Tag Archives: January Pin Up – Michelle Dicinoski

January Pin-Up Week #4 – Michelle Dicinoski on the art of reading

January is all but over, which means that this is the last time we will be checking in with our first Pin-Up Poet for 2012, Michelle Dicinoski. It’s been wonderful featuring Michelle’s work and I am already getting excited about our February Pin-Up. But for one last time, it’s over to Michelle!


You are one of the featured readers at the opening of The Back Room in February. How do you approach putting together a set of poems for a reading? Readings have become increasingly important in reaching new audiences. What do you hope to create for an audience when you are behind the mic?

I try to tailor my readings to the audience, if possible. But I do have favoured poems, ones that I think are better suited than others for reading aloud. How poems sound is extremely important to me: is there a rhythm that I can connect with onstage, a rhythm that I can use to draw the audience in? This focus on rhythm and pacing began years ago as a way of managing nerves and ensuring I had enough breath. But now it’s become a crucial part of how I read, and it seems to tie in with what and how I write. I haven’t really thought about this before, but a lot of my poems are about suspended moments (a lot of poems are), or swollen moments, and in readings I am trying to step outside time and inhabit the poem in a particular way. So what I am trying to create for the audience is a heightened sense of the poem, created partly through sound and pace, through rhythm and pauses.



These goose bumps are vestiges
like appendices, whale legs, the blind
eyes of salamanders—
reminders of bodies lost.
Which brings me back to you.

That night was all touch and wonder.
Your scapulae, sharp at my palms,
held shocks familiar and new.
Whoever was charged
with naming the bones
named them surely for you:
the sacred one, the little key,
the cuckoo beak, the spade.

Come back to me
in fifty thousand years and still
at the sight of your walk
something will beat in my blood
bat-winged and fierce
the pump of something ancient launching
something ancient coming home.


The Back Room at Confit Bistro (4/9 Doggett St, Fortitude Valley) opens its doors for 2012, showcasing the work of local visual artists, physical performers, musicians and poets. With the new Sunday timeslot stretching out from 4pm – 7pm, the poetry section will now feature a short Open Mic section, so if you have a poem or two folded in your pocket, make sure you come along. Spaces for the poetry Open Mic will be limited to 10 and names will be drawn from a hat on the day.

Poetry features for the opening event are January Pin-Up girl, Michelle Dicinoski and Lee-Anne Davie. There will also be live music from The Lucky Ones (feat. Sheish Money), visual art from Olivia Spohr and Tricia Reust and the live raunch of Ms BB Le Buff. And I will be there to keep the mic warm between features with the guitar swagger of Sheish Money to drive it all along.

And to celebrate the opening, Confit Bistro are giving away a breakfast for two. For your chance to win all you have to do is click….(http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Back-Room/170067313082905?ref=tn_tnmn) ….and ‘LIKE’ The Back Room. Winners will be announced at the event.

Date: Sunday February 26
Where: Confit Bistro, 4/9 Doggett St, Fortitude Valley
When: 3pm – 7pm
Entry: Free


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January Pin-Up Week #3: new work from Michelle Dicinoski

Fridays… staying up late, the tinkle of gin on ice and Pin-Up-Poets… what could be better! This week we get a glimpse of some exciting new work from our January Pin-Up, Michelle Dicinoski.


I believe you have started some new work recently. Have any themes started to develop? And can you shed some light on how a poem happens for you…

I’ve been writing non-fiction almost exclusively for the last year or two, so it’s been difficult to start writing poems again. More difficult than I had hoped! I am just rediscovering my poetry process, and for me poems happen very slowly. Probably 95% of my writing is revision, so I will write something, and then revise numerous times, over months and sometimes years. But this year I am also hoping to shake up my approach a little, experiment more, and see what happens. It’s way too soon to talk about themes. But I have noticed that dreams and insects seem to be coming up a lot. God knows what that means.


Pink Cities

You say you sleep with movie stars
and fly with rocket boots.
Circling pink cities
you drink margaritas from a backpack
with a straw that’s worn as spectacles.
Living the dream, my friend.

Maybe that’s all you remember.
Or maybe it’s a cover story.
Listen, do you really know
what goes on in that head of yours?
Nights, you spend eight hours
unconscious in the theme park.
Mornings, you pick yourself up
at the chain-link gate
throat sore from screaming
pockets free of keys and change and
before you can make out their faces
all your companions flee into the street
on footfalls like fists to a pillow.

From the kitchen, the smell of coffee,
the low buzz of radio.
The sweet relief of a warm body
yours, someone else’s,
and one more morning.


Michelle will be featured in the Arts section of Brisbane News next week, so be sure to check out the issue online.


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January Pin-Up Week #2: Michelle Dicinoski

It’s Friday, time to check in with our January Pin-Up-Poet, Michelle Dicinoski.

In asking a handful of people to send me their poetry pick of 2011, Canadian poet, Jacqueline Turner turned me on to Sachiko Murakami’s, Project Rebuild, where she invites people to renovate both her own and other writers’ poems and in doing so asks, what is poetry but a rental unit of language? What is your take on this question?

I agree with Murakami that everyone inhabits a poem in a different way as they read it, write it, or re-write it. I probably wouldn’t use the word ‘rental’ because it makes me think of rental properties, which can’t be physically altered by their occupants. A poem, on the other hand, is a very satisfying thing to inhabit, because you can knock it down in the afternoon and rebuild by dinnertime—and that’s part of the thrill of Project Rebuild. Murakami also said that the project aimed ‘to challenge the notion that the poems we write belong to us, that we are anything but temporary residents in the tenement house.’ This is absolutely true of poems, as it is of everything that we make or have. I had a go at renovating Phoebe Wang’s poem ‘Vancouver Special,’ which is a renovation of Sachiko Murakami’sVancouver Special’, which itself is a renovation of Murakami’s first version of ‘Vancouver Special’ .

My renovation is called ‘Brisbane Plain.’

While we’re talking about (im)permanence and houses and renovations, I’d like to mention that this week marks a year since the Queensland floods. And precisely a year ago, on January 13, the Brisbane River reached its flood peak at about 4 a.m. My house flooded, so I have quite strong memories of that week. For the longest time, reporters were talking about the flood height at the ‘city gauge,’ which is one of the official spots where the river height is measured. So for this week’s poem, I thought I would share my poem ‘The City Gauge,’ which is all about that weird time. It first appeared in the Australian Literary Review.


The City Gauge

The twenty-first century quits at two
when the water drinks the fusebox and the house blacks out.
Now, we raise our lives higher by torchlight
and listen to the frogs’ admonitions:
your houses are islands, yep, yep, yep.

It’s true. Every hour drowns another front step.
Inside, telling storeys of desire:
we stack poems on clothing on mattress on table
(how high is high enough?)
till our histories loom all around us.

All night we lift, and listen to the radio
our nerves turned electric with news from the west.
All night we listen to talkback callers
whose voices ring out in our emptying rooms.
A woman says her neighbours are sleeping

so close, but too far to wake,
and the water’s rising
and she doesn’t know what to do.
Why does the darkness make voices more likely
to win or break our hearts?

Soon it will be dawn, soon it will be
weirdly beautiful—the water a foot from the floorboards,
high-set verandahs kissing their reflections,
six-foot fences vanquished—and soon we’ll realise
we’re trapped.

But for now, it’s night, and there’s just
the torchlight, and the radio voices
and the raising things up, the lifting that is like belief:
the best that we can do
but never high enough.


Here’s a link to a photo of Michelle’s street taken almost a year ago to the day by Beard Street resident, Angus Sinclair and this is a link to an in depth review of Michelle’s stunning debut collection, Electricity for Beginners by Fiona Scotney.


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January Pin Up #1: Michelle Dicinoski

As part of the National Year of Reading, I am going to feature the work of a single poet each month in a new section called Pin Ups. Each Friday I will post a poem and part of an ongoing interview with the Pin-Up-Poet of the month. And in keeping with the Pin Up theme, there will also be a weekly photo!

Michelle Dicinoski’s debut collection, Electricity for Beginners, has been sending sparks through the poetry scene since its release mid-2011, so it is my great pleasure to have her as the January Pin Up.


Your debut collection, Electricity for Beginners has been receiving some wonderful reviews. Where did the idea for the title come from?

I liked the idea of a poetry collection having a title that sounded like an instructional book. And the idea of electricity tied into many of the themes I wanted to examine: love and passion, connections to places and people, ideas of generation and generations. It also had a personal significance because my father worked as a linesman for the Electricity Board when I was a child. When I started writing poetry, it occurred to me that he’d worked with live lines, and I was trying to do the same thing, in my way.

Of course, after I came up with the title, I discovered that there have been many books with the title Electricity for Beginners. The US Army published an Electricity for Beginners during World War II, and there’s even a mention of a book with this title in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. There was something about this repetition that appealed to me, so the title stuck.


Such Riches

If anyone should ask, tell them mandarins.
Tell them eucalyptus sap that rubies on the bark.
Tell them snow crunch and grass burn
and skipping a hosewater rope.
If anyone should ask, tell them
bluebottles, cuttlefish, sea glass
and wild raspberries that charge
blood for fruit. Tell them
drunk on ten dollars and kissing the dawn.
If anyone should ask, tell them
nothing, tell them nothing and the world.
That’s what I’ve got to show for it.

(from Electricity for Beginners)

Michelle Dicinoski’s first poetry collection, Electricity for Beginners, was published in 2011 by Clouds of Magellan.  Her poems have appeared in The Best Australian Poems, The Australian Literary Review, Meanjin, and The Weekend Australian, as well as being broadcast on Radio National. Michelle has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Queensland, and was awarded an Australia Council grant to work on her latest project, a work of creative nonfiction. She lives in Brisbane.


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