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.
September 25, 2016
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:
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!
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.
August 22, 2016
I apologise profusely for no original poem today. I am a tad busy at the moment.
Thursday 25th at 7.30, I am reading poetry at Manning Clark House, Tasmania Circle, Griffith. Many of the poems will have first been published on this very blog, or at Project 365 + 1. I will be reading for about 30 minutes, as will Hazel Hall, the other reader. There is an entry fee of $10, I think, which covers wine, some small items of food and the wee literary stuff.
On 27th August (Saturday) I’ll be moderating a discussion on The Poetics of Politics, at the National Library of Australia (a big building by the lake). The immoderators/speakers are Lizz Murphy and Susan Hawthorne, and it happens at 12pm, just after a launch of novelist Kaaron Warren’s new book, The Grief Hole, at the very same library at 11am.
On the 31st August I’ll be going to the launch of Award Winning Australian Writing in Melbourne, and reading a poem, and then attending the announcement of the Australian Catholic University Poetry Competition results the next day. I am short-listed for that, but I don’t think I won a prize this year, for various reasons. Still, they produce a really nice collection of poems short-listed in the competition.
Then I will hopefully get some writing done. Plus I’ll soon be proofreading a new chapbook of poems. More about that later.
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.