Tag Archives: Jacob Polley

Help Make A Difference: Raising funds for a High School Poetry Project

I have spoken at length on many occasions about the state of poetry in schools (most notably this article: The Death of Poetry in Australian Classrooms), so each year, I make it my business to ensure I offer workshops to teachers and students where I can, to help bring a love of poetry back to the classroom.  But one person can only do so much… that’s where you come in.

As part of his recent residency, 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Jacob Polley, collaboratively wrote a stunning long poem, titled Daily Rituals, Vernacular River: A Telegraphing of Brisbane, with four students from the QLD Academy of Creative Industries (QACI). The poem is elegantly designed and printed on fold out card, to simultaneously represent the flow of the river and the rise of the city; five voices melding together to bring us snapshots of a day in Brisbane’s history and the lives of the poets.

The Story Bridge is open like a book
that tells a tale about the city’s people
from point to Valley, bank to bank, across
the river’s jagged mouth. One must begin
the journey down between the flow of words
Vernacular rivers are spoken, unconfined.

The poem, Daily Rituals, Vernacular River, is a fine reminder of what can be achieved when poetry is skillfully introduced into the classroom; of the thrill and passion that poetry can produce in us all. So to help make a difference, Jacob came up with the idea of establishing a Poetry Competition for High School students in 2012. The competition will be administered by Queensland Poetry Festival, and judged by Jacob and a prominent Australian poet.  QLD Poetry Festival also plans to send poets out into schools to run workshops and give readings, to generate some real excitement and give the project authenticity. But as you know, all of this requires funds…

Here’s how you can help:

A copy of Daily Rituals, Vernacular River can be yours for just $5. The full amount of every purchase will go towards establishing the Competition. The goal is to raise enough funds to offer first, second, and third place cash prizes, as well as run poetry workshops for high school students across the state. As an added bonus, Queensland Writers Centre has generously pledged to match the total amount of money raised.

To pick up a copy of the poem and to help make a difference, visit www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com, click on the Paypal button on the home page, and away you go. If you don’t have paypal and still want to contribute, just send an email to Sarah Gory at qldpoetry@gmail.com with ‘DAILY RITUALS’ in the subject heading, and she’ll get back to you to arrange a suitable method of payment. 

And never one to shy away from helping out, I am also getting on board to give this project a push and raise these much needed funds. Each year I publish Brisbane New Voices as a way of showcasing some of the fine talent emerging from this great city. I have 20 copies of this gorgeous publication available at $12 each, and I plan to donate 100% of all sales to establishing this exciting High School Poetry Competition in 2012.

To get yourself a copy email me at geenunn(at)yahoo(dot)com(dot)au with the subject ‘High School Poetry Project’ and we can arrange payment from there.

You can also help by spreading the word wide and far… facebook it, tweet it, blog it, email it, shout it from your kitchen window! The wider the word spreads, the better.

Join with me… together, we can make a difference!


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Farewell Jacob

Jacob Polley’s time as 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence is sadly coming to a close. I know that I speak for many when I say that he has made an invaluable contribution to our poetry community, during his stay; his deep love of poetry, his warmth and skill as a teacher and his sublime readings have inspired writers all over the state. I am super excited to hear, read and see his legacy poem, written in collaboration with a number of students from QLD Academy of Creative Industries, that will be launched tonight. I have heard on the vine that it looks pretty special… So, to celebrate what has been a superb residency, here’s a video from Jacob’s reading at SpeedPoets on Sunday August 7. Safe travels Jacob… hope to see you back here one day soon.


Filed under SpeedPoets Feature Poems, who listens to the radio?

Empty Creel


        for Jacob Polley

Cast after cast
he failed
to notice the wind
reach deep
inside his ear.

He was eyes on the line,
last light on the water.


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In Raptures

QPF 2011 raised the poetry bar high last night. From the joyous opening address by Jenny Galligan (Exectutive Director, Arts Development, Arts QLD) the atmosphere was crackling and then the Val Vallis and Thomas Shapcott Awards were announced and the first wave of rapture spread through the audience.

West End local, Rachael Briggs held the room to pin-drop silence with a powerful performance of her Val Vallis award winning sonnet sequence and Brisbane favourite, Nick Powell thrilled with a poem from his Thomas Shapcott Award winning manuscript. Nick’s first full length collection will be published as part of the award and launched at QPF 2012, something I am already looking forward to!

* Get along to see Nick take flight with Sheish Money & co. on Sunday afternoon as they debut their show, Shift (3:15pm, A Crash of Chords, Theatre Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts)

Two poems in to the festival and already the hair on the neck was dancing. And they didn’t stop…

Sandra Thibodeaux, gave us a rhythmic hit of politics, satire, sex and the Australian landscape as she opened Of Rhythm and Rapture; her presence on the stage, lighting up the room. Ah yes… wave of rapture #2.

Sandra was followed by the first of the international guests, Sawako Nakayasu, who delivered a razor sharp series of short poems from the collection, Time of Sky, (translations of the work of Ayane Kawata). This was one that knocked me out:

A scream inside a fish
A table is a table
The raped orange becomes the blue sky

Another favourite was her ‘hamburger nightmare poem’ (from Texture Notes), where the light at the end of the tunnel might just be a lump of fat. Wave of rapture #3…

And closing the first half of the night was the second international guest, Jacob Polley. Jacob opened with his poem Smoke, a poem that sits up there as one of my all time favourites. Hearing it read for the very first time is something I will not forget. Polley’s rich voice, ringing every last note from the poem. You guessed it… wave of rapture #4!

And then after a trip to the book store (more on that later…) and the bar, we were back in and settled for the second half of the show, a solo performance by Kate Fagan. From the outset, Fagan’s voice filled the room, and what a voice it is… clear, bell-like, each note perfectly realised. She moved from guitar to piano to reading poems seamlessly, but it was when she sang A capella, her interpretation of Child Ballad #3, that you knew undoubtedly that you were in the presence of a truly incredible talent.

And here I am this morning… words shivering under the skin ready for another day of words. And I can let you in on a secret… today I will be sitting in on drums as Sheish straps on his guitar and Ashley Capes breathes his words into the mic as part of the set, Torching the Shadows at 11:45am in the Shopfront Space. Going to be a blast!


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Meet the 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Jacob Polley

Jacob Polley is well and truly set up at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts and his residence is already building momentum. His workshop series starts tomorrow night at QLD Writers Centre and he is heading up to Rockhampton for workshops and readings later this week. Here’s a link to an interview he did with ABC Radio’s Kelly Higgins-Devine just after he arrived on our shores.

And remember, if you want to experience Jacob’s transcendental style live, make sure you book yourself a ticket to QLD Poetry Festival’s, opening night event, Of Rhythm and Rapture on Friday August 26. It’s a stellar line up featuring, Jacob Polley (UK), Sawako Nakayasu (Japan), Australian Poetry’s Poet-in-Residence, Sandra Thibodeaux and acclaimed singer-songwriter, Kate Fagan. Tickets are available here, so book early and don’t miss out.


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2011 QLD Poetry Festival Program is Launched!

It is with great excitement that I announce that the 2011 QLD Poetry Festival Program is launched and available for download from the QPF website. And with that announcement, I can also happily say, tickets for the opening night event, Of Rhythm and Rapture, on Friday August 26 (7:30pm – 10:30pm) are on sale now. 

Opening night is always special and this year’s event boasts an exciting line-up of international and interstate performers including 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Jacob Polley (UK), Sawako Nakayasu (Japan), Australian Poetry’s 2011 Poet-in-Residence, Sandra Thibodeaux (NT) and singer/songwriter/poet, Kate Fagan (NSW).

Here’s a clip for Kate’s recent single, Clear Water:

Tickets are available now from the Judith Wright Centre Website, so don’t be left standing at the door… book your seats early!

The other ticket that has just gone on sale is for Sandra Thibodeaux’s workshop, Disturbing the Poem. In this workshop, Australian Poetry Poet-in-Residence, Sandra Thibodeaux, will take you through the art of poetic disturbance. Sandra will be encouraging participants to ‘disturb’ their poems, shifting perspective, place, chronology and voice; playing with economy, resonance, metaphor, structure, colour, and the senses. Such disturbances may unearth new levels to the poetry or may lead to the creation of new works. This active workshop is designed for poets of various levels. Though not essential, participants will get more out of the workshop if they email drafts of poems a week beforehand.

The workshop takes place at Queensland Writers Centre, (Level 2, State Library of Queensland, Cultural Centre, Stanley Place, South Brisbane) on Friday August 26 from 10am – 1pm and tickets are just $20.

To book contact the Queensland Poetry Festival on 07 3842 9950 or email qldpoetry@gmail.com. Places are strictly limited, so get in early.

It’s going to be a massive three days, so for those a little further afield, start thinking about travel arrangements now… with a line up featuring Jacob Polley (UK), Sawako Nakayasu (Japan), Aidan Coleman (SA), Kevin Gillam (WA), Amanda Joy (WA), Kate Fagan (NSW), Matt Hetherington (VIC), Johanna Featherstone (NSW), Louise Oxley (TAS), Jaya Savige and many others, it will be well worth the trip!

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QLD Program Launch Feature #3 – Janaka Malwatta

Word on the street is, tomorrow night’s QPF Program Launch at Riverbend Books is a sell out… that’s right, 100 tickets already in the hands of 100 lucky people. And I stress the word lucky here as the line up is nothing short of scintillating! Sheish Money & Jane Sheehy will add their distinct rock’n’roll flair to the night; Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson will set your heart and mind racing with the rhythm of their words; Michelle Dicinoski will send sparks flying with the launch of her debut collection, Electricity for Beginners; and Janaka Malwatta will make his feature debut, reading from his debut collection, Kavi.

Janaka was born in the Sri Lankan hill capital of Kandy. He came to Brisbane via London, where he spent much of his life. He caught the poetry bug as a medical student in London, and first performed poetry in London at the Stoke Newington International Airport in 2009.  Janaka performs regularly at Speed Poets here in Brisbane and has published a collection of poems entitled Kavi. The poems in the collection are based principally in Sri Lanka. He moonlights as a GP in Brisbane when not performing poetry.

Here’s a recent poem:

Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green is green again,
as green as the day it was first made,
raised on a terrace at the ocean’s edge.
Stone benches so close to breaking waves,
you inhale ocean spray with every breath.
Pampered like a favoured child,
the lawn gleamed in the sun. A quarter mile
of displaced longing, a European promenade
built under Asian skies.

Galle Face Green is green again.
For twenty years closed off, there but out of reach,
a reminder of times before the city was besieged
by bombers in lorries and suicide vests,
and checkpoints stretched down Galle Road
like yellow dominoes, waiting to fall.
Soldiers in flak-jackets replaced promenaders,
barricades against the threat from the sea.
Untended, Galle Face became barren and brown,
green only in name and in memory.
The terrorists never came this way.
The fences have gone now.
Galle Face Green is green again.

The food stalls are back, but they’ve been corralled,
caged like animals in a purpose-built shack.
Twenty years ago, they roamed free on the grass.
We stood in the open, warm rotis grasped
in hungry hands. Children ran as families gathered at dusk,
to let sea air dispel the day’s city dust.
The in-crowd dropped in, on their way out
Blue Elephant dances, then on to Puloas
the food stalls at Galle Face drew everyone out.

The kites have returned, flapping, fluttering, flashes of colour,
competing with seabirds
in seabreeze dances;
it’s a game they always lose.
Pelicans are perched on top of lamp-posts,
surveying with equal disdain
passing tuk-tuks and the fathers of the nation,
preserved in bronze near Parliament steps,
ties and collars unfamiliar restraints
on over ambitious Asian necks.

Galle Face Green is green again.
Courting couples hide from prying eyes
and the fierce sun under giant umbrellas,
or climb down the steps the tsunami assailed.
The risque couples paddle fully-clothed
ankles and shins cautiously exposed
laughing waves chase them back up the beach.
Children splash in warm ocean waters, kites flutter overhead
tourists snap pelicans on lamp-posts perches
and Galle Face Green is green again.


If you want to try and barter your way in tomorrow night, the details are below. Hope to see you there tomorrow night!

Date: Wednesday 22 June
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/2508/Riverbend+Poetry+Series

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Book Launch: Electricity for Beginners by Michelle Dicinoski

As part of Wednesday night’s QLD Poetry Festival Program Launch at Riverbend Books, Michelle Dicinoski’s debut collection, Electricity for Beginners will be launched by Bronwyn Lea.

Book launches are an incredibly special thing and none more so than your very first one. Let’s face it, books are a wonderfully slow process, so when they are finally ready to be sent out into the world, a celebration is called for.

Michelle writes poetry and creative non-fiction. Her first poetry collectionis titled, Electricity for Beginners,  published by Clouds of Magellan. She is also currently working on a memoir, Ghost Wife, that tells her own and other women’s stories about same-sex marriage, hidden histories, and belonging. She recently received an Australia Council grant for a new project about forgetting and obsolescence in the digital age.  

Here’s a recent poem that was first published in Cultural Studies Review.

Friday night another faux-Irish pub
another convocation of the hopeful, the hopeless,
and the undecided.
We watch the covers band struggle with feedback
as the TVs show a soundless montage
of great mishaps in motorsport.
We talk shit like it matters.
Strident debate over Best Celebrity Names:
we argue Netanyahu vs Megawati,
Telly Savalas vs Lee Lin Chin.
Trivia savants, we trade facts like marbles:
an upturned Frisbee holds a litre of beer.
Napoleon and Caesar were born with teeth.
Elite archers shoot between heartbeats.
At this, we quiet,
try to imagine small acts of precision
till the band plays ‘Come on Eileen’
and we form a rowdy chorus
of toora loo rye, toora loo rye ayes.


Other feature performers on the night include, Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson, Janaka Malwatta and poetic riff-maker, Sheish Money. This Lost Shark will also read a selection of work from Jacob Polley, the 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence as part of the program launch. It is going to be a big night, so make sure you are there to celebrate the launch of Electricity for Beginners and to get a taste of  what’s to come in August when QLD Poetry Festival takes centre stage at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. 

Date: Wednesday 22 June
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/2508/Riverbend+Poetry+Series


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QPF Program Launch Feature #2: Sheish Money

We are edging closer to the program launch of QLD Poetry Festival 2011 on Wednesday June 22 and with the local line-up of Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson, Janaka Malwatta, Michelle Dicinoski, this Lost Shark reading a set of 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Jacob Polley’s work and Sheish Money, the creative sparks will be flying.

It is always a great pleasure for me to kick back and watch Sheish Money in full swing as often, I am standing beside him, dropping my words into his rolling wave of riffs. Sheish is the engine room of SpeedPoets and a QLD Poetry Festival regular, popping up beside the likes of Tracey Morris for impromptu sets, as well as delivering his own bluesy-poetics. His first book, Another Rock Pig, was released in 2007, along with the DVD, Reception, which was shortlisted in the 2007 QLD Poetry Filmmakers Challenge. And in 2010, he released his debut CD, Would Should Could with his band, Namedropper.

Here’s a live shot from the album, recorded at the now sadly defunct, InSpire Gallery Bar as part of Sheish’s monthly gig, Float:

Tickets for the event are now on sale and regularly sell out, so don’t be one of the people standing on the road craning your neck… buy your ticket and take the ride.

Date: Wednesday 22 June
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/2508/Riverbend+Poetry+Series

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QLD Poetry Festival Program Launch: Wednesday June 22 featuring Betsy Turcot

It’s almost time to unveil the program for QLD Poetry Festival 2011! So to make the program launch a night to remember, Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are joining forces one last time this year to launch the 2011 program as part of the 2011 Riverbend Poetry Series with readings by a handful of local performers who will be stepping on to the QPF stage during the last weekend in August (26 – 28). 

Feature performers on the night include, dynamic duo, Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson; Michelle Dicinoski, who will read from her debut collection, ‘Electricty for Beginners’; the rhythmically elegant, Janaka Malwatta and poetic riff-maker, Sheish MoneyGraham Nunn will also read a selection of work from Jacob Polley, the 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence as part of the program launch. It is going to be a big night, so make sure you are there to get a taste of what’s to come in August and help the 2011 Riverbend Poetry Series finish with a bang!
Date: Wednesday 22 June
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/2508/Riverbend+Poetry+Series 

Here’s a sneak preview at two of our feature artists, Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson, who will be performing as a duo on the night.

Betsy Turcot hails originally from the United States and since relocating to Brisbane, she has contributed her words, her heart and her passion to the city’s vibrant spoken word scene. Host of the popular, bi-monthly “Words or Whatever”, Betsy featured at the 2010 Queensland Poetry Festival as a member of The Broken Records Collective show “Just Like Me”. With her fresh delivery style, Betsy was a finalist in the Nimbin Performance Poetry Cup. With a BA in English literature, she brings a considered measure to the slam performance genre and is committed to teaching diversity through performance poetry.

Long-term lovers

I am speaking the language long-term lovers do.
I am renting the space between tangled limbs.
The unspoken space where heat lives.
I am crafting my love in a french press,
brought to your slumbering head.
Waking your senses,
defenseless as you rest.
How I cherish this weakness.

Have you seen mine?

Another failed attempt screams red between my thighs.
As all the bellies grow around me,
I watch another chance die.
I need your hands to release the pain I hide.

Is this what love is about?
No more infatuation,
no more heat of the moment,
but the space on your back where I lay my head.
Your heart pounding the beat I have read more times than I can count.
Your hands so soft in my calloused palm.
The script of our history already tea-stained long.

© Betsy Turcot


Eleanor Jackson has recently relocated to Brisbane from Melbourne, where she was a regular feature at Melbourne’s numerous poetry venues. Two-time winner of the Midsumma Poetry Out Loud slam, Eleanor has featured at the Overload Poetry and Melbourne Writers Festivals and was the producer of the Melbourne Poetry Map, a series of audio poetry walks supported by the City of Melbourne. Her audio poems have been published in Going Down Swinging and the Cordite Poetry Review, while recordings of her work have been featured on RRR’s “Aural Text”, 3CR’s “Spoken Word”, ABC Radio National’s “Night Air” and the online poetry channel, “IndieFeed: Performance Poetry”. Her poignant, conversational style of poetry is capable of creating powerful quiet.


She stole my every rock and roll, my hymns,
In that she took the ipod when she left,
So I untied my ropes – let sirens sing.

So empty now of jazz or evening swing
I let the house hum silent and bereft –
She stole my every rock and roll, my hymns.

Eventually the winter tuned to spring
I forgot the violation of the theft
So I untied my ropes – let sirens sing

And stalked that record store, “the king of spin”
A shopgirl so deluxe that I forget
She stole my every rock and roll, my hymns

Each week another momentary fling
Transactional, yet sending me to sweat,
So I untied my ropes – let sirens sing

Dancing like a boxer in the ring
I swung out wildly for the hot brunette
She stole my every rock and roll, my hymns
So I untied my ropes, let sirens sing.

© Eleanor Jackson

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