Tuesday, May 25, 2010

memory and the river

I recently put together a sequence of poems around the idea of rivers and memory for two friends of mine, the sound artists and composers Solange Kershaw and Damian Castaldi, who were working on a project called Memory Flows.

The result is a sound installation using contact and gravity, where the words of my poem flow randomly in time with the swinging back and forth of three diamond shaped acrylic water pendulums, each filled to a different capacity with a blue toxic liquid, triggering a different memory, dripping into the muddy waters of the Parramatta River.

Damian and Solange have put up some visuals of the installation on their website, which includes mp3s of their interpretation of my poem.

The installation can be seen at The Newington Armory, Sydney Olympic Park, Newington NSW, until 20 June 2010.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

me in sydney this week

I'm off to Sydney tomorrow to take part in, and taste the harbour-side salt of, the Sydney Writers Festival.

I'll be involved in the following events, so would be great to see any of you who'll be around, at one or more of them:

Late Nights at Number One
Thursday, 20 May 2010
9:30 - 11:30 pm
At Number One Wine Bar, Goldfields House,
1 Alfred Street, Circular Quay, Sydney

Enjoy a drink or bite and listen to Jill Jones, Lionel Fogarty and Pasha Malla read their poetry at the Quayside wine bar, Number One. Your host: Patrick Muhlen-Schulte.

Poems To Share
Friday, May 21 2010
6:00 - 7:30pm
Heritage Pier, Upstairs
Pier 2/3, Hickson Road
Walsh Bay

Eleven Australian poets – Kate Fagan, Lachlan Brown, Adam Aitken, Lindsay Tuggle, Greg McLaren, Elizabeth Allen, Fiona Wright, Joanne Burns, Judith Bishop, Andy Quan, Keri Glastonbury (plus a surprise guest - hint, hint) – come together to celebrate the work of the Red Room Company. The audience is seated at tables with poets, to hear readings as well as a discussion on sharing. This event coincides with the release of Corban & Blair and Red Room's Poems to Share card set, featuring the work of 40 Australian poets. Hosted by Johanna Featherstone. To enter the event, you must bring something, anything, to share, such as a twig, a monetary donation or a poem.

DiVerse at the SH Ervin: A Poetic Response
Sunday, May 23 2010
3:00 - 4:30pm
S.H. Ervin Gallery
National Trust of Australia
Watson Road, Observatory Hill
The Rocks
$7/$5 at the door includes Gallery entry and booklet of poems

Poets from the long-running DiVerse group - Margaret Bradstock, Jill Jones, Marcelle Freiman, Carolyne Bruyn, Louise Wakeling, Paula McKay, Sheryl Persson, Jo Wade, Robert Kennedy - respond to images from the S.H. Ervin's annual Salon des Refusés exhibition. Their poems will be performed at the gallery where the paintings are hung, and the audience will receive chapbooks featuring both poems and images.

Friday, May 14, 2010


no smooth requirements
step rocks, or words
during pressure within twilight
or rain, the fine moon
into the winter
or as vagabonds untied
where weeks wander
tapes of memory
in the ignition
in lines of information
wake up in the morning
that is not a conclusion
to heavy nights
a dove sprinkles
other movements of birds

walking autumn

in shade, surface shakes
skins cold, deep closed

under curves and covers
degrees key to clouds

fresh air releases you
a dreamy target for memory

and lines of work become
music within a footstep

connecting poetry and TED

As well as taking part in events at the Sydney Writers Festival next week, I'll also be doing a quite different gig in Sydney on Saturday 22 May, at the Carriageworks.

I will be part of some readings organised by The Red Room, at an event called TEDx, which is taking place in Sydney at CarriageWorks on Saturday 22 May 2010 and featuring, as the website claims, a selection of Australia's leading visionaries and storytellers showcasing their Ideas Worth Spreading LIVE to a group of thinkers ... as well as ONLINE to the world at large"."

It's part of something called TED which is described as "a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design".

As for the poetry part it will include Johanna Featherstone from the Red Room making a presentation about the role of poetry in Australian society. To complement Johanna's talk will be readings and performances from Eytan Messiah (Benezra), Jill Jones, Lionel Fogarty and Lisa Gorton. There will be two sessions, one at lunch time, and one in the afternoon: 1:30 - Jill Jones & Benezra; 3:30 - Lionel Fogarty & Lisa Gorton.

poetry for action against homophobia

Monday 17th is International Day Against Homophobia. One focus this year is on homophobia in sport.

In conjunction with this, there's going to be a reading of poetry (not a sports event) hosted by Friendly Street Poets on Sunday 16 May, here in Adelaide (amongst other events, including a rally for same sex marriage on 15th).

So, here's the details:

The Sport of Anti-Homophobia Poetry Event - Speaking the Silence
Hosted by Friendly Street Poets
Guest poet: Jill Jones + FSP poets + open mic
Sunday 16th May
Aids Council of SA
64 Fullarton Road, Norwood.
$4 conc/$5 waged, wine & nibbles

fresh, new, breezy delicious

Some fresh new things to dive amongst at Snorkel. Includes Jenny Bornholdt, Kate Fagan, and Tricia Dearborn, among others.

Otoliths is breezy and suitably autumnal. (It was reportedly 6 degrees here this morning.) Includes Michael Farrell, Adam Fieled, Tim Wright, Kristen Kashock, Michelle Cahill, and many more, plus special features, including poems by Michael Rothenberg & David Meltzer.

On the northern side of the world, it's spring, so there's a big new issue of Blazevox for delectation. Includes Stacy Kidd, Jim Bennett, Sam Silva, Geoffrey Gatza, and many, many others.

There's a new issue of Mascara online. Includes Cath Vidler, Indran Amirthanayagam, Greg McLaren, James Stuart, Adam Aitken, Jenny Lewis, Eileen Chong, Anindita Sengupta, and Johanna Featherstone, amongst many others.

And last but absolutely not least, here's a new journal, Polari, which features writers with affiliations to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) communities and cultures (don't you love an acronym, or strictly, an initialism). Includes work from Staceyann Chin, Pam Brown, Lucinda Shaw, amongst others.

Some pieces from myself in some but not all the above ezines.

up against it -again. always

There's a strong editorial from Sophie Cunningham for the latest Meanjin, pointing out that the gains(not) for women over the last decades are something to keep in the forefront of concerns, that feminism is not something to be shunned as a quaint old seventies marker.

She concludes:
"Last year not a single female lead singer was included in Triple J’s hottest 100 survey. Catherine Strong explores the implications on this in her essay ‘The Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time 2009 and the Dominance of the Rock Canon’ on p. 124 of this issue. I could go on. I won’t. I’ll just say this: either women can’t sing, paint, write or think as well as they used to—certainly not well enough to offset their tendency to become less beautiful with age—or we live in a culture that does not like the things women say or does not know how to hear them when they say it. In other words, Irigaray is right. Women sit outside language."

I read this just having listened this morning, as it happened, to Julie Rigg discussing the gains(not) for women directors in the fillum industry on Radio National this morning, specifically through an interview with Melissa Silverstein, the author of the Woman and Hollywood blog. Silverstein has written a fair bit about the lack of women directors being featured at this year's Cannes Film Festival. It's but one example.

And I had been thinking, natürlich, about Australian poetry. OK, just two things, but there's plenty more. I recall that more than one reviewer of my own work (OK, it's what I know) in the past has mentioned that it was about 'the domestic'. Not only does it miss so much of what I do write (carelessly?, deliberately?), but I wonder does the work of male writers who write about 'the domestic' - whatever that actually means - ever get that label slapped on them? Because, plenty Australian male poets do write 'the domestic' (if that means 'relationships', the 'private realm', intimacy, home and suburbs, etc), and good on them. My latest book contains a number of shorter poems. I can see that getting skewed (because I have heard this kind of comment, in general) towards the poems being, somehow, 'feminine' because they are short. Do I predict this - no. But it won't surprise me.

And another thing, the current spin regarding the grouping together of a number of emerging Australian poets, who happen to be women, under some kind of rubric of the 'new Australian lyric' or, as someone more snidely called it, 'the ladies of the lyric' - a term referenced in this interesting discussion at Poetry International. It sounds like another way to patronise women writers, and to ignore the great differences between the work of those poets, by sidelining them in a way that focuses on their gender (and presumed age, let's not forget that one - it still seems necessary to refer to women's ages) rather than their writing.

But I'll end not on a militant note but repeat a reference I made on the now-deleted discussion on Pam Brown's blog about some of these issues, a reference to language, which is where Sophie's editorial started and ended (with a reference to Irigary and her theory of language):

I like these lines from Kathleen Fraser:
‘this / lyric error forever this / something embarrassingly clear, this / language we come up against’ (‘continuous/ indefinable’).

We will come up against language, always.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

dark bright doors -gleaming

Here is the first longer review of Dark Bright Doors at M/C Reviews. Obviously, it is a review to be happy about, but not just because it is positive. The reviewer, Alison Clifton, engages with the form of the work as well as the aboutness of the poems. That is one thing you hope for in a review.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Hemensley on anthologies

Much to ponder on in Kris Hemensley's discussion of the current swag of Australian poetry anthologies, in a broader context of contemporary Australian poetry.

Kris and I talked about some of this when I was in the Collected Works shop in February, whilst on a flying visit to Melbourne. I still have not fully digested all he has raised now, especially the preamble and history, the stuff that gets forgotten when the new and recent are discussed.

I know Kris has been pondering this awhile. There was some brief commentary on his Facebook page, but this post of his is the product of lengthy thinking.

Kris points to one interesting fact - Dorothy Porter is the one poet that appears in all the anthologies under discussion.