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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Zwischenräume - Spaces of Convergence

Check out the films of Ken Challenor, Di Barkas and myself reading our ekphrastic poems at the Zwischenräume - Spaces of Convergence exhibition.

Thanks to Adam Carr for all his hard work in getting these online and to Garry Jones for filming on the day.

My poem can also be read in a previous post here.


The Nan Tien Institute, SCWC (South Coast Writers Centre) and IAVA (Illawarra Association for the Visual Arts) invite SCWC poets to be part of a unique collaboration at this upcoming event. ‘Unfolding’ is an art exhibition that gives local artists and writers the opportunity to reflect on living in the ‘Asian Century’. The ‘Asian Century’ follows on from an American Century in the 20th century and a British Century during the 1800s, with concepts that allude to trans-cultural experiences across the globe, economically, politically, and philosophically. Two winning entrants will have the opportunity to perform before a huge audience, as the opening is part of the official Nan Tien Institute’s Graduation Day, for which some 4000 visitors are expected. In addition, the poems will be published in a colour catalogue. 

It was a joy and a challenge to respond to the theme 'living and working in the Asian Century'. Thank you to the Nan Tien Institute, SCWC and IAVA for the opportunity to submit a poem for this exhibition and for excepting my piece. 

To read my poem 'Conversing' please purchase the catalogue from IAVA or you can purchase it from the SCWC at  Gleniffer Brae (Wollongong Conservatorium of Music), 5 Robsons Rd (Corner of Robsons Rd and Murphys Avenue), Keiraville.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Poetry Open Mic - 24th November

 As I near the end of my cafe poet residency with Australian Poetry I would like to thank Gilbert's of Mittagong and Australian Poetry for helping me to establish this residency and for supporting me throughout.
Rhiannon Hall - Poet
I would also like to thank all those who came to talk about poetry with me and that attended one of my events, particularly thank you to Anna Kerdijk Nicholson and Mark Tredinnick for attending round table discussions about their poetry.
Peter Carmody - Sound Tech
On Saturday the 24th of November Susan Pearce and Peter Carmody from Carmody Out of Ireland met me at Gilbert's of Mittagong for the last of my poetry open mics. Susan and Peter have been amazing during my residency, lending me a PA system and setting it up for me. It has also been a pleasure to hear Susan's poetry. Susan's poetry is an observation of the culture and people that surround her and includes some fabulous lines, such as: " upside down view of the world..." (from a poem about taking her cat to the preschool she teaches at) and " is the... chemical smell of newly laid tarmac..." (in a poem that describes colours to someone who is blind). 
Susan Pearce - Poet
Treva Taylor - Poet
All the way from Wollongong, Treva Taylor from the South Coast Writers Centre, made a trip to Mittagong to entertain and challenge us with his poetry, that ranged from funny poems about mobile phones to emotional poems about poverty, war and the death of a child. Thank you Treva for making the drive and inspiring us with lines like, "...cast iron around his head..." and " eyes are watching the flow of electrons...".
Jared Camilleri - Poet
Repeat offender Jared Camilleri, again surprised us with his poetic skill. Jared's works have a depth to them that is awe inspiring for me. Congratulations Jared for your recent poetry reading on the local radio and good luck for your future publications.
Gregory Tome - Poet
Gregory Tome's poetry is always well crafted. Thank you Greg for joining me on many of my Fridays at the cafe to talk about poetry and for attending so many of my cafe poet events. I hope to see some of the poems that Greg read on Saturday in publication soon. From a poem about a woman pegging out clothes to a poem about a woman handing out potatoes at Auschwitz Greg captures small actions in such delicate detail.
Lorne Johnson - Poet
It was so exciting to have so many promising emerging poets at this event, including Lorne Johnson. Lorne has been generously offering me advice on my poetry and publishing opportunities, drawing my attention to a new Perth magazine called Regime. Lorne has been published in various places, including Meanjin, Regime, Rabbit and the Red Room Company's phone app The Disappearing. I especially enjoyed Lorne's poem about artist Adam Cullen. It has been a treat to meet you Lorne.
John Brown - Poet
Thank you to John Brown for capturing this event with your photography expertise. It was brilliant to hear John read some of his own poetry this time around. For someone who has not been writing for long John has a skill for words, capturing everyday life in his writing. An example of John's craft can be found in this line, "...brotherhood unspoken, but lived...".
Kerry Miller - Poet
Kerry Miller's poetry is often philosophical and always captures an interesting and well thought out concept. At the open mic Kerry read an anti-Pastoral poem with some harrowing lines, such as, "...skeletons of drowned trees..." and " a bowl of liquid sky...". 'Liquid sky', what a beautiful description of rain and flood. Although the image 'liquid sky' may be beautiful the reality of flood, as dangerous and destructive, is also conveyed in Kerry's poem in the words 'skeletons' and 'bowl'. Nothing can escape the effects of flood, everything is caught in the 'bowl'.
Ceinwen Hall - Artist
Thank you to my sister, Ceinwen, for joining us, supporting us and for reading out one of our Dad's, Phillip Hall, poems.

Thank you to the South Coast Writers Centre, HighlandFM, Highlife, and Highlands Post for their support, advertising my residency and events.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Round Table with Mark Tredinnick

Mark Tredinnick - photo by John Brown
Thank you to everyone who joined Mark Tredinnick and I at Gilbert's of Mittagong on Saturday the 10th for a chat about "the emotions, ideas and madness" behind his poetry, to borrow his words.

Mark Tredinnick was the winner of the Montreal Poetry Prize (2011) and the Cardiff Poetry Prize (2012). He is the author of numerous works of prose and poetry, including The Blue Plateau and Fire Diary. Mark is a busy person, and I am very grateful that he donated his time to us.

Mark appreciates Charles Wright's endeavor to "...write language, landscape and the question of god" and seeks to explore these themes within his own poetry. Mark's father once told him that "all good faith includes doubt and if there is not doubt it is fundamentalism". Therefore, Mark likes to question the existence of god in his writing. A good example of a poem by Charles Wright that does this is 'Last Supper'. Tredinnick's poems ‘The Kingfisher’ and ‘Catching Fire; or, The Art of Sitting’ are also good examples of this. 'The Kingisher' was short-listed for the 2011 Montreal International Poetry Prize. These poems are canticles of the world, they sing the world, praising the world. Indeed, Mark asserted that "all good poetry is religious in the sense that it is a reconnection with place, with nature". Monica Donoso Markovina said "we are like ants... part of the world and the poet is about making that reconnection".
"We are a society that is addicted to happiness and speed and light" - Mark Tredinnick
John Brown asked Mark, "When you write a poem, if you keep adding do you find you over work it?". Mark explained that sometime this can happen, but that normally "the Capricorn in me comes out and I stubbornly make it work". Indeed, he does make his poems 'work'. 'Frost', in Fire Diary, would be one of my favorite of Mark's poems. It blurs the distinctions between the human and non-human world, as the animals take on human actions, but the reality of this is questionable, as suggested through the use of the soft colours in the first tercet, which allude to a dream-like state. 'Frost' establishes an idealised place, one characterised by the pleasant atmosphere of a country setting. This is constructed through the fantastical imagery of a place that is softly coloured with ‘catkins’ and ‘pinkblossoms’, where a horse ‘slips his coat’ and ‘bluewrens picnic’.

A photo by John Brown
Greg Tome asked Mark if he ever used rhyme in poetry. Mark asserted that end-stop rhyme, or rhyme at the end of the line is archaic and that "rhythm is the real god of poetry". In saying this, he did note that there are 21st Century poets who use rhyme and use it well, such as Stephen Edgar. Mark believes that "most people need to be freed from rhyme to be able to write a real poem, they might be writing verse", they might be conforming to the rules of verse, but not be writing a good poem.

Monica told us that poetry is about appealing to the senses: "it's a sense thing, painting a picture in your head and feeling the rhythm". Mark agreed, stating, "poetry is something about lyricism... a poem is like a leaf that tells the tree... a poem is about everything".

Mark reminded us that if you want to be writing poetry you need to be reading it. He recommended joining the mailing list of This website emails daily poems, including classical and contemporary poetry. Another useful website to follow is This site emails contemporary American poems weekly. Mark said that "you read it all and then you shake yourself up and then you don't think of it at all". What you read will influence your thinking and your writing.
"A poem is a window, it gives you the view and the viewer at once and the dance... but the poem is the glass, it orchestrates a relationship" - Mark Tredinnick
Mark told us about his friend Li, who noted that Mark has a gift for sadness. Mark's poem that won the Montreal Prize, 'Walking Underwater', and his poem 'Cleave' in Fire Diary capture a sadness. Li said that the sadness in her poetry is wet, like rain, but the sorrow Mark captures is frozen like the ice in China in the winter time.
A photo by John Brown

Mark told us that every line of a poem is a poem and this is why he capitalizes the first letter of the line in some of his poems, to stress the line as a poem. This can be seen in his poem 'The Child & Time', which includes lines like "... / The child’s the string that played those words, / ... / Now he’s the syntax of the broken phrases of his sleep". Each line does indeed stand alone as a poem, exploring language and imagery.

Judith Beveridge once said that "the words are the story in the poem, they may tell a story as well". Mark quoted this sentiment to us as a demonstration of the importance of language in a poem. A poem may tell a story, but it should also be concerned with the meaning that sound, visual layout and language convey.

It has been said that Mark's poetry is a geography, "it is what it is and it has depth and bird music". Frans Wright believes that a poem doesn't want to describe a place it wants to be a place. Mark has pondered over these kinds of sentiments in writing his poetry. He likes to think about the relationship between his poetry and place as a correspondence, whereby the poetry is a reflection of the place, as well as there being a communication between the poem and the place.

One of the poems that Mark shared with us was called 'Global Warming'. Monica commented that as readers we are being lead through this poem through the rhyme and structure. Mark told us that that is an important point, "if you want to keep someone in your work you need to keep reminding them of the theme, content and what it is all about".

One of the guests asked whether Mark should be using Australian flowers in his poetry, which is set in Australia. Mark said that he doesn't believe so. He believes that nationalism gets in the way. He prefers to think of himself as a poet who writes on the South East coast of a continent, thus acknowledging the local and the universal in his writing.
"Nature is the story we are just in it" - Mark Tredinnick
Mark told us that many of his poems have started off as notes in his iphone. When he is out walking and a phrase comes to mind he has to record it. He said that if it is a "core phrase and I think that's too good to use so I have to make a poem to use that". I am glad that Mark does this and I look forward to reading more of his poetry in the future.

Please check out Mark Tredinnick's website here.

You can purchase Fire Diary at