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The launch of the Spring 2015 series of Southern-Land Poets from Garron Publishing took place last night at the Halifax Café. These are exquisite chapbooks from some big names – Rob Walker, Jelena Dinic, Aidan Coleman, Rachael Mead and David Ades – each a beautifully presented snapshot of their work.

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Gary McRae, founder of Garron Publishing, hosted the event and began by thanking Sharon Kernot, assistant at the independent press and a writer herself (and who also did a wonderful job of selling the chapbooks) for her meticulous work and commitment, and then Michael Bollen of Wakefield Press for his continued support of the series.

So first up was Rob Walker reading from Polices & Procedures.

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Now working in HR, I can so relate to this title and was looking forward to Rob sharing some of its poems. He began with the title poem, a short piece about hindsight in his teaching career, followed by ‘A drive to work’ ‘on a day when every dewdrop traps a rainbow’, a gorgeous image. ‘Time of your life’ was next, which captured the heady days of youth and then a few poems relating to Rob’s period of bad health, ‘Resolution / D-generation’, ‘Radiology’, and ‘Coming off the tramadol’, with some haunting lines; ‘I am an imperfect copy of myself’, ‘internal astrology’ and ‘racing through a black espresso night’, taking us to where he has been and come back from

Next up was the lovely Jelena Dinic with her chapbook Buttons on my Dress.

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Jelena began with ‘The Last Summer’, a wonderful poem about growing up with memories of ‘before’ ending with the stunning line ‘I learn to drink from the bottle and nothing tastes the same’. Her next poem ‘Crossing borders’ alluded to a time of discontent in former Yugoslavia from where she hails, by addressing a mother about her’ three sons the most wanted’ and how to keep them safe. Having studied art history as part of my degree I loved Jelena’s ‘Portrait of Olympia the Prostitute’ and once again could picture the ‘unattainable stretching herself like history resilient to the centuries’, an elegant comparison. I’ve never heard Jelena read before; she was captivating.

Aidan Coleman was up next just before the break reading from Cartoon Snow.

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Like Rob, Aidan opened with the title poem, which gave us an almost magical frozen land ‘where a blue night is snowing to itself, shushing the owl-wide forest’. The next two I recognised from Aidan’s Lee Marvin reading – ‘Primary’ and ‘Barbarian Studies’ – in the first ‘the teacher chastens gently in lowercase green’ and in the second, ‘kids jostle, shove and swing like wrecking balls’. Aidan finished his set with ‘Ham Radio’, a poem about his father working ‘the difficult braille of a circuit board’…‘until a voice comes clean of static, to talk in a clear bubble’.

Then we had a break where I noted some faces in the crowd – Mike Ladd, Peter Goldsworthy, Louise Nicholas, Jill Jones, Jennifer Liston, Jules Leigh Koch, David Mortimer, Mike Hopkins, Martin Christmas – and a crowd it was, the place was packed.

Rachael, closely photographed by doting husband Andrew Noble, who has just finished building her a writer’s cottage (yes you read that right, I want one!), read from The Quiet Blue World.

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Rachael shared a poem she hadn’t before called ‘White Blues’ about seeing Jack White at Federation Hall a few years ago. This longer piece was loaded with incredible imagery before the concert – ‘In Chinatown, customers with chopsticks lean over steaming bowls like fine-beaked birds dipping into sweet cups of magnolia’, a ‘man’s face is a crumpled tissue of experience’ – and then once inside, they are ‘driven to use (their) bodies as instruments as (they) open up’. Rachael’s last poem, ‘What the fire didn’t touch’, was about her parent’s house in a bush fire, beginning with ‘Mum, who was never late a day in her life, woke up early for her death and missed it’ to the stunning last line of finding her childhood books with ‘the years waiting like pressed flowers between the pages’.

David Ades, skyping in from Pittsburgh at 4:30 in the morning (now that’s dedication!), completed the line-up by reading from his chapbook Only the Questions are Eternal.

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David also shared the title poem from his collection, which compared the relentlessness of questions to baby birds ‘chirruping in their nests, pointed beaks raised upwards, insistent’. His next poem, ‘The bridge I must walk across’ was very apt considering the ongoing refugee crisis, culminating in the provocative stanza ‘I am becoming a stranger inside my own skin, my children becoming the bridge I must walk across’. David’s final poem, ‘A father’s call’ stems from becoming a dad unexpectedly, and describes how over the years he searched for his yet-to-be-born children – ‘I flung my call at your absence’ – a very touching piece.

And so the new series had been well and truly launched in what will be a memorable evening, and with the chapbooks retailing at a mere $7 each, I felt it only right to complete my set (adding to Rachael’s and Rob’s), because they really are an amazing read.

What a wonderful title for a collection of poetry! Penned by Jules Leigh Koch, I went along to the launch of it yesterday evening at the SA Writer’s Centre.

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This the fourth collection of poetry from Jules, a long awaited one by all accounts that took several years to write before being published by Interactive Press based in Queensland, as this talented poet doesn’t release poems into the world lightly (and believe me, they are well worth the wait!). The event was MC’d by none other than Rachael Mead, who did a beautiful job of introducing Mike Ladd, another fantastic local poet, to officially launch the new book.

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Mike described Jules as a man of metaphor, quoting a few brilliant examples – ‘the blood clot of sunset’, ‘the artificial lake is as calm as a sedative’, ‘a construction site is shoveled in with shadows’ – and there is even a poem in the collection to cement this fact, ‘After Love-making I Think in Metaphors’. Mike read a piece called ‘Funeral Flowers’, which having read it again I think may have a few connotations, alluding to love, sex, illness and death. Mike also echoed something Rachael had said – that no one writes the moon, rain and sky like Jules does, and it’s these gorgeous images running through the poems that make them so appealing.

Jules started off by thanking Robert Rath for the cover image, who is an amazing photographer and was there helping to snap the launch. Jules then read several poems including ‘Rachel’s Insomnia’, where ‘her eyes are unpicking the moon from its black canvas’ and ‘her every moment is a vase on the edge of a shelf’. In ‘On My Third Attempt at Leaving Her’ ‘the morning is unpacking itself as shadows are being swept beneath furniture’ and in one of my particular favourites, ‘The Ropes and Pulleys’, ‘sunlight has torn itself along my bedroom wall with the same single-mindedness as a ladder runs down a woman’s stocking’.

These are just a few of the striking images between the covers.  I could go on but I won’t, because I strongly urge you to buy a copy – this is a stunning collection that will haunt you for days.

Having just come across a poem by Geraldine Mitchell in the current issue of The Rialto, I explored her work – her poems are exquisite and hauntingly beautiful, leave your mind singing…

Poethead; a poetry site

Warning Shots

 
When you live on the edge
of an ocean, you cannot pretend
you did not see it coming.
 
The leaves are still, birds
chatter, the sea is a sheet
of steel. But out west
 
where last night the sun
left a sky illumined
like stained glass
 
dirt heaps up,
someone else’s dustpan
emptied on your doorstep
 
and a magpie
rattling gunfire
at first light.
 
First published in Cyphers and subsequently in Of Birds and Bones

 

Flotilla

‘Heaven Scent’ Magnolia
 
They tack in, full rig, under cover of darkness,
dock before dawn in cement-paved ports
 
at wharves of picket fence. The voyage
has been long through winter’s bald estates,
 
gusting grit and dust have shred their sails
to votive rags, bound now to every leafless branch.
 
Waxen petals blood-tinged white
glow like manna at first light.
 

First…

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A very interesting little press with a big outlook…

The Poetry Shed

Emma-Press-logo-text-largeWhen was the Emma Press set up? Can you tell me a bit about its beginnings?

I set up the Emma Press in 2012, a few months after quitting my job at Orion Publishing Group. I had quite a specialised role in Orion, managing the production of ebooks, but I became increasingly interested in how the other departments and the publishing industry as a whole worked.

When I resigned, out of frustration with the limitations of my role, I had a vague idea about using my new ebook production and book design skills, but I wasn’t planning to set up a publishing house. I thought I’d just create one book, a collaboration with my old schoolfriend Rachel Piercey to show off her poems and my illustrations. This was The Flower and the Plough, the first Emma Press book, and I enjoyed the process of putting it together so much that…

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A very timely post, and some really good advice.

The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

Capture

I’ve spent some time lately with poetry journal editors – and also with the poor poetic beggars who, like me, send off work to them. It’s struck me anew that many people, especially those at the beginning of their poetry career, don’t have much idea of how submission works and what time span is realistic for an editor to consider a poem. Also, they’re wondering how to keep tabs on the seventeen different poems that they’ve sent out, in order to avoid the no-no of simultaneous submission.

What follows is the Jo Bell Method; the method of an immensely, award-winningly disorganised poet who nonetheless has managed to win awards. My vast and lofty experience teaches me that the key part of winning any prize or getting into a journal is this:

SEND THE BUGGERS OFF.

This is the only area of my life where such a streamlined system exists, but…

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Jo Bell is an amazing poet, and I particularly love this poem, helps me with our hot Christmas !

The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

10839646_10152887938015396_288294469_o First ice of the year, on the Trent & Mersey

This is what we call ‘cat ice’ – probably because it’s just thick enough to support a foolish cat…. for a while anyway. It came in the night and it’s still here at 11am. Our winter freeze has begun.

The ice will come and go now until the spring. Some years (like last year) we barely see ice at all. Some years (like 2010) we get ice so thick and settled that it grows to an eight-inch-thick pavement, and you can cross it with a wheelbarrow full of firewood. Well, you can if you want to. But you’d be an idiot, as I explained to my ex when he did it.

So here’s a poem about that first frozen morning on the canals…. and if you want to read it with an article I wrote in my first days as…

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Love this collection by Rhian Edwards, branded “a brave and beautiful first book” by its publisher Seren, and indeed it is

Kim Moore

Evening all!  First of all, I apologise for the silence over the last two weeks – last Monday I moved house finally – we had our offer accepted on a house, and accepted an offer on our house in April and have been waiting to move since then.  All I can say is that now I know why the economy ground to a halt – clearly solicitors hold the keys to the economy!  Anyway, last Sunday I spent the whole day packing the rest of the house up – and as my poetry books were the first thing to be packed, I didn’t have any access to the Sunday poem – which wasn’t the best planning admittedly.

So this is the first blog post I’m writing from my new house.  When I pulled up this afternoon and got out of the car, the bird song was deafening and then I…

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Different Approaches to Illness as Metaphor in Fiction and Poetry. 

I attended this fascinating talk in the week at the Adelaide University Library given by Heather Taylor Johnson, a wonderful poet and writer from the US now residing in Adelaide.

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Heather was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease in 1999, a very debilitating condition resulting in a variety of unpleasant symptoms caused by an imbalance in the inner ear. Heather attempted to write about her experience of living with this chronic illness but found herself “frustrated with overwriting and an abundance of self-pity as the final product.” To resolve this she gave her illness to a 63-year-old man called Graham, one of the key protagonists in her highly successful debut novel Pursuing Love and Death, published by HarperCollins.

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Heather read extracts from her book that provided a real insight into what a sufferer can experience during an attack. You could feel Graham’s anger and frustration as he realizes this is going to be a ‘bad one’, and his utter helplessness with no choice but to endure it.

Writing about personal illness can be a challenge, a tightrope walk between communicating its impact (the negative) and coping with it (the positive). Heather magnificently achieves this delicate balance, and read poems from her beautiful collections, Letters to my Lover from a Small Mountain Town and Thirsting for Lemonade, which allude to the disease but don’t linger.    

All in all it was a very inspiring session, certainly one to think about.

 

Rachael Mead‘s first collection The Sixth Creek was launched on Wednesday at La Boheme and I was delighted to be invited along.

 

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Following an insightful introduction by Jill Jones, a widely published poet and university lecturer, Rachael read a few pieces from her book engaging the audience with her warmth, beautiful imagery and sense of place.

 

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One of Rachael’s poems that stood out for me was Hope is a Perennial.  It’s a powerful piece that highlights Rachael’s strong connection with her homeland, the Sixth Creek catchment area (hence the title), in which thoughts and emotions blend and intertwine with nature, where “Hope is not a strategy” is “cross-stitched” and “circled by forget-me-nots for the wall above the sideboard”.  Another vivid image is depicted in The Animal Within where Rachael describes walking “on legs ripe with indigo blooms from encounters with edges” as she tries to “remember how to live”.

The book leaves you with a real sense of ‘there’, of life and it’s balancing act, of relating to the familiar, a wonderful first collection by a very talented poet that makes you want more and look forward to the next.

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Poetry, pizza, wine and a setting like this…what more can you ask for?  Not much.

Went to my first Poetry & Pizza annual event at Coriole, a beautiful vineyard in McLaren Vale about half an hour’s drive from where we live.

Enjoyed wonderful and highly entertaining readings from Alison Flett, Mike Hopkins, Jude Aquilina, Rory Harris and Louise Nicholas.  All are South Australian poets each one unique and with the power to engage their audience on a personal level.

Complete with delicious wood oven pizza and fine wine, this may well become a regular haunt.