Category Archives: Guests

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’

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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

Lizz Murphy

lizz

I remember when my first Press Press chapbooks arrived and thinking-how could so much poetry be squeezed into such a tiny space? Yet Chris Mansell manages this with flair and imagination and I can see how she must find Lizz Murphy’s poems so right for her special format-they are minuscule snippets of wit, social comment and observation. Lizz has a new title, Shebird coming out with the same small press in 2016.

Lizz’s Six Hundred Dollars appealed to me not only because of its spooky cover but because of her range of subjects from dingoes to girls sold for the sex trade. Lizz strikes me as someone with compassion and sympathy; concerned with the marginalised and also the strangeness of the Australian landscape. She is very energetic in the poetry world and whilst I’ve never met her in person, I have come to know something about her and her dedication to the life of the poem and to the encouragement of poets, once again through the wonders of social media. My Christmas poet is Lizz Murphy. Happy holiday!

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THE SKY BLED FOR ME

Driving home the sky bleeds for me A blue
scrape through dusk  gun metal clouds forming
into long rolls  Between each layer a lit fuse a
blood red score  electric  in my lived body

In the blue of her bathroom a girl with a blade
edge against the inside of her forearm where
the skin is finest Her held breath the raspberry
release  electric  through her mute body

— first published Shot Glass  Journal (US) 2014

 

Makeshift shelter

No latrines for girls
No protection for girls
Makeshift night

— first published The Wonder Book of Poetry 2014

 

DANGEROUS WOMEN

She lays on hands  prays by her child  her only child  bears
forth an unforeseen healing Afterwards  the cure spurned
feared   the mother spurned feared This dangerous woman
abandoned  by her family  stands on a front doorstep  alone

— first published Verity La 2014

 

CHOCOLATE FIX

I am a slave to the cocoa bean
So too the children who harvest it

 

 — first published Right Now: Human Rights in Australia 2014

The above poems are from the forthcoming collection Shebirds (PressPress)

 

A SMALL POEM ABOUT WATER

Micro
Wave

— from the collection Portraits: 54 poems (PressPress 2013)

 

And a longer poem I sneaked in from your blogspot, Lizz, written for Bimblebox, a touring exhibition, 153 Birds curated by Jill Sampson as part of the Bimblebox Art Project documenting the Bimblebox Nature Refuge under threat from coal mining http//:bimbleboxartproject.com

download

BROWN GOSHAWK
Accipiter fasciatus

I am beguiled by the yellow
of your eye  the bright pierce of it
You skirring overhead
wrists pushed forward
Me looking up
into the blue squint
You more interested in luckless burrowings
at my feet  than in my hollowing thoughts
In the mottled unwelcome sparrow or the
black and white flash of the strenuous magpie
Your frowning steel grey smudges into rufous
the colour of   turned earth   or dried blood
Menace clips at my elbows
Fear loops deep in my belly
Its last
wretched beak clap
Your strike
that thud
My shudder
I am plucked half bare

 

BIO
Lizz Murphy has published twelve books. Her seven poetry titles include Portraits: 54 Poems and Six Hundred Dollars (PressPress), Walk the Wildly (Picaro Press), Stop Your Cryin (Island Press) and Two Lips Went Shopping (Spinifex Press print and e-book). Shebird will be published by PressPress. Lizz is a member of Australian Poetry Ltd, ACT Writers Centre and Binalong Arts Group Inc.

Lizz Murphy: A Poet’s Slant
Blog lizzmurphypoet.blogspot.com
Web http://sites.google.com/site/lizzmurphypoet

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NEXT GIGS

  • POETRY WORKSHOPS Watch for news of Canberra and Yass Valley workshops by popular facilitator Lizz Murphy in 2016.
  • A BRUSH WITH POETRY

WILL RETURN MARCH 2016-A riot of top quality new and published poets and performers from regional NSW and Canberra at the Black Swan Gallery. Shared mike – anything goes. MC/coordinators: Lizz Murphy and Robyn Sykes; mine host: Yvette Gilroy. A Binalong Arts Group (BAG) event. Appropriate donation welcomed.

 

 

Robyn Rowland

robyn

Robyn lives on the Great Ocean Road in the same little seaside town as me for part of the year and can sometimes be glimpsed heading for the shops or the beach in crimson boots or purple sandals with her hair flying loose. The rest of the time she is in Ireland and often Turkey, and has two brand new publications to show for her time and love of these places, their peoples and histories.

Between 2010 and 2013, when I was new to the area, Robyn curated a memorable series in Geelong called Poets in Conversation where we  were treated to readings by some of Australia’s and Ireland’s best loved poets. Robyn transformed an otherwise dreary institutional space into a living room with lamps, flowers and beautiful words. This warmth and intimacy infuses her personality and poetry so it’s not surprising to see the word ‘intimate’ in the title of one of her new books, with some irony and melancholy, perhaps. Robyn is the sort of person who could inspire the likes of Harry to read a verse or two. I think she tried.

On Thursday September 3rd Doire Press and Robyn Rowland are delighted that Catherine Bateson will launch Robyn’s Line of Drift at Collected Works Bookshop. Thanks to Kris and Retta. Please come at 6 for 6.30, sip a glass and join us upstairs at 1/37 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone:(03) 9654 8873

Harry

Second skin

Sticky veil, this grief,
second skin impervious to touch.
Plum jam – his favourite – rests thickly in the spoon
she holds, has been holding now for two hours.
It slips along her hands, her veins, dripping.
Only the wretched know this stillness –
and the dead.      She must clear up.

They cannot give her white marble and red poppies
to grow him back. She wants to go there,
look up at the impossible height and shiver,
dig like an animal among the rough cliffs
with her bitten nails, her bared teeth,
among the bones on the sandy beach in the shallows,
find him and stick him back together.

The sea was scarlet but it will be Aegean-blue now.
Her son cannot be remade like that, washed fresh –
some god decree a whirl, a vortex in tidal time,
find the pieces and meld him back along the spine.
He wrote – ‘it is bloody, mother,
and won’t be over by Christmas. I can’t tell you more,
it lacks faith’ ­– but hid the real letters in a sardine can

they sent back not knowing. When she opened it
fishy fear leached out of the blue pencilled lines
and no-one to hold him in the night as she did for
his night terrors as a child and smooth his hair back.
‘We couldn’t find enough of Charlie to bury him.’
The thought of his fear pierced her, cut her throat,
took her voice and she doesn’t want it back.

She sits still, cold, empty-veined – wonders –
at ten million dead will peace last?
One day will we trade with them again, marry their sons
that are left, and will it somehow have been right?
They have signed all the papers, the ‘war to end all wars’
is over, they say. The ordeal done.
She sits, still, dripping.      She must just clear up.

Hyacinth Loving

Errislannan
and what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on this earth.
– Raymond Carver

God or flesh, Persian poets wooed their ‘beloved’ as if
there were no greater gift than to be both namer and the named.
Absent, your brown furred body lives in my skin’s memory,
laughter recalled is my uisce beatha, water of life,
your care, the charge of a sun.
Every morning, alone here but for the thought of you, excitement
tingles in fingertips that tuck in the stray flips of earth
tipped from indigo pots at my door, as hyacinths,
rising from their dark birth-shrouds, go ruffling for light.
Brown onion caps almost discarded, balance in comedic joy,
a small wonder as they protrude into the ice-blue chill above ground.
Heads loaded with bubbles of scented flower,
they make the sky ache for their pink and blue sweetness.
In the cleft of their companions’ leaves thrust toward sunshine,
clear rainwater is caught, meniscus bulging as if curved crystal.
First night back, a pregnant crescent moon slung low,
carried before her the shadow-shape of herself to come.
Connemara’s sky was star-crowded and cold –
deep airborne cold – and pure beyond diamond.
Spring is an act of trust – the sky will warm, buds rise and open,
and the great moon sail into her own fullness as a matter of time.
Waiting is the necessity for growth.
All this readies for you, beloved, and when you come
your soft kiss will give me again the first spring-time of opening.

Brief Sport

You see her from the highway
where the tall eucalypt stands greyly at the edge of bush,
dumb with its necklace of flowers,
drooping as if it, too, is weary of the weight.
She leans as if to kneel,
caught into the slump of her mute grief,
careless in the tangle of her clothes
at the end of the long thread of skid.
Its burn of rubber, odourless now,
scars an uncomprehending earth
right to the tree’s roots,
black scores against the young,
their sport cut short.

Across this broad land, strings of floral crosses
tacked on trees, guard rails, signposts,
sprout names in a tortured kind of style,
road maps tagged out by a new form of headstone.
Dot-to-dot drawing pages from the book of youth,
they link them in migration points under their flight
towards that un-aged land where years evaporate in a blaze.
She laces the trunk with fresh flowers,
blooms left yesterday wilting in the sear of summer heat.
Winter will never arrive with its resting dark,
her son already days behind in history, just
a photo on the mantle, heat-welded to his eighteenth year.

Notes on Robyn’s new titles  (2015) and Testimonials

Intimate

This Intimate War Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 – İçli Dışlı Bir Savaş: Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915 is published by Five Islands Press in Australia and by Bilge Kultur Sanat in Turkey. Sponsored by the Municipality of Çanakkale.This is bi-lingual in English and Turkish (translations by Mehmet Ali Celikel), about the experiences of Australians, allies and Turks – soldiers, munitions workers, nurses, families, composers, painters and poets – during the battle for Gallipoli, and its pre-cursor the Battle of  Çanakkale.

Lisa Gorton writes in her cover comments: ‘These poems draw on works of history and private testimonial. They are what this age needs: poems about war which do not glorify war; poems which, for all their considerable rhetorical power, nowhere distance themselves from pain,brutality and callous error. These poems are immediate and unwavering; they are also deeply thoughtful. In them, Robyn Rowland considers war from what were enemy positions; also, from the perspective of mothers and factory workers. Very few collections bring home so powerfully the vulnerability of individuals in the face of history. This collection certainly takes its place among Robyn Rowland’s best work. It is a courageous achievement.’

Professor Himmet Umunç writes: ‘ … she has looked at the Gallipoli experience not only through the eyes of the Anzacs but also through the eyes of the Turkish soldiers. With an epic perspective and overwhelming emotionality, she has created a lasting and moving saga of the Anzac and Turkish warriors in conflict as well as intimate comradeship. Critical of imperialist politicians and ill-planned logistics, Dr Rowland draws in her poetry extensively both upon her own impeccable observations of the battle areas but also upon the Anzac diaries and letters as well as Turkish narratives concerning Gallipoli. Her powerful style and also her descriptive and perceptive sensitivity create in the mind of the reader a vivid and enduring picture of the agonies, sufferings, and heroic fighting that characterize the human tragedy of Gallipoli.’

Line of Drift

Line of Drift, Doire Press, Ireland with the assistance of a grant
from the Irish Arts Council. Poems include tribute poems for Robert Adamson, Theo Dorgan and Jacob Rosenberg, an Epic about the Island of Inisboffin that could be a history of Ireland itself. Poems swing between Australia and Ireland, and reflect that tug.

John Foulcher writes: ‘Line of Drift’ is a high water mark in Robyn Rowland’s writing and for poetry in general. Her dual identity lends Line of Drift a unique perspective in modern poetry; she combines the best of Irish and Australian sensibilities. The lush passion of this book’s language is balanced by a wry, at times almost laconic view of the world. Every experience, from the grand to the mundane, from the personal to the political, is taut with vividness and energy. These poems are generous and genuinely moving, whether they depict the people or the places that she travels restlessly among and between.’
Iggy McGovern writes: ‘Line of Drift celebrates the ‘here and there’ of a half-globe bilocation, as ‘kestrels, wrens, robins’ line out against ‘rainbow lorikeets, crimson rosellas, honeyeaters’. Rowland is more than equal to the challenges of our own landscape and place history, as evidenced in the long poem ‘Unbroken Stone in a Stubborn Sea’; here Rowland is a latter day Synge who listens, not through the floorboard cracks, but across the hearth.’

Short Bio

ROBYN ROWLAND is an Irish-Australian dual-citizen, annually visiting Ireland for thirty-three years, now living half-time in Connemara. She regularly visits and works in Turkey. She has written twelve books, nine of poetry. Robyn’s poetry appears in national and international journals and in over thirty-six anthologies, including six Best Australian Poems: 2014, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2005 and 2004 (Black Inc.), with editors Les Murray, Robert Adamson, Lisa
Gorton and Geoff Page; and Being Human, ed. Neil Astley, (Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2011). Her work has been awarded a number of prizes and she has published and read in Australia, Ireland, Japan, Bosnia, Serbia, Austria, Turkey, Canada, India, New Zealand, Portugal, the UK, the USA, Greece and Italy. Robyn’s poetry has been featured on Australian and Irish national radio programs. Robyn has two CDs, Off the Tongue and Silver Leaving — Poems & Harp with Lynn Saoirse. Dr Robyn Rowland AO was an Honorary Fellow, School of Culture and Communication 2008-2012, University of Melbourne; was a member of the National Advisory Council for Australia Poetry Ltd 2010-2013; curated and presented the Poetry & Conversation Series for the Geelong Library Corporation, 2010-2013; and was inaugural Deputy Chair of the Board of the Australian Poetry Centre 2007-2009. Previously Professor of Social Inquiry and Women’s Studies at Deakin University, she retired in 1996 and was created an Officer in the Order of Australia for her contribution to higher education and women’s health.

Links

Books: http://www.doirepress.com/writers/k-z/robyn_rowland/ Postage free http://fiveislandspress.com/catalogue/this-intimate-war
http://www.bilgeyayincilik.com/kitap.asp?ID=735

Interview: http://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/78071/when-i-was-growing-up-youd-have-thought-the-australians-had-won-at-gallipoli
Launch speech: Lisa Gorton: The Vulnerability of Individuals in the Face of History
http://rochfordstreetreview.com/2015/03/24/the-vulnerability-of-individuals-in-the-face-of-history-lisa-gorton-launches-this-intimate-war-gallipolicanakkale-1915-by-robyn-rowland/

 

Rob Walker

I’ve seen Rob’s poems in many places in recent years, wondering if he was the Rob Walker I’d once taught with in South Gippsland. He doesn’t appear to be, his hair’s not long, black and curly (or not anymore). I made contact with Rob when I read his terrific poem ‘termites’ which you can read here. I’d written a poem with the same title, not unusual, but our language and observations are uncannily close and his is the better poem. Rob has just enjoyed the successful launch of his new book ‘tropeland’ published by the prestigious Five Islands Press. I find Rob’s poetry full of energy, it’s often funny, oozing with his love of language and general pissed-offness with the current government and injustice in general. He doesn’t hold back. I bring you Rob Walker…

RobWalkerByMartinChristmas

Photo by Martin Christmas

Bio
Rob walker has always been fascinated by language and its multiplicity of forms. In between his time as an educator in Performing Arts around Adelaide and teaching English to Junior and Senior High students and  adults in Japan, he has also found time to write a children’s musical, essays, short stories, poetry reviews, co-edit a poetry anthology and produce three  poetry books. With hundreds of poems being published online and in journals and anthologies in the UK, US and Australia, Rob also enjoys collaborating with other artists. He currently divides his time between grandchildren, a small farm in the Adelaide Hills, travelling and writing.

tropeland

Tropeland.

In the Land of Trope
boxes of matches spontane combustiously,
self-ignite like passion.
Vampire bats appear as garbags snagged on barbed-wire fences
Butterflies float skyward like liberation

In the Land of Trope street lights go through the phases of the moon
while the real moon waits for the traffic lights to change.
Deep serene ponds resemble your eyes and babies’ cheeks are gardenias

In the Land of Trope ears roar like the ocean
when you hold them up to your shell
cellos are the waists and childbearing hips of country girls

In the Land of Trope cotton wool confined
to bathroom cabinets thinks it’s a cloud
forming over the ranges
the day sky tries to be as blue as the child’s pencil
while the night leaves itself deliberately empty
for the distant sound of a lone dog

In the Land of Trope sweat from armpits impersonates
cinnamon bark and vanilla pods
Similes assimilate later as comparative as a comparison

In the Land of Trope dark sky splits white lightning apart
and all poetry is black except for the pink bits

In the Land of Trope nothing is like anything else
It’s as fat as a fat thing or as like as an as.
It’s as different as everything and like nothing else.

In the Land of Trope pine forests are as fresh as toilet disinfectant,
lemons smell as clean as dishwashing detergent.
Silver coins look like rain-filled sheep hoofprints

In the Land of Trope 2 a.m. clocks tut-tut that you’re not asleep.
Mountain scenes are almost as realistic as paintings.
Surreal estate.
leaves fall in love every autumn and
drums beat like a
heart.

In the Land of Trope dogs feel as sick as a man
wheels are as silly as eccentric children
and tacks never feel flat.

In the Land of Trope rainbows come blank
so you can colour them in yourself
from ultra-yellow to infra-green

In the Land of Trope pins are as neat as houses,
rabbits breed like the poor. A whip
is as smart as a sadomasochist

In the Land of Trope
money is mute and
humility talks.

In Tropeland
it’s better for you
and metaphor me

termites

we are the tectonic organic architects.
fixed action patterns, no masterplan
predisposed destruction
genetic construction.
we are the wrecking ball
and the engineers.

bees are greek geometers,
bodies as rulers, hexagons in their heads.
we the pallid homewreckers
with magnets instead. north of capricorn

use our clay skyscrapers
as compasses
but we will destroy your home
to build our own.
we are Vishnu and Shiva,
no arms, six legs.
world-best-practice fungus
farmers
we’ve thrown away the plans.
each buttressed edifice with aircon, heating,
unique.
form is function,

function, form.            hyperbolic paraboloid,
hyperboloid, helicoid
straight lines are anathema
the shortest span between two points is
follow the guy ahead.
we know no Pythagoras nor Euclid,
give a passing nod to the Bauhaus
and gaudy Gaudi who plagiarized
our best.

An accident waiting to happen

purposeless and alienated, a coexisting anomie and ennui
a concatenation of the unrelated    i lurk on street corners
planning the intersection of vehicles.

delayed by traffic light whim or
leaving home moments earlier you leave    yourself
vulnerable to my coordinate points.

I am the haybale awaiting synchronicity
of temperature                   and humidity
to interrupt            a firefighter’s dinner.

I am the thrown match which may peter out
or destroy the entire national park,
the oily rag in the shed.

I am the outdated nuclear reactor
behind the low seawall
waiting for the plates to move.

I am the occasional freight train,
the unsignalled crossing,
the sleepy motorist.

I am the barely submerged snag in the murky river
the sharemarket software trigger
programmed to sell  sell   sell.

I am the one flake of snow
that begins the avalanche.

I am unstring theory.
I am tired of waiting.   So tired…

(all poems from tropeland)

Rob blogs here:      http://www.robwalkerpoet.com/

Five Islands Press, June 2015
PO Box 4429 University of Melbourne
Parkville
Vic. 3052

http://www.fiveislandspress.com
ISBN: 978-0-7340-5026-7

Available here. https://www.google.com.au/?gws_rd=ssl#q=rob+walker+tropeland&tbm=shop

Jane Clarke

Jane165HiRes

I spent a week with Jane on a residency in 2013. She impressed me, not only as someone with strong convictions, but also as a sensitive  and beautiful writer. When she shared her poems with us I could feel her passion for the natural and political world of her native Ireland, and her love and respect for her father and for people of the soil.

At the time Jane had been widely published in journals but seemed frustrated that she hadn’t had a full collection accepted. How exciting it was then to hear, two years on, that her poems had found a very good home indeed. Bloodaxe Books has published Jane’s debut collection which will be launched in various locations from June this year. Please go to her website for dates.

janeclarketheriversmaller

The River

What surprises me now is not that you’re gone
but how I go on without you, as if I’d lost
no more than a finger. My hand still strong,

perhaps stronger, can do what it must,
like carving your name on a branch from the beech
by the Suck, letting the river take you,

so I can call myself free. Only sometimes,
like yesterday or the day before, last night or this morning,
the river flows backwards, uphill to my door.

 First published in the Irish Independent, 2012

Every tree

I didn’t take the walnut oil,
linseed oil,

the tins of wax
or my lathe and plane

when I closed
the workshop door.

I left the grip of poverty
on the bench

beside my mallet,
whittling knife

and fishtail chisel
with its shallow sweep.

I quit the craft
my father had carved into me

when I was pliable
as fiddleback grain,

left all at the threshold,
except for the scent of wood,

a different scent
for every tree.

First published in the Irish Times, 2015

On the Boat

On the boat we were mostly virgins,
we talked about who we were going to be –
waitresses, seamstresses, nurses,
we didn’t talk about why we had to leave.

We talked about where we were going to be,
the wooden frame house with a picket fence,
but we didn’t talk about why we had to leave
as we touched the lockets around our necks.

The wooden frame house with a picket fence
led to talk of lost villages, lost streets
as we touched the lockets around our necks.
We didn’t foresee tenements that grew thick as trees

when we talked of lost villages, lost streets
and the diligent men we were going to marry.
We didn’t foresee tenements that grew thick as trees,
the suitcase of memories we would have to carry

to the diligent men we were going to marry
when we were waitresses, seamstresses, nurses
nor the suitcase of memories we would have to carry
from the boat, where we were mostly virgins.

First published in the Irish Times, 2013

Biography
Roscommon-born, Wicklow resident, Jane combines writing with her work as a management consultant. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin and an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales. She won the Listowel Writer’s Week Poetry Collection Prize (2014), the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition (2014), Poems for Patience (2013), iYeats (2010) and Listowel Writers Week (2007). Her poems have been published widely, including The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Rialto, The North, Agenda, Southword, The Stinging Fly, The Shop, Cyphers. Her first collection, The River, is published by Bloodaxe Books.

www.janeclarkepoetry.ie

http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/titlepage.asp?isbn=1780372531

http://andotherpoems.wordpress

www.dromineerliteraryfestival.ie

Ivy Alvarez

It’s hard to pin down someone with the name Ivy. Just when I thought I’d found her, first in Oz, then in Wales of all places, she pops up in New Zealand where she’s  taken root for now. I’m always a little envious of global souls, like Ivy. It seems like one of life’s greatest freedoms and pleasures, getting to know new cultures and peoples.

Ivy and I came together on Clare Carlin’s elegant blog Pieced Work but I have long admired Ivy’s poetry for its muscle and mischief. Full of the Christmas spirit and remembering the joy of decorating the mantelpiece with ivy in a northern clime, I bring you the ultimate pop-up poet, Ivy Alvarez who tells us how Michael Jackson danced into her latest collection. Merry Christmas!

Ivy                                   Photograph by Rachael Duncan

a memory of breasts

I show my mother a book of breasts. At first, she’s shocked and pulls away. But then, she returns to them and looks at the pictures on the cover. She points to one. The breasts are creamy and voluptuous, arms gloved to the elbows, crossed in front. ‘I like these ones,’ she says. ‘They are elegant.’

(from Mortal)


dumb

baby brother brings me booty
booty I do not want
blood out of squirrels’ mouths
blooms from a badger’s back
broke spine splinter bones
blown wide apart
belly open of a fine snout fox
bleached fur stiff fuzz
better not show baby brother
briny pinpoint pupils’ glaze

brings me his killing jar
bees, spiders, hornets and wasps
brave his fingertips’ acetone smell
dumb husks in a glass shell

(from Disturbance)


The School of Physics

the kiss that does not exist will exist next door
in a house that houses the kiss, most likely in a vase
exuding a scent in passing
as if from the unlikeliest, shyest woman in the room
forcing me to ask, Is that your perfume
she smiles, eyes downcast, and hands me my change

you and I will sit in a green sofa and admire the kiss
its shapeliness, how it wrings
inadvertent sighs just from listening to it grow
into its fullest power
a tiny nova of desire compacting in on itself
pulling us towards its center


And could you comment on who or what influences your practice, Ivy?

While putting together the final incarnation of Disturbance, I kept thinking about Michael Jackson’s album Thriller, how every song released from it found its audience. I always keep that in mind. I find it helps me trim the dead wood from a manuscript.

For poetry, Sylvia Plath is my foundation stone, as are Dorothy Porter and Ai. I will continue to build and create because of what I’ve learnt from them, and from the future influences I hope to still discover.

 Ivy

disturbance

Bio
:

Ivy Alvarez is the author of Mortal (2006) and Disturbance (Seren Books, 2013). Both Literature Wales and the Australia Council for the Arts awarded her grants towards the writing of Disturbance.

She is both a MacDowell and Hawthornden Fellow, whose poems appear in anthologies and journals in many countries and online, including Alquimia del Fuego (Spain, 2014), Best Australian Poems (2013), and A Face to Meet the Faces (USA, 2012). Several of her poems have been translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.

In the past few years, she has received invitations to speak at the Oxford Literary Festival, the Dylan Thomas Festival (UK), and the Seoul International Writers Festival (Korea).

Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she spent time in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, before settling in Auckland, New Zealand in 2014.

Links:
Website: http://ivyalvarez.com/
Disturbance: http://www.serenbooks.com/book/disturbance/9781781720875