Tag Archives: Bronwyn Lea

Fine tune those words… two poetry workshop opportunities

There are many wonderful things about living in Brisbane. One of those things is being close to the QLD Writers Centre HQ at State Library of QLD. The good folk at QLD Writers Centre are always looking for new ways to assist poets with the development of their craft and there are a couple of workshops coming up in March/April that are well worth checking out.

Course 1: Ginko with Graham Nunn

I am thrilled to be running the first of these courses, which will focus on the art of haiku, through engaging in a number of ginko (haiku walks) around this fine city of ours. Together we will take in the sights, scents & sounds of Brisbane and turn those experiences into haiku that crackle.

We will discuss the history of the haiku, explore what makes a haiku work, look at some techniques for writing haiku and discuss markets for getting your haiku published. 

So if you want to Ginko with this Lost Shark, you can find all of the details here on the QWC Website

Dates for the ginko are: Sundays 13, 20, and 27 March, 3, 10, and 17 April and sessions will run from 9am to 10:30am

Cost for the 6 sessions is a very reasonable $95. Bookings essential!

Course 2: Poetry Manuscript Development

If you are at the stage of putting together a poetry manuscript, then this is the course for you. Former UQP Editor, Bronwyn Lea will provide formal guidance to help make your manuscript sing. The sessions will focus on crafting, structuring, and editing your manuscript, as well as providing valuable inside information about current poetry markets in Australia. If you have a poetry manuscript in the making, Bronwyn will provide all the tools you need to pull it together for publication.

 Dates for the course are: Thursdays 7 April, 5 May, 9 June, 7 July and 4 August and sessions run for 6pm – 8pm.

To book your spot head to the QWC website.

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Why Poetry? The discussion begins…

Avid Reader (193 Boundary St West End) have declared September, ‘Poetry Month’ and to celebrate they are putting on some mighty fine events. The first of these is a discussion / reading taking place this Thursday night. To pick at the seams of the question, ‘Why Poetry?’ they have assembled Bronwyn Lea, Nathan Shepherdson, Ross Clark, Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence Emily XYZ and this Lost Shark.

Full details of the event are:

Date: Thursday September 9
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Venue: Avid Reader, 193 Boundary Rd, West End
Cost: $5.00
Bookings: Call 3846 3422 or book online at: http://www.avidreader.com.au/index.php?option=com_registrationpro&view=event&Itemid=0&did=80&shw_attendees=0

Avid’s monthly magazine is also brimming with poetic musings, reviews and other articles. You can download a copy of it from their website: http://www.avidreader.com.au/ but I thought I would post my article answering the question ‘Why Poetry?’ to get the discussion started…

Why Poetry?

Brisbane is definitely a bright star in the poetry sky, hosting major events such as QLD Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word (August 27-29), The Australian Poetry Slam and the annual Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence Program alongside a number of regular events, including Brisbane’s longest running poetry/spoken word event, SpeedPoets. And now, Avid Reader are throwing a month long poetry party in September, featuring a panel of established poets (incl. Bronwyn Lea, Nathan Shepherdson, Ross Clark, Graham Nunn and 2010 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Emily XYZ) talking about the importance of poetry in our lives and readings from some of the bright new things currently setting the Brisbane poetry scene on fire. So why all this interest in poetry? Well, to give you a short answer, I couldn’t go past this quote from ‘poet laureate of the down and out’, Charles Bukowski:

Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.

For me, what Bukowski is getting at here is poetry’s ability to embrace and elevate all that makes us human. When you hear it, you should be able to see, as if in a flash of lightning, the words crystallise, and if you are open to it, the poem will contain more than images. Poetry invites us to cast off habit and reconsider life with new eyes and at its best, as Emily Dickinson put it, can take the top off your head.

I strongly believe that enjoying poetry is as natural as drawing breath. As a boy I spent many summers sitting beside my father watching Australia’s great fast bowler, Dennis Lillee tear through various batting lineups. Each time the stumps would buckle or Lillee would throw himself into his trademark appeal, shouting ‘Howzat’, my father would look over at my brother and I and say, ‘that was poetry’. Of course my father did not mean that it was literally poetry, he was simply pointing out that Lillee’s bowling had the qualities one normally expects of poetry – grace, surprise, beauty, rhythm. My father was not much of a poetry reader, but he, like all of us, had an idea of what poetry is and should be.

We know this because poetry is not firstly in the words; it is there to be discovered in the current of the river, the rush of the street, the strange angles of a spider’s web, a home cooked meal. Our senses are bombarded with literally thousands of stimulants on a daily basis… poetry is about stripping this back and getting in touch with the things that really matter; finding the truth in the everyday.

When I tell people that I write poetry, a common response is, ‘I don’t really get it’, but the truth is, that is just a reflection of society’s needless mystification of the art. A poem is not an obscure code or linguistic puzzle, if it works, it will speak to you. But remember, it’s a matter of chemistry. Not every song you hear or film you watch will speak to you, likewise, every poem you encounter will not hit the mark, but don’t let that deter you, there is an infinite number of voices and styles waiting to be discovered and when a poem hits, it will cast its spell and make the mind sing; it will engage your imagination and draw you into its universe.

As there are a myriad voices writing poetry today, I thought I would ask a handful of the poets participating in the Avid Reader Poetry Month festivities to get their thoughts.

One of Brisbane’s new voices, Jonathan Hadwen offered this:

“…it’s the way thoughts line up in our minds, a way in which we finally make sense of experiences and situations that have been difficult to understand.  The real power of poetry is in the sharing, as by doing so, we pass on this understanding. Poetry has been around in one form or another since we have had the ability to think and communicate those thoughts, and will be around until we lose those abilities.”

2010 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Emily XYZ responded with zeal:

“Poetry, like all art, is part of the human condition.  The reason people say they ‘don’t get poetry’ is because we are not usually called on to use our minds that way.  Quite the opposite:  ‘daily life’ generally requires us to dumb down and stay in the lower registers of what is possible for the human mind. ‘Why poetry?’ is a question that must be answered anew every few years, and yet the answer never really changes:  because it is resistance to misery.  Because it is a swing against dehumanization and an affirmation of freedom and possibility.  Because it makes jailer-minded people uncomfortable—and that really is something that can (ultimately) (maybe) change the world.”

And, John Koenig answered with a poem of his own:

“trembling under a love blue sky the thesaurus tree bears alphabetical fruit ripening and falling to be caught by slender feminine hands of faith held up in front of inquisitive gun smoke eyes with intriguing lashes curling over the words of sweet sorrow and joyful redemption making darkness and light fill the flowering iris with colour overflowing to flood the optic nerve becoming a raging river running along neural paths synaptic sparks jumping high and igniting the fire of imagination framing the question what does this mean poetry yes that’s right it’s magic”

The one thing each of these responses has in common is the passion and belief in which they are delivered. That is the power of poetry… when it hits, you are never again the same. So why not get along to one of the many poetry events happening in this fine city of ours or to your local independent book store and embark on your own quest to answer this question. The journey could just be life changing.

Look forward to reading other people’s responses to this question,

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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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Riverbend Books Feature Poet #3 – Pam Schindler

Pam Schindler is a Brisbane poet who has also lived in Hobart.  In the past few years, her work has appeared in various magazines, including Blue Dog, Island, and Meanjin.  In 2009, she began to present her work in readings.  She is also a bushwalker and a university reference librarian, and is working on a first book of poems.

 

 

Striped Marsh Frogs
            by Pam Schindler

 
the first stars
after so much rain
and the frogs are going off like popcorn

each note
a fingernail flicked on a paper drum
they tap the patter
of rain arriving

my garden’s energetic
invisible typists –
if I come close
they know me for a sort of wading bird
and fall silent

then cautiously begin
again their transcription,
their morse-coded words,
tapping the glad rambling
letters of the rain

 

More of Pam’s work can be found online at:

“In Paperbark Country” in foam:e http://bit.ly/braXSp

and

“Brisbane Nightfall” in Stylus: http://bit.ly/ba8L41 

 

Poetry on the Riverbend Books deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramondo Press) reading along side debut author, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
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=2237

These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Riverbend Books Feature Poet #2 – Betsy Turcot

 

Betsy Turcot is originally from Vermont, USA.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Secondary Education at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont.  There, she was a member and captain of the collegiate field hockey team.  She went on to teach Secondary English and coach field hockey, snowboarding and lacrosse at Burlington High School in Vermont.  She enjoyed the active seasonal lifestyle that the state afforded including skiing and hiking.  After several years of teaching, she resigned and travelled to Australia.  Betsy settled in Brisbane where she has been a resident for eighteen months.  Betsy currently works as a Barista at Stove Café in West End.  She has been a featured poet at Words or Whatever at Black Star Café.  Betsy was a winner of the Brisbane Poetry Slam heat and went on to compete at the final of the 2009 Queensland Poetry Slam.

 

Dr Kinsey
          by Betsy Turcot

Please, Dr Kinsey, what does it mean to be me in nature’s eyes?
What will my lover surmise or my mother despise?
Decries that it’s unnatural. An aberration from the Stations of the Cross.
Well, if this is my sin, then give me my sin again because I am grounded.
Uncovering the truth of the human condition. Reconciliation my confession.
The elephant in the room.
Doomed by words unsaid that sting my soul.
My palms bleed as I forsake the sacrament of holy matrimony.
Makes my sister’s living in sin sound like a healthy confession.
No longer suffering depression. Don’t suffer fools.
Spools of yarn ignite my mind. Create rhymes with each stitch
but there’s a hitch –
If you want to be a writer, you must reveal the Truth.
Dig deeper to the roots.
And I don’t want to bear fruit. But wait, maybe I do. It’s my decision.
A ticking time bomb of a woman whose biological clock keeps ticking.
Rocks my world as I hurl my tips off the lip of a jump, and I see
each tiny snowflake.
Each to its own identity. Discover my destiny.
Unlike any other.
Faced the fear and took the plunge. Handed in the resignation letter.
Said I’d better be off.  I’ve got an ocean to cross to a land down under, but I am American.
Easy Virtue soothes my soul.
The American Dream at my core to search and succeed but with no greed.
So I grind the beans. Play a game of monogamy. Because for her,
There is no substitution. Nothing to constitute our substance.
We’ve played with the recipe to perfection.
Confectionary sugar caramelised on the outside and the centre
is soft. And warm.
I have learned to bake.
Don’t take it for granted. Been gifted with optimism. I believe
in what I can achieve.
And maybe there’s a part of me in Melvin Van Peebles.
The people’s revolutionary.
Black Panther’s idolatry. Never stationary. Fighting against mediocrity.
Not a trivial pursuit. It’s a mind resolute on what should be.
The sounds of eight thousand steady feet push me. I’m influenced by movies.
Harvey Milk said, “Come out.”
And how great would if be if for just one day
We could all be
That free.

 

You can read more of Betsy’s work at: http://whisperingradical.blogspot.com/

 

Riverbend Poetry Series – Tuesday 23 February

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramond Press) reading along side debut authors, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
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=2237
These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Riverbend Books feature poet #1: Bronwyn Lea

The live poetry scene in Brisbane is starting to wake from its Summer slumber and one of the events to look forward to is the first of the Riverbend Books – Poetry on the Deck readings on Tuesday February 23. The Riverbend Books gigs have been a highlight on the poetry calendar for the last five years and this year’s opening event will be no different. Featuring debut author Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim – Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler, 2009 QLD Slam Finalist Betsy Turcot and the senuous words of award winning poet Bronwyn Lea, the Riverbend Deck will once again come alive with words.

So to celebrate I have asked each of the poets for a poem to give you a taste of what to expect on the night. The first of the feature poets is Bronwyn Lea.

Bronwyn Lea, is series editor of UQP’s annual Best Australian Poetry anthology and the author of Flight Animals (UQP 2001), which won the Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry and the Writers Anne Elder Award. Her most recent book is The Other Way Out (Giramondo 2009) which was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Prize and the Victorian Premier’s CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry. She teaches narrative and poetics at the University of Queensland.

 

A Place

There is a place I like to go
that is behind language

I like to go there & wobble
like a melon on a table

or a spoon that doesn’t care
if it is chosen or not

I also like to come back
& slip into ‘myself’

like a pair of silk pajamas
ornamental & cool to touch.    

Links: http://www.austlit.com/a/lea-bronwyn/index.html

 

Tuesday 23 February: Poetry on the Riverbend Books deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramondo Press) reading along side debut author, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
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=2237

These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Free tickets to Motherlode launch at Avid Reader

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Motherlode is the first major collection of Australian women’s poetry in over a decade. More than 120 poets share the telling of a very contemporary story of identity – how we see ourselves as and in relation to mothers, grandmothers and children. Past icons such as Judith Wright, Gwen Harwood, Dorothy Hewitt and Oodgeroo Noonuccal appear alongside established poets of today, including Judith Beveridge, Jennifer Maiden, Bronwyn Lea, Fay Zwicky and many more. Poems cover a wide range of themes from nature, iconography, pregnancy, birth, parenting, maternal and female roles, childlessness, loss, generational relationships and ageing and as Geoff Page says in his review for Radio National’s Book Show, the anthology transcends the gender divide.

We in Brisbane are fortunate enough to be able to celebrate the launchof Motherlode at Avid Reader on Friday November 13 and what is even better is all readers of Another Lost Shark have been offered free entry.

All you have to do is rock up on the night and give the name Another Lost Shark at the counter and a ticket will be yours free of charge.

All the details are below.

“Motherlode: Australian Women’s Poetry”
Join some of our finest female poets for a celebration of the craft
Venue: Avid Reader Bookshop 193 Boundary Street West End
Date: Friday 13th November
Time: 6pm for 6.30pm start
Tickets $5  or free for readers of Another Lost Shark

Hope to see many of you there…

 

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