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Tuesday night’s Lee Marvin saw Shannon Burns flying solo and having heard Shannon read before, I went along to hear him again, grabbing a copy of the free booklet he had put together for the event.

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Shannon’s writing spans many genres – poetry, short story, essay, academia – and in 2009 he won The Adelaide Review Prize for Short Fiction. And so Shannon treated us to a range of pieces, beginning with a poem published in Southerly a couple of years ago called ‘Greek’. Set in a summer garden, there’s a real sense of place as he describes an interaction with ‘an olive-skinned man with dark eyes and a flat face’ with an undercurrent something is about to happen.

Shannon’s second piece was a satire about memoirs written in the voice of a professor of comparative literature. ‘His Memoir’ explored the professor’s view of this form, how some are endurable but those produced by the lower class are just not readable, a very witty, ironic piece.

Before reading the first story he ever had published in Wet Ink, Shannon felt it got out there too early and too easily, which I think many writers can relate to, myself included, when they look back at a piece and maybe even see how it could be improved. The short story described the adoption of his new stepsister and how after, he splashes her at every puddle opportunity.

Shannon went onto read ‘In the Year of Our Lord’, again a humorous piece about his experience at university, although not the protagonist but his friend Shaun, followed by a poem about the rapper Kayne West, being an ardent admirer and describing him as a truth-teller not always telling the truth.

I enjoyed Shannon’s poem ‘A Hobby’ looking at the impact, literally, books can have and then was captivated by ‘Needing and Burrowing’, the third piece of a larger body of work describing an attempt to draw language out of a being with hands, ‘drumming her nutshell so it seems to purr.’

Shannon finished his set with ‘Australian Crawl’, a short story published in Overland a few years ago that provided a snapshot of Thomas Brown, a teacher trapped in a life he longs to swim away from which he finally does, a piece that Shannon said made him a readable writer.

Listening to Shannon was fascinating, being shown the different facets of his writing mind, my clear favourites being ‘A Child in the City’ and his last piece, both left an imprint.

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