Monthly Archives: April 2010

A few days with Salt on the Tongue pt 2


Well the flow of words was again, relentless.

The morning session Kumarangk: Hear the Children Crying was incredibly moving. The session featured readings by Ali Cobby-Eckerman & Lionel Fogarty alongside five new indigenous voices and local elders Aunty Eileen McHughes and Aunty Phyllis Williams. The poems merged to form a dramatic narrative that portrayed both the historical and contemporary ambiences of Hindmarsh Island and the local Yaraldi clan of the Ngarrindjeri. When Lionel Fogarty chimed in, echoing the line ‘but I’m black’, during a poem read by one of the new voices, you couldn’t help but feel a tingling in the base of your brain and an ache in the gut.

I then took myself down to set up for the publisher’s market. This was again an idea, full of promise, which didn’t quite deliver. There were several publisher’s there displaying some mighty fine product – these included Small Change Press, Ginninderra, Dangerously Poetic, Ilura Press, Wakefield Press, Red Room Company, Australian Poetry Centre & Giramondo as well as some individual authors – but the programming (authors reading from new collections), dominated the focus leaving little time for people to browse the ample supply of poetry. I stuck around for the first two hours before heading off to the mighty Friendly Street Poets session.

Friendly Street Poets are proudly the longest running reading in the southern hemisphere. In talking to people over the years I have heard stories of up to 100 people reading in the open mic session at their monthly gathering in Adelaide, so I went anticipating something special… and they delivered. The energy was high and the atmosphere crackling… almost 40 people took to the mic in a quick fire two hours, showcasing everything from japanese forms to ballads; sonnets to high energy spoken word. And the session was MC’ed superbly by a gentleman known as Avalanche… his saxophone jam with Benjamin IQ Saunders to close the show reminded me of the free-wheeling jazz poets of the 50’s and 60’s. It was spontaneous, loose and from the gut. I can’t wait to get back to Adelaide to feature at Friendly Street in November.

Next was a session featuring Glenn Colquhoun, Jennifer Mills, Julie Beveridge and Brook Emery. Jennifer Mills from Alice Springs opened the session, reading predominantly from her PressPress chapbook, Treading Earth. During the weekend, Jennifer has put together an amazing little project called the ‘Sound Atlas’ which takes the listener on an audio walking tour of Goolwa and features new poems by arianna pozzuoli, sandra thibodeaux, emilie zoey baker, barbara galloway, ezra bicks, sarah day, jennifer mills, julie beveridge, ali cobby eckermann, tamryn bennett, jill jones, andrea gawthorne, jillian pattinson, esther ottoway, and stephen edgar. This is a great way to experience the town and the poetry of many of the festival guests.

Glenn Colquhoun was next on the bill and I have to say he blew me away… the highlight, a haka, written in the english language. Glenn warned us that he was quite shy and retiring, so when he ripped through the haka, hands flailing and tongue wagging, it certainly fired the audience up! Glenn is definitely a poet well worth investigating… you can read a selection of his poetry here.

Julie Beveridge was next, reading predominantly from her collection Home is Where the Heartache is, a series of poems themed around the idea of ‘domestic menace’. These poems take us straight to the point of crisis and don’t necessarily deliver us a conclusion. Instead they leave us with the character/s, right in the thick of moment. Her poem, Playing the Market, about a woman in Ipswich who killed her husband and skinned him, is a great example of her word-power and incisively black humour. Julie’s book is available here.

And finally Brook Emery read from his recent collections, Misplaced Heart and Uncommon Light. His work is unsentimental and insightful. His measured, rhythmic reading a perfect close to what was an amazing session.

My head needed a little breathing space, but I was soon back in the Regional Art Gallery to hear Grant Caldwell. Grant is one of those poets who never disappoints. His almost deadpan performance style gives the necessary room for his razor-wit to work its charm. Reading predominantly from his forthcoming collection, it left me anticiparting its mid-year release through 5 Islands Press.

And then there was the Slam. I went expecting high energy and I got high energy. Emilie Zoe Baker MC’ed the event urging us to clap like Les Murray just poked you on Facebook, and Arianna Pozzuoli opened proceedings as the sacrificial poet. While the event was more of a showcase (there was none of the traditional scoring), you could sense each poet wanted to lift the bar when they hit the stage, to take the crown of ‘The Greatest Poet In All The Land’ – oh yes, this was chanted loudly throughout the night!

Highlights included James Griffin’s performance of his stunning (sub)urban ballad ‘Suburbs of the Heart’, Robin ‘Archie’ Archbold’s shirt ripping antics (he managed to pop a button into Arianna Pozzuoli’s wine glass), IQ’s freestyling response to the other poets, riffing off each poem that had gone before him and PiO’s number crunching experimentalism that eventually won him the title. The beauty of this Slam was never once did it become stylistically narrow and the words were always at the forefront… a cracking way to finish the the second day at Salt on the Tongue before heading off to the local RSL for $3.00 Coopers stubbies and the chance to let the torrent of words start to sink in…

The final day offered up many fine readings and before I got on the bus to head back to Adelaide I caught feature sets from Jeri Kroll, Jordie Albiston (her latest collection The Sonnet According To M is wonderfully musical as was her reading), Patricia Sykes, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Emily Zoe Baker, Jennifer Mills, Sandy Caldow, Bel Schenk, Julie Beveridge & Chloe Wilson. So as you can well imagine, my head was full to overflowing with the imagery, words, voices and rhythms of the weekend.

It was a great weekend and I am very pleased to have been a part of it all. There are things I would have like to have seen happen, first and foremost, a greater engagement with the local community as there was a distinct lack of locals in attendance. In fact, on the Saturday morning we got talking with a local walking her dog and she asked why there were so many people in town… I strongly believe that if APC is committed to taking the festival to a regional town every two years (and believe me, I am right behind this as an idea), there needs to be alot more work done in the lead up to ensure the local community is engaged and has a strong presence at the event, otherwise, one could argue that it makes greater sense to host the event in the capital cities for ease of access.

There are a few photos that I want to upload, so I will try and get myself organised to post them tomorrow…


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A few days with Salt on the Tongue pt. 1

Well I am finally back in home waters and my head is leaking poetry, thanks to an incredible weekend in Goolwa + Tuesday night’s Riverbend Books reading & last night’s Back Room event at Confit Bistro.

So my thoughts on the Salt on the Tongue festival…

Let me start by saying that Goolwa is beautiful country and it was a true privilege to be welcomed to the land by Aunty Eileen of the

Ngarrindjeri people, in traditional language as part of the festival’s opening night celebration. Other highlights of opening night were the debut screening of a film produced by Joe Dolce, featuring one of the last ever interviews with the late Dorothy Porter, detailing her love of C.P. Cavafy and the festival launch speech by Stefano De Pieri, best known for his television series A Gondola on the Murray and his work with the Mildura Writers Festival. Stefano spoke passionately about the land and the devastation of the Murray River as a result of the years of irrigation; his speech brimming with the same wild fire that makes poetry so vital, concluded with a poem about the Murray written by Paul Kane.

And then came readings by the international guests: Glenn Colquhoun (New Zealand) who charmed the audience, reading a series of love poems for an ex-girlfriend who was born in South Australia; welshman Robert Minhinnick; Slam Queen, Arianna Pozzuoli (Singapore) who lit up the stage every time she got near a microphone; and Elizabeth Smither (New Zealand). A big first night… and after rising at 4:30am it was time for this Lost Shark to close his eyes and prepare for Saturday.

Saturday kicked off with readings from Bronwyn Lea (her poem Insufficiaent Knowledge gets better every time I hear it), who then introduced Yvette Holt who read a selection of her work from Anonymous Premonition and Sandra Thibodeaux who’s new collection ‘extinctions’ is an absolute gem. Favourites from her set included Extinction (An obsession with the sea steers his poems/ but he’s no lovelorn sailor/ no spilt seaman) and Rabies (Your dog bit me/ right on the throbbing part of my thigh./ And I know why:/ he sniffed that I was another mongrel/ grovelling fro your scraps). A bristling first session!

This was followed by a reading from three Tasmanian Poets – Esther Ottaway, Anne Kellas and Adrienne Eberhard. I was particularly taken by Adrienne’s work. Her poems Phosphorescence (When I pull the rope, a bucket/ of drowned stars appears, as if the night-/ sky’s fallen into the sea) and Earth, Air, Water, Fire: A Love Poem in Four Elements ( from earth: We carry caves inside us/ – the heart’s dark chambers,/ water-washed cavern of the womb) are still resonating with me.

Then we were off to Cafelicious for the launch of Andy Jackson’s debut collection, Among the Regulars. While it was sad that Andy’s book was not there for the launch (it is however now available online), it is always a pleasure to hear Andy’s wonderfully physical work. And he is one of Australian poetry’s true gentlemen!

Following this we took off to catch the end of the Motherlode launch. And what a launch. This was a true poetry sampler, with 21 of the included poets (incl. Jordie Albiston, Jill Jones, Jan Owen, Rebecca Edwards, Jude Aquilina, Lisa Gorton) getting up to deliver a poem from the anthology. Motherlode is an incredibly vital anthology and it was a real treat to hear so many of the voices in one live setting.

It was then time to prepare for my own session alongside Alex Skovron, Sarah Day & Louise Oxley. I have long enjoyed the work of each of these poets so it was a real thrill to be able to introduce them and hear them weave their spell. Many of their lines are still circling in my head:

‘one night a thousand calendars from now’ – Alex Skovron

‘ with a brushstroke I can take myself into and out of the dark’ – Louise Oxley

and Sarah Day’s description of a cat poised, ‘a laser beam of concentration’

Saturday night’s main session was a symposium on the state of poetry in the country. While it was wonderful to have a gathering of minds, sharing their thoughts on various aspects of Australian poetry – establishing touring circuits, models to overcome the difficulties with distribution, the merge between Australian Poetry Centre and the Poet’s Union – for me the event missed the mark. Too many of the speakers approached the forum with a narrow focus, speaking emotively about specific strategies being implemented in their state, when what we really need to be looking at is the bigger picture of audience development on a national (and even global) level. Julie Beveridge presented some really interesting data, gathered from a survey of more than 50 poets in Australia, which confirmed that audience development is where our national body needs to be focussing its energy. I do, however, think there are some interesting discussions beginning, as on the positive side, the forum provided an opportunity for many of us to network and make stronger connections.

These discussions continued at the festival club, housed in a little boutique brewery right on the river… and to soundtrack the discussions Max_Mo were carving out a mean groove, featuring some cool jazz and the words of Amelia Walker, Mike Ladd & Rob Walker. A great way to close a massive first day…

I will post my highlights from Sunday and Monday + a few photos tomorrow night.


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A Poetic Aside…

Well its bag packing time tonight, as I prepare for the weekend in Goolwa, but I am procrastinating…

Last night I saw The Scrapes at The Troubadour and my head is still buzzing with their ‘doom sexy’ guitar and violin soundscapes. Their debut album ‘Electric Mourning Blues’ provided the perfect musical backdrop for my travels around Brisbane’s northside today. Closer, ‘Antarctic Beach’ had me reaching for the repeat button… This album after just a few listens would definitely make my Songs To Write To List. The Scrapes will definitely put some poetry in your pencil!

And before I get packing, check out Robert Lee Brewer’s site Poetic Asides and consider dropping him a line. Robert has just been shortlisted for Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere and has put the call out, inviting poets to get in touch with him if they would like to be interviewed for Poetic Asides. All the details are here.

Posts may be a bit sparse over the next few days, but I will try and take some photos of my time in Goolwa. Will bring news of the Salt on the Tongue Poetry Festival on my return…

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Another Lost Shark live at Salt on the Tongue

This Lost Shark is heading south to Goolwa this weekend for the Salt on the Tongue Poetry Festival. And the line-up looks amazing…

Am really looking forward to hearing Jordie Albiston (one of my favourite Australian Poets… if you have not read her collection The Fall, you wouldn’t regret getting a copy), Peter Bakowski (a true master of capturing our urban landscape), (experimental pioneer) PiO, Emma Jones (whose debut collection The Striped World has been receiving rave reviews), and the exciting collective that is Paroxysm Press to name but a few…

And what’s more, I am really looking forward to reading alongside Sarah Day, Louise Oxley and Alex Skovron in the Centenary Hall on Saturday (5:30pm – 7:00pm) and performing at the mighty Friendly St Poets session on Sunday in the Regional Arts Centre (2:00pm – 4:00pm).

For full details of the program visit the Australian Poetry Centre website.

Will try and post some of the happenings from the great south…


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Riverbend Poetry Series, April 27 – featuring Kent MacCarter

The second Riverbend Poetry Series event for the year is just days away and it is promising to be a very special night. So if you are in the area make sure you are at Riverbend Books to enjoy a night of wild and whirling words with interstate guest Kent MacCarter (VIC), local favourites Tim Collins and Nathan Shepherdson and the launch of Brisbane’s favourite lit-mag Small Packages (vol. 11). The event is proudly presented by QLD Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre and Riverbend Books.

Tickets for the event are now available:

Date: Tuesday 27 April
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

Here’s a taste of what to expect from our interstate guest, Kent MacCarter:

A native of the US, Kent MacCarter’s adopted home is now Melbourne. Graduating from Melbourne University with a Masters in English Creative Writing in 2006 completed an arc that started with degrees and an early career in Financial Accounting. Having published for some years in Australian and international journals and papers, in 2009 he published In the Hungry Middle of Here, his first book.


The Precipice that is Treskavec Monastery


Outskirts of drizzle
                           comb apart radio
calls squelched out by tyre track ruts
wending up the glacial expression
held taut by Mt. Zlato
a taxi from Prilep donates me
on to. This profile. Unpacking

A scramble, I chart points from the geological chin
this mountain sports
and fix my silty ascent
                                             through a moustache of pine
                                             to the far-above cornice
where psalms of Russian-built Nivas
slalom between frescoes and goats. When down-
shifting from first to Cyrillic
               the orthodox monks
               grind their 4×4 hearts out
atop this perilous sentence
of steep road read aloud
by my feet


Part-way up on an outcrop
                I recline into minerals
                Water. Rest. A topsoil address
My inadvertent bisection of paths
                A duo of government
surveyors looming geologically still
in a strenuous waiting-about
for lunchbreak to start
                                             A linguistic wrangle
centres on weather, drills free how I’m from, exploration
on where I’m appearing in fields
way-out in this Macedonian woop-woop
and how. They professionally fidget 
                                triangular stances
their instruments plead and gazette
my upward direction
topo maps to be drawn.
                            Pointing down to the shoulder
of Earth effectively grappled
we marvel through olives. Our communion
of Boolean syntax. Transgression
This computer-aided-design


You can read more of Kent’s work here:

And here are two links to reviews of the In The Hungry Middle Of Here:

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The New Folk XI – Sounds Like Local

Australia has always produced some of the world’s most original music… Johnny O’Keefe, The Easybeats, The Saints, The Go-Betweens, The Triffids, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Dirty Three, The Church… the list goes on. So I thought I would post some music from a new crop of Australian artists, making ripples in our waters. Hope these sounds paint your Sunday all the right colours.

Sunday Afternoon – The Stress of Leisure

Fine purveyors of Brispop ‘The Stress of Leisure’ are gearing up to drop their third album and these ears are hungry for it. Their first two albums blend that ‘striped sunlight sound’ with classic indie-rock riffing and pop hooks. Lead singer, Ian Powne’s keen observation, peeling back the veneer of inner-city Brisbane life. So this Sunday afternoon, take the time to step into The Stress of Leisure’s world… the clip has all the colour of Brisbane this time of year. Oh, and keep an eye on their website for details of the album launch.

Electric Mourning Blues – The Scrapes

The Scrapes are a relatively new Brisbane band, who have recently released their debut album Electric Mourning Blues. The duo blend feedback drenched guitar with searing violing lines. Of course there are going to be Dirty Three references, but there sounds also channel the western feel of Ennio Morricone. This is a clip of them jamming live in Alchemix studios in Brisbane, so if it takes you somwehere and you are near enough to Brisbane this Wednesday night (April 21), you can catch the band at The Troubadour launching their album and tickets are just a $10’er.

We’re Mostly Made of Water – Kid Sam

Kid Sam are another local duo who have been impressing people all over the country recently supporting the legendary Daniel Johnson. Cousins Kishore and Kieran Ryan blend poetic lyrics with exquisitely crafted layers of guitar, drums, field recordings, glockenspiel, and various other sounds. Kid Sam trancends what we expect from a guitar and drums partnership and have delivered a debut album that is strangely evocative, complex and thoughtful.


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Amanda Joy & Sheish Money Live at SpeedPoets

The inimitable Paul Squires has captured some exquisite footage of Amanda Joy backed by the SpeedPoets riff-creator, Sheish Money last Sunday, April 11. Just getting to watch this again made my stomach float… the words twisting through the music (and vice versa) is mesmeric. A slice of brilliance from two very special performers.

Check it out here and be sure to spread the word…


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Riverbend Poetry Series, April 27 – the launch of Small Packages 11

April 27 is fast closing in and I for one am looking forward to it, as that si the date issue 11 of QLD’s finest literary mag Small Packages hits the shelves of Riverbend Books as part of the second event in the 2010 Riverbend Poetry Series.

The night will feature readings from Melbourne’s Kent MacCarter and award winning QLD poets Tim Collins & Nathan Shepherdson as well as readings from Small Packages 11 by founding editors Rob Morris and Francis Boyle and a range of special guests.

For those who remember the launch of Small Packages 10 at Riverbend Books this is definitely not an event to be missed. After 11 years at the helm, Rob Morris and Francis Boyle still seem to channel the electricity one feels when launching a debut issue… and their energy is not only infectious in person, it flows throughout the pages of every issue and from what I have seen of issue 11, it has that same electric-vibe.

Here’s a sneak preview of  a poem (and image) from issue 11 by Rob Morris.


                                                           The Returning

                                                           He said that he returned
                                                                           to that shining morning
                                                                           he was only three.
                                                            He ripped along Gregory Terrace
                                                            the crowd lifting him
                                                            like a boisterous breeze.
                                                            He was a Telegraph Tike
                                                                            The Castrol Kid
                                                            and he showed Brisbane wonder.
                                                            He said that it returned to him;
                                                                             his father, the people,
                                                                                             the intensity,
                                                                             till he recalibrated
                                                                                             Up and …
                                                                             over the century

In 1927, three and a half year old Kevin Kronk rode his bike down Gregory Terrace to the cheers of Brisbane people. His Castrol shirt was sent from England just for him.


Riverbend Poetry Series:

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the second event in the Riverbend Poetry Series for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase another exciting mix of local and interstate poets. The April event features the award-winning words of Nathan Shepherdson (Apples With Human Skin), Tim Collins reading from his latest, hard-hitting collection, The Crooked Floor, the launch of QLD’s favourite poetry journal, Small Packages and interstate guest Kent MacCarter (In The Hungry Middle Of Here).

Date: Tuesday 27 April
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!

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Get Your Zombie On!

If you haven’t already heard, Cordite are hosting a Zombie themed renga, and just last night this Lost Shark had a poem accepted for verse 5, so head on over and check it out… and better still, channel your inner zombie and throw your own voice into the mix. You don’t have to be experienced with the haiku form to get involved. The discussion that is already happening is very lively and well worth being a part of, and if you would like to know a little more about the renga format, there are some great links on the Cordite page to steer you in the right direction. Hope to read some of your ‘Zomku’ over at Cordite real soon…

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Review of the April SpeedPoets gig

Benjamin Sawon who was one of the featured poets at last Sunday’s SpeedPoets gig has posted a review of the gig on his blog – A Load of Blog.

So head over and check it out and don’t forget that next month – Sunday May 2, will again boast two feature acts:

Creator of the legendary ‘gingatao narrative’, Paul Squires and to celebrate the release of their much anticipated debut album, Sheish Money and members of Namedropper, will also be playing an extended feature set, so lock the date in your diary and don’t forget to pack your poems… The Open Mic Wants You!

SpeedPoets, 2pm Sunday May 2 @ InSpire Gallery Bar
71 Vulture St West End

Paul Squires + Sheish Money & Namedropper


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