Tag Archives: Half-Hour Country

Another Lost Shark On Tour

It’s poetry season… having just experienced the delights of QPF 2009, I am now preparing to head west for the WA Spring Poetry Festival this weekend. The programme features WA poets Scott-Patrick Mitchell, Amber Fresh, Amanda Joy, Annamaria Weldon, Peter Bibby, Gary de Piazzi & Deanne Leber. I have never been to WA so I am really excited to head on over and check it all out. The programme is now available online.

Then the following weekend, I am heading south to Melbourne for the Overload Poetry Festival with Brisbane ‘Rock Pig’, Mr Sheish Money. Sheish & I will be debuting tracks from our new CD The Stillest Hour and the mighty Small Change Press will be launching Maurice McNamara’s debut collection, Half-Hour Country.

Then it is back home for a gig at Brisbane Writers Festival on Friday September 11 from 5:15pm – 6:15pm alongside Nathan Shepherdson & Julie Beveridge as part of a Small Change Press showcase.

And finally, I am off to Terrigal (NSW) for the 4th Pacific Rim Haiku Conference.

Indeed, if I was so inclined I could put these dates on a t-shirt and call it a tour. Five weekends of poetry across four states… who could ask for more!

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QPF Spotlight #18 – Maurice McNamara

Just one more sleep and I will be revelling in the glory of QPF. Many of the artists have now arrived so I am already buzzing with anticipation. One such artist is Melbourne’s Maurice McNamara. I have had the great pleasure of working with Maurice over the past year and the fruits of that work, his debut collection, Half-Hour Country, will be launched at QPF this Saturday morning, August 22 at 10:30am (full details below). One thing I know is that Maurice is never short of a word, so I asked him, about his writing process and where he finds the words.

 

Maurice

 

Where do the words come from?

Everyone is different. Karen Knight, in her section, talks about writing in the day, evenings for meals, drinks, tv. And how she takes weeks to get lines right. How the first lines are the hardest.

I mostly never write during the day. I write at night, after the drinks, meal, tv. But like her I write to music. I don’t care exactly what the music is, mostly moody. I wear that puppy out, playing it over and over, until I never want to hear that song again.

Unlike Karen I go out every day, shopping, walking, listening to the radio (headphones), looking at people. Mostly I’m alone and swallow up fragments. Sometimes this stuff gets coalesced properly, in the evenings, mostly it doesn’t. The best stuff gets the driver of a special event, a special emotion (below, a poem about my sister’s birthday – something slightly out of the ordinary.)

But trying to write every evening, and missing, means that automatic writing ie. just trying to say what happened, has more practice and kick in it, more unconscious rhythm.

Finding the rhythm: everyone has their own, and practising, the drum finds its owner. When I first started writing poetry, about nine years ago, I wrote over a thousand poems – one, two, three, every night. Fortunately that computer clagged out and I lost most of them. Sentimental, masked in cleverness, un-understandable, cutesy, pathetic, half-baked – I forget my other sins but they were many and various. But even from the start one has a rhythm and themes. (Equally, whatever faults I had then, I’ve still got now.)

My saving, very/very/very slow grace, the fact I went out each week and read, badly, to audiences, who went, ugh, or ho-hum, or what-the? next please. (One time a poet said, I like the font your poems are in – that’s how weak my praise was. At the time I was gratified – that’s how piss weak I was.) Going out to read all the time meant I heard lots of other good/bad/indifferent stuff. The best learning is by example. And just keep on going.

I grew up outside Bendigo, an old gold mining town, but where I was, it was mostly Irish, cut off. Like the Cullinans, nine children – Dinny, Danny, Paddy, Maisie, Bess, etc, so on, most of whom still lived with their mother, though the oldest son was hitting seventy. Some of them had never been to Melbourne. Two army tanks had pulled up in their front yard, at the end of the Second World War, from Pucapunyal en route to… Nothing much changed. In the churchyard on Sundays people stood in the same place, said the same things, wearing suits they’d bought for their wedding. I can’t emphasise how important this was/is to me: the idea of a link back, mysteriously un-knowable; the way they said the same things, their cadence and drawl.

As far as poetry goes, I also belong to two sixties artist/artists – Andy Warhol and The Beatles. I think they could be called the first democratic artists – not dependent on being upper class, un-important, using real things around them. And then, the way you heard songs over and over, radio, radio, I think that changed how people wrote.

Poetry influences: I’m sorry, but it has to be local for me. I’m not academic, I’m not international, and I’m not clever (clever is not the same as intelligent). I don’t want to live anywhere else. This is not a proclamation for bogans, or bush poetry. I don’t want to be provincial. The worst kind of provincialism is aping somewhere else. I want to live in the sort of place that is happening on its own terms. Open and hungry, enthusiastic – that’s what Australia should be. So eat from elsewhere but write our own stuff. Don’t be arch, don’t be removed. Even though most of us live in cities, keep the country in our souls. That’s the genius of Australia – we don’t live in pastoral acres, spires dreaming, the bush infects/scares/makes us. That and the ocean – sharks and snakes scare bullshit away. And temperature: this is a hot country, new world, too hot for languid tempered English. Or French theory. (Or hysterical Americans.)

In my writing I don’t live up to this, but I think about it. In this country we’ve got indigenous, migrants, Anglo-Celtic, all burnt by sun, flood and drought, like nowhere else. Only we can do it.

My theory of poetry: watch the faces of the audience, if they remained closed, turned away, something is wrong. (The best poets have a language, a themness that drags us somewhere else, but is yet, recognisable – oh, to be one of them.)

Poets I get excited by: Eric Beach, Jennifer Compton, Grant Caldwell, Jordie Albiston, Myron Lysenko. Not always and not everywhere: but a surprise, a kick, a relaxation, a floating away. Not very much bullshit in any of them.

That’s the trouble with poetry – because it’s tight, where it goes wrong, you flip out. No patience. But then, you stumble across, and you feel like stroking the armpits of your host. Casual sex. Your armpits smell like cummin. (How do you say that word un-rudely?) I’ve got that with Laurie Duggan; like, love some of the Martial poems, then others leave me cold. Same with Dorothy Porter. Hate poems by poets in search of material, trawling art galleries. ‘My response to the Mona Lisa, waiting for Helen to turn up…’ Then we leapt into a foreign sports car. Please. Enough. (Even in art you’re relentlessly middle class.) Middle class masquerading as rascal, even worse. Brett Whitley, you’re busted. ‘See my lawyer, man’. The best Australian poems I’ve read were by Eric Beach, about his girlfriend with motor neurone, caring for her, published in Salt-Lick. ‘Brushing her hair, ice waterfalls.’ Nothing else even comes close, and originally, he’s from New Zealand.

 

About Maurice:

Maurice McNamara has been involved with the Melbourne spoken word scene for a number of years. His writing is casually lyrical, funny but serious, and aims for a spare contemporary feel. His book, Half-Hour Country, has just been published by Small Change Press.

 

Poem:

 

sister’s birthday

having gone to see
‘my year without sex’
a self-consciously Australian movie
small family details
but at least a story arc
as the Americans say
though, written/directed by a woman
I noticed the husband didn’t complain
when there was no sex for a year
which made him a bit too nice, I thought
though, okay, she nearly died

coming out of the theatre, remembered
sister’s birthday, bought flowers
and rillette, to spread on bread
a French name for the potted meat
Dad used to make
but a French name costs more
I try to remember my sister’s birthday
the same day as Mum’s
this year she would have been 96
(so waxen she looked
laid out on the hospital bed)
sister lives alone and has the sort of casual
Catholic violence I detest
try to forget

drive to Armadale
a thunderstorm!
lights on
blinded by rain
cars drive home

visits of duty
driven by a sort of love underneath
a perfect cup of tea
an event that only happens every couple of years
a confluence of milk/tea/sugar
she listens to talking books
doesn’t watch tv
eyes hurt too much

insulted my girlfriend only in passing
pauses between words
women have powers men don’t possess
though men are obvious bastards
saying I was excited by engines but my girlfriend wasn’t
was sexist
I didn’t have much of a headache
by the time we left

I wish she didn’t live alone
but I can’t fix her life up
I can’t fix my own
I don’t like going back
to where I was before
live in the present
which is uneasy

my girlfriend and I had a stupid argument in the car
I was comparing the heroine in ‘my year without sex’
to Muriel in ‘Muriel’s Wedding’
how they had the same daggy Australian woman thing
not found elsewhere
she thought I was being insulting

my voice became more metallic
exasperated
‘you don’t get it’
grinding on, through changes of lights
she retreated to silence
like Mum used to do with Dad
I felt empty
she did too

 

Catch Maurice at QPF 2009:

 

Saturday August 22 – 10:30 – 11:30am

The First Bullet of the Day: featuring Robert Bos and the launch of Half-Hour Country (Small Change Press) by Maurice McNamara and Dear Rose (Small Change Press) by Nicola Scholes

 

Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray

 

Sunday August 23 – 11:00pm – 12:00pm

Choreography of Chance: featuring Maurice McNamara, Rhys Rodgers and Santo Cazzati

 

All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

 

 

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Guided by Poets – Victoria

This Guided by Poets thread showcases the voices of five mighty fine Victorian writers.

I gave the enigmatic Maurice McNamara a call to start the thread and the rest…

So here it is, Guided by Poets (Victoria), featuring poems by Maurice McNamara, Joe De Iacovo, Angela Costi, Jen Jewel Brown & Andy Jackson.

 

Maurice McNamara

Maurice McNamara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pork

I’ve got fat since I found true lady love
and she’s got a bit fat too
Maurice, I’ll do anything for you
and usually it involves pork

I sit on the couch reading true crime novels
whilst she gets on with making a living
editing
it sounds like good money
but it makes her cranky
fixing up crap someone else wrote

I get on the computer after she’s gone to bed
and write things to other poets
sometimes in other countries
with headphones on
that I don’t want to read next morning
because drink declares
you’re stupid

we argue on Fridays
when we get back together again
are you listening to me darling?
she’s worrying about the cat
we eat at occasional tables found in a garage sale
sometimes she cooks and sometimes I do

by Saturday morning we’ve got the weekend
I bring her breakfast
who goes to the toilet first?
and then shower
she takes an hour to primp her hair

when I’ve evacuated my bowels
and drunk coffee, I’m almost human
sometimes we just sit around and do word play
we go to Footscray and eat Vietnamese soup
some days we go to the country

in a good relationship
you just run across perfect moments
because the universe loves a lover

but she complains
if I take her down factory roads
where, too often, I like to go
but usually we find a cat, a goat
a rare weed, a flower
a smell
something built in iron we take home

our love doesn’t depend on agreeing
we leave our strangeness strictly alone
we’re at that time of life when we can point out houses we lived in
but we don’t want to live in those houses anymore
I laugh at her in that strange hat
she laughs at me trying to climb the hill
but she’s close to my hand
when I slip down

 

About Maurice:

Maurice McNamara’s debut collection Half-Hour Country is due to be released in 2009 through Small Change Press. He has been involved with Melbourne spoken word scene for a number of years, and now that his children are almost grown up, can devote himself to the sunny uplands of ART.

 

 

 

 
Dismantling a flockhouse

(for Mars)
My brother said
                                that machine
is older than you and me
put together.
                    Textile plants offer the cleanest
ending
                    with off-cuts,
spools still half-wound with cloth,
clusters of lint hovering in corners
as if they’re moths
caught in an eddy.
                  First, cut along the weld,
just here,
                  then the rest of the flockhouse
comes apart in stages.
                 All of these machines
are going off-shore:
to China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka,
                 my brother said,
leaning over
doubling at the belly
measuring how a mixer’s
shaft is to be unbolted.
                 On the bonding oven’s guards
and long flat panels:
                                defunct roster sheets,
                  faded stickers:
                                -Wipe your hands first-,
a Carn the ‘Roys poster

of a lion holding a bomb-like ball
between its teeth
wearing tight shorts
and a Guernsey of maroon
royal blue and gold.
                    Tattslotto syndicate charts
plotted with crosses of loss
and a few prized ticks
shared-out on Wednesdays.
The names on safety gloves
and dustcoats:
                     Donzo,
                                   Clem, and Toni with an i-
did women work here too?
There are only men helping us
dismember this place they’ve
                     worked in for
longer than you and me put together
my brother said
                     the women were laid off first
                     he said
some blokes decided to stay
on and help us
                     because most of  ‘em won’t
find work again.
In the mornings
                     they nodded their heads at us
                     just enough
to register a ‘Hey’,
                                     ‘Hello’,
                     and on the day
we closed the plant for good
one man said:
                                     ‘Here we are again.’

 

(first appeared in Verandah, vol. 17, 2002)

 

About Joe:

Joe De Iacovo’s writing/poems have appeared in Meanjin, Southerly, Verandah, and others. He currently works as a counsellor.

 

 

Angela Costi

Angela Costi

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Sheep One

They found her swivelled in her lover’s arms,
instantly branded, seared with the hottest tongues
still she swirled deeper, became the second flavour
in the soft serve cone and Andreas became the first.

Her husband was informed while tying up his dinghy,
his hands flew up as if to catch those bad words,
the rope uncoiled and snaked into the sea, he fell in
with his shoes, coat, memories, grappled with the water
he couldn’t drown her green kitten eyes, her splash
of freckles in the indigo light made her look younger
no where near as young as Andreas,
his barber, her lover, his sons’ barber, her lover
his neighbour, her lover, his friend.

She wore her guilt like underwear,
only with Andreas it slipped off, tossed at the doorway,
was sunk in her pheromone’s spell.
Guilt became her second coat worn on the hottest days
when her husband drenched in sea and sorrow
couldn’t speak without a fist fixing into a wall,
her oldest boy tried to split himself in two,
her youngest went missing, found blue-kneed at the dock,
she knotted her apron twice, fought only with grease,
stains, dust and longing, found her sons another barber.

Andreas couldn’t sleep without her nose butting his neck,
if only it was just the bed where he ached for her,
he couldn’t open cupboards, read books, watch clouds,
he couldn’t cut her style into the shape of others,
her wayward curls were unrepeatable,
he saw his future as a cracked vase with a dried rose.

He tiptoed back to her with a wave across a busy street,
a smile, the freshest longest red rose, a card, a letter,
love written, love touched, love held.
She turned back to ice-cream melt,
clenched her fist against her heart and said,
Tomorrow is only possible with Andreas.

 

About Angela:

Angela Costi is the author of three collections of poetry: Dinted Halos (chapbook, Hit&Miss Publications, 2003), Prayers for the Wicked (CD, Floodtide Audio, 2005) and Honey and Salt (Five Islands Press, 2007). Honey and Salt was shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Prize 2008. Her poems, performance text, essays and stories have been widely published, broadcast and produced, including in the US, UK, Greece and across Australia (for example: Sojourner Boston, wanderingdog UK, LiNQ and Radio National-ABC).

 

 

Jen Jewel Brown

Jen Jewel Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Medusa lead rascalation

I turn on the tv
and there you are
with your guitar slunched into the solo
lathering and turbulating
growling, humming and hubbubing
moa-ning and rascalating
o that thrumming low drung rumble
of your Medusa lead

come closer you
leaning out of the set
to blow your lava crack chick
stack between my feet, bang!
bright spark tangent innocent
reaching down, this thuddering live
rubble crack below
like this massive channel
of vibrating
sex soul synchrome twister wrench
energy opens me up

you right through from the magma
reaching from the hot rock at the centre
of the world right through
to the stratosphere
connecting eerily and endlessly
to you through you to you

now I’m a through-way
a thoroughfare
my fingers radiating
snakes of fire
a lit-up pinball douce machina
paying out in spades, in tangos
bang bang bang ding ding ding
in pepper-tongued blades of words

 

About Jen:

Jen Jewel Brown is a widely published writer across many genres. Her story on familicide and Family Law, Suffer the little children, was featured in The Age on May 3 2009. She is an activist and single mother who likes to see what poetry can stretch to. She prefers to dance with her demons rather than wrestle them, or better still, matchmake them with her angels and get away free. On the brag front, Jen was the winner of the Greater Dandenong Writing Awards Open Poetry Prize 2006, Spinning Room (Melbourne) female ‘call-back’ poet of 2005 and Victorian Writers’ Centre Poetry Cup Best Performer in 2004. She’s also the author of Skyhooks’ Million Dollar Riff  and poetry books Marsupial Wrestling (Outback Press), Alleycat (Feral Books) and gutter vs stars (Flat Chat Press). Her work has been widely anthologised. She is currently working on two new poetry books and other projects. She blogs at: http://flaminghoop.blogspot.com/

 

Andy Jackson

Andy Jackson

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange friendship
                   for Norman

The trick has become this – how to pull the thumb out
of the dam and not drown.  Here on the couch, our legs
face in the same direction, our thighs almost touch.

The clinking of pool-balls is an ambient sound,
the crack and sigh of another crude attempt. 
I want to tell you how strange this friendship seems,

to ask you where your grief is, as if in your composure
you are being dishonest, but I fear this might be
the stone thrown into the clear face we’ve made. 

Perhaps this poem will ensure it’s sufficiently obscure. 
Or, in a public place, where a certain absence
of intimacy’s the done thing, here’s an album you might like

and half an answer to a cryptic clue.  Is it funny
when they speak of themselves in the third person
or safe, a way to pull back as they begin to shrink

into the other?  Mateship can be a collusion
or a way out.  You arrived and the line where I end
became slightly more blurred.  Who’s to say

it’s not all a miraculous accident of cause and effect?
Miles away, wave after wave breaks against the beach.
And I speak as if the pulse of blood in us

will not be stopped by any blade or disease,
that these bodies which breathe the same air are enough,
that consciousness is no more problematic than its lack. 

I reckon I’ll get another.  You want one?

 

About Andy:

Andy Jackson has been published in a wide variety of print and on-line journals; received grants from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria, and a mentorship from the Australian Society of Authors; and featured at events and festivals such as Australian Poetry Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, Newcastle Young Writers Festival and Overload Poetry Festival.  Most recently, he was awarded the Rosemary Dobson Prize for Poetry, and will be a Café Poet in Residence for the Australian Poetry Centre.  His most recent collection of poems, Among the Regulars, is scheduled for release by papertiger media later in 2009.

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