March 14, 2017
Feral is the weed that walks hops or swims
that we seeded here first of all.
Like weapons in Afghanistan to fight Russians,
they shoot back against the giver, given time.
The irony in the soil, the punch-line
that keeps moving.
They are the spoonful of toad that never
helped the sugar.
The feral is the new devil;
we burn them, use their live bodies for cricket,
run them over.
They are our scapegoats, scapetoads, scapecarp,
whipping boys for our royal, stupid selves.
Varmint, pest, pets gone wild, rejigged —
dancing to their own tune.
Continuing thoughts about what is a weed from my last post, this week I touch on feral pests, with which Australia is now teeming, after 200 years of colonisation/invasion.
Cane toads are probably amongst the most famous, although even cats multiply like mice (ew!) here, and feed on parrots and lizards and all the tiny marsupials that most Australians in cities have never seen.
I am working on a sequence based on this; though trying to organise my thoughts is like teaching cane toads manners. (And that’s not a cane toad above, but it is a cool illustration, courtesy of the wonderful resource Old Book Illustrations.) The guy peeping at the main figure is 100% Gandalf, and I’m sure he has Powers over toads.
Either that or he uses them for their interesting secretions.
July 25, 2016
Let them run —
but run as they would
chasing the wind or their mate
not a screeching curl-tailed baton
flung round the track
in a circular curse.
And let them live —
just as long as greyhounds live
not dispatched for slowness
and spaded into the bush
in a quotidian slaughter
nose to tail, tail to nose.
So weird to find myself agreeing with a Liberal government…But the Baird Government is right in banning greyhound racing. (As is the Labor — with a sprinkling of Green — ACT government.) No decision is ever totally pure, but this ‘sport’ is undeniably cruel, and the sooner it is abolished, the better.
To all those whinging about the attack on the working man (and it is usually categorised in that gender specific way) that the ban represents; note that there is something incredibly insulting in this thinking. Working class does not mean cruel and unthinking, and unable to act ethically. Most people with pet dogs would shudder to think of them being treated in the way this industry has treated greyhounds (and other animals used as live bait) for years.
My PhD on images of animals in the works of Charles Dickens touched on the history of the RSPCA, and around the time it was created, there were people mounting exactly the same arguments against bans on cock-fighting and the like, categorising such activities as important recreations for the working man. Implying that the ‘working man’ is necessarily a brutal moron.
The NSW Labor Party, in defending the greyhound racing industry, is showing that it is pathetically out of touch with anything progressive.
The ban, which comes into effect 1 July next year, does open up thinking about how we treat other animals, and that has to be a positive development. Go, you good thing!
(I know there probably should be an apostrophe in the title, but it looked so bad I removed it. Fussy.)
UPDATE: October 2016
The Baird NSW Government has changed its mind and decided not to ban this cruel and outdated ‘sport’. Weak and very sad.
July 11, 2016
Oppressing the gnomes
The garden gnomes are downing tools
all over Australia, and whimsy is plummeting.
No more riding snails and pushing barrows,
or fishing for strangely ecstatic cod,
who gape for hooks in a pornography of cute.
The gnomes are turning nasty, attacking
the flamingos who continue to strut —
elegant pink scabs over the quirky lawns.
Gnomes piss on succulents and smear
foul gnome shit on the guinea pigs.
What do we want? they ask the air.
But they don’t know what to chant back —
their dissatisfaction is merely existential.
Even their industrial action raises a laugh,
with their crooked green caps slipping,
and their endless pipes twixt ruddy lips.
Their signs are egregiously misspelt.
Nome’s R Us is at least legible,
but the kerning is much worse than that,
and the punctuation speaks volumes.
Get back to it, gnomes, I say, imperiously.
Ply those forks, and play that accordion.
I bask in my elevation to exploiter,
swaying in a complacent hammock.
Surly yet amusing, the wee green men obey.
The ringleader rides a frog to the pond,
and casts in his line like a sigh.
This is probably a weird commentary on the zeitgeist. Either that or the gnomes have been putting things in my tea.
April 12, 2016
She would surely
free the refugees —
but mostly those
with nice table manners.
Based on overhearing a conversation at a café about how ‘we’ could take in more refugees if only they would ‘assimilate into mainstream society’. I said nothing, but write this in true esprit de l’escalier. It’s almost an aphorism, rather than a poem, isn’t it?
December 7, 2015
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:
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
In many ways, this blog is my favourite creation, and thanks to all my readers for being part of it.