Tag Archives: One Broken Knife

SpeedPoets Call-Back-Poet #3: Carmen Leigh Keates

Just back from a great new Poetry Open Mic gig at Little Prince Espresso and feeling very lucky to live in this city. For those keen to fill their ears with words, the next gig there is scheduled for Thursday November 15.

And of course there is SpeedPoets on Sunday November 4. One of the many features at the gig will be Carmen Leigh Keates. Carmen has had a big year, publishing her first collection, One Broken Knife as part of Brisbane New Voices III, featuring at Riverbend Books and QLD Poetry Festival and being the Call Back Poet at the April SpeedPoets gig. She is currently writing a series of poems about Russian Filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, so I thought I would share one of these works:

Flocks of Eider
(Watching Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev.)

When it snows
in the cathedral the snow is
feathers. Some say
it is an embarrassing oversight
while others think this is
poplar fluff floating by to
subtly mark a change in season.

Maybe it is flocks of eider
gliding overhead where
the frescos used to be.

Or ectoplasm streaming
like bandages in the wake
of the ghost of Theophanes.

Perhaps the film is actually
on the sea bed and the sky
is the water’s surface refracting
all Russianness into a kind of
woven papyrus of light
from which our Kirill reads
in his mysterious hood

and from his mouth the bubbles
need no translation for us to recognise

incapacitating self-suspicion.

(for those of you keen to check out the film, you can watch it free online here)

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Carmen Leigh Keates was born in Brisbane. Her verse novella, Second-Hand Attack Dog, was commended in the 2011 Alec Bolton Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript, and her poem ‘One Broken Knife‘ was commended in the 2010 Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize. Carmen is undertaking her PhD candidature at the University of Queensland, for which she is writing poetry about the films of Andrei Tarkovsky.

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2012 SpeedPoets Open Mic Championships

Date: Sunday November 4
Location: Brew (Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City)
Time: 2:30pm – 5pm
Entry: Gold Coin Donation
More details at www.speedpoets.com

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Brisbane New Voices III reviewed on APR + special offer

I was thrilled this morning to be sent a link to a fine review of Brisbane New Voices III on Martin Duwell’s site, Australian Poetry Review. The review also looks in depth at two other Australian new voices, Eileen Chong and Mathew Abbott.

Here’s a little of what Martin had to say about the two micro collections contained in BNV III.

On Feeding Paper Tigers by Vanessa Page

Vanessa Page’s poems tend to focus on emotional states: the first, “Five fifty-three am” is about happiness, and its structure – a set of rhapsodic metaphors (“It’s the morning rubbing the last of a dream from its eyes / as day-broken birds open their throats to the light”) – mimics the way the state lends itself to imaginative celebration rather than, say, sceptical analysis.

On One Broken Knife by Carmen Leigh Keates

The poems of Carmen Leigh Keates have an eerily individual quality which derives not so much from their subject matter – though that is often disturbing enough – as from their disjunctions.

In “Out There By the Airport” which “tells the story” of the experiences of a Salvadorean hospital cleaner there is a disorienting and very unusual juxtaposition of direct and indirect speech.  But the title poem uses this technique in the most radical way. It begins with a domestic enough set of comments about the use of knives which modulates to:

It is the twin of a knife
found in the grave
of someone you used to be
in the fourth century.

before beginning the next stanza, even more radically:

Radio feels mysterious.
You walk about
listening with your eyes . . . . .

Disjunctions and unexpected movements such as this between the domestic, the sinister, and the analytical, give these poems a tremendous internal drive.

You can read the full review here.

And with such a great review, I thought there was need to celebrate!

Here’s the special offer:

Brisbane New Voices III – $10 incl. postage
Brisbane New Voices II & III
– $15 incl. postage
Brisbane New Voices I, II & III
(the complete series so far) – $20 incl. postage

Payment options include:

PayPal – make all payments to geenunn(at)yahoo.com.au – replacing the (at) with @ – and clearly state that payment is for BNV. {Note: All overseas payments should be made in $USD}

Cheque / Money Order (In Australia Only)– make all cheques / money orders payable to Graham Nunn and post to:

Another Lost Shark Publications
86 Hawkwood St.
Mt Gravatt East
Brisbane QLD 4122
Australia.

Direct Deposit (In Australia Only) – email me off site at geenunn(at)yahoo.com.au – replacing the (at) with @ – for bank details.

It’s a great way to support emerging poets and poetry!

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Brisbane New Voices III: Carmen Leigh Keates Breaks the Knife

This is one of those rare months where a fifth Friday muscles its way in. So as the April Pin-Up Poet isn’t due to appear here for another week, I thought it was the perfect time to showcase the title poem from Carmen Leigh Keates‘ half of Brisbane New Voices III, One Broken Knife.

One Broken Knife

There’s a rightness
in using one knife for everything
from cutting up a chop
to dividing the bulbs of daffodils.

And when the point is broken
and it attains that animalistic
pig-angry bearing
it becomes your weapon

not seriously
but it becomes your totem knife.
Nobody picks the broken one, right?

It is the twin of a knife
found in the grave
of someone you used to be
in the fourth century.

Radio feels mysterious.
You walk about
listening with your eyes
looking at your hands
going about their thing
straightening books.

Your hands
do not hear
and go on working.
Your hands are farmers.
But your ears are little children
who ask about God
just as they fall asleep.

Dad used his broken knife
to eat apple.
Sitting at the kitchen table
slicing off shapes
feeding them into his mouth
with the same knife-hand.

The blade missed his eye
by a distance
so small
it was religious.

He’d sharpen his knife
and the greasy drag
would ring through the house
black
like a local abduction.

Once he used the knife
to open a bag of cement
and out of the rip
a grey dust rose
like the spirit.

When I broke
the tip off my knife
I saw
it could leave the kitchen.

The hands that don’t listen
cut
from a root-bound aloe
a clutch
of sappy broken knives
and hurled them into a vacant plot
where if inclined
they could live.

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Carmen Leigh Keates was born in Brisbane. Her verse novella, Second-Hand Attack Dog, was commended in the 2011 Alec Bolton Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript, and her poem ‘One Broken Knife‘ was commended in the 2010 Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize. Carmen is undertaking her PhD candidature at the University of Queensland, for which she is writing poetry about the films of Andrei Tarkovsky.

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Brisbane New Voices III is printed in a limited edition of 100 copies and will be launched on Tuesday April 24 at Riverbend Books along with readings by Victorian Singer/Songwriter, Andy White and QLD mistress of SLAM, Tessa Leon. To book your ticket call the store on (07) 3899 8555.

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