Tag Archives: Rowan Donovan

clouds in another’s blood

SpeedPoets this Saturday (May 5) is shaping up to be one hell of a gig, with a feature set from one of its founding members, Rowan Donovan and a premiere reading by Nathan Shepherdson of his latest work, clouds in another’s blood.

clouds in another’s blood is published in a limited edition of 50 hand bound, concertina fold, artist books by local publisher, light-trap press and is a collaboration between Nathan and print maker, Julie Barratt. Nathan’s work has won many, many awards and I for one am incredibly excited about getting my hands on a copy of this new collection. Here’s a few words and images from the book to give you all a first taste…

and the ground

that is responsible

for this distance

is unable to remember trees

is held

under the clean pressure of snow


Filed under events & opportunities, poetry & publishing

Strange Conversations

I was flipping through some old mags and journals tonight and came across an issue of University of QLD journal, Vanguard. Inside the issue was a series of ‘conversations’ between some of the greats of twentieth century literature – Raymond Carver, Allen Ginsberg, e.e. cummings and Jack Kerouac – and a number of local Brisbane poets. The editors had pitched us a series of questions from the works of these literary giants and encouraged us to go nuts. The results… some frenetic, curious and strange conversations.

Here’s a sample from each interview… and if you want to add your own response to one of the questions, feel free drop it in the comments.


Interviewer: e.e. cummings, from 100 Selected Poems

Interviewees: Jef Caruss (JC) and Sheish Money (SM)

e. e.:  shall the voice of liberty be mute?

JC: If I can’t yell the occasional obscenity, then I cannot be free.

e. e.:  I say to you who are silent.—“Do you see Life?”

SM: I say to you who are dead do you hear noise?

e. e.:  what if a dawn of a doom of a dream bites this universe in two, peels forever out of his grave and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?

SM: Then the twilight of a beginning being will forge a pact with grave and gifted and float nothingness on air till you and I return.


Interviewer: Raymond Carver (RC), from All of Us: The Collected Poems

Interviewee: Graham Nunn (GN)

RC:  What the hell is going on?

GN: In a soft skinned sunset, the hot breath of prayer is sketching new purpose; bleeding silver sutures to stitch up the remnants of something far more interesting, for we are gone sweetness…wired, split, shot to elsewhere.

RC: What’s wrong?

GN: All the trees are dressed in flames, houses stumble forward menacingly, foaming at the windows and the road has torn itself free from underfoot. Our heads are filled with avalanches and our mouths with waterfalls.

RC: Have you had any fresh lemonade lately?

GN: I have written english nouns without capitals, bared my teeth at the tatting of tongues, watched a thunderstorm in my cupboard, philandered over elegant chairs and drank myself silly thank you very much!


Interviewer: Jack Kerouac (JK), from Old Angel Midnight

Interviewee: Rowan Donovan (RD)

JK: How are you Mrs Jones?

RD: Since the operation? Good! And since my marriage to Mr. Jones? Even better! It’s amazing what these doctors can do today. A little nip here. A little tuck there and—Hey Presto—just me and my new private parts. Actually, it was the wedding and all the fuss that was trying but now I’m good, and thank you for asking, Mr. Kerouac. Mind if I call you Jack?

JK: Why read Don Quixote when you can read The Diamond Sutra or the Wonderful Law Lotus Sutra?

RD: That’s right! Why read a classic of Western Literature when you can read the sutra that first enlightened Hui Neng?

JK: Do I dream?

RD: Not if you have read The Diamond Sutra.

JK: What kinda world we’d have (Hi Missus Twazz) (O jullo Mr. Moon mock) a world all poits?

RD: Ahh, Jack. I love it when you talk dirty.


Interviewer: Allen Ginsberg (AG), from Planet News:

Interviewee: Julie Beveridge (JB)

AG: The colour of the wind?

JB: The wind had no colour til I quit smoking and now it looks like all the cigarette smoke I no longer inhale, it just follows me around asking me why I don’t drop by anymore.

AG: Do you want to live or die?

JB: I don’t know whether to kill myself or go bowling.

AG: Well, who knows?

JB: The guy at the bowling alley said to kill myself. He’d know I guess.

AG: How big is the prick of the President?

JB: Not as big as mine… but bigger than yours.

AG: You’re in a bad mood?

JB: Don’t get upset, your prick is a fine size. There’s no need to get personal.


Filed under interviews/artist profiles

Poet’s Breakfast #3 – Rowan Donovan

Ease into your morning and enjoy the breakfast ritual of Rowan Donovan. Pour the tea, sit back and taste this toasted life…

Part One:   A Slice of Toasted Life. 

The Japanese call it, “asa- gohan”. Morning Rice. The French, “un petit dejeuner.” Me? I call it, “breakfast”. A morning ritual I’ve prescribed to and haven’t changed in years. 

In the small working space of my loved kitchen, morning after morning, I take the same paced side step shuffles. Two steps to the right. Open top draw. One pace to the left. Put the butter knife down. Half turn pirouette. Open fridge door. I could do it with my eyes shut. Take out the marmalade jam. The same big bowled green cup I have used forever. A mismatched saucer. A family heirloom if we weren’t so dysfunctional. And from the freezer of my fridge, two frozen slices of my favourite bread. Without one there is no other. There are lessons to be learnt here. Enlightenment can be found in the everyday mundane.

My bread of choice is Burgers Soy-Lin. Simply stated, it’s the best bread in the world. Period. Packed with natural goodness ie, calcium, iron, folate, phytoestrogens, omega and high fibre, I have been eating it forever. If I didn’t start every day with my two slices of Burgen, I could never be consoled.

My Sunbeam toaster has to be seen to be believed. It’s a retro relic from a time when toasters were toasters and not décor accessory items. Its slots take two slices. Only two. The toasting dial is permanently set on three. It would be tantamount to challenging me to a do or die duel to change that setting! And it roasts my toast to cooked perfection.




Strangely though, I’m a “cold toast” man. The secret is in leaving the toasted slices for that little bit longer after the pop up has popped. Just long enough to absorb a tad more radiant energy before taking the prized slices out to cool and dry.  This is where it gets tricky. We want toasted crunch. We don’t want limp. Toast ain’t toast if it’s limp. Know what I mean?

Of course what one dresses one’s toast with is a personal statement of intent. A homage to bourgeois indulgence. Like, “let them eat toast!” A zen like simplicity. I use a concoction that is neither butter nor margarine. I don’t know what it is. Just that it’s spreadable and fifty percent less fat. Last but not least, a final coating of Breakfast Marmalade. A generic brand. Thirty five per cent fruit. Made in Poland. Sold at Woolies.

Indeed, like the archer who aims at his true self, so too perfect toast. Perfection after all, is approachable.

                                                     Summer breakfast
                                                     burnt toast
                                                     and one more cup of tea      

To be continued   –   Part Two:  Chado

About Rowan:

Rowan Donovan was born in 1952 in Hawera, New Zealand. He started performing his poetry around Brisbane at various venues in 2001, often working collaboratively with good friend and Brisbane poet Graham Nunn. He continues to showcase his work to audiences whenever the opportunity presents itself. He is proud to be a founding member of Brisbane’s longest running poetry/spoken word event Speedpoets and to have served for five years on the Queensland Poetry Festival management committee.

To purchase a copy of Rowan’s book ‘The Lateness of Goodnight’ contact him at rdono22(at)eq.edu.au


Filed under Poet's Breakfast

heavy with fruit – a renga by Graham Nunn & Rowan Donovan

heavy with fruit
the mango tree
resists the wind

winter skin
flushed sun pink

tending the garden
more grey creeps
through her hair

fingers and thumbs
coax colours into season

leaves all raked
full moon
hangs in the branches

scent of autumn
goes up in smoke

gone to ground
evening wind
picks up a chill

looking for warmth
the old dog circles his bitch

one more turn
on the dance floor
he leads

opening the car door
together    they blush

around this time
hands on faces
glow in the dark

tonight’s sky
pale among the stars

pond’s surface
no trace
of winter moon

morning dew softens
prickle between my toes

needle pine
standing up to the sky
makes its point

close to silence –
the hum of flies

above the noise
spring bulbs burst
into colour

stretched across the sky
rainbow lorikeets

back and forth
toy kites
chase their tails

higher still
a cloud gets left behind

late afternoon
shadows move out
from the house

inside rooms
silhouettes where light has left them

evening swim
moonlight catches
her bikini line

whispered sweet nothings
turn up the heat

in the mirror
together –
she pulls him closer

seeing double
love’s true disguise

mid-life crisis
he scratches
an old itch

all this time
without a bite

waning moon
the mosquito finds
my ear

red at the edges –
autumn dawn

choosing its moment
one more leaf
takes the plunge

the empty cup fills
with morning

green tea
a tangible taste

my future lies
in the leaves

dust in the wind
no flowers
this spring

clean splashes on the windscreen
and that is all…

* poems in italics by Graham Nunn

‘heavy with fruit’ was first published in Yellow Moon

About renga

Renga is an ancient Japanese form of collaborative writing. Poets in pairs or small groups take turns composing alternating three-line and two-line stanzas. The popular form consists of 36 stanzas and is called a kasen. Centuries after its inception, the opening stanza gave rise to the much shorter haiku. To find out more about renga visit: http://www.ahapoetry.com/RENGA.HTM

They are a great way of sparking new writing.


Filed under poetry