Monthly Archives: April 2013

Recordings and other things…

I have been in Junicho heaven this past couple of weeks and as a result have held off posting some of the other things that I have been up to. So here’s a few bits and bobs that you might enjoy checking out…

betweengiantsweb

Between April 15 and 19, good friend and fine poet Ashley Capes launched his book between giants via his blog, with five days of guest readings and a handful of videos. I was honoured to read one of Ashley’s poems ‘man about town‘ to kick off the blog launch. Here’s a link to my reading of man about town and while you are there, be sure to check out the readings by Robbie Coburn, Jane Williams, Mark William Jackson and Ashley himself. And if you like what you hear, why not grab a copy of between giants.

qpf

I have also been chatting to the organisers of Brisbane’s regular poetry gigs as part of a series called Live and Local. These are the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep Brisbane’s poetry community vibrant. You can read the first two interviews I have done with Tony Mutton organiser of Poetry Open Words and The Reverend Hellfire organiser of The Kurilpa Poets on the QLD Poetry Festival website.

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New Junicho: Between Thistles (Links #11 – #12)

With eighteen poems shared, Between Thistles is almost at an end… one selection remains, and again, I have been deliberating between a handful of the poems, reading each as the ageku to see how the image not only breaks new ground but allows us to briefly circle back to Ashley’s hokku, the evocative title poem, ‘between thistles’.

But before I go into detail about the 5 poems that have been sharing the place of the ageku, I want to thank everyone who has read and participated in our New Junicho. It has been one of the most exciting writing projects that I have taken part in. The energy and creativity that you have brought to the composition of this poem has been (in the most positive way) overwhelming. It has been a highlight of my day to check in with your responses and to watch this poem take shape. I will miss it, but there is still room for exploration… To everyone who participated, check your inboxes as I will be emailing you with an invitation to curate your own version of Between Thistles from the links submitted. I think it will be exciting to go back through each of the call outs and see where you may have taken the poem and to consider the many paths a poem like this can take.

Now, to the four poems that I have been considering for the ageku. The poems are, Lee-Anne’s ‘in the fading light’, Trish’s ‘songs-many-tongued’, Chloe’s ‘wind slips a tune’, Chris’s ‘in rifle sight’, and Andy’s ‘beneath bare feet’. Each of these poems leap daringly from John’s ‘Battle of Brighton’ and link us back to”between thistles’ and in doing so shift the feeling of the hokku; allowing us to read the poem with new insight.

Lee-Anne’s ‘in fading light’ gives closure to the battle we have left behind and in reading on, welcomes us to take a deeper look between the thistles where the Egyptian crane steps; the closing line ‘we study all that is’ singing with a deep sense of wabi.

Trish’s ‘songs-many-tongued’ offers such warmth; the idea that a diversity of voices singing in harmony can mend the sun enchanted me on first reading.

Chloe’s ‘wind slips a tune’ has a wonderful sense of lightness; the song beneath her feet adding music to each step of the crane.

Chris’s ‘in rifle sight’ refocuses the menace of the battle and leaves us eye to eye with an enemy. In reading on, the force of the word ‘enemy’ shifts the tone of the hokku, giving the crane a darker edge and bringing into focus another being between the thistles, hunted by the crane.

Andy’s ‘beneath bare feet’ gives the senses a real slap, as it is not only the feel of the mud that hits us here, it is the smell, the sound and the visual of the feet disappearing. This, like Chloe’s poem, connects us to the crane as it steps between thistles.

Each of these poems make a wonderful addition to the Junicho, but it is time to make a choice… to close, I have selected the poem that creates the greatest shift in the tone of the hokku; ‘in rifle sight’ by Chris Lynch.

But as I said before… let’s not view this as an ending. I look forward to posting multiple versions of this New Junicho over the coming days.

I would love for you to share this poem widely, as it is the keeper of many riches.

*****

Between Thistles: A New Junicho
Started: 12 April 2013 – Finished: 30 April 2013
Written between:
Ashley Capes, Simon Kindt, Chloe Callistemon, Chris Lynch, Trish Reid, John Wainwright, Lee-Anne Davie, Andrew Phillips, Cindy Keong, Phillip Ellis,

Link #1 (3 lines) – hokku / shasei

between thistles
the crane’s
Egyptian walk

(Ashley Capes)

Link #2 (2 lines) – waki / cultural (literature)

the noose of a circling skein
called down by Carver’s barreled goose

(Simon Kindt)

Link #3 (3 lines) – daisan / cultural (film)

fan rotors beat
The End
to the smell of napalm

(Chloe Callistemon)

Link #4 (2 lines) – verse / shasei

recycling at 2:30am
moonlight on bitumen

(Chris Lynch)

Link #5 (3 lines) – verse / shasei

moth seeks out
only dark spaces
tired I turn off the light

(Trish Reid)

Link #6 (2 lines) – verse / cultural (art)

Caravaggio fades in from black
is that a pallet knife?

(John Wainwright)

Link #7 (3 lines) – verse / cultural (religion)

he makes the sign
with crossed fingers
crucifix

(Lee-Anne Davie)

Link #8 (2 lines) – verse / gendai

global autumn
H5N1 migrates

(Andrew Phillips)

Link #9 (3 lines) – verse / gendai

waking up
with winter
beside me

(Cindy Keong)

Link #10 (2 lines) – verse / cultural (politics)

a new man rises
such rough beast

(Phillip Ellis)

Link #11 (3 lines) – verse / cultural (music)

the Mods won the
Battle of Brighton Beach
The Who?

(John Wainwright)

Link #12 (2 lines) – ageku / shasei

in rifle sight
my enemy’s eyes

(Chris Lynch)

* shasei – sketched from life – lived experience, observational, uncontrived.
* gendai – modernist – atypical structure, tone or content.

*****

Responses to Link #11:

The call for music went out and four poets came to play! The offerings from Chris, John, Andy and Chloe continue the energy of previous links and approach the concept of music from some wildly different viewpoints.

Chris looks out from the moshpit as the collision of bodies sends sparks flying skyward; John’s three poems move from the apocalyptic movement of ‘valkyrie ride’ (with a surge of Wagner) to the battle of Brighton Beach and the balls-out soundtrack of Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon; Andy takes us to the crossroads where the finger-picked blues of Robert Johnson ‘herald the beast’; and Chloe takes us on a discordant musical odyssey where we clap along with Freddie Mercury, break with the beautiful force of Elgar and wake to Beethoven’s cannon.

Such a diverse musical trip! One that has enriched my Sunday afternoon and taken our Junicho on one last turn before we reach our destination. So where did I leap to? I couldn’t resist the Battle of Brighton Beach, as it’s quite possibly the most playful take on a battle I have ever encountered. This selection welcomes John back into the poem and opens the call for the ageku, link #12.

For the ageku, we are looking for 2 lines of natural imagery / lived experience that continues the movement of the poem and in some way connects us back with the opening image. I plan to leave this link open for submission until 6pm Tuesday April 30 to give everyone ample time to pen their final offerings.

This poem has provided such a wonderful sense of community, so I hope that you all come out to play one last time.

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Brisbane New Voices IV Now Available

The magic that was the launch of Brisbane New Voices IV on Tuesday night is still thrumming in my veins… for those of you who were not able to make it and want to secure yourself one of the few copies remaining, you can now do so via the Another Lost Shark Store. Just click on the cover below…

BNV IV Cover

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New Junicho: Between Thistles (Links #9 – #10)

Responses to Link #10:

It was a thrill to see the energy of the gendai phase continue; the verse on offer for link #10 vary from the wonderfully  satirical, ‘Mad Katter’s tea party’ (John) and ‘budgie’s snuggle’ (Trish), through the razor sharp political commentary of ‘a new man rises’ (Phillip), the deep resonance of ‘soldier biscuits for sale’ (Chris) and the natural beauty of ‘election promises’ (Vuong).

After reading each poem multiple times, I became overwhelmed at the state of politics in our nation. Such is the power of so many of the links submitted; and in this power lies possibility. The Junicho would be richer for the addition of many of these poems, but there must be one that owns the 10th position and propels us towards an ending…

There are two poems that I have juggled for a number of hours now; placing each one into the Junicho, reading and re-reading the complete poem and then considering where it could lead us… the two poems are Chris’s ‘soldier biscuits for sale’  and Phillip’s ‘a new man rises’. In making my choice, I have decided to go with the directness of Phillip’s link and the energy it generates in leaping forward from Cindy’s ‘waking up’. The use of the word rises is the engine that propels this poem and while I might be showing my political leanings with this selection, this startling image confirmed my fear of the long winter we may wake to post the upcoming federal election…

I will, however, make one edit to the poem, and that is the removal of the brackets around the second line. It is my belief that the poem works more powerfully without them.

So with link #10 decided, link #11 is now open. Link #11 completes the six cultural links by calling for 3 lines with a music reference. After witnessing the uninhibited energy of Black Sabbath last night, I am eager to hear how each of you will make your words sing.

Take the leap and spread the word…

*****

Between Thistles: A New Junicho
Started: 12 April 2013 – Finished:
Written between:
Ashley Capes, Simon Kindt, Chloe Callistemon, Chris Lynch, Trish Reid, John Wainwright, Lee-Anne Davie, Andrew Phillips, Cindy Keong, Phillip Ellis,

Link #1 (3 lines) – hokku / shasei

between thistles
the crane’s
Egyptian walk

(Ashley Capes)

Link #2 (2 lines) – waki / cultural (literature)

the noose of a circling skein
called down by Carver’s barreled goose

(Simon Kindt)

Link #3 (3 lines) – daisan / cultural (film)

fan rotors beat
The End
to the smell of napalm

(Chloe Callistemon)

Link #4 (2 lines) – verse / shasei

recycling at 2:30am
moonlight on bitumen

(Chris Lynch)

Link #5 (3 lines) – verse / shasei

moth seeks out
only dark spaces
tired I turn off the light

(Trish Reid)

Link #6 (2 lines) – verse / cultural (art)

Caravaggio fades in from black
is that a pallet knife?

(John Wainwright)

Link #7 (3 lines) – verse / cultural (religion)

he makes the sign
with crossed fingers
crucifix

(Lee-Anne Davie)

Link #8 (2 lines) – verse / gendai

global autumn
H5N1 migrates

(Andrew Phillips)

Link #9 (3 lines) – verse / gendai

waking up
with winter
beside me

(Cindy Keong)

Link #10 (2 lines) – verse / cultural (politics)

a new man rises
such rough beast

(Phillip Ellis)

Link #11 (3 lines) – verse / cultural (music)
Link #12 (2 lines) – ageku / shasei

* shasei – sketched from life – lived experience, observational, uncontrived.
* gendai – modernist – atypical structure, tone or content.

*****

Response to Link #9:

I am just home after two massive nights of poetry (one launching Brisbane New Voices IV, which I will share details of very soon), and am eager to keep the Junicho moving. That said, my eyes are finding it hard to focus, so tonight, I am going to keep it brief…

Again, I have been swept away by the playful energy of the poems on offer for link #9. I have been checking in regularly and this gendai section has given me a genuine rush.

Many of these poems have seeded themselves in my brain, keeping me company and filling my head with their wildness. Several, will remain there for a long time… such is their resonance.

These poems include, Trish’s ‘she misses his cheek’, Cindy’s ‘waking up’, Chris’s ‘fever sweats’ and John’s uproarious, ‘number nine’.

So which one has made the leap into Between Thistles… for link #9 I have decided to wake up with winter and in doing so, welcome Cindy into the Junicho.

This means, we are now calling for link #10 – 2 lines with a political theme. I’ve got a feeling this one is going to keep the freewheeling energy of the last two links!

Leap boldly,

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Brisbane New Voices IV: Mother by Vuong Pham

With one sleep remaining until Brisbane New Voices IV makes its way in to the world, I am excited to give you a ‘first taste’ from Vuong Pham’s micro-collection, Refugee Prayer. Vuong’s work is deeply spiritual and celebrates the strength of the human spirit. Mother is the opening poem from his collection, and it too, sets the tone for the remainder of the work. I think you will find the honesty and sense of hope that drives this poem will resonate with you long after reading…

Last tickets can be purchased for tomorrow night’s launch here.

BNV IV Refugee Prayer

Mother

I know now, as I did in my childhood wonder
that my mother dreamed of a paradise
one unbound by war and exodus.

On the living room carpet we sit
I pluck her grey hairs and ask:
‘Mother, what ever was your passion in life?’
She smiles—that eternal smile
a question suspended in mid-air.
Her neck tilts like a sunflower
too heavy to meet the sky.

Gardening is the reply I expect.
My mind’s eye turns to childhood, to shadows
stirring beneath star fruit trees
rows of cherry tomatoes growing over fences
a call to supper while sleeping
amongst lotus-dotted ponds.

‘Teaching was my passion,’ she says, ‘high school.’
I smile in agreement. And as I do
jigsaw-puzzle pieces of memory
lock together, my past made whole.
‘A literacy teacher,’ I exclaim,
she smiles, remembering with excitement
the moment I arrived home from school
with a certificate of improved literacy.

I continue to pluck her grey hairs
our conversation lingers on
as the soft daylight illuminates us.
I know now, as I did in my childhood wonder
about mother’s youth, before the bloodshed in Saigon.

I picture her driving a yellow scooter
on the road to school, the freedom
of her hair, a glimmering smile; spiriting past
street markets, the soothing aromas
of Pho and lychee tea; that familiar
crescendo of rickshaws, bicycles and scooters;
landscapes of water buffalo, ploughing
the flooded paddies from cloud to cloud; each one
picturesque from her classroom window; and all of which
was the city she will no longer call home.

More grey hairs fall, the past realigns itself and
I know now, as I did in my childhood wonder
that the teaching legacy passed down to me—
I knew the responsibilities of providing
for her children outweighed
university-degree teaching aspirations.
That in mind, I tell her:
‘Mother, this week I taught my students Wordsworth
saw thousands of daffodils and thought of you.’
She smiles and I’m taken back to a halcyon-time
in childhood that reminds how she stitched floral
pyjamas, tablecloths, bedsheets together
using a sewing machine for less than $5 an hour
to afford rice, pork, Asian vegetables
and help pay for my tuition
so I could learn to spell ‘persistent’ correctly—
praying that I might speak an unbroken English tongue
and never be confined
to the labours of factories.

I know now, as I did in my childhood wonder
what it must’ve been to mother, there
among the refugee boat’s thrum, the faces
of Saigon watching—eyeballs ribboned with flames
incandescent, a disorder of diaspora animate
in the missile storm.

The homeland was a mist, the cerulean
depths of sea stirred on the horizon like some agitated womb
boats wet as one long vowel, as the city crumbled
and my mother among them fled
with nothing but me, growing inside.

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Brisbane New Voices IV: Women and Cars by Trudie Murrell

With the launch of Brisbane New Voices IV only two days away (Tuesday April 23), the excitement is building like a storm. Once again, if you are anywhere near this fine city of Brisbane, I hope that you are able to join us on the Riverbend Books deck as we welcome this collection into the world. Tickets are selling fast, but there are still some available here.

As part of the ‘build up’, I want to share a ‘first taste’ from both poet’s collections. So let’s start with Trudie and the title poem from her debut micro-collection, Women and Cars. This poem kick starts the collection and its freewheeling energy resonates throughout the remainder of the poems. For me, it is one of those poems that once read/heard, is never forgotten.

BNV IV Women and Cars

 

Women and Cars

For three generations the women
of my family have held
an abiding love for their cars.

No trading up or trading in
for this lot. They name their cars
Bathsheba, Aphrodite, Boadicea, Regina.

Call on them, count on them
trust and depend, festoon them
with tokens of adoration
because their cars are the opposite
of their men.

It’s not about speed
or even prestige —
I don’t think any of us
has owned a car with more
than four cylinders.

It’s about freedom.

A car can mean a quick get away
or at least a change of scene.
It doesn’t matter what
sort of a day you’ve had —

maybe your man
didn’t come home again
or got drunk or dropped dead
or fucked your friend on your favourite sheets —
Egyptian cotton, fantastic thread count
and now you’ve got to burn them.

It doesn’t matter, you still have Cleopatra
the 1973 2-door Celica
and if you have a car you’re free.

It’s a little room
a place where you can go
play loud music and watch things slide by
until you’re somewhere else.

Maybe there’s a touch of the
gypsy in us – we’ve  just traded the horse
for horsepower.

So the next time you see a clapped out shit box
beetling down the highway
woman behind the wheel singing like she means it
kids strapped in the back while the crayons and
board game pieces roll about the floor
forming alliances and rifts
with every undulation of the road

give the lady a wave.

She’s probably one of my mob and even though
she’s barely pushing 100 km/h, in her head she’s flying.
She’s going somewhere, anywhere
and believe me
she’s free.

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New Junicho: Between Thistles (Links #7 – #8)

Responses to link #8:

With 20+ poems on offer for this link, I don’t feel I am able to do them all justice in a single response, so instead of responding to each poem, I felt it would be best to first, share some of my own thoughts on gendai haiku and then share the 3 poems that elbowed their way to the final shortlist.

First of all, here is another enlightening link with regards gendai haiku: http://gendaihaiku.com/.

To quote from Shiki, ‘Haiku advances only when it departs from the traditional style’, and so it is that gendai haiku provides one way forward for the form, welcoming innovation and encouraging writers (as Martin Lucas so elegantly put it in his essay, Haiku as Poetic Spell) to embrace the ‘little awkwardnesses’ and to resist the pressures towards conformity, complacency and mere competence. As well as the wealth of information that is available at Gendai Haiku, I also recommend immersing yourself in journals such as Roadrunner and Presence. Both journals continue to publish groundbreaking work; work that challenges the traditional paradigm.

And for me, reading has always been the way forward… to read and have an awareness of groundbreaking work is to be one step closer to writing it.

What I loved most about the offerings for link #8, was the freedom of their spirit. I thank you all for your innovation and sense of playfulness… to me, both are vital to the art of haiku.

While many of the poems here would add a richness to the Junicho – Rachael’s wildly stitched together words and Trish and Lee-Anne’s intense use of colour – there are three that continue to pull me deeper into their realm. The 3 poems, in no particular order are, Andrew’s ‘global autumn’, Dhyan’s ‘damn!’ and Cindy’s ‘remorse’. Each of these embraces the spirit of gendai and offers a unique way forward for the poem. They are playful, provocative and brimming with possibility.

So which way did I leap?

I couldn’t resist  flying into the swirling genetics of Andrew’s ‘global autumn’.

This means link #9 is now open! For link #9 We remain in the world of gendai haiku, so keep the freewheeling words coming… this time, we are looking for three lines.

Enjoy!

*****

Between Thistles: A New Junicho
Started: 12 April 2013 – Finished:
Written between:
Ashley Capes, Simon Kindt, Chloe Callistemon, Chris Lynch, Trish Reid, John Wainwright, Lee-Anne Davie

Link #1 (3 lines) – hokku / shasei

between thistles
the crane’s
Egyptian walk

(Ashley Capes)

Link #2 (2 lines) – waki / cultural (literature)

the noose of a circling skein
called down by Carver’s barreled goose

(Simon Kindt)

Link #3 (3 lines) – daisan / cultural (film)

fan rotors beat
The End
to the smell of napalm

(Chloe Callistemon)

Link #4 (2 lines) – verse / shasei

recycling at 2:30am
moonlight on bitumen

(Chris Lynch)

Link #5 (3 lines) – verse / shasei

moth seeks out
only dark spaces
tired I turn off the light

(Trish Reid)

Link #6 (2 lines) – verse / cultural (art)

Caravaggio fades in from black
is that a pallet knife?

(John Wainwright)

Link #7 (3 lines) – verse / cultural (religion)

he makes the sign
with crossed fingers
crucifix

(Lee-Anne Davie)

Link #8 (2 lines) – verse / gendai

global autumn
H5N1 migrates

(Andrew Phillips)

Link #9 (3 lines) – verse / gendai
Link #10 (2 lines) – verse / cultural (politics)
Link #11 (3 lines) – verse / cultural (music)
Link #12 (2 lines) – ageku / shasei

* shasei – sketched from life – lived experience, observational, uncontrived.
* gendai – modernist – atypical structure, tone or content.

*****

Responses to Link #7:

Again, I have been swept away by the energy of this poem and the poets who have stepped up to the ‘link #7 plate’ and had a swing…

Vuong starts proceedings with a small handful of poems, beginning with the warmth of dawn and a blessing, moving to the chill of winter and the exposed garden angel and arriving at, for me, the finest of his three poems, ‘searching for truth’. This image continues to resonate with me; the gentle movement of a page lifting in the breeze shows us that ‘the truth’ reveals itself when we too are open to its arrival; Chris offers a quietly playful image. The idea of a beanie itching the head of the old jizo (protector of deceased children) during meditation put a wide smile on my face; Phillip’s offering has a harder edge; in reading this, I sensed the watchmaker had lost his faith, after losing his sight; John engages in an inner dialogue and in doing so talks himself into having a little drink; Rachael drifts off during mass and despite being roused by a sharp elbow to the ribs, continues to question what it is to believe… the final line filled my head with the possibility of what she was dreaming about; Trish presents an image of beauty and devastation, where deaf men sign their cries; something (delightfully) wicked this way comes in the form of Lee-Anne’s poem, as she questions her faith by crossing her fingers while making the sign of the cross; Cindy gives us an image of vast natural beauty and locates us in the upper air of the Himalayas; and Andrew watches as the dog makes short work of the holy book… couldn’t help but think of that age old homework excuse, ‘my dog ate it.’

So many stepping stones, each one providing a solid platform for the poem to move forward. Before I make my decision, let me thank you all again for making this such a joy.

Now, to choose that stone. Four particular poems have had a jostling match in my head, but for link #7, I have gone with Lee-Anne’s satirical take on the sign of the cross.

This means we move into the gendai phase of the poem and the call is now open for link #8… 3 modernist lines that will take the poem in the direction of left field.

Embrace that risk-taking feeling!

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