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I feel almost forced to reflect, like a cross between Narcissus and the kid in that eye device in Clockwork Orange.

Achievements:

I leg pressed 200kg, which is pretty damned good.
Lots of publications. Lots!
My chapbook Quick Bright Things came out.
I did more live readings this year.
I was highly commended in many a poetry competition, which is winning’s peculiar cousin, sitting in the corner playing endless games on his device.

Not so achievey:

I spent too much time worrying about the news, and letting it affect me.
My budgie won’t talk.
My canaries won’t sing.

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Irresolute:

I don’t do resolutions, partly based on the fact that I heard two very fit people at the gym sneering at those they called ‘the resolutionists’, who join in January and are never seen after February.

But I will continue with the poeting, the gym, and letting the budgie teach me budgie. And this blog will continue as long as blogging is a thing, and Tuesdays exist.  Back to Tuesdays after the celebrations end.

Happy New Year, and easy on the Rabbie Burns!

Tuesday poem: Love letters

November 22, 2016

Love letters

I love you poetry because all I need is an old envelope — Telstra or power bill or guff — and a pen

And you wait there hidden between the grains of paper like a wee tiger, pouncing, or a huge poodle, primping

I can write you for everyone, or just for me

And through you I have met clever people, and some even good (and also pricks, but let’s not dwell in embroidery)

Poetry you keep my mind in the top fifteen percent of my generation

And you make me embed my thought in Real Words™ like a bloodbug in a mattress, burrowing

I weep for you when some use your name to produce pungent advertisements for self — ah! the faces I have slapped, the duels I have fought in your name (if only on paper)

You allow me to take a word — say egregious — and handball it back to myself with slicker hands than Hawthorn

And you stretch back and forward as far as music

And you adapt like Galapagos, but quick

Tourniquet and snake, you bite and comfort, and I love you like a convenient maiden aunt loves her old cat, who miraculously survived the pitbull

And you are the very pitbull, and the pitbull’s teeth.

P.S.Cottier

***

And in vaguely related news, I was just highly commended in the Poetry category of the Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, organised by the New England Writers Centre.   Very nice.  The winner of the poetry prize (which I won last year) was  Ian Hood, with a poem called ‘Drowning Satan’, which I look forward to reading.  Paul Prenter was commended.  All the poems (and stories, etc) will be published soon at the New England Writers Centre website, and I’ll link to that when I can.  My poem ‘On average’ was about domestic violence.

The judge was John Foulcher, a fellow Canberran.  (Judging was, of course, anonymous.)

dodgers-work

P.S. ‘Hawthorn’ in the above, is an Australian Rules football team, who have dominated things over the last five years or so.  (Until this year, in fact.)  Another helpful guide to Australian culture for benighted foreigners my lovely overseas readers.

P.P.S. Pitbulls are awesome dogs, and are only vicious if abused.

The home for ancient memes

Where they can haz cheeseburgers all day
Where jokes of nuking each other from space crack
Where everyone fusses over a grumpy cat
Where the cry of Ermahgerd echoes
Where an overly manly man flexes, endlessly
Where sad hipsters say many things
Where planking takes place every evening
Where the X all the Ys, and Y all the Xs
Where ice buckets become challenging
Where smugshrugs shrug smugly
Where seals have awkward moments
Where they debate the colour of a dress
Where they still Netflix and chill
Where…I’d definitely continue, but
Ain’t nobody got time for that

PS Cottier

oak-house

Discuss the colour of this Tudor, dress-like thing.

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.

coffee-cover

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:

 

quick-cover-copy-front-only

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:

salt-room

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.