The indefatigable Geoff Page (was there ever a better surname for a poet?) has just released his schedule for readings at The Gods this year. Here it is:

Poetry at The Gods 2014

Tues Feb 11 & possibly Wed Feb 12 Les Murray (Bunyah)

Tues Mar 11 Omar Musa (Cbr)
John Stokes (Cbr)
Lizz Murphy (Binalong)

Tues Apr 8 Tricia Dearborn (Syd)
Barbara Fisher (Syd)

Tues May 13 Catherine Bateson (Dandenong Ranges)
Dennis Haskell (Perth)

Tues Jun 10 Moya Pacey (Cbr)
Harry Laing (Braidwood)
Geoff Page (Cbr)

Tues Jul 8 Ron Pretty (Wollongong)
Lynn Hard (Syd)

Tues Jul 22 Dead Poets’ Dinner

Tues Aug 12 David McCooey (Geelong)
Maria Takolander (Geelong)

Tues Sep 9 Alan Gould (Cbr)
Michael Thorley (Queanbeyan)
Penelope Layland (Cbr)

Tues Oct 14 Samuel Wagan Watson (Bris)
Judy Johnson (Newcastle)

Tues Nov 11 Jennifer Harrison (Melbourne)
Jordie Albiston (Melbourne)

Tues Dec 9 Stephen Edgar (Syd)
Judith Beveridge (Syd)

You can see that there is a melange of local and interstate poets, starting with Les Murray. Les always attracts a huge crowd, and there will most likely be two readings.

The venue (a café and restaurant) gets its name from the fact that it is next to a small theatre on the Australian National University campus. My alma mater, at least for my PhD. I thought I’d put up a theatrical image because of that. And poetry reading is theatre; the darkened room, the sweat on the brow, the audience response. The critics!

In other poetry news, we are hard at work on The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry. The cover is being designed by David Reiter, and I should be able to post it here very soon. All being well, the book will be appearing around the end of April, although no date has been set yet. Very exciting. There is quite a cross-over between that list of poets at The Gods and the anthology, to segue like a mad thing.

Almost pastoral

Looking past the one long leg of tarmac spider, head in Sydney,
refusing to see her iPod plugged ears, hear tart mozzie hums,
or feel insinuating throb of pocket phone, nudging like a bull
against fabric seclusion, I spread blanket on bleached ground.
I closed eyes, and opened them, misting the scene in moisture.
I applied numbing cream to mounds of anted bites, reddening.
Wished away health filled salad, replaced carrot crunch with Corot,
cocky squawk with cagey flute. Then checking watch, I turned to go.

P.S. Cottier

A brand new poem as I enter a very busy week. Tomorrow night (Wednesday), at 7.30, I’m reading at Manning Clark House, 11 Tasmania Circle, Forrest, along with Charlotte Clutterbuck and Geoff Page. Do come along if you’re in Canberra. There’s an entry fee, which includes wine and snacks. It is $10, and $7 concession. Then there will be excellent books for sale, so don’t forget to buy one of them, if you are able.
MCH (logo)

A podcast of three of my poems is now available at the Blemish Books site.
If you like what you hear, the book can be ordered from the very same site.

I have had a poem called ‘A question for Jane’ published at the Eureka Street blog: . The Jane in question had the surname of Austen, so have a look if you have time, and answer the question for yourself.

For other poems, please press this link. The Tuesday Poets are a group who are many and varied, and seemingly moulting:

Tuesday Poem

The very best poetry readings are where you manage to discover something about your own work while in the act of reading; that is, you forget the notion of performance while performing.  Happened to me on Tuesday at The Gods, where I found a pun lurking in one poem that I had not previously noticed, and had to swallow an inappropriate laugh.  (They do breed like rats just released onto a Pacific island in my work, it must be said. Puns, that is.)  I also enjoy the response of the audience.  A good turn up it was too, for Melinda Smith, Russell Erwin and myself.

he's not that blurry in real life

Melinda Smith, P.S. Cottier, Geoff Page

I wore a Vogon poetry shirt, as a little reminder that if it didn’t go well, there are definitely worse poets out there, somewhere in the universe.  But it did go well, and some very intelligent questions were asked of the three readers after the readings.  You can see Melinda answering one being put to her by Geoff Page in the last photo, while I try and disappear behind the microphone. (Russell was there too, but out of shot. He’s the one in the striped top above.)

Reading one’s work is fun, as is discovering the work of others in their own voices.  Melinda’s tart, elegant and poignant poetry, Russell’s dive-in and discover expansive explorations, and whatever it is that I write made for a varied menu. I managed to put in a plug for humorous poetry, too, during the questions.  And people were laughing during parts of the reading, and I think in a good way.

Now back to the serious, beret-ed business of writing some more poetry, having scuttled out into a public place for a couple of hours.

That's Les Murray's beer

Watching Les Murray
(I am not making this up)

I went to hear a certain poet
the best known one,
the big one we own.
I wished I could draw
his gentle circles,
his particular infinity.
But I can’t draw.
Though there were pencils.
Giant ones. Three metres tall. Red.
I am not making this up.
So I sat and watched Les,
dwarfed by these giant pencils.
And if you don’t believe that,
you won’t believe this;
the place where he read
was called The Gods.
So I sat, a poet from Lilliput,
leaning on a giant pencil,
listening to God, or at least,
his Southern emissary.

I laid wistful eggs on the pencils.
In time, something may emerge,
and help me make something up.

P.S. Cottier

I went to see Les Murray read at the Gods, a café/restaurant on the Australian National University campus on Wednesday, 15th February. Organised, as always, by the indefatigable Geoff Page. There are giant pencils attached to the walls of the café, as you can see in this appalling photo:

Les Murray is so very good as a reader, and I was impressed by how many humorous poems he read last week. I wrote the poem above about four years ago, when I was just starting to make contact with my fellow poets (but before my licence was issued, in the form of my first book). It recalls a much shyer Penelope, sitting in the corner, watching Les read.

Another poet at Les’s reading was Mark Tredinnick, who, as you may know, recently won the Montreal Poetry Prize for his poem, ‘Walking Underwater’. Mark is of course endlessly teased now by cruel people (who shall remain nameless) about how he is spending the prize money, but he takes it very well.

A rather surprised Mark Tredinnick

All in all, this was a wonderful night and it reminded me of just how good poetry can be. As Les Murray said, poetry is strong stuff, and it doesn’t need the crutch of prose to justify itself.

Easy for you to say, Les!

Give it back? Why would I give it back?

If you click on this quill you will be transported to a hub based in New Zealand, and will find Treasure in the form of poetry:
Tuesday Poem

On a totally unrelated issue, my review of  ‘A Tingling Catch’ : A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009, ed. Mark Pirie, Wellington: HeadworX, 2010 has just been published at Cordite.  Those who were worried that I was going to write a post without mentioning sport can now breathe more easily.  Although watching poets read (and listening to them, too) has aspects of a sport about it.