Tag Archives: Helen Avery

QLD Writers Week Feature #6: Helen Avery

Day #6 of QLD Writers Week is here and once more, we are looking westward, into the ageless landscape that Helen Avery calls home.

Old Beyond Age

The world is intense.  It has always been my best friend so I have never been afraid of solitude.

I have always immersed myself in whatever place I happen to be in.  I spent much of my childhood belly up to the sky, belly down to the earth and I have never lost the need for that kind of  intimacy.

So the places that inspire me most are those where I happen to have spent the most time on skin to skin terms.  I’ve been a farmer for most of my life so the earth has never been extraneous. I have worked with it, on it and my dependency has been entire. I have travelled over it and my eyes have always been open.

 I live on the other side of the coastal ranges where the landscape rolls out like a worn swag blanket. I like dust and mud beneath my feet.  I like laying my hands against trees and stone.  I like learning the names of plants and of the processes of creation that laugh at our paranoia about measuring time in fractions of seconds. I love the feeling of enough space around my shoulders that I can see the curve of the planet against the rest of space.  I love the spin of seasons so subtle I can scent change on the wind and feel it on my skin.

It’s not about beauty or lack of beauty.  It’s about awareness of where we are and the absolute exposure of the mind and the senses to this.  It’s about somewhere old beyond age, something battered and wrinkled and unashamed and beautiful and vibrant beyond belief or definition.

How do I capture this for a reader? If I could, I would write without words, trace poetry on the wind.  As it is, all I can say is that, I try, because it is in me to write and I love words.  If they disappear on the wind like vapour … then that is okay and as it should be. 

by Helen Avery

********************

Heading home

In the pre dawn I leave the ocean
at my back and drive west
looping over the coastal ranges.

Darkness hooks on
the harsh call of the first crows
and is drawn back from the valleys

leaving them drenched in mist and chill
until the sun eases out of the somewhere
ocean behind me and dispenses the day.

Beyond Boguntungun eagles swing
off the tails of thermals and the hills
and the dry scrub roll and flatten.

********************

Helen Avery is a poet for whom a sense of place is as natural and essential as drawing breath. The ‘Outback’ holds iconic status in the national psyche but it is not a museum relic. It is a vibrant part of contemporary Australia. It is the honesty of a natural environment that exposes both landscape and those who live there with stark clarity that drives Helen to write and perform with sensitivity, passion and deep respect.

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Launched!

Well, The Stillest Hour is now well and truly launched. Last night, Sheish and I shared the stage with Helen Avery and Hinemoana Baker, and for a few tracks, Hinemoana, Sheish and this Lost Shark formed a three-piece with me sitting in on drums. For those of you who were there, you would have seen that playing drums makes me smile…

The coming together of friends, family and the poetry community makes magic. The crowd was a sea of smiles and the energy buoyed us along, each track, topping the one before it. It was one of those rare nights, where all the factors were just right.

I want to finish this post with the words of Hinemoana Baker, who launched our CD. We were (and forever will be) honoured.

———-

MIHI – ke te mihi atu ahau ki nga tangata whenua o tenei
wahi, ki nga iwi e kiia nei ko Yagerra, ko Turrbal nga
ingoa. Kia kaha koutou ki te tu motuhake, tu teitei i runga
i to mana whenua no mai ra ano.

It’s a great pleasure to be standing here to introduce and
launch this new taonga, this new treasure, ‘The Stillest
Hour’, by the spokenword supergroup that is Graham Nunn
and Sheish Money, performed by both of them and produced and
recorded by Sheish.

There’s an enormous amount of respect between these two,
as artists and as people, and there’s nothing sweeter to
me than the sound, and silence, of two people really
listening to each other. Both the music and the words on
this make as much room for jamming as for planning, for the
wildly unexpected as for the softly nostalgic.

So I don’t use the musical comparison lightly – I say
‘supergroup’ both because these two are superb acts in
their own right who also bless us by sharing the stage, and
because to me, rather than being a poet and a musician
standing before you, these two are more like a band, where
the lead singer happens to speak rather than sing. There’s
that kind of listening going on through the whole thing,
there’s that kind of rhythm, melody, dynamic, low and
loud, hard and soft – in the meanings of the words as much
as in the sounds Sheish makes. It’s a rare and wonderful
combination – Graham is a poet AND a musician, Sheish is a
musician AND a poet, so there’s a mutual co-creation,
every show is a unique opus with two composers.

And what’s even better is that this show (ie the CD)
and the one you’re about to see aren’t the same.
And never shall be forever and ever amen – and
that’s the beauty of what these two create. Tonight, when
you watch this performance and then buy the album you’re
getting way more bang for your buck.

What you’re about to see is a glimpse of something
that’s still very much alive, still responding to the
organic nature of what it is that we do and continue to do
as artists and engineers and audiences: which is to make,
and to love the making.

E nga manuhiri, ladies and gentlemen, Graham Nunn and Sheish
Money.

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Brisbane Poetry Gig Guide – April 26

Well, I am home, fresh from a great gig today in Brisbane Square Library with Ghostboy, Skye Staniford, DarkWing Dubs and the mighty Sheish Money. Thanks to all who came along.

Here’s what’s happening around town over the next few weeks. Hope to see you somewhere soon…

 

Tuesday April 28
 
Riverbend Books – Poetry On the Deck 
 
Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the second Poetry on the Deck event for 2009. Join us on the Riverbend deck and enjoy the rural sounds of Longreach poet, Helen Avery (Seduced by Sky) alongside established local voices Rosanna Licari and Philip Neilsen (Without an Alibi) and emerging poet, Sophia Nugent-Siegal (Oracle).
 
Date: Tuesday 28 April
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/EventDetails.aspx?ID=2199 
 
 
 
 
Saturday May 2
 
Bruce Dawe launches A Good Harvest (Post Pressed, 2009) by celebrated Queensland poet, Maureen Freer. The launch will feature readings of Maureen’s poetry by Ross Clark. Drinks and nibbles will also be served.
 
Where: In the Red Chamber, Parliament House
When: Saturday May 2, 2-4 pm.
All welcome. Free.

Maureen Freer is one of  this state’s best-known and loved poets. Indeed, as Bruce Dawe has said, ‘She is one of our most immediately accessible poets, and one who has established a firm reputation over many years’. She has received a number of awards including the Premier’s Poetry Prize 1987 and the Order of Australia for services to Australian literature, 1984. She was Chair/Convenor of the Brisbane Writers Festival from the early Warana days for fourteen years, and also chaired the 1982 Commonwealth Writers Week.

Maureen was the first person to organise a poetry reading in the Red Chamber — featuring Tom Shapcott, Bruce Dawe, David Rowbotham, John Blight and Rodney Hall. It’s appropriate, then, that what is probably her final collection of verse is launched there also.
 
 
 
Sunday May 3
 
SpeedPoets is back for Round 3 of 2009! Be there as Brisbane’s longest running spoken word/poetry event takes over The Alibi Room (720 Brunswick St. New Farm) on Sunday May 3 from 2:00pm – 5:00pm. The May event features the delicate beauty of Ichabod’s Crane: http://www.myspace.com/ichabodscranemusic. This Brisbane ensemble conjures the sounds of horses being ridden on sand and snake tails speeding beneath gumboots… music to be shipwrecked to! And to celebrate the pending launch of her debut collection ‘Voyage’, Zenobia Frost will perform a short feature set with a special appearance from Madrigal Maladies, her collaboration with Nerissa Rowan and if that’s not enough for you, winner of The Dream Ain’t Broken Chapbook Competition, Nicola Scholes will also perform a short feature set, showcasing poems from her forthcoming collection. As always there will also be live sounds from the SpeedPoets poetic riff generator Sheish Money, giveaways, free zines and two rounds of Open Mic. Entry is a gold coin… This is a gig not to be missed!
 
SpeedPoets, Sunday May 3 @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm. 2:00pm – 5:00pm.
 
 
then get along to…
 
 
The launch of The Voyage, a poetry chapbook concerning the adventures of Zenobia Frost with illuminations by Bettina Walsh.
 
Time: 7:00pm
!Metro Arts Basement
109 Edward Street, Brisbane
Featuring [~support act James Sherlock~]
$5 entry / free drinks and nibblies
http://zenobiafrost.wordpress.com/
 
Presented by SweetWater Press
 
 
 
Saturday May 16
 
Words or Whatever – Performance poetry @ Blackstar Cafe 44 Thomas St West End from 6:30pm.

Featured acts this month include – Dissent of Didymus, Darkwing Dubs, Luke Townson + Special guests including some non english speaking poets.

As well as these awesome acts, we wil have our regular features including ‘Words of Honour’ (tribute pieces to great wordsmiths) &  ‘Words-worth’ – Live Poetry Auction.

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Brisbane Poetry Gig Guide: April 9

Friday April 17
 
Contraverse launches into 2009 at The Book Nook, Boundary St. West End from 7pm with Round Robin Open Mic and a feature set from Miss Ruby Fizz herself, Zenobia Frost. Entry is free.
 
 
 
Saturday April 18
 
Words or Whatever is Brisbane’s newest gig. All the Spoken Word, Slam, Hip-Hop and Subversion takes place from 6:30pm at Black Star Cafe, 44 Thomas Street, West End. The April gig features performances by LESSONMC, SURREAL, MANTIST, TRIKS & CHARLIE CHOCOLATE. Get along and check it out!
 
 
 
Sunday April 26
 
Acoustics on Sunday

Sunday 26th April, 12 noon – 2:15pm in the Sound and Vision Lounge, Level One Brisbane Square Library. The live sounds keep coming! Some of Brisbane’s finest singer songwriters will be performing in the library on the last Sunday of each month and for the month of April, don’t miss the original sounds of:
 
GHOSTBOY & FRIENDS

Join local performance artist & surrealist spoken word ringmaster Ghostboy as he directs a stripped down eye into the void with his muse & sister singer-songwriter Skye Staniford (Golden Virtues/ We All  Want To). And to round it all off square, he will also present two of  his underground f(r)iends in local sci-fi hip hop genre bender Darkwing Dubs as well as Graham Nunn & Sheish Money – poetry’s answer to the ocean call.

Acoustics on Sunday @ Brisbane Square Library, April 26, 12:00pm – 2:15pm featuring Darkwing Dubs, Ghostboy & Skye Staniford + Graham Nunn & Sheish Money. Entry is Free!

 

Sunday April 26 
 
Ahimsa House proudly supports the local community-based poetry group in West End—The Kurilpa Poets. The next gig is Sunday, 26th April 2009. Time: 02—04.30 PM at – The Emma Goldman Room – at Ahimsa House, 26 Horan Street West End (opposite the West End State School). 
 
Our feature poet for April is Brent Downes. Brent is a dynamic, innovative, gifted and talented poet, writer, artist and performer from Brisbane. Brent can be found loitering with creative intent at most of Brisbane’s spoken-word events. He is the new MC and host of the long running, avant-garde West End poetry group, Contraverse.
 
In November 2008 he launched his first book of poetry Coat of Arms. This first, seminal book decisively probes modern, urban, romantic, lyrical, expressive, and conversational themes. His poetry fearlessly explores subjects you may or may not hear in a confessional! Hypnotic, cryptic off rhymes, off beat suburban lines, music for the end times, whispered declarations of post-coital love, yelled portents of sex and apocalypse, the last taste of wine on your lips—all pepper his provocative and enigmatic verse. Don’t miss a stellar performance from one of the young lions of the Brisbane poetry scene!
 
For more information please phone Vij Chandra on 0411 033181, or e-mail a message to kurilpapoets@yahoo.com.au
 
 
 
Tuesday April 28
 
Poetry on the Deck
 
Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the second Poetry on the Deck event for 2009. Join us on the Riverbend deck and enjoy the rural sounds of Longreach poet, Helen Avery (Seduced by Sky) alongside established local voices Rosanna Licari and Philip Neilsen (Without an Alibi) and emerging poet, Sophia Nugent-Siegal (Oracle).
 
Date: Tuesday 28 April
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/EventDetails.aspx?ID=2199
 
The first event for the year was a huge success, with tickets selling out quickly, so book early to avoid disappointment!
 
 

Saturday May 2
 
Bruce Dawe launches A Good Harvest (Post Pressed, 2009) by celebrated Queensland poet, Maureen Freer. The launch will feature readings of Maureen’s poetry by Ross Clark. Drinks and nibbles will also be served.
 
Where: In the Red Chamber, Parliament House
When: Saturday May 2, 2-4 pm.
All welcome. Free.

Maureen Freer is one of  this state’s best-known and loved poets. Indeed, as Bruce Dawe has said, ‘She is one of our most immediately accessible poets, and one who has established a firm reputation over many years’. She has received a number of awards including the Premier’s Poetry Prize 1987 and the Order of Australia for services to Australian literature, 1984. She was Chair/Convenor of the Brisbane Writers Festival from the early Warana days for fourteen years, and also chaired the 1982 Commonwealth Writers Week.

Maureen was the first person to organise a poetry reading in the Red Chamber — featuring Tom Shapcott, Bruce Dawe, David Rowbotham, John Blight and Rodney Hall. It’s appropriate, then, that what is probably her final collection of verse is launched there also.

 

Sunday May 3

SpeedPoets is back for Round 3 of 2009! Be there as Brisbane’s longest running spoken word/poetry event takes over The Alibi Room (720 Brunswick St. New Farm) on Sunday May 3 from 2:00pm – 5:00pm. The May event features the delicate beauty of Ichabod’s Crane: http://www.myspace.com/ichabodscranemusic. This Brisbane ensemble conjures the sounds of horses being ridden on sand and snake tails speeding beneath gumboots… music to be shipwrecked to! There will also be live sounds from the SpeedPoets poetic riff generator Sheish Money, giveaways, free zines and two rounds of Open Mic. Entry is a gold coin… See you there!

SpeedPoets, Sunday May 3 @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm. 2:00pm – 5:00pm.

 

then get along to…

 

The launch of The Voyage, a poetry chapbook concerning the adventures of Zenobia Frost with illuminations by Bettina Walsh.

Time: 7:00pm
!Metro Arts Basement
109 Edward Street, Brisbane
Featuring [~support act TBA~]
$5 entry / free drinks and nibblies
http://zenobiafrost.wordpress.com/

Presented by SweetWater Press

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Queensland Poetry Festival Presents: Poetry on the Deck #2, Tuesday April 28

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the second Poetry on the Deck event for 2009. Join us on the Riverbend deck and enjoy the rural sounds of Longreach poet, Helen Avery (Seduced by Sky) alongside established local voices Rosanna Licari and Philip Neilsen (Without an Alibi) and emerging poet, Sophia Nugent-Siegal (Oracle).

Date: Tuesday 28 April
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine.

To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at: http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/EventDetails.aspx?ID=2199

The first event for the year was a huge success, with tickets selling out quickly, so book early to avoid disappointment!

About the Poets:

rosanna-licari

Rosanna Licari is a poet and founding editor and publisher of Stylus Poetry Journal. In 2008, she was a runner up for the Thomas Shapcott Prize. She teaches English to migrant and refugees in Brisbane and is currently completing a M.Ph .(Creative Writing) at the University of Queensland.

 

philip-neilsen1

Philip Neilsen is a Brisbane poet and author who has written eleven books and edited four. His first poetry collection earned him a Writers Fellowship from the Australia Council and his fifth and most recent, Without an Alibi (Cambridge: Salt, 2008) was praised in Australian Book Review.  His poetry was included in the Norton anthology The Making of a Sonnet in 2008 and The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry in 2009. He is Professor of Creative Writing at QUT.

 

sophie-nugent

Sophia Nugent-Siegal is a young poet whose interest in mythology, art and history is woven into work with a contemporary focus and edge. Sophia has won many national young writers’ awards (she is a 3-time national award winner in the Taronga Foundation Poetry Prize, and has also won the FAW Young Poet of the Year and Mavis Thorpe Clark awards). Her first book, Oracle (published by PostPressed), provides a fresh, sharp and contemporary insight into the continuing resonance of the Classical world.  Recent projects include a collection based on illuminated manuscripts of medieval texts from an exhibition at the Melbourne State Library in 2008.

 

helen-avery

Sheep farmer, cow cocky, wife, mother, middle aged redundant … Helen Avery is beginning to write “Poet” when asked for details of occupation. Human life dominated by landscape and weather – distil that into words?  I try!

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