Tag Archives: Walleah Press

Tickets for Riverbend Poetry Series on sale now!

The Riverbend Books front deck has become synonymous with poetry in Brisbane over the course of the last eight years, hosting the annual Riverbend Poetry Series in collaboration with QLD Poetry Festival and QLD Writers Centre. So if you don’t want to be standing on the street, craning your neck (and ears) to get a slice of the action, check out the details below to book your ticket. These events book out notoriously early and the line-up… well, the year is off to a flyer!

Riverbend Poetry Series 1

The first event in the Riverbend Poetry Series features graveyard poet Zenobia Frost,  multi-award winner Anthony Lawrence and two very special launches – Vanessa Page launching her full length debut,  Confessional Box and the Choose Your Own Poetry Adventure amplified e-book launch.

When: Tuesday 19th February 2013, 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Where: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St, Bulimba
Cost: $10
Bookings are essential and can be made by calling Riverbend Books on 07 3899 8555 or via their website.


Here’s a little bit about the poets…

Vanessa-PageVanessa Page is launching her full length debut, Confessional Box. Vanessa is a Brisbane-based poet who hails from Toowoomba in Queensland. In 2011 and 2012 she was named runner-up in the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize for an unpublished manuscript for The lost art of penning you a love note and Confessional Box. In April 2012 she launched her first micro-collection of poetry Feeding Paper Tigers through Another Lost Shark Publications.

Confessional Box is her second collection of poetry, published by Walleah Press, combining the best of Page’s two shortlisted Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize manuscripts, Confessional Box is an extended love letter to place, heart and memory.

“Vanessa Page writes with the complex simplicity of an artist like Paul Klee – her language is ‘skin, papered/over skin’. There is an arresting music to this book, worked at deep pitch, performed with great skill and a compassionate vision.” — Robert Adamson

lawrenceAnthony Lawrence has published thirteen books of poems, the most recent being The Welfare of My Enemy (Puncher & Wattmann, 2011) which was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award and the Age Book of the Year Awards. His books and individual poems have won many of Australia’s major poetry awards, and his work has been translated into Italian, German, Japanese and Slovenian. He lives at Casuarina, on the North Coast of NSW, and teaches Reading and Writing Poetry at Griffith University, Gold Coast.

Zenobia-FrostZenobia Frost is a Brisbane-based poet and critic with a PhD in burning the candle at both ends. In 2012 she was invited to tour with the Queensland Poetry Festival Regional Roadshow; then, in October, she spent a week at Varuna, the Writer’s House, coaxing her debut manuscript into shape. Zen edits with OffStreet Press, Cordite Poetry Review, and Voiceworks Magazine, and she enjoys long walks in graveyards, incisive verse, theatre, and tea.

CYOPA-2Choose Your Own Poetry Adventure, a co-production of QPF and if:book Australia, is a journey through the byways and the streets of the Valley. Weaving language into the physical spaces that we walk around daily, these poetic trails combine language and landmarks to showcase Fortitude Valley in a whole new light.

Choose Your Own Poetry Adventure has three poetic journeys created by three Brisbane poets: Julie Beveridge, Carmen Leigh Keates, and Chris Lynch.

Carmen Leigh Keates’ collection One Broken Knife was published in Brisbane New Voices III, 2012. Her verse novella, Second-Hand Attack Dog, was commended in the 2011 Alec Bolton Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Chris Lynch’s poetry has appeared in Blackmail Press, page seventeen and Islet. He recently edited The Tangled Bank: Love, Wonder, and Evolution, an anthology of speculative fiction, poetry, and artwork about evolution.

Julie Beveridge is a poet and cultural producer. Her collection, Home is where the Heartache is (Small Change Press), was her first collection of haibun. Her follow up collection, home{sic}, was released in June 2012.


Filed under events & opportunities

The Next Big Thing(s) – Vanessa Page & Nigel Ellis

2013 has some exciting releases about to drop, two of which, are the debut, full-length collections from Vanessa Page and Nigel Ellis.


Vanessa released the micro-collection, Feeding Paper Tigers last year as part of Brisbane New Voices III and will follow this up with the launch of her collection, Confessional Box (Walleah Press) in February this year.

You can read all of Vanessa’s responses to The Next Big Thing interview on her blog, but here’s a preview to send you on your way…

What is the title of your book?

Confessional Box

What genre does your book fall under?


What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

I’d say poems about love, loss and hope in domestic and Queensland-based settings. But my friends Brett Dionysius and Graham Nunn say this a little more eloquently:

“Confessional Box maps the undulating landscapes of home, love and letting go. Page’s poems are sensuous, compassionate and filled with quiet wisdom; they are a celebration of the world’s infinite gifts.” – Graham Nunn

“Page’s poems are growth rings in the tree of human experience. Like the embodied moment, these are poems to run your hands over and remember how they felt. Page’s sensual poems are a fine addition to the contemporary Australian lyric.” — B. R. Dionysius


Nigel has been an essential part of the Brisbane poetry community for many years, so this is a release I have been anticipating for sometime.

Nigel Ellis

Nigel also responded to The Next Big Thing interview and this is what he had to say:

What is the title of your book?


What genre does your book fall under?


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s a work of reportage – an exploration of the surging currents & deadly undertows of intimate relationships, peppered with attempts to understand, delineate, & in some ways even construct a self

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The very lovely very brave Dale Winslow of Neopoiesis Press suggested that i publish a collection, & encouraged me to overcome my big-match nerves.

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

The book is a collection of around 45 poems from the last 5 or more years.  The tricky part was choosing works to include that would enable the creation of some kind of loose narrative thread, or threads.  It was roughly two years from initial discussions to finished product.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Recent years have brought all kinds of profound shifts, reversals, advances, & so on, in my personal circumstances.   The constant but largely subconscious process of constructing & maintaining interpersonal relationships & self-identity that we all perform as, in whatever ways, we narrate our own lives, has been thrown into sharp focus for me.  The primacy of languages, and how we may and do use them, inspires my every word-choice.

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

The book is published by the US-based Neopoiesis Press; a young & vibrant independent publisher.  A few years ago, some poems of mine were included in the anthology that was their first-ever publication.  Although they’re very small, It’s great to be able to hook into their network and resources.

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

I’m letting this one through to the keeper.

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

uUMmmm…  Harold Lloyd?  The entire cast of Fantastic Voyage?

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

As far as I can tell, my coinage of the word ‘hæmatogram’ (writing in/with blood) is, outside of obscure medical terminology, original & so far, unique.


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QPF 2012 Feature Poet: Jill Jones

It’s edging ever closer… QPF 2012 feels like I can reach out and touch it. So to bring it even closer, here’s an interview with one of the featured poets, Jill Jones. You can catch Jill at the following sessions:

The Phrasebook of Silence (w/ Nicola Easthope and Robert Adamson)
Saturday August 25
4pm – 5pm

A Million Bright Things (a showcase of every artist on the program)
Saturday August 25
8pm – 9:30pm

Whisper Me Awake (w/ Vanessa Page and Nathan Curnow)
Sunday August 26
12:15pm – 1:15pm

ALS: Since Dark Bright Doors was released in 2010 (Wakefield Press), you have co-edited ‘Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets (Puncher & Wattman, 2011). I would love to hear about the process of editing such a major work.

Jill: Editing Out of the Box was a long process for a couple of interlinked reasons. We took a while to get a publisher sorted out, a few years, a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, initial interest from publishers not followed through for various reasons. We were finally happy that David Musgrave decided to take it on, but because the whole process was drawn out, we kept finding new poets to approach, or people we’d initially approached then having newer work to check out, and all of that sorting takes time. There were poets whose work we were interested in who were difficult to contact as well. Not everyone is within email distance. Some sent recent work from which we chose. Others didn’t want to do that, or we did not know how to contact them initially, so we went through their publications to find what we wanted. A lot of reading and negotiating.

The two of us also had to decide what it would look like, both physically and organisationally. I was keen not to have separate sections for lesbians and gay men. Luckily, Michael was of the same mind, though we toyed with it for a moment. It was his great idea to order the volume alphabetically by poem which got away both from age, and alpha order by poet and, therefore, an instant reckoning of who had more and who had less poems. So, less hierarchy and less generational.

We deliberately used ‘poet’ in the title. Both of us wanted poets who identified as gay or lesbian rather than poems with a specific kind of subject matter. So, although there is obvious subject matter there, a lot of the poems aren’t necessarily about sex, or identity, or coming out, or discrimination, or queer history, etc. I think some readers wanted more out-and-out (so to speak) sex writing, identity writing. That was never going to happen, not with the mix of writers we included and not with us as editors.

We had other constraints which are summed up in the ‘contemporary’ part of the title. There are other writers who would belong in an historical overview, obviously, but we wanted to present something new and fresh, and quite a few of the poems make a first appearance in Out of the Box. The other idea awaits the work it would take to do it.

We did divide the tasks so that, by and large, I edited the women and Michael men, but we came up with a pretty even amount of work, and shared what we were doing along the way, often by email but we met up plenty of times, mainly in Sydney or Melbourne. We agreed to do separate introductions and that I’d do a bit of historical overview as I’d had those connections going back a ways with gay and lesbian literary publishing.

Since publishing the book, and even as we were finalising the proofs, we came across other writers that we could have included but it was too late to take it all apart. We did have a last minute drama when another publisher insisted we withdraw poems by a writer they were publishing but luckily we saved enough, after a bit of negotiation. If there is ever a second edition, there are obviously other writers who would be in it. There were a couple of writers whose work was difficult to excerpt as well and we had to pass on that. It’s always hard to do justice to what’s out there and to bring it into focus in the limited space of an anthology. The anthology you do in your head is easier than the one that can get published.

So, the process was incremental and the shape of the anthology changed over time, either due to practicalities or changes in our own thoughts. The title also changed a lot. One idea was ‘paintbox’, picking up from a Malouf poem, so in a sense, ‘box’ led us to ‘out of the box’, which then led to the shape of the book.

ALS:  I also wanted to ask about the poems you are currently writing and the themes that are emerging for you. And is there a new book in the pipeline?

Jill: My own writing at the moment is fitful. Time is a problem but, in saying that, I do get bursts of ideas and lines that come together. I work, as I probably always have, in two kinds of ways. There are the poems that begin with a free flow of writing based around things, dialogue, ideas, images, that I’ve come across, or come across me, during a day. The sort of writing that begins in a notebook. It’s the writing that people want to mark, in my case, as writing about place, ie the material base of the writing is apparent.

The second kind of writing is more based around language play (not that the other isn’t), is more processual or very, very loosely conceptual. I’ve spent a bit of time collaging my own older work by using chance or constraint procedures. If in doubt, recycle.

Themes? I get bored with projects and dislike being bound by themes. Which probably says a lot for where my poetry sits. It’s fairly heterodox. ‘Hard to pin down’, I’m told some people say. I know what I’m doing and if it doesn’t conform to current poetry fashions, I’m certainly not bothered. Nonetheless, I did start a project recently, sort of, of writing poems that had one true autobiographical feature (often very insignificant) and were written deliberately in the first person but are essentially, lies, or somehow wrong. I called them ‘histories’. I’ve also been writing a lot of short poems, often begun with some kind of constraint (syllable counts, n+7, or abecedarian, for instance) These poems are then usually worked over while wearing my surrealist hat, or I simply break my own rules, get a bit of a swerve happening. I can’t imagine who would publish them, but some people have liked them.

I do have a book in the wings. I was hoping it would be out by the time of the Queensland Poetry Festival but alas not. It’s called Ash is Here, So are Stars. It’s based around a selection of poems that was shortlisted for the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize last year but I’ve extended it significantly, rewritten parts of it. That’s the central part of the book called ‘In Fire City’. Then I’ve included three longer self-contained older poems. Nonetheless, it’s still a slim volume. I have another older manuscript in the wings, a larger work, but getting it to see the light of day has been, still is, umm, difficult. But I am most grateful to Ralph Wessman who asked me for Ash … Stars for Walleah Press and he’ll be getting it to the presses soon.

Here’s a poem, not published anywhere else yet, from Ash is Here, So are Stars:

Whose Words Did These Things?

Whose workbenches made these thirsts
pounding out like stereos, stiffening
the air-conditioner? Who can tell
when you’re lonely?
But we’ll survive wisecracks and wishbones
or loaf amongst the dead of the crossroads,
the proof to which we are not entitled.

There’s an expansion of sinew containing
the freewheeling we undergo;
loosening our gymslips we turn on kaleidoscopes
then watch our hands as the similarity electric
charges dryness — but we are not static
and we are not grief, but fill
our hands with the spill and as it fizzles
it frets and comes fullest ‘til it breasts
yes, you know how it breaches anew though
it’s old, much older than workbooks.

But breathe and merge, then lug down words
don’t pussyfoot round the sidelines. And if
you die a little here, you might embrace the wrench
and relish workdays again.

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Jumping the Poetic Hurdle (part 3) – an interview with Ralph Wessman

As part of the ongoing discussion about the publication and distribution of poetry in Australia, this lost shark has fired off a few questions to some of our country’s fine independent publishers to get their view on the future of poetry publication and distribution and to see what they are up to in 2009.

First up in this series is an interview with Ralph Wessman from Walleah Press. So, let’s hear from Ralph…


As a small, independent publisher, what do you see are the major challenges for the publication and distribution of poetry in the 21st century?

Speaking personally – about poetry distribution – I’ve never been a good marketer of the titles I publish, though it’s an area I intend to improve on. Not sure if having joined SPUNC – the Small Press Underground Networking Community (SPUNC), self-described as a representative body for small and independent Australian publishers – will help much in this regard, from what I can gather SPUNC doesn’t see itself being involved in the distribution side of poetry; I listened in to a Melbourne forum in October – ‘Trends in Poetry Publishing in Australia Today: Is poetry worth publishing?’ – which was part of the Festival Franco-Anglais de Poesie. Heard Antoni Jach and Susan Hawthorn (both involved with independent publishing, both members of SPUNC) suggesting SPUNC’s role as an organisation would remain that of a representative body acting to promote the views of small press participants and not as a distributor. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful SPUNC will prove a source of marketing ideas or strategies.

I get the impression that distribution is problematic not just for poetry publishers but for journals as well. (As publisher of famous reporter, I’m interested in journals). At the festival just mentioned, I spoke to the editors of a couple of Melbourne-based journals (Etchings, Harvest) about their distribution methods, both said that at this stage they were committed to doing it themselves. Etchings’ editors had journeyed across to Adelaide and up to Melbourne in an effort to flog their magazine (one comment was ‘We found Sydney very different, unlike Melbourne where there are chains such as Readings … in Sydney it’s more commonly the independents.’) with Harvest also doing the rounds locally, for the moment at least.

As for challenges to poetry publication, it seems in a state of flux at the moment. The Oz Council are in the process of making (as yet unknown) changes to its support mechanisms. I think increased web publication is the way of the future, but the print medium feels good in the hand, seems pretty safe at the moment. I think if I had an inclination to make another investment in time and energy into publishing another journal, (which I don’t), I’d go the way of a web journal; it doesn’t surprise me so many do, and with good results.

Why is it that poetry, an art that arguably best reflects the speed at which we absorb ideas, information and imagery, is being neglected by corporate publishing houses and distributors throughout Australia?

Because they’re businesses? Back when Penguin made its decision to cut its poetry list in Australia, it seemed to crystallise the notion that an investment in poetry – in poetry’s worth – didn’t extend beyond the profit margin. Well, maybe I’m being tough on them. Some people argue if poetry made itself ‘more accessible’ it might just capture the public imagination and thus the interest of the publishing houses. But it’s argued elsewhere – and just as persuasively – that poetry isn’t a commodity as such and would do well to forget marketing and concentrate on its raison d’etre.

Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel? What is the future of poetry publishing and distribution?

A hard one. I’m a small player on the scene, take things on a day to day basis, I’m not sure if I have an eye for the bigger picture – though speaking of the immediate future: there’ve been a few instances of publishers sending their books to printers overseas – to Hong Kong, for instance – because they can get a better price, but I’ve heard of a couple of occasions where that’s been knocked on the head because of the recent savaging of the dollar.

What is on the horizon for Walleah Press?

Well, I’m pleased to have come to grips with the software publishing package, Indesign. For two or three of the collections I’ve published the typesetting has cost $800 or $900 (and I’m sure they were bargain basement prices) but I’ve since learnt to manage that side of things myself. Not ‘professionally’, but at least comfortably; insofar as the economics – what I can afford! – of publishing is concerned. Having that skill is wonderful; (empowering! don’t laugh). I’d hope that I can continue on with my magazine, I enjoy that even though the last few weeks of putting it together (June and December) drive me crazy; as to a lesser extent does my mailout cos that usually takes me a month. I’m not quite ready for a more concerted effort at publishing poetry, at this stage; perhaps within another eighteen months, two years.

About Ralph Wessman:

Ralph Wessman frets over typefaces and paper stocks, publishes books of literary merit – poetry collections primarily – and since 1987, the literary journal ‘famous reporter’.

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Filed under poetry & publishing