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.

they cut her skin
to the latest pattern
she wears it well


I’ve been thinking a lot about vanity, and about Frankenstein lately, so that wee poem was inevitable, particularly in the light of Donald Trump’s hair.  If I had the money, I’d be ordering a Donald Trump piñata from Mexico or the US right now.


Speaking of the US in a much more positive way, I just received my contributor copy of A Quiet Shelter There: An Anthology to Benefit Homeless Animals.  My poem ‘Remembering Laika’ is in there, and I am delighted to see a poem by fellow Australian Jenny Blackford too, amongst the stories and other poems.

The book is edited by Gerri Lean, and published by Hadley Rille Books. Truly an ideal Christmas present for animal lovers.  It can be ordered here. A percentage of proceeds will go to animal shelters in Virginia and elsewhere.  An excellent excuse to publish a photo of my Staffie cross (who was a rescue dog) with a copy, looking away from the cat in the window, no doubt.  (It is $16 for the hard copy in US dollars; not sure how that converts.  No doubt your credit card will tell you!)  I haven’t read all the book yet; hoping to do so at the beach.

Mango with book


This is a poem, not a listicle.

1. It tastes like leather. Hold the stick tight.

2. If you listen you will soon note that it speaks bad French.

3. It has never been to France, except in fairly standard dreams.

4. It bought cheap steroids in Bali, but is yet to bulge.

5. It would like to contain the word ‘roseate’, but can’t.

6. It read itself out loud just last week and was well received.

7. It just watched the film The Brain from Planet Arous.

8. It keeps reciting ‘After I’m gone, your earth will be free to live out its miserable span of existence, as one of my satellites, and that’s how it’s going to be…’

9. It can’t translate that into French, even French of the worst sort.

10. This is a poem, not a listicle.

P.S. Cottier

Yes, this poet (and not just that poem) just watched The Brain from Planet Arous, in which a nasty alien brain inhabits the cranium of a scientist, and a nicer alien brain inhabits the head of the scientist’s girlfriend’s dog.

No alien brain here

No alien brain here

Only to be watched when drunk. There are seemingly endless scenes of people tiptoeing through caves, and the woman who owns the dog never stops serving the men food. The direct speech in the poem is made by the nasty brain, who does do a mad scientist chuckle quite frequently.

I am interested in how flat the language in a poem can be before it ceases to be a poem. Also, the word listicle caught my imagination. So like popsicle, but often so disappointingly flat AND chunky.

Other poets may be playing with form, if not risking brain damage by watching dreadful 50s science fiction films. Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.

Publications and sloth

April 18, 2015

No, I am afraid you won’t get a picture of a sloth engaging in upside down cuteness on these austere pages. But here is one of some dogs. One of them is even upside down, and some say she is a cross between a dog and a sloth.
mango and scupper asleep

I have been at the beach for a week or so, and relatively slothful, aided by very dodgy internet access. Although I did enter the best poetry competition, whereby a list of ten words is provided and the entrant/masochist must write a poem containing each of the words. In 48 hours. There are, it seems, very few sloths in Canada. That festival of energetic composition is organised by Contemporary Verse 2. For some poets, this contest would seem overly prescriptive, but I quite like the challenge of using the ten words without them screaming ‘We were given, not found’. It keeps you on your poetic toes.

If you would like to read a poem I wrote which did not derive from a competition, please press this link. The poem deals with space and jazz, and is called ‘Miles and Beyond’. It was just published at Eye to the Telescope, which is the online journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, based in the United States, a nation to the south of Canada, also bereft of sloths. Diane Severson edited this issue, which is made up of speculative poetry about music.

Now, to drag sloths into a blog is terribly out of date; a bit like a parent trying to speak to a teenage child and speaking of ‘Instantgram’ and ‘Readit’. (Tragedy often wears a cardigan.)

In fact, including sloths here might be described as slothful.

The issue of Midnight Echo I mentioned in my previous post is now available for purchase. It is currently only in PDF, but will soon be available in different formats. I wrote a column about poetry and an actual poem for that issue, edited by Kaaron Warren.


Midnight Echo is now also in epub and mobi.

Tuesday poem: Dogs

August 7, 2012


Descartes strapped them down alive, and cut.
Pavlov slit their throats and made them swallow.
Better the ignorant man and his pound mutt
who know love, unadorned, and wallow
in its myriad humble wonders.

Who can see a tail waving, without
her heart leaping in metronomic time?
They exist, I know, but my mind doubts
anyone who could question that airy prayer.
Simpler philosophy is sometimes enough,
that endless love with no thought of death,
this wiser being that knows no half, no grey
knows no lies, no second guessing or stealth,
is constantly re-born whole every day
(except for mini-deaths when we go away).

Baptising trees with presents of smell
reading sun in every squirt,
heaven in dirt; only finds hell
when we clever ones impose it
from high-minded above.

Dig deeper dog,
show us joy
in this moment
that’s forever.



P.S. Cottier

Scentimental, I know.

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Tuesday Poem