This new year kicks off very happily with a dynamic new poet who is forging a dazzling path through the poetry scene. A full collection after so few years is testament to the talent, energy and passion that Michele has in spades. But not to give you the wrong idea, Michele was a writer of fiction before she was seduced by the beauty of poetry so is not altogether a raw beginner.
What amazes me about her place in the literary world is the way she is already giving back. She has shown courage and enormous generosity in taking on the position of Managing Editor of a high profile online literary journal, Verity La, as well as writing, attending readings and raising three children. I think this is where her Buddhist training must come in. In interview Michele comes across as humble, modest and thoughtful. She is always positive and life-affirming. I look forward to this debut collection (love the cover and title) which I feel will be muscular and far from rose-tinted.
Zhuang Zhou Dreams in Pink
I suck the pink flowers off the tree
into the negative space of my heart:
they spear towards me —
reverse Buddha blossoms —
transformed by mind’s Maras into weapons.
I crave some beauty to buoy me.
The kids in the back seat bicker:
they want, want
the dog, a walk
the teenager, who knows
the husband, oblivion on the couch.
The lollipop-man leaks
over the edges of his stool
in a caterpillar-green vest.
What a job, rising painfully
to ferry hapless children
to illusory shores of safety —
whose childhood dream was that?
How is it that we came to be locked
in these bodies, lives ossifying
into rings of fat, rigidity and suffering?
That man was once a boy
light as a dandelion, the body
barely given thought.
Now it’s a trap, and death the escape.
The doctor says my oestrogen is low.
She prescribes hormones to alter
the cruelty of my vision.
Their father’s breath is foul, like his tongue.
Theirs is sweet and sour, and their mussed heads
smell like musty flowers plucked
from ancestral beds.
I can’t yet leave this world
(I have young in it)
but sometimes I feel myself sliding
sideways into a past of vast possibilities
where hope still grows in gilded sheaves
and Ruth gleans artfully among the corn.
Oh be still, Ruth, I admonish, and do not lie
at the master’s feet — but rise
from your fate and know that you are God!
If you were asked — to turn that corner,
walk into that room, say yes
to that dance — would you?
Or would you answer
(quickly, so as not to wake the unborn) — No!
Then watch in awe as this life slips away.
Thirsting with love
for my queen
I climb the steps
above the sea —
The moon’s skull
decorates the night
and stains the church
with a bloody light;
the graveyard shelves
the village’s lost lives
in careless columns.
Nobody’s here, the night seems ill,
my mind is filled with darkness;
let’s lay together hull to hull…
I am myself in hell:
a sour spirit leaps in every cell.
Only a mother skunk
watches me sob on this still hill.
And she — with rich moonstruck eyes
that fire love into the air —
swills our garbage
and will not let me scare.
*‘Skunk Hour’ is a free-form remix of Robert Lowell’s ‘Skunk
Hour’, written in response to Stuart Barnes’s poem ‘Armadillo’, a
free-form remix of Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘Armadillo’
Some comments on Engraft
“Engraft is a masterwork. Seminara’s deep gift lies in her fusion of the viscera of life with a transcendent poetic vision. By turns terrifying and tender, loving and lost, Seminara is a major new voice in contemporary poetry.” – Charles Bane, Jr
“Michele Seminara’s analytic prayers, domestic fables and eloquent centos work their ludic wit and charms in the house of loss and disturbance. She is not afraid to say ‘beauty’ in the language of economy engrafted with careful flourishes.” – Michelle Cahill
“There is a great restlessness in this collection – the poems grumble, push on, then soar. The reader is drawn progressively into that fascinating morass called life… It is no small treat to immerse oneself in this collection: let yourself in.” – Les Wicks
“Engraft is chock-full of tender, brave poems with emotional depth. Seminara’s work displays control, deft pacing, and a fierce commitment to witness with clear eyes the horrors we commit upon ourselves and each other. A book filled with variety and surprise which you will want, and need, to return to many times.” – Melinda Smith
Engraft (Island Press, 2016) is Michele’s first full-length collection and will be launched by Martin Langford (along with Les Wicks’ 13th book, Getting By Not Fitting In, launched by Chris Mansell) on 6 February, 2.30 – 5 pm, at the Friend in Hand Hotel, 58 Cowper St, Glebe. Engraft (along with other Island Press titles) can be purchased at http://islandpress.tripod.com/ISLAND.htm.
Michele Seminara is a poet, editor and yoga teacher. After studying English and Australian Literature at the University of Sydney, she travelled extensively through India and became interested in Buddhism and yoga, which she has since studied and taught. After returning from her travels, Michele settled down in Sydney to raise her family of three children.
Michele is a relatively new poet whose poems have been published widely in the last few years in journals such as Tincture, Seizure, Verity La, Bluepepper, Social Alternatives, Transnational Literature & Regime. Michele is an active member of the Australian literary community, reviewing poetry collections and interviewing authors for journals such as Mascara, Plumwood Mountain and Verity La.
She has also performed her poetry at and helped to organise the Blue Stocking Poetry Jam & the Women’s International Poetry Festival in Sydney.
In late 2014 Michele took over the role of managing editor at creative arts journal Verity La (http://verityla.com/, @VerityLa). She blogs at TheEverydayStrange (https://wordpress.com/stats/micheleseminara.wordpress.com) and is on Twitter @SeminaraMichele.
Michele’s work displays control, deft pacing, and a fierce commitment to witness with clear eyes the horrors we commit upon ourselves and each other. A book filled with variety and surprise which you will want, and need, to return to many times.” – Melinda Smith
Michele Seminara interviewed by Stuart Barnes in Tincture Journal http://tincture-journal.com/2015/02/28/michele-seminara-interviewed-by-stuart-barnes/
An interview with Nathan Hondros and Robbie Coburn for The Australian Poetry: Podcast https://medium.com/the-australian-poetry-podcast/show-notes-interview-with-michele-seminara-feat-stuart-barnes-b4fec1fe8fba#.6v1hjmj3w