Tag Archives: Home is Where the Heartache is

“a 21st century Eve” – review by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

Home Is Where the Heartache Is (Small Change Press, 2007)
home{sic} (Another Lost Shark Publications, 2012)
by Julie Beveridge

Reviewed by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

For a limited time, all purchases of home{sic} from the Another Lost Shark Store will be shipped with a complimentary copy of Home is Where the Heartache is.


Stars are arguably best left to outer space, but if ten of them fell out of the sky, I would grab nine and a half of them to jointly rate Julie Beveridge’s first two books, Home Is Where the Heartache Is, and home{sic}.  I do it this way because Beveridge’s books are best considered together, as an oeuvre.  Taken in this way, their similarities, and their differences, both in terms of form, and of subject matter, identify her as a voice that is worth listening to, and following for the future.

I will first consider Home Is Where the Heartache Is, then home{sic}, then make some comments about the two taken together.

Home Is Where the Heartache Is is, yes, a dark, at times surreally nightmarish collection of haibun in ways that remind us of those Hieronymus Bosch canvasses:

This house was a steal.  The woman who owned it before me stabbed her
defacto to death and skinned him in the living room.

“Playing the Market”

Yes, Beveridge is, already, laughing: it’s confirmed as the poem continues:

… I remember watching it
on the news and thinking what a shame, that house has so much potential.

In the last poem in this collection, “Solitude: the end and the beginning” Beveridge makes overt what has been implicit all along: her at times oh so wry, dark humour:

sometimes I laugh despite myself,
from a place not so deep within me

Yet there is much more to this book than its humour, appealing though that is.  Beveridge is a 21st century woman, aware that in Australian society of this century there is violence, and you don’t have to scratch too deep to find it.  She acknowledges the truth that most of the victims aren’t male defactos skinned in living rooms, no, they are women, and so often there’s a sexual basis for that violence.  In the title poem, “Home is where the Heartache is:”

She is worth an exploded eye socket and nine dissolvable stitches.

Yes, it is easy to dispassionately admire the vivid description – the woman is there photographically caught before us in all her battered woundedness – but Beveridge challenges us to go deep into the sexual politics, ask ourselves “why.”

There are cigarettes, wine, joints and more to be found within these pages, but it is almost as if they are the props, the enablers, not the underlying reasons for the events depicted.  What are those reasons?  Beveridge sketches, alludes, never falls into didacticism, always prompts us to think.  And always – I return to this – with sharp, questioning humour.  In “Cold Hands Touch My Face,” which recounts an abduction by car by a man wearing mirrored sunglasses:

behind the shades
a murder
of crows feet

Violence, including rape and murder, happens in our society right now.  Beveridge is unflinching in her exploration of it.  Her take is a feminist one, but one that, as a man, I feel included in: the problem is mine as well as hers.  This book is thought-provoking, and in being so, is deeply satisfying.

home{sic} is a book of journeys: we are taken to a number of places on the planet, to both Australian locations and North American ones.  Beveridge’s perceptive powers of observation are acute:

whether I climb or fall
nothing is as patient as these cliffs

“van diemen’s land”

your men hold their cameras like cocks

“song for san francisco”

These are travelogues with hard, sometimes jagged edges.  Yet these edges are leavened with a wisdom that resonates with deep psychological truths:

the longer
you spend
with yourself
the less
alone you
will feel

“a handful of consistencies”

This is part admonition, part acceptance.  Beveridge knows aloneness, and shares her introspective insights on it, but she also knows what it is like to intimately be with another, in all its aspects, from small talk in an airport departure lounge to being:

a factory for future men

“meat and bread”

as she so drily terms being pregnant with her son.  So it is that her intimacies, shared with us, become ours too; we are happy for her, and with her, that she has the peppered roast pork sandwich; her pregnancy cravings,

with 18 weeks before it all truly
ignites

“canada day”

are ours to experience with her.  It is almost as if Beveridge, as home{sic} reaches its climax on the other side of the Pacific, is inviting us to be, if not defacto God parents for her as a 21st century Eve, then, in a secular sense, partakers of her future journeys with her to-be-born son.  This is an invitation proffered with rich humanity, and a powerful, overarching sense of the joy of life.

It is instructive, I feel, to consider Home Is Where the Heart Is and home{sic} together, and as the first two instalments in an oeuvre which surely will continue to unfold over the years ahead.

From the artful haibun of Home Is Where the Heart Is, home{sic} sees Beveridge further exercising her technical virtuosity; in it she uses a number of different forms, from poems in couplets to prose poems.  Often her forms in home{sic} are unpunctuated, the earlier volume’s prose passages are generally traditionally punctuated, but what both books share is a use of ambiguity, often for ironic, and humorous, purposes.

Upon a first three or four readings of each volume, I leant slightly towards preferring Home Is Where the Heart Is, but by the time I had read each volume half a dozen times, the similarities, above and beyond even the ambiguities, below the surface differences in form, were becoming increasingly apparent.

The first book, eschewing all the implicit sexual politics of violence it contains, is in a sense about aloneness, and the struggle to make sense of a too often contrary world.  In home{sic} by contrast, the poet’s persona is with another, yet, on a deeper level, the world is equally vividly strange.

The first volume is overtly about interior worlds.  Beveridge’s second book, upon reflection, under the at times sensuously written travelogues, is also.  Whether it be that meat and bread sandwich, or

mozzarella dripping from my tongue

“song for san francisco”

we taste as well the graphic psychological truth that

homesickness is not a metaphor

“a handful of consistencies”

and it tastes piquant, awkward – it cannot be easily pigeonholed – and ultimately undeniably real.

It is reality in the truest sense that these two books jointly explore.  There are many strange things that comprise our world, too many to easily make sense of.  Beveridge’s poetry becomes her torch; shining light on some of that strangeness, and her light oft-times makes the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.  In so doing, she challenges us to look into the very heart of strangeness.  And if we do that, perhaps, if we are honest enough to accept her truths, we see mirrors, reflecting back who we are inside.

**********

Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke had his first poem published in 1966 when he was seven years old in the mass circulation Australian newspaper The Sun.  Michael’s first poetry hero was John Keats, after he read as a teenager a biography of the English Romantic poet.

At Monash University, from 1977 to 1980, while studying successfully for a Bachelor of Economics degree, he hung out in a part of the library where hardly anyone went, devouring poetry books, and Michael Dransfield became his favourite poet.

To this day, notwithstanding he now has many other favourites, Dransfield’s “to be a poet in Australia is the ultimate commitment” remains seminal.  Since university, Michael has made a point of reading poetry, often in translation, from as many poets the world over as he can.

Michael now lives in Townsville, enjoying the north Queensland tropical sunshine.  He is a valued member of Writers In Townsville Society, whose website is: http://witsnq.blogspot.com/.

If Michael could have one wish, for anything in life, he would give the wish away.

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Riverbend Poetry Series II – Julie Beveridge

Just two more sleeps until the deck of Riverbend Books lights up with the words of local poetic shape-shifter David ‘Ghostboy’ Stavanger; new voice, Vanessa Page; the award winning Max Ryan and Brisbane lady of words, Julie Beveridge.

Julie is an emerging poet. She is the Program and Services Manager for Queensland Writers Centre and was Festival Director for the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2008 and 2009. Julie is an active member of the Brisbane poetry community and is passionate about innovation in the promotion and distribution of new work to audiences. Julie has been a feature artist at the Queensland Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word; Byron Bay Writers Festival; Brisbane Writers Festival; Tasmanian Poetry Festival and the Sydney Writers Festival: 2006 Word Wrestling Federation SLAM as well as reading at various arts events throughout Queensland, Melbourne and Vancouver. Her latest collection, Home is where the Heartache is (Small Change Press), is her first collection of haibun. As she has been promising for several years now, her follow up collection home{sic} is still under development.

Here’s a recent poem:

by way of explanation– a letter to my former self

i

in that pivotal moment
overcome by language

longing    surrender   fatality

all too vast to even whisper

vast

like ocean liners appearing in a landscape
distant and unassuming
evolved from nautical miniatures
into colossal water vessels that
carry the wealthy and retired
who secretly hate to travel
but who live like sharks
swimming
swimming

ii

words
fused to the walls of my memory
rocks weight the pockets of suicidal expectations as the water rises

suddenly I cannot describe the soft white flesh of the ripe green pear

iii

the precise moment I can’t exactly pinpoint
cannot articulate the second when the
thought of a poem became infinite
cannot recall the shift of sky (though probably grey)
or the correct mass of expectation
i have placed upon myself (though probably heavy
to the point where you need a hand
outstretched kindly
to help you lift it)
can probably recall my husband
quiet supportive and over achieved
facing me with the simplicity of a man waiting at an open door
with tea in one hand and toast in the other
though he may not have been physically present

iv

consumed with the figure of myself
that i thought had been painted on my behalf
by some gorgeous designer who wears
off shade single breasted suit jackets
to hide his gentle breast line
but that was really self drawn and
unflatteringly inaccurate

v

later in the bathroom
a wet moth takes solace
in the cool ice white tile
before getting sucked
into the exhaust fan

so swiftly
not even the moth
it turns out
knew it was turning
to dust

If you haven’t already got yourself a ticket, here’s all the details:

Date: Tuesday 19 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/2491/Riverbend+Poetry+Series

Hope to see you all there,

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A few days with Salt on the Tongue pt 2

Sunday…

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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Brisbane Writers Festival in review + A Taste of Salt

After a big night of poetry on Friday night, this Lost Shark hit the road to get a taste of salt… but before I get to that, a little BWF roundup.

Friday evening’s Small Change Press reading was a lot of fun. It was especially wonderful to hear the words of Julie Beveridge, who has been absent from the mic for a while, due to her QPF commitments. The poems from Home is Where the Heartache is cut clean and deep, pulling back the fat from those moments in life that we often keep hidden. Take Last Cigarette for example:

‘Can I have a cigarette?’ he asks

That once familiar voice, now alien. I take out a cigarette, but don’t light it. In thirty seconds he will forget. I pull the blanket up over his chest. Finger the rim on the hole in his larynx. I want to wear him like a ring. As he falls into sleep his breath grunts and rattles.

thin red line
I light
his last cigarette

It still hurts as good as it did when I first read it two years ago. Check out this review of Heartache on Stylus Poetry Journal.

Next up Sheish Money and I blew out the cobwebs that had gathered during the week with a short set. I have to say, that I am absolutely buzzing about the launch this Thursday, September 17 at the Judith Wright Centre. Sheish and I are really hitting our straps at the moment, and we are both looking forward to sending The Stillest Hour out into orbit and putting the finishing touches on what has been an amazing series of gigs lately. The launch details are on the blog here so come along and help celebrate!

Nathan Shepherdson then read from What Marian Drew Never Told Me About Light. This long poem will never cease to blow me away. With each reading the microscope that Shepherdson so deftly wields, shifts focus and reveals new details:

pick a number between
one and ten
that is how many times
you have died today

Brilliant!

And to round off the evening, Afeif Ismail Abdelrazig was in town, so together we performed his poem, Book of Screams, Afeif in the original Arabic and me in English.

If you see, while your eyes are closed;
the image of a baby suckling at the breast of his
dead mother;
               then know
               that this miserable child
               is
               from
               Darfur!

This poem is profoundly haunting.

Then I dashed over to the Red Chamber of Parliament House to catch Bronwyn Lea, Rosanna Licari, Hinemoana Baker, John Bennett, William Barton and Delmae Barton.

And after hearing Hinemoana’s set, I am even more excited to be sharing the stage with her on Thursday and helping to farewell her in style as she launches her CD, gondwanavista.

 

So with Brisbane turning out perfect Spring days at the moment, Julie and I loaded Hinemoana into the car on Saturday morning and hit the road for Coolangatta, as with her residency coming to a close next week, we felt she (and we) needed to feel the pull of the Pacific, to get a taste of salt.

The sky was spotless, the tide high, the temperature cool enough to bring the skin to goosebumps and then loosen. We checked out Kirra, Greenmount, Rainbow Bay, Point Danger & the Tweed.

                                                           still river
                                                           the current releases
                                                           a mullet

I had forgotten just how much I need the water, how it levels me out, brings everything back into focus. We drove home, smiling and sleepy-eyed. Yep, this Lost Shark is definitely Ocean Hearted.

 

So today, I am heading back to BWF to catch Hinemoana Baker in conversation with Kate Eltham and the final event of the festival, a poetry reading in State Library of QLD’s Red Box featuring Nathan Shepherdson, Bronwyn Lea, Emily Ballou, Felicity Plunkett and Lionel Fogarty.

A great way to wind up BWF, so if you are looking for something to do this afternoon… get along and add some poetry to your Sunday afternoon.

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A conversation with Patricia Prime

Digging through some old (and not so old) magazines and journals last night was a really productive experience… The Strange Conversations I posted last night really lit up the memory sensors as did this interview I did with Patricia Prime (first published in Simply Haiku and then in Takahe). Enjoy!

 

Graham Nunn Interviewed by Patricia Prime

 

PP:  Your poetry seems to contain many references to your family and your personal experiences.  Literary scholars usually distinguish between the author and the persona or speaker in a poem.  To what extent would you say this distinction applies to your poetry, or, to put it differently, how much of Graham Nunn is to be found in your work?  Here, as an example, is your poem “The Party’s Over”, which seems to recapture one of your own experiences, but could equally apply to any young party-goer:

the last song has played
the crow is calling
and we’ve run out of ice
the girls have all left
ands are drowning
in plastic cups
the ex-wife is pinned
to the dartboard
the dog has jumped the fence
/the fence holds in emptiness/
morality is covered in dust
and I sit
staring at the walls
empty of sound
for the moment

GN: I agree that there is a lot of me in my poems. I am not afraid to show myself, but I do try to write from a broader perspective, to let the reader into the poem. You can be too personal and there are some poems that I certainly don’t take out of the bottom drawer. The struggle between the author and persona is something that all artists experience. I remember hearing Nick Cave speak once about his album The Boatmans Call. He said that he liked the album less and less as the years passed as he could see too much of himself in the songs. Personally, I love the songs on that album for the same reason Nick dislikes them. They are songs that reveal the author, but allow the listener to make their own connections and create their own reality. This is something I try and do with my own work.

 

PP:  Do you think that the reader often identifies with the speaker in your poems?

GN: I hope that the reader can identify with my poems, interact with them, bring their own life experience to them and on some level, make the stories their own.

 

PP:  Would you consider yourself to be a “confessional” poet”?

GN: Not at all… I certainly share some truths about my life experience through my poems, but in no way am I writing these as confessionals. Writing for me is not a cathartic experience. It is a means of taking a story, an idea, a feeling and putting together the right words to allow the reader to experience it in their own way.

 

PP:  You seem to start out from a simple thought or idea but the imagery you use is often complex, full of projections, transformations, shifts of perspective.  So you make demands on your reader’s imagination.  Is that an important part of your craft for you?

GN: I like to think that there is a simple core at the heart of all my poems. Something tangible for the reader to hang on to, but I also like the reader to have to open their eyes and mind to get the complete experience. Language should be used to challenge the imagination and have the reader engage with the poem’s subject on a deeper level.

 

PP:  I detect you are inspired by the ordinary things we as humans do, that we pretend not to notice.  To what extent would you say your work conforms to this pattern?

GN: I am in love with the ordinary. My partner actually refers to me as vanilla.Too many people spend  their lives searching for the extraordinary, when there is beauty in the boiling of  a kettle, the opening of a door, the pattern of dust on the window sill. I like to live simply and enjoy the small things. I find that this helps to keep my senses sharp.

 

PP:  Are there poems you wouldn’t publish because they’re too intimate, too personal?

GN: I think everyone has a stash of poems that they wouldn’t publish for some reason. Sometimes for me it is beceause they are too personal, but more often than not it is because they just don’t translate for anyone else. They don’t have the space to let anyone else in. And let’s face it… some are just not up to scratch!

 

graham-nunn-reading-at-leonard-cohen-tribute

 

PP:  I find many glimpses of humour in your work, so I was wondering how important humour is for you, with regard to your work?

GN: Humour is not something I ever aim to achieve in my writing. I have never actively set out to write a funny poem. Humour is something that naturally finds its way into my work at times. I live a very happy existence and love to laugh, so it is only natural that my sense of humour shines through at times.

 

PP:  How much attention do you pay to stylistic elements?  In what ways do you work on syntax, phrasing, finding the right words to communicate your story?

GN: I certainly pay more attention to the finer details now. I used to be very much about getting things down and putting them out there, without a whole lot of editing. More the first thought, best thought approach, but I have started to move away from that in recent years. Now when I write, I still try and turn off the editing brain, but once I have it down, I like to put it away and then come back to it a few days later, see if it still resonates. If it does, I like to pull it apart, look at each word and see how it is working, examine line breaks, the poems appearance on the page. I guess it is much like a mechanic approaches a car engine. I want to fine tune it, so that it performs the best it can on and off the page.

 

PP:  It would be interesting to learn more about your method of working.  Is there a strict time scheme you stick to when writing?

GN: When I first started to become serious about my writing, I would be really disciplined and set aside chunks of time in my daily routine to write. This approach really worked for me. I would get up each morning, walk the dogs, come home, eat breakfast and then sit down for 45mins and just write. During the last four years, my approach has not been as disciplined, due to the various other roles I have taken on outside of my full time teaching job (running the monthly event SpeedPoets, taking on the role of Artistic Director, QLD Poetry Festival 2004 – 2007, starting Small Change Press), but I always have time marked aside on my calendar to write and I have become much better at finding 5 or 10 minutes in the middle of the daily hustle and bustle to get ideas down. The thing I have always maintained is when I sit down to write, I write. There is no such thing as a blank page at the end of a session. As a writer, I understand that there is no good stuff without bad stuff, so when I do get time to write I make sure I put words on paper and review it later. In that sense, it is like any work… you have some great moments and some that are better forgotten.

 

PP:  Why did you decide to become a publisher?

GN: I am incredibly passionate about getting new voices heard. Small Change Press is all about investing in the local community, and providing emerging poets with the chance to publish and get their work out to a wider audience. Our focus is on poets whose work performs on and off the page, on poets who can connect with a live audience and a reader. Our method of distribution is different to the traditional publisher. We are more about putting our authors in front of people and giving them the opportunity to let their words connect.

 

PP:  You are a publisher of other people’s poetry.  How does the publishing of their poetry affect your own work?

GN: Obviously the people that we have published are people that I have a great deal respect for, as human beings and as poets. Their work inspires me to stay true to what we set out to do as an independent press and that is to publish work that has its own clear vision and unique voice and is capable of translating both to the reader/listener. Being around quality poets and quality poetry, gives me the necessary nudge to constantly develop my own craft.

 

PP:  What are your own experiences with publishing your poetry?

GN: It was interesting publishing my fourth collection through the press in 2007. It wasn’t something that I had planned to do, but it has turned out really well. I sent the original manuscript away to Jacqueline Turner in Canada, for editing, so that David and myself didn’t have to get into any battles over decisions. Jacqueline did an amazing job, which made the whole process really easy. The launches and other readings were a huge success and it was great to be able to have a hands on approach to the whole project as well.

 

graham-nunn-reading-at-qpf-2005

 

PP:  Your biography is quite impressive, and also quite unusual for a writer.  Apart from appearing at numerous literary festivals, teaching, and publishing, you are also the Secretary of HaikuOz.  So, you obviously enjoy working with people and “taking your work out there”.  What is your view on performing poetry?  How much does an audience matter to you?

GN: The live setting for me is just as important as the writing process. I think to do your work justice, you need to pay equal attention to your skills as a performer. When you stand up in front of an audience, you owe it to yourself and to them to make sure you are well rehearsed. I cannot stand it when people shuffle paper, um and ah, shift around nervously and don’t know how to use a microphone. Poems need to perform on and off the page. I love performing and feel that getting up in front of an audience has helped keep my writing disciplined.

 

 
PP:  Do you feel you get a non-verbal response that’s quite strong when you’re reading to an audience?

GN: I love the interaction that takes place in a live setting. It never ceases to send a shiver up my spine. Even after hundreds of performances, standing behind a microphone with nothing more than your words is a rush. Looking into that sea of faces, having the opportunity to take this group of people on a journey. It is a really powerful thing. It is the most incredible feeling when you get that sense that you are all moving together.

 

 
PP:  Do you feel you are taking a risk by entering those different spaces?  Is it quite important for you to take risks as a writer?

GN: Putting your poetry out there in front of a live audience is always a risk. You cannot control how people will interact with your work. That is what makes it exciting, because in the end you can only control the quality of your performance and your writing. The audience to a large extent is out of your hands. For me, taking the risk and getting up in front of new audiences will always be extremely important. I love the gigs where you go and there are only 10 or 15 people there, and the room is big and you have to work really hard as much as the gigs where the room is full, the vibe is up and the audience are right there with you. It keeps everything fresh and in perspective.

 

PP:  Can you say something about your interest in haiku?

GN: Haiku was my doorway into poetry. In my mid-twenties I got turned on to Kerouac and read Desolation Angels. What stood out to me were the little poems that appeared often at the end of each piece of prose. They really lit the prose up, made everything immediate. I did my research and it wasn’t long until I had devoured Higginson’s Haiku Handbook, Basho’s, ‘On Love and Barley’ and the rest is really history. It is a form that I will never fall out of love with.

 

 
PP:  Following are some examples of your haiku taken from Famous Reporter 33.  Can you suggest the elements you consider go into the making of a “good” haiku?

clear river
the fisherman’s
un-netted reflection

breathless night
the cicadas
shut up

between the dunes
evening mist
piles up

GN: When you boil it down, it comes down to the ability of the poet to not only capture the essence of a moment, but to find the words that transcend the moment and give the haiku that feeling of eternity.

 

PP:  What is your involvement as Secretary of HaikuOz?

GN: I am really privileged to work as part of a dedicated, professional team. My role is to promote haiku related happenings to the community via the website and through the QLD Poetry Festival, I have had the opportunity to able to put on a series of workshops and haiku readings to continue the development of the local haiku community.

 

PP:  You have published a collection of your haiku, A Zen Firecracker.  Do you have another collection in the pipeline?

GN: In 2007 I was Poet-in-Residence at Brisbane’s Royal National Show (The Ekka). I wrote a series of 30 haiku, 10 of which were used as part of some public art projects in and around the Ekka Shwgrounds and the Museum of Brisbane. I am also currently working on a manuscript that will integrate haiku. Always new projects on the boil!

 

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PP:  What led you to writing prose poetry as in the haibun that you so successfully write?

GN: I had a whole series of scribblings, bits and pieces of haiku like writing that wasn’t working just as haiku, so I decided to turn my hand to haibun and the results have been really satisfying. As soon as I started writing, the form brought out the best in the ideas that I had at the time. The end result, Measuring the Depth, was a really important step forward for me. I learned a lot about myself as a writer and felt that I gained a lot of discipline during the writing of that collection. 

 

PP:  Many examples of your haibun that I’ve read are quite short: perhaps one or two paragraphs followed by a haiku.  Could you summarise the reason for the brevity of your pieces?  Here is one example I particularly like which we published in Kokako 6:

 

In a Heartbeat

She slips off her stockings and throws them at my feet.  Pulls her hair back and sits in front of me on the bed.  Tells me it’s $200 straight or $250 for that little bit extra.   My eyes drift out the window.  The sun-bloodied sky is slicing through the hotel blinds, streaming through her hair.  She pours another whiskey and crawls over me.

a heartbeat later
leaving my longing
inside her

 

GN: Brevity is something that I have always admired in all forms of writing. I like the fact that what you leave out is just as important as what you leave in. I like bringing the reader to the poem and then giving them the bones. I don’t like to give too much away. It is important that the reader/audience has room to interact with the poem and move in and out of the images.

 

PP:  You recently published your partner Julie Beveridge’s collection of haibun Home is where the Heartache is (Small Change Press, 2007).  What is it like living in a household containing two writers, both of them working in the same genre?  Do you share ideas, edit each other’s poems or work together in any way?

GN: I love the sharing of ideas that happens in our house. I had the absolute pleasure of editing Julie’s collection. It was a brilliant experience and one that I would happily take on again. Editing someone elses work and having your work edited teaches you a lot about your own writing. I  think that this is something that is sadly lacking in the poetry community. Quality feedback is often hard to find!

 

PP:  Can you identify some poets who have inspired you?

GN: The poets who inspire me most are the people that I work closely with. Jacqueline Turner is a huge inspiration to me. Her work is such a rush. No matter how many times I read her work it is always fresh and exciting. Rob Morris and Matt Hetherington who I have had the pleasure of publishing through Small Change Press constantly remind me of why I love poetry. David Stavanger, co-founder of Small Change Press, is always reminding me of the importance of taking risks. Rowan Donovan, is always there to remind me of grace and humility and my partner Julie is so grounded, so honest. She keeps everything real and is never afraid to shoot straight.

 

PP:   Do you have any thoughts about how to anticipate the future of your work?

GN: I guess I anticipate that I will be doing this until I am no longer able to to do it for whatever reason. It’s like Bukowski said, ‘if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die, or it dies in you.’

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Desert(ed) Island Poems #2 – Julie Beveridge

Here is the 2nd chapter of the Desert(ed) Island Poems series. This time Brisbane poet, Julie Beveridge talks us through the poems that would accompany her to a deserted island.

 

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I write the below list with the understanding that I am entitled, at any stage, to change my mind because there are so many variables… did I know I would be stranded on an island… has the world and all its literature been destroyed apart from myself and the island… am I pleased that I am stranded?… is my partner alive somewhere wondering where I am?.. you know, all the details you need to know before packing for a stint of being deserted on an island.

So, if I were stranded on a deserted island, today and for an undetermined amount of time, these are the poems that I would want to have with me… (in no particular order)

Mein KampfDavid Lerner   

This poem always excites and incites riot in me … Lerner, in a lot of his poems, affirms to me how seriously exciting poetry – and life – can be.. it’s a dancing alone in your living room poem – and seeing as I would be alone on this desert island I would love the chance to climb to the top of something and scream this poem out before flinging myself into the ocean (for thrills not kills obviously).  It’s also completely pretentious and I love that too.

I come not to bury poetry
but to blow it up
not to dandle it on my knee
like a retarded child with
beautiful eyes
but

throw it off a cliff into
icy seas and
see if the motherfucker
can swim for it’s life

Read the poem here: http://www.alsopreview.com/gazebo/messages/2305/11067.html?1168394206

 

Howl – Beau Sia 

A beautiful elegy for Allen Ginsberg…  a gorgeous response to Giny’s Howl with a 21st Century perspective – but gentle and grieving and attempting to understand something. A great mix of contemporary American lines and sonic American performance poetry.

Read full poem here:
http://ramblingwind.blogspot.com/2006/07/howl-by-beau-sia.html

 

The Red – Judson Evans

This haibun has so much hidden in it I could read it every day for a year and find something new – perfect for those long days stranded alone on a deserted island. The simple narrative has the protagonist getting out of bed in the morning, taking stock of her surrounding … and you are hit with the accompanying Haiku –

one year from your death
bright red bristles of your beard
in an old razor

 

Comma – Martin Johnston 

This poem was my introduction to Australian poetry – and it will always be in any list I write about favourite words.

because a comma can’t be spoken
I present you silence
one million translucent cigarettes
someone’s sweet-smelling tree with moons among its branches

 

Totem – Luke Davies 

A love poem in 80 amazing pages – contains a line which connected me to the love of my life. This poem is so sumptuous you almost need to be stranded on a deserted island so you can really reach inside it.

Read a review of the poem here: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/05/19/1084917648202.html?from=storyrhs

 

You Don’t See Me – Graham Nunn 

Speaking of loves of lives – I would have to take this poem for the selfish reason that it’s for me and I would miss my partner terribly what with being stranded and all… though I have to clarify I can tell a frog from a toad.

Read the poem here: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=119317288&page=3

 

Love Letter Post Marked Van Beethoven – Diane Wakoski 

Diane Wakoski is ridiculously prolific and delightfully mad… this would be a great poem to slowly go mad to…  she’s famous for her revenge pieces on all the ‘motorcycle betrayers’ she loved in her youth.. This one sees her day dreaming about taking them all out with a .38 Thompson Contender – a poetic Dirty Harry.

Read the poem here: http://books.google.com/books?id=b7d6yeOw2DwC&pg=PA140&lpg=PA140&dq=Love+Letter+Post+Marked+Van+Beethoven+-+Diane+Wakoski&source=bl&ots=3zHxS_NeS2&sig=vvPIhK9rYuBUP83V63wFnFJLs7s&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result

 

Lady Lazurus – Sylvia Plath 

Another wonderfully mad lady – this is another poem that hooked me in at an early age – I see a lot of humour in it and it’s dramatic as Elvis, I love reading this poem out loud. A great poem to get swept up in.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
and I eat men like air

Read the poem here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/lady-lazarus/

 

Hymn to the Rebel Cafe – Edward Sanders 

Sanders pays homage to the great people that gathered at the Rebel Cafe – but more. I think it’s a comment on communities and progression and what people doing not a whole lot can achieve when they aren’t really looking. Sanders represents how important place is to everything.

We’ll have to keep on opening & closing
our store fronts, our collectives,
our social action centres
till tulips are in the sky

Read the poem here: http://books.google.com/books?id=xIfvvl7KdigC&dq=Hymn+to+the+Rebel+Cafe+-+Edward+Sanders&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=SuoiyVUIyl&sig=FmF7XTsPcEjy1IIXDfvTVwV3kvI&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA11,M1

 

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle – Banjo Patterson  

Mainly for comic relief and to aid in going quietly mad whilst stranded on a deserted island – my chances of stumbling across a soccer ball like Tom Hanks did are few so a bit of Mulga Bill would do the fantastical trick I think … although if he is unavailable I’d happily take anything from Spike Milligan.

Read the poem here: http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/patersonab/poetry/mulgab.html

 

About Julie:

Julie Beveridge is an emerging Queensland poet. At 26, she was the youngest director of QLD Poetry Festival to date.

She has two collections of poetry rock’n’roll tuxedo and Home is Where the Heartache is (Small Change Press) and is regularly published in print and online publications.

As an active member of the Brisbane poetry community, she is passionate about the innovation in promotion and distribution of new poetry and is always looking for a new way to deliver poetry to an audience.

Julie has been a feature artist at the Queensland Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word; Byron Bay Writers Festival; Tasmanian Poetry Festival and the Sydney Writers Festival: 2006 Word Wrestling Federation SLAM as well as reading at various arts events in Brisbane, Noosa, Bulimba, Rockhampton, Ipswich, Nambour, The Gold Coast and Melbourne.

Julie is excited to be directing QPF 2009 and is looking forward to what is always a great experience.

heartache-cover-for-web

Buy Julie’s latest collection Home is Where the Heartache is at:

http://www.smallchangepress.com.au/titles.htm

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