January Pin Up #1: Michelle Dicinoski

As part of the National Year of Reading, I am going to feature the work of a single poet each month in a new section called Pin Ups. Each Friday I will post a poem and part of an ongoing interview with the Pin-Up-Poet of the month. And in keeping with the Pin Up theme, there will also be a weekly photo!

Michelle Dicinoski’s debut collection, Electricity for Beginners, has been sending sparks through the poetry scene since its release mid-2011, so it is my great pleasure to have her as the January Pin Up.

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Your debut collection, Electricity for Beginners has been receiving some wonderful reviews. Where did the idea for the title come from?

I liked the idea of a poetry collection having a title that sounded like an instructional book. And the idea of electricity tied into many of the themes I wanted to examine: love and passion, connections to places and people, ideas of generation and generations. It also had a personal significance because my father worked as a linesman for the Electricity Board when I was a child. When I started writing poetry, it occurred to me that he’d worked with live lines, and I was trying to do the same thing, in my way.

Of course, after I came up with the title, I discovered that there have been many books with the title Electricity for Beginners. The US Army published an Electricity for Beginners during World War II, and there’s even a mention of a book with this title in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. There was something about this repetition that appealed to me, so the title stuck.

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Such Riches

If anyone should ask, tell them mandarins.
Tell them eucalyptus sap that rubies on the bark.
Tell them snow crunch and grass burn
and skipping a hosewater rope.
If anyone should ask, tell them
bluebottles, cuttlefish, sea glass
and wild raspberries that charge
blood for fruit. Tell them
drunk on ten dollars and kissing the dawn.
If anyone should ask, tell them
nothing, tell them nothing and the world.
That’s what I’ve got to show for it.

(from Electricity for Beginners)

Michelle Dicinoski’s first poetry collection, Electricity for Beginners, was published in 2011 by Clouds of Magellan.  Her poems have appeared in The Best Australian Poems, The Australian Literary Review, Meanjin, and The Weekend Australian, as well as being broadcast on Radio National. Michelle has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Queensland, and was awarded an Australia Council grant to work on her latest project, a work of creative nonfiction. She lives in Brisbane.

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8 Comments

Filed under Pin Ups

8 responses to “January Pin Up #1: Michelle Dicinoski

  1. Thanks for the introduction to her writing…looking forward to the new Friday series.

  2. Love this poem! On my way to find her book right now!

  3. Lisa

    She is so amazingly talented, so expect many more great things to come from this poet.

  4. Thanks for this insight. I love Michelle’s work!

  5. Natasha Dennerstein

    Wow! That is a fierce poem! I particularly like the use of ruby as a verb “that rubies on the bark”

  6. Am thoroughly enjoying ‘Electricity for Beginners’, with ‘Milk Teeth’ being my favourite so far 😀 Wonderful poetry, Michelle.

    Thx, Graham.

  7. Love that poem! Another great Brisbane poet – must be something in the water – haha 😉

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