Tag Archives: Poetry on the Deck

Night Swimming with Jonathan Hadwen: Riverbend Feature Poet #4

Launching a book is an adventure… and debut author Jonathan Hadwen is about to take the ride with his collection Night Swim which will be launched at the first Riverbend Books, Poetry on the Deck event on Tuesday Feb 23. I fired a few questions at him recently to get his thoughts on publication, readings and how he approaches a poem.

 

 

The Riverbend Books reading will be the launch of Night Swim, your micro-collection released as part of the Brisbane New Voices series. What does it mean to you to put your work out into the world for the first time in book format?

I definitely got a kick out of seeing the chapbook.  I’ve been leaving it out in obvious places around the house so visitors will stumble upon it.  

How do you approach a poem?
 
I wait for it to approach me.  I have never had any success trying for force myself to write poetry.  The only things I have found helpful are reading lots of poetry (something about getting your mind into a certain rhythm) and long rides on public transport (maybe there is something in the rhythm of a train clinking over the tracks too?).  Once I have that start there is always work to be done – typing up, editing, collating, sending stuff off and maybe practicing delivery if I plan to read it somewhere, but I have to wait for the first part of the process.

Who are the people who have influenced your work and what is it about them (and their work) that has had the most impact?
 
E. E. Cummings was one of the first poets I started reading of my own volition and he released me from the misconception that poetry was about using as many big words as possible.  I remember catching my breath when reading the poem where he compares loneliness and heartbreak to hearing “one bird sing terribly afar in the lost lands”.

I love Charles Bukowski because he told it how it was.  I like poetry that is unashamedly personal and dislike poetry where I feel like the writer is trying to hide behind a riddle.

One of my favourite poets is Bruce Dawe.  That is how I want my own poetry to be – uncomplicated and honest.

The local poetry scene has also had a huge effect on me over the last few years and I feel lucky to be a poet living in Brisbane right now.

What excites you most about presenting your work to a live audience?

It’s great to be able to read my work to people who haven’t heard it before – probably the best chance a poet has of winning some new fans.

 

Jonathan Hadwen is a Brisbane poet who has been published in Southerly, Overland and Page Seventeen as well as other publications in Australia and overseas.  He is inspired by public transport, office politics, the ocean, cute waitresses and the merciless summers of his hometown.  On the first Sunday of each month he can be found at the Speedpoets poetry event at the Alibi Room in New Farm, and his first micro-collection “Night Swim” is to be released in 2010 as part of the Brisbane New Voices series.

More of Jonathan’s work can be found at: http://www25.brinkster.com/jkhey/poetry/index.asp

 

Route 199

You can fall in love
on nights like this
delayed and distracted
on your way home from work
too long since you last ate

sitting in a daze
crammed on a bus 
next to a girl with Scandinavian skin
a girl so beautiful you might think
she floats across the top of life

There are nights when you expect strangers
to throw kisses not punches
those kisses buzzing in the air
in your ear
filling the space left by non-existent conversation

There are nights
saved for cities and crowds
and bus rides
in which you might fall in love
and then out of love again
before you’ve even reached
the next stop.

 

Poetry on the Riverbend Books deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramondo Press) reading along side debut author, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
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=2237

These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Riverbend Books Feature Poet #2 – Betsy Turcot

 

Betsy Turcot is originally from Vermont, USA.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Secondary Education at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont.  There, she was a member and captain of the collegiate field hockey team.  She went on to teach Secondary English and coach field hockey, snowboarding and lacrosse at Burlington High School in Vermont.  She enjoyed the active seasonal lifestyle that the state afforded including skiing and hiking.  After several years of teaching, she resigned and travelled to Australia.  Betsy settled in Brisbane where she has been a resident for eighteen months.  Betsy currently works as a Barista at Stove Café in West End.  She has been a featured poet at Words or Whatever at Black Star Café.  Betsy was a winner of the Brisbane Poetry Slam heat and went on to compete at the final of the 2009 Queensland Poetry Slam.

 

Dr Kinsey
          by Betsy Turcot

Please, Dr Kinsey, what does it mean to be me in nature’s eyes?
What will my lover surmise or my mother despise?
Decries that it’s unnatural. An aberration from the Stations of the Cross.
Well, if this is my sin, then give me my sin again because I am grounded.
Uncovering the truth of the human condition. Reconciliation my confession.
The elephant in the room.
Doomed by words unsaid that sting my soul.
My palms bleed as I forsake the sacrament of holy matrimony.
Makes my sister’s living in sin sound like a healthy confession.
No longer suffering depression. Don’t suffer fools.
Spools of yarn ignite my mind. Create rhymes with each stitch
but there’s a hitch –
If you want to be a writer, you must reveal the Truth.
Dig deeper to the roots.
And I don’t want to bear fruit. But wait, maybe I do. It’s my decision.
A ticking time bomb of a woman whose biological clock keeps ticking.
Rocks my world as I hurl my tips off the lip of a jump, and I see
each tiny snowflake.
Each to its own identity. Discover my destiny.
Unlike any other.
Faced the fear and took the plunge. Handed in the resignation letter.
Said I’d better be off.  I’ve got an ocean to cross to a land down under, but I am American.
Easy Virtue soothes my soul.
The American Dream at my core to search and succeed but with no greed.
So I grind the beans. Play a game of monogamy. Because for her,
There is no substitution. Nothing to constitute our substance.
We’ve played with the recipe to perfection.
Confectionary sugar caramelised on the outside and the centre
is soft. And warm.
I have learned to bake.
Don’t take it for granted. Been gifted with optimism. I believe
in what I can achieve.
And maybe there’s a part of me in Melvin Van Peebles.
The people’s revolutionary.
Black Panther’s idolatry. Never stationary. Fighting against mediocrity.
Not a trivial pursuit. It’s a mind resolute on what should be.
The sounds of eight thousand steady feet push me. I’m influenced by movies.
Harvey Milk said, “Come out.”
And how great would if be if for just one day
We could all be
That free.

 

You can read more of Betsy’s work at: http://whisperingradical.blogspot.com/

 

Riverbend Poetry Series – Tuesday 23 February

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramond Press) reading along side debut authors, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
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=2237
These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Riverbend Books feature poet #1: Bronwyn Lea

The live poetry scene in Brisbane is starting to wake from its Summer slumber and one of the events to look forward to is the first of the Riverbend Books – Poetry on the Deck readings on Tuesday February 23. The Riverbend Books gigs have been a highlight on the poetry calendar for the last five years and this year’s opening event will be no different. Featuring debut author Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim – Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler, 2009 QLD Slam Finalist Betsy Turcot and the senuous words of award winning poet Bronwyn Lea, the Riverbend Deck will once again come alive with words.

So to celebrate I have asked each of the poets for a poem to give you a taste of what to expect on the night. The first of the feature poets is Bronwyn Lea.

Bronwyn Lea, is series editor of UQP’s annual Best Australian Poetry anthology and the author of Flight Animals (UQP 2001), which won the Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry and the Writers Anne Elder Award. Her most recent book is The Other Way Out (Giramondo 2009) which was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Prize and the Victorian Premier’s CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry. She teaches narrative and poetics at the University of Queensland.

 

A Place

There is a place I like to go
that is behind language

I like to go there & wobble
like a melon on a table

or a spoon that doesn’t care
if it is chosen or not

I also like to come back
& slip into ‘myself’

like a pair of silk pajamas
ornamental & cool to touch.    

Links: http://www.austlit.com/a/lea-bronwyn/index.html

 

Tuesday 23 February: Poetry on the Riverbend Books deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramondo Press) reading along side debut author, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
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=2237

These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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A quick chat with Zenobia Frost

Zenobia Frost is one of the five feature readers at the final Riverbend Books: Poetry on the Deck event for 2009 to be held on Tuesday June 23 (see below for full details). She has also just launched her debut collection The Voyage … so I took the time to fire a few questions her way.

 

zenbutterfly

 

What initially drew you to poetry?

The way so much can be expressed in so few words.

 

When is a poem ready to be published/performed?

As Paul Valéry said, ‘A poem is never finished, merely abandoned.” It takes a rare poem to be publication-ready on the first draft, and I find that my poems need to be hacked away at for weeks or months before I find the gem shiny enough to put out into the world.

 

Has publication changed the way you approach your writing?

In a sense. Sometimes I write with a specific project in mind, considering where this poem might fit in a potential collection. (But usually, I don’t think too hard and just write.)

 

Why perform/read your poetry?

Words taste nice, and chewing them over tends to let more subtle flavours come out. I find different things in my poems when I read them aloud. Performing other people’s poems can be like tucking into a gourmet dinner; performing my own can be like baking and eating my own cookies. (They might be a bit burnt, but they’re mine, and I get to wear a pretty apron.) 

 

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

Th vwl shrtg—lttl knwn sd-ffct f th glbl rcssn. T’s vry hrd t fnd pms wtht thm. Strvng pms qckl thn nd bcme jst lttrs sldng ff ppr.

We are concerned that the vowel shortage will soon extend even to ‘y’. Please conserve your vowels during this difficult time.

Seriously, though, I think the trickiest thing is staying abreast of new publications, new opportunities, and changing ideas. The Interwebs allow things to move disturbingly quickly.

Winter also presents the problem of needing to type with kid gloves on.

 

Poetry on the Deck:

Join Zenobia Frost on the Riverbend deck as we wrap up the 2009 Poetry on the deck events with a QLD Poetry Festival Showcase. This QPF showcase event also 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; 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!

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Small Change Press Launch: Dear Rose by Nicola Scholes

2009 is shaping up to be a busy year for Nicola Scholes. She is one of the feature poets at the final Riverbend Books: Poetry on the Deck event on Tuesday June 23 and just a few short days after that on Sunday July 5, she will launch her debut poetry collection, Dear Rose.

I caught up with Nicola recently for a quick chat …

 

NicolaScholes

 

What intially drew you to poetry?
 
I’m not quite sure.  I’ve been writing poems since I was a child, but I also loved to draw, sing, and write songs and stories, so writing poetry was just one outlet for a young creative spirit!  I had a best friend who was also creative, and we wrote poems together, and swapped poems.  It was fun, and part of my growing up.  Just before my 11th birthday, my family emigrated from England to Australia, and after that, I wrote a lot more.  I think that this was my way of trying to make sense of the move.
 

When is a poem ready to be published/performed?
 
It is ready to be performed as soon as it is written.  It is ready to be published after quite a few edits.  I have worked on some poems for many years.  Sometimes the original is better than successive edits, if I didn’t know what I was doing with it.  So I go back to the original when time has passed, and try again.
 

Has publication changed the way you approach your writing?
 
Yes, it has made me feel much more confident about my writing.  Sometimes I am surprised at which pieces are accepted, and which ones are not.  That teaches me not to be so hard on myself, but to write what I want, and then think about publication after it has been written, and not beforehand.
 

Why perform/read your poetry?
 
I love reading a poem that is fresh and that I have just written.  It now feels like a part of the process of creation — to write and then to read to an audience.  I think that you can learn quite a lot from your own poem by reading it aloud to others.  Even words that you had intended to use in a certain way, can suddenly take on new meanings as they cross over into space and other peoples’ ears.  In this way, the audience helps to shape the poem.
 

What is the greatest challenge faced by poets/poetry today?
 
I think that the challenge is always to keep going, to keep creating, in spite of general public indifference to poetry, and most forms of artistic expression, especially ones that do not appear to contribute to the economy.

 

Small Change Press is excited to launch it’s first title for 2009, Dear Rose by the winner of the inaugural ‘Dream Aint Broken Chapbook Competition,’ Nicola Scholes. The poems in her debut collection are brimming with inventiveness and moments of illumination.

In 2007, Nicola also won the inaugural Love Poetry Hate Racism open mic competition. Aside from winning inaugural things, Nicola has had her poems published in magazines such as The Broadkill Review (USA), Cordite Poetry Review, The Courier-Mail, dotlit, Hecate, holland1945, Nineteen-O-Splash (NZ), SpeedPoets, and Stylus Poetry Journal. 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.

As part of this live launch experience, Nicola will be reading from Dear Rose, alongside Melbourne’s intensely musical, Santo Cazzati and the sonic beauty of Bremen Town Musician.

Date: Sunday July 5
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Venue: Queensland Writers Centre, Level 2, 109 Edward St, Brisbane
Tickets: $15.00 single or $20 couple (including a signed copy of the book, glass of wine & nibbles).

Book your spot now by emailing smallchangepress@gmail.com (tickets to be paid for on the night)

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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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A quick chat with Marisa Allen (Bremen Town Musician)

Marisa Allen (Bremen Town Musician) is feature musician and poet and the next SpeedPoets event (2pm Sunday, June 7 @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm) as well as one of the features at the final Riverbend Books, Poetry on the Deck event on Tuesday June 23 (click here for details).

 

marisa allen

 

We caught up recently and hade a quick chat…

 

What initially drew you to poetry?

I read constantly and writing was something that I had always done and I think the first thing I wrote was a poem when I was in year six and it just followed on from that. Later on I really started writing poetry as a means to explore song writing. I began writing poems as a stepping stone to that and just filtered out which ones were better as poems and which ones were better as songs. Poetry allows me to make sense of the world around me and to express myself.

 

When is a poem ready to be published/performed?

I don’t have a strict sense of readiness for a piece of writing, instinctively I know when a poem works or not. It’s ready when it’s ready and I don’t labour too much on it. Usually there is a strong voice or atmosphere to the words that let me know if a piece is suitable to be published or performed, but it’s such an unknown based on how I feel subjectively about a piece. I always say I have no ugly children, meaning I love them all equally and most I would like to put out into the public sphere. Obviously there are better poems than others, but I just write them, I don’t judge them!  Although I do like to let them sit for a while and go back to them after maybe a year and make small changes to phrases and really make sure what I’m wanting to express is clear.

 

Has publication changed the way you approach your writing?

Yes. In a way it makes me a little more self conscious but it also emboldens me to push a little harder. Poems that are published are usually chosen because they are ready to be published but once that happens you let them go, they no longer are yours and sometimes I find going back to them to be tiresome, as it’s like yes this was good then when it was written but how can I better it now, how can I move from it to something that is relevant to the experiences I am having now.

 

Why perform/read your poetry?

I have no idea! I think this is a complex question… I am acutely aware of poetry that works out loud or as a spoken performance piece and poetry that is meant to be read in silence in your mind. I’m really interested in this contrast. At this point I read my poetry because there is a voice in it that I can hear; it brings it to life and adds dimension to the words. But there are certainly poems that I don’t feel have the immediacy to be read out loud, that maybe are very complex in imagery and need a different approach, such as the quiet of reading alone, reading a phrase over and over to grasp the meaning.

 

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

Well I think there is always a food shortage just round the corner in any poets life! I think it is the same for any artist, getting their work heard, published, viewed, getting feedback, support in the process which is the most murky area because usually a poet or artist is constantly in a  creative process. Also creating opportunities for poets to have some value in society outside the creative and subjective world of their own writing. I think this is immensely important, that an artist should be able to connect with the world that doesn’t always support their own vision but still values the poet anyway by creating opportunities to use their skills outside of purely creative pursuits. I think the competitiveness and nepotism of any creative area can be very off putting and it’s a challenge that is unnecessary for a creative person to have to face. I think we need a completely new approach to how selection and standardization across the arts is decided, judged on artistic sensibility and merit as opposed to bureaucratic or financial standards, unfortunately it does take time for people to take your work seriously and that in itself is a challenge on a day to day basis.

 

 

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