To be a poet one needs the six P’s – the pencil, the paper, the perception, the passion, the persistence and the unshakable persuasion that the poem is in fact possible and attainable. - Grace Perry

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Week three cafe poet

Mittagong main road - gorgeous Autumn colours
A beautiful day to be in a cafe today! Out of the wind, but still soaking up the sun. Anyway, I've started a poem for and about Barry Spurr so I might share that next week, but for this week here's a poem about Uni.

Her fingers are ink stained
and jagged, as they protrude
 from fingerless gloves -
kalidascopic gloves
a defiant cry of individuality
as she hands over monotonous words.

She is trapped in paragraphs,
bordered in by the white page,
she follows the formula.

They say academics is purely objective,
but she knows the truth, her truth.

Sydney Writers' Festival 2012

Sorry for my slackness last week. I really intended on posting about my glorious week at the Sydney Writers' Festival. Better late then never though!

I had a marvelous week of literary submersion. On Tuesday I went to the event 'launch into poetry', held at the Carrington Hotel, which is a beautiful building. It (the building) inspires in me ideas and themes of history and mistory. The launch was for David Musgrave's new book of poems Concrete Tuesday, Mark O'Flynn's Untested Cures and John Watson's Four Refrains and Occam's Aftershave. The three chose some excellent, well crafted pieces to read, so... I had to buy the books!

On Wednesday, at the University of Wollongong, Metis playwright Bruce Sinclair and Aboriginal author Anita Heiss spoke about their work and how they approach their writing. Sinclair spoke wonderfully about the balance that you must have in your life and how the Cree medicine wheel can help you keep that balance between your emotional self, physical self and work life. I could benefit from the Cree teachings. Anita Heiss spoke about her new book Am I Black Enough For You. I hadn't realised the extent of racial hatred that had been unearthed after Andrew Bolt's article 'It's so Hip to be Black' in April 2009. Heiss had begun writing her book before this article by Bolt questioned her Indigeneity. On the release of her book she has received further racial attacks as well as praise from many in the community who think her book shares an important lesson that all Australians should be exposed to. You have probably already gathered that Heiss's book is about identity. I am only a couple of chapters in, but as always I am finding Heiss easy to read and very entertaining.

Friday and Saturday were spent in Sydney. I attended a poetry reading titled 'Legends', where Gig Ryan and Robert Adamson read some of their poetry which deals with myths and legends. I struggled to follow both of their poetry read out loud. They make so many references in their poetry that go over my head. However, I have been reading Robert Adamson, after purchasing his book, The Golden Bird, and I am enjoying his poetry far more when I can read it in private, just me, the book and the words. I have been told that I have to purchase and read Gig Ryan more closely as well, which I will be sure to do!

'Modern Manglish' was a fun session. I raced to buy the book for my mum. Neil James and Harold Scruby were mostly bagging on politicians and the way they use language so that they can say absolutely nothing in an interview. You know how it is: "That's a great question, I'm glad you asked that... I would like to see a line drawn in the sand, to have an even playing field, a brighter future, it's time to move forward...". It was a great discussion of tautology and slogans.

Barry Spurr talked with Geoffrey Lehman and Robert Gray about their new book Australian Poetry Since 1788. This is a controversial anthology. I have heard the criticism and now I have heard their opinion. While I still think that this anthology has possibly overlooked a lot of important Australian poets, particularly Indigenous poets. I do appreciate the project that these two took on and what they were looking to get out of it. I enjoined hearing these three debate about the anthology and the voice and place of Australian poetry.

Saturday began with Neil Astley and Robert Adamson talking about Astley's anthologies of contemporary international poetry: Staying Alive, Being Alive and Being Human. I can not wait to purchase and read these anthologies. They sold out at the writers' festival. I have to confess that I am not wide read in international poetry. I read a lot of Australian poetry, but I do believe I should be reading more widely. Astley read a great selection of poems from his series of anthologies.

The Red Room Company's 'Disappearing Walking Tour' was brilliant fun! Johana Featherstone expertly conducted a tour of Sydney streets with four poets sharing their works of 'the disappearing' of Sydney. Martin Harrison, Astrid Lorange, Nick Bryant-Smith and Lorna Munro performed their poetry with ease and charm. I look forward to reading / hearing more of all of their work.

Mark Tredinnick, Ali Jane Smith and Julie Chevalier read wonderfully at the Rocket Readings in Wollongong on Sunday. I have been a fan of Tredinnick for a fair while. I enjoyed the poetry of Ali and Julie as well. The open mic section was also mind opening. There was a great display of local poetry on show.

That was my stimulating week, which has inspired me to scratch out multiple draft poems. I shall work on some of these tomorrow share them with you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Remember

Week Two of my residency. This week I decided to use my time completing a homework task for a poetry workshop I am doing with Ron Pretty, through the South Coast Writers Centre. The task was to write a poem, where each line had thirteen syllables and each line was to begin "I remember...". So this is what I have written, and please note that this is a first, rough draft:

I remember shadow puppets acting resolute,
I remember the lustrous rainbow-like colour back drop,
I remember whizzing through the theater curtains
and discovering the destruction my journey brings.
I remember dark stumps strewn like forgotten stage props,
I remember the smoke machine haze clad skeletons,
I remember wishing the show would come to an end,
even the cost, four tonnes of CO2 per actor.
I remember necessity, the show must go on...

Saturday, May 5, 2012


A glass of wine, warm bubble bath and a good book. This has been my relief at the end of a day reading critical and literary theory.

I have been drawn to novels about food. There is nothing that warms the soil more than glorious imagery of rich and well prepared food. I began with Julie & Julia, a great read (far better than the movie). Followed by The Essential School of Ingredients, which, if you want some fabulously tasty descriptions of food and the people whom prepare it you cannot surpass this book.

Spiced has been another enjoyable read. Dalia Jurgensen captures the aggressive masculinity, misogyny and chaos that is rife in the kitchens of the restaurant world. She does this in such a way that, though I don’t fancy getting a job in a restaurant, I can admire those who do work in that world and still enjoy dining out. Jurgensen’s development and exploration of staff relations combined with the hazards of the kitchen and her own joy at designing and preparing perfect deserts makes this book a comfortable read. A reader can easily follow Jurgensen’s movement and relationship throughout her career. She doesn’t tend to capture the smell and tastes of her deserts, as the previously mentioned books do, but the picture that she paints of the social dramas and physical perils of the kitchen almost make up for this. My only real complaint of this book was that, I felt, it ended weakly. However, this remains a book that I would recommend to fellow readers and lovers of food.

Friday, May 4, 2012

day one of my cafe poet residency

I've had a productive first day at Gilbert's of Mittagong. Here's a look at something I wrote today. Warning, this is a work in progress.

Your little fingers curl, biscuit crumbs speckle your mother's skirt. When I grow up I want to be a ballerina, you said. Playing with the delicate beads that adorn your mother's neck. Center of her gaze, pink jacketed, you smile. Capriole into the next scene. You no longer fit on your mother's knee; no longer care for the intricacy of her jewelery. You would rather shimmer into someone else's peripherals.

Hope to see some of you at the cafe next Friday.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gilbert's Cafe, Mittagong

I am beginning my café poet residence at Gilbert’s café, in Mittagong, this Friday. Pop in, have a coffee and talk about writing with me ( I will be at Gilbert’s every Friday for the next twelve months. I will be hosting open mics and poetry readings so keep an eye out for those. Follow this blog to stay up-to-date on the progress of my residency.

Happy writing and reading