Theatre Tuesday

October 9, 2017

Sedation group happy

So you’ve been feeling a bit past your use-by date, and a little tarnished by time.  Perhaps you are terrified that you are losing your way, and becoming the type of writer who repeats themselves, not to work and rework ideas like an artisan kneading bread, but because they can’t do anything else.  You meet that type, and they piss around the corners of conversations, lest new ideas insinuate and undermine their certainties.

And then someone* finds one of your poems, tucked away on this very blog, and includes it in a theatre work, and it is given a new voice and body by an actor**.  And you listen to it take its place in the work, and feel glad that someone felt its energy and its humour; a humour wedged between despair and hysteria.

Because you’re a total dag, you adopt a horizontal position in a photo amongst some of the other poets, and the actors.  You*** would underline how much the production meant to you in some alien form of punctuation.  You really need to discover decorum, rather than dwell in a cellar of rum.

*Adele Chynoweth, who directed the work Under Sedation, currently showing at The Street Theatre, as well as selecting/arranging the poems

**Ruth Pieloor (The other actor is Ben Drysdale and you can probably spot him in the photo above.)  The photo below shows Ruth adopting a Polonius stance, after the production.

r as p

***You obviously doesn’t mean you, dear reader.


Tuesday poem: On editing

September 11, 2017


Irma Gold has written a thoughtful piece about writing her story ‘The Line’ that appears in this year’s Award Winning Australian Writing.

My poem in this book, which covers both prose and poetry, is three lines in length, although I did not write it as a ‘real’ haiku. It won a contest for a poem in 50 characters or less, which means that the emphasis was on what was not spoken as much as the words that appeared. Editing and writing become virtually inseparable when the poem is so short.

I took the ‘How Tweet It Is’ title of the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ contest literally and wrote a poem called ‘The Cat’s New Beard’ which is not in the least bird-friendly. It’s about a cat eating a bird. I won’t post it here, as the book just came out, and I can’t really post an extract of a tiny poem. But here’s another short poem about the process of editing a wee poem about a bird.

Plucking words
too many feathers —
bantam or robin?

Now a bantam is bigger than a robin, just as Batman is bigger than the Boy Wonder, so robin is probably the better option.

I am enjoying reading the book, which contains everything from evocative stories (Irma) to dead canaries (me). Why not purchase one? The editor is Pia Gaardboe.

All written out —
ink pushes no poems

P.S. Cottier


My brain, if not my heart, is convinced that the year is ending, even if it’s only late October.  I have been running around too much to do the poem thing enough.  Definitely looking forward to taking a break in December to jump start the brain.  Must buy jump-leads.

Or vodka, which is nature’s jump-lead.

A short wander through the head of a poet

‘I am finding a lot of this poeting business is learning how to hack your own thinking.’ (SB Wright)

Axing myself near every day
with nouns like blades
or is that the verbs,
sneaking and executing
behind my weary back?
Adverbs are the worst,
obviously, and I try
to expel them from thought.
Does a bear? Does a bear?
It doesn’t work, naturally.
My head is a jungle
of the old Tarzan sort,
and even a cunning machete
won’t clear a way,
despite avid hacking,
and the sticky tape I use
to reattach feckless fingers.

I will staple a handy volume
to my brow, perhaps
one that tells how
to write truth slant,
like Dickinson E,
and to be picaresque,
and appropriately Byronic.
A coupling that, of itself,
will cause sparks to leap
as if one were to jump start
an elderly ute gone bad.
Now, where are my cables?
Is this an Allen key
I see before me?
Statbadgers of the world unite!
Pick up your tongues like sticks,
and lick the befuddlement of brains
from cracked and gnarly windows.

P.S. Cottier


SB Wright is a poet who, this year, is detailing the process of writing and learning more about poetry at his blog.   It is well worth a look.  He is far more honest about the struggle involved in writing than many of us, particularly when it comes to how he manages a ‘real job’ (my words) while trying to write. He posts actual numbers, written by helpful Statbadgers for those who like that type of thing.

Occasionally he also posts one of the results of these struggles, aka a poem, and he frequently directs you to poems by others, or books and talks about poetics. (Poetics is like choreography, but involves people who are a lot more clumsy.)

SB Wright is not plagued by adverbs in his poetry, incidentally.  That was poetic licence.

Loud man pissing round the reading
with irrelevant comments,
dribbling self, reflected in a deep pool
of his own stewed past, steaming.
He is a true Narcissus,
but not so drop-dead gorgeous;
fungus mated with dead cat.
He smells of yesterday and loss.
He shouts his irrelevance
with every tedious joke,
every punch line a squib,
tarnishing the grey sky.

P.S. Cottier


Not the subject of the poem

A nasty wee poem indeed, based on a couple of True Incidents.

On a couple of more positive notes, I’ll be reading a poem or two at Tuesday night’s launch of Suddenly Curving Space Time and meeting Gerald Keaney, one of the editors for the first time.  That’s at Smith’s Alternative (aka Smith’s non-Euclidean?), Alinga Street, Civic, at 5pm.  There is a bar.  I’m not sure if Hal Judge, the other editor, is in the country at the moment, but I will certainly find out.

UPDATE:  This launch has been postponed as Gerald is stuck in Brisbane due to ‘freak weather conditions’.  I think that means fog! I’ll give new details when I can.

FURTHER UPDATE: The rescheduled time of the Canberra Launch of the Suddenly Curving Space Time anthology of experimental poetry is 9.30pm – 11.30 pm on Thursday 21st July.

anthology covers

Secondly, the usually totally impeccable Kaaron Warren has inexplicably featured me as a guest blogger, chatting about how I refresh my wells.  That is what they call a metaphor, I believe.  Kaaron is seemingly aiming for a Guinness world record in having quite a few people write on this topic.  Seriously, there will be enough material for a Real Book based on these jottings, some of which are very informative and detailed. Some of the contributions One of the contributions is, however, a tad frivolous and involves violence towards naiads.