Category Archives: Guests

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

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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

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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

 

 

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.

Michele Seminara

michele

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.

Slip

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.

Skunk Hour

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’

m's cover

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

Launch details
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.

Bio
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

Links

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