Two anthologies for spring

October 20, 2018

Very happy to have a poem in Best Australian Science Writing 2018, edited by John Pickrell (NewSouth Books), and another one in Poetry Bridges: Canberra/Nara Commemorative Anthology, edited by Saeko Ogi, Amelia Fielden and Noriko Tanaka (Ginninderra Press).

I just attended the launch of this second one, and it was a delight to hear the poems, including mine, translated into Japanese.  There is a Nara launch next month, where the Japanese poems will no doubt also be read in English.  Nara and Canberra are sister cities, and have been for 25 years. BASW is being launched in Sydney in November.

poetry bridges

basw

I am on two panels at Quantum Words in a couple of weeks; this is a day long festival looking at science and writing in Sydney. One is specifically about poetry and science, the other has the unassuming title ‘Writing the Universe’ which sounds vaguely biblical to my ears! To finish off, here is a very Japanese crane, at home in Hokkaido. We were lucky enough to see them in the wild, as well as at the sanctuary.

crane

‘…Transient creatures that swarm and multiply…’

Galaxies expanding —
every grass patch blinks
with five hundred petalled suns.
Bees travel between them
mining pollen from stars.
Aliens hover amongst us,
just like us in gold lust
and frantic accumulation.
For us, though,
it’s always spring,
exempt from rumours
of compromising change.
Our ears are buzzing
with far less than bees.
The canals are Martian,
quite epically empty.

P.S. Cottier

daisies

The quotation in the title is from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. The quote refers to microscopic creatures, but we shall not quibble. The canals on Mars, exploited in the poem for a pun, turned out to be mere features of topography (Here I must insert a green alien saying ‘That’s what you think!’ followed by a sinister laugh. It’s compulsory.)

Mining anything from stars would be a tad difficult, I know, but I’ll flourish my poetic licence on that one, to any cruising and literal minded traffic cops of the blogosphere.

There’s a great tradition of books about creating a breathable atmosphere on Mars, and I’m also harnessing that to a poem partly about our rabid experimentation with earth’s climate.

It’s amazing where a patch of daisies can lead you!

UPDATE: So the gutless NSW Premier has changed his mind on banning greyhound racing. Cruelty 1, Compassion 0. I’ll be interested to see what the ACT government does in response.

Spliced spork

The apple sauce
and the piggywiggy
indistinguishable.
It cries on the way
to the house of death
and the tears are sweet!
Sweet as knowledge.
Tears caught in bottles
and served with the very hog
who cried them;
married to the condiment
at the level of genes.
Spliced spork
cranturk
and chickens who lay fries,
or chocolate, come Easter.
Spliced is good.
Spliced is so much nicer.

P.S. Cottier

Now even more perfect...

Now even more perfect…

This was inspired by the disgusting news that you can buy a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken, if you want to be Krowned as Kholesterol King. I imagined a pig that sheds tears that could season itself, due to the Wonders of Science being put to a gluttonous use.

The only thing that stopped my putting on 500 kilos at Christmas was the fact that I am vegetarian, and that I did at least an hour’s exercise each day. I am still too plump to be properly smug though. Please understand that.

A belated Happy New Year to all readers.

Tuesday poem: Sequential menu

November 10, 2014

sequential menu

methane farts
too many cows
thick beefy skies

thick beefy skies
drive for takeout
taste that plastic

taste that plastic
(onion rings)
defenestration

defenestration
gutter wrapper
sea junk flourishes

sea junk flourishes
macturtles sup
second hand meat

second hand meat
too many cows
thick beefy skies

P.S. Cottier

but not so charmingly rural

but not so charmingly rural

I like this one; parts of it were originally written for a science haiku competition, but it grew and grew like cattle in feedlots.

***

Currently I am co-ordinating an on-line course on writing speculative poetry for Australian Poetry, which has nothing to do with cows. I just set an exercise, and, in case anyone out there is interested, here it is:

EXERCISE YOUR ALIEN

Imagine you meet a supernatural or alien creature. In a poem, describe this being, which could be from another planet, another dimension, or another time. It, or he or she, could also be a fairy tale character, or a character from mythology.

Try and avoid cliché. For example, if you have chosen a vampire, don’t use bat or crypt imagery. Don’t put your ghost in a graveyard!

Imagine meeting it in a common situation, such as your house, walking the dog (is that actually a dog?) or at a supermarket.

How does the creature sound? Smell? These senses are just as important as how it looks. Try and be specific in description rather than using abstract terms. (For example, don’t say ‘its alien hands’, say ‘its caterpillar tentacles, slug soft yet avid’.)

Tone can be humorous, terrifying, matter-of-fact.

Any form. A haiku can say as much as a ballad. But don’t let rhyme become the main reason for the poem!

Enjoy yourselves.

***
Now New Zealand has weird creatures, including the flightless poet. One of them just dropped this feather onto my screen. Click it and read her or his poetry:
Tuesday Poem

Okay, the feathers have disappeared, ruining all my amusing references used for years on this blog. Please excuse! Our feathers now are ended…

When geeks were women

or one woman.
Lovelace, unknotting expectations
into programmes; cognition dancing.
Father’s couplets sounding through
the could-be Difference Engine cogs,
but twirling in pas de deux maths;
poetry dressed and transmogrified.

‘Supposing, for instance…’
you saw a computer writing music;
an Aeolian harp catching numbers,
driven by numbers, until numbers
were the musician and the song.
No mere calculator; you sang too.
Your thoughts ring in history’s ear.

Medicine lagged behind your mind,
and the small number 36
is all the years you had. Cancer
bloomed inside your womb;
a sick reminder of biology.
No algorithm could remove that fate.
The same age as your unknown father

who died heroic on the shores of myth.
Ada, when I Google you,
I think of you holding a fan
(lace as elegant as your ideas)
and I want to shout back through clogged time
to deafen sad boors who still say no:
Ada, it works! My dear, it works!

*
‘Supposing, for instance’ is a quotation from Ada Lovelace’s writing. Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815 – 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron, wrote the world’s first algorithm.

P.S.Cottier

(Note that the first line is supposed to be properly broken into two; so that the words ‘or one woman’ occur at the extreme right of the line. My blog — or, more probably, my ancient difference engine — doesn’t seem to like cleverness today!)
Ada_Lovelace_portrait

Ada Lovelace was a scientist/mathematician back when women really didn’t do that sort of thing. There are still places where women don’t get any education at all, and even in highly developed countries, there are far fewer women than men who manage to occupy the highest research positions in academia.

But raise a glass to all the women who do science, including Ada Lovelace, all those years ago. Then click this link, for further poesie. You may put your glass down first:
Tuesday Poem