I am very happy to have my first publication in India.

The poem ‘Canberra’ appears in the book Capitals, edited by Abhay K.  The anthology contains poems about nearly all of the world’s capital cities, and is published by Bloomsbury, India.  I came across this YouTube film of the book being launched recently at the Jaipur Literature Festival, by Ruth Padel:

Canberra is represented by two poems; the other one is by Michelle Cahill, which I am hanging out to read.  So we’re really writing above our weight division in terms of population, particularly as Oceania is merged with Asia in the book.

I am very much looking forward to receiving my contributor’s copy.  Here is the cover, which is stompingly cool:


I responded to a call-out for poems for the anthology on the Australian Poetry website, and feel honoured to be included with my mild little poem about Canberra.  Poets in the anthology include Ms Padel, the late Mahmoud Darwish, Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva and Derek Walcott.  Just shows that you should always submit a poem if the project interests you. You have nothing to lose but your quatrains, as Marx didn’t say.

Most of all though, I’m delighted to be published in India, which is home to the world’s second largest number of speakers of English.  It makes a welcome change from Oz or the USA.  My poems are becoming much more well-travelled than I am!  (I’m usually beyond rapt when I do a reading in Melbourne or Sydney.)

The book can be ordered through Amazon India, from late April, according to that site, or from Bloomsbury, also in April.  No doubt it will be available elsewhere as well.

UPDATE: I just I just found out that the Jaipur Literature Festival is coming to Melbourne!  Exciting stuff.

As I approach the launch of my first book, I can’t help regretting the loss of my exclusive relationship with the poems inside it. Once it was just me and these works, with no third parties looking over our shoulders. Of course, I am pleased to be published. But one part of me, a part that I have shamelessly nurtured over the years, prefers the life of fantasy and dreams to the real world of readers and print.

It’s a well-worn trope (I bought it at the second-hand trope store) to compare a book with a baby. I always suspect a hidden insult to reside in this sort of comparison, at least when applied to the writings of women. It’s as if the work is less an intellectual endeavour than an extension of biology; poet as womb. Of course that is to ignore the intellectual aspects of pregnancy, and the fact that in advanced societies at least, the continuation of pregnancy is a willed act, no longer a question of mere chance. But there is something about the way my book now has a life of its own that does recall childbirth, in all its terrifying complexity.

I admire Emily Dickinson for her steadfast refusal to seek publication once she understood that it would mean compromise. That and the fact that she was unique and seemingly almost timeless in the invention of her own poetic language. But we can’t all be solitary geniuses, can we? (Most of us aren’t any sort of genius at all, not even noisy, self-promoting ones.) And publication, that rendering of the personal into the public sphere, the changing of monologue into dialogue, is necessary, if our conversations are to stretch beyond our immediate community.

All very serious. But here is a poem written about my first book. You can see why I say I am not Emily. But, on the other hand, so what?

The poet addresses her first book

Oh my little treasure, with your spine just like a real spine
and your two short footnotes; smooth, appropriate and small.
I would swaddle you in gossamer, rock you in a golden crib.
All too soon you’ll be waddling out amongst dangerous critics
(if one so angelic and slim could ever so perambulate.)
Strange readers may not see your brilliance, and overlook you
for the thicker, slicker, tarmac roads of easy fattening prose.
Those lard-backs, perched like obese babushka dolls
above the Muse’s cuter, lighter, cuddle-worthy spawn.

Hush, dear bookie. Drink deep.
No-one will ever love you as I do.

P.S. Cottier