Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Nancy Sinatra meets Cat Power... Lana Del Rey - Video Games

Monday, August 29, 2011

Another look...

 Max Ryan
 Andy White
 Michelle Dicinoski
 Matt Hetherington
Julie Beveridge

What a great weekend of poetry. Such a great venue and so well organised. Congratulations to all involved!

I saw a long list of performers on the first day including: Jacob Polley, the 2011 Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence, Ashley Capes reading with Sheish Money on guitar and Graham Nunn on drums, the changing his life poet John Koenig, the stunning Carmen Keates who read from her verse novella Secondhand Attack Dog (unpublished) as well as new poems. Ron Pretty, who was awarded Member for the Order of Australia (AM) in 2002, and who has apparently written more poetry in the last three years since he retired from teaching and publishing, than he did during the last twenty years. Jaya Savige, current poetry editor for The Australian, was back in Australia from Cambridge and about to launch a new book, Surface to Air, through UQP. Sandra Thibodeaux, Australian Poetry's Poet-in-Residence for 2011, read poems about sex and death and was followed by Pascalle Burton, Nathan Shepherdson and David Stavanger performing The Outlandish Watch. An extended work featuring audios and visuals based on time.

Sunday I caught the wrong bus to the Valley, but still managed to see the lovely Max Ryan (I love his poems "Keef" and "Reading Leonard Cohen in the Austral Cafe, Murwillumbah"). Andy White sang and read (I liked his Beckett song), and Michelle Dicinoski was wonderful with her beautifully polished poems and clear reading style. Matt Hetherington engaged with the audience, including a baby, who punctuated his lines of poetry with squeals and chortles of  delight (while Matt entertained us with his marriage break down). Julie Beveridge read some fantastic new travel/ pregnancy poems and some haibun from Home is Where the Heartache is. Betsy Turcot and Eleanor Jackson did not disappoint, with their incredible poetic narrative about desire, love and relationships; taking us on a journey from first glance to last promise. They were followed by Ghostboy, who misbehaved delightfully with the audience. Part Tom Waits, part Leonard Cohen and part Tim Burton, Ghostboy blends poetry, theatrics and music for a thoroughly provocative performance.

There was so much on offer (two venues running simultaneously), that I didn't get to see everyone read/ perform that I wanted to, but it was great seeing the sessions and catching up with friends. There was also a great little poetry bookstore going throughout the festival. I got one of Pascalle's badges and a copy of Max Ryan's Before the Sky

If you want to hear more about the festival, check out the QPF facebook page, or Graham Nunn's Anotherlostshark blog. Hope you had a great weekend!   

Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Look...

 Sandra Thibodeaux
 Jacob Polley
 Ashley Capes
 John Koenig
 Carmen Keates
David Stavanger, Pascalle Burton and Nathan Shepherdson

I had a wonderful time at the Queensland Poetry Festival last night and today. I thought I'd share a few photographs of some of the poets I have caught so far. The festival continues tonight and tomorrow! 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tonight, tonight...

Queensland Poetry Festival opens tonight! So look out for updates over the weekend  - if I am anywhere near a computer - if not, there will be some reflections after the weekend.

I want to take my camera so I can provide visuals for those who are too far away to attend, but after hearing an installment of Pam Brown's "Complaints Department" in Melbourne recently, I am scared I might be tied to a staked if I take photographs of poets with microphones in front of their faces, holding pages of poems with their eyes looking down and their mouths awkwardly half-open... but I will do my best.

Chris Lynch Interview...

I managed to catch up with the incredibly busy Chris Lynch for a quick interview. Aside from being a writer and editor, Chris is also a PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland. He is reading at the Queensland Poetry Festival this Sunday at 2:00 in the Shopfront space in the Zen Method of Bingo session. 

When did you start writing poetry?

I wrote quite a bit of poetry as a teenager, but it was only recently, in my early thirties, that I began writing poetry again seriously.

How do you go about writing? (Do you need five coffees, a new pencil and a quiet spot? Do you write in cafes or on a laptop? Do you carry around notebooks? Do you write in the morning or in the evening? etc.)

I carry a notebook; for ideas and first drafts, nothing beats paper and pen. Cafes are good for writing--cafes in foreign countries are better, and mountains in foreign countries at night.

Evenings, definitely. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure I've ever written poetry in a cafe on a mountain in a foreign country. Something to remedy!

I like the idea of inspiration, but basically it's bollocks. I'm working on consistency instead. 

You write and edit poetry, fiction, reviews and plays. Do you find that one style of writing predominates, or informs other aspects of your writing practice? 

Until recently I would've said no, but poetry has started to take over in the last few years. It seems to be the key to unlocking my voice in all forms.

What can we expect from you at the Queensland Poetry Festival?

I guess you could say it's an exploration of the nexus between nature and the city. A mix of Japanese forms (haiku and tanka) and some new free verse.

QPF opens tonight (tickets available here). All the weekend activities and performances are free! More information at queenslandpoetryfestival.com

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Introducing Pascalle Burton...

Pascalle Burton

Pascalle Burton is a Brisbane based poet/sonic artist and zine maker who also performs in The Stress of Leisure. Burton's Zine-in-a-Matchbox series has been shortlisted for the Golden Stapler awards this year. She also makes poetry inspired jewelry, coupling images of poets with words from their poems to create upcycled brooches and earrings, available at the Lavender Room stall in the bookshop during the QPF. 


Word's Nest Brooches

All images courtesy of the artist

Pascalle Burton is performing in The Outlandish Watch session at the Queensland Poetry Festival this Saturday at 2.45 in the Shopfront with David Stavanger and Nathan Shepherdson.

The Outlandish Watch will be available on limited edition 7″ vinyl and features contributions from The Stress of Leisure. Here is a poem from the 7":


I’m changing my perfume again
from roses to winter to sandalwood
I’m moving all the furniture
from southern to eastern and homeward bound

He asks for space
so she visits more
he should know how this works:
time and space in reverse

I try to return my library books
the library has disappeared
a dog lies dead in the water
you cannot exchange consequences

The grave of Edgar Allan Poe is empty
no roses or cognac
an Unknown Heart is feared dead
under the floor somewhere in Baltimore

I am scared every single minute of the day
what lurks behind this happiness?
It is exquisite and it leaves one unsatisfied

Sleep helps you avoid everything
from wastelands to bossmen to magic tricks
a darkness in the stillest deep
with Jesus and Buddha and royalty

And there’s nothing you can do
but dream of what comes next

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eleanor Jackson interview...

Eleanor Jackson: Image credit

"We all know the formula for love, right?

Boy meets girl, they fall in love, conflict occurs, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again, true love triumphs and they all live happily ever after.

But what do you do if it’s girl meets girl? How will they know who’s meant to sweep whom off their feet? What if both parties are troubled by a dark secret? And can one be a lady sheikh?

Betsy Turcot and Eleanor Jackson blend popular romance, slam poetry and the occasional dirty limerick to create a poetic narrative about love in a modern age."
                                                            - from  http://mbswoon.com/about/

I saw you read together at Riverbend books, you were both engaging and dynamic. The poems that you performed that night were ostensibly about modern relationships, but also love and loss, attraction and desire. The stranger sitting next to me was breathing heavily throughout your performance (sorry strange man I have never met before, but I could hear you). Are we in for similar up-beat and off-beat love poems (perhaps with the accompaniment of heavy breathing) at Queensland Poetry Festival (QPF)? 
 Hopefully not the heavy breathing!
But yes - more of the same, but this time, we're going all the way... The previous performances (we've done two short taster sets, one at Riverbend Books and another at Words or Whatever) were only excerpts from the show, which modified the pieces to try not to give too much away... This time around, it will be the full set of poems. Which both Betsy and I are really excited about having the chance to perform.
Definitely love poems, but not all lovely dovely, some are in fact much more dark, about the failures and heartbreaks of love.

You have great timing in your performances together, as you swap back and forwards and your voices interact. How do you go about writing for collaborative work? Can you describe the processes you have been using leading up to the QPF?
The process of writing together has been a fabulous experience for us both - we've generated pieces together, then adapted them in conversation. Sometimes we've edited each other pieces, or had to edit our own work in relation to a piece written by the other person. Which has been illuminating and exciting. We are different writers, with different voices but - like the character in the relationship in the show - we've had to learn to compromise, adjust and adapt to each other in order to create something that is bigger than the work we would have developed alone. I can't say it's been an exact science, but a bit like falling in love, it's been exciting to learn more about the other person, and then also about ourselves as writers and performers.  

You are performing in the Smitten Cobras session with Ghostboy (and friends) who recently set the challenge on this blog for a nude poet run in the Valley - do you think anyone will take up the gauntlet (maybe during that session)?
If anyone would be able to create a nude poetry run - it would be Ghostboy. I can't guarantee that I'll be getting my kit off - god, the show feels "exposing" enough - so we'll just have to see if the audience is feeling it!

Catch Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson at the Queensland Poetry Festival in Smitten Cobra's / Judith Wright Shopfront / Sunday 28 August  / with Ghostboy / 3:15pm

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cindy Keong interview...

Cindy Keong: Image courtesy of the artist

When did you start writing poetry?

Does winning a poetry prize about a shipwreck at the school fete in 1981 count??  The serious answer is I have always written, but most of it is not fit for anyone’s eyes.  It has really only been in the last two years on becoming connected to a poetry community I have taken another look at writing poetry and learning about the craft.  So much to learn and so little time!!

How do you go about writing? (Do you need five coffees, a new pencil and a quiet spot? Do you write in cafes or on a laptop? Do you carry around notebooks? Do you write in the morning or in the evening? etc.)

I love the invention of laptops, as I am an appalling hand-writer when committing my thoughts to paper. If I relied on pen and paper I would never be able to read back anything I wrote. 

In terms of writing inspiration I would have to say I need to attach my ideas to some kind of theme to organise a sense of purpose in the poetry I am trying to write.  Much of my inspiration comes from people watching one of my favourite pastimes and from my adventures experimenting with photography.

As well as being a poet, you are also a photographer. Do you see poetry, perhaps like photography, as a way to document your experiences and the world around you?

Poetry and photography is another way we can look at life, relationships, concepts and ideas with a fresh set of eyes.  Photography for me is similar to carrying around a notebook to record your ideas for possible poems.  Much of my poetry is triggered directly and vicariously by the photographs I have taken. 

A few months ago I heard you read some poems based upon your experiences in Tanzania. Can you give us some background to your travels there and the impact on your poetry?

Last year was a year filled with opportunity, most significantly was the opportunity to work as a volunteer in Arusha; Tanzania for Food Water Shelter. This not for profit organisation is a project providing a hand up for vulnerable women and children in a rural area known as Sinon. My work there certainly provided many photographic opportunities and the inspiration for a small collection of poems I will be performing this year at QPF called “Same Sky”. Together, my photographs and poems create a narrative that explores the physical and cultural landscape through the eyes of a westerner (Mzungu), they connect us to universal hardships and celebrations that we all experience under the same sky.
Catch Cindy at the Queensland Poetry Festival in Image Back to the Word - Saturday 27 August / Theatre Space / 2:45

Monday, August 22, 2011


My latest review for M/C Reviews is online. Thursday night I was lucky enough to get comp tickets to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at QPAC - it was amazing! Read the review here.

Catching up...

 Fiona yesterday: tired, cold and happy.

Life seems busy for everyone I know at the moment, it is a busy time of year all round, myself included. Yesterday (Sunday) I fell out of bed at the unnatural time of 6am in order to do a three plus hour drive to Ballendean near Stanthorpe with my partner Dylan. We meet up with his beautiful family there for the opening of the Scotney Nature Refuge, named in honor of his Father who passed away in 2009. It is a wonderful part of the world the granite belt, and a thoughtful legacy for Tom.

In the meantime, my wedding is less than six weeks away, my PhD confirmation is a month overdue and I am putting the finishing touches on two interviews for publication and a review of a play I saw last week. Life is hectic to say the least, and yet what is it about being busy that means you actually get more done? There is nothing like looming deadlines amid lists of things to do to actually get things done. If I just had one thing to achieve today, I probably wouldn't get it done, but when I have a list so long I could never get it all done in one day, well that is when things really start to move!

The Queensland Poetry Festival is less than a week away and it has been great to be able to get in contact with so many talented writers in the lead up to the QPF. I would like to thank them all for sending me photographs, poems, bio-sketches and answering interview questions and putting up with my erratic and often less than prompt responses (sorry). But it has been a great delight to be a guest blogger for the festival this year. There are still a few more posts planned this week and then of course there will be posts about the Poetry Festival. Hope to see you there!

Introducing Michelle Dicinoski...

Michelle Dicinoski: Image courtesy of the artist

Michelle Dicinoski’s first poetry collection, Electricity for Beginners, was published by Clouds of Magellan in June 2011. Michelle’s poems and creative non-fiction have appeared in journals, newspapers, and anthologies including The Best Australian Poems, The Australian Literary Review, and Meanjin. After completing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Queensland in 2010, Michelle was awarded an Australia Council grant to work on her next book, a work of creative non-fiction. Her essay “How to Grow a Lawn” is forthcoming in Speak Now: Australian Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage (Clouds of Magellan, 2011).

Milk teeth

Three-year-old Sophia leans into danger
like a sailor picks a fight. She swings
through mornings with a candy swagger and
stumbles home at night with her skin inked blue
from where she’s assaulted the world.
Something in this child makes you think
she might be spared fear her whole life.
This afternoon in Woolworths she’s
all liquored up on milk-tooth bravado
and rolls through the aisles on the trolley’s prow.
Sit down, you say, it isn’t safe,
but the kid just loosens her grip
and shouts:
I don’t want to be safe
I want to be la la la.

Catch Michelle at the Queensland Poetry Festival: Midday Arrives and Drinks /Sunday 28th August / Shopfront Space/ 12:15

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Introducing Eleanor Jackson and Betsy Turcot...

Eleanor Jackson and Besty Turcot: Image courtesy of the artists

"Eleanor has recently relocated to Brisbane from Melbourne, where she was a regular feature at Melbourne’s numerous poetry venues. Two-time winner of the Midsumma Poetry Out Loud slam, Eleanor has featured at the Overload Poetry and Melbourne Writers Festivals and was the producer of the Melbourne Poetry Map, a series of six audio poetry walks supported by the City of Melbourne. Her audio poems have been published in Going Down Swinging and the Cordite Poetry Review, while recordings of her work have been featured on RRR’s “Aural Text”, 3CR’s “Spoken Word”, ABC Radio National’s “Night Air” and the online poetry channel, “IndieFeed: Performance Poetry”. Her poignant, conversational style of poetry is capable of creating powerful quiet.
Check out Eleanor’s Blog or perhaps her previous project the Melbourne Poetry Map: Audio Graffiti."

"Betsy hails originally from the United States and since relocating to Brisbane, she has contributed her words, her heart and her passion to the city’s vibrant spoken word scene. Host of the popular, bi-monthly “Words or Whatever”, Betsy featured at the 2010 Queensland Poetry Festival as a member of The Broken Records Collective show “Just Like Me”. With her fresh delivery style, Betsy was a finalist in the Nimbin Performance Poetry Cup. With a BA in English literature, she brings a considered measure to the slam performance genre and is committed to teaching diversity through performance poetry.
Check out Betsy’s Blog or explore her work with the Broken Records Collective."

Catch Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson at the Queensland Poetry Festival in Smitten Cobra's / Judith Wright Shopfront / Sunday 28 August  / with Ghostboy / 3:15pm

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Introducing Chris Lynch...

Chris Lynch: Image courtesy of artist

"Chris Lynch was born with twelve fingers in the jungles of PNG. He has also lived in Australia, the USA, China, and Japan. Prone to crazy ideas, he has run off and joined the army, walked the length of Japan, eloped, started Tangled Bank Press, and eaten goat testicles. Thankfully, not all at once. He blogs at www.chrislynch.com.au".

Homo pedestrius
Two legs are a series
of elegant falls:
all progress depends
on undoing what was done,
one foot falling
and then the other
smacking dirt,
phalanges spreading
and springing back. This is
the beauty of walking—
to walk is
to be human.
I stand, step out
doors into sun
or moonlight.
Feel the spread
and spring
of each step
and remember:
before anything
I am the primate
that walks.

Catch Chris at the Queensland Poetry Festival in The Zen Method of Bingo - Sunday 28 August / Shopfront Space / 2:00

Friday, August 19, 2011

Introducing Cindy Keong...

Cindy Keony: Image courtesy of the artist
I am a Brisbane based photographer, poet and teacher.  I have recently been exploring life in Tanzania assisting with a community based education program.  I usually live in breathing distance to the Pacific Ocean which continues to inspire my work. 2010 was an exciting year with both my poetry and photos published in Page Seventeen as well as being shortlisted for Queensland Poetry Festival Filmakers awards and receiving a highly commended for film submissions at the Melbourne Overload Festival.


We catch Jim Jim a dented silver
bus, Bob Marley’s face emblazoned
on doors, his voice pumps
through dusty speakers.

Twice as many bodies than
there are seats; stale sweat
and the waft of
ripening bananas.

Mamas pass babies and
parcels through open windows, stranger
or not window seats come with 
added responsibility.

A women determined not to stand, concertinas
the back row with her quaking form,
a thick thigh overlaps mine, my left arm
resting on her breast.

A local boy playing chicken, grinds
the journey to a halt.  Mine the only
eyes that blink, when the driver leaps to the gutter,
administers a beating.

And when the journey ends, eyes stinging,
a mouth lined like a dusty shelf
you pay 30c for the pleasure, an
amusement ride you’ll never forget.

Catch Cindy at the Queensland Poetry Festival in Image Back to the Word - Saturday 27 August / Theatre Space / 2:45

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Introducing John Koenig...

John Koenig: Image courtesy of the artist

i am fond of keeping secrets can you
recently published in Brisbane new voices 2
would say i am a man who keeps his own counsel
born in dalby town on the edge of the western downs
i am particularly interested in all things emotional
in relationships - people and how they think
the underlying motivation for why
people act and do the things
they are want to do
meaning means
to me

Careful You Might Scare Me

Well it’s all or nothing
the way it’s always been
when I ride crazy, wild and free
like a bohemian cowboy should be
astride a white stallion above the neon night
way, way out there hiding amongst the stars
where the strings of a mandolin can tickle my heart.

Intriguing reflections can signal connection
and an intimate conversational craving
now the night’s festivities have finished
and the coffee dregs are drying
and the mile high ride is over.

Fear turns my head away from her lips
and I peck a soft cheek instead.
Seduce and reject, such exquisite regret.
Damn, we almost kissed!

Catch John at the Queensland Poetry Festival in Torching the Shadows - Saturday 27 August / Shopfront Space / 11:45

PS. More Queensland Poetry Festival related blog posts over at Graham Nunn's blog Another Lost Shark

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another Ghostboy Poem...

I am all right (aren't you?)

are you crying?

no, I am not crying I am very happy.

but aren’t you crying over us ?

no, I am happy to be here with you in this place.

I’m sure they are tears?

no, you are in correct. there is no water on my face. I was born without tear ducts.

but they are tears for us?

perhaps I am not being clear. let’s just call them onion stains or false starts. 

okay. so how are you about me moving out?

depressed. I can’t stop crying. I think it all started when I heard you say 

“Í am picking up the cat”

Catch Ghostboy at the Queensland Poetry Festival in Smitten Cobra's / Judith Wright Shopfront / Sunday 28 August  / with Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Interview with Julie Beveridge...

Image courtesy of the artist

When did you start writing poetry?

I guess I’ve always written poetry. The last few years have included a few strange instances of bumping into people from my past lives (including you!).. one of whom was someone I went through early high school with in Tasmania in the 90’s. She reminded me that I used to make poetry zines (that she has kept to embarrass me with) so I was definitely fully into poetry by the time I was 12 or 13 – but I couldn’t tell you how I got there. It just makes sense to me.  

How do you go about writing? (Do you need five coffees, a new pencil and a quiet spot? Do you write in cafes or on a laptop? Do you carry around notebooks? Do you write in the morning or in the evening? etc.)

I am a super lazy writer – hence being an emerging one for so long I guess – and there’s a few reasons for that. Over the last 5 years I’ve worked heavily in the literature sector of the arts creating programs and building writing communities ... a bit like seeing how the sausage gets made before the sausage sizzle.. during this time I lost the urge to contribute creatively to the community I was developing. Since the end of last year, I’ve had much more space from all of that and am slowly rebuilding my writing practice.

Usually I am triggered by a theme that I write around until I’m bored with, or a project... I’m super outcome driven so will start a project with the end game – I want a suite of 52 poems on playing cards about transgender zombies – and I work backwards from there. I’ve never written 52 poems about transgender zombies with the view of making them into a deck of cards but now that I joke about it ... watch this space!

I spend a lot of time with poetry in my head, with images and lines – themes of home, being broken, things beginning and ending circling around – and I spend a lot of time in a poetry state of mind – but have a pretty relaxed pen to paper practice.

Do you write with an audience in mind?

I think more I recognise an appropriate audience after writing poems. Things that I have submitted to one magazine I would never send to another, reading at SpeedPoets I would read different things than an audience at the Byron Bay Writers Festival, or that fish and chip shop I read at in Nambour. I prefer to focus on the craft of investigating whatever it is that I am investigating and let the audience come later – often there is no audience for the work I write and that’s ok too.

Your first book was Rock 'n' roll tuxedocan you describe the process of writing that collection?  

The title came first.

Tuxedo is a perfect example of what not to do when you have written a bunch of poems and without being connected to a community or critique process decide to put a book out. So in my work with QWC it comes in handy as a show and tell of ‘what not to do’. The process for writing the book however was based around making albums, it’s really a few albums collected together – at the time I was listening to a lot of elvis, who heavily informs the work and was in love with deserts and suburban destitution, so I wrote about that. In hindsight, I should have released the greatest hits... my reading copy of the book has these poems ear marked.. it’s really a book of maybe 15 good pieces and 50 pages of outtakes and b-sides. One thing I remember about that collection is I wanted it to be heavy, thick to hold and look slick on a book table. It was important that the package and content to be complimentary like that. I have such a secret love affair with that silly book because it was the beginning of something and the end of something else – which I love!

Can you tell us about your latest book Home is where the heartache is

Heartache was more process driven. Haibun is traditionally a form of travel journaling consisting of clipped turse prose, with little poetic trickery, interspersed with haiku. A lot of nature, seasonal, life cycle themes. Before I had read much Haibun I thought it was trite and simple, that it held little poetic value. My husband writes beautiful haibun and one day, just to mock him I said that I was going to write a small chapbook of haibun celebrating that human heartache lives at home with us along with human joy: domestic menace, kidnapping, rape, death, abuse, blood and fire etc.  So I set about reading a few pieces and writing some pieces and something unlocked. Haibun is a complex and liberating form – it allows a poet to call things exactly what they are. Because poetic devices are so sparingly used, suddenly rape is just an action – it’s peared back to its most simple meaning.. which made the subject matter I was looking at more powerful I think. Some of the poems in the book are rough, but there is an honesty to all of them. I started with the title, then the cover – a tapestry design of the classic home is where the heart is style and worked my way back from there.  

I’ve been writing some haibun recently – having a crack at tradition and writing about a recent trip to Vancouver and San Francisco ... and will be debuting these at QPF. It feels great to be back behind the keys.