Tag Archives: Jacqueline Turner

Break Open and Burst: Talking with Jacqueline Turner

For my final interview in the QPF series, I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to a lady who has had a profound influence on my own work, Jacqueline Turner. Jacqueline is a QPF favourite, so it is wonderful that she is returning for her third visit.

*****

Your first visit to Australia and QLD Poetry Festival was back in 2005 as the inaugural Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence. What is your memory of that first visit and how did it change you as a person and poet?

That visit had an incredible effect on all aspects of my life. First, what stands out in my memory is the amazing people I met from getting off the plane and going straight to lunch with a room full of poets at the Red Chamber to the folks at the Judy, to all the small town writers up the north coast to everyone who came out at NOGO in the outback and then to cap it off, all of the spectacular poets who performed at the festival to huge sellout crowds. Literary types, musicians, performance poets, bush poets all mingling in green rooms and then pushing it out on stage. It was a version of a poetic life I couldn’t have even imagined existed.

The land had a huge impact as well — my work deals with place so the tectonic shift of locale for me was significant. The light, look at the light! I kept saying. I was also slightly traumatized by the kangaroo road kill on trips to regional Queensland and mesmerized when the jacarandas in New Farm Park burst out. The stars were different in the outback and I felt like I was on the edge of the earth, could feel the curve of the planet.

The time and space to work on my writing changed everything for me. Personally, it allowed me to step out of my life for a moment and reinvent myself outside the domestic sphere I had inhabited since my early 20s. In terms of my poetic practice it created a loosening, an opening up to the vast potential of language beyond the ways in which I typically operated. I engaged with the lyric form in a new way and the credibility of the position gave me even more confidence to go with my particular poetic inclinations. I stopped censoring myself. I experimented with connections to music that events like SpeedPoets provided. The flow of the river my hair blowing on the CityCat and me opening. The world. Really it meant everything.

Your residency had a profound effect on the Brisbane poetry community too and in many ways, set the bar for every other residency to come. You have also been a return visitor to QPF since your first visit in 2005, so what is it about the festival that keeps you coming back?

It was great to see such tangible and vibrant manifestations of poetic communities when I arrived in Brisbane the first time and it only seemed to get better and better every time I returned. If my residency did anything, it was to merely encourage what was happening in Brisbane and regional Queensland already and to just reinforce the idea that community is vital to creative practice. It was also really important to me to come back and launch my book Seven into Even since I had written much of it during my residency and that QPF accommodated that desire was completely thrilling to me. QPF is unlike any festival or poetic event because it combines an intimate community feel with the expansiveness of performance with huge but particularly attentive audiences. To be in the presence of so many people who are genuinely seeking a poetic experience is intoxicating and gratifying. I could feel the way that certain lines were landing in the room. And then to combine that with the multi-disciplinary aspect of the festival made the conversations around the main events, in the lobby and out for drinks after, incredibly nuanced. It is a unique experience that I keep subjecting to the forces of repetition for my own pleasure!

We are so glad you do Jacqueline! And again, there are many fine Canadians sharing the QPF stage with you. In fact, QPF has had a real love affair with Canadian poets since your residency. What creates that spark of connection between Canadian poets and our audiences?

I think it’s the similar but different kind of thing. We have shared concerns resulting from similar histories with aboriginal people and the land. Also cultural considerations in relation to the dominant American culture. We all bring varying perspectives on those kinds of concerns. Aesthetically we push in a myriad of ways too that seem to both connect and echo with and maybe sometimes even provoke QPF audiences. And those audiences are amazing! Every Canadian poet I’ve talked to about being on the QPF stage is wowed by the particular responses to their work, but also to the fact that poetry is so important to this city, this country. That spark also comes from the opportunity for conversations around the pleasure and practice of writing, as well as the development of some genuine friendships that exceed distance in the age of social media. I’d also be remiss without acknowledging the support of the Canada Council of the Arts which helps to fund travel to bring lucky Canadian poets to Brisbane over the years as well as the incredibly dedicated work of people at the QWC.

This visit, Australian audiences will get the opportunity to hear you read from The Ends of the Earth (ECW Press, 2013), which is really exciting. I am also keen to hear about any other new projects you are working on that QPF audiences may get a preview of.

I’m working on a new manuscript called Flourish because I’ve spent quite a lot of time on dealing with the ends of things so I thought it would be good to explore how language operates when things are going well. I like the idea of an exuberant text so I’m experimenting with letting the writing break open and burst forth. The rush is an element I’ve used formally in my writing — the rush of the long line prose poem — as well as the mode of compression where language is put under pressure in short imagistic stanzas, so I guess I want to see what’s between the extremes of concision and excess. An recent example would be the Presence piece I did for the Cordite chapbook you curated and I hope to keep working that vein for awhile. It feels exciting. I’m curious to see how those stellar QPF audiences will take it all in…

*****

Jacqueline-TurnerJacqueline Turner has published four books of poetry with ECW Press: The Ends of the Earth (2013), Seven into Even (2006), Careful (2003), and Into the Fold (2000). She reviews for the Georgia Straight and lectures at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She was the inaugural Arts Queensland Poet In Residence.

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Presence

It’s been all systems go here at Lost Shark HQ this last month or so… three books about to launch, the residency at Varuna and now this gem… a chapbook titled Presence that I had the immense pleasure of curating for Cordite.

presence_keong

Presence features artwork by Cindy Keong and new poems from Nathan Shepherdson, Pascalle Burton, Aidan Coleman, Louise Oxley, Ross Donlon, Tim Sinclair, Jean Kent, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Sachiko Murakami and Jacqueline Turner. Each of the artists responded to the idea of Presence in their own way, making this a unique reading experience.

Here’s a link to the chapbook… and please, spread the word as this deserves to be read widely!

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Tickets on sale for QLD Poetry Festival 2013

While QLD Poetry Festival prides itself on keeping the majority of the festival free and accessible to all comers, there are three hot tickets on sale right now.

sachiko-murakami

 

Poetry Unbound Workshop w/ Sachiko Murakami

Poetry is a living artform – one that adapts, adjusts, can be renovated, extrapolated. Canadian poet Sachiko Murakami has been doing just that with her online collaborative sites Project Rebuild and Henko. Join Sachiko for a three-hour demonstrative workshop that explores in greater depth the various forms of poetry unbound – collaborative poetry, constructed poetry, found poetry, interactive poetry.

When: August 23rd, 10:30am – 1:30pm
Where: QLD Writers centre, State Library of Queensland
Tickets: $40 available here

Anthony Lawrence

 

Thinking Poetry Workshop w/ Anthony Lawrence

Poetry is an engagement of the senses, triggering the imagination into seeing the world anew. Join widely published and acclaimed poet Anthony Lawrence for this masterclass designed to flex your poetic muscles. Over the course of three hours you will engage in close readings of great poems, explore a series of practical exercises designed to spark new thought processes, and have your first-draft collectively workshopped by the group. Come away with a finished poem and some new spells of the trade to refine your poetic eye.

When: August 23rd, 10:30am – 1:30pm
Where: Room 1A, State Library of Queensland
Tickets: $40 available here

Bertie Blackman

 

And the main event… Set Fire To The Air

Featuring:

Shane Rhodes, the 2013 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence. He is the author of five collections of poetry, including The Wireless Room, Holding Pattern, The Bindery, and most recently, Err. His poetry has numerous awards, and has been featured in national and international anthologies. Shane is the poetry editor for Arc, Canada’s only national poetry magazine.

Jacqueline Turner back for her third visit to QPF! She has published four books of poetry with ECW Press: The Ends of the Earth (2013), Seven into Even (2006), Careful (2003), and Into the Fold (2000). She reviews for the Georgia Straight and lectures at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She was the inaugural Arts Queensland Poet In Residence.

TT.O. born in Greece and raised in Fitzroy, Melbourne. A retired draughtsman, his latest book is BIG NUMBERS (new and selected poems). He is a founding member of Collective Effort Press and the Poets Union, and has represented Australia at various international festivals. By disposition and history TT.O. is an Anarchist, and is currently editor of the experimental magazine Unusual Work

and

Bertie Blackman whose latest album, Pope Innocent X, has been described as adventurous, thrilling, and undeniably unique. The long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s Secrets and Lies, Pope Innocent X is 11 tracks of visual, evocative storytelling. It’s a mix all Blackman’s own, as she forges into brand new musical territory yet again, with stunning results.

When: August 23, 2013 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Where: Theatre Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts  420 Brunswick Street  Fortitude Valley QLD 4006  Australia
Cost: from $15
Tickets available here

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Spoken In One Strange Word 2013

qpf 2013 see me at badge-1

On Tuesday night at Riverbend Books, I had the great pleasure of MC’ing the official launch of the 2013 QLD Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word program. The night kicked off with Rob Morris and Sheish Money who by mid set had everyone smiling and stomping their feet; Rob weaving tales of Ram Chandra, Old Sailors and countless other characters into Sheish’s floating piano notes. And from there, every artist that stood up to the mic – Pascalle Burton, Nathan Shepherdson, Rhyll Tonge & Fern Thompsett and Sue Ray – added  another layer of joy.

It was a showcase of what makes QLD Poetry Festival the most exciting poetry event in this country… a celebration of the strange words poets make.

And now, the 2013 program is available online, and it is quite possibly, the most exciting program I have seen in my 10 year involvement. Artists that have my blood racing are Sachiko Murakami (Canada), Tao Lin (USA), Jacqueline Turner (Canada), Π O (Australia), Aidan Coleman (Australia), Bertie Blackman… and this is just the names on the tip of my tongue. To check out the full program, visit the QPF Website. Spend some time with it… there is so much to get excited about!

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Guest Book Spine Poem: Julie Beveridge

The Book Spine Poetry Bug is catching at our place… here’s one from Julie:

A Zen Firecracker:

Sleepwalkers fate
permitted to fall
into the fold

And here’s another from our shelves:

Under the one granite roof
all I ever wanted was a window
begging the question
what have you done to our ears to make us hear echoes?

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Poetry Picks of 2011: Jacqueline Turner

One of the standout poetry projects for me this year (beside the BookThug sweep of the Canadian Governor General’s award for poetry shortlist and ultimately the winner of said prize) is Sachiko Murakami’s Project Rebuild  (Read about the project here) which is an experiment in radical collaboration. The project is created out of the compelling question: “Can you inhabit a poem?” You can go and “renovate” poems on this site and I invite you, specifically, to renovate mine. The multiple iterations of the poems show how language can move from one idea to another, while still maintaining a trace of the original, almost like an elaborate game of telephone.

The project is connected to her second book of poetry, Rebuild which I reviewed here. Her book asks us to look at the ridiculousness of the structures we inhabit and the identities we attempt to derive from them. She looks closely at the city of Vancouver (where I live – think Sydney) where the architectural splendour signifies “Enough failed attempts at beauty” to “Let the home stand for us,” even though “There’s nowhere to hang a metaphor.” The repetition of the structure indicates a civic reliance on sameness built into the visible history of the city. She uses a housing type called the “Vancouver Special” to show how this “sameness” comes to represent the identity of this Canadian city while at the same time showing that change isn’t just always possible, change is the thing itself. In the end she asks, “What is poetry but a rental unit of language?”

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Jacqueline Turner has published three books with ECW Press: Seven into Even (2006), Careful (2003), and Into the Fold (2000). She writes poetry reviews for The Georgia Straight, and is on the board of Artspeak. She teaches creative and critical writing at Simon Fraser University and Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She was Queensland’s inaugural poet-in-residence at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, Australia in 2005, a poet-in-residence in Tasmania in 2006, and a guest writer at the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2007 and the Tasmanian Poetry Festitval in 2010. Last year she read at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York. Her most recent publication was from Nomados, called The Ends of the Earth. Her work has appeared in anthologies —How the Light Gets In (2009), Companions and Horizons, (2005), and The Small Cities Anthology (2005).

Links:

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter
Audio from Seven into Even
See list of all her books
Archive of her poetry reviews for The Georgia Straight

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Another Lost Shark hits the street

I was recently handed the editorial reigns for issue #37 of Stylus Poetry Journal. This morning, I put the finishing touches on it and handed it over to founding editor, Rosanna Licari. The issue will be titled Street/Life and it is brimming with images of equal parts beauty and decay. It features 21 poems from 12 streetwise poets: Emily XYZ, Matt Rader, Hinemoana Baker, Steve Kilbey, Jacqueline Turner, Ashley Capes, Suzanne Jones, Jeremy Balius, Amanda Joy, Andy Jackson, Jessika Tong & Max Ryan.

It will be live online as of April 1 and I ain’t fooling when I say this issue is going to whack your senses and make you want to rush out into the babble of your own streets.

Here’s a poem from one of the Street/Life poets, Amanda Joy to transport you from your computer screen into the caffeine starved streets of morning.

 

               Cappucino Strip

                    In all seasons,
                    6am
                    coffee crowd,
                    know each other
                    by face, to nod, 
                    to complain
                    about the stink
                    of sheep piss
                    from the trucks,
                    to point 
                    at the sky & predict
                    the weather

                    7am
                    each disappears
                    from the street
                    like an actress
                    into a role

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Spoken Word – what’s in a name?

In my previous post, The Happiness Project, I used the term ‘spoken word’ in reference to Charles Spearin’s latest CD:

“This is a truly unique spoken word album and one well worth delving into.”

So, I was really interested to read a response to the post by Jacqueline Turner, questioning the use of the term, because of its preconceptions.

Thinking back, I used the term, because the project uses vocal sounds and patterns to create music, blurring the line between the everyday and art; between the spoken word and song.

Since releasing my debut CD with Sheish Money, I have also had alot of feedback stating that the album succeeds, because it is so different to most spoken word.

Maybe the term ‘spoken word’ has some baggage it needs to unload; maybe we need to come up with a different term; or maybe we are just splitting hairs?

I am stating the obvious when I say that poetry has always been an oral art form, but since the print revolution of the late 1800’s, there has been a definite shift toward print publication. Oral poetry has not been replaced by print publication, but the longevity and increased distribution of print has certainly made it the more dominant form during the last 100 years.

Technologies of Writing by Jaishree K. Odin is well worth reading. It states:

“In the preprint era, when only a small percentage of the population had access to written sources of information or knowledge, both public and private affairs were primarily conducted through oral communication. The primacy of physical presence in communication promoted community formations that were very much dependent on geographical togetherness and within that constraint further determined by communities based on parochial and family bonds. Printing revolution changed all that–for the first time, it was possible for political, economic, and culture producers to reach people who were dispersed geographically. As a result new types of communities were formed that were based on personal or professional interests, or political affiliations.”

This statement highlights the need for the oral and print tradition to survive side by side, as for me (and I will only speak for myself here), the ‘community formations’ which occur at readings such as SpeedPoets are just as important to the establishment of a thriving poetry culture as print and now electronic publication and distribtution are.

So with that cleared up (for me at least) why not call the oral art, spoken word?

Mark Mizaga’s article, The Spoken Word Movement of the 1990’s makes an interesting point:

“This issue of defining and classifying spoken word, and how much of spoken word can actually be termed as poetry, is a problem even for the artists themselves.”

Reading on, the difficulty seems to stem from issues such as marketing, the line between rap and poetry and a myriad other reasons. 

I use the term spoken word to describe the oral transaction a poet enters into when they stand up in front of an audience and read/recite/perform their poem.

Is there a better term? Or is the nature of a ‘term’ that it will eventually polarise some people? I don’t think there is any way around labelling things… even if we didn’t want to, it would happen.

So what’s in the name ‘spoken word’? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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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!

 

graham-nunn-lphr08

 

 
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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Poet’s Breakfast #2 – Jacqueline Turner

This time we head overseas to Vancouver and enter the dreamy morning world of Jacqueline Turner.

 

Waking with the Dictionary – One Poet’s Morning

I should start with a disclaimer to say that I do not have a consistent morning ritual. I am not one of those people who gets up at 5 a.m. and writes for a couple of hours before work, like my poet friend Shane Rhodes. In fact, as soon as I develop some kind of pattern, my contrary nature suggests breaking it. Still, I think it’s interesting to contemplate how we start our days immersing our minds in language and kicking off the writing process, so here’s what I did this morning in my studio perched in the fog in English Bay (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada).

 

Jacqueline's desk 

Coffee is necessary. In this, at least, I am consistent. My latest morning strategy is to start off making a list of words. I am not thinking yet, barely awake in fact. I just list whatever words come to mind, listening for the next one and writing it down. So fun. Really. No pressure to create a brilliant post-lyric or avant-lyric, I just have to make a list of words.

What I do next is based on an idea I got from reading Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping with the Dictionary.

With the list beside me, I sit at my laptop, careful not to spill coffee on it, and write. Every time I stop or get stuck, I use one of the words. Clearly, they are on my mind in some way, so they must fit somehow. Here is the result this morning with italics indicating words taken from the list:

 

obstinately walk the sea edge black rock to rock
hey looking good today says the
bundled up man on the bench

capable of an excess of observation
i refrain, feel the flood of affect
flow through my chest like blood or rain

wonder if i was a scientist would i see
bodies cell by cell inside out would
a chest be a ribbonated box for a muscle
called politely the heart?

culpable in what i continuously cannot
see sear an obtuse hand tugging on my black jacket
i just need money for food he says

or the coldest day when a woman in sleeping bag
burns to death by the candle keeping her warm
3 a.m. in front of the seven eleven here in
this contentious bay where anger doesn’t
even help

 

It kind of works. I might even do it again tomorrow.

 

About Jacqueline:

Jacqueline Turner is the author of three collections Into the Fold, Careful and Seven Into Even. She lives in Vancouver, B.C. Her work has appeared in absinthe, West Coast Line, Rampike, qwerty, Tessera, and Fireweed. She has also published a number of chapbooks. She founded a literary magazine called Filling Station that has been publishing international writing for the last 10 years. In 2005, Turner was Queensland’s inaugural poet-in-residence at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, Australia. Jacqueline teaches creative and critical writing at Simon Fraser University and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver.

 

Find out more:

http://www.ecwpress.com/biographies/jacqueline_turner
http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Jacqueline-Turner/568022815

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