Tag Archives: Anthony Lawrence

Tickets for Riverbend Poetry Series on sale now!

The Riverbend Books front deck has become synonymous with poetry in Brisbane over the course of the last eight years, hosting the annual Riverbend Poetry Series in collaboration with QLD Poetry Festival and QLD Writers Centre. So if you don’t want to be standing on the street, craning your neck (and ears) to get a slice of the action, check out the details below to book your ticket. These events book out notoriously early and the line-up… well, the year is off to a flyer!

Riverbend Poetry Series 1

The first event in the Riverbend Poetry Series features graveyard poet Zenobia Frost,  multi-award winner Anthony Lawrence and two very special launches – Vanessa Page launching her full length debut,  Confessional Box and the Choose Your Own Poetry Adventure amplified e-book launch.

When: Tuesday 19th February 2013, 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Where: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St, Bulimba
Cost: $10
Bookings are essential and can be made by calling Riverbend Books on 07 3899 8555 or via their website.


Here’s a little bit about the poets…

Vanessa-PageVanessa Page is launching her full length debut, Confessional Box. Vanessa is a Brisbane-based poet who hails from Toowoomba in Queensland. In 2011 and 2012 she was named runner-up in the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize for an unpublished manuscript for The lost art of penning you a love note and Confessional Box. In April 2012 she launched her first micro-collection of poetry Feeding Paper Tigers through Another Lost Shark Publications.

Confessional Box is her second collection of poetry, published by Walleah Press, combining the best of Page’s two shortlisted Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize manuscripts, Confessional Box is an extended love letter to place, heart and memory.

“Vanessa Page writes with the complex simplicity of an artist like Paul Klee – her language is ‘skin, papered/over skin’. There is an arresting music to this book, worked at deep pitch, performed with great skill and a compassionate vision.” — Robert Adamson

lawrenceAnthony Lawrence has published thirteen books of poems, the most recent being The Welfare of My Enemy (Puncher & Wattmann, 2011) which was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award and the Age Book of the Year Awards. His books and individual poems have won many of Australia’s major poetry awards, and his work has been translated into Italian, German, Japanese and Slovenian. He lives at Casuarina, on the North Coast of NSW, and teaches Reading and Writing Poetry at Griffith University, Gold Coast.

Zenobia-FrostZenobia Frost is a Brisbane-based poet and critic with a PhD in burning the candle at both ends. In 2012 she was invited to tour with the Queensland Poetry Festival Regional Roadshow; then, in October, she spent a week at Varuna, the Writer’s House, coaxing her debut manuscript into shape. Zen edits with OffStreet Press, Cordite Poetry Review, and Voiceworks Magazine, and she enjoys long walks in graveyards, incisive verse, theatre, and tea.

CYOPA-2Choose Your Own Poetry Adventure, a co-production of QPF and if:book Australia, is a journey through the byways and the streets of the Valley. Weaving language into the physical spaces that we walk around daily, these poetic trails combine language and landmarks to showcase Fortitude Valley in a whole new light.

Choose Your Own Poetry Adventure has three poetic journeys created by three Brisbane poets: Julie Beveridge, Carmen Leigh Keates, and Chris Lynch.

Carmen Leigh Keates’ collection One Broken Knife was published in Brisbane New Voices III, 2012. Her verse novella, Second-Hand Attack Dog, was commended in the 2011 Alec Bolton Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Chris Lynch’s poetry has appeared in Blackmail Press, page seventeen and Islet. He recently edited The Tangled Bank: Love, Wonder, and Evolution, an anthology of speculative fiction, poetry, and artwork about evolution.

Julie Beveridge is a poet and cultural producer. Her collection, Home is where the Heartache is (Small Change Press), was her first collection of haibun. Her follow up collection, home{sic}, was released in June 2012.


Filed under events & opportunities

Desert(ed) Island Poems #8 – Rosanna Licari

Here is an Easter Long Weekend treat for you all…

Rosanna Licari is one of the four feature poets programmed at this month’s Poetry on the Deck event at Riverbend Books (see details below). Here she lets us in to the world of her Desert(ed) Island, showing us glimpses of the poetry that has guided her journey.




When I was asked what ten poems I would take onto a desert(ed) island after some reflection the task seemed harder than I initially thought. Does a list of ten poems really encompass all my favourites? Do I choose contemporary poems or include some of the “golden oldies”? Do I get patriotic and choose only Australian poems? And all this deliberation before Good Friday!

I’m presenting a list that is by no means exhaustive and is not in any order of preference. I’ve selected the poems, firstly, for their level of writing mastery and, secondly, for their emotional impact. The poems are by Robert Lowell, Les Murray, Seamus Heaney, Anne Sexton, Sharon Olds, Bronwyn Lea, John Forbes, Sarah Holland-Batt, Anthony Lawrence and Gig Ryan.


1. Sailing Home from Rapallo by Robert Lowell

Lowell’s Life Studies was the first collection of poetry that really interested me. I was a working-class migrant girl who knew nothing about literature. The collection was introduced to me in high school and though I could probably say I had an immature comprehension because of my age and inexperience, what did attract me was the personal nature of the poems. Lowell wrote about his father, his mother, his grandparents, people that you could relate to, who were made of flesh and blood. He also wrote about a social class that was totally alien to me and this was intriguing. The title of this poem initially engaged me as one of my maternal aunts had lived in Rapallo. The first stanza stops you in your tracks:

 Your nurse could only speak Italian,
 but after twenty minutes I could imagine your final week,
 and tears ran down my cheeks….

Lowell is travelling with his mother’s coffin from the Gulf of Genoa, Italy back to America by ship and uses “spumante-bubbling” to describe the track of waves, “Risorgimento black and gold” to describe his mother’s casket. I’d never read anything like it. Then he changes scene to sub-zero weather conditions at the family cemetery in Dunbarton, New Hampshire:

 The graveyard’s soil was changing to stone –
 so many of its deaths had been midwinter.
 Dour and dark against the blinding snowdrifts,
 its black brook and fir trunks were as smooth as masts.
 A fence of iron spear-hafts
 black-bordered its mostly Colonial grave-slates.
 The only “unhistoric” soul to come here
 was Father, now buried beneath his recent
 unweathered pink-veined slice of marble.
His use of language, subject matter, and free verse was a revelation to me and probably was responsible for my partiality for confessional poetry.

Read the poem here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=177954


2. The Bulahdelah-Taree Holiday Song Cycle by Les Murray

There is no doubt that Murray is a master. Not only is he prolific, he knows how to put the right word in the right place. This is a long, richly descriptive poem depicts people, their activities, their histories as well as the flora and fauna that surrounds them. It deals with the ordinary rituals of the holidays:

 Fresh sheets have been spread and tucked tight, childhood room have
  been seen to,

 For this is the season when children return with their children
 to the place of Bingham’s Ghost, of the Old Timber wharf. Of the
  Big Flood That time,
 The country of the rationalised farms. Of the day-and-night farms,
  and the Pitt street farms,
 of the Shire Engineer and many other rumours, of the tractor crankcase
  furred with chaff,
 the places of sitting down near ferns, the snake-fear places, the
  cattle-crossing-long-ago places.

There is considerable difficulty associated with writing a long poem in terms of sustaining interest and avoiding the repetition of an idea that does not contribute to the work as a whole. Murray manages this effortlessly in a very accessible and truly creative writing style. No wonder he has broad appeal.

Read the poem here: http://www.clivejames.com/poetry/murray/buladelah-taree


3. The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney

This poem is from Death of a Naturalist and is not recommended for vegetarians or RSPCA members. It is quite a confronting poem in which Heaney maintains a simple descriptive style. Heaney depicts the times he saw “pests” dealt with and highlights the contrast between city and country attitudes. At six, he first witnesses the drowning of kittens:

 Soft paws scraping like mad. But their tiny din
 Was soon soused. They were slung on the snout
 Of the pump and the water pumped in.

Heaney is a poet of high calibre who as a toddler must have uttered a limerick as his first verbal construction!

Read the poem here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-early-purges/


4. For My Lover, Returning to His Wife by Anne Sexton

Sexton’s Love Poems deals with the theme of adultery and female sexuality and this was something a female American poet just did not write about in the sixties. It was revolutionary for its time and I suggest that it is still very impressive several decades on. The title is self-explanatory and follows the telling-it-as-it-is style of Sexton. The female speaker unflinchingly compares herself to her lover’s steadfast wife:

 She has always been there, my darling.
 She is in fact, exquisite.
 Fireworks in the dull middle of February
 and as real as a cast-iron pot.

 Let’s face it, I have been momentary.
 A luxury…

Then the rejected woman farewells the married man she has had an affair with:

 I give you back your heart.
 I give you permission –

 for the fuse inside her, throbbing
 angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
 and the burying of her wound –
 for the burying of her small red wound alive – …

Every time I read this poem, it still stings.

Read the poem here: http://www.fort.org/sexton_for_my_lover.html

5. First by Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds is another American poet that has the knack of writing about taboo subjects in an intelligent manner. “First” is from her collection, The Wellspring. This is a poem about a new sexual experience she had had when she was a young woman. She proceeds to tell the reader in a very matter-of-fact manner about an incident at the sulphur baths with a writer on whom she performs fellatio:

  … I was a sophomore
 at college, in the baths with a naked man,
 a writer, married, a father, widowed,
 remarried, separated, unreadable, and when I
 said No, I was sorry, I couldn’t,
 he invented this, rising and dripping
 in the heavy sodium water, giving me
 his body to suck…

And then she agrees to participate:

 I gave over to flesh like church music
 until he drew himself out and held himself and
 something flew past me like a fresh ghost.

It is not sleazy or disgusting even though the naked writer she tells us about may well have been.


6. Born Again by Bronwyn Lea

The poem reflects the confessional style of some of my favourite American women poets and is not something that is often seen in Lea’s work. Lea is adept at interweaving religious references throughout the poem about her meeting with her former husband who has become a born-again Christian. He had gone to the desert to die but:

 Instead of dying, god spoke to him.
 God forgave all his trespasses. But I
 didn’t forgive his trespasses against me.
 My heart was a long ledger….

He goes to her house to collect their daughter and Lea makes him wait. When she returns he is gone but then she finds him:

    …I saw
 a figure kneeling by a large granite
 boulder. The ponderosa above him
 was weighted with snow. The knees
 of his jeans were wet. Snow drifts
 on his shoulders & back of his shoes.
 Snow collected on his upturned palms.

This poem is in your face, the cold hard facts.


7. Four Heads and How to do Them by John Forbes

A classic. A suite of four poems that deals with perception. Forbes describes the Classical Head as follows:

 Nature in her wisdom has formed the human head
 so it stands at the very top of the body.

 The head – or let us say the face – divides into 3,
 the seats of wisdom, beauty & goodness respectively.

Of course, there’s more. Then discover the Romantic Head, the Symbolist Head and the Conceptual Head. A very interesting read.

Read the poem here: http://australia.poetryinternationalweb.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php?obj_id=12456&x=1


8. Shore Acres by Sarah Holland-Batt

From her recent collection, Aria, the poem is about the ending of a relationship and begins with an engaging description:

 August, driving from North Bend
 from Empire, we saw how the waves gut
 the bluffs until they are pocked, whole
 scoops of rock being pawed out by water.

However, things have changed:

 But this year nothing moves at Shore Acres;
 the water is static as land, and stripes
 of foam bone its slate like a corset.
 We are here for the end of movement.

It is easy to be impressed by Holland-Batt’s use of language and imagery.


9. Grim Periphery by Anthony Lawrence

Lawrence’s poem of chronic insomnia begins with:

 The narrative extends, seamless, from a cutting
 you brought back from some great divide in a coal
 town’s grim periphery, and you do nothing to stop it,
 you’re exhausted….

Exhausted from another night of sleeplessness, facing a morning that it “too bright and thick with domestic urgency”, showering and self-gratification doesn’t help. It continues. The birds are up and it’s 6 am, thoughts race and there’s no relief. Fitful sleep eventually comes –  but there is no peace.

This is not a nice, well-mannered poem. Lawrence takes you by the hand to a disturbed, visceral world. But don’t be fooled by the chaotic imagery, this is a well-crafted, well thought out poem.


10. If I Had a Gun by Gig Ryan

A woman’s view about what is wrong with men. Effective use of repetition and blunt descriptions. Try this on for size:

 I’d shoot the man who can’t look me in the eye
 who stares at my boobs when we’re talking
 who rips me off in the milk-bar and smiles his wet purple smile
 who comments on my clothes. I’m not a fucking painting
 that needs to be told what it looks like.


 I’d shoot the man last night who said Smile honey
 don’t look so glum with money swearing from his jacket
 and a 3-course meal he prods lazily
 who tells me his problems: his girlfriend, his mother,
 his wife, his daughter, his sister, his lover
 because women will listen to that sort of rubbish.


Guys, this is a poem women poets talk about when you aren’t around and perhaps, even a poem they wanted to write themselves. A definite insight into female perception of the opposite sex.

Read the poem here: http://www.austlit.com/a/ryan-gig/doa.html




Finally, I include a poem of mine which I’ve been asked to share with you. “The last weeks of the war, Italy 1945” is published in Hecate, Vol. 34 No 2, 2008 and comes from the unpublished collection, An Absence of Saints. It is about my mother, Sofia, and depicts a period of time during WWII when she was taken by the Germans. It is set in Istria, Italy.


The last weeks of the war, Italy 1945      


1. Ičiči

The Germans tell her to get
into the jeep.
Holding on to its cold, dusty sides,
Sofia looks back at the steel-grey
Adriatic and her brother,
as it lurches onto the road.
Against his chest, he holds
the lunch she’s brought him
wrapped in a worn, cotton napkin.
Standing next to him, his girlfriend,
who has accompanied her there.
Sofia tightens her grip.
The Germans are taking
her to Fiume.


2. Fiume

The gaol door slams shut
as she looks at the toilet
in the corner and the old stone wall
facing her and the others,
all women. She is the youngest
in this group of forty. She fingers
the crucifix round her neck.

The cell smells
of human sweat and waste
but swallows swoop
into the courtyard
when the prisoners walk round
inside its walls once a day.

At midday after they soak
their bread with the remnants
of their watery soup,
the others stare at the serving
of pasta she gets in addition
because of her age.

For more food she lines up
with the adults to unpick rough,
burlap sacks in a musty room.
She’d hoped for meat, she gets
bread and jam.


3. Portorose

The guard takes her by the arm,
out of the cell, and onto a truck
to sit among German soldiers
with tortoise-like helmets and rifles.
Non parlano italiano and
she doesn’t speak German.

They arrive at a hotel that
smells of lilacs and roses.
Flanked by two soldiers she pauses
in the lobby  when she sees
the French windows and the honey-
coloured, parquet floor.

Sofia shares a velvet-draped room
with three other girls, and sees
the jade Adriatic from a small,
narrow balcony. No one talks.
Anyone could be a spy.
She dreams of her mother’s garden
in Valsantamarina.

She’s become a mula del FlaK
wears a blue uniform, goes to daily
lessons to learn German – Ich habe Angst
morse code –  dit dit dit dah dah dah dit dit dit
and to study the highways
of the air.


4. Pirano

She gets off the tram and something
makes her keep walking to the water’s edge.
This time she isn’t getting the tram
back to Portorose.

A shoemaker with a limp asks her
where she is going, she tells him
she wants to get back to Fiume.

He points to his house in the lane.
She walks in that direction after he leaves
but then she hides and waits.

Hai visito la mula del FlaK? 
He asks his wife when he returns.
There are no Germans.
Sofia comes out from her spot
under some stairs.

They’ll get her to a safe house.


5. Croc

Part of the letter to her mother reads
non sono coi tedeschi, sono in una casa and
the woman slips it into her shirt pocket
and promises to deliver it.

A few days later, some dirty, young men rush
past her and into the cottage with news −
the Americans have liberated Trieste.


6. Abbazia

Sofia stands at the aquamarine
shore and can’t remember
how many trucks it took
to get from Croc
to Buje
to Trieste
to Fiume
to Abbazia,

or how much
bread and water
she had,

or how many
people she met
as she passed rasping vehicles
filled with partisans
or prisoners of war.

She knows
if she’s lucky
she only needs
one more ride.



The last weeks of the war, Italy 1945
1. Non parlano italiano  – They don’t speak Italian.
2.Ich habe Angst (German) – I am afraid.
3. La mula del FlaK (Italian dialect) – A girl of the German anti-aircraft unit.
4. dit dit dit dah dah dah dit dit dit – morse code for SOS.
5. Hai visito la mula del FlaK?   Have you seen the girl of the German anti-aircraft unit.
6. Non sono coi tedeschi sono in una casa (Italian) – I’m not with the Germans, I’m in a house.
7. Croc – a place in Istria, Italy. My mother isn’t clear where it was but remembers the name as such. It may even have been code for the location.


Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the second Poetry on the Deck event for 2009. Join Rosanna Licari on the Riverbend deck alongside Longreach poet, Helen Avery (Seduced by Sky), Philip Neilsen (Without an Alibi) and emerging poet, Sophia Nugent-Siegal (Oracle).
Date: Tuesday 28 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 http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/EventDetails.aspx?ID=2199
The first event for the year was a huge success, with tickets selling out quickly, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Filed under Desert(ed) Island Poems

Artist profile: Mel Dixon (editor, Miel Magazine)

This Lost Shark recently caught up with Miel editor, Mel Dixon. Miel is currently on the lookout for your art and poetry and Mel is also one of the feature poets at Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, SpeedPoets on Sunday March 1 at The Alibi Room (full details below).

In this interview Mel tells all about the evolution of Miel and the joys and challenges of editing an independent literary/art journal…



You are currently seeking submissions for the fourth issue of Miel. Tell us a little bit about the magazine, its history and what made you take the leap into the crazy world of independent publishing?
Miel was, from the beginning, developed to extend the publication of poetry beyond the establishment. In some ways it was a revolt from a poetic and literary society that I felt only saw the beauty in poets already established. I had for many years written poetry, and although not formally educated in poetics, developed and learnt my own style of, and appreciation of, poetry. I felt as if I was not taken seriously, and it is most likely that I wasn’t among the poetic elite. I felt that if I couldn’t beat the establishment, then I may as well join them.

The first issue of Miel was launched at the 2005 Queensland Poetry Festival. One of the biggest highlights of my poetic life was being approached by extraordinary Australian poet Anthony Lawrence after the presentation. He congratulated me and handed me an unpublished poem to include in the next issue of Miel. I knew that from that point on I had to continue publishing Miel. That poem mocked me from the wall behind my computer for many months, many times I wondered if I would ever be able to surround that poem by enough of the same calibre work to do it any justice. It took 7 months.

Over time, Miel has developed a small voice of beauty, filled with glimpses into the emotive world that appears every time you turn a page.


Miel currently exists as a print journal and an online journal. Why both?

I love the printed word, the sensation of holding a book, that tactile experience is unique, it creates emotional ownership, it travels through time, it can be left, lost and found, for those reasons I doubt I would ever stop publishing a print journal.

I have begun publishing Miel as an online journal for a few reasons: convenience, accessibility and flexibility. The ability of the online journal to reach readers further afield not only increases exposure of the contents of Miel, but also the exposure of those wishing to submit work.

As an editor, what are you looking for… what is it that makes a poem really sing?

I am drawn to simple, meaningful, descriptive pieces. Less is more to me. Sometimes I will read a poem once, and know that I will include it, yet other pieces I will need to re-read many times to connect with. A strong emotive voice is deeply important to me.


You are currently living in rural Queensland but have recently spent time living in the UK. How does the attitude toward poetry differ between the two countries and how did your overseas experience impact on your own attitude to poetry?

The attitude towards poetry in the UK is much more varied than I have experienced here in Australia. Poetic forms are more differentiated, and poetry is seen as a respective art form by most in society. From what I experienced this comes from both the UK’s grand history in poetics, but also it’s rich music culture – poetry and music are almost inseparable. To be a poet, or to admit to being a poet is respected, regardless of what you create.

Living in the UK taught me to savour my time, give my work more respect and not trust my ‘first thought, best thought’ on a constant basis, a process I have struggled with since I started writing. My appreciation for different forms of poetry and spoken word has also developed, I find myself absorbing more from poetic works that I had previously overlooked.


I have recently had the pleasure of interviewing a number of editors and it seems that time and energy are the greatest hurdles to jump when it comes to putting together a magazine or finding time to write. What keeps your fire burning?

Opening up the first copy of a newly completed Miel and flipping through it’s pages, seeing and feeling each poem, that is what keeps my fire burning. I find it difficult to keep up with submissions when I’m traveling, so I usually need to settle into one place to give myself time to get into submissions and see the magazine come together.

There is a time, in the selection process of each issue where I will receive a submission that stands out and frames the next publication, I usually use that piece to build the issue, brick by brick until each poem is like walking into a separate room of a familiar house.


Find out More:





a long
silent song
the night

heavy breaths
carry a new year
along the seashore

in the hollow
of the headland
doubt is inflicted
upon drowsy

© mel dixon


The mighty SpeedPoets returns from its summer break, hungry for your words. Be there when Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, rolls back into The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St, New Farm from 2pm, with poetry features from Jef Caruss and Mel Dixon. There will also be live sounds from Q-Song Awards nominees, Peter Green and the Midnight Prophets, whose blend of blues, jazz and European Gypsy is not to be missed. There will also be free zines, giveaways, the hottest Open Mic section in the city backed by our own poetic interpreter Sheish Money. Entry is a gold coin donation. See you there!

SpeedPoets: Sunday March 1, 2pm – 5pm @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm.


Filed under interviews/artist profiles