Jazz

Sax snaking
between notes,
tonguing air for directions,
poisonously honeyed
ears overflowing
quick thickening

and her voice,
both glacier and moraine
digging cool deep
graves of swoon,
lowering us in,
willingly, longingly
noise-swaddled

now punctuated by
exhortations of snare,
the metal finesse
of the cymbal
so jaggedly round
sweet clanging infraction

their fingers, her larynx
lynx swift yet subtle,
pouncing syncopation
delivers gasp-slaps
on listeners’ lobes —
we clap pauseless poise

PS Cottier

Szaxofoncsalad_001

It’s so very hard to write about music, but I continue to try!

In other news, my poem ‘Lycium Barbarum’ which first appeared in the journal Umbel & Panicle is now published in the Rhysling anthology, which contains poems nominated for the Rhysling Award, a yearly award for poems of a speculative nature. The awards are organised by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, based in the US. Speculative poetry includes science fiction, horror (mine is a humorous horror poem featuring werewolves), fantasy and sundry weirdnesses. Lovely to see it there.

(Image By User:Villanueva at hu.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons)

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.

 

He wouldn’t know a poem…

…if it had a business card that said A. Poem
(‘read me and weep’) which it presented to him
while waving a bright purple beret under his nose
(which organ is unable to detect the whiff of poesy)
while reciting itself, excitedly or coolly,
while pouring itself a sixth large glass of wine
(which would be hard, because of clutched beret and card case,
except that it would first return the beret to its poeting head,
at such an interesting angle, and would put the card case back
in a voluminous tote bag, full of its brother and sister poems
gathered into slim books which are now remaindered)
while squatting and shitting lines of the purest gold.
He just wouldn’t know it,
for what it seems to be.

P.S. Cottier

furtive beret

Talk to the beret

Now I could have the heading ‘nasty little poem’ for that but I’ve become a tad bored with that self-generated meme.

***

I’m been working on a little manuscript of fantasy poems at the moment; more about that anon. Speaking of that type of thing, there’s a nice competition on at the moment, run by the Science Fiction Poetry Association in the US, for poems of all lengths written in a speculative genre (fantasy, horror, science fiction etc.).   If you write such things, why not have a go?  It is only $2 (that’s the ‘somewhat more valuable than the Australian $ at the moment, but we’ll see after their election, American $’) to enter.  You don’t have to be a member of the SFPA to enter (I am a member), and it would be lovely to have more Antipodean entries.

It closes at the end of the month, and entries can be lodged on-line.


We are all working our way up, towards the birds

We are all working our way up, towards the birds.
Outliers like Icarus, 70s pterodactyl hanggliders,
twitchers and breeders of weird coloured parrots:
they have all felt the urge and responded
to the best of their beakless capacities.
But they are not the neo-orno avant-garde.
The egg must come first, before the flight —
putting aside philosophy, that is just true.
So who is nature’s true Anna Wintour?
Where is the next Paris to be found?

The catwalk of the world is spiked by echidna.
Platypus pouts there too. (That is hard with a bill.)
These two are the fashion-forward models,
who will soon sprout wings and launch and fly;
it is happening now, as I type and you read.
Placenta will be ditched, like yesterday’s rags.
Next year, unaided flight will be de rigueur,
and song will erupt, without instruments,
deep from the gape of seven billion throats.
We are all working our way up, towards the birds.

P.S. Cottier

airship-1670

This poem was recently highly commended in the Interstellar Award for Speculative Poetry. Fellow Tuesday Poet (and lovely person/editor) Tim Jones was placed second with a poem that blends the speculative and the political, and Kevin Gillam (who may be lovely, for all I know, but who lives in Western Australia, which is much further away than New Zealand, at least psychologically) was awarded first place with a fascinating work that demands several readings. (A little like that monstrous sub-clausey sentence, but much much better.) You can read their poems and the detailed judge’s report here. This was the second thing I was highly commended/shortlisted/close-but-no-cigared for in the last fortnight! I won’t bore on about the other one though, as I don’t want to publish that poetry here just yet.

If you like humorous, short poetry, I promise that some will be read at Manning Clark House on 24th June at 7.30pm. I hear there will also be some quite angry stuff, and, of course, some speculative poetry. That’s by me; I have no idea if Mark Tredinnick writes any of that sort of thing. (He is the other reader.)

Come along to 11 Tasmania Circle and find out. Also; wine.

cheers

Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.

Poet assassin for hire

The poet is armed and kicks.
Sometimes that even hurts.
Then she legs it, all enjambe
ment and blisters.
A regular mule with the metaphors,
she similes like a snake on butter,
and can tell voltas from mere electrics.
She chucks haiku
and knows better than counting
syllables like coins.
She put the eco in ecopoetry
and swoops like a precarious bird
onto the blank pages of logs.
Knuckledusters swell
on the ends of her fingers
like real toads waxing
in totes imaginary salons.
She stashes bullets
in well-worn culottes.
She will absolutely murder
for a few couplets more.

I, too, dislike her.

P.S. Cottier

(Many apologies to Marianne Moore.)

Wistful and vicious

Wistful and vicious

Sometimes it is good to have fun, ‘because fun is good’, as Dr Seuss wrote. Did you spot the ‘haiku’ embedded in the poem? Sorry, there is no prize.

I know at least three people that a poem written purely for fun will annoy, as they disapprove of play. I hear that Poet Assassin does not care. She is beyond shame. But obsessed by spelling; and I hear that she chose enjambement over enjambment for some obscure reason of poetics. Question that decision and die…

Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.
***

On a very different note, there is a great new opportunity for poets who would like to write a speculative poem. A competition, organised by Joanne (Jo) Mills, will award $1000 (that’s the plucky Aussie $) to the best poem written in the science fiction, fantasy, horror or any related field. Entry is $12 (again, in the magic coin of Oz). Online entry? Yes.

Here are the details:
https://interstellaraward.wordpress.com/interstellar-award-for-speculative-poetry/

I am chuffed that the contest was partly inspired by the book The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry edited by Tim Jones and myself last year. Ms Mills had a poem called ‘Folds’ selected for the anthology by the incredibly talented and gorgeous editors, who are only slightly inclined to exaggeration in one case.
bigstock-Comet-in-the-sky-15028232