Questions, but no answers: while editing a manuscript

I’m in the process of editing something so all these strange questions come for me. I have no answers. Well, not exactly. And not while I’m in the midst of this process. What might a book be saying or declaring? Is what it’s not saying as important? But how can we know what it’s not saying? Does a book actually say anything? Didn’t someone write? Well, did they? OK, does even the writer know what they re saying? Could you write a book about what the book isn’t about? What are the words not saying? Is it the words, each of them, or the phrases, or the sentences or lines? Who is or isn’t in the poem? Who is knocking on the door to come into the poem? (Oh, so, here’s a metaphor!) Who doesn’t give a shit? Are these simply random, stumbling questions? Are any questions random? Is it a return of the repressed? What are the book’s gestures? ‘Wo es war, soll ich werden’, anyone? Is the book a symptom of something? So, the book

The body and the page: tracing making

Writing comes from the body, out of the senses and rhythms of the body. The interstitial and the uncertainty in immanence is part of that process. Sense data arrives on moments. Bodily syntax isn’t smooth. The body has its digressions that the thinking body theorises. Memory is made up of fragment and trace. A heart has its arrhythmias. As do words, so hard consonants disrupt mellifluous vowels. Thus, a rhythm. For instance, whenever my writing starts en plein air, so to speak, I am not just employing an observational mode. And when I make poems with a broken or collaged narrative, that can emerge from acts of walking, changing trains, changing travel modes, the coming and going of bodies, voices, weathers. It is a continuing exploration of language and location. Fracture and discontinuity are real experiences of energy and movement. Poems are made with the materials of this world, its languages, its scratchings and surfaces, its keys and screens, as well as the poet’s body and lif

Viva the Real - shortlisted!

I am pleased and gratified that my most recent book, Viva the Real (UQP), has been shortlisted in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for 2019 . Awards and prizes aren’t obviously the be-all and end-all but they do repay some of the faith the writer (in this case, me) and publisher had in the book. It's a welcome thing, especially as a genre like poetry pretty much gets ignored by book reviewing culture, literary festivals, and the like. The judges say of the book : Viva the Real by Jill Jones is an heroic celebration of the everyday: … For Jones the poem is an artefact freeze-framing thought: she is interested in the connections between the quotidian, attentiveness, and the resourcefulness of the poem to make legible our familiar. … An antidote to distraction, Viva the Real is a marvellous contribution to the poetics of everyday life: it magnifies the moment and resonates long after reading. A couple of years ago on this blog, I posted some thoughts I had about what my

Considering a poetics of dwelling in Judith Wright

I just found an old essay, commissioned by an organisation but never published (slight grump), on the poetry of Judith Wright and, specifically, her Collected Poems. It's a bit overviewy, as that was the commission, however, considering that I'm thinking at the moment about domestic space, intimacy and ecopoetics, these few paragraphs seem to contain some useful reference points. So, here's the extract: "If the poems in Judith Wright’s Collected Poems are approached in a way that does not seek to read Wright simply through themes of, for instance, landscape and nature or dub her as an activist poet or a lyric poet, solely, the poems can offer a broader field for exploration. The poems of her later years, such as the rather spare poems reproduced from the book Alive, allow a focus on the primariness of the lived space, of dwelling and intimacy with non-human space and place. This is exemplified in the long poem sequence ‘Habitat’ in which the poet, among other thing

'Energy' in a poem

Just a few ideas, well questions really, about energy or movement in a poem. Certainly that can be directed through syntactical choices - paratactic, discontinuous, or hypotactic, continuous. It may be how tense is used. Can simple present tense lead to a kind of flattening of the poem’s energy? Possibly, though I presume that may well be mitigated by other factors, including syntax. What place is there for speculation in the poem via tense (subjunctive?), or mood (not grammatical mood so much as atmospherics), or aspect? There is also the force of the prepositional, the way prepositions place and direct. Does the poem rely more on monosyllabic (or close to) words or prefer the polysyllabic and depending on which, how the stresses then operate. Do polysyllabics clutter, or do monosyllabics become boring rhythmically? Again, other factors, such as syntax, enjambment, stanza will change these effects. Then there is the way the poem might move between the cont

An environment - a poem

What is an environment in poetry – maybe creating space for things to happen, even if that be small, let alone associative/expansive, or even rhapsodic, or taking in other 'data', big and small. In doing this, I consider the spaces in the poem, the associative if you like, as wave forms, intersections created by words, phrases, iterations and reiterations as words double-back on themselves, as a mapping of territory, the sense of both looking close (the micro) and looking out to and beyond a horizon (the macro). The effects multiply and affect each other, there is a sharing of being.

‘The fast fold of fret lines’: Intimacy, ecopoetics, and the local

I think nearly all my most recent writing has something to do with how ‘the local’, gender and intimacy intersect in a kind of ecopoetics. That ‘something’, of course, can take many different forms, however, at least in my mind, remains connected to those ideas, even if tenuously. I’m not exactly sure what a suburban queer ecopoetics might look like, in general, but to my mind, it’s what I’m doing in my own way. In other words, how apparently mundane locations of ecological shifting and climate change/breakdown can figure in a poetry that recollects or reimagines embodied (human and non-human) locatedness and intimacy. If that doesn’t sound too stodgy. It was certainly what I had in mind with my most recent book, last year’s Viva the Real (UQP 2018), as well as in my previous book, Brink (Five Islands Press 2017). And it is what I’ve tried to work through, making the personal even more personal as well as historical (more on this later), in a new manuscript that’s in deve