Tag Archives: poetry publishers

The Next Big Thing: Cindy Keong’s ‘Same Sky’

Another Lost Shark Publications has a big schedule planned for 2013, including the second release in the First Words series, Cindy Keong’s, Same Sky. The plan is to have the book ready to launch mid-year, so for now, here’s Cindy’s responses to The Next Big Thing interview to give you a taste of what’s to come.


What is the title of your book?

Same Sky

What genre does your book fall under?


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A series of poems spanning the breadth of physical, cultural, emotional and familial landscapes linked by universal experiences that connect us all under the the ‘Same Sky’.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The compilation of this series originated out of a small body of work written whilst working in Tanzania.  My work there was largely of a practical nature, the giving of my time and skill rather than any search for enlightenment. Working in the third world often impacts westerners in the sense they have some epiphany about gratitude, waste, wealth or freedom.  There is no denying you would be an emotional mutant not to be impacted by the profound differences, but what struck a cord with me more was something fairly unsophisticated; that human experience is indeed universal, regardless of personal circumstance or geographics. Put simply, it is all the same, life is what it is.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The poems to be included in this collection have been written between 2009 to 2012.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This notion of ‘same, same but different’ spurred me on to develop a broader body of work that linked my experiences across three distinct landscapes, that loosely track my lifespan and hopefully ones that spark a connection to the human experiences of the reader.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am very excited and privileged to have this body of work supported by Graham Nunn aka Another Lost Shark who will publish Same Sky as part of his First Words series in 2013.

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?

As an emerging poet I am reluctant to compare my work but would rather comment on work that has had influence and impact on my writing.  I am fascinated with work that encapsulates the everyday experience; poets who’s sparse language choices resonate and reveal a continuum of meaning ranging from the literal to the complex. Poems that when re-read, continue to offer another layer of meaning or provocation for thought.  Poets that have taken up residency in my thoughts lately include Max Ryan, Robert Adamson, Nathan Curnow, Paul Summers, Aidan Coleman, Michelle Dicinoski, Janice Bostock…

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

That is not easy, however, Tina Fey’s character of Liz Lemon parallels nicely if cast in poems that reveal insights into familial and relational dysfunction.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I look forward to launching these poems out into the world this year… here’s a poem from the book:

Some Things You Should Know

You’ll notice Dad hasn’t parted with the old
washing machine.  He proudly claims it’s the first
automatic.  There’s nothing automatic about it now.
So unless you’re packing enough clothes for the entire trip;
the gumboots and broom handle beside the tub must be used
to avoid electrocution. Make sure you visit the Bobby Dazzler,
there’s a 20ft statue of a fossicker crouching out front.
It’s worth the five dollars, just to wander the underground tunnels
and escape the blistering heat. I hope you like early mornings;
the bottlebrush is in bloom and the lorikeets flock in around 5 am,
for their all day bender.  If this doesn’t wake you, Dad will.

Do you remember when were kids?
From our beds we would listen
to the blueprint of morning;
heavy footsteps making
a cup of tea; the scuff of brush
and polish on boot leather, followed
by the heady waft of his first cigarette.
It’s still the same, still in order.


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Poetic Opportunity – Triptych Poets Series

The good folk at Blemish Books are now welcoming submissions for their highly successful Triptych Poets Series, which publishes three contemporary voices alongside each other, much like the classic Penguin Modern Poets series did some years ago.

Submissions should include a suite of 15 – 25 poems (max 40 A4 pages), with the majority of the poems having been previously unpublished. For the full details, check out the guidelines. It’s a fantastic opportunity, so best of luck polishing up those poems…

Here’s a great review by Mark William Jackson of Triptych Poets #2, to give you all a taste of the work inside, and better still, if you want to get a sense of what the editors are looking for, why not pick up a copy of Issue #1 & #2 their bookstore.


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New Poems in Shamrock haiku journal

A little while back, I was invited to contribute to the 10th anniversary issue of UK Magazine, Open Wide. It is always a thrill to have my work published in the pages of Open Wide, but being invited makes things extra special.

Issue 25, the 10th Anniversary Issue, is out now and is bursting with ninety-four pages of writing from forty-three of the editor’s favourite contributors from the last ten years including A.D. Winans, Arlene Ang, justin.barrett, James D. Quinton, Owen Roberts, John G. Hall and this Lost Shark (feeling in very fine company here).

The magazine costs just £5 (plus £1.00 P&P for UK buyers – P&P for Europe is £2.00 and the rest of the world is £3.00). It can be purchased only via paypal, which accepts all major credit/debit cards. You can follow this link – www.openwidemagazine.co.uk/owmissues.htm.

As the editor’s say… ‘Miss it, miss out, and trust us, you don’t want to miss this one!’


The latest issue of Shamrock Haiku is also online and features a couple of my own poems alongside two members of the recent Ginko Group, Cindy Keong and Lee-Anne Davie. It is always good to be surrounded by friends…

You can read Issue #18 here.


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Chris Mansell’s Spine Lingo

Spine Lingo: New & Selected Poems, Chris MansellKardoorair Press, PO Box 478, Armidale, N.S.W. 2350, Australia.   orders@kardoorair.com.au (2010) pp. 232.  ISBN 978-0-908244-83-6.

Reviewed by Patricia Prime

It’s always a pleasure to open a new book of poetry by Chris Mansell, and Spine Lingo is no exception. What a fantastic mind the poet has, and what a wonderful way with words. This is Mansell’s eighth collection, but one senses many of these poems have had a long gestation period, for each is polished, pared-back and honed to perfection.  The poems are presented more or less one poem per page, without punctuation.

Mansell seems always conscious of the disquieting runs of life slipping by.  Her memories are something that contributes and advances presentness.  Knowledge is not a complete thing, but is part of the whole . . . from which love seeks to contrast knowledge with separation, and certainly with the temporal.  For Mansell writing itself – an act that is simultaneously one of forgetting and remembering – is an aid to redefinition of the past.

In Spine Lingo, Mansell further explores her own past and autobiography.  Her poems unfold one on the other, growing in resonance and beauty, filling the reader’s head to overflowing.  Here we have themes on landscapes, geography, history, travel, loss, Lady Gedanke, nature.  Somehow Mansell has managed to capture all these elements and more, in her book.

Human loss is a theme which echoes through the collection.  The elegy “Amelia Earhart flies out from Lae, New Guinea” is dealt with lightly but unflinchingly.  The poet recalls that the pioneer aviator left “my old town,” but now she and her friends wait for her return:

           as we stand on the black sand beach
           imagine your flight
           straight ahead
           over the isthmus Salamaua
           string of sand
           can’t imagine the gun emplacements
           there yet

The natural world – the dark, flowers, the ocean, beach, birds, animals – are featured throughout the book.  “the dry movement / as sand across / contradictory sand,” begins “17 Types of Movement.”  Mansell has a knack of stripping the visual world back to basics.  One example of her fresh use of language can be found in “Santa Maria di Maggiore, Rome”:

and now Santa Maria di Maggiore
suffers a busload of tourists
for the worship of architecture
en masse
the shuffle and gawp
fills its important walls
which do not flinch

A seemingly innocent poem about a visit to the Catholic Basilica by a protestant becomes a remarkable, sensory expression as “this palace of popes / calls out with its five bells” and “gods tumble out / of high ceilings.”

Some of the most startling imagery occurs when the subject is Australia, as in “Christmas in Australia,” where the poet wakes to fires that still burn in Tomerong.  “Cooper’s Creek” is an historical poem about the loss of explorers Burke and Wills, and the later death of their fellow explorer King in 1861:

King, as instructed
left Burke dead
under an open sky
pistol in hand.

The series of poems about Lady Gedanke strip back the visual world to basics; only then does Mansell build human emotion back into the poem.  Here is an excerpt from “Lady Gedanke tells J. S. Mill her Happiness Theory”:

now each glistening season
the earth becomes
more frangible
and finite more
unreliable and particular
each year
is counted out
like coins of light

“the other river” is a poem divided into 12 days, beginning with a description of the river and ending on day 12 with the simple, yet expressive poem that returns us to the river:



Love is a theme throughout the book; glinting through the surface, then disappearing again.  It is dealt with lightly but fearlessly: “How I know,” focuses on the absence of a lover: “and though you’ve gone / I want to go with you / because I am in love with your children,” while “the kiss” is a “poem for your lips” and “Song” relates the loved one to the ocean which “holds me like you do / in the open rhythms the pull and suck / the deep movement . . .”

The lengthy poem “Head, Heart & Stone” is divided into 10 parts.  In this poem Mansell writes so vividly and directly that we feel we are with her in the setting: “There is a handcrafted painting of a wattle or a ti-tree.”  Some of the most beautiful poetic moments occur in these longer poems.  “Ordinary truth” fairly sizzles on the page:

           first it comes like hush
           like blisters you know it’s there
           like a trial coming up a journey
           you can never be prepared for
           like angels in your garden taking time
           like a physicist with theories like angles
           sharp it comes again acute

In the face of relationships, whether failed or fulfilling, Mansell writes from her heart.  Here we have the poems “Daughter”: “My daughter speaks Bingle. / A dog whoop whoops in the night”;  “waiting for my daughter”:  “you have run off into childhood barely / looking back at cold mother absent / father you slip hipped bone agile daughter” and then there’s “the family”: “first there is the mother / the mother has two melon breasts / and stands with legs apart / arms agape like a child’s drawing.”

Mansell finds salvation in the act of writing itself.  Often her work is about artistic endeavour: the desire to write poetry that is going to survive.  In the poem, “Good poetry,” for example, she says,

           Good poetry is
           cocktail poetry – often short & very
           urbane.  Good poetry is slim &
           articulate with impeccable antecedents.
           Sometimes it speaks French, but usually
           it speaks only English.  Good English.

In “Poem in feint ruled purple,” she writes to a friend:

           you gave me some bright pink paper to write rich red poems on
           (poems with the scent of just ripe pomegranates
           poems that melt with touch
           poems that cull up and indulge purple and cerise
           and scarlet women with the fops
           and spangle bright harlots
           with roses on their lips

The act of writing is a conscious effort that helps to change the ways of the world: “blood red poems to make the revolution come.”  Yet the poet is also aware in “Subtext to the poem in feint ruled purple” that she does not “want to write / this poem, or any other. / I want this poem to fly in the face / of my dark horses . . .”

The registering of her poetics is one of Mansell’s strengths, and it is in the treatment of writing itself that her work is at its most quietly moving.  One has no trouble in believing in the poetic truth of what Mansell says in the fine poems, “A hand in the mouth,” “Poem Written in the Key of Mother Tongue” and “The Secret.”  Mansell’s poems are full of “experience,” full of her sense of the world, in both the apprehension and the comprehension of what is implied in the recognition of “the moment” in poetry, as we see in her poem “making the garden safe”:

           he is thinking for a moment
           no more
           and soon he will have the axe
           biting into the tender
           heart of that tree
           through its resilient bark
           through the moist interior
           through the timelines

But Mansell is not simply a passive poet.  She also writes poems in which the search for an axis of living is conducted in very different settings, settings, for example, where

           in the hope that punishment
           would not get worse we agreed
           to our torture and left the children
           at the gate

            (“Passive voice”)

Then there are the extraordinary poems featuring the Australian landscape.  “On (the) edge of Toowoomba”

           there is nothing
           bush and bush
           and mist slung into trees like fruitbats 
           and the millennia set to roll
           anxious as a child’s marble
           rolling with the hum and throb
           of a song linking horizon to horizon
           time rolling down the range

In “The Tree” the fragmented phrases – “we climbed the tree,” “the sunlight fills the sky,” “Shuquin sees the wall / during the Cultural Revolution” and “the wall is filled with her name,” – echo Mansell’s preoccupation with beauty and truth.  The poem concludes inexorably yet gently with the words

           and yet she does not know yet
           that truth imprisons her

“Neda” is a lengthy poem divided into fifteen triplets: a narrative that begins with Neda suckling the infant Zeus and concludes with

           the sound of a casual bullet
           tearing the air to find a girl
           on her way to music class

“Beneath Breathing” is another lengthy poem covering eighteen pages.  This poem is perhaps the most compelling in the book.  It is a narrative about war and provides a richness of detail that almost swamps the reader.  In the first part of the poem we see the persona caught in what appears to be a war zone:

           our shattered building is on top of me
           below around and we have become one thing

           all the hopes and stairs
           carpets and casualness of the day

           have smacked into this hard dead
           end and me with it

The relationship of these elements to the rest of the psychological drama covers a brother returning from war, the dead brother “steeped in earth,” the poet’s rage at war and “the lost language of the gods.”   In the second half of the poem the flow of the work is more disposed.  As though to help the reader, there is the instruction: “(read this out loud, in one breath).”  The implication is that Mansell’s style differs here in mood and flow.  Now it’s the turn of a stunningly projective imaging of the birth of the poem and the reader’s complicity in it.

The final five-page poem, “The Ecstasy of the Lily” is a deep play on the various poetic components: shirt, bombs, lily, death, judge, uranium.  The poem ends:

we are bright in our own starlight
language is more fun to do than to reflect
the orange air with its screaming flowers
spells ecstasy and burns down the house
and I am still inside talking about wearing a shirt
while the bright red canna lily shrieks

In such poems the precision of Mansell’s writing is a recurrent delight.  Mansell’s real but unaffected attentiveness to detail is evidence of both a stilled self-consciousness and a process of self-discovery.  There is an occasionally breath-taking responsiveness to simple beauty in her work, just as there is often an unflinchingly open-eyed registration of human pain.

The poems in Spine Lingo pitch the power and wonder of nature against the frailty and failure of the human, their utter seriousness leavened by a wry, dry and disarming humour.  All of the poems are haunted by the presence and pressure of the world against our own beliefs, and are written with the kind of dreamlike description that has become Mansell’s trademark.  In short, this is an important collection of a poet whose reputation has long been well established.  Spine Lingo is a book of considerable grandeur and sweep by one of the most powerful Australian poet’s working today.


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New Australian Poetry Press

After visiting Western Australia in 2009 and keeping in touch with many of the poets I met on that trip, it is no surprise to me that the newest poetry press (at least the newest this Lost Shark knows of) has sprung up from the fertile ground of the WA scene.

mulla mulla press has now got two chapbooks under its belt, the latest being the debut collection from Paul Harrison, Meet Me At The Gethsemane. Also available from mulla mulla press is RECOIL TWO an anthology of poets who read at Perth Poetry Club in 2010 featuring Caitlin Maling, Chris Mansell, Coral Carter, Danny Gunzburg, Jonothon Twist, Kate Wilson, Mar Bucknell, Maureen Sexton, Raymond Grenfell, Rose van Son, Steve Smart and Terry Farrell.

Paul’s book, was recently reviewed by u.v. ray, who described the poems as brutal and uncompromising… tinged with moments of surprising tenderness, though the unyielding message seems clear: life beats us all down in the end. This isn’t to say Paul’s work is all doom and gloom. He finds moments of respite amidst all the despair, sometimes with humour, but more often with really quite touching lines.

Here’s a poem from the collection:

even the dead have names
truth is
not a thing
or woman
in the whole wide world
who will ever save you
or even make you forget
quite long enough
the final ever after
your name
and grabs you hard
by the shoulder
now tell me
why or what
or even where
can someone
go with that

For more details head over to the mulla mulla press website… I can feel there are many good things to come.


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Brisbane New Voices II – Chris Lynch

In a recent post, I introduced the first of the Brisbane New Voices II poets, John Koenig and his micro-collection Green Tea & Nicorette. I am excited to say that the book is now back from the printer and looks stunning! So it is now time to introduce the second featured poet, Brisbane based writer, publisher and editor, Chris Lynch. His micro-collection, Bashed Flat By Heaven, is elegant in its simplicity. The seven poems in this collection, are quietly assured and explore with a keen eye, the complex relationship between the human and the natural landscape. The poem, Homo Domesticus, is a wonderful introduction to his work.

                                                             Homo domesticus

                                                             Home is a horse
                                                             blanket or doona

                                                             sewn daily. The smell
                                                             wraps, enfolds us

                                                             like mother in robes
                                                             with her breast out

                                                             as we sit by the fire
                                                             and drink pumpkin

                                                             soup, fall asleep
                                                             on animal skins

                                                             and dream of rain
                                                             beating on the roof,

                                                             timber chunks popping
                                                             in the hearth. Creatures

                                                             of the night call to
                                                             each other in the storm

                                                             but we have men
                                                             and dogs at the gates,

                                                             thick wooden stakes
                                                             and iron chains

                                                             and no one and
                                                             nothing will

                                                             disturb our rest,
                                                             not until we smell

                                                             a hot and wholesome



Keep your eyes peeled for news of the launch in the coming days…


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Brisbane New Voices II: John Koenig

During the latter half of 2010, I quietly worked away on Volume II of Brisbane New Voices and I am happy to report that it is now at the printer. I am out-of-my-skin excited about launching this collection in February, as Volume I featuring Jonathan Hadwen and Fiona Privitera was one of my 2010 highlights.

Volume II will again feature micro-collections from two local poets, but let’s do things slowly… let me introduce you to the work of Brisbane’s ‘romantic rebel’, John Koenig. John’s micro-collection, Green Tea & Nicorette features eight poems that he has honed over the years in front of audiences at SpeedPoets and a number of other local events. His words are born of hardship and our unique Australian landscape, but they are brimming with hope and a deep love of people. I think John’s poem, Out Here, is a great introduction to his work. Keep your ears to the waters of Another Lost Shark for news of the launch (and of course, news of the second, feature poet).

Out Here

It’s two tone brigalow belah country, out here.

Out here mirror topped dams reflect a painted sky
out here wedge-tailed eagles spy a bushranger landscape
out here the rainbow serpent rises from its slumber
out here always fills me with longing.

It seems the sun moves so slowly, out here.
Stout bottle trees cast shadows over the land.
My father always said this was good grass country
as long as you get the rain, out here.

Out here old meat sheds cry of past slaughters
out here old graveyards weep of past stories
out here old churches whisper past prayers
out here the past always haunts me.

The night rustles to black, out here.
Behind a moth-eaten theatre curtain
the stagehands of time change the props.
A polaroid dawn will develop, out here.

Out here a man dreams in the night of his father
out here a child screams in the night for her mother
out here forty years will disappear in an instant
out here under a hundred million stars

I hold the world asleep in my arms.


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