Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas and the mystery of the free book...

Seasons Greetings. 

It's New Year's Eve and life has been travelling at a quickened pace for sometime, though I have found time to do lots of reading due to a few days where I was sidelined getting tests at the hospital (I have a cyst on my ovary, nothing too serious). We spent Christmas with family and got some lovely and thoughtful gifts including a Moleskine address book, a beautiful fountain pen (above) and a Hemingway book, True at First Light. We also went and saw Australian singer/ songwriter Darren Hanlon at the Powerhouse on the 23rd for his last Christmas gig. Hanlon was fantastic and we were introduced to American folk songwriter David Dondero, his support act ,who writes wonderful witty but charming songs (we bought three of his CDs).

On the reading front, I have just finished reading Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, it is no Brideshead, but I enjoyed it immensely. I read True at First Light, a fictionalised memoir of Hemingway's time in Africa published posthumously and edited by Hem's son Patrick. It is what it is, an unfinished novel, but very interesting but I feel that this one is for Hemingway fans only. Certainly not in the same league as his other fictionalised travel memoirs like Festiva: The Sun also Rises or A Movable Feast. And last night I finished Persuasion by Jane Austen. It was compelling reading and I always love the many ways she has to describe a characters worth and social standing, i.e. manners, breeding, education, eloquence, attractiveness etc. It is very charming. I avoided English romantic fiction and Victorian literature like the plague when I was an undergraduate. I had a sneaking suspicion that only sickly-looking virginal girls who lived with their over-controlling parents read Austen and the Brontes. But over the last few years my position has not only softened, but changed substantially as I have read more widely and realised my preconceptions/ prejudices  were based (unfairly) on interactions with several girls in first year lit tutorials. 

And now to the mystery of the free book. Amanda Curtin's The Sinkings appeared in the mail this week. There was no return address on the padded envelope and inside the front cover was a slip of paper printed with the University of Western Australia's letter head and the words "with compliments" and no further explanation. I am all for free books turning up in the mail, but I don't for the life of me know how I would be on the University of Western Australia's mailing list for anything, let alone complimentary books. And the envelope was addressed to my new married name (which I have only had since the end of September), so clearly they have gotten my address recently. But how? Curious and curiouser.

Have a great New Years and if you have time check out Graham Nunn's blog, another lost shark, as he goes through a list of Poetry Picks for 2011 chosen by various poets and reviewers. Some great books so far on the list, including Michelle Dicinoski's Electricity for Beginners, a book that I really enjoyed and have just written a review for (will let you know if it gets published).

And finally I thought I would share this great little clip of What are you Doing New Years Eve? by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (fond via FourThousand).

Monday, December 19, 2011


- reading my copy of Going Down Swinging #32 and looking forward to listening to the CD.
- having just finished Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Hemingway's Festiva: The Sun also Rises and Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue. 
- learning new words: vaguebooking and schadenfraude.
- Haiku traffic signs in New York.
- catching up with friends and family for Christmas.
- the overcast weather.
- reading bad reviews of good books, especially this line about Kafka, "He's got nothing to say, but an overwhelming urge to say it."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Keates commended...

Carmen Leigh Keates: Image courtesy of the artist

Well done to Carmen Leigh Keates for her commendation in the ACT Poetry Prize for her unpublished verse novella Second-Hand Attack Dog.  Read a poem from Second-Hand here and my interview with Carmen for the Queensland Poetry Festival here.

PS. As Graham Nunn notes in the comments, Carmen will feature in Brisbane New Voices III to be released in April 2012!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Poetry inspired Christmas gifts...

Book Christmas Tree Image Credit

It seems like every website I look at and email I receive of late has suggestions for Christmas presents. I thought I might put together just a few poetry inspired Christmas present suggestions:

- An issue or two of poetry Zine-in-a-match-box by Pascale Burton at the Lavender Room.

- A poetry stamped plate with your choice of poem or quote.

- Poetry book ends.

- An inscribed ring.

- A subscription to Australian Poetry Journal, or a copy of Rabbit non-fiction poetry journal, or maybe membership to Australian Poetry or the Queensland Writers Center (there are many journals and organisations that could be added to this list).

- A writing workshop or even a language course in French, German, Spanish, Latin etc. etc.

- And of course books of poetry from you local independent bookstore. Or contact Collected Works bookstore in Melbourne which specialises in Poetry books. I would buy 6am in the Universe, the Selected Poems of the late Benjamin Frater, Grand Parade Poets, $27.95. and Perrier Fever by Pete Spence, Grand Parade Poets $24.95. Both published by Alan Wearne - read an article by Wearne about publishing them here

Feel free to leave further suggestions in the comments!

PS. One more idea. I just saw this on a Paris Blog. The t-shirt reads: “Moi, je veux te dire que je ne te quitterai jamais. Et puis, si tu es triste, je pourrais toujours te donner un peu d’alcool pour te rechauffer le couer. xo”

Which translates to something like: “I want you to know that I will never leave you. And, if you’re ever sad, I can always give you a little alcohol to make you feel better”.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So deserving...

Graham Nunn is not only a super nice person, the kind of person everyone smiles and nods approvingly about whenever his name is mentioned, but he is also an Australian poetry champion (i.e. he writes and supports poetry). His efforts have been recognised with the 2011 Johnno Award for outstanding contributions to writing in Queensland. Well done Graham! Click to read the Courier Mail's article on Graham and click over to his blog another lost shark to read some of his poems and find out more about Graham and all things Brisbane poetry.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh Matisse...

Henri Matisse | Patitcha souriante (Patitcha smiling) 1947 | Purchased 1993 with funds from the International Exhibitions Program | 
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © Henri Matisse 1947/Succession H Matisse/Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2011

Yesterday I went to the Matisse: Drawing Life exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art. It was beautiful. There were more than 300 drawings, prints and even some paintings. Matisse is well regarded as a painter, but it was just wonderful to see so many of his drawings in one place.

Frank O'Hara wrote in Personism: A Manifesto that when writing poetry "You just go on your nerve. If someone's chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don't turn around and shout, 'Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep.'" It is a fabulous and often quoted line but it reminds me of how Matisse draws. He just does it. There are beautifully detailed rendered drawings, tonally accurate and technically brilliant, but for me his best works are the ones with the expressive lines, the quick sketches, the portraits with only a few lines. Matisse has a sureness in his lines that you find in great artists like Picasso and Brett Whiteley, the ability to put it on paper with ink and not make a false line. You can see it in Matisse's prints too, there was a number of dry point etchings (where you work directly onto the metal plate with a pointed instrument) and lithographs (where you draw directly into the stone with a wax crayon) and you could see his directness, you could see that they were experimental and that he was "going on his nerve" creating lines that cannot be erased. These drawings and prints have an unmistakable immediacy to them, they are gestural, expressionistic and beautifully brief.

The exhibition runs until the 4th of March 2012 and is certainly worth the $16-$20 entry fee. There is also a studio set up where you can draw, art materials supplied, so give yourself plenty of time.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On why I feel like a literary detective...

When I interviewed Alan Wearne earlier in the year he mentioned a researcher named Erica Travers who did her PhD in the late 1980s/ early 1990s on Australian poets and interviewed a number of generation of 68 poets, Alan Wearne included. I went in search of her PhD and found it at the Fryer Library at the University of Queensland. It turns out that she had interviewed some 16 poets and produced hundreds of pages of transcripts, but the Fryer library didn’t have any copies. I searched in vain for where the interviews may have been donated.

I was thinking that the interviews would be a great resource for a number of reasons. Most obviously because I am interviewing many of the same poets, but mainly because the only other collection of interviews with these poets is Martin Duwell’s A Possible Contemporary Poetry (1982) which contains interviews from the 1970s with thirteen of the poets included in John Tranter’s The New Australian Poetry (1989) anthology. There are great interviews by Hazel deBerg also done in the 1970s with some of the poets (i.e. Tranter, Forbes, Duggan and Adamson) that are held at the National Library (that don’t seem to have ever been published) and a number of interviews conducted over the years with the poets spread between various journals and websites. But to find a pile of unpublished interviews from the late 1980s/early 1990s was a really exciting prospect. Only thing was, I couldn’t find them.

Then while I was leafing through Alan Wearne’s papers in the Fryer library I came across a note from John Tranter to Wearne about the “Bell Collection” at the Sydney University. The Erica Bell collection. Hmmm... Five minutes on the internet and I had tracked down the illusive Erica Travers interviews that have been collected under her maiden name, Bell. I sent an email immediately. It has been a week and I hadn’t heard back and so today I did the everyday ordinary thing and rang them. The poor librarian I emailed has been away sick, but the lovely lady on the phone told me I could request copies of the interview transcripts through the University of Queensland library’s inter-library loan service. So I have. After all the hunting, it seems a little too easy, but I am not complaining. I am sure there must have been one hundred ways to find where the collection of interviews were, I just hadn’t found one of them! But it did make me feel like a literary detective, just for a little while, and I wonder what happen to Mrs Erica Travers (nee Bell), PhD.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Have you ever?

Have you ever created a Wikipedia entry before? We got an email from uni not so long ago suggesting that folks in the Australian literature realm take up the gauntlet and write some wiki entries on over-looked Australian writers. What a great idea I thought. Anyone can write wiki entries so why not lecturers and PhD students who have done extensive research on these writers? Sounds good in theory. So today I set about writing a Wikipedia entry on Martin Duwell.

Martin Duwell has worn many hats, but they include being the editor of Makar Press, publishing 37 poetry chapbooks in the Gargoyle Poets Series and being the poetry editor at the University of Queensland Press for a number of years. He was also a Senior lecturer at UQ in Australian Studies and Poetics. Duwell was a poetry reviewer for the Australian newspaper from 1989 to 1998, general editor of the Best Australian Poetry series from 2003 to 2009 and has edited further collections of poetry. He has also published a book of interviews called A Possible Contemporary Poetry (1982), he commissioned John Tranter's The New Australian Poetry (1979) anthology and published over 200 reviews and essays. Duwell is still writing and continues to be published in a number of journals, including Australian Book Review, Stylus Poetry Journal and Jacket.  He runs the Australian Poetry Review website where he publishes a review per month and extended essays.

Jacket magazine has called him "Australia’s leading poetry critic" and the AustLit database acknowledges his  "significant contribution to the recognition and development of new poetry in Australia during the 1970s". Impressive hey?

I have been researching Martin for an interview for my PhD and I have also been lucky enough to meet with him a number of times regarding my thesis. So today I set about putting my research into the form of a Wikipedia page and it was a nightmare. I wrote it up and posted it and while I was making changes and adjustments (un-be-known to me) it was being edited by someone else and when I went to post the changes the whole article had gone. Once I had figured that out and replaced the text, it happened again! Then I found where it had been moved to and two thirds of the text had been cut. Then there was a note to say that I had committed editorial "vandalism" by reinstating deleted text. Sigh. So now there is a much cut down and edited version of the article that doesn't really show how amazing Martin Duwell is and what he has contributed to Australian literature. But I guess the beauty of Wikipedia is that other people can now edit it and hopefully fix up the entry somewhat. At least there is a Martin Duwell entry now, right?

PS. I didn't learn my lesson though, I had a go at making a non-biographical article on the Gargoyle Poets Series. That one is still waiting to be approved:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Happy 30th Birthday to me and my twin sister!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Exciting news...

National Library, Canberra. Image credit

I found out yesterday that I have been awarded a National Library Summer Scholarship! It includes return airfares to Canberra, six weeks accommodation at the Australian National University, access to the National library's materials, facilities and staff, as well as a $300 a week living allowance. It is a great opportunity for me to research for my PhD thesis and is so exciting!

Friday, November 11, 2011

de Beauvoir

Yesterday I went to a lecture by Constance Borde and Shelia Malovany-Chevallier, the translators of the new unabridged English language version of Simon de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. It was amazing to hear how this long awaited and desired new translation came about, the logistics of how one translates an 800 page text and the critical reception of the work.

I own a 1988 copy of The Second Sex, as translated by H.M Parshley (a zoology professor), and I was unaware that he had taken out much of de Beauvoir's philosophical language, cut whole sentences and paragraphs and mistranslated key words and sections of the text. This new translation has been long overdue, but will enable the English language reading public (and scholars) to revisit and reconsider de Beauvoir's work in the light of the restored and reinstated text. Her work still seems as current and important now as it did when it was first published in 1949, and this new translation is certainly worth seeking out.

PS. If you can't get to a bookstore, the book is available in Australia from Borders online. It is $12.11 with free postage:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Henri Cartier-Bresson | France. Paris. Place de l'Europe. 
Gare Saint Lazare 1932 | Collection: Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, 
Magnum Photos. © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

If you are in Brisbane over the next few weeks I suggest you take some time out to go and see the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition that is currently on at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG). It is a stunning exhibition of black and white photographs beautifully displayed with white matt boards and black frames on cool grey walls. The exhibition includes some 260 photographs, as well displays of vintage magazines featuring Cartier-Bresson's work and a documentary made the year before his death. Cartier-Bresson is considered the father of photo-journalism, and while his works are candid "everyday" shots, he never lost his Surrealist appetite for the unusual. The exhibition in a wonderful journey through continents and decades and it made me want to pack a bag, grab a camera and a journal and some plane tickets out of the country.

Actually, I thought it was so good that I went twice, once with Dylan and once with my twin Christina, she had blogged about it here. I am now looking forward to the Matisse drawing exhibition that open next month at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) next to QAG.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Laurie Duggan...

I am working very hard on my confirmation chapter at the moment, thus why I have been out of touch with blog land. But I did just order Laurie Duggan's latest book of poetry, Allotments. Fewer and Further Press have set up a blog page for the book here, but if you are having troubles buying it like I did, email Jess Mynes ( jmynes@gmail.comfor other ways to pay. Looking forward to getting Duggan's new book in the mail!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Call for artists...

From Chantell Schott:

"CALL FOR ARTISTS for the Mixed Messages: A Mail Art Project (and exhibition)
The exhibition is open to Australian Artists of all ages
The Project is about presenting diverse artistic expressions in the structure of mail – theme open!
Exhibition 1-25 February 2012, official opening Sunday 12 February at 2pm, The Repertory Theatre (Toowoomba)
Artists are welcome to use a variety of media and styles to create their works onto postcards, envelopes, boxes, postal cylinders, bubble wrap or cardboard of all sizes!
Please head to the website to download an entry form – see the dropdown menu under the Artists page.
Entries $10

PS. Entry due date extended until the end of November

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Zealand honeymoon

We spent 11 days exploring and relaxing in New Zealand on the north island. From Wellington to Napier, then Taupo, Rotorua and onto Matamata and Coromadel. We loved the scenery, the art deco buildings, Hobbiton, the museums, galleries, and the snow fields and just having some time out to sleep in, eat out and have adventures!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Professional wedding photographs

Our wonderful photographer Liz has posted up some photographs from the wedding on her Lizzy C Photography blog. She has done such an amazing job at capturing the day. I can't wait to see the rest of the photographs later this month. But for a sneak peek of what is to come, click on the link!

Oh, perhaps I should mention who is in the pictures over on Liz's blog? The beautiful bridesmaids are my twin sister Christina, Dylan's gorgeous sister Lauren and my dear friend (and the photographer's husband) Dave. The groomsmen are our close friends Russell, Grant and Nathan, and the page boy is my sister's little (almost three year old) boy Cohen.  There is a shot of my Father walking me down the aisle, and my Mum fussing over my dress and various friends as well.

The details:
Locations: The wedding took place at Preston Village Chapel and Manor in Toowoomba and we girls got ready at Vacy Hall Historic Guest House.
The wedding dress: 1960s Vintage find from Bohemian Bisoux on Etsy
Wedding dress sash: from Project U on Etsy
Bridesmaid dresses: Raw silk hamdmade by my Mother.
Bride and bridesmaid clutches: handmade by me.
Grooms and groomsmen's suit: assorted.
Pew decorations: ribbon flowers handmade with the help of friends and family.
Cake: Made by my Mother, iced and decorated by my Mother and I, cake topper from Melabo on Etsy.
Flowers: by family friend Brad Mayger
Hair and makeup: by Nicole Murphy and Katrina's Hairdressing in Toowoomba
Table decorations: Flower crochet napkin rings by my twin Christina.
Center pieces - Op shop dollies, depression era glass vases and assorted candle holders.
Wedding rings: Mine was my Great Grandmother's wedding ring. Dylan's was made by my sister Christina.
Car hire: 1936 Dodge Limo from Kenz Classics.
Invitations: Go Go Snap on Etsy
Bridal Waltz: "Video Games" by Lana Del Ray
Honeymoon: New Zealand

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oh the times... wedding photo booth pics...

 Me (before the wedding)
 My beloved Dylan
 Grant and Russell 
 Dave, Christina, Me, Dylan and Nathan
 Dave and Nathan
 Christina and Me
 Lauren and Jakeson
 Megan, Me and Robert
 Lauren and Dylan
 Dave and Liz
 Dave, Cohen and Christina
 Michael and Nicole
 Dave and Liz
 Nicole and Michael
 My Dad and Bruce
 Christina and Cohen
 Ella, Nathan and Leisa
Nathan, Dave, Liz, Lauren, Me, Dylan, Christina, Dave, Grant, Dulci, George, Emma and Ian

An assortment of pics from the photo booth at the wedding. 
A camera, a tripod and some props - hours of fun!