paths cover

Very happy that my wee book Paths Into Inner Canberra has been short-listed in the non-fiction category of the ACT Writers Centre Publishing Awards.  Last year the book I edited with Tim Jones called The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry was highly commended in the poetry category, which is a different kettle of aliens.

The photo by Geoffrey Dunn above shows me pedalling vigorously (or coasting) between genres.  Of course, poetry often describes the world in all its maddening detail from a slightly different perspective.  Slant, as one Ms Dickinson put it.  So rather than speaking of the bike-path running between poetry and non-fiction, perhaps we should picture two lanes separated by a weirdly curving, vivid orange line.  Poetry as high-vis non-fiction?  Non-fiction as poetry elongated into paragraphs?  Mmm, I think I need to do a bit more thinking from under my invisible helmet.

I’m afraid I haven’t read the other non-fiction books nominated.  Here is a link to all the nominations.  I have read the two poetry collections nominated, and they are both excellent.

Looking forward to the announcement on Thursday, and I am more than happy that a book that retails for $4 (plus postage) has made it to the short-list.   Makes an excellent alternative to the type of Christmas card in which Santa hovers over the chimneys like a rum-filled Hindenburg.

My new poetry collection, Quick Bright Things: Poems of Fantasy and Myth, marks a return to fairies. But often rather unpleasant ones, not so far removed from reality.  It is also available at that link.

UPDATE: 16-12  Very happy that Paths received a Highly Commended at the awards last night. Building a City – C.S. Daley and the Story of Canberra by Jennifer Horsfield was the winner in this category, and well done to her.

I am so very nice

April 21, 2015

Why that self praise? I am about to share the details of a wonderful poetry prize currently on offer with all readers:

First prize is $15,000 for one poem of up to 50 lines, and entry is $20. It is open to everyone in the world who writes English and has a credit card with at least $20 left on it. That may exclude quite a number of poets, admittedly, but a few may qualify. There’s a bit over a month before the prize closes. Obviously, there will be quite a few entries!

Pick up pen, tablet or crayon and write. Or enter a poem that you have been too lazy to send in to a journal. Do it or be beaten by this rabbit:

I am hoarding a poem for the competition like Gollum with the Ring. It just requires a bit more polishing.

Good luck!

A nice surprise!

July 21, 2014

I just heard that I have been awarded second prize in the Hector the Lump of Coal Picture Book Competition. I wrote a story in verse called ‘Hector and the Bully’.

Such a pleasure to rhyme and to have a narrative, and a group of characters, I must say. It was a very different type of poetry from that which I usually write, which tends to be free verse.  I tried to make the poem quite easy to read, particularly aloud, while avoiding overly clunky rhymes.  (It is about a lump of coal, though, which is a fairly solid addition to any poem.)

I wanted to raise the issue of bullying without making the work too confronting for a potential audience of young readers (some of whom might have the story read to them by parents, should it be published).

Hector became more like a real presence to me as the piece progressed, as those close to me noticed. What started purely as a bit of fun became a tad more serious. Hector began popping up in the conversation all the time.  I began imagining him in all sorts of scenarios.  As is usual with me, I became a little obsessed.  First time it’s happened with a coal-shaped mascot, though!

To say that I am surprised to win a prize is actually an understatement, given that this was so far from what I usually do.  Although I have secretly been working on a different children’s book, it must be said…Here I am dreaming of publication.

This current award does not necessarily mean publication of the story, by the way. It is a cash prize.

Thank you to the organisers, DBCT Pty Ltd. I only wish I could meet Hector some time.

I had a poem prepared for today, but this most unexpected news intervened.

A nice reminder

November 18, 2013

…that I am a poet, not just an editing slave-droid.

Judith Beveridge and a madwoman

Judith Beveridge and a madwoman

My collection of poetry, The Cancellation of Clouds (Ginninderra Press) was awarded Second Prize in the Society of Women Writers NSW biennial book awards in Sydney last week. More to the point, one of Australia’s leading poets, Judith Beveridge was the judge. I look forward to reading her thoughtful comments properly, as I was a little too flustered to take in much more than the words ‘quirky’ and ‘muscular’, and there was a lot there that I wanted to consider. Those two words did bring to mind a combined weightlifter and clown with wacky inflatable biceps that squirt people. Multi-skilling, I think they call it. This is really what is wrong with my mind, I suppose; it does go off on trampolines.

I actually read some of my poems at the airport, and I thought, hm, these are not too bad. Then I lifted up another passenger waiting in the bar, while wearing a purple nose. (Red is so yesterday, dahlings.) The book is still available from Ginninderra Press, by the way, if you go here. Scroll to ‘C’ for Cottier. (Or Clown (Multiskilled).)
cancellation cover front only-1

And now, back to the wacky world of editing, which is a bit like juggling diamonds, and a bit like cholera.

On prizes and poetry

December 13, 2010

‘I had rather be a kitten and cry mew                                                                   Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers’                                                     (Shakespeare, Henry IV part 1)

Poetry long ago lost its place as the most respected form of writing in our society; poets may be the legislators of the soul, but the number of souls within poetry’s jurisdiction is comparatively small.  You write poems, and you hope they make someone’s mind quake a little, or at least experience a bit of a shadowy quiver.  Poets are become the sherbet of the soul, it seems, if not the fruit tingles. (Fruit Frisson, anyone?)

Prizes for poetry are important in that they show that (a) at least one other person has read your work and (b) they liked it.  To be selected for an award judged by a ‘panel of experts’, all of whom must have preferences and peccadilloes (or armatures and armadillos) is sweet, as it means that your idiosyncratic words have touched more than one mind; perhaps even surprised people into forgetting that they are working their way through a pile of poetry taller than the average skyscraper.

I just heard that I have been awarded a prize called the David Campbell Prize (shared with another poet called Robyn Lance) administered by ArtsACT .  The poem, called ‘Visitation’ was very bleak indeed; a mediated response to stories that we read in the newspapers of parents who kill their children, stories which can haunt the reader for days.  I wanted to haunt the reader in the same way, to move well beyond sherbet.

Winning a prize for such a poem conjures forth ambiguous reactions: nothing could be further from my mind when I was working on the piece than the concept of winning.  Writing a poem about the murder of children to win a prize would be sick indeed.  (You’d be worse than a hack ‘ballad-monger’, regardless of whether the poem rhymed or not.)  But I am glad that a poem on a subject outside the usual palette of subject matter won the prize.