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Smith’s Alternative used to be a bookshop and is now a venue. I was lucky enough to be asked to be the first poet to read as part of ‘That Poetry Thing That Is On At Smith’s Every Other Monday’ aka An Evening with P.S. Cottier, by MC Norm de Plume.

I really enjoyed chatting to Norm (aka Josh) about writing and reading my poetry. In between there was a really lovely set by musician Gabriela Falzon. I wanted to listen more closely to the lyrics, but I had to compose a poem from words given to me by the audience at this time. God damn them. The words were:

aardvark
relic
lumps
flaccid
flying.

Here’s what I wrote in ten minutes or so, between the interview (why, how, where) and the reading (what):

So I googled aardvark, and it took me
to South America, where the plants
are lumps of pain, needling the air,
the air thin as capillaries.
I want to be a gaucho,
chasing beef and capybara
through the blank page plains.
I wear chaps like parchment,
tattoed with macho glamour.

So I fell asleep, my pen flaccid
as a pancake’s Sunday hammock.
I am no gaucho, my purple bolas
do not spin. There is no flying
revelation, no roasted meal
in front of tossing, avid fire.
All I have is knowledge,
received knowledge, that the aardvark
seeks ants amongst ruins, as I seek
relics of greater words.
The cactus blooms, and no-one sees.

P.S. Cottier

Rough as a superannuated gaucho’s knees, but I enjoyed the process. (That is unedited, except for the spelling of aardvark, which is a word specifically invented for spelling comps.)

Smith’s has been a significant place for me. My first book launch was held there back in 2009. I wore the same dress tonight that I did then. My second poetry book was also launched there, and I remember independent MP Nick Xenophon read a poem from the book, the night the bar was opened. (Hal Judge launched that book, and Geoff Page launched the first one.)

Senator Xenophon takes a gamble

Senator Xenophon takes a gamble

Now Nigel is the proprietor, and I hope that the space works as a venue for years to come. Thanks to everyone who came along.

I suppose this can act as a Tuesday poem after all!

Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets by pressing here.

I have been asked to lead off a new series of poetry readings/discussions about poetry/general poetic hi jinx (the lesser known relative of the execrable Jaja Binks). Details for Canberrans/people with private jets who are not Donald Trump:

That Poetry Thing That Is On At Smith’s Every Other Monday @Smith’s Alternative, Alinga Street Civic
An Evening With P.S. Cottier
7pm, $5

That’s this woman, escaped from the psychedelically besmirched attic.

quiet dress

I am looking forward to being quizzed by JC Inman, fellow poet, about what inspires me and why I do it, and a myriad of other matters. There will be music! Hopefully composition on the spot! And then I will read for twenty minutes or so.

Do come along and keep the poet in fete money.

(I have an awful feeling that rugby may be mentioned, too…Josh Inman has some New Zealand blood, I believe.)
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And, if you are seeking a Tuesday Poem, please press this link: http://cordite.org.au/poetry/toil/a-hard-poem-to-market/ That will take you to Cordite Poetry Review. This issue is on the idea or theme or prompt of toil, and is edited by Carol Jenkins.

Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets by pressing here.

By late Monday, I will be far too happy (I hope) to type.

…and a very quiet dress bought, appropriately, at a church fete.
quiet dress

Just got back from Melbourne where I was awarded third prize in the Australian Catholic University’s Poetry Prize, on the topic ‘Peace, Tolerance and Understanding’. I wrote an angry, occasionally funny poem on the topic, called ‘Route 9’, which I may post at a later date. I tried to embody the way we judge people by appearances in a narrative poem, so my raving on about clothes is almost relevant. I just saw an article in City News about the awards:
http://citynews.com.au/2015/cottier-front-runner-acu-prize-poetry/
(The City is question in Canberra, not Melbourne.)

First prize was awarded to Kristen Lang, and second prize to Josephine Wilson. The judge was Kevin Hart. A lovely book of the poems was produced by the university, with a cover designed by Chandler Brooks-Smith. I think that producing such a book is a great initiative, as it allows a full exploration of the topic. It is humbling to see how good many of the short-listed poets works are; I particularly like ‘Little Pup’ by Heather Taylor Johnson.

Thank you to Moya Pacey, who took the photo, and who has a very strong and intelligent poem in the book.

Prize winners were asked to read our poems right at the end of proceedings. Because of the Copious Free Wine, my brain resembled my dress by that stage…but I managed.

I will put my $1000 towards a new computer, so I can produce more angry and funny poetry about social justice, politics and perceptions. And read them out wearing really quiet dresses.

Speaking of which (I segue like a devil on speed) I am reading at The Gods on September 8, along with Owen Bullock and Melinda Smith. Hopefully the Anglican Church where I scored that dress will be having an early fete this year. But in the meantime, I’m out to ride my bike in the fresh Canberra air, wearing shabby, comfortable jeans.

Winter in Canberra

Wet paper mushrooms
thick crop on nature strips
Chronicles sprouting

P.S. Cottier

soggy

The Chronicle is a free newspaper distributed to, I believe, every house in Canberra.  They are thrown onto nature strips (the Australian name for the grassy area between footpath and road) and there many of them stay.  In winter, the plastic wrapping your Chronicle cannot keep out all the water from frost, so they end up as delightful parcels of yellowed, soggy paper. The one above has not yet reached full mushroom.

Some people end up with months of Chronicles covering the grass outside their home. Talk about first world unsightliness! I saw one man, driven mad by the abundant crop his lazy neighbour had grown, throwing them from their nature strip into their driveway, so they would not be able to ignore them any more. He was genuinely angry.

Meanwhile, in the real world…I hear there are places where free newspapers are not distributed! But surely that is just a rumour.
IMG_0487

Here I am listening to Judith Crispin say nice things before my reading at Manning Clark House. Despite the photo, the space was packed. There were as many people as the average Canberra nature strip has Chronicles, but they were a lot less soggy. In most cases.

The reading went well; I tried out a lot of new material and I am becoming more confident. Mark Tredinnick was also seemed happy after his reading.

Now I am off to throw around a few newspapers.

Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.

The first was on the Poets Train from Canberra.  Four leisurely hours to take in the scenery, to read, to compose a poem (we read out our efforts every hour). Arrival at the beautiful Central Station where we read to ourselves again, and a couple of punters.

The next day we read at The State Library. Here I am doing just that, in a photograph taken by K.A. Rees. (Note the staring into the middle distance):

And that night we read at the Friend in Hand pub in Glebe, where a cockatoo, George, chats to the customers. I chatted to Martin Langford, whose vocabulary is much greater than George’s. (No offence George!)

And in between, I enjoyed all Glebe has to offer. Interesting food, cheaper than in Canberra. The big vegan breakfast at Badde Manors, for example. Lying on a chaise longue that was used as a prop in the film Moulin Rouge, writing a review. Drinking wine. Longing for the ability to stay in that fair city. Sigh. As usual, I found myself looking at real estate agents’ windows, doing very unpoetic calculations.

Then four hours back, dozing and composing on the Sunday.

And today? (That’ll be yesterday by the time I post this.) Up to Sydney again in 23 minutes by plane. Barely up before you’re down; the landscape something to get over rather than through. State Library again, where I was lucky enough to pick up a third prize in the Society of Women Writers poetry competition, judged by Judith Beveridge, for my poem ‘A brief history of fun’. Judith gave a wonderful seminar focussing on sound in poetry, and although her ideas are quite different from mine, I left feeling inspired. There was a haiku/ haibun/tanka reading. There was Mark Tredinnick, although I had to leave his PowerPoint talk early to catch the flight home. A fire siren test provided the ideal moment for slipping out.

Twenty-three minutes
Throwing steel through air
We scorch the sky

Now I’m in pre book-launch mode! Radio interview on Friday on local station ArtSound. But I am haunted by a most beautiful spirit at the moment.

A ghost called Sydney
Lithe warm and lively
Winding me back home

Home that is, to a city I have never lived in. And against whose inducements I must block my ears, and tie myself to the cold mast of common sense.

Also known as Canberra.

I’ll love it again in a few days, but I have to learn to do so again.