Here’s the cover of my new book, Quick bright things: Poems of fantasy and myth.  It features an excellent illustration by Paul Summerfield, based on the poem ‘The Laws of Cricket rewritten for the Fairy World’ inside the book.  It’s a chapbook, with 28 pages packed full of striking gnomes, somewhat sporty fairies, unpleasant elves, skiving but environmentally responsible goddesses, underachieving ghosts, paisley pitbulls, and similar oddnesses.

I particularly like the see through paper after the front cover (and before the back cover) but you can’t see that here.  (A kind of parchment, I think.)  It feels great, and adds an appropriate air of mystery to the chapbook. I am celebrating its arrival with a coffee in this photo.


The title, by the way, comes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where Lysander says:

And ere a man hath power to say “Behold!”
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.

The book is available from Ginninderra Press in the Picaro Press imprint.  It costs $5 plus postage.  Or buy it direct from me if you are in Canberra.  I’m thinking about a wee launch for this wee book, although I’ll certainly be selling it at readings before any such potential extravaganza.  (The ISBN is 9781760412197, by the way.)

Note that this is not a book intended for really little children, as some of the fantasy creatures are fairly awful.  This is my first collection of purely speculative poetry, if we ignore The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, which I edited with Tim Jones.  And that is full of Other People’s Poems.  Here is the cover in greater detail:



Overseas (or local) buyers can also contact me via the contact form.  This is the best option if you’d like to arrange a signed copy.


Firstly, if you want to hear me talk about poetry at some length, and read a few poems, please go to the Verity La podcast.  Michele Seminara and Alice Allan are the interviewers/fellow discussants, which means that they like hurling questions like flattened orbs, but in a polite kind of way.  I am just getting up the courage to listen to myself.

Secondly, I was in a most excellent night at The Salt Room on Friday 23rd September.  I was the first reader, armed with lectern, and stayed rooted to the spot, even if my poetry didn’t.  I read about fantastic creatures and climate change.

Then came Miranda Lello, who read a long poem, or poetry sequence, called Election Day 2086 (a memoir, a map), which she had written for the reading.  She also made a zine specifically for the night.  The election described in very grounded in Canberra, but a Canberra that stands as a kind of ghost of the current one.  Black Mountain Tower

‘…rises from the forest pointing
To our neo-retro-future selves
Empty for decades beaming signals to the stars –
Stories of school groups’ noisy chattering
The cruelty of children…

She is a great reader/performer, and I enjoyed her travels in time, and the way she recasts the very familiar in a slip of unfamiliarity. She needs no magic call box. Or lectern, either!

Scott Wings also dealt with time, but for me his use of space was the most remarkable thing; his crawling up a tree by lying on the floor, his pacing the room, so that even the shyer people up the back were made part of the performance.  If you gave Scott a lectern, I think he’d probably use it in some unexpected way.  His work is quite moving, too, dealing with aspects of his life and how he came to poetry.  Here we all are:


Joel Barcham and Andrew Galan were their usual form of excellent, too, and I am very happy to have been asked to read at The Salt Room.

Yesterday (and thirdly) I went up to Sydney for the  inagaural  first Poetry at Sawmillers reading, and enjoyed the brief taste of the lower north shore.  Some really good poetry read and performed, and I’ll post a link to the winner’s poem if it is published.  For me, sitting at a local pub with a view of a bay and a bridge, sipping booze was so pleasant I can imagine another poet, say SP (“Sippy”) Cottier, who would miss the reading and simply stay on the terrace, sunning herself like one of the lizards living under the succulents on the deck who have no idea that they have a view worth about 3.5 million dollars.

But I am not that poet, and really enjoyed reading my poem, which I present forthwith:

7 ways to look at a sculpture

Firstly, it seemed a frozen poem,
which I read in different drafts
as I skirted around it.

Then it was time captured,
as if to trap the watchers,
and so release us from fervent rush.

By Wednesday I saw it more
as a mere mirror to catch
any cracked thought I threw at it —

but the next day it restated
its being as a question, set to
disrupt our certainties with what?

Friday, it seemed to push up the sky,
a small, persistent fist clenched
against wind and mess and change —

but this changed on Saturday.
The grass seemed to give birth to it
as tulip, rocket and shining tree,

which unfurled into beauty
on the stretching, languid, seventh day,
an exclamation, an endless ah!

P.S. Cottier

Now I am off to stare at the Verity La site to see if I’m brave enough to listen to me.

***I have also received my new chapbook, and will post about that very soon.  That’s a fourthly.

UPDATE:  I listened to the podcast and I’m not as inarticulate as I had feared.  I particularly like the discussion on ecopoetry and climate change.

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.

Oppressing the gnomes

The garden gnomes are downing tools
all over Australia, and whimsy is plummeting.
No more riding snails and pushing barrows,
or fishing for strangely ecstatic cod,
who gape for hooks in a pornography of cute.
The gnomes are turning nasty, attacking
the flamingos who continue to strut —
elegant pink scabs over the quirky lawns.
Gnomes piss on succulents and smear
foul gnome shit on the guinea pigs.
What do we want? they ask the air.
But they don’t know what to chant back —
their dissatisfaction is merely existential.
Even their industrial action raises a laugh,
with their crooked green caps slipping,
and their endless pipes twixt ruddy lips.
Their signs are egregiously misspelt.
Nome’s R Us is at least legible,
but the kerning is much worse than that,
and the punctuation speaks volumes.
Get back to it, gnomes, I say, imperiously.
Ply those forks, and play that accordion.
I bask in my elevation to exploiter,
swaying in a complacent hammock.
Surly yet amusing, the wee green men obey.
The ringleader rides a frog to the pond,
and casts in his line like a sigh.

P.S. Cottier


This is probably a weird commentary on the zeitgeist.  Either that or the gnomes have been putting things in my tea.

Walking out of the bar
(Seventh in a long series of nasty little poems)

There is a place that humour goes to die
like superannuated elephants.
The three part joke:
first this
than that
then punchline.
No final mild tingle
can ever atone
for the violence done to the ear
the appalling cringe of taking time
and parking a huge lump of
premeditation there.
People, mostly men,
dump these jokes like turds
to mark the boundaries of thought.
This is a funny! It moves like a funny!
So it must be funny!

You never shed boredom, m’dear.
You just packed it into a new shape;
a triangle of sludge, which you call
a joke. There is no jazz
to such a thing; no quip.
You play your lardy triangle
with a tardy limping tongue.
I listen for inadvertent puns,
or simply walk away.
Far better rude than bored,
says the woman in the beret,
unbearably self assured.
She’s walking out of the bar.

P.S. Cottier


Over at Project 365 + 1, I just posted a poem about the gym which I like quite a lot.  It has the optimistic name ‘Four times a week’.  Aspirational, one might say.  This was poem number twenty for that project, so I will do another ten days.  It makes the gym seem easy, I must say.