Category Archives: Guests

Tishani Doshi-poet, journalist, writer

                            

I introduced this poet to a group in Geelong recently and they were entranced by her vivid anthems of love and loss and her timeliness. I suspect she may not be well known in Australia so I hope I am spreading the word. She performs Girls are Coming out of the Woods in creative movement accompanied by traditional Indian instrumentals on a TED session. It’s marvellous. She wrote this collection before the Me Too movement in response to a friend’s murder and the rape of the young girl on a bus near Delhi in 2012. We read her poetry aloud revelling in the musicality, emotional punch and colour of it.

 What was her earliest memory of poetry?

I don’t remember poetry being a part of my life until I was an undergraduate at Queen’s University in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was reading Mark Doty, Mary Oliver, James Tate – and I think it had to do with encountering voices that were assured and bold and of the moment, and saying, really, there is nothing you cannot do in a poem. They entered my skin and set up tents. And then more poets joined the caravanserai. I still have those books. My nineteen-year-old self underlining the words, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” and the word YES in the margin. I’m still saying YES.    

 

 THE DAY WE WENT TO THE SEA

The day we went to the sea
mothers in Madras were mining
the Marina for missing children.
Thatch flew in the sky, prisoners
ran free, houses danced like danger
in the wind. I saw a woman hold
the tattered edge of the world
in her hand, look past the temple
which was still standing, as she was –
miraculously whole in the debris of gaudy
South Indian sun. When she moved
her other hand across her brow,
in a single arcing sweep of grace,
it was as if she alone could alter things,
bring us to the wordless safety of our beds.

 

The River of Girls
i.m. India’s missing girls

This is not really myth or secret.
This murmur in the mouth
of the mountain where the sound
of rain is born. This surging
past pilgrim town and village well.
This coin-thin vagina
and acid stain of bone.
This doctor with his rusty tools,
this street cleaner, this mother
laying down the bloody offerings
of birth. This is not the cry
of a beginning, or a river
buried in the bowels of the earth.
This is the sound of ten million girls
singing of a time in the universe
when they were born with tigers
breathing between their thighs;
when they set out for battle
with all three eyes on fire,
their golden breasts held high
like weapons to the sky.

 

The Art of Losing

It begins with the death
of the childhood pet –
the dog who refuses to eat
for days, the bird or fish
found sideways, dead.
And you think the hole
in the universe,
caused by the emission
of your grief, is so deep
it will never be rectified.
But it’s only the start
of an endless litany
of betrayals:
the cruelty of school,
your first bastard boyfriend,
the neighbour’s son
going slowly mad.
You catch hold of losing,
and suddenly, it’s everywhere –
the beggars in the street,
the ravage of a distant war
in your sleep.
And when grandfather
hobbles up to the commode
to relieve himself like a girl
without bothering to shut
the door, you begin to realize
what it means to exist
in a world without.
People around you grow old
and die, and it’s explained
as a kind of going away –
to God, or rot, or to return
as an ant. And once again,
you’re expected to be calm
about the fact that you’ll never see
the dead again,
never hear them enter a room
or leave it,
never have them touch
the soft parting of your hair.
Let it be, your parents advise:
it’s nothing.
Wait till your favourite aunt
keels over in a shopping mall,
or the only boy you loved
drives off a cliff and survives,
but will never walk again.
That’ll really do you in,
make you want to slit your wrists
(in a metaphorical way, of course,
because you’re strong and know
that life is about surviving these things).
And almost all of it might
be bearable if it would just end
at this. But one day your parents
will sneak into the garden
to stand under the stars,
and fade, like the lawn,
into a mossy kind of grey.
And you must let them.
Not just that.
You must let them pass
into that wilderness
and understand that soon,
you’ll be called aside
to put away your paper wings,
to fall into that same oblivion
with nothing.
As if it were nothing.

 

Girls are coming out of the Woods

Girls are coming out of the woods,
wrapped in cloaks and hoods,
carrying iron bars and candles
and a multitude of scars, collected
on acres of premature grass and city
buses, in temples and bars. Girls
are coming out of the woods
with panties tied around their lips,
making such a noise, it’s impossible
to hear. Is the world speaking too?
Is it really asking, What does it mean
to give someone a proper resting? Girls are
coming out of the woods, lifting
their broken legs high, leaking secrets
from unfastened thighs, all the lies
whispered by strangers and swimming
coaches, and uncles, especially uncles,
who said spreading would be light
and easy, who put bullets in their chests
and fed their pretty faces to fire,
who sucked the mud clean
off their ribs, and decorated
their coffins with brier. Girls are coming
out of the woods, clearing the ground
to scatter their stories. Even those girls
found naked in ditches and wells,
those forgotten in neglected attics,
and buried in river beds like sediments
from a different century. They’ve crawled
their way out from behind curtains
of childhood, the silver-pink weight
of their bodies pushing against water,
against the sad, feathered tarnish
of remembrance. Girls are coming out
of the woods the way birds arrive
at morning windows – pecking
and humming, until all you can hear
is the smash of their miniscule hearts
against glass, the bright desperation
of sound – bashing, disappearing.
Girls are coming out of the woods.
They’re coming. They’re coming.

 

Love Poem

Utimately, we will lose each other
to something. I would hope for grand
circumstance —  death or disaster.
But it might not be that way at all.
It might be that you walk out
one morning after making love
to buy cigarettes, and never return,
or I fall in love with another man.
It might be a slow drift into indifference.
Either way, we’ll have to learn
to bear the weight of the eventuality
that we will lose each other to something.
So why not begin now, while your head
rests like a perfect moon in my lap,
and the dogs on the beach are howling?
Why not reach for the seam in this South Indian
night and tear it, just a little, so the falling
can begin? Because later, when we cross
each other on the streets, and are forced
to look away, when we’ve thrown
the disregarded pieces of our togetherness
into bedroom drawers and the smell
of our bodies is disappearing like the sweet
decay of lilies —  what will we call it,
when it’s no longer love?

 

End-of-Year Epiphany at the Holiday Inn

Softly, first, over egg bhurji and juice—
this country is losing her soul,
because a man in a wheelchair is beaten
for not standing to the national anthem,
because breakfast was once a noble affair,
not this litany of selfies. I know it’s ridiculous
to think countries have souls, that this one
could be feminine. I know I should have faith
in happiness and child wonders,
who will rid plastic from the earth. Oh yes,
I know the possibility of a person coming
to their knees at an airport, crying, Who am I,
is high, and most people will walk by
because time is always calling. We must believe
everything will be all right because people
are still having babies and taking them to the sea.
So what if a man is slaughtered and set alight
for love, for a slab of dead cow, for reasons
sacred? So what if the waters are rising,
and those seas will soon be upon us?
We must live in the moments we’re given.

Louder now, in the lobby of the Holiday Inn—
this country is losing her soul,
because politicians declare our daughters
safe as long as they’re parked at home,
and geniuses proclaim the national bird
so holy, it impregnates with tears.
I know I should be kinder on feedback forms.
I know you don’t really want to tell me how
to live unless you’re selling me something.
No one’s really listening unless you’re on TV.
But there are people who still grow heirloom rice,
who long for roses to assault the walls
of their homes because they believe in beauty
and her graces. And perhaps part of surviving
is to keep your knees soft, to bear grief
that the missing will always remain missing.
So when the new year arrives with the golden
light of a late Sunday morning, whispering how
everyone you love will be kept safe, you take
those promises deep into the pink
of your mouth, and you swallow.

 

Find the Poets

I arrived in a foreign land yesterday,
a land that has seen troubles,
(who hasn’t, you might say?)
This land
with its scrubbed white houses
and blue seas, where everything was born,
and now, everything seems as if it could vanish.
I wanted to find out the truth
about how a great land like this
could allow ancient columns to crumble
and organ grinders to disappear.

Find the poets, my friend said.
If you want to know the truth, find the poets.

But friend, where do I find the poets?
In the soccer fields,
at the sea shore,
in the bars drinking?

Where do the poets live these days,
and what do they sing about?

I looked for them in the streets of Athens,
at the flea market and by the train station,
I thought one of them might have sold me a pair of sandals.

But he did not speak to me of poetry,

only of his struggles, of how his house was taken from him
along with his shiny dreams of the future,
of all the dangers his children must now be brave enough to face.

Find the poets, my friend said.
They will not speak of the things you and I speak about.
They will not speak of economic integration
or fiscal consolidation.

They could not tell you anything about the burden of adjustment.

But they could sit you down
and tell you how poems are born in silence
and sometimes, in moments of great noise,
of how they arrive like the rain,
unexpectedly cracking open the sky.

They will talk of love, of course,
as if it were the only thing that mattered,
about chestnut trees and mountain tops,
and how much they miss their dead fathers.

They will talk as they have been talking
for centuries, about holding the throat of life,
till all the sunsets and lies are choked out,
till only the bones of truth remain.

The poets, my friend, are where they have always been—
living in paper houses without countries,
along rivers and in forests that are disappearing.

And while you and I go on with life
remembering and forgetting,

the poets remain: singing, singing

 

At The Rodin Museum

Rilke is following me everywhere
With his tailor-made suits
And vegetarian smile.

He says because I’m young,
I’m always beginning,
And cannot know love.

He sees how I’m a giant piece
Of glass again, trying
To catch the sun

In remote corners of rooms,
Mountain tops, uncertain
Places of light.

He speaks of the cruelty
Of hospitals, the stillness
Of cathedrals,

Takes me through bodies
And arms and legs
Of such extravagant size,

The ancient sky burrows in
With all the dead words
We carry and cannot use.

He holds up mirrors
From which our reflections fall —
Half-battered existences,

Where we lose ourselves
For the sake of the other,
And the others still to come.

 

Contract

Dear Reader,
I agree to turn my skin inside out,
to reinvent every lost word, to burnish,
to steal, to do what I must
in order to singe your lungs.
I will forgo happiness
stab myself repeatedly,
and lower my head into countless ovens.
I will fade backwards into the future
and tell you what I see.
If it is bleak, I will lie
so that you may live
seized with wonder.
If it is miraculous I will
send messages in your dreams,
and they will flicker
as a silvered cottage in the woods,
choked with vines of moonflower.
Don’t kill me, Reader.
This neck has been working for years
to harden itself against the axe.
This body, meagre as it is,
has lost so many limbs to wars, so many
eyes and hearts to romance. But love me,
and I will follow you everywhere –
to the dusty corners of childhood,
to every downfall and resurrection.
Till your skin becomes my skin.
Let us be twins, our blood
thumping after each other
like thunder and lightning.
And when you put your soft head
down to rest, dear Reader,
I promise to always be there,
humming in the dungeons
of your auditory canals—
an immortal mosquito,
hastening you towards fury,
towards incandescence.

 

Biography

Toshina was born in Madras to a Welsh mother and Gujarati father. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2001. Her first poetry collection, Countries of the Body, won the 2006 Forward Poetry Prize for best first collection. Her poetry collection, Everything Begins Elsewhere was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2013. Her most recent book of poetry, Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, was published by Harper Collins, India and Bloodaxe, UK in 2017.

(With thanks to Wiki and various blogs and online journals for this information).

Damen O’Brien

I first read Damen’s poetry a couple of years ago and was moved by the fine detail, the intelligence of his work and his political and moral stance. Each poem is crafted with such elegance and flair that I’ve been greedy to seek out his published pieces. There aren’t that many to date. He seems to have won prizes but not appeared in too many journals. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of his work. I hope there’s a publisher out there with an offer to publish a full collection very soon because Damen is making a quiet but significant contribution to Australian poetry.

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                                                                              Image from Mascara Review

Fiddler Crabs

Before the Egyptians had glyphed the inundation
you were already a worshipper of the tide,

building brief altars in the soupy midden mess
of the returning mud, and the retreating sea.
Before the spring-masted marinas
hung on the warm swell like the bloat of a dead bream
you cultivated the root forests and played at empire.

 Even then, sharp sawing beaks and ruffled shadows
could have you shuffling sideways into your tunnels like magicans:
neat sifters and scavengers, daintily testing
the rich silt pickings, before there was recycling.
You are courtly jousters, holding up the glaives of your claws
even as the wash shudders and swirls around you.

Before the Mayans and their millennial calendars could,
before the yabby pumpers and the sand-dredgers will,
you know what is coming, in your soft-shelled fevers:
the surges seeded from the burning Devonian forests,
the punishments promised, and the last inundation climbing over the flood-lands
and tumbling you from the altars and the seedpods of your world.

Highly commended W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize, 2015

 

The Flinch

We knew about the flinch, because
time-lapse photography showed
bruised leaves and cut-stems curling,
nearby branches swaying away
in distress, through the same filter
we’ve witnessed rival canopies clashing
and striving in bitter border disputes,
but now we know that in silent outrage
and perhaps also in plea, each plant calls
to its neighbour in chemical messages,
if it is assailed by caterpillars or
by the predations of grazing cattle,
not for its own sake, but to warn
its neighbour to furl flowers or close leaves.
So, anthropomorphic enough to make
vegetarians quail, and meat eaters
smile around the edges of their steak:
empathy Dahl and sympathy salads
and indigestible moral dilemmas.

Published in Blue Pepper, 2015

 

What Poem Would The Mining Companies Tell Lionel Fogarty?

In between howls that could be poems,
Lionel tells us that he is teaching the black kids poetry.
To a bunch of white middle class mainstreamers,
he’s reciting poems in monochrome bullets
about hate, and guilt and history, and we don’t miss the irony.
In between the dressing-down that could be poems,
he asks us what will the mining companies teach
his black kids about themselves? Every other word
is the whip, and the blessing: black. Black, black, black
is the poem Lionel Fogarty tells the mining companies,
and the mining companies who know about holes in the ground
echo it back to him. Black, black, black.

Published in Mascara Review, 2015

Bio

Damen is a Queensland poet and joint winner of the Peter Porter Prize, 2017 (with Louis Klee). He has been writing for the last 20 years and works as a Contracts Manager for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle company. His poetry has been published in Cordite, Mascara Review, Island and The Courier Mail, and has won or been highly commended in the Yeats Poetry Prize, the Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Award, Ipswich Poetry Festival, the Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Prize, and the FAW Tasmania Poetry Prize.

 

Read the shortlist here along with Damen’s winningpoem.
https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/abr-online/current-issue/march/3918-2017-porter-prize-shortlist

Hear his interview with Michael Cathcart and where he got his idea for the winning poem. You might be surprised.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandarts/2017-peter-porter-poetry-prize/8383004

Kristy Bowen

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Kristy is not only an accomplished writer and visual artist but also Editor/Designer of her own publishing enterprise,  Dancing Girl Press and Studio which publishes pamphlets of contemporary poetry by women. If you read her interview on the Harriet blog of the Poetry Foundation you will see that she has ‘proclivities for strange and quirky books, …books that have some sort of darkness to them.’ I should admit here that Kristy has recently published my pamphlet, Lips That Did, and she also generously designed the cover which I adore, but I am not the only Australian she has published. I see that Ivy Alvarez and Alyson Miller are also in the mix.

Kristy’s poetry is visceral and jumping, and makes its business the mess between birth and death. Women will get it, like the titles of her books in the bird museum and girl show, books that ‘deal with feminist themes of danger and transgression, the female body…’ There is a retro sensibility and painterly quality to her collages and you can easily feel she’s tracked your life and written every aspect of it.

 

from The Care and Feeding of Mermaids

Don’t worry about the bathtub, the bits of scale and hair
caught in the drain, a little more each day. Only a fool
would weather the storm at the northernmost point. She’ll
still be good in bed. Adept at karaoke and drinking mai
tais from glasses shaped like cats and dragons.  Can
probably name every crustacean by blind touch, her
fingers seeking out each grooved exoskeleton in the dark.
Warning: The vapor of her breath against the mirror will
make you anxious. The way she winces over the sashimi
and cries in the shower. At night, she’ll slip out to meet
men in hotel bars downtown, sneak into the pool after
hours, call you at 3am begging for a ride home. Do not
acquiesce. Especially on nights when the fog settles low
on the water. Especially when the stars above it line up
like a million tiny fish.

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DUCK & COVER

 At night, the fission loves us, lathers us over,
makes our teeth glow like  low watt lanterns in the dark of our beds.
This town is all carhops and canapés these days, the women
narrow waisted and waspish.  Oh nostalgia, we love it.
Write letters to it in the green light of television sets.
Meanwhile, the  men set fire to the jukebox, the junior college,
the dead pigeons in the gutters of tract homes.
Oh hope, oh love, we’re filled with sugar and seething
into our silk pantyhose. Our bodies as pristine as our
mother’s whites, flapping on clotheslines across the low hills.
In an emergency,  above all else, keep calm.
In an emergency, keep your tongue glued fast to the roof
              of your mouth to avoid screaming.
In an emergency–


PLUTONIUM BABY

When his says father says boo, plutonium baby cries all night.
The milk gone bad, leaking and souring in the folds of his mother’s
nightgown. 3 am and the world glows with him, even now,
before the bombs, before the backyard barbecues and shiny
black sedans. Before the open mouth of his wanting grows
wider and wider and swallows everything not weighted down..
When he’s grown, he’ll take up with women named
Tina, or Charla, or Tiffany. Will tuck his shirts in and talk
about stock commodities.  Everyone loves a plutonium baby,
all new and shiny as the chrome on a brand new bicycle.
As American as apple pie or insider trading.
He’ll twirl the scotch in his glass around and say things like
“Key West is a sauna this time of year..”
Those kind of manners could be lost or poisoned or dead
for all we know. His black shoes, shiny and sure of it.

MISS URANIUM 1954

 It’s months before she can recite the alphabet backwards
again. Birth dates. The chemical equation for hydrogen peroxide.
All caught in the foggy nether than begins somewhere in the cerebellum.
On the patio, all the bodies in bikinis float in a thin soup of chemicals
and it’s all good, all gone,  all going to hell in an alligator handbag, she thinks,
her fingernails  flaking away like piecrust. These limbs loosening into ether.
In the hospital, the sheets were white and precise.
Her mind white and precise.  She clenches her jaw and meditates
on milk cartons, lined up single file on the store shelf.  The perfect slices
of bread dropping into the toaster. Scratches on her thighs and breasts
where the bees went in, and worse, where they demand to come out.  

 First published in Split Lip Magazine

 

BIO

A writer and visual artist, Kristy Bowen is the author of six books of poetry, including the recent (Black Lawrence Press, 2016) and (Sundress Publications, 2015), as well as a number of chapbook, zine, and artists book projects. Her work has appeared most recently in Paper Darts, Handsome and Midway Journal. She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio and spends much of her time writing, making papery things, and editing a chapbook series devoted to women authors. Her most recent collection, little apocalypse, is forthcoming from Noctuary Press. http://www.kristybowen.net

Links

https://asitoughttobe.com/2017/01/13/kristy-bowen-cynthia-manick-a-conversation/
A conversation with Black Lawrence Press Authors Kristy Bowen and Cynthia Manick

http://cowfeather.org/text-texture-textile-tech-bowen/
Text | Texture | Textile | Tech:  A Book Art & Letterpress Interview Series  w/ Kristy Bowen

http://femmesfollesnebraska.tumblr.com/post/90549885042/kristy-bowen-artistwritereditor
Interview with Kristy bowen @ Les Femmes Folles


www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2012/07/an-interview-with-dancing-girl-press/
Interview with Kristy Bowen Editor of Dancing Girl Press

David McCooey

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I enjoy David’s droll humour and references to pop culture, and it looks like we are going to see that and, according to Duwell, a more lyrical McCooey in Star Struck. The ambiguity and perhaps irony of the title contains notions of fate and a place that relates to music and celebrity and comes after his brush with something sinister in the region of the heart. David is launching his new book on Sunday in Geelong and I’m hoping there will be wine to celebrate his stellar contribution to poetry and  to welcome his return to health, vitality and old and maybe new habits, ‘crazy for music and listening for God’  Cheers!


Launch details
https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/book-launch-star-struck-by-david-mccooey-tickets-28129928373?aff=erelpanelorg

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Sample poems from David’s latest collection.

Habit

In his bedroom, your son looks at pictures
of Ancient Egypt. Dark-haired workers
moving giant blocks of stone in the pale air.
‘What were the workers buried in?’ he asks.
He turns the page to show jackal-headed
Anubis, presider of the weighing of the heart,
laying his hands on a pharaoh’s coffin,
a brightly coloured wooden sleeping bag.
Custom is tool and pathology, you think.

And so is habit. While you set the table
at the appointed hour, laying out the cutlery,
your wife jokes with your son that you are
‘a creature of habit.’ After dinner, there is
the ritual of cleaning away the mess of eating.
The dog is given some half-cooked meat.
Your son has his bath, and returns wrapped
in his Egyptian-cotton towel to suggest that
you write a book called The Monster of Habit.

In the morning, dressed in his gaudy pyjamas,
he builds with his mother a room-sized construction
out of chairs, cushions, and blankets,
filled with unblinking stuffed toys and plastic jewels.
They are playing tomb raiders. You are invited in.
In your sacerdotal dressing gown, you get on
your hands and knees to enter the labyrinth.
You are shown the bewitching everyday things
that have been set aside for the afterlife.

Darkness Speaks

None of it is true: I am
neither malevolent nor

mystical. You have nothing
to fear; I am the one who makes

things bright and
dramatic when they need to be.

Like when I spill myself a
little at sunset. Night after

night you dream of me. One day
you will wake up for good,

and there I will be, at last.
Your new and endless climate.

Don’t look at me; I don’t compose
any kindertotenlieder.

How To Be a Better Elvis

The Parkes Observatory, surrounded by
its wheat and alien sheep, listens to the stars.
The town statue of the Founding Father looks
to be singing or preaching, an over-sized book in hand.
In January, the Elvis Festival herds in
the over-weight men, the Priscilla look-alikes,
the memorabilia’s promise of a Golden Age.

I’m not interested in the Vegas era.
I return each summer like an old-time itinerant,
getting younger every year, reaching back,
until I find that boy in a Tupelo shotgun shack,
crazy for music and listening for God.

 

:  (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT)(Photo by Photographer/Newspix/Getty Images)

: (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) (Photo by Photographer/Newspix/Getty Images)

DAVID McCOOEY is a prize-winning poet, critic, and editor. His latest book of poems, Star Struck, was recently published by UWA Publishing. His debut poetry collection, Blister Pack (2005) won the Mary Gilmore Award and was shortlisted for four other major national literary awards.

His second full-length collection, Outside (2011), was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards and was a finalist for the 2012 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s ‘Best Writing Award’.

His work has appeared for ten out of the last eleven years in Black Inc’s annual anthology, The Best Australian Poems. McCooey is the deputy general editor of the prize-winning Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (2009), published internationally as The Literature of Australia (2009), and he is the author of a critical study on Australian autobiography, Artful Histories, (1996/2009), which won a NSW Premier’s Literary Award.

His poems, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous books, journals, and newspapers. McCooey is also a musician and sound artist. His album of ‘poetry soundtracks’, Outside Broadcast, was released in 2013 as a digital download and is available for streaming on Spotify and elsewhere.

He is a professor of writing and literature at Deakin University in Geelong, where he lives.


Launch details
https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/book-launch-star-struck-by-david-mccooey-tickets-28129928373?aff=erelpanelorg

Review by Martin Duwellhttp://www.hotsdots.com/poetry/2016/10/david-mccooey-star-struck/

Print interviewhttp://isolatednation.com/articles/pv-davidmccooey

Video interviewhttps://sevenwesttravelclub.com.au/stories/poet-and-former-perth-resident-david-mccooey-drops-over-from-geelong-bearing-poetic-gifts-aplenty

Personal webpagedavidmccooey.com

Stuart Barnes

Stu

I can’t remember where I first saw Stuart’s poems but I do recall telling him how much one of his poems in particular had a profound effect on me for its muscularity and melancholy. It was a tapestry of colour and energy with a lush complexity that I found both exciting and moving. This was back in 2012 when I was about to publish my first collection and I sensed a kindred spirit emerging in the poetry scene with a keen appetite for getting his work known. Stuart’s poems appear in our best journals and it was only a matter of time before we would see his first collection. I’m thrilled that Stuart bagged the Thomas Shapcott Prize in 2015 and is about to launch this eagerly anticipated collection.

Launch details

Glasshouses will be launched by Matt Hetherington at Queensland Poetry Festival on Saturday 27th August, 2.30-3.15pm in the Judith Wright Centre’s Shopfront, 420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley. This is a free event. Book signing afterwards.

Barnes will also be appearing at Queensland Poetry Festival event The Big Read on Friday 26th August, 3.30-4.30pm in the Judith Wright Centre’s Performance Space. This is a free event.

Full Queensland Poetry Festival 2016 program here: http://www.lostlanguagefound.com/

 

Glasshouses front cover

Sample poems from ‘Glasshouses’


Mr Gingerlocks

The neoplasm, sleek, jet-black: Why tend
this sack of blood and bone pronounced too old
by Muscle Marys, periwigged? Pretend—
at 37, I’m out in the cold,

a subtle cub playing with the railings
of a broken rocker. The ascetics
may be on the money, flayers ailing
alone.
           Who fancies the antiseptic

touch of a whopping bore? I crave what lies
among Bornean trees (poachers unclean)—
a barbarian who snarls into skies,
not Fitness First’s merciless eyes. O Mean

Girls, I crave not Tina, nor fey. Instead,
a Sun Bear to paw sweetness in my bed.

First published at Seizure

 

colour wheel
i.m. Mervyn Barnes

the American-
barn-red off-centre
timber
shed

trumpeting
through blood &
bone the glasshouse’s
yellow stars

the front yard’s statue-
sque rooster
screaming blue
murder till blue

in the face
Bay of Fires’
orange lichen,
zinc-creamed lips

a pine plantation’s
green rose-
llas      that Tasmanian
tiger snake’s

purple
jaw
slurping at the
truck’s driver window

quick wound
the moon
poring
whitely over the almanac

First published at foam:e

 

Black Cockatoos
after David Brooks

Red-
tailed Bedouins
of Poetry, black
cockatoos embroider
the sun into us,
seam-rip it asunder.

*

On the Fitzroy’s
bank at midday,
cracking seeds of eucalypts
that outrank Council, a hundred
Banksian black cockatoos,
a paroxysm of commas.

*

With their subtler
complex-
ions, the females infinitely
more beautiful
than the ludic-
rously coloured gatherers.

*

The gospel according to the locals:
‘Four black cockatoos
kreeing seawards
means four days of rain’
(burkesbackyard.com.au confirms it).
I am not a God-fearing man.

*

Should black cockatoos
know
that theirs are the colours of life?
Indefatigable black
and needlepointed into this
starry orange and yellow.

*

Imprisoned
black cockatoos
long-lived as man
neglectful beneath the same
white sun, its ROYGBIV illusion
destroyed by the tiniest prism.

First published at Australian Book Review

black cockatoos

…and what they are saying about ‘Glasshouses’

From Sjón, award-winning Icelandic novelist, poet, playwright, and lyricist (Sjón has collaborated a number of times with Björk, one of my favourite artists).
‘Man moves in a world made of things, beings and events.
And things, beings and events move in the mind of man.
Living in this half-transparent state triggers poetic reactions,
strong and beautiful poems like the ones you’ll find in Stuart Barnes’ Glasshouses.’

From Jessica L Wilkinson, award-winning Australian poet and editor:
‘Glasshouses is the brilliant nest for Stuart Barnes’ meticulous bowerbird poetics; as readers we become the curious mate, charmed by his architectural wisdom. A vision trained on a vast expanse of literary and cultural phenomena permits the crafting of intelligent centos, transformations and interventions in modern living. These are political, compelling poems, assembled with heart; they will never harden to stone.’

And from the Judges of the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize:‘A beautiful and sophisticated collection of poems. Drawing on a number of complex techniques … the manuscript presents a deeply poetic sensibility at work.’

Bio

Stuart Barnes was born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1977. Australian poet and librettist Gwen Harwood befriended him in the late-1980s, at All Saints Church, South Hobart; there, she’d slip slim volumes of verse into his trouser pockets and insist he read and write poetry. In 1996 he moved to Melbourne, Victoria, where he completed a Bachelor of Arts (Literature) at Monash University. Since 2013 he has lived in Central Queensland and been poetry editor for Tincture Journal. In 2014 he was runner-up for the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and co-judged (with Penelope Layland) the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards: Poetry Book Category. In 2015 Barnes won the Thomas Shapcott Prize, resulting in the publication of his first book, Glasshouses (UQP, August 2016), and performed his work at Queensland Poetry Festival and Brisbane Writers Festival at the invitation of their directors.

 

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Publications & Awards

His poems have won, been highly commended and shortlisted for CQ University’s Bauhinia Literary Awards and the Newcastle Poetry Prize, and have appeared or are forthcoming in the following anthologies, journals, magazines and newspapers: Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry (USA), Australian Book Review (States of Poetry Anthology, ed. Felicity Plunkett), Australian Poetry Anthology 2015 (eds Sarah Holland-Batt and Brook Emery), Blackmail Press (NZ), The Canberra TimesCordite Poetry ReviewfourWGoing Down SwingingHIV Here & Now ProjectIsland MagazineMascara Literary ReviewMeanjinotolithsOverlandPlumwood MountainPoetry Ireland Review (Ireland), Rabbit Poetry Journal, Seizure, Snorkel,  Social AlternativesSoutherlyTEXTThe Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain (ed. Heather Taylor Johnson), The Lifted BrowThe Warwick Review (UK),  The Weekend AustralianTransnational LiteratureWesterly and Writ Poetry Review. His website is https://stuartabarnes.wordpress.com/; he tweets as @StuartABarnes.

Robbie Coburn



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Robbie must be the youngest published poet in Australia, the southern hemisphere, the world. He is also firmly in the public eye as fiction writer, editor, essayist, playwright and critic. His immersion in the literary world is deep and as writer he is prolific. Robbie’s poetry is visceral and lyrical at the same time and oozes emotional honesty. Raised in country Victoria, his relationship with the land infuses much of his work.

I first became aware of Robbie when I was beginning to be published around five years ago when I discovered his blog of Australian poets. I was impressed by the initiative and maturity in one so young. He already seemed like an old hand. He has two new books on a busy horizon, poetry and fiction. Check out his website here http://www.robbiecoburn.com.au.

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selkirk: one

no clean break of sky, a musty air
transcends the paddocks in sheets of cloud,
lengths of sand all the eye can see.

no spec of blue, but sun beats out
from behind the grey overhang to burn
the skin- hands finger the lead,
threading it through to wrap
around the wrist.

they move on their haunches gently
inside expanding fur: there has been
waiting all day, all processed-
a thumb prods the button of a stopwatch,
the dogs lash out together on

an open track
with the rabbit lured swiftly in
a mechanized circle, rounding the pen-
greyhounds caught and walked back
through the winds, sent back out
into the endless track
of this inexhaustible life.

 

You

day begins slowly. been unsleeping  poisoned by alcohol
morning’s dissolve beneath a grey sky
a fear spanning the length of my room

outside my love walks through dawn
a new order  a changed season emerging in her wake

her flesh pierced  gives shape to a pressure in my lungs
radiating into all atmosphere
a weightlessness  mirrored by her eyes sets in
better to be nothing than to starve without her body

walk out my breath concealed inside her palm
skin meets collision of dreaming nights
where its still early  regret a sound escaping my mouth

dark will come make its nest in the vacant space
recollection only dust  a swift vanishing like vapour in wind

all longing given to glass visions
cannot stay in this place
its savage terrain   its mouthfuls of hostile wind

an eclipse of light flooding our bed  where i dwell
the other flesh     her body i must live in..

 

morning

morning.daybroken light
shoulders the rain at the window.
she has deserted me, forgotten her breath
at the foot of my bed
descending on my sleeping face.
each thought doubles. reignites the electric
spark that forms the wall of glass that is her eyes
as they watch me move. not quite moving other than
the tranquil voyage when  i am still, she is not returning.
i drift into the belly of another silence stirred by memory.
we kiss and she vanishes from the doorway. repeat.
today she grows taller as my chest is splintered by
her mouth of moments:
a scar leaving path we walked,
a mark in my arm

remembering her for all that she was
anchored in an act i have yet to perfect.

 

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Bio

Robbie Coburn was born in June 1994 in Melbourne and grew up in the rural district of Woodstock, Victoria.
He has published a collection, Rain Season (Picaro Press, 2013), as well as several chapbooks and pamphlets. His latest chapbook is Mad Songs (Blank Rune Press, 2015).
A new collection of poetry The Other Flesh and a novel Conversation with Skin, are forthcoming.
He currently resides in Melbourne.  http://www.robbiecoburn.com.au

 

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