On the sticky retirement of myth

Pegasus got too old
so Bellerophon melted him for glue.
Useless glue; for each pot is full
of feathers. Lovely scrapbooks
are ruined by inconvenient discards,
as grandmothers grow downy beards,
and babies sport Trumpy wigs.
And they fly into the air, too,
the photos, nay, the very books,
and escape into the ether,
to gallivant with feckless clouds.
Never use a famous wingéd horse,
where a broken legged nag will do.

P.S. Cottier

pale-horse

There’s a bit of my recently adopted veganism peeking around the corner of that poem!

A thoughtful review of my chapbook Quick Bright Things: Poems of Fantasy and Myth just appeared at the Science Fiction Poetry Association website (also extracts of the review appear in in Star*Line, the Association’s journal).  The reviewer is Sandra J. Lindow, a well-known poet in the speculative field.  (The review appears quite a way down the linked page.)

Ms Lindow writes of the chapbook that that ‘(t)he tone clip-clops down a slope elevated by the language [of] Victorian fairy-lore poetry…’.  I hadn’t consciously thought of that, but she is quite right.  That’s what happens when you write a PhD on Dickens, I guess!  And Goblin Market has always fascinated me.  The review refers to Christina Rossetti, author of that long poem.

Nice to have an Australian chapbook reviewed at the US based site.  I am a member of the SFPA, and recommend it to anyone interested in science fiction, horror, or fantasy poetry.

I was rapt to read that ‘P.S. Cottier’s slender chapbook of nineteen fantastic poems is like an elegant carriage ride through a department store of social criticism.’  Or perhaps I should say enraptured, in keeping with that older time?

Now I’m putting my fingers in my ears and repeating ‘la-la-la’ during a certain inauguration ceremony.  Feel free to join in.

Written Off

They had insured
and re-insured,
still it was not enough.

They hunched over maps,
consulted climate science.
Beachfront property

went with the stroke of a pen:
no possible premium
could insure that level of risk.

And floodplains:
why do people choose to build on them?
Bigger floods, more often: gone.

East Coast farmers, eyeball-deep
in debt, haunted by drought,
desperate to irrigate:

you backed the wrong horse.
Low-lying suburbs, factories
built next to streams:

there is no mercy
in insurance. The numbers speak,
and then there is no mercy.

Tim Jones

new-sea-land-front-cover

This poem is from Tim Jones’s new book New Sea Land, and deals with the effects of climate change in a particularly effective way, using deliberately simple language to describe a practical effect of rising sea levels.  It will become impossible to insure all those ‘desirable beachfront properties’, which may soon require scuba gear for inspection.

Tim’s book envisages the further changes that we may see (alongside those that we are already seeing) due to the global experiment that humanity is performing, without a control world to see if it’s a good idea.  The effects on the environment and people, both in his own country of Aotearoa/New Zealand, and worldwide, are the subjects of the book. The changes are envisaged in the very title of the book, with the shift from the words New Zealand to something recognisable, but quite different.

If the book’s topic sounds a little overwhelming, the poems themselves are witty, controlled and moving.  As someone who is trying to write on the same issues, without breaking into long and unseemly rants, I recommend this timely book to anyone who is concerned with climate change.  (Which is a bit like saying anyone who thinks, really.) Personal history is a concern in New Sea Land as well, notably in poems such as ‘The map’, but this is inextricably linked with questions of the treatment, control and ownership of land.

I have had the pleasure of editing a book with Tim, and is intriguing to see how he has moved his political concerns to the centre of his creative practice with New Sea Land.  And what a cover by Claire Beynon, showing a person teetering on a thin rope.  Tim’s poems are also attempts to find a way of walking the new landscapes we are creating, where loss and uncertainty surround us all.

New Sea Land is available from the publisher, Mākaro Press, who are producing great books.  Here are the details:

Title: New Sea Land
Author: Tim Jones
Publisher: Mākaro Press
ISBN: 978-0-9941299-6-3
$25 (NZ).

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/ganggang-turtles-diving-like-huge-coins-thrown-into-a-wishing-well-20150812-gix4gz.html

That’s a link to a very nice appreciation of my chapbook Paths Into Inner Canberra, written by Ian Warden. He is kind enough to write that:

‘She writes poetically, deftly and quirkily. The needle on my highly sensitive cliche-detector didn’t flicker once during my reading.’

Lovely stuff! I write hoping that I may surprise a few readers with an image or a reflection, and it is gratifying to read that this was the case with Ian Warden. Here is the cover, with a photograph by Geoffrey Dunn:
paths cover

The book can be purchased from me (for those who ride bikes/drink too much coffee at cafes), from Book Lore, Lyneham, in Canberra, or from the publisher, Ginninderra Press. It is $4 (plus postage, if you order online). It is a prose essay with two poems.

It snowed yesterday in Canberra, so I was not on my bike. Snow is an occasional surprise here, and everyone was armed with their smartphones to record the phenomenon of cold dandruff. It has never settled on the collar of the pavement, though, that I can remember.

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/book-review-the-stars-like-sand-edited-by-tim-jones-and-ps-cottier-20150223-13au1z.html

The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry was just reviewed for the Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times and elsewhere. A lovely review by Peter Pierce, which states that the book is a ‘splendid anthology, that entertains from start to finish’. Adjectives such as ‘enterprising, unusual and rewarding’ are used, which is always a good thing, providing retrospective solace to editors on their long trips through the unknown reaches of the poetic universe*.
a thing
Seek out the book here, or, if necessary, through those on-line bookstores.

You could even ask a physically constituted bookstore to order it for you, you intrepid little time traveller you.

*’Poetic universe’ is here defined to mean Australia; a small solar system on the outskirts of the English Andromeda.

11.22.63 by Stephen King

November 17, 2011

Here’s a link to my review of 11.22.63 by Stephen King, a time-travel novel about trying to prevent the Kennedy assassination.  The review was just published in Eureka Street.  Today, President Obama has been in Canberra, and fortunately, that visit by a US President to the South seems to have gone a lot more smoothly.   I travelled back from Melbourne to Canberra today, and we taxied quite close to Air Force One.  Amazing to see a plane treated like a celebrity!

When you witness the level of security that necessarily goes with a visit from the US President, it makes you very glad to be living in a less important country, globally speaking.