Highly cool doings

December 17, 2015

award writers centre

At the ACT Writers Centre Christmas Party earlier tonight, The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry edited by Tim Jones and myself, was highly commended in the Poetry category of the Publishing Awards. The winner was John Stokes, whose collection Fire in the Afternoon is quietly brilliant. Congratulations John!

Shortly after that photo was taken, I felt I had to get home and rest. I have had a strange and emotionally intense week, as one of my dogs (the idiotic Staffie) managed to eat bones without actually chewing, necessitating urgent vet action. $1000 later, she is nearly better. Our credit card is also exhausted.

I want to write a serious article about the morality of pet ownership some time, somewhere. But that time is definitely not tonight, as I sup and sip and pat the dog who has yet to learn that bones must be chewed, as she is not actually a crocodile, despite the ludicrous strength of her jaws.  She will never be offered another bone though!

Close up of the certificate, in case one image is not enough. The judges were Michele Seminara and Tim Metcalf:

UPDATE:  This is a link to the official announcements and the judges’ reports in all categories.

So as the year drags its poxy old carcass towards December, waiting to be reborn, I thought I’d have a bit of a think on what I’ve done this year in terms of writing. If that is likely to bore the intellectual beeves from your brain’s corral, please scroll down to the end, where there be a poem.

Firstly, the list is not all settled as the anthology edited by Tim Jones and myself has been nominated for the poetry category in the ACT Publishing Awards, run by the ACT Writers Centre.


The awards are to be given out in the lovely old building that is now the Gorman Arts Centre, on the 17th, as people sip wine and nibble on cheese.  Or, in some people’s cases, spurn cheese and guzzle wine.  I’ll update on those results.

Here’s some other stuff I did this year. Some future publications (accepted but not announced) do not appear:

P.S. Cottier’s stuff in 2015

Poem ‘Canberra’ accepted for Capitals anthology, edited Abhay K. To be published in 2015.  Now 2016.

Poems ‘Lord A of Yarralumla’, ‘Bike ride at night’, ‘A good end’ and ‘The smell of heaven’ published in Eureka Street, Volume 25 No 2, 9th February 2015. ‘A good end’ also published in Global Pulse, ‘edited in Rome, produced in Thailand’.

Poem ‘A lively discussion over the merits of flash fiction’ published Antipodean SF, issue 200, February 2015, along with reprint of ‘Prickly Green’. Recording of latter on radio show, March 2015.

Shortlisted Thiel Grant for online writing, March 2015 for proposal to write weekly piece on Frankenstein and Mary Shelley.

Report on Banjo Paterson Festival for Australian Poetry website, March 2015. (I performed a poem at the competition in Orange in February.)

Reading, Folk Dance Association of ACT, March 2015.

Poems ‘Cockatoos’ ‘All the blond Jesuses’ ‘The chicken in Autumn’ ‘A gecko in Canberra’ published in The House is Not Quiet and The World is Not Calm: Poetry from Canberra, edited Geoff Page and Kit Kelen, China, 2015.

Poem ‘After hours in the op shop’ republished in Rhysling Anthology, 2015, USA

Pocket book Paths into Inner Canberra published by Ginninderra Press, March 2015 in ‘Pocket Places’ series.

Adelaide Plains Poets Inc Poetry Competition 2014/15 ‘CLIMATE’ theme, awarded second prize for ‘Circular’. Judge Shelley Hansen.

‘Miles and beyond’ published Eye to the Telescope, Issue 16, on ‘Music’ theme, edited Diane Severson Mori, April 2015. (USA)

Tanka ‘without you’ published All You Need is Love, ed Amelia Fielden, April 2015.

‘Fire haiku’ published in Flood, Fire and Drought, ed Hazel Hall et al May 2015

Poem ‘The fruit of her hands’ published Midnight Echo, no 11, edited Kaaron Warren, April 2015. Also column on poetry, called ‘Writing with the Left Hand: P.S. Cottier discusses the sinister side of poetry’.

Article; ‘Crafty poet seeks words’ in ACTWrite, May 2015 (How I write)

Article ‘Literary competitions: Better than the pokies?’ (retitled ‘An accountant of dreams’) Overland Blog, May 2015

MS ‘ “Impressed upon me even more deeply”; Reflections of the monster’ judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Amy Hilhorst, work & tumble’s letter press chapbook competition, June 2015

Reading, Manning Clark House, June 2015 (30 minutes)

Highly commended inaugural Interstellar poetry award, June 2015 for ‘We are all working our way up, towards the birds’

Poem ‘Carrying an injury’ Verity La, June 2015

Poem ‘Route 9’ awarded third prize Australian Catholic University Poetry Prize 2015 on theme Peace Tolerance and Understanding, judged Kevin Hart and published in book of theme name, August 2015.

‘Shellac’ republished in Dwarf Stars Anthology, USA, 2015, edited John Amen.

Book Review Timelord Dreaming by David P Reiter published SMH 1-7 (on-line) Canberra Times 1-8 (print)

‘Soft-sacks for total relaxation’ (story) published Antipodean SF, August 2015. Also recorded for radio show. Broadcast November 7.

Book Review Growing Older Without Feeling Old: On Vitality and Ageing by Rudi Westendorp published The CT, August 8 2015

Two poems ‘The rules of cricket rewritten for the fairy world’ and ‘All the ships of the world’ published Eureka Street, Volume 25 No 15, 10 August 2015

‘At the Lifeline Bookfair’ Canberra Times, 19 September 2015

First Place Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, New England Writers Centre, 2015, published Armidale Express and the NEWC website. Judge Les Murray.

Highly Commended FAWQ Poetry Competition, November 2015 ‘The sounds of dying’

‘Secondary ghosts’ published Australian Poetry Journal, Volume 5 Issue 2, November 2015, edited Michael Sharkey.

‘A hard poem to market’ published Cordite ‘Toil’ edition (52) edited Carol Jenkins, 1 November 2015

‘Remembering Laika’ published in A Quiet Shelter There: An Anthology to Benefit Homeless Animals, ed Gerri Lean, Hadley Rille Books (US)

Solo reading/discussion Smith’s Alternative, November 2, 2015. That Poetry Thing That Is On At Smith’s Every Other Monday.

Poem ‘Three ways to look at crochet’ accepted for The Canberra Times, September 2016 (!)


I feel I’ve been quite busy this year, and I am particularly pleased with the wee book Paths Into Inner Canberra, which combines prose and poetry.  On the other hand, I should be sending out full length manuscripts here and there, but just want to write more individual poems at the moment.

I’ve been doing a few readings, and did my first solo one at Smith’s in November.  I particularly enjoyed being interviewed by Norm de Plume (Josh Inman) who is back in Canberra after defecting to Sydney.

Sydernee and Melbourne are both easier places to be a poet, it seems to me, (cos bigger and nearer to more publishers) and harder, in that it is easier to slip into anonymity there (cos bigger and more poets).  But definitely, those of us in the provinces need to be a little noisier to be noticed and acknowledged, I think.  Hard for the shy and retiring!  Or those who find Facebook and Twitter unbearable, anyway, such as your constant blogger.

Here’s a wee poem after all this egregious seeveeing.  (Which is like emceeing but even more ego driven.)  About climate change and monsters, which are frequent companions in my work this year:

Full stomp

It’s coming —
stomp! stomp! stomp!
down the roads of your town
or city or village or Tokyo style
megalopolis. Or isle now all swamp —
splash splash splash splash!
Roaring and slapping buildings
like the cheeks
of a thousand hysterical women
in chap rich 50s Westerns.
Stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp!
It is silver as a can,
silver as the idea of an automobile
before we (forget Tokyo)
realised that petrol had a price. Or gas,
as the Americans say —
fart fart stomp fart fart.
Godzilla on steroids
(for we shall use Japan when it suits us)
it turns its awful face towards us!
The face seems so familiar!
It breathes out the thick air
of a million hangovers!
Its cheeks have warts like silver hubcaps,
flung onto the highways of its cheeks!
I am the Anthroposaurus, it says.
Look upon me and weep!
Its voice is as subtle as its step,
subtle as this poem’s drear
(Full stomp.)

P.S. Cottier


oral hygiene and the dragon

In many ways, this blog is my favourite creation, and thanks to all my readers for being part of it.

Other Tuesday Poems can be found here.


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.

…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.

Last Thursday the second launch of The Stars Like Sand occurred in Canberra. Novelist Kaaron Warren, pictured here, did the honours, and spoke of her love of poetry, despite not writing it herself. She compared it to those without the skill watching someone crochet or knit, and distributed woollen bookmarks. Another ten poets read, and they read beautifully.

kaaron at launch

This is a photograph of Philip Salom, who launched the book in Melbourne. He spoke of play and ‘pataphysics, that is,”the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments.”(Jarry)*

Alternative pedigrees. Different ways of being. Garments we put on. The sinuous muscles of poetry. Lines of knitting. Each launcher took a different direction to describing a book that tries on different worlds.

I am in a state of mild grief now as the book that was once a near endless possibility, is now a thing; a physical object that has its own place in the world. It is what it is (subject to interpretation) and it is no longer mine. What once existed into multifarious complexity is now rendered actual. That’s always a bit of a bummer, even if it’s also a delight. It’s a bit like the difference between hearing a joke told for the first time, and hearing the same joke again. Something is lost, isn’t it. Something that leaps in the mind and the body at exactly the same moment.

But what a misery guts I am being; mulling over mental gruel rather than Pantagruelling! I should be revelling in the joy and enjoying myself! It is, I think, in many ways, a wonderful book. But it seems that some of us are more attuned to loss than achievement…even if we like funny poems.

I certainly enjoyed meeting my co-editor Tim Jones for the second time, as opposed through working through the aerial guts of Skype, with its weekly digital farts. Here is a photograph of Tim listening. He is much better at that than I am. He is listening to the wonderful Joe Dolce read his poem at the Melbourne launch. Tim has a new post about the Canberra launch too, at his blog.

We have forwarded the list of poets’ addresses to the publisher, so all contributors should receive their copy soon. Thank you to all the poets who contributed, and also to our two wonderful launchers.

And because I am vain, here is a photograph of me; on a high, reading my poem from the book at the Melbourne launch. My hair was much better at the Canberra one, though…

Now I am going to revel in The World Cup for a month. In another universe, Australia will be winning.

*Spellcheck kept trying to render ‘pataphysics as pasta physics, by the way. Love those alimentary lineaments.