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I was one of five guest poets invited to read at Payneham Library yesterday as part of the Friendly Street Poet readings and it was a fab line-up – with Thom Sullivan headlining backed up by Cary Hamyln, David Mortimer, me and Russ Talbot, all introduced by the charming Louise Nicholas.

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Now I warn you this is not an in-depth detailed analysis like my usual posts. Mainly because I find it difficult to focus when I know I’ll be up there shortly! But also because I’m going to the launch of both Cary’s and Russ’s chapbooks later this week, so you know, didn’t want to duplicate too much (and then there’s the nervous concentration thing…)

Anyhow, Thom kicked off still basking in the glow of his reading at the Adelaide Writer’s Week a few weeks ago. Thom reads well, there’s a certain quiet strength about him with which he captures his audience and what particularly stood out for me was Thom’s acknowledgement that we poets stand on the shoulders of greats, a responsibility we all share, a profound statement. Thom shared poems he wrote during last year’s National Poetry Month, including ‘Crow poem’ and ‘Living in a draught, which can be found here on his blog.

Next up was Cary who, although not new to the poetry scene, confessed she has not given many readings (like me!). Cary read from her new chapbook Scraping the night, part of the Picaro Poets series published by Ginninderra Press and began with the title poem, followed by ‘Moment of departure’, ‘Time is a hound’ and ‘Future prince’ to name a few, with the titles alone enough to pull you in. Cary’s poems left me with some very vivid images but as said, more to follow about this shortly.

David went up next, reading a selection of poems from his collections, including ‘No wonder’ and ‘Towards evening’ from Magic Logic published by Puncher & Wattmann. David, like Thom, is one of many amazing local poets here in Adelaide and is also adept in his delivery, finishing with a very clever poem about Keats and Wordsworth, who are considered to be part of the thousands of greats Tom referred to earlier.

And then it was me. Louise did a wonderful introduction, mentioning my blog so I thought yes, better post about this event then(!). I opened with a new poem based on our Oodnadatta travels last October, a kind of sestina and probably the longest poem I’ve written to date. I then shared ‘Hoodlums’ recently published in InDaily, followed by three from my collection Smashed glass at midnight and ended with a poem I plan to include in my next collection I’m just finalising (yay!). Think I did ok.

Russ finished the guest poet line-up sharing work read by Jennifer Liston due to his acquired brain injury as a result of a brain tumour. I’ve never read any of Russ’s work before, it was breathtaking, as poems were read from his new collection Things that make your heart beat, also part of the Picaro Poets series from Ginninderra Press. And like Cary to be officially launched later this week, so I’m going to leave you hanging for the detail.

After a short coffee break it was open mic time, where we heard the likes of Ian Gibbins, Martin Christmas (who was also happily snapping away), Judy Dally, Louise Nicholas (the MC) and Mike Hopkins, all of whom were highly entertaining. And there were a few first time readers as well whom the room applauded, something that happened to me at my first ever reading here, which is incredibly endearing and encouraging.

So that’s it. I managed to sell, correction, the dazzling Jules Leigh Koch (who invited me to be a guest poet) managed to sell five of my chapbooks (which made my husband happy when I got home!) and I also had a lady approach me in the break to tell me how beautiful my poems were and how much she could relate to them, which I found very touching. All in all it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, set me up for the week it did.

I had completely forgotten about this, so it was a nice surprise in all the madness when the latest issue of Mslexia arrived in our postbox…

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Don’t think I will ever tire of seeing this little chapbook in print.  And hope no one else does either  🙂

Well I saw the new year in with some of my favourite people…poets! And what better way to celebrate than with a chilled glass of wine (or three) and yummy food under a canopy of vine leaves in a beautiful home in the Adelaide Hills. Perfect.

And sticking with tradition, we were each asked to share achievements from the old year and aspirations for the new, which got me thinking…

2015

So looking back at the last 12 months, one major success stands out – the publication of my first collection – yay me! I must admit I’m rather proud of it and love catching a glimpse of it in our bookcase.

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Being guest poet at Hills Poets is another memorable experience, aswell as reading at Lee Marvin alongside the greats (fingers crossed I get invited back!).

This blog has also proved it’s worth, with views from here, the UK and US – all 2,300 of them (is that any good?) – with the most popular post being my launch in pictures peaking at 95 views.

So going back to publishing, with acceptances inevitably come rejections, and looking at the stats I think I’ve had more than my fair share:

  • 23 rejections across journals, magazines and anthologies
  • 7 acceptances predominantly in journals and magazines both in print and online

There’s a ratio in there somewhere – and I don’t think it would look too good!

2016

So looking forwards, what’s on my agenda for this year?

I have a couple of ideas for further collections – one full length and the other possibly another chapbook, we’ll see.

And among the rejections are a few poetry journals and magazines I really want to appear in, namely RABBIT, Cordite and Mslexia, so plan to keep on improving and just keep on trying.

A longer term ambition is to get a room of my own for writing. Having stayed last night at a fellow poet’s house complete with study and writer’s cottage, it would be absolutely wonderful to have a space just for poetry – with books lining the walls, my writing journals piled on the desk, a view, inspirational photos, snippets, notes, etc…alas still a dream for the time being. One day 🙂

 

from Karen Dennison of Smashed glass at midnight on Abegail Morley’s The Poetry Shed.

Cover image of Smashed glass at midnight

A beautifully written piece, insightful and thought-provoking, you may need to get yourself a copy  😉

Yesterday I was guest poet at Hills Poets, a group who meet once a month in picturesque Stirling up in the Adelaide Hills. Invited by convener and poet Jill Gower, this was a first for me and I found it to be a very civilised occasion set in the Library Room of the Stirling Hotel.

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Normally a group of about 12 there were nine poets this time who, facilitated by Jill, took turns to read either one or two poems they had brought along. And there were a variety of pieces, with some poets seeking feedback while others simply wanted to share and be heard.  I felt particularly drawn to the vibrant nature in Jill’s work who read poems from her Ginninderra Press pocketbook Garden Delights.

Jill introduced me just before the break, and I had a 10 minute set in which I read six poems from my collection Smashed glass at midnight and then three others, one of which was included in the recently launched 2014  Friendly Street Poets Anthology Silver Singing Streams.

I believe they went down well, and as I did at my launch I gave a bit of context before reading each one to explain a little of how and why they came into being. I managed to sell a few copies of my chapbook after and hopefully left the group with a few things to think about.

A wonderful event hosted by the adorable East Avenue Books – a beautiful mix of poetry, champagne, friends and sunshine, what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

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Peter, the bookshop owner, MC’d the event and started by introducing talented local poet Jill Gower to officially launch eight of the 11 chapbooks in the Picaro Poets series published by Ginninderra Press (those from South Australian poets).

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Jill briefly spoke about each poet in the series, quoting specific lines and sharing snapshots of their work to convey the variety and depth the new line has to offer. Next up was Brenda Matthews, editor of the series, and who is a fine poet herself with a chapbook of her own in there (published under her maiden name Brenda Eldridge). Brenda paid special thanks to her partner Stephen, who was lurking in the corner and later, I discovered, prefers to stay in the background, for his advice and hard work in producing the new-look chapbooks. Brenda also made special mention of me, who was the first to be accepted in the new series and got pulled in by the first poem I found out after!

So I was first up and read three poems from Smashed glass at midnight – ‘Admission’, ‘Offspring’ and ‘Visiting hours’ – all of which some of the audience had heard before at my launch and there were a few familiar faces – Jules Leigh Koch, Heather Taylor Johnson and Rob Walker.

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Next up was a reading from Kate Deller-Evans’ collection Open Inspection, who unfortunately was not able to attend, quickly followed by Margo Poirier who read an entertaining poem about Centrelink from her chapbook Wellspring. Zenda Vecchio was up next reading from her collection Luminous, followed by Lyn Williams and Rosemary Winderlich reading from their collections Stray Thoughts and Suspended Lives respectively. Finally it was Brenda’s turn, who shared a delightful piece about how even the toughest nuts can have a soft centre from her chapbook Not what they might seem.

Jude Aquilina, an amazing local poet, was also not able to attend so I brought a copy of her chapbook, Ship Tree, to read at leisure when I have chance to breathe again. I have also been asked to be guest poet at a local poetry group, so watch this space for further details!

My chapbook.  On a bookshelf.  In a real live bookshop.  Must get out more I know.  But thanks Ken Bolton at the Dark Horsey Bookshop!

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And a reminder about the Picaro Poets series launch at 2pm this Sunday at East Avenue Books, Clarence Park – would love to see you there if you can make it!

Ginninderra Press, in association with East Avenue Books, are celebrating their new look Picaro Poets series on Sunday 27 September at 2:00pm.

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Jill Gower will be launching the chapbooks, which I am honoured to have been the first selected for the new series, and there will be readings from poets Kate Deller-Evans, Brenda Eldridge, Zenda Vecchio, Lyn Williams, Rosemary Winderlich and me!

So if you’re around and interested, pop into East Avenue Books in Clarence Park for an afternoon of thought-provoking poetry, gorgeous books, drinks, nibbles and, fingers crossed, some sunshine!

Well here it is folks, my first collection of poetry! And I haven’t stopped smiling!!

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This collection has been hovering around for a while, waiting (and not always patiently), to feel right enough to be allowed out. And when it finally does, reads well (I’m biased of course!) and flows, it’s such a wonderful moment, like you’ve finally achieved that elusive whole. Anyway, I digress…

The chapbook contains 20 poems that explore loss – of the self, another or the connection between – which I hope provoke a few thoughts rather than a need to reach for the tissues!

I am so pleased with how it’s turned out, having been beautifully put together by Brenda and Stephen Matthews at Ginninderra Press, who have had the painstaking experience of dealing with a poet and her precious perfections! And I am honoured to be their first of the new Picaro Poets, which I have no doubt will become a fantastic series as it continues to grow.

So I’m taking Brenda’s advice, of giving my chapbook the life it deserves, by arranging a launch (further details to follow shortly), so for those of you interested keep an eye out, while the other one can be reading it  🙂

is going to be published! Needless to say I am over the moon, with the cow and everything!!

cow over moon

It will be a chapbook, part of the Picaro Poets series published by Ginninderra Press based in Port Adelaide, so about 20 poems. Short and sweet I know but I am absolutely thrilled, a book of all my own work, how amazing is that, and it will even be available in bookshops!!

Ginninderra Press is an award-winning independent publisher run by Stephen Matthews that provides opportunities for new and emerging writers, as well as those writing about more non-mainstream topics. They only accept a very small amount of manuscripts they receive, so I am really quite honoured they are publishing mine.

Having recently acquired Picaro Press, an independent publisher based in Melbourne run by Rob Riel, Stephen and his partner Brenda have developed a new series of Picaro Poets to continue the tradition of Picaro Press chapbooks. So I have been working closely with Brenda to develop mine – choosing a cover design, editing content, adding acknowledgements, writing an author biography, etc. – and I can’t tell you how excited I am to see the final product, you know, just a bit! Launch date to be announced, woohoo!!

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