Firstly, if you want to hear me talk about poetry at some length, and read a few poems, please go to the Verity La podcast.  Michele Seminara and Alice Allan are the interviewers/fellow discussants, which means that they like hurling questions like flattened orbs, but in a polite kind of way.  I am just getting up the courage to listen to myself.

Secondly, I was in a most excellent night at The Salt Room on Friday 23rd September.  I was the first reader, armed with lectern, and stayed rooted to the spot, even if my poetry didn’t.  I read about fantastic creatures and climate change.

Then came Miranda Lello, who read a long poem, or poetry sequence, called Election Day 2086 (a memoir, a map), which she had written for the reading.  She also made a zine specifically for the night.  The election described in very grounded in Canberra, but a Canberra that stands as a kind of ghost of the current one.  Black Mountain Tower

‘…rises from the forest pointing
To our neo-retro-future selves
Empty for decades beaming signals to the stars –
Stories of school groups’ noisy chattering
The cruelty of children…

She is a great reader/performer, and I enjoyed her travels in time, and the way she recasts the very familiar in a slip of unfamiliarity. She needs no magic call box. Or lectern, either!

Scott Wings also dealt with time, but for me his use of space was the most remarkable thing; his crawling up a tree by lying on the floor, his pacing the room, so that even the shyer people up the back were made part of the performance.  If you gave Scott a lectern, I think he’d probably use it in some unexpected way.  His work is quite moving, too, dealing with aspects of his life and how he came to poetry.  Here we all are:

salt-room

Joel Barcham and Andrew Galan were their usual form of excellent, too, and I am very happy to have been asked to read at The Salt Room.

Yesterday (and thirdly) I went up to Sydney for the  inagaural  first Poetry at Sawmillers reading, and enjoyed the brief taste of the lower north shore.  Some really good poetry read and performed, and I’ll post a link to the winner’s poem if it is published.  For me, sitting at a local pub with a view of a bay and a bridge, sipping booze was so pleasant I can imagine another poet, say SP (“Sippy”) Cottier, who would miss the reading and simply stay on the terrace, sunning herself like one of the lizards living under the succulents on the deck who have no idea that they have a view worth about 3.5 million dollars.

But I am not that poet, and really enjoyed reading my poem, which I present forthwith:

7 ways to look at a sculpture

Firstly, it seemed a frozen poem,
which I read in different drafts
as I skirted around it.

Then it was time captured,
as if to trap the watchers,
and so release us from fervent rush.

By Wednesday I saw it more
as a mere mirror to catch
any cracked thought I threw at it —

but the next day it restated
its being as a question, set to
disrupt our certainties with what?

Friday, it seemed to push up the sky,
a small, persistent fist clenched
against wind and mess and change —

but this changed on Saturday.
The grass seemed to give birth to it
as tulip, rocket and shining tree,

which unfurled into beauty
on the stretching, languid, seventh day,
an exclamation, an endless ah!

P.S. Cottier

Now I am off to stare at the Verity La site to see if I’m brave enough to listen to me.

***I have also received my new chapbook, and will post about that very soon.  That’s a fourthly.

UPDATE:  I listened to the podcast and I’m not as inarticulate as I had feared.  I particularly like the discussion on ecopoetry and climate change.

A special afternoon

April 19, 2015

David Stavanger works on a line between music and poetry…No.
David Stavanger erases the line between music and poetry….That’s better. Though overly simplistic.

Here he is setting up before his gig in Canberra at Hotel Hotel in New Acton.
david s setting up
Richard Grantham played actual music, including electronic delay with a viola, and keyboards. David played his throat, and the audience, in a devilish performance.

Ellie Malbon also performed her poetry, and at one stage she was joined with Aaron Kirby in a piece with eucalyptus forests, and drowning, which made me think of Birnam Wood coming towards Macbeth in his castle (in the soon to be released play of the same name). Also there were surfing images, and a challenging of the division between elements, and a questioning of myths of improvement. There was a bath, too, in another poem. Here are Ellie’s feet, displayed on the interesting floor which could hardly be described as minimalist:
ellie malbon's feet

CJ Bowerbird emceed and performed, and I regret not having captured either his suit or his performance. Andrew Galan read works from his forthcoming second collection, which had a decidedly canine feel to it. This is the sort of maniac that he had in the audience:
Annie Te Whiu of ag and me
Thanks to Annie Te Whiu for the photo.

All in all, this was a wonderful afternoon of poetry and music at Hotel Hotel, in which a lot of poems about water were transformed into magic. The wine was good too…

David’s collection, The Special, is one I should have read by now, but it’s always great to buy it from the poet direct.

The changing soundscape of public space

Once shhh-surrounded
throttled by library snakes
now emboldened chat stretches —

bites the sluggish ears
of those who want purer air
in my day, we mumble

in my day we sat straight
whispering sweet infractions —
wrapped in official silence

muffled with a quieter wool.

P.S. Cottier

bigstock_Sheep_And_Cow_3197770
That poem was just commended in the Yass Show Poetry Competition (not the bush poetry division) on Sunday. I’m afraid I piked on attending the event, as I was exhausted. I had performed poetically the night before with a delightfully accented Texan, a poet who removed his skirt rather like the female members of Abba in their glittery prime, and a number of strangely assertive, neigh, militant horses.*  So I had a good excuse. It was a wonderful night at the Word Co-op.

You could look at some photos here. I am the least cool person.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.628597203875415.1073741903.128244673910673&type=1

*That wordplay is totally Roshelle Fong’s.  She performed an hilarious and thoughful piece enacting various questions of animal rights, wearing costume horse-heads.  Delightfully accented Texans sometimes perform under the name of Good Ghost Bill, and Ma Ya Ga Ng Re Ne’s soundscape explored the schlongier aspects of gender.

For further poetry, please touch this feather:

Tuesday Poem

By the way, however exhausted I am, the organisers of this festival (called You Are Here) are far more tired. I hope to post a photographic essay illustrating the ageing of some of them. Here, for example, is a photo of one of them that I took last night:

What is this Transit Bar?

lushpup_140304__web-5

Usually when I have a photo taken, I freeze up into an iceberg of Titanic proportions. It is to the credit of Geoffrey Dunn that he managed to take quite a few photographs where I look thawed. In this one I look literate, for example. He has posted more on his site, at:

http://blog.lushpupimages.com/ps-cottier-poet

The one he has chosen of me with a parasol on the street is my favourite. The purpose of the session was to get a better photo for The Stars Like Sand, and we did, but I do like the more adventurous photos.

***

I have a busy few weeks ahead of me. On Saturday 15th, I am reading at Word Coop, at the ANU Food Coop, in Kingsley Street Acton, at 7.30 to 9.30pm. No, I will not be reading all that time. Other poets are Rochelle Fong, Good Ghost Bill and Ma Ya Ga Ng Re Ne. I may be wrong, but I suspect that some of these persons may be slam artists…Hosted and curated by the indefatigable Andrew Galan (who looked fairly fatigued last time I saw him) and by Amelia Filmer-Sankey.

Speaking of performance, on 22nd March, at 4pm, I am appearing at Smiths Alternative, with CJ Bowerbird, who has been crowned the National Poetry Slam champion. We will be reading some poems and discussing poetry, and responding to one of each other’s works. Andrew Galan will be in charge of that one too, fatiguing himself yet further.

These two events are part of the YOU ARE HERE Festival, which runs in Canberra between the 13th and 23rd. Many many events, so if you are lucky enough to live in the area, do check it out.

In between those two, I will be going out to Yass, as one of my poems has been short-listed in the open section of the Yass Show Poetry Competition. Should be fun. It was last year.
Lizz and me at Yass

That is Lizz Murphy, on the left of this definitely not professional snap taken at the Yass Show last year. Lizz will be reading tonight at The Gods, with John Stokes. Omar Musa was to be the third poet, but he will now read later in the year, and a super-sub will be taken from the bench.

No poem today, I’m afraid, as I have been caught up in egregiously demanding Things. If you feel like poems, click this link, and see what other Tuesday Poets have been doing:

Tuesday Poem

UPDATE: 10.22pm

Unfortunately, Lizz Murphy was unable to read for serious personal reasons. Very best wishes to you and yours, Lizz.

Harry Laing was the third reader, and Charlotte Clutterbuck stepped in at the last moment to take Lizz’s spot.

A successful evening, but I did miss Ms Murphy.