Tag Archives: grief

Anne M Carson

Whenever I see Anne’s name in a poetry journal I know I am in for a treat. Her poetry is elegant and edible, sparse and thoughtful. I always enjoy the human perspective in her observations of the natural world. She paints with words which isn’t surprising since she’s an accomplished visual artist.

We met over coffee when she was poet in residence in Kew, a suburb familiar to us both. We talked about many things; of her life rich in teaching, writing, art and collaborations and of the pain over the loss of her life partner which would later galvanize her beautiful and well-received first collection, Removing the Kimono. Anne is my guest for October.


Mother-stone is womb
i.m. EK, remembering a friend, Lake Mungo (Willandra Lakes), NSW

Ankle-deep in history, following your receding, check-
shirted back. Landscape scraped and gouged out of the
rock of the planet – long-dry lake-bed, lunettes pitting
the terrain with moon-shaped hollows. Heat makes it
harsh, rises in blurry waves. The sun has flayed the pelt
right off the land, leaving it leather-like; baked and cured

with patches of spilling sand. Trees have no foothold –
there’s no shade to shelter under. All I can see is pristine
nature – nothing tells me a human story. Each time I lever
a buried foot free I peel back another decade, another
century, another contested millennium – to you too
short an estimate. Part park-ranger, part hierophant, you

turn and say: our technology, swinging your arms in an
inclusive 360 arc, it’s all around us! Your words conjure
modernity, electronica, bamboozling what I think I know.
Underfoot the sand slips again. You’re already squatting
ready to give the next lesson. You pick up a hand-sized
rock, point to a mound shaped like the heel of the thumb

on a palm. Bulb of percussion you say proudly, triumphantly,
anointing the bulb with its true technical name. So much
force, you say, and precision to flake a chip the shape and
fineness you want. You’re introducing me to an Aboriginal
Rosetta – text notched and nuanced by human hand, ancient
translation tool. Portal to the long-gone past. You hold

out a handful of flakes, show me how convex fits into
concave, as if mother-stone is womb to flake, containing
it all in nuce. Now I see pieces of worked stone all around
us, stone dedicated to specific uses – knives, points, axes,
blades. This a kind of awl for piercing, this a blade for
scraping and this would be tied and glued to a spear!

What I took to be sand dune and random rock has turned
into a quarry with work-stations and knappers plying their
trade, like a cartoon – while I watch it comes to life, morphing
into three dimensions, gaining depth of field, veracity.

This poem was long-listed in the inaugural Canberra University, Vice Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize

Two green parrots

Two green parrots wing across a granite sky.
Grief and hope together again, as close as
fingers on a hand, feathers on a wing.
They don’t fly straight as arrows do into
a standing target, they are not ammunition
fired out of the sky’s dark mouth. They dip
and rise, weaving sinew and delight into
strands of effortless grace, calling as they go.
What do humans know of the calls of birds?
But it sounds like liquid pleasure, it sounds
like they laugh and make merry against
the backdrop of the approaching storm.

First published in Plumwood Mountain

The marmalade fox

The fur on the marmalade fox is as bright as the jam
sent back to Paris from the orange groves of Marrakesh.
The globes of thousands of Moroccan suns squeezed
into jars. All that compressed bitterness and sweetness
casbahs the colour. Hold a jar up to the light, see pith
swimming in amber transluscence.
So much life still in him, dead and maggoty
by the side of the road. Wind riffles his fur, sun combs his
marmalade coat.



Anne M Carson is a Melbourne writer and visual artist whose first full-length collection of poems, Removing the Kimono, was published by Hybrid Publishers in 2013. She has won and been commended in numerous poetry prizes including most recently being long-listed in the inaugural Canberra University, Vice Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize. In 2014 she established the SecondBite Poetry Prize.  She has curated two programmes for Radio National’s PoeticA and hosted a series of poetry and music soirees, most recently the River Soiree on Herring Island which raised funds for the Melbourne River Keepers.   As a Creative Writing Therapist she has edited and facilitated the group process which has resulted in the publication of three books. She teaches Poetry Writing and Appreciation to adults.

Her visual art is based on photography and botanical specimens.  Her photographs and art panels have been exhibited in galleries and florist shops and used as greeting cards, a literary journal cover and book-mark.

Removing the Kimono is available from Amazon US and her website: www.annemcarson.com

Reviews of Removing the Kimono available at: http://cordite.org.au/?s=anne+m+carson


Pascale Petit

Les Murray says, No other British poet I am aware of can match the powerful mythic imagination of Pascale Petit, and a comment that particularly resonates with me is from David Morley, Magma when he writes, ..her poetry never behaves itself or betrays itself….

Portraiat PP

When I read The Wounded Deer I was hooked. And as soon as I heard about Pascale’s residential in Ventenac I rushed to book my spot in 2013 with a room overlooking the Canal du Midi. Bliss. This was in the same week that my first collection was being published so I was in a state of high anxiety and not at my best, but it was Pascale in one of our one – to – one sessions who put me at ease me with her tranquil mien and who taught me a vital lesson when she wisely and gently posed the question of one of my poems, What are you trying to say? I have never forgotten it.

I never tire of reading and revisiting Pascale’s dazzling and heartbreaking poems. She invests so much of herself in each work.This recent radio broadcast, Poetica, highlights her depth of spirit, humanity and artistry. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/poetica/images-as-strong-as-sculptures3a-the-poetry-of-pascal-petit/4896370

Pascale is the most generous and indefatigable poet I know. She tutors regularly and intensively, often posting sessions from the Tate on her blog. There is a series of workshops on the Mslexia website. She has a punishing schedule on the reading circuit yet still finds the time to keep up with social media and, most surprisingly, finds the mental space and energy to write. In Ventenac I was pleased to see that she enjoys a glass of vin du pays between stanzas and that must help.

I’m very excited to bring you four poems that appear in Fauverie, published early September by Seren. My copy is winging its way and I can’t wait. And what another unforgettable front cover by Dragana Nikolic.

Welcome! Pascale Petit.

pascale Fauverie front


Arrival of the Electric Eel

Each time I open it I feel like a Matsés girl
handed a parcel at the end of her seclusion,
my face pierced by jaguar whiskers
to make me brave.
I know what’s inside – that I must
unwrap the envelope of leaves
until all that’s left
squirming in my hands
is an electric eel.
The positive head, the negative tail,
the rows of batteries under the skin,
the small, almost blind eyes.
The day turns murky again,
I’m wading through the bottom of my life
when my father’s letter arrives. And keeps on arriving.
The charged fibres of paper
against my shaking fingers,
the thin electroplates of ink.
The messenger drags me up to the surface
to gulp air then flicks its anal fin.
Never before has a letter been so heavy,
growing to two metres in my room,
the address, the phone number, then the numbness –
I know you must be surprised, it says,
but I will die soon and want to make contact.

Black Jaguar at Twilight

He seems to have sucked
the whole Amazon
into his being, the storm-

clouds of rosettes
through a bronze dusk.
I’ve been there, sheltered

under the buttress
of a giant, felt
the air around me –

its muscles tense,
stalking me
as I stumbled

through dense fur,
my father’s tongue
wet on my neck

as I fell into a gulch,
the blackout of his mouth.
And when I woke

I thought I heard
the jungle cough – this jungle,
the jaguar safe

behind bars. I lean over
and touch his cage – his glance
grazes me like an arrow.


Sleeping Black Jaguar

A solar eclipse – his fur
seems to veil light,
the smoulder

of black rosettes
a zoo of sub-atoms
I try to tame –

tritium, lepton, anti-proton.
They collide
as if smashed inside

a particle accelerator.
But it’s just Aramis sleeping,
twitching himself back

to the jungle, where he leaps
into the pool of a spiral
galaxy, to catch a fish.

Later, the keeper tells me
Aramis has had surgery
for swallowing

a hose–head
where his hank of beef
was lodged. But

what vet could take
a scalpel to this
dreaming universe?

What hand could shave
that pelt, to probe
the organs

of dark matter, untwist
time’s intestines
and stitch

night’s belly
together again, only
to return him to a cage?

 A Tray of Frozen Songbirds

For our last meal together
my father takes out of the freezer
a tray of frozen songbirds.
He’s saved them up, these delicacies
with ice crystals in their beaks,
wings stuck to ribcages.
There are skylarks, blackbirds, doves.
He tells me how some were plucked
while still alive,
about the mist net at dawn,
how one nightingale was thrust
into a sack of discarded heads
and cried, then the poacher licked
the sticky lime from its plumes
tenderly, before slitting its throat.
He pours champagne as if it’s
the river of life.
We eat like two drunks
woken from dreams of flying,
me on his lap, singing the song
I’ve just learnt at school – Alouette,
gentille alouette, alouette je te plumerai.

Back cover PP

Pascale’s mini biography
I’m a French/Welsh poet living in London, UK. My latest collection is Fauverie (Seren, 2014). A portfolio of poems from the book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize and the manuscript won an Arts Council England award. My fifth collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo, published in 2010 by Seren, 2011 by Black Lawrence Press, US, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year. I tutor poetry courses in the galleries at Tate Modern and for The Poetry School. Two previous books, The Zoo Father and The Huntress, were also shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and my books have been books of the year in the TLS, Independent and Observer. Literary SupplementIndependent and Observer. She tutors courses at Tate Modern and for The Poetry School.


Tricia Dearborn

I met Tricia via Facebook in 2012 when I was panicking about launching ‘Jimi.’ We found that we’d both been in The Best Australian Poetry (UQP) in 2008 and she’d written a fabulous poem where ‘Women are sea creatures’  which happened to coincide with one of my obsessions at the time – seals. Her take on it was much sassier than mine with her missing ‘that brine-lapped cleft, the way that sealskin glides on sealskin’. It’s one of those poems I wish I’d written.

Her advice on launching a book was spot on: don’t trust Facebook, invite people you know and it will be fun however many people turn up. We swapped books and last week I used one of her taut and beautiful poems, ‘The Long Goodnight’ in a tango poetry workshop which went down well. I love Tricia’s sparse and yet sensual and sensuous poetry and I love her wry and sharp observations of the familiar. I bring you Tricia Dearborn…


Tricia Dearborn pic


The quiet house
for Scarlett Vallence, 7.9.2008

i. Family portrait

At the top of the photograph,
J’s face. Grief pours off him

like a glacier, monumental.
My eyes move down to you,

your gaze on the child
who lies across your ribs.

Your face a wall. Behind it
the gathering tsunami.

ii. Nightmare

on the drugs that are meant
to help you sleep,
you dream —

a camera pans along a row
of fat pink wriggling infants
the line is long, the camera

moves swiftly
you struggle desperately to wake —
you know your small still baby’s

last in line

iii. Small comfort

At the wake, champagne in hand,
J and I amuse ourselves inventing
more offensive ways of swearing­ —

J’s brother poses our family photo,
tousling your hair and mine,
dragging our brothers’ ties askew —

I’m handed a cigarette, inhale
the small comfort of an old habit.
It ends

when J sobs in our arms
then struggles free. Your urgent whisper:
What do you want? What do you want?

iv. The quiet house

I sit in the cool leather chair
in your back room

looking out to the morning garden
with my cup of tea.

Such peace — when what I want
is her, here

squalling against my chest
while you have a grateful shower.

v. Ashes

My suitcases
stand in the hall.

I hesitate, but when I
finally ask

you say Of course.
I bend to lift her

from the cot.

I rock her, pat
the quilt-wrapped box.


What to wear at five

I avoided the wedding cake hat —
tiered, hard and white. But wore
the coat with the brown velvet collar

as long as I could, until it encased me
like a sausage skin.
I was not allowed to wear

my purple overalls every day.
Was cheated of my brothers’
airy shirt-free summers.

I sat on the front steps with the Sun,
black cotton thread, a needle.
Sewed myself newspaper wings.


Both poems are from The Ringing World, Puncher & Wattman, 2012

Tricia Dearborn’s most recent collection of poetry is The Ringing World (Puncher & Wattmann, 2012). Her poetry has been widely published in literary journals and has featured in anthologies including Australian Poetry Since 1788 (UNSW Press, 2011), The Best Australian Poems 2012 and 2010 (Black Inc.), Notes to the Translators (ASM Poetry, 2012) and Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets (Puncher & Wattmann, 2009). She has been a featured reader at many events, including the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2012, and has received several new work grants from the Australia Council’s Literature Board. Tricia has degrees in biochemistry and arts, worked briefly in a research laboratory and now earns a living as a freelance editor. She lives in Sydney.

Poems available online

Four poems in Polari Journal’s ‘Strange Stars: Bright Lights in Queer Poetry’ issue: http://www.polarijournal.com/issue-6.php

Eleven poems featured in Caught in the Net #79: http://www.poetrykit.org/pkl/CITN/citn%2079.htm

Someone else reading my poem ‘Come in, lie down’ rather sexily on Poetica (at about 16:20): http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/poetica/round-the-nation/4842874

Videos of a reading and an interview — part of the Red Room’s The Disappearing project: http://redroomcompany.org/poet/tricia-dearborn/

Reading ‘Are we there yet?’ (from my first book, Frankenstein’s Bathtub) and ‘Scan’ for Varuna’s ‘Writer-a-Day’ blog and app:


‘Making pipettes’, from Frankenstein’s Bathtub, for National Science Week 2013: http://www.scienceweek.net.au/science-poem-of-the-day-18-august/

‘Fig’ and ‘Mapping the cactus’ in Mascara Literary Review #9: http://mascarareview.com/tricia-dearborn-2/

‘Canary’ in Snorkel #11: http://snorkel.org.au/011/dearborn.html

‘Night vision’, ‘At the laundromat on rue St Florent’ and ‘The answer’ in Bluepepper: http://bluepepper.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/normal-0-microsoftinternetexplorer4_13.html

‘Everything we’re made of’ in Holding Patterns: Physics and Engineering Poems: http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/about/docs/holding_pattersn_booklet_in_science_made_marvellous_series.pdf

Puncher & Wattmann author page:

Review of The Ringing World in Famous Reporter #44: http://walleahpress.com.au/FR44Dearborn.html