Category Archives: Blog

Festshcrift imminent in honour of David Brooks, Southerly

When I heard that two of my poems had been selected for this special issue of Southerly  I was over the moon. David  is known and admired for his elegant and heartfelt writings and for his views on animal cruelty and human excess. What is not as well appreciated is his generosity in fostering Australian writers.

It was David who selected one of my earliest poems for The Best Australian Poetry (UQP) in 2008. I was so naive and inexperienced that I had no idea what this meant. A couple of years later he chose another of my poems for the Bunyip issue of Southerly. So, when my debut collection was to be published three years later, I remembered that David had chosen my poems and so I did a daring thing; I asked him if he would mind looking through my manuscript and writing a few sentences.

He came back to me so promptly and with the best recommendation I could have hoped for. He was so positive and thoughtful in his comments. He also gave me a recommendation for my second book, Kiss of the Viking, a pamphlet published by Poetry Salzburg.

I shall always have David to thank for his encouragement, his kindness and generosity. David Brooks played a significant role in building my confidence as a writer. This gave me permission to journey into the world of poetry, and although I’ve never met him, I would like to thank him and wish him a very happy and well deserved celebration of his expertise and service to Southerly, but above all, his unsung kindness to emerging and aspiring writers.

Booranga Residency July 2019

I’m very happy to report that I’ve been granted a two-week residency in the Booranga Cottage next year. I’ll be presenting a workshop on Eco Poetry and also delivering a public reading or lecture. I’ve been reading Robert Macfarlane’s poetic forays into wild places for inspiration. This image is from the Living Desert and Sculptures outside Broken Hill. They’re eroding very rapidly and becoming part of the sandscape.

I have a few projects on the go so will use the time to work a couple of collaborations, one with Terry Quinn in the UK and one with Avril Bradley, here in Australia. I also have a lot of poems that need sorting into collections or pamphlets.

The Booranga Writers’ Centre was established to serve and promote the interests of local writers, and has been active in the Riverina region since 1994.

Booranga serves its members and the local community through hosting Writers-in-Residence at the Booranga facility located on the CSU Campus in Wagga Wagga, and through the publication of its annual anthology fourW. We also support local and visiting writers with venues, book launches and reading events.


Visiting Writers-in-Residence give readings, facilitate workshops and are available to mentor local writers, while working on their own projects and enjoying the picturesque grounds around the Booranga Cottage on CSU’s Wagga Wagga Campus. To apply for one of our four annual paid Residencies, please complete the application form, provide the supporting documents listed and email to: Applications for the following year close on 31 May each year.







Sabotage reviews our new book.

To Have To Follow by Julie Maclean & Terry Quinn

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Reviewed by Charlie Baylis –

To Have To Follow, a pamphlet of twenty four poems, is the result of a collaboration between Julie Maclean and Terry Quinn, two writers who “come from similar worlds; both born in England in the fifties and both travellers and poetry lovers.” Though they wrote To Have To Follow together, Terry and Julie are separated by thousands of miles, as Julie lives in Australia and Terry in Lancashire. The names Terry and Julie remind me of the couple in ‘Paul Weller’s favourite song’, Waterloo Sunset by the Kinks (“Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station every Friday night.”) which is fitting, as Waterloo Sunset (originally written as Liverpool Sunset) belongs to, and is emblematic of, Maclean and Quinn’s baby-boomer generation.

Their jointly penned foreword evokes a certain romance: “winning that prize [the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize] and launching our books together in the Black Country that same year put us on the same page. We continued writing to each other, sharing ideas about poetry, publishing and the weather.”. A poetry pamphlet is without doubt the most divine product of love between two poets (whether that love is platonic or romantic). Though all of the poems in the pamphlet were written as response pieces, in the final two, Maclean and Quinn’s lines of longitude and latitude are inseparable:

From under an old army blanket
we watched the sun rise over Friars Heel
before high wire and solstice porn ruined our Druid fantasy
[from ‘Stonehenge in the Ley of the Dark’ [Maclean]]

a hidden track
Stonehenge by moonlight
the finding of a tump
[from ‘Curious’ [Quinn]]

I really like how uninhibited Maclean is: ‘solstice porn ruined our Druid fantasy’. Writing such absurd, potentially embarrassing details somewhere so sacred is brave; dare I say it, there is not enough solstice porn and Druid fantasy in contemporary poetry. Of the two poets, Maclean strikes me as the more imaginative: there are some outrageously silly moments in ‘Emily Dickinson as an Octopus with a Pre-death Plan’ (title worthy of a prize alone) and ‘Walking with Joan Didion in Central Park’, where:

Armoured in a meteor of bangs
she shifts through ragged spans
of Manhattan schist happy to return
to the Angel of the Waters

It’s always good to see more ink spilled on Joan Didion; most of it seems to be soaked up by male poets of the New York School. In contrast to Maclean’s abrasive, highly entertaining, delirium, Terry Quinn’s poetry is quieter and more reflective. His descriptions are nicely metered and evocative:

textiles bending and
sine waves breaking on
shores of smooth grey bark
[from ‘that New Idea’]

This follows the contours of the British literary canon, from which I would pick out Larkin and Geoffrey Hill as his most pronounced influences. Quinn is a gentle soul:

in the local Odeon
watching Casablanca
at midday on a Monday

and I am alone
[from ‘On not being there’]

In moments like these it is very easy to relate to Quinn, although his poetry is not as fun as Maclean’s: it doesn’t turn me on in the same way, though I am sure fans of more cerebral verse will find much to savour.

It is a beautiful thing that Terry has found Julie and it is a beautiful thing that Julie has found Terry. Furthermore it is great that they are sharing and writing about their experiences. To Have To Follow is a touching and sweetly-penned poetry pamphlet. I will leave the last lines of my review to Ray Davies of The Kinks:

Terry and Julie cross over the river
where they feel safe and sound
and they don’t need no friends
as long as they gaze on Waterloo sunset
they are in paradise


Review of my collaboration with Terry.

To Have to Follow: Julie Maclean & Terry Quinn, Indigo Dreams

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Collaborations between poets are interesting and, in the age of the internet, becoming more popular between poets from different countries. In this case, the collaboration comes from two writers who have certain things in common (they were both born in England and share a love of poetry and travel) but now live thousands of miles apart – Julie Maclean from the Surf Coast of Victoria, Australia, and Terry Quinn from Lancashire in England.

Malcean and Quinn were joint winners of the Indigo Dreams inaugural Geoff Stevens Memorial poetry prize, with their collections being published in 2013. After launching their books together they remained in contact, and then decided to start using each other’s poems as triggers. This collaborative pamphlet contains 24 poems, (12 by Maclean and 12 by Quinn), written as response pieces. In each of the pairings Maclean’s poems appear first, which suggests that Quinn is always the responder – but this need not necessarily be the case. The way the poems are set out means that we will never know.

The title sounds like a fragment from a sentence suggestive of “I am going to have to follow that with this” or, in the context of food, the dessert that follows on from the main course. Even when the phrase appears in the very last poem it is still somewhat elusive in terms of its meaning – a man following a woman into a medieval building.

The content is global in its reach: there are references to planets, oceans, seas, continents, countries, geology, glaciers, the Ice Age. The images on the cover are redolent of travel and exploration. Some of the locations are firmly grounded in England: Stonehenge, Bristol, Birmingham; sometimes they are more specific such as a cinema or a dental surgery. Other locations are harder to pin down with any certainty. There are literary references to RM Ballantyne, Thomas Hardy, Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joan Didion and Emily Dickinson.

Stylistically, Maclean and Quinn are poles apart. Maclean is the more elusive whereas Quinn’s poems are grounded in the everyday. Maclean is the more daring. In ‘Garuda’ – the title is a reference to a Hindu demigod who is part man and part bird – she writes:


At the end, once I’d arrived, swallow from the south,

I barely recognised my bird father. It was his pecked look.


The ribs of his cage beat a hymn rhythm on his heart.


It wouldn’t stop, like some wind-up toy you tire of,

like the long-time sick and dying.


His djembe throat drummed on while I sat and held his

featherless wing.


Maclean’s “Brief Encounter Poet to Poet” is a visual poem that describes half a circle or half a globe, which is almost the distance between them.

Quinn’s poems are spiced with a quiet, erudite wit. They are gems waiting to be discovered. Poems such as ‘The Rules of Detection’ which is split into five parts headed up by the questions Who / What / When / Where / Why? and ‘Statements of Accounts’ are cleverly written with attention paid to detail. The poem ‘Seven Seas’ which is set in a dental surgery is equally well-crafted:


This shouldn’t be difficult

North, Irish, Black,

and I’m just relaxing

as the problem of the Atlantic

springs to mind


I open my mouth

just a bit wider

should I move my tongue

or leave it like Italy

dipping into the Med

that’s another …


Finding the connections between each pair of poems is half the fun of reading them. Sometimes they can be found in the titles; in one instance the words in the last line of the first poem become the title of the next poem. Sometimes it is the time of year, or a theme. Occasionally it is a phrase or even a single word that is repeated across poems, a literary reference, or a particular feature in the landscape that is picked up on. The links are subtle and not too obvious, and this is one of the strengths of this collection.

Neil Leadbeater


Julie Maclean and Terry Quinn, To Have to Follow, Indigo Dreams, £6.75





Holly Amos of the Poetry Foundation says ‘Just.Sub.Mit.’

To coincide with the May issue of POETRY showcasing Australian poets, (hurrah), I invited the patient, compassionate, warm and super-efficient Holly Amos to give us a tour around her role as editorial assistant with the Poetry Foundation (Chicago) and her other life as poet with her first full collection imminent. She also tells us why she wouldn’t like Don Share’s job.

Picture of me 10Hollys book                                                                                                                      Book design Heidi Reszies

When I asked Holly what animal she was she said Arya Stark from Game of Thrones; two-legged, headstrong, independent, contemptuous of traditional feminine pursuits and trained in Braavosi style of swordfighting. I imagine this might be handy dealing with poets who don’t get their paperwork in on time.



Holly agreed to a Q&A and to sharing with us some of her sublime poems. I first read Holly’s poems a year ago and they are spare and beautiful heartbreaks. If you want to read more, you can find her first chapbook here:  This Is A Flood

Q&A with Holly Amos

How long have you worked for POETRY, what are the joys and frustrations of the work and would you like Don Share’s job?

About 2.5 years, and before that I worked as the Poetry Foundation Library Assistant, so I’ve been with the Foundation for a bit. Joys: a beautiful building where nobody questions if you’re sitting on the floor to work or have taken your shoes off; emailing with contributors – poets are seriously wonderful people and it’s really fun to see what their email personalities are like; reading, copyediting and fact-checking all the poems that we publish – it’s such a different way to read poetry! Also, I have incredible coworkers. They’re weird, funny, brilliant, and kind. Frustrations: reading, copyediting, and fact-checking all the poems that we publish! Some of the most amazing poems are terrible to copyedit because they’re just loaded with so much information that needs to be verified – it can be really tedious, though a fantastic way to learn. I’m sure it’s no surprise but some poets are not great at returning paperwork and all the follow-up can be a bit frustrating, but it’s been a great lesson for me about how I can make the lives of admin folks a lot easier!

Would I like Don Share’s job? No. I’m pretty sure you’re only allowed to sleep 4 hours a night and receive emails intravenously.

How many poems do you receive each week, what are the chances of being selected and how many readers do you employ?

It ranges from about 500 to 800 submissions a week, so depending on how many poems are included in each submission … a lot! Christina Pugh is our consulting editor, and she and Don Share (the editor) read everything – there’s nobody else! A few things get passed around for feedback, but it’s really just them. Because we get so many submissions, the changes of being accepted are small, percentage-wise. But the good news is that even if you get a rejection you know one of the editors actually read your work, not just a reader.

What is the process of sorting poems and how are poems selected for an issue?

That’s honestly almost entirely Don. Basically I send him an email reminder to let him know when I need copy by and he just hands it over. Sometimes there’s input from the Assistant Editor, Lindsay Garbutt, or the Art Director, Fred Sasaki (who often brings visual work Don’s way), but it’s really mostly Don. Of course we’ve had a lot of themed issues and portfolios lately and that’s another story. Those issues have another set of hands really shaping the issue, though Don works really closely with them in doing so, from what I understand.
Tell us how you came to poetry yourself. What were your early influences?

Being a weirdo kid in a small town. I was just always observing. I used to walk the corn and bean fields around our house just looking for rocks, thinking. And I’ve always been a big reader and a big feeler, which are basically the poetry genes, right? I had a great English teacher in 7th grade, Mrs. Kendall, and that’s the first time I really remember reading and thinking about poetry. I was also the kid who would buy a CD and go home immediately and open the booklet to read the lyrics. I’ve just always been obsessed with expression. In terms of specific poetry influences I don’t remember really early ones. I was always more into fiction as a kid, but at some point in undergrad poetry got a hold of me. I was really into Jim Daniels’s Blue Jesus and Bob Hicok’s This Clumsy Living. Those are the first individual collections of poetry I really remember getting into, and then I just started going to Barnes and Noble and buying lit mags and reading them cover to cover.

What books do you have next to your bed or most recently on your bookshelves? Emilia Phillips’s Groundspeed, francine j. harris’s play dead, and Gabriel Gudding’s Literature for Nonhumans. They’re all so different, and I love them all. Apart from poetry, I’m always reading/thinking about/recommending John Vaillant’s The Golden Spruce, which is nonfiction. That book changed me in very real, tangible ways.
Can you describe a day in the life of an editorial assistant at POETRY? 

30% email, 30% copyediting, 20% paperwork, 10% typesetting, 5% Submittable, 3% devising checklists and ways to be more efficienct, 2% green tea

 What advice would you give to poets who want to be published in magazines like POETRY? 

SUBMIT! Seriously, #1 most common reason for not being published in Poetry is folks simply not submitting. Just. Sub. Mit.

Can you see any styles in poetry trending at the moment? 

Work that’s political, social-justice focused. I wouldn’t say it’s trending so much as poets are just responding to the world at large, which is a world in flux. Big things are happening, are trying to happen, and poetry is right there.

What do you feel grateful for?

Earth Balance vegan mac and cheese, the 4 non-human people I live with, Bravo TV, and being able to connect with poets on a daily basis, either in person, via email, or over the internet. By-and-large, I just think poets are the best people. I feel very fortunate to be so connected to so many other folks who genuinely are trying to better themselves and better the world. And who really support one another.

If you were an animal, what would you be? Arya Stark?

What colour are you? Some gorgeous shade of gray.

What animal would Don Share be? I think we should ask him – I’d love to know what animal Don would WANT to be.

If you had superpowers, what would you do with them? 

Use them! I’ve always wished I could know what other people were thinking, even though in reality that would probably be horrendously depressing.

Tell us about your new book. 

It’s my first! It’s due out from H_NGM_N, this fantastic indie publisher here in the States, sometime this year (fingers crossed). I would say there are about three types of poems in the book: animal rights ones, relationship ones, and existential ones. There’s a lot of light, but not a lot of lightness!

I think you also asked me how much time I devote to my own practice: It really varies. Right now it’s a lot of copyediting and proofing the book before it goes to the printer. I moved into a house and anytime I change physical living locations I feel like I have to get into a new routine. I don’t have a lot of free time at home, at the moment, but I’m in the yard a lot with the dogs and on the train a lot, so I’ve started typing poems into the notepad in my phone. I just try to take advantage whenever I feel like writing. I don’t force it. If I ever feel like I really need to do some poetry-related work then I’ll revise or submit or just read.

Thank you, Holly



I am deep in tear right now

Deeply feel the middle open
but unable to feel wind.

Too many leaves stuck there?
Too many snouts not my own, still covered

in something thick. I find
the transformative:

The childless thing that happens
so that people can drink milk.

Tattoo artists interested in putting
animal rights on my body.

Tearing contributor checks along
a great perforation

Every second a cell turns over
or dies or grows into a beautiful cancer

that enables a huge trunk of love
to move out of the ground.

First published in TYPO 22

Today is an argument against clouds

both flimsy
& miraculous.

Nobody talks about happiness

how it turns hair to mercury shot
to the ground

& how eyelashes break a cheek.
I can be this woman

whose eyelids peel back

into flightless moths
burning for light.

First published in ‘

This is a flood and we are turbulent with color.

We make good of this rain-punched scene
all color-drained & pallor

befriending dark patches of sky & culling sticks
to kindle.

Who has never seen a bruise
never tasted their own flaring skin?

I open the book of colors & read to you.

It seems light is all we need
to do things.

To believe there is a road where you hold your finger
to mine—where we are is so dark
& full
of blown stars.

Luster is the color you choose

I choose fog
& we move.

You say you know how hard it is just to hold a book
in your hand      the black spine      the birds dying
every time a poem ends.

This poem appears in e-chapbook ‘This is a Flood’ (H_NGM_N Books) and Pinwheel.

We are all writing poems about you and your deep, wobbly voice.

This poem is not about you, Frank, but you can take a nap here.
This poem is about some other things

like music, and all that stuff we hear

all the time. The rolling over of the person in bed
next to you (or me). I like that sound coming toward me—
makes me want to lay down for quite a good long time

and rub fingers.

I am trying to make something.
I am trying to make the violins and the grass and the soft gray sidewalk.

Here, here is the rough spot. Here is the beginning. Here is the rug burn
and the rug burn and it feels a little good
in that way of a thing happening.

Does the poem know what is going to happen?

Poem I am quitting my job. Poem I am making a space for you
in this world. In Lakeview.
With an apartment to write your babies in.

(Fat little poem babies.)

Bring your friends, poem—tell them O’Hara is taking a nap
and there is music and cupcakes

and people looking so cool (and a little rusty)
all rubbing together it starts little fires everywhere.
We just want to stop

drop and roll on the cold concrete floor, looking up at all the stars stuck
in the sky.

First published in ‘Pinwheel’


amos-cvrHolly received a BFA from Bowling Green State University and an MFA from Columbia College Chicago. She is the author of the chapbook This Is A Flood (H_NGM_N BKS, 2012). She co-curates The Dollhouse Reading Series and is the Editorial Assistant for Poetry magazine and an Assistant Editor for the online journal Pinwheel. Her poems have appeared in The BakeryBateauForklift, Ohio; Ilk, LEVELERMatterPhantom LimbRHINO; and elsewhere.

Cover design  Afton Wilky


The Aussie Issue of POETRY here with poems from Gig Ryan, Sarah Holland-Batt, Samuel Wagan-Watson, Michael Farrell, Jaya Savige, Robbie Coburn and more!


Notable Native: Holly Amos – YouTube

Animal Rights & Veganism

Footy and Art Collide

I do love our Ian Potter Gallery (NGV) in Federation Square. It’s just the right scale and is light and bright (unlike the gloomy mausoleum down the road which is grey, vaulty, clattery and unfriendly). I like to see the way the art is moved around every few months and invariably go in on spec and am always blown away by the new exhibitions.


On a recent trip to the desert we came upon Hermannsburg and the old mission. The town was depressing with banners across the supermarket warning against domestic violence, broken vehicles abandoned in gardens and an air of neglect in the mission where Namatjira’s art lies dusty and unloved. To then stumble across Our Land is Alive by the Hermannsburg Potters in our Ian Potter was more thrilling than I can express.

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Not only had they made marvellous pots but by decorating them with footy scenes and the finest indigenous players, these pots leapt off their plinths. My photos don’t do justice to the colours and the positive energy in the gallery but I have to say the place was buzzing with all ages.

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I’m not the slightest bit interested in footy but I love this exhibition for all that it represents. Some may feel it panders to Western values, but I view it as a meeting place of cultures, a healthy confluence of youth and experience and a dynamic way to promote healing and working together.

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Bonkers in op shops


Six weeks ago it all started going bad. A weekend with the girls took me to Sydney where the Grayson Perry exhibition was on. It was all good, brilliant really, including a walk from Bondi to Bronte and the Waverley cemetery with Henry Lawson in residence. 37 degrees was a tad warm but we barely broke into a glow. But within hours we’d gone from artistic revelry to Cheapstar aviation hell. Five hours in Sydney airport with Bloody Mary’s at $16 a pop. All because of a bit of thunder and lightning.You’d think Sydney would see enough of that to dodge the problems and keep planes airborne. No.

When I finally got back home where nothing looked changed from five days before, the man announces he’s ‘done his back’. That could have been annoying except it gave me a good chance to get to the op, charity, thrift shops to source him a proper chair. And this is what I found. A wavy Shaker-style chair that might have been in Nelson’s cabin. It’s in my lounge room now but so lovely I wont let him sit in it. Just needs a bit of paint stripper and back to blonde. A steal at $30 and nobody will ever get to sit in it.


Trouble is he’s had major surgery so not mobile and sleeping a lot. A bit like having a baby at home and we know what that means. Three hours to yourself in the afternoon. I took the thinking time to come up with an idea for a book cover for my new book. Our new book, actually. It’s a pamphlet that UK poet Terry Quinn and I have been working on for the last year. They’re reply-poems which we’ve called ‘To have to Follow.’ Terry is from wet, wild and woolly Preston, Lancs and I’m writing from the Surf Coast, Victoria so diametrically opposed weather wise. But we were joint winners of the Geoff Stevens Poetry Prize (Indigo Dreams) and have kept in contact ever since as mentors and friends. I’ve fiddled with the image so it’s abstract but you get the idea. we both like a bit of travel whenever we get the chance. I dug out the man’s old hiking boots complete with cobwebs and found my old Readers Digest Atlas. I must remember to make it nothing like Kei Miller’s.


I’m looking forward to poems coming up in Poetry Salzburg, Under the Radar (16 already out) and Cordite. Poems currently in Plumwood Mountain thanks to Tricia Dearborn.

In the meantime there’s a whiff of autumn in the air and the need to revamp some old clothes and bling. I’m going androgynous Tilda Swinton this year. Have been buying lots of browns and tans from local op shops. Spent this morning repairing earrings and shoes.Badly. Brown pinstripe trilby to go with everything. Looking for a feather.

Reading a bio of Frida Kahlo after presenting Pascale Petit’s poetry at an event last week. Also ‘Landmarks’, Robert Macfarlane and Colm Toibin’s ‘The Empty Family’. Have been enjoying Jane Hirshfield and have just ordered Ada Limon’s ‘Bright Dead Things’.





Margaret Olley comes to Murwillumbah


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.


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.