Loud man pissing round the reading
with irrelevant comments,
dribbling self, reflected in a deep pool
of his own stewed past, steaming.
He is a true Narcissus,
but not so drop-dead gorgeous;
fungus mated with dead cat.
He smells of yesterday and loss.
He shouts his irrelevance
with every tedious joke,
every punch line a squib,
tarnishing the grey sky.

P.S. Cottier


Not the subject of the poem

A nasty wee poem indeed, based on a couple of True Incidents.

On a couple of more positive notes, I’ll be reading a poem or two at Tuesday night’s launch of Suddenly Curving Space Time and meeting Gerald Keaney, one of the editors for the first time.  That’s at Smith’s Alternative (aka Smith’s non-Euclidean?), Alinga Street, Civic, at 5pm.  There is a bar.  I’m not sure if Hal Judge, the other editor, is in the country at the moment, but I will certainly find out.

UPDATE:  This launch has been postponed as Gerald is stuck in Brisbane due to ‘freak weather conditions’.  I think that means fog! I’ll give new details when I can.

FURTHER UPDATE: The rescheduled time of the Canberra Launch of the Suddenly Curving Space Time anthology of experimental poetry is 9.30pm – 11.30 pm on Thursday 21st July.

anthology covers

Secondly, the usually totally impeccable Kaaron Warren has inexplicably featured me as a guest blogger, chatting about how I refresh my wells.  That is what they call a metaphor, I believe.  Kaaron is seemingly aiming for a Guinness world record in having quite a few people write on this topic.  Seriously, there will be enough material for a Real Book based on these jottings, some of which are very informative and detailed. Some of the contributions One of the contributions is, however, a tad frivolous and involves violence towards naiads.


June 24, 2016

anthology covers

This week I received two anthologies in which I have poems.  They are First refuge: Poems on social justice (Ginninderra Press) edited by Ann Nadge, and Suddenly Curving Space Time: Australian Experimental Poetry 1995-2015 (non-Euclidean Press) edited by Gerald Keaney and Hal Judge.

Switching between the two is an interesting experience.  I have just started to read them both.

I especially like the ‘non-Euclidean spine’ of the experimental book, which is working its way through the binding like a space-worm.  Well, what do you think makes wormholes?


Today I edit the main blog post of Tuesday Poem, and it’s a wonderful work by Hal Judge that takes centre stage. Click this feather to read his poem:

Tuesday Poem


On Sunday I drove out to Yass, about 50 minutes from Canberra, where the inaugural Yass Show Poetry competition was held. I had entered a poem in the adult contemporary written category; a free verse poem about Banjo Paterson who lived in Yass as a child, and later in his life.

There was also a bush poetry section, a performance section, a children’s section, and an open mic. We read next to the exhibit of prize wool clips, and the smell of the wool permeated the readings. Here I am with Lizz Murphy, who lives at Binalong in the Yass Valley, and who has had many books of poetry published:
Lizz and me at Yass
Sorry about the light in that photo! I am doing my best impression of a drunken owl, too, although not a dram had been taken.

I was a little nervous reading my free verse poem in a rural setting, but it was well received, and the judge, Robyn Cadwallader, was kind enough to have awarded me first prize in the written section. I listened to her very thorough judge’s report after winning and took in about 5% of what she said; I hope I get a chance to read the report. Here I am leaving the stage after reading:

Thank you to another Robyn, Robyn Sykes, for organising the event.

UPDATE: Robyn Sykes sent me a copy of the judge’s report before this was posted. Will read it at my leisure.

This is the cover of my third book, with a somewhat pensive sheep under a very blank sky.  (It’s a poetry collection.)

Hal Judge launched The Cancellation of Clouds at 6pm, Thursday 20th October 2011 at Smiths Alternative Bookstore, Alinga Street, Civic.  (Civic is another name for Canberra’s ‘city’  centre – a non-existent thing, really – and the name is intended to contrast with political, governmental, national Canberra.)  Hal gave a very thoughtful speech, and I read a few poems, and drank a poetic amount of wine. Senator Nick Xenophon, an independent Senator from South Australia, also read a poem, after he launched the bookstore’s new bar.

Senator Xenophon takes a gamble

(Thanks Lily Mulholland for this photo.)

If you would like to order the book, please go to this page, within the Ginninderra Press site.  The first review of the book, by Professor Peter Pierce in The Canberra Times, describes it as ‘droll, intelligent and varied’, which was a very positive thing to read.  And totally right, too! Another reviewer, Michael Byrne, states that ‘It is…love for (and embracing of) the different that seems to define Cottier as a poet.’

And in the book’s first international recognition, New Zealand poet and man of letters Tim Jones describes The Cancellation of Clouds as an ‘Australian poetry collection with a distinctively wry yet dark tone and very effective use of long stanzas and densely packed lines.’. All very gratifying, especially hearing I’m more dark wry than white bread…

Now I return you to the real piece that bears the title given above.  I originally wrote what follows below back on January 22, 2009, and it still seems a good inclusion for my blog, although I notice a recent trend to write a little more often here than I did originally.  For a long time this was the first post the reader saw on my blog, and I only recently allowed it to move away from its ‘sticky’ position on the first page.

Cicadas and tortoises. And poetry?

In my case, cicadas and tortoises seem apt metaphors for the process of writing. My first book, The Glass Violin, a poetry collection, has just been published by Ginninderra Press.  Some of the works in the collection go back twenty years, so the easy option of comparing myself with a tortoise comes to mind. There’s nothing like a good old shell of cliché in which to hide an idea.

Yet I actually write quite quickly. I’ve just been a shocker about trying to have my work published. About a year ago I decided to put an emphasis on seeking publication, and I have been quite fortunate in finding places that liked my work.

Cicadas spend most of their life underground, only emerging after years and years to produce an ear-splitting cacophony. They only live a short while after emergence. As a practising poet, I feel a lot like one of these insects, pushing through editorial mud, but hopefully the process of publication has just begun. I wrote this poem about the vocabulary used for referring to poets as emerging, developing and established:

Emerging poets

White, shovel-shaped finger-nails,
rotten smell, the world’s worst bulbs.
Like durian fruit mushrooming,
zombie poets emerge, pushing
through editorial soil, groaning,
after a decade’s slushy stew.
Perhaps some emerge politely,
quaint chicks toothing oval eggs.
Others make neat papier mâché
cocoons from rejections, wait,
then one day, poof! Harlequin
wings, trembly antennae. Most
are born bogongs, banging on
bright lit windows. Any more sir?

(I like to think that my poetry is a little more melodic than the noise of a cicada, although this example is admittedly a little less than elegiac.  Incidentally, all poems on this site are by me, unless otherwise indicated.)

This will be a very occasional blog, as this cicada prefers to work on her poetry. It’s always a temptation to bury yourself away, once the soil has been so very comfortable for so long…

I was very happy to read this review.  And this one, too.

And since then, a second book, this time a short collection of short stories:

Both can be ordered from Ginninderra Press, under poetry and fiction respectively.