Firstly, if you want to hear me talk about poetry at some length, and read a few poems, please go to the Verity La podcast.  Michele Seminara and Alice Allan are the interviewers/fellow discussants, which means that they like hurling questions like flattened orbs, but in a polite kind of way.  I am just getting up the courage to listen to myself.

Secondly, I was in a most excellent night at The Salt Room on Friday 23rd September.  I was the first reader, armed with lectern, and stayed rooted to the spot, even if my poetry didn’t.  I read about fantastic creatures and climate change.

Then came Miranda Lello, who read a long poem, or poetry sequence, called Election Day 2086 (a memoir, a map), which she had written for the reading.  She also made a zine specifically for the night.  The election described in very grounded in Canberra, but a Canberra that stands as a kind of ghost of the current one.  Black Mountain Tower

‘…rises from the forest pointing
To our neo-retro-future selves
Empty for decades beaming signals to the stars –
Stories of school groups’ noisy chattering
The cruelty of children…

She is a great reader/performer, and I enjoyed her travels in time, and the way she recasts the very familiar in a slip of unfamiliarity. She needs no magic call box. Or lectern, either!

Scott Wings also dealt with time, but for me his use of space was the most remarkable thing; his crawling up a tree by lying on the floor, his pacing the room, so that even the shyer people up the back were made part of the performance.  If you gave Scott a lectern, I think he’d probably use it in some unexpected way.  His work is quite moving, too, dealing with aspects of his life and how he came to poetry.  Here we all are:


Joel Barcham and Andrew Galan were their usual form of excellent, too, and I am very happy to have been asked to read at The Salt Room.

Yesterday (and thirdly) I went up to Sydney for the  inagaural  first Poetry at Sawmillers reading, and enjoyed the brief taste of the lower north shore.  Some really good poetry read and performed, and I’ll post a link to the winner’s poem if it is published.  For me, sitting at a local pub with a view of a bay and a bridge, sipping booze was so pleasant I can imagine another poet, say SP (“Sippy”) Cottier, who would miss the reading and simply stay on the terrace, sunning herself like one of the lizards living under the succulents on the deck who have no idea that they have a view worth about 3.5 million dollars.

But I am not that poet, and really enjoyed reading my poem, which I present forthwith:

7 ways to look at a sculpture

Firstly, it seemed a frozen poem,
which I read in different drafts
as I skirted around it.

Then it was time captured,
as if to trap the watchers,
and so release us from fervent rush.

By Wednesday I saw it more
as a mere mirror to catch
any cracked thought I threw at it —

but the next day it restated
its being as a question, set to
disrupt our certainties with what?

Friday, it seemed to push up the sky,
a small, persistent fist clenched
against wind and mess and change —

but this changed on Saturday.
The grass seemed to give birth to it
as tulip, rocket and shining tree,

which unfurled into beauty
on the stretching, languid, seventh day,
an exclamation, an endless ah!

P.S. Cottier

Now I am off to stare at the Verity La site to see if I’m brave enough to listen to me.

***I have also received my new chapbook, and will post about that very soon.  That’s a fourthly.

UPDATE:  I listened to the podcast and I’m not as inarticulate as I had feared.  I particularly like the discussion on ecopoetry and climate change.

…it’s on Wednesday the 23rd July, 7.30pm at Don Bank House, 6 Napier St, North Sydney.

Hopefully my health will have improved by then, as I am currently sounding like a moth-eaten walrus with a two packets a day habit. Here I am looking a little dumpy:


I will try and haul myself together over the next little while, and magically transform myself into a cultured creature who can read. North Sydney is not my usual part of Sydney; so it will be interesting geographically as well as offering an opportunity to meet more poets. I tend to stay in Glebe when I go to Sydney. Or Newtown.

The launch is being held alongside poetry readings organised by Danny Gardner, so there is a small cover charge for non-contributors.

Do come along, dear Sydney persons. Unfortunately, Tim Jones is poetically ensconced in New Zealand and will not be able to make it, but I’ll be there, as will David Reiter, the publisher.


Here is a link to the Facebook page with lovely photos of the previous launches, and you can navigate from there to a dedicated Sydney launch page, should you so desire.

Or better still, just come along.

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.

The first was on the Poets Train from Canberra.  Four leisurely hours to take in the scenery, to read, to compose a poem (we read out our efforts every hour). Arrival at the beautiful Central Station where we read to ourselves again, and a couple of punters.

The next day we read at The State Library. Here I am doing just that, in a photograph taken by K.A. Rees. (Note the staring into the middle distance):

And that night we read at the Friend in Hand pub in Glebe, where a cockatoo, George, chats to the customers. I chatted to Martin Langford, whose vocabulary is much greater than George’s. (No offence George!)

And in between, I enjoyed all Glebe has to offer. Interesting food, cheaper than in Canberra. The big vegan breakfast at Badde Manors, for example. Lying on a chaise longue that was used as a prop in the film Moulin Rouge, writing a review. Drinking wine. Longing for the ability to stay in that fair city. Sigh. As usual, I found myself looking at real estate agents’ windows, doing very unpoetic calculations.

Then four hours back, dozing and composing on the Sunday.

And today? (That’ll be yesterday by the time I post this.) Up to Sydney again in 23 minutes by plane. Barely up before you’re down; the landscape something to get over rather than through. State Library again, where I was lucky enough to pick up a third prize in the Society of Women Writers poetry competition, judged by Judith Beveridge, for my poem ‘A brief history of fun’. Judith gave a wonderful seminar focussing on sound in poetry, and although her ideas are quite different from mine, I left feeling inspired. There was a haiku/ haibun/tanka reading. There was Mark Tredinnick, although I had to leave his PowerPoint talk early to catch the flight home. A fire siren test provided the ideal moment for slipping out.

Twenty-three minutes
Throwing steel through air
We scorch the sky

Now I’m in pre book-launch mode! Radio interview on Friday on local station ArtSound. But I am haunted by a most beautiful spirit at the moment.

A ghost called Sydney
Lithe warm and lively
Winding me back home

Home that is, to a city I have never lived in. And against whose inducements I must block my ears, and tie myself to the cold mast of common sense.

Also known as Canberra.

I’ll love it again in a few days, but I have to learn to do so again.

From a Railway Carriage

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
From A Child’s Garden of Verses

On 7th September, the Poets Train (aka Poetry in Motion) will be leaving Canberra, bound for Sydney. Now this is not a plan by the burghers of the ACT to rid themselves of the tiresome pox of poetry, but an initiative of Australian Poetry, the relatively new national poetry organisation.

Vers libre: No-one is keeping it on the rails. Hence the lack of rails.

We will be composing poetry on the train. A chapbook of poems will result. Countrylink, the NSW train people, will be donating a return fare to anywhere on their network for the best poem. (How that will be judged is something I do not know. But throwing the other poets off the train seems like a wise precaution.)

In Sydney we will read and/or slam, given our preferences. I think it sounds like fun!

I will give an update on the Poetry Train later on. If you’re interested in joining the train,  here is the Countrylink page with the details. (Scroll down).   It may already be too late, but possibly not.  You will have to book accommodation in Sydney (Fiona McIlroy, the organiser, whose email appears on the Countrylink page, may be able to help with suggestions for reasonably priced places and don’t forget a return fare! Unless you decide to stay in that beautiful, comparatively WARM city.)

In the meantime, the feather below may be pressed in an emergency. Such as if you feel the need for more poems.

Tuesday Poem