Monthly Archives: March 2012

Brisbane New Voices III: Carmen Leigh Keates Breaks the Knife

This is one of those rare months where a fifth Friday muscles its way in. So as the April Pin-Up Poet isn’t due to appear here for another week, I thought it was the perfect time to showcase the title poem from Carmen Leigh Keates‘ half of Brisbane New Voices III, One Broken Knife.

One Broken Knife

There’s a rightness
in using one knife for everything
from cutting up a chop
to dividing the bulbs of daffodils.

And when the point is broken
and it attains that animalistic
pig-angry bearing
it becomes your weapon

not seriously
but it becomes your totem knife.
Nobody picks the broken one, right?

It is the twin of a knife
found in the grave
of someone you used to be
in the fourth century.

Radio feels mysterious.
You walk about
listening with your eyes
looking at your hands
going about their thing
straightening books.

Your hands
do not hear
and go on working.
Your hands are farmers.
But your ears are little children
who ask about God
just as they fall asleep.

Dad used his broken knife
to eat apple.
Sitting at the kitchen table
slicing off shapes
feeding them into his mouth
with the same knife-hand.

The blade missed his eye
by a distance
so small
it was religious.

He’d sharpen his knife
and the greasy drag
would ring through the house
like a local abduction.

Once he used the knife
to open a bag of cement
and out of the rip
a grey dust rose
like the spirit.

When I broke
the tip off my knife
I saw
it could leave the kitchen.

The hands that don’t listen
from a root-bound aloe
a clutch
of sappy broken knives
and hurled them into a vacant plot
where if inclined
they could live.


Carmen Leigh Keates was born in Brisbane. Her verse novella, Second-Hand Attack Dog, was commended in the 2011 Alec Bolton Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript, and her poem ‘One Broken Knife‘ was commended in the 2010 Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize. Carmen is undertaking her PhD candidature at the University of Queensland, for which she is writing poetry about the films of Andrei Tarkovsky.


Brisbane New Voices III is printed in a limited edition of 100 copies and will be launched on Tuesday April 24 at Riverbend Books along with readings by Victorian Singer/Songwriter, Andy White and QLD mistress of SLAM, Tessa Leon. To book your ticket call the store on (07) 3899 8555.


Filed under poetry & publishing

Tonight, The Necks!

Tonight, the Brisbane Powerhouse will showcase the improvisational might of The Necks. For mine, they are one of the most transcendent live acts on the planet. Here’s an early clip of them (from way back in 1989) playing the piece, Royal Family, which was used in the Kevin Lucas film, Beyond El Rocco.

But if you want a real hit, check the band out playing live at the Factory Theatre in 2008. This set is called Pop Will Eat Himself and it is magnificent!



Filed under who listens to the radio?

autumn wind
the decomposing twitter
of a bush turkey


Filed under poetry

Notes from the Gean + new haiku

The latest issue of Notes from the Gean is out now and is bursting at the virtual seams, with 134 pages of haiku and related forms from many of the world’s leading writers. And what makes the release even more exciting is that it features haiku from two of the ginko group from 2011 – Tiggy Johnson (pg 25) & Trish Reid (pg 115). I also have two haiku featured on pg 37, so I hope you enjoy the wealth of poetry this issue has on offer. The issue can be read in its entirety here:

And while we are talking haiku… here’s a new one to leave you with:

camp oven
the dipper pours
out sky


Filed under poetry, poetry & publishing

Shriek & the Art of Collaboration

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the importance of collaboration this past fortnight, which lead me back to one of the finest collaborations of recent times (at least that I am aware of); a genre-bending splice of speculative fiction, film and music by Jeff VanderMeer, The Church and J.T. Lindroos based on VanderMeer’s novel, Shriek: An Afterword. It’s a collaboration that takes maximises the talents of each contributor; plays to their strengths and then stretches them… VanderMeer is a multiple award winning writer, but until Shriek had not ventured into the realm of film / soundtrack, in their 30 years as a band, The Church have established  a cult following across the globe, making their name as art-rock pioneers, but as a group, had never soundtracked a film and Lindroos is better known for his work as an artist, Shriek being his first foray into film. But when the elements combine, it is with tremendous force!

There came a force so beguiling that even a cold-minded scholar must surrender to it. There came a war so strange that bullets became delicacies. There came a night so terrible no one could name it. And one man’s obsession may hold the key to the survival of a city…

If those words are not enough to hook you, then why not watch the trailer, featuring voice over from The Church’s Steve Kilbey & Tim Powles.

But please… do not stop there, the short film in its entirety is now online for your viewing pleasure. This is the type of collaboration that inspires me to keep pushing myself as an artist.


Filed under discussions

March Pin-Up Poet Week #4: Vanessa Page looks forward

Sadly, this week, it is time to say goodbye to our March Pin-Up Poet, Vanessa Page… but never fear, the launch of Brisbane New Voices III is just around the corner, so we will be seeing and hearing lots more from her over the coming weeks and months. Vanessa, it has been a pleasure…


With Feeding Paper Tigers to be launched on Tuesday April 24, what’s next on the horizon for you? Are there any themes emerging in your new work?

With the pieces selected for Feeding Paper Tigers being drawn from my manuscript the lost art of penning you a love note, I’ve been turning my attention to reworking and refining that collection of poems and adding some new pieces in to the mix. My first manuscript, Memory Bone is still awaiting publication with PressPress and hopefully this will happen some time in 2012. This is a full length collection of my earlier work.

As for what’s on the horizon, I have written a suite of poems that were drawn from my recent experiences in Tasmania and have been working away at a couple of longer poems. Performing my work at various poetry events around the city is helping to keep me on track with writing new material and giving me some time frames to work within. I will also continue to submit my work to various competitions throughout the year, as I seem to be having more success with competitions than with submissions to poetry zines and journals. As an ‘emerging’ poet I think the anonymity factor helps in this regard. It’s a great way of getting my poetry out there to new audiences and again the ability to work to a deadline is great for me as there never seems to be enough time in the day for we single, working, poetry-writing Mums! That being said, I’ll also continue to persistently submit my poems to journals and zines and the like and just keep at it!

I think while many of my themes will stay the same, I am working hard on refining my style and paring my work back to a simpler form. Having had the experience of editing for publication, this process has become easier for me and I have been able to push through that tricky mental space that makes me want to stubbornly hold on to lines that aren’t working rather than just discarding them and coming back to the concept in a fresh way. Lately I’ve been going over poems that have been troubling me, deleting ‘offending’ lines and stumbling blocks and getting those poems working again. I’m enjoying that aspect of reviewing at the moment and the freedom that a bolder approach to my own editing is affording me so that I can move my projects forward.


Drunk in St David’s Park

Still awake under
Hobart-town’s drooping lids

a grass crackle reveal
over night’s cold sweat

we light the fuse
with ice blade fingers

the two of us
an awkward exercise
in propulsion, footprints
over an old burial ground

shoulder to shoulder
with emancipist headstones

monuments to new starts;
the same colonial sky

the moon appears
in a half-hearted way

sparkle darkness
flooding under streetlights
as the rain comes again

we run like hell


And one last time, here’s the Brisbane New Voices III launch details:

Date: Tuesday April 24
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10
Bookings: Online at: or call the store on (07) 3899 8555

Copies of Brisbane New Voices are limited to 100, so be there to make sure you don’t miss out!


Filed under Pin Ups

autumn rain
the mountains


Filed under poetry

Heading Toward A Low Sun…

Tomorrow night, the incendiary Dirty Three, will set fire to The Tivoli as part of their Toward the Low Sun tour. The last time they sailed this way was to play Ocean Songs in its entirety and to say the least it was jaw-dropping. Dirty Three have often been described as the best live band on the planet, so beg, borrow, steal a ticket to the show tomorrow night… there will be no better place on the planet! And for now, here’s the hypnotic Moon on the Land.



Filed under who listens to the radio?

A World Poetry Day Feast

Tomorrow, March 21 is World Poetry Day. One of the driving ideas of the day is to share poetry with the world, so here’s a handful of readings / films from three of my all time favourite poets. So either dive in early, or hang back and savour it in the morning… but do open your ears and let these poems in.

First up is a set from New Zealand icon, the first poet I ever saw read live, Sam Hunt. This is Hunt at his wildly unpredictable best… and he reads two poems that will always be close to me, Wave Song and Naming the Gods.

Next, a reading from Korea’s spiritual force of nature, Ko Un. He will always be a guiding light…

And finally, let William S. Burroughs enter your head and open fire… no one messed with language more than WSB and this short film by Anthony Balch, showcases Burroughs’ early work at its mind-bending best.

Happy World Poetry Day to you all! Feel free to drop me a link to something you feel I should be watching.


Filed under who listens to the radio?

cats in love
the night
red with sirens


Filed under poetry