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.

Highly cool doings

December 17, 2015

award writers centre

At the ACT Writers Centre Christmas Party earlier tonight, The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry edited by Tim Jones and myself, was highly commended in the Poetry category of the Publishing Awards. The winner was John Stokes, whose collection Fire in the Afternoon is quietly brilliant. Congratulations John!

Shortly after that photo was taken, I felt I had to get home and rest. I have had a strange and emotionally intense week, as one of my dogs (the idiotic Staffie) managed to eat bones without actually chewing, necessitating urgent vet action. $1000 later, she is nearly better. Our credit card is also exhausted.

I want to write a serious article about the morality of pet ownership some time, somewhere. But that time is definitely not tonight, as I sup and sip and pat the dog who has yet to learn that bones must be chewed, as she is not actually a crocodile, despite the ludicrous strength of her jaws.  She will never be offered another bone though!

Close up of the certificate, in case one image is not enough. The judges were Michele Seminara and Tim Metcalf:

UPDATE:  This is a link to the official announcements and the judges’ reports in all categories.

So as the year drags its poxy old carcass towards December, waiting to be reborn, I thought I’d have a bit of a think on what I’ve done this year in terms of writing. If that is likely to bore the intellectual beeves from your brain’s corral, please scroll down to the end, where there be a poem.

Firstly, the list is not all settled as the anthology edited by Tim Jones and myself has been nominated for the poetry category in the ACT Publishing Awards, run by the ACT Writers Centre.


The awards are to be given out in the lovely old building that is now the Gorman Arts Centre, on the 17th, as people sip wine and nibble on cheese.  Or, in some people’s cases, spurn cheese and guzzle wine.  I’ll update on those results.

Here’s some other stuff I did this year. Some future publications (accepted but not announced) do not appear:

P.S. Cottier’s stuff in 2015

Poem ‘Canberra’ accepted for Capitals anthology, edited Abhay K. To be published in 2015.  Now 2016.

Poems ‘Lord A of Yarralumla’, ‘Bike ride at night’, ‘A good end’ and ‘The smell of heaven’ published in Eureka Street, Volume 25 No 2, 9th February 2015. ‘A good end’ also published in Global Pulse, ‘edited in Rome, produced in Thailand’.

Poem ‘A lively discussion over the merits of flash fiction’ published Antipodean SF, issue 200, February 2015, along with reprint of ‘Prickly Green’. Recording of latter on radio show, March 2015.

Shortlisted Thiel Grant for online writing, March 2015 for proposal to write weekly piece on Frankenstein and Mary Shelley.

Report on Banjo Paterson Festival for Australian Poetry website, March 2015. (I performed a poem at the competition in Orange in February.)

Reading, Folk Dance Association of ACT, March 2015.

Poems ‘Cockatoos’ ‘All the blond Jesuses’ ‘The chicken in Autumn’ ‘A gecko in Canberra’ published in The House is Not Quiet and The World is Not Calm: Poetry from Canberra, edited Geoff Page and Kit Kelen, China, 2015.

Poem ‘After hours in the op shop’ republished in Rhysling Anthology, 2015, USA

Pocket book Paths into Inner Canberra published by Ginninderra Press, March 2015 in ‘Pocket Places’ series.

Adelaide Plains Poets Inc Poetry Competition 2014/15 ‘CLIMATE’ theme, awarded second prize for ‘Circular’. Judge Shelley Hansen.

‘Miles and beyond’ published Eye to the Telescope, Issue 16, on ‘Music’ theme, edited Diane Severson Mori, April 2015. (USA)

Tanka ‘without you’ published All You Need is Love, ed Amelia Fielden, April 2015.

‘Fire haiku’ published in Flood, Fire and Drought, ed Hazel Hall et al May 2015

Poem ‘The fruit of her hands’ published Midnight Echo, no 11, edited Kaaron Warren, April 2015. Also column on poetry, called ‘Writing with the Left Hand: P.S. Cottier discusses the sinister side of poetry’.

Article; ‘Crafty poet seeks words’ in ACTWrite, May 2015 (How I write)

Article ‘Literary competitions: Better than the pokies?’ (retitled ‘An accountant of dreams’) Overland Blog, May 2015

MS ‘ “Impressed upon me even more deeply”; Reflections of the monster’ judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Amy Hilhorst, work & tumble’s letter press chapbook competition, June 2015

Reading, Manning Clark House, June 2015 (30 minutes)

Highly commended inaugural Interstellar poetry award, June 2015 for ‘We are all working our way up, towards the birds’

Poem ‘Carrying an injury’ Verity La, June 2015

Poem ‘Route 9’ awarded third prize Australian Catholic University Poetry Prize 2015 on theme Peace Tolerance and Understanding, judged Kevin Hart and published in book of theme name, August 2015.

‘Shellac’ republished in Dwarf Stars Anthology, USA, 2015, edited John Amen.

Book Review Timelord Dreaming by David P Reiter published SMH 1-7 (on-line) Canberra Times 1-8 (print)

‘Soft-sacks for total relaxation’ (story) published Antipodean SF, August 2015. Also recorded for radio show. Broadcast November 7.

Book Review Growing Older Without Feeling Old: On Vitality and Ageing by Rudi Westendorp published The CT, August 8 2015

Two poems ‘The rules of cricket rewritten for the fairy world’ and ‘All the ships of the world’ published Eureka Street, Volume 25 No 15, 10 August 2015

‘At the Lifeline Bookfair’ Canberra Times, 19 September 2015

First Place Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, New England Writers Centre, 2015, published Armidale Express and the NEWC website. Judge Les Murray.

Highly Commended FAWQ Poetry Competition, November 2015 ‘The sounds of dying’

‘Secondary ghosts’ published Australian Poetry Journal, Volume 5 Issue 2, November 2015, edited Michael Sharkey.

‘A hard poem to market’ published Cordite ‘Toil’ edition (52) edited Carol Jenkins, 1 November 2015

‘Remembering Laika’ published in A Quiet Shelter There: An Anthology to Benefit Homeless Animals, ed Gerri Lean, Hadley Rille Books (US)

Solo reading/discussion Smith’s Alternative, November 2, 2015. That Poetry Thing That Is On At Smith’s Every Other Monday.

Poem ‘Three ways to look at crochet’ accepted for The Canberra Times, September 2016 (!)


I feel I’ve been quite busy this year, and I am particularly pleased with the wee book Paths Into Inner Canberra, which combines prose and poetry.  On the other hand, I should be sending out full length manuscripts here and there, but just want to write more individual poems at the moment.

I’ve been doing a few readings, and did my first solo one at Smith’s in November.  I particularly enjoyed being interviewed by Norm de Plume (Josh Inman) who is back in Canberra after defecting to Sydney.

Sydernee and Melbourne are both easier places to be a poet, it seems to me, (cos bigger and nearer to more publishers) and harder, in that it is easier to slip into anonymity there (cos bigger and more poets).  But definitely, those of us in the provinces need to be a little noisier to be noticed and acknowledged, I think.  Hard for the shy and retiring!  Or those who find Facebook and Twitter unbearable, anyway, such as your constant blogger.

Here’s a wee poem after all this egregious seeveeing.  (Which is like emceeing but even more ego driven.)  About climate change and monsters, which are frequent companions in my work this year:

Full stomp

It’s coming —
stomp! stomp! stomp!
down the roads of your town
or city or village or Tokyo style
megalopolis. Or isle now all swamp —
splash splash splash splash!
Roaring and slapping buildings
like the cheeks
of a thousand hysterical women
in chap rich 50s Westerns.
Stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp!
It is silver as a can,
silver as the idea of an automobile
before we (forget Tokyo)
realised that petrol had a price. Or gas,
as the Americans say —
fart fart stomp fart fart.
Godzilla on steroids
(for we shall use Japan when it suits us)
it turns its awful face towards us!
The face seems so familiar!
It breathes out the thick air
of a million hangovers!
Its cheeks have warts like silver hubcaps,
flung onto the highways of its cheeks!
I am the Anthroposaurus, it says.
Look upon me and weep!
Its voice is as subtle as its step,
subtle as this poem’s drear
(Full stomp.)

P.S. Cottier


oral hygiene and the dragon

In many ways, this blog is my favourite creation, and thanks to all my readers for being part of it.

Other Tuesday Poems can be found here.

Its’ a beautifull

thing to see proper grammar like what beerded Oxford dons’ would write but in the stile of Australia, all sun-bronzed and layed-back and life-savery. I love to see apostrophes’ swimming like little pods’ of dolphins’, near sees’ of expectation points and colons’ semi-twisted like lickety-licorishes’, all hang on; lets’ go and sea. Expectation marks are natures little wake up calls never use one when seven is possible!!! Or three. If you are unsure, its’ a good rule of thumbs’ to use apostrophes’. They pinch the reader, little crabby claws’ at the end of words’ to wake him up. Or her two. Spellings’ important, but apostrophes’ maketh the prose zing; unzip it’s full potenshal almost a Brazilian wax all nice and neat and proprietry like Auntie Sadies’ famous unsean special scones’ with cream.

P.S. Cottier

I wrote this for the ACT Writers Centre magazine ACTWrite, for a special edition on editing and grammar. So successful was my effort that the Centre was approached by a person who teaches editing at the Canberra Insitute of Technology for use in her course as an example of something that really needs editing. Of course I gave permission to use it, with the proviso that students be told that I am in fact literate.

Honestly, I am. Im a Docter of Filosofy.

It is so hard to write that badly. I notice that I still spelt Australia correctly. And grammar. And cream. Sigh.

Now, for properly punctuated poems of awl sorts’, please click on this feather:Tuesday Poem

First review! Plus stars!

September 30, 2011

That’s to say this is the first review on this site. Fear not dear discerning blog-lover, I have written quite a number previously. Indeed, my reviewing efforts were once rewarded with the prize of $200 worth of wine by the ACT Writers Centre, as part of their annual awards. That’s what a poet calls ‘Breakfast’.  I have the pleasure of judging the same award for book reviewing, sponsored by Z4 wines, this year.

And actually, I’m lying. There is a link here to a review written by a Canberra writer who calls himself or herself Poetix. So the review is not really here at all. I assume Poetix is a Canberra writer as the review of Canberra and Beyond by well known Canberra identity Bill Tully appears on the RiotACT, a Canberra-based discussion site about all things Canberran.

Sometimes you can have just too much Canberra.

For those 99.999% of the world’s population who have no interest in Canberra (which is the capital of Australia, for those overseas who have never heard of it) please enjoy this little poem about the frustrations of astronomy.  The night sky differs between the hemispheres, but there are always stars.

Kicking the telescope

All this antic fiddling

when I wanted wonder

injected from you

like a syringe of pure white.

Fingers work, and thumbs,

in order to make a handle

of space, my grip as dumb

as a paralytic’s knee.

Perspicillim, sounds like

a Martian’s green-snot cold.

Ugly tripod, alien crouching,

on those three ungainly legs.

I swing mine to make a fourth.

You bow your one-eyed head.

P.S. Cottier