Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Don Paterson reading from 40 Sonnets

I recently bought a couple of collections by Don Paterson, but not this particular collection of Sonnets.  I like his use of formal poetry and it's good to hear his voice and get a sense of his pacing.

Another Epiphany or ... before I cremate this poem

As mentioned in my update post I did find the last two pieces of poetry I was working on quite difficult. Not in the sense that the writing didn't flow out of me, the draft below came together in one sitting and I think the rhythm and other sound elements was the reason for that.

No, what I found was that during subsequent revisions (which only made this piece worse if you can imagine that) was that something felt off.  Something that I couldn't put my finger on.  Read on and I let you know what I realized at the end.

It rises,
a monolith
of red arkose
and if a rose
and not a rock
we’d be tempted
to brush off
the importance
of a name.

Naming things
possesses them
whether by
and for one
man or more
a name gives
power over
thought and story.

And what is
story, but tales
of passion, glory;
a song, a book,
a record of
everything that
shook our lives
and made us.

No. Naming
is the first
salvo shot
the first stone
slung, the first
break of bone
in a battle
fought in a war
long forgot.

And if you
should think
a flower free
to smell just
as sweetly
whatever name
we chose -
remember too
we’ve fought wars
between those.

So my epiphany was that although there was a nice rhythm and sound elements that I found appealing (perhaps too appealing) I allowed myself to be dragged off by those elements and distracted from the subtle to the grandly moralistic/didactic.

Pretty much anybody could have written this piece, it hits you over the head with the concept that names are important.  The only real bit of interest is in the first stanza and a much subtler and more personally relevant poem could have been written around this kernel of an idea ie Ayers Rock/ Uluru.

So the lesson to myself is that as a poet I should focus on the small and the subtle and let that speak/suggest much larger ideas/themes.  Or if this isn't the case i.e. compression of ideas in the Tardis like abilities of the poem then at least I will have and distinct and crafted creation, something that comes alive in a reader's head.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - Four Month Mark

Where the hell did four months go?  
The Eye of Auden

I usually sit down at the end of the month and read through all my past reflections for that month. I do this to remind myself how far I have come and to take note of issues that might arise between the lines/ underneath my surface thoughts.

I haven't done that for the last two months though, due to work and other commitments and I think it has had an impact on my confidence because this week was a bit of a struggle despite being the first week of holidays.

Total hours weren't much different to last week but writing the poetry was a task verging on the sysyphean.   I did mange to cheer myself up by reading some poetry commentary by Auden though:

"Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts"  WH Auden

He was of course talking about how typography often revealed a poem's weaknesses that were hidden by the poet's love for their own handwriting.  But who doesn't enjoy fart humour.

Four chickens came home to roost i.e. chickens being poems and roosting rejection but as I mentioned earlier in the week this didn't seem to bite as much as it usually does.  I sent one of these back out again to another market

This week's study was comprised of A Note on Non-Verbs by Mary Kinzie, Wrting by WH Auden and  Language wakes up in the Morning: On Poetry's Speaking  by Jane Hirshfield .

My close readings were Esther Morgan's This Morning and LK Holt's Playhouse, both of whom make me extremely jealous of their skill.

In other news I have taken a teaching contract on until the end of the year and while not too much work than I am used to throughout the term, it's the unpaid preparation time that all teachers do that I think may have an impact on the poetry plan.

For the Statbadgers:

Total time: 09:12 (236:00) hrs

poem writing = 4.08 (97:41) hrs
close reading = 1:47(49:50) hrs
technique/theory 2:35(57:05) hrs
reflection = 0:42 (19:35) hrs

Poetry written:

0 (18) poems completed
5 poems in draft
1 poem abandoned
1 poem facing execution at dawn

Poems Submitted:

1(13 in total) poems

Poems Published:

0(5) poem

Live Performances:



4(6) poems

Friday, April 22, 2016

New Poetry from Maxine Beneba Clarke - Carrying the World

Carrying the World by Maxine Beneba Clarke should be out on the 10th of May and I have been assured by the poet herself that this collection includes her previously published out of print works along with about 80% new poetry.

I have been eagerly awaiting Maxine's work since I was able to track down one of her previously out of print works, nothing here needs fixing, reviewed over at my other blog.

I also really enjoyed her short fiction collection Foreign Soil.  Not one to rest on her laurels Maxine also has a memoir coming out this year as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Small Epiphanies In a Year of Poetry

I had somewhat of an epiphany the other day.

Readers may find it somewhat obvious but I often find that you can be told a thing, read a thing, even perhaps intellectually know a thing, but not until you do a thing or experience a thing does it really effect you.

I hope I will have many more epiphanies or realisations as the Year of Poetry progresses and I'll try and note them here rather than on my Facebook page where they will be harder to find again.


I'm finding rejections seem to matter less when I'm continually writing, this could be just a benefit of distraction but I am beginning to think that it's more so that less seems to hinge on a single work's acceptance.

Or perhaps I am moving past that point where publication is the be all and end all.

How heavily you weight rejection will of course depend to some extent on why and who you write for.  Now I do write for publication and for my own personal interest and pleasure, and the majority of what I do write I am working toward publishing publicly.

I find particularly with writing poetry that in the early stages publication is an external judgement of whether you are doing "it" right. 

It's hard to know really if anyone enjoys what you write either unless they tell you or you perform it live and you can gauge audience response. 

The more you write though and the more you read, the more you get a sense of the art form and whether or not you are creating something of value beyond just the experience for yourself.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Katrina Naomi reads three poems from her new collection

Katrina Naomi, a poet from Cornwall, UK reads three of her poems from the collection, The Way the Crocodile Taught Me.

In an interview with Literature Works, Naomi says of her collection:

While the predominant theme is ‘the family’, in all its guises, there’s an undertow of violence to the collection. There’s a lot about women’s lives – the good and the bad. I also seem to find humour in some quite bleak situations. - Literature Works

I quite enjoyed these three and have added the collection to my buy list.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Poetry Acquisitions Liu Xiaobo and LK Holt

I generally give myself a budget of $20 a month to spend on poetry books.  Which considering the price of books, let alone poetry books, is an interesting and challenging task at times.

Still necessity is the mother of invention and I have several ways that I obtain cheap poetry.  One of those is to check out Booktopia's Poetry Bargain listings any time they have a Free shipping deal.

If you are interested this link will take you to the poetry bargains page. You might have to wade through some odd selections, but there are gems to be found.  Such as the following which I received today

June Fourth Elegies by Liu Xiaobo (trans. Jeffery Yang) which was an absolute steal from Booktopia at $3.75(they still have copies at that price).

If you don't know who Xiaobo is, the Wikipedia entry has a good run down.

June Fourth Elegies is a collection of the poems  Xiaobo has written each year on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. 

It's a bilingual volume featuring the original Chinese poems followed by their English translations.

The second bargain was LK Holt's Keeps With Patience, Mutiny and Man Wolf Man at $4.95 (unfortunately the price has shifted back up). So three collections in one.

It doesn't get much better than this, indeed I rarely find second hand deals as cheap as this.  I shall now go and be smug and read some fine poetry.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Year of Poetry Update Week 15

Artist in residence painting chooks
This week saw another full working week and as a consequence the total hours were down, but I still managed to put in more poetry writing time than last week and have progressed the one draft I started to a beta reading stage.  

Entirely happy with the progress. I came across some interesting advice in one of the study essays this week that is further confirmation that this Year of Poetry is the right way to go: 

 If you write often, perhaps every day, you will stay in shape and will be better able to receive those good poems, which are finally a matter of luck, and get them down. Lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don’t work. You will find that you may rewrite and rewrite a poem and it never seems quite right. Then a much better poem may come rather fast and you wonder why you bothered with all that work on the earlier poem. Actually, the hard work you do on one poem is put in on all poems. The hard work on the first poem is responsible for the sudden ease of the second. If you just sit around waiting for the easy ones, nothing will come. Get to work.  -   Richard Hugo

As mentioned in the previous post, the anthology I'm included in went live today.  I have three poems in it: a Tanka, a Haiku and a Haibun. You can order it through Amazon here (print only for the first 2 weeks)

This week's study was comprised of Invisible Architecture by Barbara Guest, The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo, Kingfishers Catching Fire: Looking with Poetry's Eyes by Jane Hirshfield and finishing off  Pound's, A Retrospect and A Few Don'ts .

My close reading was Robert Adamson's Sugarloaf Bay, Middle Harbour 

For the Statbadgers:

Total time: 08:45 (223:38) hrs

poem writing = 4.40 (93:33) hrs
close reading = 1:25(48:03) hrs
technique/theory 2:03(54:30) hrs
reflection = 0:37 (18:53) hrs

Poetry written:

0 (18) poems completed
3 poems in draft
1 poem abandoned

Poems Submitted:

0(12 in total) poems

Poems Published:

3(5) poem

Live Performances:



0 (2) poem

Poetry and Place Anthology 2015 Live

I have been informed by the publisher that the Poetry and Place Anthology 2015 (Print Edition) is now live and available from Amazon US and other retailers will have it soon.  An ebook version should also be available in a couple of weeks

If you would like to order a copy through your local independent the ISBN number is: 9780994528926.

If you want to check out who else is in the anthology the TOC is here

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Year of Poetry Update Week 14

Camel made from old roof sheets.

I increased the hours worked this week, but unfortunately it was spread across areas other than poem writing.

Still, I managed to work on a couple of drafts, and I need to remind myself as I get more competent in terms of craft, to not push myself and get despondent when the art doesn't fall into my lap.

That poetry publication I mentioned last week went live today, so you can check out the poem Lest We Forget at the Pressure gauge Journal.  I hope you enjoy or perhaps appreciate it.

This week's study was comprised of  The Poem as a Field of Action by William Carlos Williams, Preface to Some Imagist Poets by Amy Lowell, Pound's, A Retrospect and A Few Don'ts and Jane Hirshfield's essays Poetry as a Vessel of Remembrance and Writing and the Threshold Life from Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry.

My close readings were Cyril and the Snails by Alex Skovron and Scrag Lit by Alison Whittaker

For the Statbadgers:

Total time: 11:44 (214:48) hrs

poem writing = 3.45 (88:53) hrs
close reading = 2:50(46:39) hrs
technique/theory 3:51 (52:27) hrs
reflection = 1:18 (18:16) hrs

Poetry written:

0 (18) poems completed
2 poems in draft
1 poem abandoned

Poems Submitted:

0(12 in total) poems

Poems Published:

0(2) poem

Live Performances:



0 (2) poem

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Poetry in Shetlandic Dialect - Soondscapes

Below is a recording of Scottish (Shetlandic) poet Christine De Luca.  Her poem Soondscapes which was selected for Best Scottish Poems 2015.  I love the sound of the language and the way my brain works to translate the accent and the meanings of words from their context. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Best Scottish Poems 2015 | Scottish Poetry Library

If you are hankering for some free quality poetry, then you might want to take a gander at this selection edited by noted Scottish Science Fiction writer and Poet Ken MacLeod

Best Scottish Poems 2015 | Scottish Poetry Library:

The poems are free for viewing on the wonderful Scottish Poetry Library site and most of them are in English and for those that aren't if you imagine saying some of the words phonetically in a Groundskeeper Willy accent from the Simpsons you'll probably figure it out.

Year of Poetry Update - Week 13

Week 13 has turned out to have been my, well I can't say my least productive because their were some achievements in retrospect, but the hours put in were certainly the lowest.  I only managed to achieve just over seven hours, this despite having only one and a half days work.

I just have to face facts that sometimes life gets in the way. On to some good news though:

  • The Poetry & Place Anthology featuring myself and lots of other Australian Poets is due out soon
  • I had another piece accepted for publication, which should be coming out in the next two weeks or so
  • I performed at Gawler Poets in the Pub after handing in my judges report for the Adelaide Plains Poetry Competition

So while not perhaps hitting the books so hard I have been busy with poetry related stuff and have been benefiting from hard work put in over the last three months.

Fortunately what time I did manage to get for poetry was spent on writing and I managed to finish one poem and start on a draft of another.

This week's study was comprised of Sight-Specific, Sound-Specific . . . (2005) by Nathaniel Mackey and Jane Hirshfield's essay Facing the Lion in Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry. 

My close reading was Factory by Lorraine Mariner.

For the Statbadgers:

Total time: 7:04(203:04) hrs

poem writing = 4.25 (84:08) hrs
close reading = 0:35(43:49) hrs
technique/theory 1:34 (48:36) hrs
reflection = 0:30 (16:58) hrs

Poetry written:

1 (18) poems completed
1 poem in draft
1 poem abandoned

Poems Submitted:

0(12 in total) poems

Poems Published:

1(2) poem

Live Performances:



0 (2) poem
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