Tag Archives: Nathan Curnow

spoken in one strange word 2012: The Saturday Wrap

The 16th annual QLD Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word filled the Judith Wright Centre with a sweet rush of language… that language came in the form of poetry, music, film, conversation and community.  From the sparks of Friday night’s showcase, Tongues of Flame, the crowd surged back for the Saturday morning program, which opened with one of my personal highlights, a conversation with 2012 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, a.rawlings and Robert Adamson.

The session was titled ‘Since Beginningless Time‘, and in the hour-long conversation, I talked to Robert about his passion for fishing, the Hawkesbury River, birds and Bob Dylan; and to a.rawlings about the language of water, tackling the QLD ornithological lexicon and how she applies the concepts of reduce, reuse, recycle to her work. It was illuminating and both artists were incredibly generous in their responses; Robert happily telling stories,  including one about how, as a boy, he stole a rifle bird from Taronga Zoo to capture its image on paper and how he elaborately cared for it by using a number of electric frying pans to provide heat and humidity in the cage; and a.rawlings playing us a recording of the Coral Sea from her recent trip to Arcadia Bay on Magnetic Island, alongside a recording of a hot spring in Iceland, while talking about the unique quality of their cadence. The hour came and went all too soon, but the large audience that had gathered happily charged off to the bookstore to do some ‘informed shopping’ and then hit the first reading of the day, a session with its title taken from one of Robert’s books, Reading the River.

Reading the River was a celebration of all things Brisbane; a live collage of photographs and poetic snippets swirling on the big screen, while Michelle Dicinoski, Chris Lynch, Carmen Leigh-Keates and Ella Jeffery, read poems from the vast QLD canon (including works by Val Vallis, Jaya Savige, David Malouf, Samuel Wagan-Watson, David Rowbotham, Gwen Harwood and Judith Wright) as well as their own work. It seemed an absolutely perfect way to opening the first full day of readings, grounding us all in the extraordinary beauty of this great city and its almighty river.

From there, I caught the session, Strands on the Pillow, featuring Kathryn Lomer, Ray Liversidge and Nathan Curnow. Kathryn opened with a sequence of poems about some of her favourite places in Tasmania; her eye for natural detail, drawing the whole audience in to her world. After talking with him extensively in the lead up to QPF, it was a great pleasure to hear Ray read from his forthcoming collection, No Suspicious Circumstances; my personal favourite, his poetic portrait of Dylan Thomas. And then, what followed was for me, one of the readings of the festival… Nathan Curnow read a selection of poems from his latest collection, Radar (a two-in-one collection alongside Kevin Brophy published by Walleah Press). Not only was the work incredibly strong, for example…

she leaps like a turtle
swims like a victim
can’t trust herself to float
she throws like a creature who has just discovered
the basic mechanics of their arm

but she delivers babies
and sometimes a baby  comes falling
head-first toward the ground
then she will make that catch
that terrifying catch

she doesn’t know how to drop them

(from the poem, The Midwife)

but he was present in every word… his delivery, the perfect mix of relaxed and confident. It was really something!

Next up, I danced between the two sessions, Run of Verses and An Accidental Grace, taking in Northumbrian come Emu Park resident,  Paul Summers, whose physical energy matched that of his poetry so perfectly; an epic reading from Cameron Hindrum, which brought joy to the words that fill the pages of his debut collection, Private Conversations, which I had the great pleasure of publishing; and from New Zealand, Marty Smith, whose poems kicked as hard as the horses she wrote about. The run between the two rooms was most definitely worth it!

And after a quick stop at the bookstore (the wallet is definitely haemorrhaging), I again made the run between two sessions… starting by diving off The Edge of Chaos, with a superb reading by David Stavanger. No one, and I mean no one, can read a poem and interact with the audience as seamlessly as David does and it is a real pleasure to watch. Then I zipped off to The Phrasebook of Silence to catch the last of Jill Jones, a reading by another of the New Zealand guests, Nicola Easthope, who gave us a big-hearted set of poems about her Orkney Island heritage; and to close a reading from the masterful Robert Adamson. Robert’s work has had a profound impact on me, so to have the opportunity to speak with him and hear him read his work on the weekend was somewhat of a dream come true.

Then it was time to eat… something that is often forgotten when you are being sustained by words… but only food would suffice with the one two punch of A Million Bright Things and Pierce the Salty Darkness looming!

A Million Bright Things has become a QPF institution… a session that showcases one poem from every poet on the program; the ultimate poetic sampler you might say. I have had the immense pleasure of MC’ing this wordy behemoth since its inception back in 2008 and it has become well known as my annual cardio workout!

Tonight’s event had something a little special too, opening with the debut performance of a.rawlings’ Sound Poetry and Visual Poetry Project, Gibber. This was a complete rush… there was a live twitter stream featuring writers from across the globe (including my lovely wife, Julie Beveridge, and past QPF guests, Tim Sinclair and emily XYZ), sound recordings sampling the natural poetics of Queensland’s vast landscape; guest poet, Nicholas Powell reading his poetic response to Gibberbird, Q, Without My Female Typist; local poets, Chloe Callistemon & Tamara Lazaroff sounding off; Maja Jantar collaborating live via skype; and of course, a.rawlings intoning, speaking, gargling, whispering and making an all round glorious cacophony as only she can do! The performance was filmed, so hopefully this appears somewhere soon and when it does, I will be sure to link it.

And then we were into it… the full-on swirl of some 40+ poets, each lighting up the mic with what they do best… and it all happens in just under 90mins. It really is the most amazing high! But the night doesn’t end there!

Its a quick rush to the bar and back into the shopfront space, to catch what is for me, the second highlight of the festival, the session, Pierce the Salty Darkness, featuring Bremen Town Musician and Max Ryan & Where Were You At Lunch. Bremen Town was in a slightly stripped back mode, featuring driving force Marisa Allen on violin and vocals with two different drummers,;the absolute standout, the closing track where Allen makes her violin roar and quiver over the hypnotic drum beat of Mayuresh Sathe.

Then to bring the night to a close, Max Ryan and WWYAL rumble on stage and deliver one of the most rollicking sets ever seen at QPF. The band are fierce, Pete Emptage on bass shaking and hollering like a tasered man, Samaan Fieke squeezing the most out of every guitar string and Kishore Ryan, making the kit sound like thunder; while out front, Max Ryan is in full-throated glory, his words rattling in the four chamber of the audience’s collective heart. The love on stage is big, and throughout the set, they don’t miss a beat, delivering us home with the exquisite beauty of the title track off their debut album, Before We Lose Each Other Again. Their album is going to be on repeat this week, and I have no doubt will make my top 5 of the year!

Singing, ‘Before we lose each other again…’ I walked out into the Valley night, knowing I had witnessed something extraordinary and smiling at the prospect of coming back tomorrow to do it all again!

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Guided by Poets – Queensland

Here is the second thread in the Guided by Poets series. This thread started in Queensland and gradually wound its way south. Each poem speaking to the next, contibuting to the ongoing poetic dialogue.

 

i called the number

handsomely written on my forearm

in true black nikko

and gave my credit card details

to her anonymous voice

 

and three days later

my left hand was returned

in the mail

 

 

nshepherdson

Nathan Shepherdson is the son of painter Gordon Shepherdson. He was the winner of the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize in 2004 and 2006. In 2005 he received the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Award for an unpublished manuscript. As a consequence of that award, his first book, Sweeping the Light Back into the Mirror was published by the University of Queensland Press. At the 2006 Queensland Poetry Festival he was the recipient of the Val Vallis Award and in the same year was awarded the Newcastle Poetry Prize. His recent collection, what marian drew never told me about light was released in 2008 by Small Change Press.

 

 

 
Come on then my pretties
with heads or tails down at the bar
let’s drink to a strange kind of paradise
coz it’s double or free
and the bar always wins
Oh! I’m wearing my head of hard mud
and fallen in the river after insane nights
Oh! I’ll drown before the mud softens
for there’s never enough love with you
no there’s never enough love with you

 

 

gardner-angela-2008

Angela Gardner won the 2006 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and 2004 Bauhinia/Idiom 23 Prize. Her first book Parts of Speech was published by University of Queensland Press in 2007. She is founding editor of the poetry journal www.foame.org and a practicing visual artist with work in public collections. In 2008 she travelled to the USA and UK on a Churchill Fellowship to investigate small press poetry/printmaking collaborations. In 2009 she will take up a residency in Ireland supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

 

 

 

 

 when i’m not drinking australian wine

                     ‘i like the way she
breaks her                  (her) lines’           the way the
music introducing no repeats for house                     (the tv
with cello sounds)     like     like how the mind can conjure
          i like the way curtis teases how curtis makes me roll     roll
how          blogpost armantrout
          her third     way i          i like the way she takes her time
(is it the bach?what number?what conductor?)     the glass     late like

 

 

louise-waller

Louise Waller is an Australian poet from Yeppoon in Queensland.  She devises work for theatre and writes poetry.  Her first collection Slipway is published in Swelter (IP2003) and (IP Digital 2004).  She has received national awards and grants for her poetry and work in theatre.  Recent poetry from her developing collection Aftershocks appears in Blue Dog:Australian Poetry and papertiger #04. Her latest collection is holding Job’s hand published by light-trap press in 2008. http://lou-waves.blogspot.com/ 

 

 

 

observational number i forget

fear of necking fear of basalt optimistic
about all white cliffs of dover ambivalent though
at rampant prolixity / achromatopsia / idiocy
magniloquent when fusing systems of
thought to suit this apparent
rectitude  

internationally registered mail from
turvey park p.o. after 4pm / wet clothes
& whatever xeransis / cheese is lunch /
this to type as if an act after
unintended celibacy   

a steady vein-cut dotting the patina 

         i’m stable while everyone
twitters about turning into angelina jolie

 

 

derek-motion1

Derek Motion is a poet, a writer of fictions, a PhD student at Charles Sturt University, and Director of the Booranga Writers’ Centre. He also occasionaly writes reviews for *Famous Reporter*. http://www.typingspace.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

Escape (third confession)

this is where we spat into the sea
this is how we clapped for snakes
what I meant when I said north for starters
he tried hiding beneath kelp with bait 

naming the winds we spoke of sealers
who fuck their eel skin bags
never of cannibals who starve until
they see the house they are most afraid of 

he swore he could steal us a firestick
but his balls shrank to a purse inside him
he pissed on his feet to warm them up
then his chalky feet grew cold  

and frogs that roared as loud as cattle
he asked me how to suck his teeth
I felt my head for monstrous signs
each glance a thieving octopus  

all the time swearing on the book of Job
all the time with one eye open
until he seemed to me a lake of milk
I chewed his ears like apricots

 

 

nathan_curnow

Nathan Curnow’s first collection of poetry is No Other Life But This (Five Islands Press).  Funded by the Australia Council he has written a new collection of ‘ghost poetry’ based upon his stays at ten ‘haunted’ sites around the country (forthcoming with Puncher&Wattmann in 2009).  With further assistance from the Australia Council he is currently writing a new play based around convict stories and escape myths.   www.ncurnow.blogspot.com

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Review: fourWnineteen by Adam Fieled

I was recently sent this link to Stoning the Devil and was pleasantly surprised to read a review of Australian print publication, fourWnineteen. fourW is a print annual published by the Booranga Writers Centre. Issue nineteen features poems and prose by many fine Australian voices including alicia sometimes, Nathan Curnow, Andrew Slattery, Jill Jones, Michael Sharkey, Jessika Tong, David Prater and this Lost Shark. It is always a great surprise when a reviewer singles out your poem, runs a fine tooth comb over its hide…

I agree with Adam wholeheartedly that fourW  ‘deserves, I think, to become an institution.’

Read the review here.

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