Tag Archives: Guided By Poets

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.



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Guided by Poets: Zenobia Frost

The Guided by Poets idea has been a blast! For this thread, I tapped Miss Ruby Fizz, Zenobia Frost on the shoulder and asked her to hoist the sails and captain this Guided by Poets voyage. And this thread has traveled some distance… Brisbane – Berlin – Cambridge – Chicago shining a light on some mighty fine poets along the way! And here they are: Zenobia Frost – mr oCean – Michael Haeflinger – Jose Olivarez – Nate Marshall.


Bathing with Gaiman

Before reading in the bath,
I ease the book’s
jacket off. I

the steaming water with one toe
and shuffle off my own dust cover
to step
and slide
in and under,

holding the book above my head
like an umbrella. Then, spread
with my arms leaning on my legs,
I read, turning the pages

with the tip
of my tongue.

Later, while I scrub
or shave my legs
with my right hand,

I realise I’ve gone
cover to cover (or nearly).

The fingers of my left arm sulk
and strain, and I must
balance the book on my head
to flex the lameness out (and again

till feeling returns).
Then I swap hands and finish
my story and scrubbing,

to step out clean and complete,
steeped in someone else’s
glistening words.



Zenobia Frost is a poetic adventurer, hat fetishist and protector of apostrophes whose debut collection, The Voyage, will be launched by SweetWater Press on the 3rd of May. In her writing, Zenobia aims to highlight those common enchantments that are often overlooked. Thus, The Voyage is a whimsical journey on (generally) calm seas with a crew of curious creatures and a compass that points to whichever shore offers the best cup of tea. Zenobia’s poems have found homes in such Australian journals as Going Down Swinging, Small Packages, Stylus, Mascara and Voiceworks, and she has recently performed at the Queensland Poetry Festival, Contraverse and Under a Daylight Moon. She also coordinates The Ruby Fizz Society for Superior People, a light-hearted excuse for performance arts and baked goods. The Voyage, illustrated by talented local artist Bettina Walsh, launches at 7pm on the 3rd of May in the !Metro Arts Basement.



It is an act of impossible will,
to hold my body together,
when every nerve insists
that all I am is energy
and that we belong to the sky,
with the lightning and auroras.

All that holds me down,
all that keeps me from atomising,
is the focus of the flow of ink
and the flow of red wine
past my madly grinning lips.

I am the helium balloon
on a windy day,
colouring the chilly clouds
and whispering dreams of flight
to the child who holds me



mr oCean is an unfinished work of fiction, commenced in Brisbane, Australia, and continuing in Berlin, Germany.  He has featured at La Mina di Velluto, The Kurilpa Poets, SpeedPoets (Brisbane) and Fluxus Capacitor (London).  Making only occasional forays into reality, he writes predominantly sketches of views from windows or mirrors.



Love Poem for the Everyday

I love you mixed with lemon juice and basil.  I love you on fire
in the sink.  I love you made of plastic or small triangular pellets
or standing on a coast somewhere staring off in the distance
singing a Top 40 hit.

I love you with your hair pulled back and your eyes
facing upwards like that painting of dogs playing
poker.  I love you when you change your name to Lucy
and shoot paper wads from straws.

I love you when you don’t do that, too.

I love you like I used to love you, before I stopped
loving you, because we tend to drift apart, but we tend
to drift back together again, too.  I love you in the heat
of the pennant drive, coated in mustard, wafting your divinity

across right field.  I love you brewed into my brain,
electric, set apart.  I love you left behind as an artifact
and already talk about you as though you are dead.
I love both sides of your brain, weigh them separately

then weigh them together and then check the math.
I love the smooth rich columns of your promenade
and I love the chipped sidewalks of your memories.
I love the sound of your key in the lock, your made-up

words and own two feet.  I love scanning the ends
of movie credits for your name.  I love your name
and I say it every morning when the blooming pussy
willows yawn through the open window.

Berlin, March 2009



Michael Haeflinger is a poet, educator, and organizer from Dayton, OH.  His work has recently appeared in BlazeVOX, Newleaf, tall-lighthouse anthology, Make, milk, Nexus, and SoMA.  He has taught workshops in the US, Germany, and Netherlands.  He currently lives in Berlin, Germany.



April 10, 2009

How I learned to talk to girls

Sitting on the couch
with a girl I could only dream about
in dreams,

I tried looking her in the eyes,
but mine were birds in the winter
darting south.

She told me she liked
poetry, so I smiled sunshine

Talked poems and poets:
pantoums to get in your pantoons

but she crossed her
legs building borders between us.
“No, no”

said, “when I told you
I liked poetry I meant that I liked you—
Now come over here and please

stop talking.”



Jose Olivarez is a junior at Harvard College.  His work has been published in Konch Magazine, the Harvard Voice, The November 3rd club, and this spring will be published in The Gamut and Tuesday Magazine.  He is also an occasional blogger at http://quetothepasa.wordpress.com/



the genesis

rappers i monkey flip em
with the funky rhythm
I be kickin

age 13 in evergreen plaza
cold chillin in a b(irthday)-boy
stance i was stone still
standing in front of the
cd shop with my homie
jess was from oshkosh wisconsin
didn’t know nasir from nelly
thought wu-tang
was a fruit punch
but he bought me my first copy
of illmatic
popped into my discman the
crimson Columbia© disc
and started spending the jacksons
asking myself

what the fuck
is this bullshit
on the radio



Nate Marshall is from the South Side of Chicago. This is by far the most important thing about him. He is a poet/MC/writer who has been previously anthologized in The Spoken Word Revolution: Redux. He is a first-year student at Vanderbilt planning to major in English and African American Studies. He competed in Brave New Voices International Teen Poetry Slam and was a part of a Chicago team that took 3rd in the competition. He has performed his work at many universities and notable venues across the country. He has also released two independent hip-hop albums with the group Daily Lyrical Product. In short, he has a higher ACT score than your favorite rapper, can beat your favorite dead white poet in a rap battle, and can outscore your high school valedictorian in a poetry slam. Word.


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Guided by Poets – Queensland

Here is the second thread in the Guided by Poets series. This thread started in Queensland and gradually wound its way south. Each poem speaking to the next, contibuting to the ongoing poetic dialogue.


i called the number

handsomely written on my forearm

in true black nikko

and gave my credit card details

to her anonymous voice


and three days later

my left hand was returned

in the mail




Nathan Shepherdson is the son of painter Gordon Shepherdson. He was the winner of the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize in 2004 and 2006. In 2005 he received the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Award for an unpublished manuscript. As a consequence of that award, his first book, Sweeping the Light Back into the Mirror was published by the University of Queensland Press. At the 2006 Queensland Poetry Festival he was the recipient of the Val Vallis Award and in the same year was awarded the Newcastle Poetry Prize. His recent collection, what marian drew never told me about light was released in 2008 by Small Change Press.



Come on then my pretties
with heads or tails down at the bar
let’s drink to a strange kind of paradise
coz it’s double or free
and the bar always wins
Oh! I’m wearing my head of hard mud
and fallen in the river after insane nights
Oh! I’ll drown before the mud softens
for there’s never enough love with you
no there’s never enough love with you




Angela Gardner won the 2006 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and 2004 Bauhinia/Idiom 23 Prize. Her first book Parts of Speech was published by University of Queensland Press in 2007. She is founding editor of the poetry journal www.foame.org and a practicing visual artist with work in public collections. In 2008 she travelled to the USA and UK on a Churchill Fellowship to investigate small press poetry/printmaking collaborations. In 2009 she will take up a residency in Ireland supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.





 when i’m not drinking australian wine

                     ‘i like the way she
breaks her                  (her) lines’           the way the
music introducing no repeats for house                     (the tv
with cello sounds)     like     like how the mind can conjure
          i like the way curtis teases how curtis makes me roll     roll
how          blogpost armantrout
          her third     way i          i like the way she takes her time
(is it the bach?what number?what conductor?)     the glass     late like




Louise Waller is an Australian poet from Yeppoon in Queensland.  She devises work for theatre and writes poetry.  Her first collection Slipway is published in Swelter (IP2003) and (IP Digital 2004).  She has received national awards and grants for her poetry and work in theatre.  Recent poetry from her developing collection Aftershocks appears in Blue Dog:Australian Poetry and papertiger #04. Her latest collection is holding Job’s hand published by light-trap press in 2008. http://lou-waves.blogspot.com/ 




observational number i forget

fear of necking fear of basalt optimistic
about all white cliffs of dover ambivalent though
at rampant prolixity / achromatopsia / idiocy
magniloquent when fusing systems of
thought to suit this apparent

internationally registered mail from
turvey park p.o. after 4pm / wet clothes
& whatever xeransis / cheese is lunch /
this to type as if an act after
unintended celibacy   

a steady vein-cut dotting the patina 

         i’m stable while everyone
twitters about turning into angelina jolie




Derek Motion is a poet, a writer of fictions, a PhD student at Charles Sturt University, and Director of the Booranga Writers’ Centre. He also occasionaly writes reviews for *Famous Reporter*. http://www.typingspace.wordpress.com/




Escape (third confession)

this is where we spat into the sea
this is how we clapped for snakes
what I meant when I said north for starters
he tried hiding beneath kelp with bait 

naming the winds we spoke of sealers
who fuck their eel skin bags
never of cannibals who starve until
they see the house they are most afraid of 

he swore he could steal us a firestick
but his balls shrank to a purse inside him
he pissed on his feet to warm them up
then his chalky feet grew cold  

and frogs that roared as loud as cattle
he asked me how to suck his teeth
I felt my head for monstrous signs
each glance a thieving octopus  

all the time swearing on the book of Job
all the time with one eye open
until he seemed to me a lake of milk
I chewed his ears like apricots




Nathan Curnow’s first collection of poetry is No Other Life But This (Five Islands Press).  Funded by the Australia Council he has written a new collection of ‘ghost poetry’ based upon his stays at ten ‘haunted’ sites around the country (forthcoming with Puncher&Wattmann in 2009).  With further assistance from the Australia Council he is currently writing a new play based around convict stories and escape myths.   www.ncurnow.blogspot.com


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Guided by Poets – Western Australia

Guided by Poets is a new way of showcasing poets on Another Lost Shark. It takes the McSweeney’s concept of Poets Picking Poets. A poetry thread will begin in each state of Australia, so for this thread, I headed west and asked Kevin Gillam to send me a poem. Kevin then had the job of inviting the next poet and so on, until a thread of five poems was created. The result… an eclectic offering of words.




and sea breathes louder,
out in creeds of spume, gulls in
squabble for full stops.

you wish you were up there, all
warm updrafted and
weightless. oceans – who draws the

dotted lines? found a
bottle once, flung off Cape Town,
read the message but

scrawl of weed said more. does sand
tire of this rush then
suck? ‘flottle’ – best word for it,

while tonight, moon brushed orange,
In no mood for rhyme

Kevin Gillam


kevin-gillamKevin Gillam: is a West Australian writer with work published in numerous Australian and overseas journals. He has had two books of poems published, both by SunLine Press, “Other Gravities” in 2003 and “Permitted to Fall” in 2007. He works as a secondary school music teacher and freelance ‘cellist and conductor.

In 2000 he was Emerging-Writer-in-Residence at Tom Collins’ House,and was granted the same position at the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in 2002.



Suddenly sideways…

She told her news
scans  tests  appointment times
sub-text unsaid    almost inaudible.

A mundane act
a phone call ended
the self thrown suddenly sideways.

I knew bile-fear
black stench of frostbite
heard a white howling of wind

peered through goaded snow
saw the wolf
loping loose-limbed

casual in the chaos.

 Flora Smith


Flora Smith is a former language teacher who wrote short stories before she turned to writing poetry five years ago. She is widely published in magazines and journals throughout Australia, such as Westerly, Stylus Poetry Journal, indigo and Famous Reporter. She is an active member of writers’ groups in WA and takes part in regular Perth readings.
After gaining entry to a FAW(WA) Masterclass mentorship program in 2007, she has just published an anthology with 4 other group members. The book, titled ‘Amber Contains the Sun’, will be launched at the Perth Writers’ Festival early in 2009 and other celebratory readings are scheduled to take place in the Perth metro area and country centres throughout the year.




I will find a place to wait.
A niche in the shore-held sea-crags.
I will watch the lighthouse and the coming
and going ships, the world-cruisers,
oil-bringers, war-makers,
the private and public yachts,
the racers, fishers, fighters,
pirates and smugglers,
the ships of dull metal and
boats with bright paint,
with sail-quilts, mast-needles, nets,
radar, radio, GPS,
pitching and reeling and rocking and
blustering with a Babel of balloons and
sparkling miniature winebirds and
tinny electronic bells and
genetic gladiators and none

of them will detect me
in my grey waitplace. I will watch them all
until that ship comes, the ship

with the black and red sails that are made of pure skin
with the decks of ebony and carbon steel
with the tall sailors whose robes bear
witness, who reserve
their grey-and-silver wings, worship
their titanium anchor on its hawser spun
from their once-long hair. They will cast
their continental-shelf-gripper gently, with careful
hallelujahs, place their sleek ship
in the tossing flapping sea and in the sea of vessels
and sing and sing, rumgutted, steelsilked,
calling, responding, calling the land,
naming it.

And I in my hermit-hole will have built
my coracle, small
and sturdy, its
making a ritual. Built
my boat and carved my oars
and practised to strengthen my arms
and heart. I will hear
the singing and launch,
row my raw face through the buoys
and dinghies and liners, row and row, back burning,
arms screaming, row and row, and throw my line,
climb cold railings, fall,
among coiled ropes and mysterious much-used tools

and salt rain will needle me,
giant wings will beat on me,
torn tongues will lash and lacerate and feed on me,
as I lie on that wet deck bleeding in ecstasy.

Janet Jackson


janet-jacksonSince 1986 Janet Jackson has sculpted in English, seeking poems that work whether declaimed loudly or whispered in the mind.

Janet featured at the inaugural Missing Link Festival, the 2006, 2007 and 2008 WA Spring Poetry Festivals and 2007 and 2008 Melbourne Overload Poetry Festivals.

Her poems have been published in many print and online magazines and anthologies, and she has self-published three chapbooks and her own website, Proximity (www.proximitypoetry.com).

Her first collection, ‘Coracle’, will be published in March 2009.


Maggot, an Ode

Animated rice-grain

born of blowfly
her gift to carrion
and infected wounds

you work blindly
clearing the decks—
barbecue and dead rat
roadside and battlefield
a teeming carnevale

such denial of flesh,
catholicity of taste
we could aspire to.

Come the morning
you’ll have flown:
a modest

Dick Alderson


dick-aldersonDick Alderson was born in Perth and has been writing poetry since 1994.  Several of his poems have been published in journals and periodicals including Westerly, Indigo and Blue Dog, and he reads his work at venues in Fremantle and Perth.




waxen flowers
lift their petticoats
to reveal green ovoid
pregnancies that swell
and are born
golden balls
decorating courtyards
like the testicles
of some bright orange god

in late spring
summer flirting with us
we pluck the god of his gifts
and they roll into baskets
padding memories of thunder

then with the   thin   sharp   knife
we slice   and slice   and slice
and see stars

citrus scent feathers our nose
juice stickies our blade

the stars float
in a galaxy
add a flame
a comet of sugar
and I am the goddess now
stirring stars and sugar
to heavenly translucence
and watch sunset settle
over the pot
until it darkens
to a rusty dusk

promising zest! in the morning

Josephine Clarke


josephine-clarkeJosephine Clarke came to writing through the short story.  An active member of Out of the Asylum (OOTA) Writers’ Group, she has recently ventured into poetry.  She has been published in indigo,Thirst and Blue Giraffe.


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