Monthly Archives: February 2013

Poets On Beauty

Lemonhound is currently conducting a series of interviews with poets on their relationship to beauty. The series kicks off with a deeply fascinating interview with poet, editor and online experimenter,  Sachiko Murakami, who opens by selecting a poem from 2012 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, a.rawlings, as one that resonates with her as beautiful. Having read this poem on many occasions and having seen it performed, I felt a a great connection to her choice.

It also inspired me to share a poem that I continue to find, genuinely beautiful…

by Robert Adamson

Morning shines on the cowling of the Yamaha
locked onto the stern of the boat,
spears of light shoot away
from the gun-metal grey enamel.
Now I wait for God to show
instead of calling him a liar.

I’ve just killed a mulloway –
it’s eighty five pounds, twenty years old –
the huge mauve-silver body trembles in the hull.

[read the full poem here]

This is one of the finest meditations on life, I have ever read; a compelling poem, edged with darkness. A poem that I will always return to.

So in the spirit of sharing, I would love to hear about the poems that you revisit to find beauty. There can never be enough beauty in this life…





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In A New Garden by John Parsons: Reviewed by Patricia Prime

Keeping up with new releases world wide is a difficult thing to do… thank goodness for reviewers like Patricia Prime! Here’s a review of John Parsons’ new collection, In a New Garden.

New Garden

In a New Garden: haiku by John Parsons. Oxbridge, UK. Alba Publishing.
(2012) Pb. 96 pp. ISBN 978-0-9572592-6-3. UK12.00 / US$16.00 / €15. Reviewed by Patricia Prime

I was delighted when asked to write a comment for the jacket of John Parsons’ latest collection of haiku In a New Garden and, declaring this; I am equally pleased to review the work since I consider it to be one of the finest collections of haiku I have read. In his Preface to this fifth collection of haiku, Parsons writes, “This book is largely extracted from work over the past year, a time of upheaval and resettlement.” The book is divided into the seasons of the year; each season being prefaced by one of Parsons’ drawings.

The haiku are set out three to a page, in indented lines, with plenty of space around them. If you enjoy haiku, here is a volume full of delights and surprises. The strength, energy and compassion of Parsons’ haiku are impressive, and it is reader-friendly without ever being shallow. He brings a wealth of meticulous observation and personal experiences to his writing, through which we are better able to recognize ourselves and our surroundings. He invites the reader to share his vision and knowledge, and to discover with him, both human nature.

As I read and reflect on Parsons’ haiku, in all four sections of the seasonal year, I realize how the many layers of meaning of those title words – Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter – are embedded in this collection, adding to its depth and the way the haiku work on the reader’s imagination.

The book opens with the section Spring. In the first haiku, we are with the poet in his “new garden” watching the unfolding snowdrops:

sense of belonging
snowdrops open
in a new garden

Parsons writes empathetically about new growth, flowers, bird’s eggs, the weather and the song of birds:

lost in mist      the robin
finds a song

this neatly sums up his interest in birds and their habitats. Moment after moment is described in meticulous detail, as we see in the following two haiku:

her book of symptoms
tulips writhe
against cut glass


in watery light
the whole meadow

By the closing poem of this section, the poet, fully aware of his own blessings, is able to give a “coin for the busker” and to hear him burst into song.

Parsons is a poet who has studied and practices drawing, printmaking, sculpture, songwriting and illustration and he has an instinctive understanding of line and form, and sensitivity to the music
of words. In the section Summer, for example, he writes

released lacewing
slow slant of glitter
lost in light


patch of moonlight
slips from her robe
the midnight room

each haiku having a fine feeling both of the musical and the “painterly” about them. Here we see “the moment under the moment”, the past that’s always there beneath the present.

Parsons seems to enjoy taking leaps to link ideas in unpredictable ways. In this section, for instance, he juxtaposes a dry beech mast to a baby toad, a stoat with a bow wave of rabbits, perennial leeks to random thoughts. Birds are clearly a passionate interest and fertile material for a number of haiku, among them a wren, a buzzard, gulls, pigeons, swallows and a goldfinch. As well as other fine haiku, including the beautiful

scent garden
for the blind     roses feel ways
over the path

then there is his powerful

daughter returns
a goldfinch alights
on wizened marguerites

In section three Autumn, there are Parsons enthralling haiku about making love, All Hallow’s, the death of a friend, a hospital waiting room. The heart-wrenching

moonlight     where she died
a ghost’s weight
on my shadow

Parsons demonstrates an unerring sense of voice in these autumnal poems in which he presents “rust-coloured chrysanths”, “shortening days”, “shriveled fronds”, but in all his work he subtly matches voice to mood and subject matter, as in the following haiku

beating heart
of silence     a goldfinch
amongst cornflowers

where his minute observation is a compelling drive.

In the final section Winter, the haiku range across many subjects, from those about day-to-day things such as “lipstick smudges”, a “smart phone”, “new gloves”, to haiku about  a value store, Christmas, snow and the lovely

tears on a greeting
where does she start
to wrap up a life

His desire to make a detailed study of the seasons seems to find its ultimate expression in the haiku

ice shards spread
in the oxbow’s curve     cracks
of a woodman’s fire

Densely packed with vivid image after image, the moment-by-moment thoughts and minutiae of life
flow elegantly down the pages. There are so many fine haiku to indulge in – the memorable lines of

family heirloom
in the unfinished quilt
her last faltering stitch

and there are other beautiful, sensual and imagistic haiku too; the compassion and empathy of
“joints stiffen / every elbow of twisted hazel / a nodule of ice”, the indelible image of “just enough light / the robin’s breast / gives dead nettles life” and “loneliness / evening sun on the seat / never sat on”.

Whatever he writes about, Parsons always remains connected with the natural world and is sustained by it and even when he probes darker subjects, the sense of wonder it inspires shines through. He uses language powerfully to make us experience the world as he does, to hear birdsong, to feel the sun or the cold, to smell perfume or to sense the pain of stiff joints. His haiku shimmer with light, movement and colour, with sensual images that stay in the mind long after the book is closed.

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Fish Head

pale moon
one eye sucked
from the fish head


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The Crow: A Summer Renga (part vi)

With this sixth part of our renga, ‘The Crow’ has come to an end. It has been a thrill as always working with Ashley and Cindy; already we are planning an Autumn renga, so watch this space over the coming weeks. For now, enjoy the final flight of The Crow.

Branches Stripped CLK

[photograph by Cindy Keong]

tissues pile up
every branch
stripped bare


face to face
with the wind


genealogy is all
you sleep in
a rented suit


unworn for years
this memory


clouds pass
the confused heads
of sunflowers


paperboy on your starlit route
the dark turning into birds


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Snake Weather: A Summer Renga

Our recent ginko through Karawatha Forest has spun off into a summer ginko. The group have been sparking off each other, resulting in some really exciting leaps. Here’s the first quarter of Snake Weather, written by / between: David Stavanger, Andy Smerdon, Cindy Keong, Katherine Battersby, Chris Lynch, Trish Reid, John Wainwright, Helen Ross, Andrew Phillips.

Snake Weather CLK

[photograph by Cindy Keong]

snake weather
he kisses his teenage daughter
on the mouth



storm clouds hide
an innocent sky



at the roadside
the empty arms
of a mother



cane fields watch
with a promise of fire



she bleeds out
in the back paddock
harvest moon



red flowers falling
they await the results



black parrots’ beaks
in the heliconia
skeletons rise from the woods



limbs entwine
love whispers its melody



she falls back
breathless into lounge arms
rolling credits



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SpeedPoets at The Hideaway tomorrow!

Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, SpeedPoets, rises from its summer slumber tomorrow, and takes the stage at their brand new home, The Hideaway (188 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley).

hideaway logo

While we may have been on hiatus for the last few months, there has been plenty happening. The winners of the 2012 SpeedPoets Open Mic Championships are currently being featured over at Stilts. This week, the spotlight is on Chloe Callistemon, so head on over and get a hit of her poetry, on the screen and in your ear (yep, there’s audio). You can also read an interview with Sheish Money, one of tomorrow’s features, over at the SpeedPoets site.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 13th year of SpeedPoets, which in this age of the throw-away, is pretty special. Sheish Money is one of the few that have been there from the very first venue (downstairs at Belushis), so it is fitting that he will be fronting his new band, Moveable Feast and filling the room with his guitar roar and booming vocal. Also featuring tomorrow is 2012 SpeedPoets Open Mic Champion, Andrew Phillips. And to make things even more special, Andrew will be inviting Tiggy Johnson up to the stage for a poem or two from their stunning collection, That Zero Year.

But let’s not forget you… that’s right, you! The SpeedPoets Open Mic is what drives the event, so make sure you are there with a poem or three tucked in your pocket, ready to make them sing! You may just be named Call-Back-Poet of the month and have the honour of finishing the day with a set of 2-3 poems. Each of the monthly Call-Back-Poets will also be given a feature spot at the final gig of the year in November and be in the running to win cash prizes and the title, 2013 SpeedPoets Open Mic Champion.

See you all at the Hideaway tomorrow!

SpeedPoets first gig for 2013
Date: Saturday February 23
Venue: The Hideaway, 188 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
Time: Doors at 1:30pm for a 2pm Open Mic Start
Entry: Gold Coin Donation


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The City We Build: A Poetry Adventure

Inspired by those childhood favourites, Choose Your Own Adventure Stories, QLD Poetry Festival (QPF) and if:book Australia joined forces in 2012 to commission three exciting poets – Julie Beveridge, Chris Lynch and Carmen Leigh Keates – to write a series of poems that traversed the glorious landscape of Fortitude Valley.

TCWBOriginally, handbills were designed with QR Codes and distributed at the QPF 2013 book store in the foyer of The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, where each journey began. These handbills invited readers to scan the code, read the poem and then make a decision where to head next. The project was so successful, that the good folk at QPF wanted to extend the project… so now we have, The City We Build: A Poetry Adventure.

This extraordinary, enhanced ibook was launched last night on the deck of Riverbend Books and is now available as a free download. As well as the original poems, the book features the photography of Cindy Keong and an opening essay by QPF Director, Sarah Gory.

It is wonderful to see projects like this embracing new technology and pushing the boundaries of poetry publishing.


Download your copy here!

While you are downloading your own copy, spread the word to your networks, so they can grab a copy. This is a book that needs to be read widely!

And in keeping with the community feel of Another Lost Shark, I am keen for readers out there to review the collection. The first three people to email me a 400 + word review will have their review published on my site, and receive a free copy of one of the Another Lost Shark Publications titles (or something else from my collection for those loyal buyers). Look forward to hearing from you… the email address is geenunn(at) (remember to replace the (at) with @).


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The Crow: A Summer Renga (part v)

mist rises CLK

[photograph by Cindy Keong]


funeral procession
seeing more
of my mother


with his ghost


mist rises
the sound of our
shadows touching


arm to arm
my son’s first steps


at the border
a crooked finger
fear of frost


letter from home
cracked on the fold line


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nature trail: a haiku sequence

To follow on from yesterday, here’s a selection of my own haiku from the Karawatha State Forest ginko…  the place, the poets and their poems continue to resonate…

[photographs by Cindy Keong]

Nature Trail CLK

nature trail
the song of crickets
becomes a stream


summer sky
seen through eucalypts
seen through

Karawatha CLK

on the fallen eucalypt
all moving


among them
the lizard’s tail


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Summer Ginko: Karawatha State Forest

Yesterday, I had the absolute pleasure of hosting a ginko (haiku walk) through Karawatha State Forest. Ten of us gathered to revel in the beauty of the summer morning that awaited us and of course, share in the wonder of haiku. So after a pot or two of authentic Japanese green tea (thanks Andrew) and recitations of some of the groups favourite summer haiku, we all set off to walk, and importantly, find a place to be still, to become one with the surroundings.

After an hour and a half of walking, contemplating and sketching from the senses, we gathered again and shared our experience… and some fine haiku were composed as a result. I am excited to share a selection of the group’s poems, along with some photographs by Cindy Keong.


in a shadow
the kookaburra misses

Helen Ross


i want to go both ways

Trish Reid


Rusted Bark CLK
Cindy Keong


heavy sun
crow pleads
with the rusted tap

Katherine Battersby


cicadas suddenly silent, all the burnt gum trees

Chris Lynch


after the storm
one root of the grey gum
my broken toe

Andrew Phillips


Roots CLK

Cindy Keong


flashing sunlight at my eyes     butterfly

John Wainwright


stubbing my toe
I mimic the crow’s call

Cindy Keong


Quartzite Man CLK

Cindy Keong


under a black wing
ants feast
the sky moves on

Andy Smerdon


snake weather
he kisses his teenage daughter
on the mouth

David Stavanger


The group will now compose a renga, leading off with David’s ‘snake weather’, which was voted the most resonant poem by the group on the day… Am looking forward to sharing that with you in the coming weeks.


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