Tag Archives: Jeffrey Harpeng

QPF Spotlight #16 – Ten QPF Poets

Just four more sleeps and I will be in poetry heaven… yes QPF 2009 is just around the corner. There are still some tickets left for Friday night’s, ‘A Tangle of Possibilities’ concert so make sure you get your seat booked asap. You can do that online here, or call The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts Box Office on (07) 3872 9000 between 12pm and 4pm.

And to help fill your next few days with poetry, I have put together a sampler from ten of the poets featuring at QPF this weekend. Hope this gets your poetry gland salivating.

See you at the festival!

 

The Violence of Work by Geoff Goodfellow

Ruminations, Allegro & The Swoop by Geoff Page

These are Wobbly Days by Anna Krien

Cheap Red Wine & Why I Write? by Bronwyn Lea

38 ways to stain a memory by Nathan Shepherdson

Death and the Maiden by Jeffrey Harpeng

And this is just the morning, glass to sea-junk: a sacrifice & How do you do, Tuatara? by Zenobia Frost

Getting off the Round-About by Janice Bostok

Of a Place by Elizabeth Bachinsky

One by Hinemoana Baker

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A quick chat with Jeffrey Harpeng

Jeffrey Harpeng is one of Australia’s leading writers of haiku, haibun, tanka and tanka prose. He will read a selection of his work at the final Poetry on the Deck event at Riverbend Books on Tuesday June 23. I took the time to fire a few questions his way. Here’s what he had to say …

 

Jeffrey Harpeng

 

1. What intially drew you to poetry?

 The shallowness of the world, just didn’t feel credible. Poetry was found on a pilgrimage to metaphysics.

The things you hear when you start to listen with the third ear. Even when I found heaven vacant the wraith like words wouldn’t quit their spooky groaning.

These hallucinations could be little more than the steam rising off a fever, the result of some secondary infection.

 

 2. When is a poem ready to be published/performed?

Alfonso Reyes wrote “We only publish to stop revising.

Sometimes that is so, sometimes a poem arrives through the séance of reverie, and meaning and sound are already left and right hand vines tersely intertwined. These poems unravel when picked at with an editorial pen. That doesn’t mean that they are suitable for public exposure, only that the author is under their spell and is willing to bleat their praise like a bold little lamb. I must be talking about somebody else here.

Then there are poetic-sculptures that are chiseled from a marble lump of words, poems found like Michelangelo found his David. They might, could perhaps, would possibly take a further chisel clack or two. Performance can embarrass their faults into magnified obviousness, and publishing can be more frightening. How did no one notice that wart on its lip? Is that really meant to be there?

Or I might say, “Poems are part of an ongoing conversation, and you can stand there blank and dumb for only so long.”

 

3. Has publication changed the way you approach your writing?

Editors confirm both good and bad writing habits according to the private dementias of their tastes. Some of us, at times, need to be punctuated into good sense. A poem or three may thus become ghostlike, lifeless in the shackles of punctuation. So why not just omit those little tyrannies (& that can sometimes be a sin) to let the words catch their own breath, to weep, and laugh and cry unfettered by demanding scrawls. Oh, you could read your way into and out of these and other fetishes. Ultimately and intimately it is the silk yarn of themes that lead me on, and I live always with the hope that these may tangle and un-tidy the thinking of readers and listeners.

 

4. Why perform/read your poetry?

‘Language is a virus’, sang Laurie Anderson, infected with that idea by William S. Burroughs.

We are all Typhoid Mary’s of the word, or in my case an Bad Cold Jeffrey.

A poem may not be as sexually communicable as a song, but it’s a damn smart virus that can latch on to a laugh or a sigh, sink its velvety barbs into the lips of a smile. Oh I think I feel some purple verse coming on.

Sing, “Purple is the colour of my true love.”

 

5. What is the greatest challenge faced by poets/poetry today?

To get up and go to work five days a week. Oh is that just me? Does poetry have words for what it’s like to to swim, butterfly stroke, through a leech infested swamp? Oh, I’m still talking about work. Poetry’s biggest challenge is to be believed when it tries to find or convey truths by telling lies. I could excuse myself by saying that is just the way language works. It’s pictures have to look bigger than the real world to be seen.

But look, I see a little haiku weeping in the corner. Is that a frog it has got in its hand. Oh it’s a messenger toad with a coded message stuck on its back, a lick and stick metaphor. Phew it’s hard enough not to put my dictionary-seven-league-boots in my mouth. 

I should really talk about social responsibility, and of poetry’s ability to reconcile us with or at least help us recognize how much of us there is in the other. I should really talk about that but I gave up using delusions-of-grandeur aftershave years ago. 

Each of us has a unique life mission, though where that fits into the evolutionary idea I haven’t got the foggiest. I guess I’ll just tell you about my beard and the barnacle in my ear.

 

Join Jeffrey Harpeng on the Riverbend deck alongside Angel Kosch (Standing on the Road); winner of The Dream Ain’t Broken chapbook competition Nicola Scholes (Dear Rose); poetic adventurer and protector of apostrophes, Zenobia Frost (The Voyage) and experimental writer and musician, Marisa Allen (Fire in the Head).

Date: Tuesday 23 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/EventDetails.aspx?ID=2205

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Guided by (Riverbend) Poets

Yes, the final Poetry on the Deck event at Riverbend Books is fast approaching. The final event for 2009 will launch the QLD Poetry Festival programme by showcasing five of the local poets performing at this years festival. And believe me, it is an exciting program!

Here’s a sample of what you are in for… a poem from each of the Riverbend poets.

 

Angel Kosch

Angel Kosch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rose Crows

 

The murder of crows in the rose garden
Are eyeing me off
With their ruffled feathers and
Beady eyes.

Sitting on fences, waddling on lawns
Gawky messengers
Dark as velvet
Sleek
Sly.

A murder of crows haunting the rose garden
Sitting sleekly on fences
Cawing at benches
Manning the battlements of old cement paths through
Yesterdays thorn flowers.

Old as a rhyme
Hoarse as a head jaunt
Sharpened beak poised to the light
that glints in their eyes.

The murder of crows in the rose garden
Are eyeing me off
With their ruffled feathers
And steely goodbye.

 

 

Nicola Scholes

Nicola Scholes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gymnasia

Step II: Learn

 

I could be sweating in a pleated
sports skirt, way too short for sticky
summer days, when one was seated

like an egg on the mould
of a cheap chair, that one wetted
like glue on an envelope’s fold

until sealed to plastic.  How I
hated that moment when—forced
to peel, rise to feet—I tried

not to notice the damp residue
that dissolved like the screen
of your gran’s TV.  Do you

remember the eyes of the boys
behind—how they burned into
your cheeks?

 

 

Jeffrey Harpeng

Jeffrey Harpeng

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marked

 
arms blue with prison tatts
on his shoulder a spider
stuck in its own web

After the bank robbery he went bush, roustabout and shearer. One job
he lived in a tin shed an hour from town. Didn’t drink with the crew
in town. Shouldered slabs of tinnies and a bottle of whiskey back. Just
in the door a termite floorboard cracked and he fell into. . . couldn’t
budge. So he drank a shout to himself and himself and himself.

The sun snailed twice across the sky. And the kookaburras laughed,
even at the brown snake that basked at the door…

Mid-fifties, he keeps his hair long, to flip in case he meets an old
screw.

 

 

Zenobia Frost

Zenobia Frost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Ferry, Looking Out

 
What bonds must hold these atoms’ hands
that I stand so collected,
like stamps or butterflies?
I can see my yesterdays
scattered across this river, and wonder whether
you could piece me together in different ways
by asking the inconstant water
how she would build me.
Watching twilight
shatter into street lights –
deep blue turns fog
into romance – I am looking
to complete my collection,
and I keep coming back
to Brisbane.

 

 

Marisa Allen

Marisa Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Bird, A Singing Bird

 

Little bird
A singing bird
The lark of all I have
I’ll take you all
Into the dusk
The wilderness and desert
I’ll bring you home
I’ll let you know
The strength
This heart contains
When the bitter winds come
And all is done
I will remain
Little bird
A singing bird
The lark of all I have

 

 

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present Poetry on the Deck.

Date: Tuesday 23 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 www.riverbendbooks.com.au

The first two events this year have been hugely successful, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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QLD Poetry Festival Presents – Poetry on the Riverbend Deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the final Poetry on the Deck event for 2009. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase five of the local artists performing at the 2009 QLD Poetry Festival. This QPF showcase event features multi-skilled artist, Angel Kosch (Standing on the Road); winner of The Dream Ain’t Broken chapbook competition Nicola Scholes (Dear Rose); one of Australia’s finest exponents of the Japanese forms haibun and tanka, Jeffery Harpeng (Quarter Past Sometime); poetic adventurer and protector of apostrophes, Zenobia Frost (The Voyage); and experimental writer and musician, Marisa Allen (Fire in the Head).

Date: Tuesday 23 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  www.riverbendbooks.com.au

The first two events this year have been hugely successful, so book early to avoid disappointment!

 

About the Poets:

 
Angel KoschAngel Kosch is a Brisbane based multi-skilled artist , currently a core member of Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble – appearing most recently with them as an actor and singer in Food of Love – a Shakespeare Cabaret . In 2002 she self-published a book of poetry, photography and fragments called ‘Standing on the Road – from old bit of paper’ which was recognised in the Queensland Writers Centre magazine ; Following the release of her collection She was interviewed for a thesis on self-publishing, and she has recently started to compile another collection of short stories, poetry and photography. Angel is a singer/songwriter and has been writing and singing since she was about 6. In 2005, she co- wrote and produced  a combined ep Humidity with Gene Miller and Moses Jones. As a visual Artist/photographer, Angel has had a number of solo exhibitions, the most recent being ‘tell me your secrets’ in November 2007. Angel has a long history of community work and social and environmental activism, and this passion for life imbues her driving force of artistic chaos.
 

 

Nicola Scholes

Nicola Scholes won the inaugural Small Change Press “Dream Ain’t Broken Chapbook Competition,” with her collection Dear Rose…, to be launched on July 5. She also won the inaugural Love Poetry Hate Racism open mic competition in 2007. Aside from winning inaugural things, Nicola has had her poems published in The Broadkill Review (USA), Colloquy, Cordite Poetry Review, The Courier-Mail, dotlit, Hecate, holland1945, The Mozzie, Nineteen-O-Splash (NZ), Poems in Perspex: Max Harris Poetry Award 2007, Ripples, Social Alternatives, SpeedPoets, and Stylus Poetry Journal. Her drawings and poems for children have appeared in Cherububble. Nicola has also been involved in Brisbane community theatre for more than ten years. She has performed in plays with Villanova Players, and St. Luke’s Theatre Society. She is currently studying a PhD on representations of the maternal in Allen Ginsberg’s poetry, at the University of Queensland.

 

Jeffrey Harpeng

Jeffrey Harpeng has recently had his third co-operative writing project, a tanka-prose sequence, published in  the Spring 2009 Modern English Tanka. Earlier co-compositions were Four Tellings – A Haibun Sequence, with Beverley George (Aus), and Owen Bullock, and Joanna Preston ( New Zealand ), and Quartet – A String of Haibun, with Patricia Prime ( New Zealand ), Diana Webb ( UK ) and Jeffrey Woodward ( USA ). He is currently completing a second collection of haibun.

 

Marisa Allen

Marisa Allen is a songwriter, musician and performer. Better known as the front woman for the band Bremen Town Musician she had her first book of contemporary poetry ‘Fire in the Head’ published in 2007 through Outsider press, edited by David ‘Ghostboy’ Stavanger. She has been published in Cottonmouth (Western Australia), Tsunami Street Press (Queensland), performed regularly at Outsiders poetry nights, QPF 2007 and has been a feature artist on 4ZZZ radio show ‘The Siren’s Call’ that showcases local women writers, songwriters, poets and musicians. She also had a stint editing local folk stories in Reykjavik, Iceland for guided tourist walks around the city. It seems she can’t stop writing, and always has her pencil sharpened, just in case.

 

 

Zen

Zenobia Frost is a poetic adventurer, hat fetishist and protector of apostrophes whose debut collection, The Voyage, was recently launched by SweetWater Press. In her writing, Zenobia aims to highlight those common enchantments that are often overlooked. Thus, The Voyage is a whimsical journey on (generally) calm seas with a crew of curious creatures and a compass that points to whichever shore offers the best cup of tea. Zenobia’s poems have found homes in such Australian journals as Going Down Swinging, Small Packages, Stylus, Mascara and Voiceworks, and she has recently performed at the Queensland Poetry Festival, Contraverse and Under a Daylight Moon.

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