Monthly Archives: February 2016

Pippa Little

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The first review of your first book is the one most anticipated, most dreaded. In 2013, after the launch of my debut collection, When I saw Jimi, I wasn’t thinking as far as ‘reviews’ until three months later when editor John Murphy alerted me to a thoughtful critique of Jimi in his online journal (The Lake) and for all the world to see. It was by Pippa who made me realise that the business of publishing and poetry was serious and exposing.

She seemed to like aspects of my work but also drew attention to flaws in the more abstract pieces and quite rightly. Since then I have been more considered in thinking about what it is I am really trying to say and to avoid unnecessary obfuscation. It was a valuable lesson for a new poet. I also appreciated being reviewed by a well-respected and assured poet like Pippa, whose own work appears in places like Poetry Review, TLS, and anthologies like Best British Poetry.

Pippa’s narratives are abundant, compassionate yet restrained and true. She has an eagle eye and soul for the essence of things as in her poem Cobbles, which makes you view a single element of nature through new and penetrating eyes.

Pippa’s latest chapbook, Our Lady of Iguanas, takes you to Mexico. It is to be launched on March 9 at The Lit and Phil Library, Newcastle, UK. http://www.theblacklightenginedriver@hotmail.co.uk

 

iturbide_graciela_130_1995             Graciela Iturbide, Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas, 1979 (130.1995)

 

Against Hate

Sole passenger on an early morning tram
I’m half asleep when the driver brakes,
dashes past me, dives into a copse of trees,
gone for so long I almost get out to walk.
Then he’s back, his face alight.
I saw the wren! Explaining
how he feeds her when he can
and her restless, secretive waiting.
We talk of things we love until the station.
I tell him of the Budapest to Moscow train
brought to a halt in the middle of nowhere,
everyone leaning out expecting calamity
but not the engine driver, an old man,
kneeling to gather armfuls of wild lilies,
wild orchids. He carried them back
as you would a newborn, top-heavy, gangly,
supporting the frail stems in his big, shovel hands.
These are small things, but I pass them on
because today is bloody, inexplicable
and this is my act, to write,
to feel the light against my back.

‘Against Hate’ is in Hands and Wings: Poems for Freedom from Torture, ed. Dorothy Yamamoto, Foreword by Philip Pullman, White Rat Press, 2015 (raising funds for Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture)

 

 

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Brushing The Old Yellow Lab

She is grainy cornfields I remember up beyond our house,
glowing on the hillsides I never reached
through late summer sunsets: long shadows in slow burn,
that longing to be somewhere else
where my life could begin. So much faster
than I expected, here I am, mothering a dog in our middle-age
who slips out of herself, supple as thistledown
every season, almost-white chaff lifting in tufts,
for whom love is this wordless touch, the weight
of my hands. I plough shadows in and smooth them out,
remembering light pollen-sticky on my skin,
waiting for that sensed world to come.
Not how I thought it would be
or enough, yet warm, rough, loose,
more than I needed.

 

Cobbles

I love walking them late rainy nights,
their slippery fish-scale sheen lit from within,
love to listen to their mutter under my bootsoles,
how they unbalance me
yet hold –

they came from reefs,
languorous and murky, settling slow
in a warm mineral broth
studded with trilobites, flurried
by silver tail-to-fin-to-tail
oozing into stone

and now
like shoulders in a crowd or
a house of cards, delicate
weight with counterweight,
each one alone yet borne along in shoals,
they roll me home.

Cobbles was Runner-Up in The Black Country Museum Poetry Comp 20

 

Biography

Pippa Little was born in Tanzania, East Africa, grew up in Scotland and now lives in Northumberland in the North East of England. She was given an Eric Gregory Award and the Norman MacCaig Centenary Poetry Prize, is a Hawthornden Fellow and also a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. She teaches, edits and runs workshops. Her collection Overwintering, from OxfordPoets/Carcanet Press, 2012, was shortlisted for The Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. She is working on another collection. Her latest chapbook, Our Lady of Iguanas, is from Black Light Engine Room Press. She has three sons, the eldest of whom is editor of The Ofi Press in Mexico City, a husband and an elderly yellow lab.

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Links to Pippa’s poems and an interview online

http://thealchemistskitchen.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/new-poet-pippa-little-and-overwintering.html

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-9052-Four-poems-by-Pippa-Little#.VtEiUn195ZI

https://peonymoon.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/pippa-little-writes-about-overwintering/

http://www.jamesnash.co.uk/blog/index_files/72857f0ada3c7d8b72257c86a13a92e2-66.html

 

 

Autumn Royal

 

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‘She Woke & Rose introduces us to a poet, Autumn Royal, who is unafraid to spark light in the darkest of places. The poems in this impressive debut collection illuminate the uneasy space of the body, the tomb of emotional memory, the ugliness of misogyny, the abyss of consumerism, and the violent desire for communion.’ Read more of Maria Takolander’s introduction here:

http://cordite.org.au/guncotton/takolander-royal/

This manuscript, commissioned by Kent McCarter of Cordite Poetry Review for his limited edition collections (Cordite Books), acknowledges Autumn Royal as an emerging poet to watch.

Autumn has a growing presence online where she contributes poetry and intelligent, insightful criticism to our best journals. I look forward to holding this peony rose in my hand. This book is going to be special not only for its poetry but also for its stunning cover by one of our best designers.
About Zoë Sadokierski

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I am, possessive, still

Of the rose I have harvested
from the edge of her roadside
grave, distressed from the sun,
still livid, I am in the way
I move & still, it follows, the red
sand stuck in wanting,
sweat clung to my skin. I steal
for memories & the sky, haunting
these frayed petals, believing fingers
will tremble beneath resemblances
of hands, watching you kneel
on a mat under this direction
a procedure of breathing & slipping,
dry this rose, will never.

 

You don’t need eyes to see

O Aristotle’s lantern, such a canonical
clasping of teeth, the sea urchin drilling futures
into rocks shocking
against the shore of my reasoning
for wanting to step
over the line breaks of your story,
how they mimicked the needle-like spines
projecting from the urchin’s purple & orbed
body. Grip for me the ocean floor & soft organs
shielded by shell crackling beneath our mass.
Five petals & five rows of harmonising teeth will consume
my animal & plant experience, the radial symmetry of their worlds
unlike our flesh & inability to possess a mouth
under the body. Although sea urchins have no visual organs
they use their spines to detect light,
forming images from shadows
falling over their external selves,
it’s undetermined if the density of spikes
matters for the quality of the urchin’s sight,
regardless of this, you’re unable to divulge your interiors
in order to release the barbs haunting beneath the skin of your foot.

 

My pleasure

‘Revenge on the head  (genitals, breast, untouched)
revenge on the mouth’ – Adrienne Rich

Inhale & raise your arms
above your head
all arrangements require pain

as you slowly lower your arms, exhale
& pour your pleasure into a crystal vase,
hand-cut
diamond patterned,

such an elegant waist

no visible damage —
rough edges
only detected if a warm finger
rubs firmly over rim —

stop for a moment
& look at this photograph of my mother’s wisteria

do you think she’s attractive? / not as attractive as you

what does it feel like to be in a body,
is context enough?

now — elevate your pleasure
over the oily glaze of my hair — fleeting tiara

I shine, radiate
around you until breathless & you smash
your pleasure
over the slate floor,
sparkling sharp & milky-wet.

 

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Bio
Autumn spent her formative years in outback South Australia before relocating to the Victorian coast. She worked in the publishing industry for several years before commencing a PhD at Deakin University, where she teaches creative writing. Her poetry and criticism have appeared in publications such as

Cordite Poetry Review, Mascara Literary Review and TEXT Journal. ‘She Woke and Rose’ is her debut collection.

Margaret Olley comes to Murwillumbah

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Just before Christmas and after a very sad time in the family we needed to get away for a few days. We propped in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast which was a bit busy for us with main roads anterior and posterior and a frac close to Surfers Paradise in Schoolies Week, horror of horrors, but also close to Byron Bay, Nimbin and the Tweed Gallery Murwillumbah.

I hadn’t been there for twenty years when my former mother-in-law was the curator and when my son was 4 and the situation was cyclonic and dramatic in more ways than the weather, and when it housed the Moran Prize in a weatherboard house in the town.

This time we drove into a cavernous underground car park decorated with images of Olley’s floral extravaganzas. I felt a frisson which continued throughout the exhibitions of salt sculptures, Stephen Bird’s ceramics (lots of dicks) which made me think, Grayson Perry, so very excited, and thrill of thrills-Olley’s recreated hurly-burly home.

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Ben Quilty’s chunky and penetrating portrait of Olley inspired me to write a short poem at the time, but to witness all angles of her boho-chic-bag-lady home was something else. I dream of being an Olley and I know I never will be. She could live and thrive in clutter and mess marvellous to behold and much more healthy than my studied, dusted collections of preloved tat.

Born in Lismore, Olley has come home. What a dream. The salt and pepper squid was pretty special too. Bit salty if anything. Great view from the restaurant. The Byron beer not a bad drop. 13 unlucky for some. Not for us.

All this fabulousness including the land, funded by Doug Anthony; art lover, farmer, republican. His politics I vehemently opposed in the heady seventies. He requested only a porthole from the main gallery looking out to his property. Such a huge divide between country and city Australia coming together in this inspired art space. Brilliant.

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