Monthly Archives: February 2009

Jumping the Poetic Hurdle (part 8): the question of journals

I was reading through the comments posted in response to the recent interview I did with Rosanna Licari, editor of Stylus Poetry Journal and came across this article posted by Amanda Joy:

And this probing gem of a question from Paul Squires:

There are lots of excellent journals on line these days. They are very easy and cheap to create, in fact anyone can do it. Get a URL and a nice template, invite your friends to submit and throw links. It’s a great democratisation of the role of the editor. Given that the career path of the poet is not what it was, I am wondering where the value of appearing in journals is for the poet?

This is a question that demanded to be part of the Jumping the Poetic Hurdle discussion. I encourage you all to be part of the dialogue.


Filed under poetry & publishing

Jumping the Poetic Hurdle (part 7): an interview with Rosanna Licari, editor Stylus Poetry Journal

In late December/early January I interviewed a number of people involved in the print publication of poetry, including Lyn Reeves (Pardalote Press), John Knight (Post Pressed), Tiggy Johnson (page seventeen) and Ralph Wessman (Famous Reporter) to discuss the state of poetry publication and distribution in Australia. This time round, I plan to talk with a number of people publishing exclusively online to get their response.

First up I spoke with Rosanna Licari, founding editor of Stylus Poetry Journal.


Why is it that poetry, an art that arguably best reflects the speed at which we absorb ideas, information and imagery, is being neglected by corporate publishing houses and distributors throughout Australia?

Publishing is an expenisve and specialised business that employs many people who have different roles, and there are huge costs associated with marketing and distribution. The big publishing houses say the market for poetry is relatively small. Put simply, poetry doesn’t make money whereas novels and cook books do.

Perhaps more formal poetry may be considered too high brow or inaccessible for mainstream readers and other forms, such as bush poetry, less worthy or even vulgar. In fact, an IT person, who shall remain nameless, said to me recently that poetry died 150 years ago!


As publisher and editor of Stylus Poetry Journal, you have embraced technology and publish exclusively online. Initially, what influenced your decision to publish the journal online and not in the more traditional print/hard copy format?

I initially began Stylus in order to offer an opportunity for emerging poets to publish poetry. It seemed near impossible to get into the big magazines (such as Heat, Quadrant, Hecate, Island, Meanjin, Southerly, Westerly and Overland) – so many fish, such a small pond. There are many talented and well-respected poets out there.


What role do you see online publications such as Stylus, playing in the future of poetry publication and distribution?

Publishing poetry online offers other benefits in that it solves the problem of distribution and there is more exposure for the poet on the Web.You can quickly see what other writers are producing creatively. The Web is a wonderful resource.

Furthermore, it is considerably cheaper to publish online compared to costs associated with print publishing. Editing is also easier. If there has been a mistake made e.g. a typo, it’s easily fixed. This cannot happen with print publishing.

Online poetry publications are being taken more seriously now. There has been resistance in the past perhaps because print publishing has been with us for quite a while and the new medium has been considered with suspicion. Let’s face it, anybody can put anything on the Web, so quality and credibility are issues.

It was the librarians who took the bull by the horns. The National Library of Australia (NLA) initially established PANDORA (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia) in 1996. PANDORA, Australia ’s Web Archive archives Australian online publications and web sites it considers significant and which has long-term research value. Stylus is included in this selective archive as well as other poetry ezines and this can only promote Australian poets and poetry. Presently a collaboration of ten partners contribute to PANDORA, Australia ‘s Web Archive and each institution has its own selection criteria.

Australian universities were also interested in databases that would service their teaching and research communities. During the eighties’ several universities had developed specialist literature databases and in 1999, they decided to pool these resources into a single web-based information service. AustLit is a collaboration between Australian universities, the National Library of Australia (NLA) and the Australian Research Council (ARC). Citations and information on library holdings make up the bulk of AustLit records, but a range of selected full text of both creative and critical works is available via AustLit from a variety of sources, these being PANDORA, SETIS, the Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service at the University of Sydney, and finally, links to internet publications.

On a smaller scale, but in no way invaluable for poetry publication, was a breakthrough which occurred when UQP’s The Best Australian Poetry series, a prestigious annual print anthology, began to source online poetry from selected journals and these were published in The Best Australian Poetry 2007. Stylus was one of the online journals sourced, whereas before that only Australian print journals and newspapers were considered. (The series editors are Martin Duwell and Bronwyn Lea.)
The Best Australian Poetry 2007 was edited by John Tranter who is a true and early believer of the powers of the World Wide Web. In 1997 he founded the well-respected ezine, Jacket, and most poets I know would just salivate at the thought of being published in Jacket.

As well, Peter Rose, editor of Black Inc.’s The Best Australian Poems series which is another prestigious annual print anthology, considered poetry published online for The Best Australian Poems 2008.

John Tranter has been instrumental in pushing to get Australian poetry online. He was one of the parties reponsible for the APRIL (Australian Poetry Resources Internet Library) project. The aim of the project is to build a permanent library of resources on the Internet with the focus on Australian Poetry and so increasing circulation, reading and understanding of Australian poetry nationally and internationally. In fact, Tranter started in 2004 with a prototype website. Ulitmately, the APRIL project also wants to provide print-on-demand poetry books or collections of texts or anthologies. For more information readers can go to <>

An area of online poetry which is still marginalised in some circles is New Media poetry which is the avant-garde of online poetry. A couple of New Media poets who have been on the radar for a while are Jayne Fenton-Keane in collaboration with David Keane, and Komninos Zervos. New web software is offering more opportunities to explore and experiment with poetry but in terms of Stylus pursuing this would involve a major overhaul and financial outlay so it is not something I am considering in the near future.


What is on the horizon for Stylus?

Stylus will continue to be produced quarterly. Last year I decided to publish haiku and its related forms only twice a year, that is, in January and July, after the haiku editor, Janice Bostok, decided to pursue her own projects. Duncan Richardson is currently in that role and Pat Prime is still Reviews editor.

What readers will see is more guest editors for the contemporary poetry section so that a variety of perspectives and styles can be viewed. It’s hoped this will happen once or twice a year.

The current issue of Stylus was guest-edited by Roland Leach, a fine Western Australian poet and the publisher of Sunline Press. Last year, QLD poet and translator, Simon Patton guest-edited an issue of contemporary Chinese poets (in translation), while another QLD poet, Jena Woodhouse guest-edited an issue of Australian women poets. The July 2009 issue will also be a special issue. But I’m going to keep that a surprise!


Check out the latest issue of Stylus Poetry Journal at


Filed under poetry & publishing

Talkin’ Poetry Blues: an interview with Sheish Money

The mighty SpeedPoets returns from its summer break this Sunday, March 1, hungry for your words. Be there, when Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, rolls back into The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St, New Farm from 2pm, with poetry features from Jef Caruss and Mel Dixon; live sounds from Q-Song Award nominees, Peter Green and the Midnight Prophets and the hottest Open Mic section in the city backed by SpeedPoets very own poetic interpreter Sheish Money.

I had a long chat to Sheish this week about SpeedPoets, his book Another Rock Pig and poetry as light. Here’s what he had to say…


Sheish Money Live at QLD Poetry Festival 2008

Sheish Money Live at QLD Poetry Festival 2008


I was reading the work of Diane DiPrima recently and was drawn to her idea that poetry is made of light. The effect of light, she says, is created in the same way sound moves inside us, moving our spirit in a certain way. She goes on to say that breath is, of course, spirit, and that what happens is, the person reading the poem aloud, singing or chanting, enters the ear and mingles in the body of the listener (with their spirit) and so, moves and changes the body’s disposition.
As I read this, I was reminded of your own physical approach to performance and the fact that we are a physical instrument, not much different from a musical instrument in many ways. How does this influence your approach to writing and what point to you decide poem or song?

I like that, it makes a lot of sense to me. Sound and light are really just different wavelengths of vibrations. We are able to register wavelengths outside of what is perceived by our eyes and ears.Our bodies are sensitive to subsonic and ultrasonic sounds as well as light outside the visual spectrum. Vibrations resonate within us and changes us. Often a piece of music or some words resonate with us beyond our understanding. The voice is really the original musical instrument. I think all music relates back to the voice, therefore I believe poetry is music.

The voice isn’t something that happens in the mouth. If you scream you feel it in your fingers and toes, it moves blood around your whole body. If you hear a scream it goes right through your whole body. It literally makes your hair stand on end. I love sound and I think, for me hearing sounds in my head is the first step in writing anything. Sometimes things will form up on the page so it becomes a more visual thing but the rhythm is probably the most important thing. Frank Zappa said once that if there is a complex script it is difficult to put it across while singing which is why most singing deals with simple forms, or words to that effect. He also said that his guitar solos were speech influenced rhythmic patterns. It is more difficult to speak whilst playing an instrument or rather it’s easier to sing. 

I love experimenting with my voice whether singing or speaking. I am not a trained musician or poet and I try not to analyse it to much. Any label is ultimately limiting. 
Writing anything is about creating a reaction. You want people to get a tingle in their spine or for it to set their teeth on edge. And even if it never gets read or seen by anyone it causes reactions in the writer. Mostly when I’m writing it is with a mind to performance so I am trying to create something that resonates with people’s previous experiences. That process takes on different forms. Often playing something will spark and suggest words, you hear words in the music then it’s just a matter of constructing something around that. Other times a phrase or an idea for a story will come from somewhere and you write it down and that takes on a different life. Sometimes those things don’t suggest a melody so they remain a spoken piece. Other times they seem to lend themselves to a song. Some of my strongest songs have come about in that way. Also often the rhythms and rhymes are not as obvious in those pieces which I find can be more interesting. Maybe they have more light in them 
As a musician you have played at Brisbane’s longest running poetry event SpeedPoets for the last 5 years as well as on larger stages with with many poets including US sound poet Tracie Morris. What is the key to finding the music in other people’s poetry?

Mostly I think it’s more a case of trying to read body language than anything else. A poet reading their poem will be reflecting the rhythm of the poem in their body. Of course some poets write more rhythmically than others so they tend to be easier to play with, that said holding a rhythm that is unrelated to the piece can work and sometimes adding sounds underneath certain parts can also be effective. When I play along with a piece that I haven’t heard before I can’t possibly take the whole thing in but keeping my ears open to the lines that are going to have the most impact and letting them sort of float out there by themselves is I think an integral part of it, as is trying to be sensitive to the dynamics of the piece.

Every poem and every poet is different. Tracie Morris is of course a seasoned performer with a strong sense of the rhythm in her words so with her it was kick in to something, try not to get in the way, listen out for the lines or words that i can punctuate and ride it to the end. At Speedpoets where I may be playing behind someone who has never performed their poetry live, let alone with music is a different thing and in that instance I try to find something that wont disconcert the poet, kick into that, try and not get in the way, listen out for lines or words that I can punctuate and try and hang on till the end.

Often I am standing directly behind the poet and I find watching their hips is the key to how the piece is going. Ya bum never lies.

Sheish Money QPF 2008

Sheish Money QPF 2008


What is the role of spontaneity in your creative process?

It is probably the most important thing for me as a musician. I have a rather short attention span (as do most audiences) so staying in the moment and responding to it rather than having set ideas as to how a thing should go keeps it interesting for me (and hopefully the audience). I love improvising and have done quite a lot of that musically and as I said I believe the voice is the first musical instrument so it is only a short leap to do that with poets. I’m not a great improviser with words but being able to respond to the moment and change meaning by subtly changing the words is very interesting to me. Songs or poems are never set in stone for me, they are in a continual state of flux. The same words can have different meanings on different days and changing one word can dramatically change the whole meaning of a piece.


Your debut poetry collection Another Rock Pig is one of those rare poetry collections that reads as a book. It has a spine that binds it, but it also has blood, sweat and a swinging set of testicles. Each time I open it, it smells of life. Tell us about the process of putting this together.

Another Rock Pig started life as me trying to make sense of that period of my life spent in grubby rock venues. I wasn’t thinking of a product or even a set piece. Like a lot of the best things it came to me and I got it down very quickly. Apart from a stitch or two there is nothing embroidered about it, it’s all true… those things happened. So I guess that’s where the life comes from, from life.  

The next step was the encouragement from people to do something with it. An artist is generally  the least qualified to judge the merits of their own work, so having people around that said “this is the stuff” and making me reassess its merits was a crucial step. Then having people to help separate the “wheat from the chaff” and make me analyze in a more subjective way what was important for me and what I actually wanted to say was also critical.

So really it is a group effort with too many people involved to possibly list. Poetry is thought of as a solitary pursuit but it’s this interaction that drives the poems and the product be it book, CD or even performance.

What keeps the light/poetry in your veins?

In a word, people. I have a friend who is a poet of some note (I wont mention any names) and we talk about it often, that the words, the gig, the performance they’re just a way of connecting with people. The relationships that evolve out of the poetry is the most important thing. Being inspired by others as a means to lift your game and concentrate on honing your craft is ultimately what it is all about. That comes from audiences as well as other poets. Seeing poets who show the possibilities have a huge impact on what I try to do. I think that a terrible gig can teach you more than a great gig. It forces you to go away and analyze what you’re doing and improve, find ways to resonate and connect with the audience. 

People have said that music or poetry is like an addiction but I disagree with that analogy because giving it up won’t make your life better and the nature of addiction is one of diminished returns. I find that with poetry and music the more you do it the better it gets although I often use the Lord Byron quote about not having a way of stopping it.




Another Day At Work

The PA is thunderous
                            under his touch tonight
A night
          when it all just sits
          on such a delicate balance
          that every
          pot and fader
          is alive with the joy
          of the electrons
          flowing through them
A night
          when the room and the punters
          and the PA all join hands and dance
          to his magician’s wand
A night
          when his every move seems blessed
          every delay reverb and compressor set
          to maximum pleasure

A kick drum
          so big even the lighting guy is in time
          so clear even the breathing is in tune
          so rich you could lay on them
          and a bass
          so fat you’d need a six lane highway
          to drive it home
A night
          when you can polish a turd


Find out more: 


Filed under interviews/artist profiles

Artists Profile: Zenobia Frost

Zenobia Frost is one of the feature poets at Brisbane’s newest poetry event, Under a Daylight Moon, which kicks off this Saturday February 28 from 3pm – 5pm at Novel Lines Bookshop, 153 LaTrobe Tce, Paddington. This Lost Shark took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about the urge to write great poems, poetic influences and her debut collection. Along the way we get sidetracked by dragons and pirates… but believe me, the journey is richer for it.




What is the urgency of poetry in your life?

I guess you could say I have a word weakness, in that my brain is something of a sieve and when I pour a lot of words into it—as I do regularly—they can be pretty insistent about how and when they leak out again. Many of us poets know how inconvenient or even embarrassing this can be on long car trips or at the cinema, but when you gotta write, you gotta write.


American poet Donald Hall said, “I see no reason to spend your life writing poems unless your goal is to write great poems.” As a young writer, what is your take on that?

Writing has been my only consistent passion in a sea of fads and hobbies over the last decade or so, so I think I owe it to my poems to try and write them as well as I can. The thrill of challenging oneself to improve or try something out of one’s comfort zone is probably the driving force behind practitioners of any artform.

I decided to take writing seriously—actually, I don’t know if I ever take anything seriously, so scratch that. I decided to write often and with frivolous abandon when I was nine or ten. I like looking back on old pieces to see how both I and the writing have changed; my goal may be to write great poems, but so long as what I’m writing now continues to be better than what I wrote six months ago, I’m satisfied.

Perhaps poetry’s one of those adventures where your quest is to save the princess from the dragon, and along the way you narrowly escape ensnarement by a goblin, get drunk with elves, learn to swing dance from a fairy who intends to imprison you as a pet, and find a magic amulet or two—all of which make you stronger, but by the time you find the princess, she’s saved herself and is eating dragon kebabs over a roaring fire. Yes, that’s definitely it.


I think it was Eliot that said, “Poets learn to write by being other writers for a while, and then moving onto another one. Who are the people who have influenced you and who are you reading now?”

The first time I tried to write a novel, I was nine and was going ‘above and beyond’ on the word limit for a school assignment, which I was meant to write in the style of Enid Blyton. In my teens, I tried to become Oscar Wilde, but I wasn’t witty enough.

Honestly, though, I’m not good with names and I tend to read a bit of this and a bit of that. I think I could probably cite Goethe, Baudelaire, Rilke, William Carlos Williams, Madeleine L’Engle, e.e. cummings, Tom Waits, Spike Milligan and even fairy tales; just don’t ask me to list titles. I like simple poems with strong, sensory descriptions. I appreciate whimsy above all things.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the influence of the poets of Brisbane upon my poetry, which went through a series of rapid evolutions when I started attending readings and critique groups. There are a great number of fine wordsmiths here, and I’m very grateful to them for their insights.

Lately I’ve been reading the marvellously short poems of Richard Brautigan (they suit my attention span) and Susan Firer’s latest collection, Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People.


SweetWater Press is due to release your debut collection. Tell us about its evolution.

A university manuscript-writing project gave me an excuse to compile a chapbook, so I’ve been working on the collection for a year or so. It’s a quiet little thing, but I quite like the way it’s come to life. It’s funny that you chose the word ‘evolution’, because the chapbook, The Voyage, began as an excuse to bring together all of my oceanic love poems, but somehow it grew legs and crawled onto land with a series of poems about bugs, reptiles, people and finally houses. (However, if we follow the book’s idea of the ‘natural flow’ of evolution to its conclusion, then a tall gin and tonic is the height of civilisation. Maybe I’m onto something?)

The Voyage will be launched around April before I set off on a voyage of my own (with a box of books!) to enjoy the Midwest-American summer.


Finally, where are you looking when you write?

There are a lot of answers to this question depending on how it’s read, so here’s a selection of them. I look:

for my glasses.
out the window. I’m a daydreamer.
to nature, hoping to find small metaphors for bigger things.
into my contact juggling ball, hoping it will show me the future. Or David Bowie.
out to sea. I think this answer’s probably the truest.

Indulge me for a moment while I quote, of all things, a Disney movie. At the end of the first Pirates, as Jack Sparrow is distracting viewers by stroking the helm, he says, “Wherever we want to go, we’ll go. That’s what a ship is you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails—that’s what a ship needs, but what a ship really is…is freedom.”
Poetry allows me to go anywhere. It’s not just words and enjambment and rhythm—they’re what a poem needs, but what a poem is is freedom.

Is that corny? Okay, I can deal with being corny. Just pretend I’m wearing a pirate hat and it’ll sound better, I promise.





I close my eyes to the clutter
of the to-do list on the fridge
and I dance to Elliott Smith. I scrub
the sleep from my eyes, scour the grime
from the sink and swing my hips
in my grandmother’s apron.
I give the slip to furtive panics,
studyworkbillsfatigueandthought so
easily wiped over with a dishcloth
in 4/4 swings as I bottle up and go


Find Out More:

Reading the Ceiling’s Pine Calligraphy: Zen’s poetry blog

Stylus Poetry Journal: Issue 31, October 2008

Mascara Poetry: Issue 4


Filed under interviews/artist profiles

Australia’s Day of Mourning – a haiku tribute to Victoria’s bushfire victims

Today, Australians and people from all over the world gathered to remember those who lost their lives in the recent bushfires that ravaged so many Victorian towns. Recently, Haiku Oz President Beverley George, initiated a haiku tribute to Victoria’s bushfire victims and the response has  been overwhelming.

I encourage you all to read the haiku tributes that have been published on the Haiku Oz site and to leave your own personal haiku tribute in the comments section below. I will then publish each of your haiku on the Haiku Oz site as part of the tribute.

Read the tribute here:

In a time of unspeakable suffering, it is important that our voices unite.


                                                                              red dusk
                                                                              the photo of a young girl
                                                                              smiling from the ashes


Filed under poetry & publishing

Losing Ground

              for Tom Ball

No way to look
at the Royal George
one year after the poet’s death
and not think of a life
where the smell of damp
of stale beer, moulding carpet
and dog-eared pages of books
would not be a daily smell.

So easy to tell the wrong story.

It was good to hear
you were eating poems
instead of fortune cookies
walking bare foot to feel
the sand slip between your toes
slowly but surely losing
the ground you thought
was your life.


Filed under poetry

Lost in Translation – haiku by Basho and Buson

My recent interview with Kirk Marshall, editor of bi-lingual literary journal Red Leaves has had me reading widely about the art of translating poetry.

There are many that say poetry defies translation. In her essay, Translating Poetry, Erna Bennett says:

Poetry … is a music of words, and is a way of seeing and interpreting the world and our experience of it, and of conveying to the listener a heightened awareness of it through an intense concentration of metaphor and words in which the natural flow of speech sounds is moulded to some kind of formal pattern. Such patterns can never be the same after the act of translation.

So what then is a translator to do?

Well I liked Willis Barnstone’s take on this question in his An ABC of Translating Poetry

Translation of poetry is conceivable. A translation dwells in imperfection, using equivalents and shunning mechanical replicas–which is the dream of literalists who believe in truth. It gives us the other. Or under another name it gives us itself.

Whichever way you look at it, translating poetry is a difficult art.

I have always been fascinated by the various translations of haiku, particularly, Basho’s famous frog haiku. Some of them adding to the depth of my love for this incredible image, others fueling my distrust of translation (or at least the translator).

I recently found this page showcasing 31 translations (with a commenatry) of said haiku. It illustrates perfectly (or should that be imperfectly?) the varying nature of translation.

Read here:

I also found these translations of Buson’s temple bell/butterfly haiku, which provide further insight into the nature of translation.

Read here:

After many readings of these haiku, the words of Willis Barnstone were ringing in my ears…

A translator operates in the unknown. To choose the unknown path risks loss–and often brings gain.


Filed under poetry & publishing

The Poetry Gig Guide: Brisbane

There is plenty of poetry happening in Brisbane over the next week… here’s a taste of what you can expect:


Sunday February 22

Ahimsa House proudly supports the local community-based poetry group in West End—The Kurilpa Poets. From Sunday 22nd February 2009 they will meet on the last Sunday of every month at a new venue – The Noam Chomsky Room at Zapata’s Bookshop, right next door to Ahimsa House, 26 Horan Street West End. Everyone is welcome. Murri and Koori poets please join in!
Next performance date is Sunday 22nd February 2009. Time: 02—04.30 PM. Our feature poet for February is the shocking, devilish, firebrand, poetic preacher—The Reverend Hellfire (alias Guy Free). Breaking his vow of silence, the Mad Monk of Modern Verse stalks in from out of the Wilderness of Dutton Park  to testify to the healing Power of Poetry. Speaking in tongues and teeth, the Reverend unveils his Apocalyptic Visions in screeds of fire, for your spiritual and aesthetic pleasure. You may be prodded, poked and outraged—but you won’t be bored. Doubters and mockers beware! The End could well be nigh… Attend an unforgettable, hell raising poetry performance event—if you dare!


Tuesday February 24

Poetry on the Deck
Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first event in this years Riverbend Books Readings. Join us on the Riverbend deck and enjoy the sounds and imagery of award winning poets Anna Krien (2008 Val Vallis Award) and Felicity Plunkett (2008 Thomas Shapcott Award); global traveler Alan Jefferies and emerging Brisbane voice, Jessika Tong.

Date: Tuesday 24 February
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at

Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!


Saturday February 28

Poetry & Music Under A Daylight Moon

A new monthly venue for poetry and music. The February event features readings by Rob Morris and Zenobia Frost and music by Vandavan.

Entry is free but buskers rules apply!

3 to 5pm
Novel Lines Bookshop
153 LaTrobe Tce, Paddington


Sunday March 1

The mighty SpeedPoets returns from its summer break, hungry for your words. Be there when Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, rolls back into The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St, New Farm from 2pm, with poetry features from Jef Caruss and Mel Dixon. There will also be live sounds from Q-Song Awards nominees, Peter Green and the Midnight Prophets, whose blend of blues, jazz and European Gypsy is not to be missed. There will also be free zines, giveaways, the hottest Open Mic section in the city backed by our own poetic interpreter Sheish Money. Entry is a gold coin donation. See you there!

SpeedPoets: Sunday March 1, 2pm – 5pm @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm.


Filed under events & opportunities

Bob Stein and the Future of the Book

Bob Stein has been referred to as one of the most far out digital publishing visionaries in the new world, and for good reason. As the founder of The Voyager Company, the first commercial, exclusively multimedia based company and Director of The Institute for the Future of the Book he has been at the forefront of the digital revolution.

Stein has always been driven to find new ways of transferring the fundamentally engaging qualities of books to new electronic mediums. Stein sees the book of the future as  ‘open’ for continuous reader comment and author revision with the front end of the book breaking out of the linear mould and acting as a visual map —one that shows relations between parts and allows the reader to zoom into particular sections without losing sight of the whole.

It is an exciting time for the book (and lets not forget the authors and readers) and Bob and the team at The Institute are at the forefront of its evolution, so don’t miss the opportunity to hear Bob in conversation with QLD Writers Centre CEO, Kate Eltham at the 2009 Ideas festival on Friday March 27.

Ticket information and other details are available here. This is one conversation that will be worth tuning in to.


Filed under events & opportunities, poetry & publishing

Artist profile: Mel Dixon (editor, Miel Magazine)

This Lost Shark recently caught up with Miel editor, Mel Dixon. Miel is currently on the lookout for your art and poetry and Mel is also one of the feature poets at Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, SpeedPoets on Sunday March 1 at The Alibi Room (full details below).

In this interview Mel tells all about the evolution of Miel and the joys and challenges of editing an independent literary/art journal…



You are currently seeking submissions for the fourth issue of Miel. Tell us a little bit about the magazine, its history and what made you take the leap into the crazy world of independent publishing?
Miel was, from the beginning, developed to extend the publication of poetry beyond the establishment. In some ways it was a revolt from a poetic and literary society that I felt only saw the beauty in poets already established. I had for many years written poetry, and although not formally educated in poetics, developed and learnt my own style of, and appreciation of, poetry. I felt as if I was not taken seriously, and it is most likely that I wasn’t among the poetic elite. I felt that if I couldn’t beat the establishment, then I may as well join them.

The first issue of Miel was launched at the 2005 Queensland Poetry Festival. One of the biggest highlights of my poetic life was being approached by extraordinary Australian poet Anthony Lawrence after the presentation. He congratulated me and handed me an unpublished poem to include in the next issue of Miel. I knew that from that point on I had to continue publishing Miel. That poem mocked me from the wall behind my computer for many months, many times I wondered if I would ever be able to surround that poem by enough of the same calibre work to do it any justice. It took 7 months.

Over time, Miel has developed a small voice of beauty, filled with glimpses into the emotive world that appears every time you turn a page.


Miel currently exists as a print journal and an online journal. Why both?

I love the printed word, the sensation of holding a book, that tactile experience is unique, it creates emotional ownership, it travels through time, it can be left, lost and found, for those reasons I doubt I would ever stop publishing a print journal.

I have begun publishing Miel as an online journal for a few reasons: convenience, accessibility and flexibility. The ability of the online journal to reach readers further afield not only increases exposure of the contents of Miel, but also the exposure of those wishing to submit work.

As an editor, what are you looking for… what is it that makes a poem really sing?

I am drawn to simple, meaningful, descriptive pieces. Less is more to me. Sometimes I will read a poem once, and know that I will include it, yet other pieces I will need to re-read many times to connect with. A strong emotive voice is deeply important to me.


You are currently living in rural Queensland but have recently spent time living in the UK. How does the attitude toward poetry differ between the two countries and how did your overseas experience impact on your own attitude to poetry?

The attitude towards poetry in the UK is much more varied than I have experienced here in Australia. Poetic forms are more differentiated, and poetry is seen as a respective art form by most in society. From what I experienced this comes from both the UK’s grand history in poetics, but also it’s rich music culture – poetry and music are almost inseparable. To be a poet, or to admit to being a poet is respected, regardless of what you create.

Living in the UK taught me to savour my time, give my work more respect and not trust my ‘first thought, best thought’ on a constant basis, a process I have struggled with since I started writing. My appreciation for different forms of poetry and spoken word has also developed, I find myself absorbing more from poetic works that I had previously overlooked.


I have recently had the pleasure of interviewing a number of editors and it seems that time and energy are the greatest hurdles to jump when it comes to putting together a magazine or finding time to write. What keeps your fire burning?

Opening up the first copy of a newly completed Miel and flipping through it’s pages, seeing and feeling each poem, that is what keeps my fire burning. I find it difficult to keep up with submissions when I’m traveling, so I usually need to settle into one place to give myself time to get into submissions and see the magazine come together.

There is a time, in the selection process of each issue where I will receive a submission that stands out and frames the next publication, I usually use that piece to build the issue, brick by brick until each poem is like walking into a separate room of a familiar house.


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a long
silent song
the night

heavy breaths
carry a new year
along the seashore

in the hollow
of the headland
doubt is inflicted
upon drowsy

© mel dixon


The mighty SpeedPoets returns from its summer break, hungry for your words. Be there when Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, rolls back into The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St, New Farm from 2pm, with poetry features from Jef Caruss and Mel Dixon. There will also be live sounds from Q-Song Awards nominees, Peter Green and the Midnight Prophets, whose blend of blues, jazz and European Gypsy is not to be missed. There will also be free zines, giveaways, the hottest Open Mic section in the city backed by our own poetic interpreter Sheish Money. Entry is a gold coin donation. See you there!

SpeedPoets: Sunday March 1, 2pm – 5pm @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm.


Filed under interviews/artist profiles