Night Swimming with Jonathan Hadwen: Riverbend Feature Poet #4

Launching a book is an adventure… and debut author Jonathan Hadwen is about to take the ride with his collection Night Swim which will be launched at the first Riverbend Books, Poetry on the Deck event on Tuesday Feb 23. I fired a few questions at him recently to get his thoughts on publication, readings and how he approaches a poem.



The Riverbend Books reading will be the launch of Night Swim, your micro-collection released as part of the Brisbane New Voices series. What does it mean to you to put your work out into the world for the first time in book format?

I definitely got a kick out of seeing the chapbook.  I’ve been leaving it out in obvious places around the house so visitors will stumble upon it.  

How do you approach a poem?
I wait for it to approach me.  I have never had any success trying for force myself to write poetry.  The only things I have found helpful are reading lots of poetry (something about getting your mind into a certain rhythm) and long rides on public transport (maybe there is something in the rhythm of a train clinking over the tracks too?).  Once I have that start there is always work to be done – typing up, editing, collating, sending stuff off and maybe practicing delivery if I plan to read it somewhere, but I have to wait for the first part of the process.

Who are the people who have influenced your work and what is it about them (and their work) that has had the most impact?
E. E. Cummings was one of the first poets I started reading of my own volition and he released me from the misconception that poetry was about using as many big words as possible.  I remember catching my breath when reading the poem where he compares loneliness and heartbreak to hearing “one bird sing terribly afar in the lost lands”.

I love Charles Bukowski because he told it how it was.  I like poetry that is unashamedly personal and dislike poetry where I feel like the writer is trying to hide behind a riddle.

One of my favourite poets is Bruce Dawe.  That is how I want my own poetry to be – uncomplicated and honest.

The local poetry scene has also had a huge effect on me over the last few years and I feel lucky to be a poet living in Brisbane right now.

What excites you most about presenting your work to a live audience?

It’s great to be able to read my work to people who haven’t heard it before – probably the best chance a poet has of winning some new fans.


Jonathan Hadwen is a Brisbane poet who has been published in Southerly, Overland and Page Seventeen as well as other publications in Australia and overseas.  He is inspired by public transport, office politics, the ocean, cute waitresses and the merciless summers of his hometown.  On the first Sunday of each month he can be found at the Speedpoets poetry event at the Alibi Room in New Farm, and his first micro-collection “Night Swim” is to be released in 2010 as part of the Brisbane New Voices series.

More of Jonathan’s work can be found at:


Route 199

You can fall in love
on nights like this
delayed and distracted
on your way home from work
too long since you last ate

sitting in a daze
crammed on a bus 
next to a girl with Scandinavian skin
a girl so beautiful you might think
she floats across the top of life

There are nights when you expect strangers
to throw kisses not punches
those kisses buzzing in the air
in your ear
filling the space left by non-existent conversation

There are nights
saved for cities and crowds
and bus rides
in which you might fall in love
and then out of love again
before you’ve even reached
the next stop.


Poetry on the Riverbend Books deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramondo Press) reading along side debut author, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 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

These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!


Filed under events & opportunities, poetry & publishing

4 responses to “Night Swimming with Jonathan Hadwen: Riverbend Feature Poet #4

  1. did i said already, since i am around here in wordpress i start to feel a shame i am not an Aussie or at least dropping by in australia
    you guys seems to word with the poetry scene

  2. Pingback: Bright Star – keeping Keats alive « Another Lost Shark

  3. Pingback: This Just In… « wordsorwhatever

  4. Pingback: All clear now | Anne Giacomantonio Blog

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