Tag Archives: University of QLD Press

Poetry Picks of 2010 – Phillip A. Ellis

Starlight: 150 Poems by John Tranter (St Lucia : UQPress, 2010) ISBN: 978702238451

My pick for the poetry publication that rocked my world in 2010 is, in many ways, a conservative one. It is no surprise, really, that John Tranter’s Starlight would head the list, not because he is so dominant, or so (dare I say it) predictable, but for the fact that Tranter is, simply, one of the best living Australian poets. He is at once challenging and entertaining, and his work retains a freshness that vivifies his concern and voice.

And a lot of it is damn funny as well.

I’d like to illustrate what I mean by a quick glance at “Well-Equipped Men” on page 83, to cite one poem. Already the humour is there, the “Well-Equipped” of the title treading the fine line between bawdy and the almost literal. The wordplay extends beyond the title, as you’d expect; the “clever Cleveland” at the end of light perrenially delights me, and the title really only comes into play about halfway through the sestet. Where the sonnet starts talking about the “muscly brothers in the rusting truck.”

The poem travels, as well, from “old-fashioned plaid” to “popular songs from the fifties” to “tawdry items,” in the octet, to “a dazzling uniform” and “a loaded sawn-off shotgun” through the brothers “on target for the abortion clinic” to the end where “the news story / inflamed them and no one is responsible.” That ending, that final image just works wonders for me, and Tranter packs worlds into the compass of small poems here, small literally, not figuratively.

Of course, this is only one poem among many others. And it can only be
said that there’s a lot more there where that one poem came from.

You can find out more about Starlight and purchase a copy of the book here.

Phillip A. Ellis is a freelance critic and scholar, and has recently completed English Honours through the University of New England. His poetry collection, The Flayed Man, has been published by Gothic Press, and he is working on another collection, to appear through Diminuendo PressHippocampus Press has published his concordance to the poetry of Donald Wandrei. He is the editor of Australian Reader, Calenture, Studies in Australian Weird Fiction, Melaleuca and Breaking Light Poetry Magazine.

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Poetry Picks of 2010 – Jeremy Balius

Apples with Human Skin, Nathan Shepherdson (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2009)

No Australian poet has had a greater impact on my word-scribbles this year than Nathan Shepherdson. Apples with Human Skin was the catalyst.

This is a fierce book, a tesseract of tumult and brittle nettles, tagged and numbered and sent back out to pierce the forest floor.

See, understand this: Apples with Human Skin was my guidebook this year – a map for a Gieβen raised, Los Angeles educated, Berlin survived, Fremantle located cat.

In ‘einunzwanzig’ of the trakl (27×1) sequence (dedicated to Bruce Heiser, by the way), Nathan writes:

he had invented a blunt machine
for replacing umlauts in a poet’s brain

how to remember how to remember how to forget

Do you know the story of Austrian Expressionist poet Georg Trakl? Go look him up. This is important. Nathan’s book is named after Trakl’s ein Apfel mit menschlicher Haut.

To end, a snippet of ‘to find what is not there’, one of Nathan’s longer pieces in the volume.

so if you can see to the end of this sentence
you are either lying or you are blind

even the most basic words in repetition
make their own time one time in all time

 

 Indexical Elegies, Jon Paul Fiorentino (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2010)

The concept of beloved left-behinds being an index of those who’ve passed on is poignancy through and through.  Comprising three sequences, the title sequence of Indexical Elegies is in memoriam of Canadian Jon Paul Fiorentino’s late mentor Robert Allen.

It points to two aptly summarising epigraphs:

There is no truth
but in dead event, shaken, stunned

I miss everybody.
                                                – Gilbert Sorrentino

The index is physically connected with its object; they make an organic pair.

                                                – Charles Sanders Peirce

Deep into a Brisbane night, Jon Paul told me to get hooked on Sorrentino. I got hooked.

@JonPaul, icons bore me too. Am falling too far; weary. Upheaval. #chloroformedideas

Pay attention readers of the Lost Shark, when Jon Paul writes:

The word ‘I’ is apparently
an essential indexical unit

I hate
this

I lost you in November
and if time isn’t subjective

it’s November again and I am
appalled I grieve

Time is subjunctive
I am your index now

…I inhale that ish because I’ve lived that. I still live that. I inhale it and exhale only the ink.

High wit and dark humour oscillate despair, fury, loneliness, sadness and clang the drainpipes of Fiorentino’s hometowns of Winnipeg and Montreal. Sometimes it’s the smile hiding the clenched jaw. Sometimes it’s the flurry of word movement distracting from the bleary-eyed sleep deprivation.

Actually, scratch all that glib; forget everything in my note thus far.

Remember only this: Indexical Elegies is profound. I am deeply moved.

 

 im toten winkel des goldenen schnitts, Marcus Roloff (Frankfurt am Main: Gutleut Verlag, 2010)

I hadn’t had much to do with German poetics since regal 8 // shelf 8 was inducted into the Deutsches Literaturarchiv. Thankfully Marcus Roloff had a hand in making it an obsession again.

I met Marcus through Black Rider Press when we translated some of his work for The Diamond & the Thief. We later translated more of his work for Berlin’s no man’s land, partner to the infamous lauter niemand magazine. And we’ve got more we’re sitting on.

im toten winkel des goldenen schnitts (this roughly means in the blind spot of the golden ratio – if you don’t catch the various references and entendres in that, I’m not going to tell you) just came out recently and it’s the linguistic cartography, both of physical and metaphysical, that amazes. And also the typography – this book feels alive with its cover that folds out to reveal the entirety of the watercolour painting Dead Philosophers by Trevor Gould.

Marcus’ bio isn’t even in the book; it’s hidden on the back of the cover’s painting. I didn’t even notice it for ages. This aptly summarises his approach.

Marcus writes the way I’d imagine Pantha du Prince songs circa 2004 would read if all the notes were words. I see Marcus as the kind of poet who went out into the desert and came back to the city of Frankfurt am Main with a more expansive Truth and a de-centred self, clandestine urban operettas and a big ole bassline.

This is historiography for the deep-house kids. This is philosophy for the hopeful and bright-eyed kids. This is what it is for the introspective and fearless kids.

my gleiwitz

the long holidays beforehand & now / the neither-nor-
light at six a.m. // on the 1st of september a night-
shirt all tangled up / a nightmare jammed in the folds
of the cushion // from the cabinet a tumbling swift
or rather a jump / (a re-pre-metaphor) like the dusk under
the bedcover // & behind the window of the children’s room
the heimat of school full of empty idols and water
pistols / begins on the day of the attack on Poland //

(first published in no man’s land, issue 5)

 

 

 Jeremy Balius looks after Black Rider Press and hangs out with the Cottonmouth kids. You can find him at Am I the Black Rider? Yes. He writes for the last of the red hot lovers.

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Riverbend Poetry Series, April 27 – featuring Nathan Shepherdson

The second Riverbend Poetry Series event for the year takes place on Tuesday April 27, when QLD Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre and Riverbend Books join forces to present a night of poetry with Tim Collins, Nathan Shepherdson, Kent MacCarter (VIC) & the launch of Brisbane’s favourite lit-mag Small Packages (vol. 11).

Tickets for the event are now available:

Date: Tuesday 27 April
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=2242

Here’s a quick bite of poetry from multi-award winner, Nathan Shepherdson:

 

Nathan Shepherdson is the author of three books of poetry – Sweeping the Light Back Into the Mirror (UQP 2006); what marian drew never told me about light (Small Change Press 2008) and Apples with Human Skin (UQP 2009). He has been a guest at a number of festivals in recent years. He has been the fortunate recipient of a number of awards and is the fortunate son of the painter Gordon Shepherdson.

 

from Eve 1528

before this moment
light had never walked to the back of the eye
it slides by like a transparent fate in rusted shoes
it is a rare moment
where we are allowed to unbutton the filaments in our eyes
indulge in a profound emptiness
where perfectly decayed questions drift like miniature suns
and perfectly formed answers hum a barely audible indifference
there is a stillness to be siphoned from other planets
a substance to be kept under the eyelids
to be invoked at certain temperatures of thinking
when my optic nerves are placed in a vase by the window

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Queensland Poetry Festival presents: Poetry on the Deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first event in this years Riverbend Books Readings. Join us on the Riverbend deck and enjoy the sounds and imagery of award winning poets Anna Krien (2008 Val Vallis Award) and Felicity Plunkett (2008 Thomas Shapcott Award); global traveler Alan Jefferies and emerging Brisbane voice, Jessika Tong.

Date: Tuesday 24 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 www.riverbendbooks.com.au

Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!

About the poets:

felicity-plunkett

Felicity Plunkett’s manuscript Vanishing Point won the 2008 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize and is forthcoming with UQP. She is an Honorary Research Consultant at the University of Queensland, where she teaches literature and poetics, and a widely-published reviewer. She has a PhD from the University of Sydney. Her poetry has been published in journals and anthologies including Best Australian Poetry 2008, The Best Australian Poems 2008, Heat, Southerly and Blue Dog, and was awarded Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prizes in 2006 and 2007.

 

alan-jefferies1

Alan Jefferies was born in Brisbane and grew up in Cleveland. He lived in Sydney and Coalcliff for much of the 80’s and 90’s and obtained degrees in Communication and Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. In 1998 he moved to Hong Kong where he lived until 2007. With Kit Kelen and Mani Rao he started the spoken word reading OutLoud. In 2002 an anthology of work from these readings was published (Outloud: an anthology of poetry from Outloud readings, Hong Kong). He has published 5 collections of poetry, his most recent being Homage and other poems (Chameleon, 2007). He was recently an invited participant at the ‘Cairo International Forum of Arabic poetry’ and the ‘Tenth International Literature Festival’ in Romania. He now lives in Redland Bay. He keeps a musical alter ego at www.myspace.com/psychicstreetsweepers

 

anna-krien

Anna Krien’s writing has been published in The Big Issue, The Monthly, The Age newspaper, Best Australian Essays 2005 & Best Australian Essays 2006 – published by Black Inc, Griffith Review, Voiceworks, Going Down Swinging, COLORS, Best Australian Stories 2008, and Frankie magazine. Her poem ‘The Last Broadcasters’ won the 2008 Val Vallis Award. Once she had a neurological cat scan, which came back saying she had an unremarkable brain.

 

jessika-tong

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 The Age, The Australian Literature Review, The Westerly, Wet Ink and Verandah22. Her first collection, The Anatomy of Blue was released in December 2008 by Sunline Press. “Astonishingly powerful, her raw imagery says what is often left unsaid or couched in more genteel terms. This poetry drives relentlessly into avoided spaces and territory that remains a wilderness. Confronting and irreverent” (Roland Leach 2008). Jessika is twenty-six and is currently a student at QUT, Brisbane.

 

Watch this space for features on each of these poets in the weeks leading up to this event.

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