of sea doona, or semen sheet.
Yet you are somewhat disquieting,
with your cleverness beyond our control.
So we clip your wings, and ignore
the unclipped birds flocking in our heads.
Ideas swarm like sparrows
and each one is falling into dread.
Something weird is happening with that poem’s formatting, in that it won’t let me insert a proper em dash, just a hyphen. Moderately threatening glitches/your less successful witches/wedged in the keyboard like sandwich ham. (Said witches also make you experiment with Instant Poetry, which is A Truly Dangerous Thing.)
For those in Canberra, I’ll be doing a reading at University House next week, Wednesday 8th of February. This is the series that used to be at The Gods, and the other readers are Chloe Wilson and Keith Harrison. You can eat there before, should you wish, from 6pm, and the readings start at 7.30pm, in the Drawing Room. It costs $5 for the unwaged and $10 for those with gainful employment. (Otherwise called Not Full-time Poets.)
I’ll be reading my usual mix of poems about elves, and poems with a serious political slant. Often both exist in the same poems. I sometimes think I should do a collection called Fairies of Social Realism Playing Football on Mars. Or perhaps I already did.
The new year is finally picking up, and I have had news of a couple of forthcoming publications, which I shall post about soon, witches permitting.
January 10, 2017
Corrugations echo with cluck,
the occasional illicit crow,
ear-pecked neighbours pick fights;
shrill voices make 6 a.m. alarms.
Frosted into internal mush,
harder shell of fallen white,
strawberries mimic the avid snails
munching them like Frenchmen.
Orange peel, meat and coffee
strewn on sacred stewing mounds
create decomposition. Disbelief
that she knows so little, cares less.
An old poem this one, and I don’t think it’s been published anywhere before.
In Canberra the bigger backyards tend to be in the innermost suburbs, although many old houses on big blocks are being demolished for units. So many a chicken scratches within a few kilometres of Parliament House. (Insert manure joke at will.)
Happy new year, by the way.
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 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.