Tag Archives: Australian Poetry Centre

Things to do in Melbourne when you’re walking (part II)

Today I had the pleasure of spending a bit of time on the 3RRR airwaves with Alicia Sometimes and Jeff Sparrow, talking poetry in Brisbane, the mighty QLD Poetry Festival and the state of poetry publishing in Australia. And as Alicia knows I love my music, we also talked musical influences and I read my poem, January 29, 2009 for the late John Martyn. Aural Text really is a great promoter of all things poetry, so I recommend you get online and listen to the podcasts and if you can work it into your week, don’t forget you can livestream it each Wednesday.

On the way there and home, I continued my pilgrimage to many of my favourite Melbourne haunts. Today I visited:

The French Lettuce: Voted by The Age as baking the best vanilla slice in Melbourne and for mine, they are on the money. Served with a generous dollop of rasperry sauce on the side, this is one heavenly dessert. Don’t balk at the $5 price tag… it is worth every cent.

Alice’s Bookshop: For secondhand poetry, this store is hard to go past. Today I picked up a gorgeous copy of Kenneth Patchen’s ‘Hurrah for Anything/Poemscapes and A Letter to God and a pristine Black Sparrow Press edition of ‘Without Music’ by Michael Palmer. So many other books there that I also wanted to take home… another time.

Polyester Records: Another great independent music store that boasts an extensive catalogue of Australian and overseas artists. For me you know you are on to a good thing when they stock artists such as Tren Brothers, Vic Chesnutt, Uncle Tupelo and every album by The Necks.

Polyester Books: Dubbing itself the world’s freakiest bookstore, Polyester stocks literature, art books, film, mags & zines from the edge. If you are looking for a bookstore that holds the censorship laws in the contempt they so richly deserve, then look no further than Polyester.

Horton Books: This place specialises in quality remaindered books… and I emphasise quality. A really great Beat Literature section, some fine poetry and a large number of art books. And did I mention that most of the books in store are about half the recommended retail price? Well worth checking out!

Pellegrinis: What do I say… this place is a Melbourne icon and has been since the 1950’s. Every time I visit Melbourne, I always stop in for the spaghetti bolognaise. It is without a doubt the best I have ever eaten.

Tonight, I am off to Poets Stripped Bare, feat. John Tranter & Lisa Gorton sharing insights into their creative process and reading a selection of their work. Very much looking forward to it.

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Filed under discussions, events & opportunities, poetry & publishing, who listens to the radio?

A few days with Salt on the Tongue pt 2


Well the flow of words was again, relentless.

The morning session Kumarangk: Hear the Children Crying was incredibly moving. The session featured readings by Ali Cobby-Eckerman & Lionel Fogarty alongside five new indigenous voices and local elders Aunty Eileen McHughes and Aunty Phyllis Williams. The poems merged to form a dramatic narrative that portrayed both the historical and contemporary ambiences of Hindmarsh Island and the local Yaraldi clan of the Ngarrindjeri. When Lionel Fogarty chimed in, echoing the line ‘but I’m black’, during a poem read by one of the new voices, you couldn’t help but feel a tingling in the base of your brain and an ache in the gut.

I then took myself down to set up for the publisher’s market. This was again an idea, full of promise, which didn’t quite deliver. There were several publisher’s there displaying some mighty fine product – these included Small Change Press, Ginninderra, Dangerously Poetic, Ilura Press, Wakefield Press, Red Room Company, Australian Poetry Centre & Giramondo as well as some individual authors – but the programming (authors reading from new collections), dominated the focus leaving little time for people to browse the ample supply of poetry. I stuck around for the first two hours before heading off to the mighty Friendly Street Poets session.

Friendly Street Poets are proudly the longest running reading in the southern hemisphere. In talking to people over the years I have heard stories of up to 100 people reading in the open mic session at their monthly gathering in Adelaide, so I went anticipating something special… and they delivered. The energy was high and the atmosphere crackling… almost 40 people took to the mic in a quick fire two hours, showcasing everything from japanese forms to ballads; sonnets to high energy spoken word. And the session was MC’ed superbly by a gentleman known as Avalanche… his saxophone jam with Benjamin IQ Saunders to close the show reminded me of the free-wheeling jazz poets of the 50’s and 60’s. It was spontaneous, loose and from the gut. I can’t wait to get back to Adelaide to feature at Friendly Street in November.

Next was a session featuring Glenn Colquhoun, Jennifer Mills, Julie Beveridge and Brook Emery. Jennifer Mills from Alice Springs opened the session, reading predominantly from her PressPress chapbook, Treading Earth. During the weekend, Jennifer has put together an amazing little project called the ‘Sound Atlas’ which takes the listener on an audio walking tour of Goolwa and features new poems by arianna pozzuoli, sandra thibodeaux, emilie zoey baker, barbara galloway, ezra bicks, sarah day, jennifer mills, julie beveridge, ali cobby eckermann, tamryn bennett, jill jones, andrea gawthorne, jillian pattinson, esther ottoway, and stephen edgar. This is a great way to experience the town and the poetry of many of the festival guests.

Glenn Colquhoun was next on the bill and I have to say he blew me away… the highlight, a haka, written in the english language. Glenn warned us that he was quite shy and retiring, so when he ripped through the haka, hands flailing and tongue wagging, it certainly fired the audience up! Glenn is definitely a poet well worth investigating… you can read a selection of his poetry here.

Julie Beveridge was next, reading predominantly from her collection Home is Where the Heartache is, a series of poems themed around the idea of ‘domestic menace’. These poems take us straight to the point of crisis and don’t necessarily deliver us a conclusion. Instead they leave us with the character/s, right in the thick of moment. Her poem, Playing the Market, about a woman in Ipswich who killed her husband and skinned him, is a great example of her word-power and incisively black humour. Julie’s book is available here.

And finally Brook Emery read from his recent collections, Misplaced Heart and Uncommon Light. His work is unsentimental and insightful. His measured, rhythmic reading a perfect close to what was an amazing session.

My head needed a little breathing space, but I was soon back in the Regional Art Gallery to hear Grant Caldwell. Grant is one of those poets who never disappoints. His almost deadpan performance style gives the necessary room for his razor-wit to work its charm. Reading predominantly from his forthcoming collection, it left me anticiparting its mid-year release through 5 Islands Press.

And then there was the Slam. I went expecting high energy and I got high energy. Emilie Zoe Baker MC’ed the event urging us to clap like Les Murray just poked you on Facebook, and Arianna Pozzuoli opened proceedings as the sacrificial poet. While the event was more of a showcase (there was none of the traditional scoring), you could sense each poet wanted to lift the bar when they hit the stage, to take the crown of ‘The Greatest Poet In All The Land’ – oh yes, this was chanted loudly throughout the night!

Highlights included James Griffin’s performance of his stunning (sub)urban ballad ‘Suburbs of the Heart’, Robin ‘Archie’ Archbold’s shirt ripping antics (he managed to pop a button into Arianna Pozzuoli’s wine glass), IQ’s freestyling response to the other poets, riffing off each poem that had gone before him and PiO’s number crunching experimentalism that eventually won him the title. The beauty of this Slam was never once did it become stylistically narrow and the words were always at the forefront… a cracking way to finish the the second day at Salt on the Tongue before heading off to the local RSL for $3.00 Coopers stubbies and the chance to let the torrent of words start to sink in…

The final day offered up many fine readings and before I got on the bus to head back to Adelaide I caught feature sets from Jeri Kroll, Jordie Albiston (her latest collection The Sonnet According To M is wonderfully musical as was her reading), Patricia Sykes, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Emily Zoe Baker, Jennifer Mills, Sandy Caldow, Bel Schenk, Julie Beveridge & Chloe Wilson. So as you can well imagine, my head was full to overflowing with the imagery, words, voices and rhythms of the weekend.

It was a great weekend and I am very pleased to have been a part of it all. There are things I would have like to have seen happen, first and foremost, a greater engagement with the local community as there was a distinct lack of locals in attendance. In fact, on the Saturday morning we got talking with a local walking her dog and she asked why there were so many people in town… I strongly believe that if APC is committed to taking the festival to a regional town every two years (and believe me, I am right behind this as an idea), there needs to be alot more work done in the lead up to ensure the local community is engaged and has a strong presence at the event, otherwise, one could argue that it makes greater sense to host the event in the capital cities for ease of access.

There are a few photos that I want to upload, so I will try and get myself organised to post them tomorrow…


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A few days with Salt on the Tongue pt. 1

Well I am finally back in home waters and my head is leaking poetry, thanks to an incredible weekend in Goolwa + Tuesday night’s Riverbend Books reading & last night’s Back Room event at Confit Bistro.

So my thoughts on the Salt on the Tongue festival…

Let me start by saying that Goolwa is beautiful country and it was a true privilege to be welcomed to the land by Aunty Eileen of the

Ngarrindjeri people, in traditional language as part of the festival’s opening night celebration. Other highlights of opening night were the debut screening of a film produced by Joe Dolce, featuring one of the last ever interviews with the late Dorothy Porter, detailing her love of C.P. Cavafy and the festival launch speech by Stefano De Pieri, best known for his television series A Gondola on the Murray and his work with the Mildura Writers Festival. Stefano spoke passionately about the land and the devastation of the Murray River as a result of the years of irrigation; his speech brimming with the same wild fire that makes poetry so vital, concluded with a poem about the Murray written by Paul Kane.

And then came readings by the international guests: Glenn Colquhoun (New Zealand) who charmed the audience, reading a series of love poems for an ex-girlfriend who was born in South Australia; welshman Robert Minhinnick; Slam Queen, Arianna Pozzuoli (Singapore) who lit up the stage every time she got near a microphone; and Elizabeth Smither (New Zealand). A big first night… and after rising at 4:30am it was time for this Lost Shark to close his eyes and prepare for Saturday.

Saturday kicked off with readings from Bronwyn Lea (her poem Insufficiaent Knowledge gets better every time I hear it), who then introduced Yvette Holt who read a selection of her work from Anonymous Premonition and Sandra Thibodeaux who’s new collection ‘extinctions’ is an absolute gem. Favourites from her set included Extinction (An obsession with the sea steers his poems/ but he’s no lovelorn sailor/ no spilt seaman) and Rabies (Your dog bit me/ right on the throbbing part of my thigh./ And I know why:/ he sniffed that I was another mongrel/ grovelling fro your scraps). A bristling first session!

This was followed by a reading from three Tasmanian Poets – Esther Ottaway, Anne Kellas and Adrienne Eberhard. I was particularly taken by Adrienne’s work. Her poems Phosphorescence (When I pull the rope, a bucket/ of drowned stars appears, as if the night-/ sky’s fallen into the sea) and Earth, Air, Water, Fire: A Love Poem in Four Elements ( from earth: We carry caves inside us/ – the heart’s dark chambers,/ water-washed cavern of the womb) are still resonating with me.

Then we were off to Cafelicious for the launch of Andy Jackson’s debut collection, Among the Regulars. While it was sad that Andy’s book was not there for the launch (it is however now available online), it is always a pleasure to hear Andy’s wonderfully physical work. And he is one of Australian poetry’s true gentlemen!

Following this we took off to catch the end of the Motherlode launch. And what a launch. This was a true poetry sampler, with 21 of the included poets (incl. Jordie Albiston, Jill Jones, Jan Owen, Rebecca Edwards, Jude Aquilina, Lisa Gorton) getting up to deliver a poem from the anthology. Motherlode is an incredibly vital anthology and it was a real treat to hear so many of the voices in one live setting.

It was then time to prepare for my own session alongside Alex Skovron, Sarah Day & Louise Oxley. I have long enjoyed the work of each of these poets so it was a real thrill to be able to introduce them and hear them weave their spell. Many of their lines are still circling in my head:

‘one night a thousand calendars from now’ – Alex Skovron

‘ with a brushstroke I can take myself into and out of the dark’ – Louise Oxley

and Sarah Day’s description of a cat poised, ‘a laser beam of concentration’

Saturday night’s main session was a symposium on the state of poetry in the country. While it was wonderful to have a gathering of minds, sharing their thoughts on various aspects of Australian poetry – establishing touring circuits, models to overcome the difficulties with distribution, the merge between Australian Poetry Centre and the Poet’s Union – for me the event missed the mark. Too many of the speakers approached the forum with a narrow focus, speaking emotively about specific strategies being implemented in their state, when what we really need to be looking at is the bigger picture of audience development on a national (and even global) level. Julie Beveridge presented some really interesting data, gathered from a survey of more than 50 poets in Australia, which confirmed that audience development is where our national body needs to be focussing its energy. I do, however, think there are some interesting discussions beginning, as on the positive side, the forum provided an opportunity for many of us to network and make stronger connections.

These discussions continued at the festival club, housed in a little boutique brewery right on the river… and to soundtrack the discussions Max_Mo were carving out a mean groove, featuring some cool jazz and the words of Amelia Walker, Mike Ladd & Rob Walker. A great way to close a massive first day…

I will post my highlights from Sunday and Monday + a few photos tomorrow night.


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Another Lost Shark live at Salt on the Tongue

This Lost Shark is heading south to Goolwa this weekend for the Salt on the Tongue Poetry Festival. And the line-up looks amazing…

Am really looking forward to hearing Jordie Albiston (one of my favourite Australian Poets… if you have not read her collection The Fall, you wouldn’t regret getting a copy), Peter Bakowski (a true master of capturing our urban landscape), (experimental pioneer) PiO, Emma Jones (whose debut collection The Striped World has been receiving rave reviews), and the exciting collective that is Paroxysm Press to name but a few…

And what’s more, I am really looking forward to reading alongside Sarah Day, Louise Oxley and Alex Skovron in the Centenary Hall on Saturday (5:30pm – 7:00pm) and performing at the mighty Friendly St Poets session on Sunday in the Regional Arts Centre (2:00pm – 4:00pm).

For full details of the program visit the Australian Poetry Centre website.

Will try and post some of the happenings from the great south…


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Out of the water…

This Lost Shark will be out of the water for a few days… but before I go, here’s a couple of poetry opportunities worth exploring.

So, pens out, blue ink and let’s get the cameras rolling!

1. PressPress Chapbook Award: The PressPress Chapbook Award is for an unpublished chapbook length manuscript of poems. The winning manuscript will receive $600 and chapbook publication with PressPress. The Award will be announced in July 2010 on the PressPress site.

2. Poetry in Film Festival: Australian Poetry Centre and Palace Cinemas have teamed up to host the Poetry in Film Festival. Artists are invited to produce a short film in response to Libby Hart’s poem, The Briefcase Phenomenon. Deadline for entry is August 2, 2010.

And if you are in need of a bit of poetry in your life this weekend, why not check out Poetica’s recent feature on Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

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Guided by Cafe Poets #3 – Jessica Raschke & Gemma White

And the Cafe Poet features keep coming…

Jessica Raschke and Gemma White are both part of the first crop of Cafe Poets. Jessica is currently Poet-in-Residence at Cafe Tulk in Melbourne and Gemma is undertaking her residency at Zappa’s Cafe in South Melbourne.


drama sections          (by Jessica Raschke)

in the broken sections of the drama
lie some jealous little shards
they move themselves as troopers
into veins and dotted red cells
they possess small histories
that are laid down for the shattering
and those broken sections:

they forget their wholes
they relish in their self-destruction

(it was once called self-murder)


not shame not brokenness
only the surfacing of some deepness
a damned public viewing
of a circle of the broken
they are sections
that are inlaid
they are
set in fleshy faces
they are
suddenly relieved
in the broken sections of the drama



About Jessica:

Jessica Raschke is a writer and visual artist with a background in creative, poetic and non-fiction writing. Her visual artwork combines textual and multimedia forms and has been exhibited at Kings ARI, 69 Smith Street Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Photography, fauxPho, Gabriel Gallery and Hunt Club Gallery. Her writing has appeared in Overland, The Big Issue, Metro, Australian Screen Education, Australian Bookseller + Publisher and InPress. Her first poetry collection, Luscious Glass Cage (Ginninderra Press), was published in 2008 (visit www.ginninderrapress.com.au). She is currently the Café Poet in Residence at Mr Tulk Café at the State Library of Victoria. Raschke completed a PhD into the history of multicultural literature and the culture of whiteness in commercial publishing in Australia in 2004. Since 2001 she has taught across a range of disciplines, including publishing and communications, journalism, media studies, creative and non-fiction writing, and cultural studies.





The Joggers and the Immaculate Lands.          (by Gemma White)

In this postcode, the lands are immaculate.
Even the leaves of the trees gleam like
a cleaning product commercial at the
joggers in the park below. Their sunglasses
reflect blue skies, kids in prams, dogs.
I know something they don’t know:
running is not fun. And it will not stop
you from getting old. I’d rather just not run.
They run away from age, from wrinkles, from
weight gain, in long yet futile strides.
They’re out there every day, at all times.
Even when it’s raining, they keep on running.
I guess old age keeps chasing; is neither tamed
by time nor change in weather, and so,
on they must run. Then one day, whilst
cornered in my private apartment of nothing,
looking out over the stream of joggers,
I suddenly get the urge to do something drastic.
I’m feeling trapped. I’m feeling static. I
have to move. Do something. Go somewhere.
Go out. I find myself on the carpet, clad in
clinging black tracksuit, feet shod in white lace-up
trainers, stretching a shoulder, an arm, a quadricep.
I enter the green square like a robber entering a
jewellery store. I look around. No one takes any
notice of another track-suited fiend on the path
to Health and Fitness. I start jogging, slowly at
first, a tad self-consciously. Then I go faster. My
legs enjoy it. They like being used, stretched to
their full capacity. I run like I am running from
something. I run from life. I run like I am free.
I have become. One of them.



About Gemma:

I began writing poetry a couple of years ago, while mooching around Edinburgh, pretending to be part of some Beat-style avant-garde poetry movement (purely made up by myself and a few fellow young writers). What these students turned Serious Young Poets taught me has been invaluable. I realised that poetry can be humorous, chaotic, drunken, glorious, and most importantly, relevant to real life. I returned to Melbourne feeling inspired, and set up a local poetry publication for new writers: http://velveteenzine.wordpress.com/

Recently I have done a few readings of my work on SYN 90.7 FM’s arts radio show, Arts Mitten, which has been great fun. I’m hoping that my café poet residency at Zappa’s Café in South Melbourne will force me to schedule in some more weekly writing time, and that writing in a public space may bring forth some interesting and varied subject matter.


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Guided by Cafe Poets #2 – Anne Collins & Jessica Cook

This Guided by Poets thread, is the second in the Cafe Poets features. All over Australia, poets are bunkering down in cafes thanks to The Australian Poetry Centre and believe me there are some really exciting projects emerging. If you are on Facebook you can keep up to date with all things Cafe Poets here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Poets/68995496578

I hope to promote each poet and their residency over the coming months. So it is my pleasure to introduce to you, two more of the Cafe Poets – Anne Collins and Jess Cook (cooknkitch).



Heatwave                (by Anne Collins)    
Adelaide, March 2008.

The house waits for the dawn easterly
to billow its curtains cool.
A single sheet feels too hot,
there’s nothing to breathe,
after a sleepless night
my brain befuddles to zero,
my feet and hands swell tight.
Maroon, mineral-smelling blood
gushes wasted from my womb.

Thick and dry as sandpaper
heat burdens every move
one foot in front of the other
almost impossible. My arm reaches over,
to put a cup down on the bench, I pause, stare blank
into the sandpaper haze,
its molecules scratch my face.
The closed-up house swells tight.
I escape into air-conditioned galleries, ponder art,
then sweat at the bus-stop in a strip of shade.
A crisp, high-heeled wedding party, feathered and buffed
perfumes the footpath.
The crowded bus full of tolerance faces the sun, 
moves and stops, jerks –
a woman struggles with her baby, refuses a seat,
a Bluetooth man from Sudan shrugs
and smiles his words into the gritty air.

In the park I listen to writers, ideas and poetry
drift across the swelter
to those fanning metaphors in the shade.
In the middle of the afternoon I’m lost
in the glare of an empty street
squat stone houses frown at parched gardens.
I try to think back to where
my friend’s house sits waiting dark and cool,
fan swirling. I try so hard to think: rehearse
first right, second left – but in reverse
my sense of direction gets stuck.

The heat leaves me heavy-lidded on the couch,
presses on my head as I read
until I surrender to cushions.
Living-room conversation fades as if
someone pressed the volume button.
Dreams come rushing onto the stage.
Did I come all this way to sleep?
The evening temperature is exotic under restaurant palms,
I sip gin and tonic, friends talk about death,
joke that intelligent people are nocturnal.
My shimmer-shirt clings pink,
my legs peel from retro-vinyl chairs.
In the lantern-lit night-park I travel the world in music,
crowds mingle, heat-drugged. I walk home satisfied,
dust in my hair and throat. 

In the middle of the night on the deck
I fix my eyes beyond the hills,
onto a plain of crystal lights
stretched across the mouth of the gulf.
I stop myself from saying it’s hot.



About Anne:

I write poetry, essays, reviews and stories. My  work is published in literary magazines in Australia, the USA and New Zealand.  My two books are The Season of Chance (Walleah Press, 2005) and Seasoned with Honey (Walleah Press, 2008) a four-poet anthology by Lyn Reeves, Mary Jenkins, Anne Collins and Gina Mercer.
I have completed my first week as Poet-in -Residence at Chado The Way of Tea in Hobart. Chado is run by Varuni Kulaskera and Brian Ritchie. It is a beautiful tea house with a performance/exhibition space. While there I’ll be working on my verse novella that has a water theme and exploring the world of tea. During the six-month residency I’m also hoping to work with visual artists and musicians. The first of these collaborations will happen with Brian Ritchie who is a master of the Japanese Shakuhachi flute. People coming into the tea-house will be greeted by the calming sounds of the flute and me reading poetry. Visual artist Marianne Stafford will be working with me to produce some paintings in response to my novella. These will be exhibited at the end of the residency to coincide with a reading from my novella. Varuni and I will also be planning other cross-arts events that will take place during the next six months. 


Excerpt from Project ALICE       (by Jess Cook)


We had shepherds
Then we built fences.

Universals in universes
In unison
while these Gates
These uninvited guests of timely fleshed and textured pastures
Raided shelters and pelted shards of difference to build borders

We guided will
and then guarded against
In dense defence
Fixated tense with molten larvae for armour
Lances standing fortress in a long alarming point of arrest
An inked signature dress
Blotted with besotted blood denches
bleeding gums in bleaching surface
Lines missing crevasse
Stripped Fabric in multiple sizes
Biased stretched with stress and bottle shocked
Shell cracked UN matched labels
wining and dining
With porcupine china
Porcelain spines rattle in shop windows
saving blinks in blanks of purpose
the distortions of being earnest

Falling into chasms where nothing is everything
The levels are flooding
Twin sets are barricading
The macro and micro exchanging
To engage with jungle obstacles
Kaleidoscopic spectacles
Un expected tests of space and time
Chases of tails that wag behind
The turnstiles effects of teatime
The topsy-turvy world
House arrested as blue-black bows bruise the roof tiles
Silken hair falls for straw coloured Stairs
descending to ascend
To a new found land of here.
We’re here.

Innuendo spins a gallery of fun house mirrors
Sprinkling impressions of self portraits
21st century pirates supply restrictive forces
Too many voices muffled with corsets

Ahh ahhhh ahhh ah ahhhhh ahhhh ahhhhhhh (paper bag)

The taught elastic band snaps
As lungs expand
Thoughts expand
To grasp
clarity appears from the invisible
Projections of Alice
Innuendo flashes
Till it’s running so fast it stands still to sight
A neon light tied like a twists of hyper ti died balloons
Holding hands stretched out
Swaying as prayer flags
Looming our existence
Pouring out


There are Infinite possibilities
Rolling with the ever expanding galaxy
Abundance beyond polarity
Beyond strict lines of guide
We find Pink queens in rivers of poles dancing
Flexing the unsigned inking in
parlours tattooed with vanity
Glistening in a fisting of self
Shark Soup
Couped up escorts who pawn
For bait
Bit my tongue chewing bubblegum
The sum of us hung like candy necklaces
Blowing fist of neon in the future no age shall come between us
No strand of fear demeans us
The fuss of fitting extracted with the canines
Leaving wisdoms intact as cattle grates retract
Along with the gates
Who kept the molars in silence
Back road rodents unable to bite in the daylight
Now pouring out of the tea pot
Pissing in the wind
Kissing no ones ring
Blings blinding like arteries get binding
With The deep fried mars bars
Gluttonous gadgets that metabolise
Riff rafs breaking kit kats
Drilling this that’s like
Left foot red left hand red
On twister mats the dummy spats
incisors insisting fabric scissors are damaging
The weave implanted in our knowing
How did we get assembled in lines of silence?
piled up in tips of casts plastered in ahhhhh (opens like at dentist)
whilst men on roof tops have us looking up
chat rooms chatter  (teeth chatter) cold call hook ups
glowing white in ebony wormholes
transportation to motherboards
who hoard our exports to the cyber world
a generation lost in cyber space
looking for love gone mad
the snapping of the elastic band
pulling parachutes for fluttering hearts
pumping adrenaline in all the right places
callous driven out with derby day races
we leapt through the glass leaving faith
without mask.
So many tasks
Only belief remained without question
It leaped out of frost-glazed windows
to frolic with the flock
on Mountains of crevasses
fleshed revellers of interdependence
non-linear perspectives

The lack of point is for
Not against
It becomes experience instead of persistence

So get amongst it
Say ahhhh and charge

Let questions guide you beyond fences

Realise the potential of creation
Ongoing combinations of directions
Interceptions perceptions and more more questions

But knowing


This cuckoo flew
Who grew to new
to know
knowing now
its now.
I’m here.




About Jess:

Jess Cook (cooknkitch) is Cafe Poet at Sydney’s Fair Trade Cafe. She is Director of Token Imagination and a performance poet. Token Imagination is an event managment and promotion company for word/performance art, that includes the monthly event, TOKEN WORD.As a resident artist of The Frequency Lab, she has released an album of poetry/electronic music titled Out of Town on a Horse Called Thursday.

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Guided by (Cafe) Poets – Josephine Rowe, Amelia Walker & Lara Taylor

Poets and cafes have always been a happy match and currently there are a number of poets undertaking residencies in cafes Australia wide, thanks to an initiative of the Australian Poetry Centre. And there are some exciting projects happening as a result.

Over the next few months I will be featuring many of the ‘Cafe Poets’ in the Guided by Poets section of the blog. So it is with great pleasure I present the first three poets in this series: Josephine Rowe (Melbourne), Amelia Walker (Adelaide) and Lara Taylor (Sydney).



Train to South Australia

On a train to South Australia    my face turned to the window    thistles by the rail-line    the land mostly flat and gold    black in the places where there was once water    white cows and battalions of gums as windbreaks    the dusty blue-white sky spread like an old eggshell bedsheet   the moon still out though it’s nearing midday    and I feel I might  be out there somewhere    not draped here my skin sticking to the cracked leather lounge    a warm glass of beer on the kidney-shaped table in front of me    I call my own name very softly    but it’s you that I see    shielding your eyes half-heartedly from the dust    the dead grass sweeping away and cracking beneath your unpolished shoes    for hundreds of ks you’ve kept up    stepping easily over tangled wire fences    ruined farming equipment    yes it’s you that I see    and I want to call out    I want to knock against the double-paned glass    beat my hands against it and shout    Hey    till the glossy crows are startled away and you look up    your pale round face sleepy-smiling    you’re looking up and gently    and I want to strike the window glass and yell out    Hey    but all you hear is wheels and whistles    scotch-thistles puffing Father Christmases across the rail line    all you hear is the dry cracking of the grass    the flit and drone of insects    though I’ve pressed my mouth right close to the frame and screamed for all I’m worth    all that comes out is a sigh    and it sounds like dry grass cracking    it sounds like the sleeve of your jacket    brushing the fabric of your trouser-thigh    as you marry your stride to the landscape    leave me wanting for you    with this dust in my chest and no breath    just my name    traced in fog    on the glass.

(from the book Asynchrony)




Josephine Rowe:

Over the past twelve months I’ve been working on my second collection of short fiction, so I haven’t written much in the way of poetry. I saw the Café Poet Program as a perfect opportunity to switch back into a poetic headspace and rekindle my love of the line break. I’ve just confirmed my residency at Victorian Railway Workshops Art & Antiques – it’s a mixed business run out of an old light-rail station in Albert Park, so I’m essentially writing amongst all of this beautiful old railway paraphernalia. It would be an amazing place to have a reading.

I’d have to say I’m fairly nostalgic for a twenty-four year old. Perhaps nostalgic isn’t exactly the right word in this case, as we’re talking about an era that I didn’t belong to, but I do have a strong interest in pretty much anything from the Victorian era to post WWII. That interest has often been reflected in my subject matter. I used to write a lot about wartime Melbourne in particular; the brown-outs and the ration books and the white feathers all fascinated me.

It will be interesting to see how working from VRW influences my writing. My own apartment is like some kind of 1920s slum-deco time warp, where television is non-existent and my laptop is a complete anachronism. But there are more distractions there, and the coffee isn’t quite as good.



City, Lover, Self
Goodbye Poem for Adelaide, December 2004

I am listening to you breathe,
to the rhythm of your being,
the rush of engines through your dark streets,
your veins, your arteries,
those whispered capillaries of suburbia
perfusing backyards, bedrooms
-the soft tissue organs of your strange scarred body,
city, lover, self.
My feet are intimate with your paths,
every shop glass shines with the ghost of some moment:
things that have been, or could have been,
people I knew, and never really knew,
people I have been, people I could have been…
This comfortable haunting gets loud at times
in your arms it is too easy to rest
eyes shut, warmed by familiarity…
city, lover, self.
I am leaving. Not forever,
for a while.
While I am gone, you will continue
rising and falling with each quiet breath,
your hidden heart will beat, not miss me,
you will dance, will sleep with strangers,
will grow and die and grow and die and die and grow
and so will I.
Tonight, though, we sleep safely one last time,
city, lover, self.

(from the book ‘Just Your Everyday Apocalypse’)




Amelia Walker

Amelia began writing poetry and performing at venues around Adelaide when she was sixteen. Since then she has performed at festivals around Australia and overseas for the 2008 World Poetry Festival. Her second collection of poetry, ‘Just Your Everyday Apocalypse’, was recently launched by ABC Radio’s Mike Ladd and is available for purchase from www.freewebs.com/ameliawalker or by emailing mealzislost@yahoo.com
As a Cafe Poet at Higher Ground in Adelaide, Amelia is spending her writing time working on poems for her Honours thesis artefact. She is studying Creative Writing at UniSA. She also recently organised a full-costume wrestling-themed poetry debate and monster open mike to celebrate Love Poetry Hate Racism 2009 & to launch the Love Poetry Hate Racism global poetry anthology. Free copies of the anthology can be downloaded from http://www.datafilehost.com/download-a8a864f6.html Future plans involve more gigs and workshops.



How to Save the Planet

There’s a mist that is rolling through the thunder
There’s a morning view just waiting to be found
There’s an ocean that is full of bloody currents!
And there is Stillness in a Deep and Wordless sound

There’s a Caterpillar climbing up a strong and silken Thread
And a waterbird just goes his merry way
And there’s a web complete with Droplets that have come into the Light
And there is me and there is you and we are Learning how to play

And I see beyond the Rotten on this Still and Seamless morn
And I listen to the footsteps of mankind
And it feels a little tricky, but we’re all in the same ditty
As we open up our eyes to this, we open up our minds

There’s a hole beyond the Cobweb, I can see it
I can hear it in the sound of morning dew …
And the Busy-ness is leaving as the Wordless takes its Place
And I find a moments Peace which I am sharing Now with You

Cafe Poet Program ‘09
An initiative of the Australian Poetry Centre and supported by the Mortdale Grind Cafe, Sydney, NSW




Lara Taylor:

Lara won her first poetry comp at age 9 with a poem entitled ‘My Horrible Brother’. Her style hasn’t changed much since then; she enjoys a simple childlike use of words to explore complex human themes. In 2006 she won The Literary Prize for a performance at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta for her poem ‘I am looking at the Masses’, an exploration into human pain and the search for meaning. Recent titles include ‘The Flippy Floppy Bunny Rabbit’, ‘The Very Sad Poem’, a comical piece about her desire to have a more elegant vocabulary and ‘From Hiam to Lebanon and Back’.

The Mortdale Grind is a stylish busy cafe in Mortdale, Sydney. Decorated by various awards, saleable artwork and comical cartoons, it serves coffee to a wide variety of individuals from the local area. The ‘Poem of the Week’ is our first project and plans are to create a booklet entitled ‘The Coffee Shop Collection’ later during the residency.


Filed under Guided By Poets

Another Killer Opportunity: Cafe Poets Program

The Australian Poetry Centre is currently seeking poets, in each Australian State or Territory, interested to sit as ‘poet-in-residence’ in a café in their capital city for a period of six months, for which they will receive free tea and coffee while they write.

Responsibilities of the Café Poet include:

Writing in the café throughout the week at times suitable for yourself and the café

Acting as a positive ambassador for the Australian Poetry Centre when chatting to people in the café or about the residence

Deciding on a clear personal objective for your residence whether it’s to finish a book, complete a series of poems or progress a particular project and on a clear public objective for your residence whether it’s to self-publish a series of poems, give a public reading or workshop or write a poem for the café itself

Sound like a good gig? Well if this one’s for you, check out the full details at: http://www.australianpoetrycentre.org.au/?page_id=379


Filed under events & opportunities