Category Archives: Poetry

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.

Corpse Paint

Goldau_1841

I love the void
of a Turner
Lagoon of Venice
Eternal nothingness

I love paintings that show the divide
between heaven and earth in a clean unbroken line
Water from the waters

Master of emptiness
he sculpts with light      where all is cosmic
crepuscular

I  love the simplicity
of an egg in a stark space

The way Freud placed something
womb-like, perfect and unexpected
next to flawed skin on a broken couch

Colour in a vacuum makes me
want to know what I come from

Where will I go?
Redness can be wetness and death

When colour behaves
it sucks you into a vortex
a mirroredness, transformation
Rothko style
Hand and eye collide
to make a deep picture plain

There is beauty in death
Hirst knows it
Vincent saw so much poetry

in stars he became one
Even Rembrandt painted
a moody carcass
Sacrifice in a tender cluster
of virgins

How we work the queer chapters
of our lives
Warm-blood Caravaggios
Cold-blood Picassos
that we are

 

First appeared in The Journal, UK, 2015

Image ‘Goldau’ JMW Turner

 

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

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

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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

    sc00090751      DSCN0787_3MURPHY Portraits OFC

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.

 

 

Port Campbell near the Cave that Echoes

 

136

The cove is a crumble at the far end
Fragile I say      You say I’m wrong
It’s always been this way     Everything nibbling
to the core    or is it just some shifting
to another space    I think of that clearing
on the clifftop     The ocean disappearing
eastward       Current forever chasing,
rejoining itself

We found a half drunk Lindeman’s Merlot,
a plastic water bottle cut in half for a glass
mini bell jar holding secrets, a memory
Forgotten hair clasp like ribs of a small
marsupial come undone  Skeleton home
for a Valentine beetle, if there is such a thing

I think of your ship in a bottle on the Ercol
sideboard    The diorama of the Somerset fox
with the funny eye,  dusty partridge in its jaw
I love souvenirs     Not the Kiss me Quicks
(the sort that pull the world apart)     but a rock,
a shell, driftwood in the shape of a seal
They fix things like nothing else I can think of

 

Published in Orbis, UK. ‘When I Saw Jimi’ Indigo Dreams, 2013

The Bit in Between by Claire Varley

Varley

I can see why Macmillan plucked this novel from the slush pile.

In a time of terror what joy to find a debut novel that deals with some tragic backstories but manages to be both irreverent and philosophical at the same time. Varley has used her Greek/Cypriot background and time as traveller and community worker in China, Cyprus and the Solomon Islands to create pacy fiction in the form of a Bildungsroman or a coming-of-age story as far as Oliver, the male protagonist is concerned.

The action, mainly based in Honiara, is where Oliver chooses to set his second novel in the company of new love interest, Alison, an adventurous girl he meets at the airport. Varley pokes fun at the literary world here since Oliver has had a book published and has won a literary prize but it soon becomes clear that his writing is dire and he has no original ideas.

Expats in Honiara come under scrutiny too in their desperation to build wealth, reputations or to find themselves in the spiritual sense while the Solomon Islands struggles to build a nation. Varley has an eye for the serious and the ridiculous in this post-colonial carnival. This is entertaining and sensitive writing.

Written in the third person, the action springs from the curious and lively Alison. In spite of her insecurities and her twenty-something questioning of life and its meaning she observes folly and flaws in the parade of opportunists and do-gooders seasoning places like the Pacific Islands. These characters could have fallen into the  stereotypical-drunks, egomaniacs and bleeding hearts but are saved by authentic dialogue and surprising revelations that bring balance to individuals like NGO Rick, the dope-head American who lives in a Vogue house with a servant and who is given some of the funniest lines.

Caricatures like this really exist and Varley knows how to extract comedy and pathos from her experiences. She cleverly juxtaposes a funny episode in a bar or club with the more serious story of Sera and her pregnancy. We are taken into indigenous family life and the struggle of the local women in particular, their morals and mores cleverly set against Oliver’s struggle with his over-protective Cypriot mother back in Melbourne and her hilarious emails which made me think of Sue Townsend and ‘The Diary of Adrian Mole’.

‘DEAR OLIVER CONSTANTINOS

I AM IN A COMPUTER CLASS IN PRESTON. A NICE GIRL CALLED VALERIE IS TEACHING US. SHE DOESN’T HAVE ANY EARRINGS ON HER FACE. …YOUR FATHER NEEDS TO GET HIS PROSTATE CHECKED BUT HE DOESN’T WANT TO GO TO OUR NORMAL DOCTOR BECAUSE THE DOCTOR HAS TO PUT HIS FINGER INTO YOUR RECTUM AND YOUR FATHER SAYS DR KHAN’S HANDS ARE TOO BIG.’

I enjoyed this book’s meta nuances and literary devices, not only where Oliver writes a story within a story, but where vignettes of individuals are embedded in italics. This technique highlights their significance but also Varley’s dexterity as a writer. These backstories are lyrical, poignant but not sentimental.

Varley might have become didactic in narrative dealing with social injustice in a Developing country but instead, we learn a lot about life on this Pacific island through skilful weaving of well-drawn situations involving believable characters. A surfeit of adjectives was distracting now and again in phrases like ‘beautiful brown eyes’ and where a description of a sunset and sky seems overwritten but this is a minuscule irk in what I found an engaging and intelligent read.

I found the story compelling on many levels, many personally resonant, and whilst it will probably not be considered literary fiction because of its humour and accessibility, it has a literary bent bordering on the style of Simsion and Hornby.

‘The Bit in Between’ could have wide appeal because of its global reach, political themes and humour, but specific appeal to young adult and baby boomer travellers. I read it in two sittings and look forward to the sequel because the ending opens it right up and I want to see where Oliver and Alison go from here. A confident and assured debut.

Claire-Varley-High-Res-Credit-Renee-Tsatsis

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/