Tag Archives: QLD Poetry Festival 2009

Just Kissed Goodbye… Some memories of QPF 2009

QPF 2009 may have just been kissed goodbye, but the words of the 40+ artists who took to the stage continue to resonate in the heads and hearts of the thousands who attended. I am certain that these words will form the seed of many new poems, new friendships, new dialogues and to quote Ferlinghetti, ‘give voice to the tongueless streets’. This quote, alongside ‘wake up, the world is on fire’ (Ferlinghetti), and ‘spoken in one strange word’ (Judith Wright) were written in bold lettering across the windows of The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. These words breathed life into the shopfront space, which was a new (and may I add, very successful) venue for QPF 2009 and set the tone for an amazing weekend of words.

From the Official Opening where I had the privilege of reading the winning poem from this years Arts QLD Val Vallis Award for an Unpublished Poem – The Severant by Andrew Slattery, the festival simply hummed. I would love to share with you a couple of lines from the winning poem… words that will undoubtedly stay with me:

We have ammended the world.
As I walk home I unpick the seams from the footpaths.

Each muscle locomotes my frame.
I wear my suit and walk into the vista city;

through the old mine with its pile of coal like a dead whale;
past the doctor who repaired my chest;

past the tailor who sews spines
into standing men as they wait.

Throughout the festival, there are many other lines that etched themselves into the very fabric of my being… here are a few:

Cancer’s what gets us. Got Grandpa. Got Baba.
It turns you yellow in the end. So, I’ve been smoking
again.

(from Celebration by Elizabeth Bachinsky)

 

You suicided all my poetry was written on your skin first
line
second line
third line a tight rope tight knife

(from Chapter 5 by Paul Magee)

 

A scorched afternoon in the Alice
or the meltdown that lavas out of kiddies
when they cannot have a treat.

(from Station Street As A Dark Nickelodeon by Kent McCarter)

 

take with you plenty of water and one mustard seed of faith

(from Mount Wellington by Jane Williams)

 

Be still. I am the Bear from your dreams.

(from Nature Poem by AF Harrold)

 

And as the festival drew to a close on Sunday night, we celebrated another incredible session featuring the voices of the QPF Committee (Nerissa Rowan, Zenobia Frost, Debra Ralph, Alicia Bennett, John Koenig, Francis Boyle, Jodi DeVantier & this Lost Shark) alongside Jane Williams, Janet Jackson, Angela Costi, Paul Magee, Geoff Goodfellow, Neil Murray, Elizabeth Bachinsky, AF Harrold and Hinemoana Baker.

And importantly, we celebrated the many achievements of Festival Director, Julie Beverdige as she announced she would be standing down from the position. Julie has taken the festival to a new level during her two year tenure, building on the success of the first eleven years and putting in place the necessary structure to make QPF sustainable for many years to come.

QPF  has yet again provided some life changing moments for me (and many others). Moments that will fuel me, until we do it all again in 2010.

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Blinded By A Million Bright Things

My eyes are watering, my calves burning slightly, and my head is swimming with words. The Million Bright Things who hit the QPF stage yesterday lit up the Judith Wright Centre with the endless possibility of poetry. Last night for me was a landmark event, with Festival Director extraordinairre, Julie Beveridge, putting together an event which featured every poet on the programme. Forty artists, one by one had their moment in the spotlight. It was high octane poetry, each artist leaving nothing behind as they left the mic and the audience wanting more. And as Neil Murray closed the show, there was that feeling that peoples lives had been changed… the energy bristling, the smiles splittingly wide.

If you are anywhere near Brisbane today, do yourself a favour and let the bright lights of QPF 2009 illuminate you. Kicking off today with the launch of Felicity Plunkett’s debut collection, Vanishing Point and the session, Choreography of Chance featuring Rhys Rodgers, Santo Cazzati and Maurice McNamara, you just know, life will be better for it!

Today’s programme is online here.

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Still untangling the possibilities

Well, Opening Night of QPF 2009 was a stunning display of that strange music we call poetry… as Carol Ann Duffy calls it, the music of being human.

So many highlights… so for those of you who were there, here’s a few moments to help you relive it all and for those of you who weren’t… well here’s a taste of what we experienced.

See you at the festival today… the first bullet of the day, the Small Change Press launch of Half-Hour Country and Dear Rose + a reading by Robert Bos and the skies early stars will reveal the magic of Kent McCarter, Barbara Temperton and Neil Murray. The perfect tonic for your Saturday morning.

 

A short set from AF Harrold

Brilliantly funny, channeling the ghosts of Peter Cook and Spike Milligan, through that Mersey Sound.

 

A short set from Elizabeth Bachinsky from her first book Curios

Punchy and alarming, Bachinsky’s set last night pulled everyone into the often dark world of Valley Girls and Valley Boys.

 

Native Born by Neil Murray

This was a stand out in a set of spoken word and songs from one of Australia’s living legends.

 

Where Shall I Wander by Hinemoana Baker

Words by Hone Tuwhare, music by Hinemoana Baker… she’s got a voice ay!

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QPF Spotlight #18 – Maurice McNamara

Just one more sleep and I will be revelling in the glory of QPF. Many of the artists have now arrived so I am already buzzing with anticipation. One such artist is Melbourne’s Maurice McNamara. I have had the great pleasure of working with Maurice over the past year and the fruits of that work, his debut collection, Half-Hour Country, will be launched at QPF this Saturday morning, August 22 at 10:30am (full details below). One thing I know is that Maurice is never short of a word, so I asked him, about his writing process and where he finds the words.

 

Maurice

 

Where do the words come from?

Everyone is different. Karen Knight, in her section, talks about writing in the day, evenings for meals, drinks, tv. And how she takes weeks to get lines right. How the first lines are the hardest.

I mostly never write during the day. I write at night, after the drinks, meal, tv. But like her I write to music. I don’t care exactly what the music is, mostly moody. I wear that puppy out, playing it over and over, until I never want to hear that song again.

Unlike Karen I go out every day, shopping, walking, listening to the radio (headphones), looking at people. Mostly I’m alone and swallow up fragments. Sometimes this stuff gets coalesced properly, in the evenings, mostly it doesn’t. The best stuff gets the driver of a special event, a special emotion (below, a poem about my sister’s birthday – something slightly out of the ordinary.)

But trying to write every evening, and missing, means that automatic writing ie. just trying to say what happened, has more practice and kick in it, more unconscious rhythm.

Finding the rhythm: everyone has their own, and practising, the drum finds its owner. When I first started writing poetry, about nine years ago, I wrote over a thousand poems – one, two, three, every night. Fortunately that computer clagged out and I lost most of them. Sentimental, masked in cleverness, un-understandable, cutesy, pathetic, half-baked – I forget my other sins but they were many and various. But even from the start one has a rhythm and themes. (Equally, whatever faults I had then, I’ve still got now.)

My saving, very/very/very slow grace, the fact I went out each week and read, badly, to audiences, who went, ugh, or ho-hum, or what-the? next please. (One time a poet said, I like the font your poems are in – that’s how weak my praise was. At the time I was gratified – that’s how piss weak I was.) Going out to read all the time meant I heard lots of other good/bad/indifferent stuff. The best learning is by example. And just keep on going.

I grew up outside Bendigo, an old gold mining town, but where I was, it was mostly Irish, cut off. Like the Cullinans, nine children – Dinny, Danny, Paddy, Maisie, Bess, etc, so on, most of whom still lived with their mother, though the oldest son was hitting seventy. Some of them had never been to Melbourne. Two army tanks had pulled up in their front yard, at the end of the Second World War, from Pucapunyal en route to… Nothing much changed. In the churchyard on Sundays people stood in the same place, said the same things, wearing suits they’d bought for their wedding. I can’t emphasise how important this was/is to me: the idea of a link back, mysteriously un-knowable; the way they said the same things, their cadence and drawl.

As far as poetry goes, I also belong to two sixties artist/artists – Andy Warhol and The Beatles. I think they could be called the first democratic artists – not dependent on being upper class, un-important, using real things around them. And then, the way you heard songs over and over, radio, radio, I think that changed how people wrote.

Poetry influences: I’m sorry, but it has to be local for me. I’m not academic, I’m not international, and I’m not clever (clever is not the same as intelligent). I don’t want to live anywhere else. This is not a proclamation for bogans, or bush poetry. I don’t want to be provincial. The worst kind of provincialism is aping somewhere else. I want to live in the sort of place that is happening on its own terms. Open and hungry, enthusiastic – that’s what Australia should be. So eat from elsewhere but write our own stuff. Don’t be arch, don’t be removed. Even though most of us live in cities, keep the country in our souls. That’s the genius of Australia – we don’t live in pastoral acres, spires dreaming, the bush infects/scares/makes us. That and the ocean – sharks and snakes scare bullshit away. And temperature: this is a hot country, new world, too hot for languid tempered English. Or French theory. (Or hysterical Americans.)

In my writing I don’t live up to this, but I think about it. In this country we’ve got indigenous, migrants, Anglo-Celtic, all burnt by sun, flood and drought, like nowhere else. Only we can do it.

My theory of poetry: watch the faces of the audience, if they remained closed, turned away, something is wrong. (The best poets have a language, a themness that drags us somewhere else, but is yet, recognisable – oh, to be one of them.)

Poets I get excited by: Eric Beach, Jennifer Compton, Grant Caldwell, Jordie Albiston, Myron Lysenko. Not always and not everywhere: but a surprise, a kick, a relaxation, a floating away. Not very much bullshit in any of them.

That’s the trouble with poetry – because it’s tight, where it goes wrong, you flip out. No patience. But then, you stumble across, and you feel like stroking the armpits of your host. Casual sex. Your armpits smell like cummin. (How do you say that word un-rudely?) I’ve got that with Laurie Duggan; like, love some of the Martial poems, then others leave me cold. Same with Dorothy Porter. Hate poems by poets in search of material, trawling art galleries. ‘My response to the Mona Lisa, waiting for Helen to turn up…’ Then we leapt into a foreign sports car. Please. Enough. (Even in art you’re relentlessly middle class.) Middle class masquerading as rascal, even worse. Brett Whitley, you’re busted. ‘See my lawyer, man’. The best Australian poems I’ve read were by Eric Beach, about his girlfriend with motor neurone, caring for her, published in Salt-Lick. ‘Brushing her hair, ice waterfalls.’ Nothing else even comes close, and originally, he’s from New Zealand.

 

About Maurice:

Maurice McNamara has been involved with the Melbourne spoken word scene for a number of years. His writing is casually lyrical, funny but serious, and aims for a spare contemporary feel. His book, Half-Hour Country, has just been published by Small Change Press.

 

Poem:

 

sister’s birthday

having gone to see
‘my year without sex’
a self-consciously Australian movie
small family details
but at least a story arc
as the Americans say
though, written/directed by a woman
I noticed the husband didn’t complain
when there was no sex for a year
which made him a bit too nice, I thought
though, okay, she nearly died

coming out of the theatre, remembered
sister’s birthday, bought flowers
and rillette, to spread on bread
a French name for the potted meat
Dad used to make
but a French name costs more
I try to remember my sister’s birthday
the same day as Mum’s
this year she would have been 96
(so waxen she looked
laid out on the hospital bed)
sister lives alone and has the sort of casual
Catholic violence I detest
try to forget

drive to Armadale
a thunderstorm!
lights on
blinded by rain
cars drive home

visits of duty
driven by a sort of love underneath
a perfect cup of tea
an event that only happens every couple of years
a confluence of milk/tea/sugar
she listens to talking books
doesn’t watch tv
eyes hurt too much

insulted my girlfriend only in passing
pauses between words
women have powers men don’t possess
though men are obvious bastards
saying I was excited by engines but my girlfriend wasn’t
was sexist
I didn’t have much of a headache
by the time we left

I wish she didn’t live alone
but I can’t fix her life up
I can’t fix my own
I don’t like going back
to where I was before
live in the present
which is uneasy

my girlfriend and I had a stupid argument in the car
I was comparing the heroine in ‘my year without sex’
to Muriel in ‘Muriel’s Wedding’
how they had the same daggy Australian woman thing
not found elsewhere
she thought I was being insulting

my voice became more metallic
exasperated
‘you don’t get it’
grinding on, through changes of lights
she retreated to silence
like Mum used to do with Dad
I felt empty
she did too

 

Catch Maurice at QPF 2009:

 

Saturday August 22 – 10:30 – 11:30am

The First Bullet of the Day: featuring Robert Bos and the launch of Half-Hour Country (Small Change Press) by Maurice McNamara and Dear Rose (Small Change Press) by Nicola Scholes

 

Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray

 

Sunday August 23 – 11:00pm – 12:00pm

Choreography of Chance: featuring Maurice McNamara, Rhys Rodgers and Santo Cazzati

 

All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

 

 

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QPF Spotlight #17 – Barbara Temperton

QPF 2009 is just two days away and it is all systems go… so to help get you there, today’s spotlight is shining on Barbara Temperton, illuminating where she finds the words that sing that strange music we call poetry.

 

b temperton

 

 

Influences

I’ve soaked up a large variety of influences over the years: from growing up semi-feral in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, to finally moving south, spending eleven years on the south coast before my current detour to the Mid West coast.

I started to write as a child, encouraged by my teachers, but really didn’t really start seriously until 1983. When I moved to Perth in 1987 I was able to connect with other writers – teachers, fellow students, and members of the Perth writing community –  such as Marion Campbell, Philip Salom, Anne Brewster, Tom Shapcott, Elizabeth Jolley, Dennis Haskell, Tracy Ryan, John Kinsella, David Buchanan, Mark Reid, Morgan Yasbincek, Andrew Taylor, Glen Phillips, Marcella Polain, and many others. A residency at Varuna in 2000 under the tutelage of Dorothy Porter and in the company of Judy Johnston and Felicity Plunkett is a high point. Undertaking my MA at UWA under the supervision of Dennis Haskell is another.

 

The Writing Process

My writing process is painstakingly slow. Getting ideas is one thing … one can accommodate a workman-like approach to the construction of poems, but working in an inspired way incorporates an entirely different process. Inspiration to me is when I become totally involved – emotionally, physically, spiritually, whatever – I’m in there with it – that’s when the work really starts to breathe and occupy my life with an intensity that can last days, weeks, months… if I’m lucky.

My first collection “The Snow Queen takes lunch at the Station Café” in Shorelines came together over a period of about seven years when I was mainly focussed on writing prose. I spent the next seven years working on poems for Going Feral, and another seven plus on Southern Edge. There is always a quiet, anticipatory space for me after I’ve finished a writing project, where I wait patiently for my next obsession to materialise.

 

The Importance of Voice

I know I have a character and a poem when I can hear voice. The means by which that comes about is difficult to explain. Sometimes the voice comes from within, sometimes from without. I collect voices that I come across from day to day, write them down, save them up. Once, at a party, I overheard a friend say “I have found pleasure in skinning rabbits.” As soon as our eyes met she laughed and pointed at me (because she knows me well) and said “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded!” And went on to explain what she really meant. But it didn’t matter, I had already collected the words, the voice. By the time I got home that night I had created the character who was speaking. So, voice can be a narrative position, but can also take many other forms, like sound qualities or structural aspects – line lengths, for example – of a poem. The character I called Traveller in “Jetty Stories (from Southern Edge) had his point of origin outside Port Hedland in 1995. We were fishing on the banks of a tidal creek. My nephew William told me the local legend of a woman who had walked out onto the mud flats at low tide, and who was trapped and drowned when the tide came in. William’s story provided me with the situation, later work saw the development of the Traveller’s character, but the poem did not come alive for me until I had found its voice – not the voice of the character but the voice of the poem – and that didn’t come about until much later.

 

Recurring Themes

About a decade ago I came to the understanding that bereavement in its many forms has been a constant source of inspiration for me, as it continues to be. Wherever darkness exists it has lightness as its counterfoil. That’s the nature of binaries – where there is one there is the other. In poetry, as in drawing, you don’t create a form by drawing the form, you create it by drawing the shadows.

 

How have my feelings about poetry, the reading and writing of, changed since I first started writing?

I don’t think my passion for poetry has changed, I still love reading it and writing it as much as I ever did.

In recent times, due to the demands of work and study, I have had a lot less time in which to write and I really miss the sense of dwelling that came with having an active writing habit.

I love being the poetry advisor for Westerly magazine, reading submissions, making recommendations to the Editors. Back in the eighties, Westerly gave me my first real opportunities at getting my short stories and poems published, so it’s somewhat poetic that I’m in this position now.

 

About Barbara:

Barbara Temperton is an award-winning Western Australian writer. Her poems, song lyrics, short stories, reviews and articles have appeared in journals, newspapers, anthologies, have been performed live and broadcast on radio. Barbara lives in Geraldton, Western Australia, where she works as a librarian and editor, and moonlights as the poetry editor for Westerly. Barbara has also worked on community writing and theatre projects and as tutor in English and Creative Writing courses at the UWA – Albany Centre, Edith Cowan University and Curtin University in Perth. Her second collection of poetry, Going Feral, won the 2002 West Australian Premier’s Book Award for Poetry. Southern Edge her third book, published this year by Fremantle Press, was written for her MA at the University of Western Australia.

 

Poem:

 

From “The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife” (Southern Edge, Fremantle W.A.: Fremantle Press, 2009.)

I

Dawn.
There’s still a bit of south in the wind.
Waves have worried the beach in two.

The keeper’s wife collects driftwood, feathers.

 

There is something about the air,
the intensity of colour,
that awes her. This place
is an X
on her map of moments with God.

Whales exhale beyond the wave line,
flippers and tail flukes slow-arc from the sea.
At the high tide line: cuttlefish, shells, kelp,
and a dead shearwater half-cast in sand,
wings mocked by breeze, the memory of flight.

Another bird, feet at pointe, Degas’ ballet
framed by footprints of dogs and gulls.

Thereafter, another seven,
bills locked mid-cry.

Mist begins its skyward drift with the sun,
horses and fierce riders
thunder through the curtain into day.

Sea’s silver, molten,
the air
taking on something like substance,
as though she could reach out, touch something solid.

She has either left the world
or just stepped into it.

 

Catch Barbara at QPF 2009:
Saturday August 22 – 10:30 – 11:30am

Skies Early Stars: featuring Barbara Temperton, Neil Murray & Kent McCarter

 

Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray

 

Sunday August 23 – 3:15pm – 4:15pm

Nostalgic by Ambitious: featuring Barbara Temperton, Geoff Page & John Knight

 

All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

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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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QPF Spotlight #15 – Adam Phillips

Adam Phillips is an emerging poet, harnessing his love of bush verse to address the stories and topics of our time. I shine the QPF Spotlight on this young storyteller to find out where he finds the words…

 

adam phillips

 

Influences

The works of Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson have always been my greatest influence. In recent years, Lawson’s red blooded poetry has been most inspirational. I’ve found myself drawn to the goodwill that is ever-present in his voice, despite his troubled life.

The early bush poet, Henry Kendall, paints some of the most beautiful scenes of the Australian bush I’ve ever read. I often turn to the American naturalist, Henry David Thoreau, when a dose of earth and sea is needed. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, who served me well while travelling through India, has also impacted on my writing too.

Songwriters like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Paul Kelly are always thereabouts, along with many other balladeers with a story to tell.

 

The Writing Process

A poem can start in many ways but I never try to force the words or assign a time to write. Sometimes I just hear or read a word that appeals to me and I craft a phrase or line around that word. Other times, a certain experience or pang of passion triggers some form of poetic release.

I always store poems in my mind before writing them down. Only when I’m happy with the rhyme, structure and subject matter do I push the pen. I prefer to write poems in one sitting otherwise it feels as though you’re returning to a moment that’s had the life sucked out of it.

 

The Importance of Voice

I remember an introduction to a Henry Lawson anthology that described his poetry as having ‘axe marks’ all through it but such was the beauty of it. I took comfort in that and still do. It is important to write poetry. To put on the woodchoppers singlet, have a swing and tell the stories that need to be told. 

A dear friend of mine gave me this quote from an old Persian poet which read ‘the great religions are ships, the poets are the lifeboats – every person I know has leapt overboard’. I’m just a sidestroker to the lifeboats, only I’ve got a few things to say on the way.

 

Recurring Themes

The natural world is generally a feature in most of my poems. I have a real passion for the environment and my poetry tends to reflect this. Even if I’m writing a city based story, there seems to be this inherent longing for the landscape that always creeps in somehow. Being an avid bushwalker brings themes of space and distance into the fray.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last two or three years travelling so I’ve written quite a lot about travel experiences. But every foreign yarn is countered with a story about home or life in Australia. In fact, some of my favourite work comes from that outsider’s perspective, seeing my homeland from afar.

 

How have my feelings about poetry, the reading and writing of, changed since I first started writing?

The first poem I wrote was about playing mud football with my mates. My early poems were very simple and I haven’t veered too far away from that idea over the years. I’ve definitely become a more rounded person and had more life experiences than when I first started writing. Accordingly, the potential subject matter has become much broader but in saying that I happily wrote a sequel to that very first poem just recently. The reasons for writing haven’t changed.

I can appreciate different forms of poetry now but the blinkers are still on to a large degree. The vintage verse of the early Australian poets that got me into poetry is what reminds me to keep going.

 

About Adam:

Adam Phillips is a local Brisbane poet who competed in the 2008 Poetry Unearthed competition and had works published in the ‘Poem of the Week’ competition in 2008. He has performed at numerous functions around Brisbane and also recited his poems on radio.

With an eye to the natural world, Adam’s poetry calls upon his love of classic Australian bush verse to address the stories and the topics of our time.
 

A COOEE AND A CANNON SHOT
by Adam Phillips

A cooee from the cliff edge cuts the treeline with its pledge
Strips the bark and loosens leaves or so the wayward man believes
Through the mangroves and the mud carrying his strains of blood
He calls across such virgin space with misery to match the place
Then to the cliff a countered sound renews the dreaming on the ground
And chance lifts off a southern sea to dance a great corroboree
Fire breathes and smoke billows and the furthest skyline glows
With each flame as old as sand – the story of us and our land

A cannon shot towards the shore misses what it’s aiming for
The tall ship squints with just disdain, what little force for such terrain!
Along the wall of shoal and rock waves bunt in and spit with shock
At colonies and regiments, European sentiments
And now where council parks are found tributes touch the coastal ground
Children chirp and play at ease, families picnic with the breeze
A row of pine slowly grows and the furthest skyline shows
With each tree cast over sand – the story of us and our land

A cooee and a cannon shot is all a broken man has got
To bridge this distance and this time, so much harder in our prime
This northerly is chasing down to find you at the edge of town
And meet with all your sweet finesse, wrap you up in wilderness
And steer you on the secret path where distance in the aftermath
Reduces to our human touch, fingers never meant so much
Until the new wind duly blows and the furthest skyline knows
With each footprint swept from sand – the story of us and our land

 

Catch Adam at QPF 2009:

Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray

 

Sunday August 23 – 2:00pm – 3:00pm

The Singing of the Earth: featuring Adam Phillips, Geoff Goodfellow & Neil Murray

 

All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

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A Million Bright Things

The Saturday night session at QPF 2009, A Million Bright Things, is shaping up to be one of the poetry events of the year, featuring every programmed artist + a feature set from legendary Australian singer/songwriter Neil Murray (Warumpi Band). Now that is what I call an all-star poetry jam!

So with just over a week to go, here’s links to interviews with a few of the Bright Things who will be hitting the QPF stage.

Neil Murray talks to Rave Magazine.

Hinemoana Baker & AF Harrold open up to Literary Minded’s Angela Meyer.

Jayne Fenton Keane speaks to expressbuzz.

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Guided by Poets – Maxine Clarke & friends

Hasn’t been a Guided by Poets blog up for a while so here goes… this one is bristling with the white hot energy of Maxine Clarke, Santo Cazzati, Steve Smart and Melissa Petrakis. You can catch Santo in Brisbane at QPF 2009 (August 21-23) and he will also be stepping out onto the Overload stage alongside Steve Smart and Maxine Clarke, so if you can, get along and check these guys out live… you will not be sorry.

 

white bred bun
by Maxine Clarke

 

oooooh check out that lifeguard
he’s ripped
hand me a vegemite
sand stuck in my baby bonus
ooooooh my baby bonus bits

oi! mister / let’s breed
gold haired & knock-kneed
buttercup & coon cheese
bandaid on a scratched knee
judge me by a wet T
call me love

my god / i love this
sunburnt cunt –
calls me a slapper
nother shrimp on the bar—
be unaustralian

i come from the land down under
limp lettuce / tomato sauce
burnt sausage & onion on
a white bred bun
i come from the land down under
balangalow screams / do
you speak my language
well / f*ck off & go home

hey sheila
hitch hike your skirt up
like a north shore school girl
hey blackie
yes you / beat it
only kind we dig are rip curls

oooooh check out that lifeguard
he’s ripped
hand me a vegemite
sand stuck in my baby bonus
ooooooh my baby bonus bits

 

 

Maxine_Clarke

Maxine Clarke is a West Indian-Australian poet, writer and journalist (The Age, Crikey, the Koori Mail, the Big Issue etc). Her poetry, short plays and fiction, examining the experiences of African descendants in the ‘new world’, has been broadcast and published nationally. She has read her poetry at many venues around Australia , including at the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Arts Centre, the Victorian Council of Churches and Quang Minh Buddhist Temple . Maxine’s poetry chapbook Original Skin (2008) is published by Picaro Press. She is a blogger for Overland literary magazine, and writes a poetry blog at slamup.blogspot.com. Maxine’s first novel Black Lazarus was the chosen manuscript for the Overland Novel Search (2008). Maxine lives in Melbourne and loves cheese, chocolate and well, pretty much all milk product. She knows that is not cool, in these days of climate change PC, but unfortunately lacks both the willpower or will to change. She does recycle and compost though, does not drive a car. She also rarely showers, which she thinks more than makes up for the milk fetish thing.

 

 

Ballet Class
by Santo Cazzati

 

Santo Cazzati

Santo Cazzati is a spoken word artist. The son of Italian immigrants to Australia, he emerged from past lives as a classical concert pianist and avant garde jazz musician to teach at an elite Melbourne private school which must remain anonymous in order to protect those concerned. He performs in a range of styles, from fast rhythmical delivery to slow atmospheric meditation, often with a strong world music influence and critical ironic distance.

 

 

Poems and Open Doors
by Steve Smart

The sign said open
but the door was locked
a sure sign that things had
already turned to burning hell

A brick through the window –
situation desperate
note of apology, rushed but half sincere
the things you’ll do when you really need a pen

no such thing as a victimless crime
minding your own business not always an option
I was trying to prevent a crime
or I was in a hurry . . .

I was thinking about something someone once said
that captured a moment in my life
I wanted to get it on paper before I forgot
it seemed of great importance at the time

Moments are lost so easily
all the things I never wrote down

there’s a certain sense of desperation to it all
I accept I may have been hasty
a poet without a pen is just a brain on legs
I never claimed to be rational

the sign said open
I was confused
the rock was handy
it was Autumn

Without structure an open door is just air
the sign said open
the rock was thrown through air
yet there was structure
the crime was committed
the pen found
the poem written as confession
the poet sentenced to hang

Pause to argue semantics:

If I reduced the poem to a sentence
would you reduce the sentence of the poet?

The verdict revised, the poem thus reduced to

In Autumn I had a thought

 

Steve Smart

Steve Smart is a Melbourne based poet who occasionally delves into acting, script writing, dodgy video making (www.youtube.com/olbollocks), tupperware parties and various collaborative activities with musicians and other artists. His self-deprecating style has won the hearts of people all over Australia who claim to dislike poetry. He sometimes feels trapped and frightened by the life he has chosen but doesn’t really know how to express these feelings except by writing poetry, which is what got him wherever he is in the first place so it’s  . . . he wants to say ironic but has a feeling it isn’t quite that. Hell, maybe it is irony after all. Let’s say Steve loves being a poet and leave it at that.

 

 

Witchcraft
by Melissa Petrakis

I’ve heard it called witchcraft
when your eyes are dazed
and your autonomy of will
               is non-existent
when your breath is caught
at the hint of a scent like
               theirs
and actual sight of them
               renders you mute
               and impotent
until their permission to touch
               touch them
ignites
and delivers
arterial action
once again.

Someone’s put a spell on you.

You can’t work
You can’t sleep
You can’t
               talk
without sounding like static
on the radio
ill tuned in
an AM station
and the band way down
at the far end of the dial
You can’t leave this city
               you can’t
get away
whatever you do you know
they’ll haunt you.

The spell is strong.

To your room at night
in full flight
               overhead
an adrenalin surge
a heat rod to your spine
a cold shower
it delivers
and it lingers
and it feeds
and it needs
and it gives you
               no peace
not that you’d want any
not that you remember
even recall what it was like to be
               tranquil.

And there’s no escape.

There’s no avoidance
               no
abdication or disinclination
no intermission
there is no sense
that denial would help
It’s a full steam
               straight ahead
rollercoaster ride
It’s a train wreck
It’s not polite or kind
or generous or political
               or fair
and never rational
It’s the pits
and they’re so hot.

Someone’s put a spell on you.

 

(from the collection, The Naked Muse: Domain Press, 2001)

 

melissa petrakis

Melissa Petrakis is a writer of poetry, plays, short stories, academic reviews and clinical work in the field of mental health research. She has recently completed her PhD with the University of Melbourne, School of Social Work on an innovative model of client-centred assertive counselling, community linkage and monitoring in suicide prevention for emergency department care and follow-up. A short story reflecting on generational differences and motherhood was published in the antipodean anthology about mothers and daughters Mothers from the Edge. Over the last 10 years her poetry has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia, including Meanjin and overland, and the USA, including kotapress and The Muse Apprentice Guild. Her 3 published collections are The Naked Muse (2001), Attic Dweller (2002) and The Earth of Us (2005). Over the last 2 years she and her husband Tristan have become proud parents to Isabel and Lucas.

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QPF Spotlight #14 – Jessika Tong’s Desert(ed) Island Poems

Last year at QPF, one of my highlights was an afternoon reading by local Brisbane poet, Jessika Tong; words raw and engaging, pulling the crowd into her at times unsettling world. Audiences will again have the opportunity to hear Jessika at this year’s QLD Poetry Festival, so I asked her about the poems she would tuck into her hip-pocket if she was heading off to a Desert(ed) Island.

 

Jessika Tong

 

Lady Lazarus – Sylvia Plath

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

This poem, to me, is beautiful. I have always admired the sharp, short but brutal lines of ‘Lady Lazarus’, as well as its honesty and brave approach to language.  I first read this poem when I was fourteen and have come to greatly appreciate its place amongst my collection of favourites with its stabbing lines and bold imagery. I have always been an avid reader of Plath and a great admirer of the ways in which she chose to express herself.

Ash, ash –
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there –

I don’t think ‘Lady Lazarus’ is sun and sand material but I would take it, regardless of the scenery.

 

Bindawalla, binda, bindi, bindii – Elizabeth Hodgson

I enjoy the simple words of this poem. The way it doesn’t glamorize but haunts with its starkness (deserted island) – this is what makes it appealing. I discovered this poem only a few weeks ago and immediately shoved it under the eyes of friends just to see if it broke their hearts as well (it did).

The nurses laughed as they put me in a shoe-box
And gave me to my mother: she cried.

I was weighed and measured.
With the Apgar score they rated me
To see if I could survive in this world on my own.

 

Rapunzel – Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton has always been a curious creature. I find myself drawn to her confessions and fragile but dark wordplay. The way she dominates a line with her famous ‘I’. Her recreation of ‘Rapunzel’ shows her brilliant mastery of taking a beloved fairytale and making it entirely her own. I adore most of Sexton’s work but ‘Rapunzel’ remains a solid favourite (as does the entire collection of ‘Transformations’) since fairytales and folk lore (Baltic) have always entranced me. I grew up with a mother who looked like a witch and read me tale after tale in front of a crackling fireplace so I feel very much at home when I am reading ‘Rapunzel’.

As for Mother Gothel,
Her heart shrank to the size of a pin,
Never again to say: Hold me, my young dear,
Hold me,
And only as she dreamt of the yellow hair
Did moonlight sift into her mouth.

 

Light breaks where no sun shines – Dylan Thomas

Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.

This poem describes the body, or the death of the body, in the most extraordinary way – its slow decay with connection to earth “the secret of the soil grows through the eye”. Like all great Thomas poems, there seems to be edge to something other than man, woman, body, sea, animal, bone and light. Like many of the other poems I would select, this one would not suit an island littered with sun tanned shoulders and coconut milk.

 

You took away all the oceans and all the rooms (307) – Osip Mandelstam

I have carried this poem around with me in a notebook for years. Transferring it when each book became fat and useless. Mandelstam died in the Gulags of Russia but wrote this particular poem while in exile. It is a brave poem, highlighting the human spirit without making one gag.

You took away all the oceans and all the room.
You gave me my shoe-size in earth with bars around it.
Where did it get you? Nowhere.
You left me my lips, and they shape words, even in silence.

 

The Nim Poems – Dorothy Hewett

Alice turning eleven
Watching the blood trickle
Between her thighs onto the warm boards
The woodbugs investigated it
For touching myself on the woodheap
I must be going to die she thought

This poem is an epic and is broken up into seventy-two verses under a number of sub-headings. I love the way that Alice’s life (the centre piece of the poem) is slowly rolled out with its mythical undertones and raw language. Hewett writes poetry that is adventurous and the Nim poems are a great example of her wild talent and provocative imagination – she is not shy and this is why I appreciate this set (and her) so much.

She went to the races
Pregnant in a black pill box hat
With a veil
He borrowed his father’s ute
& drove her to the abortionist’s
The unregistered doctor came
In the dark & masturbated her clitoris
Relax  he told her

 

In a dark time – Theodore Roethke

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The days on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks – is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I  have.

This poem is incredibly rich with imagery and rhythm. It reads like a heartbeat. Poems which generally describe self-discovery can be flowery and are poems which I usually avoid except for this one. ‘In a dark time’ is fat with death-like images but is rich with hope, recording the pain one must go through in search of the I. “A fallen man, I climb out of my fear. The mind enters itself, and God the mind, and one is One, free in the tearing wind”. What an exquisite creature Roethke is.

 

And you as well must die, beloved dust – Edna St. Vincent Millay

This flawless, vital hand, this perfect head,
This body of flame and steel, before the gust
Of Death, or under his autumnal frost
Shall be as any leaf, be no less dead

This poem bleeds and aches. It is truly beautiful and one of my all time favourites with its wonderful ode to lost love and death. This is a poem to sit quietly with as it is flooded with such intense imagery that it demands to be read slowly so as to be truly absorbed. I like the way that nature is used to describe decay of body, love, and life and how the appreciation of beauty is stitched into each line adding to the poems romantic appeal.

 

Trees – Jordie Albiston

My breasts fall free my torso expands
Hair covers my flesh like a friend   I
Feel my roots burgeon back down the
Years I stretch and stand to leave

‘Trees’ is pure magic. This poem was given to me as a gift when I was eighteen and although the pages have grown a faint yellow around the edges I have never grown bored of it. I like the connection to earth and how this is drawn back into the poet’s (or female) body.

Please do not feed the trees
They do not hunger  They do not seethe
Or writhe   requiring the control of
Nylon silk   twisted   root bound foot

The way Albiston is able to create an almost tree-like envy while wrapping the female into root and bark greatly appeals to me. I grew up in a pine forest and have always carried with me, and throughout my own work, the image of trees and I have always been fascinated by their appearance within the poems of others (The moon and the yew tree by Sylvia Plath).

 

And there’s no grave – Marina Tsvetaeva

And there’s no grave! No separation, ending!
The tables un-spelled, the house – wakened up.
Like Death – on a gay dinner after wedding,
I’m Life, arrived on the last evening sup!

Marina Tsvetaeva reminds me of my Grandmother by the sharpness of her face and severe fringe. My Grandmother smelt of her garden, beheaded chickens without crying, poured entire bottles of Brandy in her trifles. She always reminded me of a woman from the old world. A Tsvetaeva (although not Russian, but German). I admire Tsvetaeva originality, her spitting lines, and at times, her hardness.

 

About Jessika:

Jessika Tong grew up in a small pine village on the Northern Island of New Zealand and has spent most of her adult life in Central and South East Queensland. Jessika has appeared within various literary journals including Motherlode: Australian Women’s Poetry 1986 – 2008, Poetry Matters, The Age, The Australian Literature Review, The Westerly, Wet Ink, Tears in the Fence FourWnineteen, Mascara, Pendulum, LinQ, Poetrix, Polestar and Verandah22. Her first collection, The Anatomy of Blue was released in December 2008 by SunLine Press.

 

Words
by Jessika Tong

I came over the green flanked
Sea of the Arctic hooked pike
With brilliant gristle I came madly
Rocked the crotch bell split the
Artery of its tarred filaments let
The lid off your blood box

A studded stump of a man now
Cleaned of your gorse you achieve
Talent, nerves, the watery earth
Of the eye its black points and
Waxy edge of white humanness,
Pureness, at last, you are one of us

A beggar for ink in your house
I have filleted books of their sternums
Poured alphabets down the throats
Of geese until their livers, fat with dictionaries,
Swelled the emptied nib of a pen we are
Nothing special but hands in suffrage

Finding windows in bodies small curtains
Of meat a kind of light that turns on when
The tongue stamps its ownership
It does not breathe or speak
Its teeth poisoned at the root it
Opens, grisly as a cut throat, blowing red balloons.

 

Catch Jessika at QPF 2009:

Saturday August 22 – 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Spine of Lost Voices: featuring Jessika Tong, Noelle Janaczewska & Elizabeth Bachinsky

 

Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray

 

All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

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Filed under Desert(ed) Island Poems