A special afternoon

April 19, 2015

David Stavanger works on a line between music and poetry…No.
David Stavanger erases the line between music and poetry….That’s better. Though overly simplistic.

Here he is setting up before his gig in Canberra at Hotel Hotel in New Acton.
david s setting up
Richard Grantham played actual music, including electronic delay with a viola, and keyboards. David played his throat, and the audience, in a devilish performance.

Ellie Malbon also performed her poetry, and at one stage she was joined with Aaron Kirby in a piece with eucalyptus forests, and drowning, which made me think of Birnam Wood coming towards Macbeth in his castle (in the soon to be released play of the same name). Also there were surfing images, and a challenging of the division between elements, and a questioning of myths of improvement. There was a bath, too, in another poem. Here are Ellie’s feet, displayed on the interesting floor which could hardly be described as minimalist:
ellie malbon's feet

CJ Bowerbird emceed and performed, and I regret not having captured either his suit or his performance. Andrew Galan read works from his forthcoming second collection, which had a decidedly canine feel to it. This is the sort of maniac that he had in the audience:
Annie Te Whiu of ag and me
Thanks to Annie Te Whiu for the photo.

All in all, this was a wonderful afternoon of poetry and music at Hotel Hotel, in which a lot of poems about water were transformed into magic. The wine was good too…

David’s collection, The Special, is one I should have read by now, but it’s always great to buy it from the poet direct.

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: Music notes

November 18, 2014


music notes

piano accordian
the lung that smiles

haversack guts fart

less said the better

P.S. Cottier

A tiny poem, or notes towards a poem.  I am very busy coordinating (I do hate the word facilitating) a course on speculative poetry this month, so my own poems are getting shorter. Fifteen words is hardly a poem, really. If I keep this up the whole thing will be like John Cage’s 4’33”, only fifty years late. I shall call that poem erasure…Or unseen ellipses, which would win the pretentiousness stakes.

I hazard a guess that some of the poems posted by other Tuesday Poets have more than fifteen words. Just for the moment, the usual feather that takes you to New Zealand is sick, so press this link instead. It still works, though it is not as pleasing to look at.

A story of mine, a really short thing of 500 words, was recently published at AntipodeanSF (the October issue). Amazingly, this on-line magazine has been around since 1998! A real achievement for the editor, Ion Newcombe. The 200th issue will be appearing quite soon, which is a Proust worth of of flash fiction.

If you would like to hear me read the flash fiction ‘Slippery Worlds’, press this link and go to the AntipodeanSF radio show for November 15th, which is named Mirfak, after a star.

My fiction and my poetry seem to be converging in the universe of Small. I am the Incredible Shrinking Poet.

Palm cockatoos

Heads like a child’s drawing of bird heads,
huge beaks and feather manes, flopping,
last extant beat-poets, croaking of things
hep and cool. Man, you hit bedrock
on that arching drum, selecting the sticks
that give the deepest echo, sound playing
through tall wooden amplifier,
from dark roots to hazy blow of sky.
You contemplate the waving tops
of tropical trees, plumed angel-head,
stylish in your black daytime rhythm.
Inimitable pulsing punctuation,
beaky accent perched above
the forest’s bright green flow.

(The palm cockatoo is the only wild animal known to select, and possibly to store, sticks for use as musical instruments.)

P.S. Cottier

I am fascinated by palm cockatoos, although I have never even seen one. They live in the far tropical north of Queensland.  The tattoo comes from much closer Queanbeyan, just over the border in New South Wales.

So why would you get a tattoo of a bird you have never seen? A little reminder that there are more things in heaven and earth…an encouragement to discover new worlds and boldly go…a cheap and less seedy way of being a pirate?

I don’t know, but I think the tattoo artist did a good job. (Thank you Carbine.) I have posted a black and white photo as the colour one I have makes my skin look a rather alarming yellow: just below nuclear buttercup.  I will try and obtain a better photo, as the detail is blurred in this one. But this is my cockatattoo forever looking for sticks. My skin is the drum. Watch your finger!

For poetry, much of which is written in a country where tattoos are not unknown, please press this feather:
Tuesday Poem

These greatest hits
unfurling themselves beige flags
four four drumming
and I download white noise
to erase familiar grate

P.S. Cottier

So you’re out shopping, right? And out of each shop comes a different appalling noise, threatening to strangle you. You feel like running away and hiding. In the supermarket they have a pretend radio station broadcasting ads for the entire stock of that wondrous supermarket źbetween ultra-insipid whiter than beige music, scraping away at your ear-strings, subtle as an un-oiled trolley. The same over-enthusiastic voice extolling the wonders of detergent until you wonder if this is in fact hell, and the unseen she who is spruiking is in fact a cleaner, brighter Mephistopheles. Or proper commercial radio entertains you in the shop of your choosing, which in Canberra includes advertisements for brothels, sorry, Gentlemen’s Clubs… And you’re just trying to buy yourself some cosmetics…And you don’t want to be impaling yourself on thoughts of patriarchy, just finding exactly the right shade of lipstick.

And again and again it’s Flashdance or Elton John or Sheena Easton or chiselled Flame Trees, punctuated by McDonalds or Hungry Jacks or the local roof repair man who does his own ads (‘Call and ask for ME!’) and really shouldn’t. You try and tell yourself that it could be worse, that it could be Christmas with Rudolf and the long-horn gang, banging at your ears in American accents, but that’s only a theoretical worse; for the moment this is as bad as it gets. So you duck into the chemist (avoiding the vapid waft of Fleetwood Mac sprayed like a cheap perfume) and buy earplugs.

And when you get home you try and find white noise to download, but at least, at least, it occurs to you that with your iPod in, people won’t think you’re odd, even if you’re listening to nothing at all, not a single half-chewed byte, but just your own thoughts and the muffled beating of your calmer heart.
For poetic people with (hopefully) less rant, click on this feather:
Tuesday Poem