Thursday, May 18, 2017

A long overdue update

Gentle readers,

I know many of you have been engaging in an unceasing refreshing of the blog page in the dear, dear hope that it would bring you some joyous news, some observation in poetic form on our shared experience of the human condition.

I know many of you will shed tears of joy at the possibility that these pixels appearing in front of your eyes will deliver just such a rapturous occurrence.

It is with a heavy heart that I disappoint you, at least in the short term.  At the present time my creative energies are employed in work, leaving no time for the writing of poetry, nor that period of creative indolence from which much of my best ideas some to flow.

I do have two titles by other esteemed poets which I will direct my energies to over the coming months, so while my own published words may not grace this page in the near future, rest assured I will be able to shortly direct your perspicacious intellects toward some very fine words.



P.S. I have been engaged in an All-Austen-All-the-Time movie extravaganza in case you haven't noticed.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 Shortlist for Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry

$20.80 - Booktopia
The Shortlist for the 2017 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry has been announced and they follow below.

One of the side effects of last year's, Year of Poetry was that I became aware of the sheer volume of good poetry written in just our little corner of the world.

You could take this shortlist as a fine, though obviously not exhaustive, sampling.

The judges comments are sourced from the State Library of NSW webpage here.

The prize offers the winner $30,000 in prize money (which is possibly a lifetime's earnings for poets - the average writing earnings in Australia being around the $10k mark).

As we always say though its an honor just to be included on the list.

The list 

and for once I actually have one of the books on the shortlist.  Usually I am chasing my tail, such is the volume of poetry- if you recall, I spent somewhere in the vicinity of $500 on new works last year.

I have Ellen Van Neervan's Comfort Food sitting in my TBR pile.  The judges have said:

[Van Neervan] offers a fresh poetic voice, with images that reach (to borrow Wallace Stevens’ phrase) not for ‘ideas about the thing’, but for ‘the thing itself’. Readers are invited into her world: one that has a history and tradition stretching back for millennia, and where food becomes both an actuality and a metaphor for home and family, and the comfort promised by the collection’s title. [Read more here.]
It's great to see a first collection on this sort of list standing shoulder to shoulder with John Kinsella and his 24th book, Firebreaks. The judges note that:

$20.25 - Booktopia
 [Firebreaks] confirms his reputation as one of the most significant Australian poets of his generation. Firebreaks is a return to the relaxed, well-paced observations of books such as Full Fathom Five and Eschatologies. [Read more comments here] 
What is strange is that I don't recall hearing of this book last year, which considering my poetry focus in 2016 is astonishing.

Likewise I hadn't heard of Antigone Kefala, whose Fragments is also shortlisted.  Kefala is described as an elder of Australian poetry and Fragments is her first poetry collection since the late nineties. I can't help but think we don't do as good a job of remembering, rejoicing in poets of all demographies and genders (particularly women) but perhaps it's just ignorance on my part.

The judges have said of Fragments that:

$20.50 - Booktopia 
In a book of stunning austerity, razor-sharp imagery and precise free-verse prosody, Kefala appeals to the redemptive power of memory in the face of life’s transience and intimate loss; a power that, for the poet, is found in the eloquence of poetry’s restoration of memory and life.

Which is a bit wordy and fru fru but does make me think I might like it, considering my penchant for nostalgia or poetry as a recollective creative exercise.

$25.50 - Booktopia
Ghostspeaking by Peter Boyle concludes the books selected, that I had no knowledge of prior to the shortlist.  He's also another well known (well known enough to be included in the Poetry Foundations list of Australian poets) poet who I haven't come across before.

Ghostspeaking itself sounds interesting and very meta-poetic being a a compilation of poems,biographies and letters from 11 fictional poets.

Personally I find it hard enough trying to find my own voice let alone create 11 others.

It's not easy to excise a comment from the judges report so I will direct you to the whole thing here.

$17.25 - Booktopia
Now Burnt Umber I do recall noticing last year and I have Paul Hetherington's previous collection Six Different Windows, I even thought I may have done a close reading of his poem Chicken, but checking, it seems that I just remember a good poem.

The judges have said:
These poems are attended by a deep sense of what language can achieve when it is imagistic, investigative and precise, and of what is possible when a poet has full control of their craft. [Read more].
I just have to wait until Booktopia has free shipping and this is definitely one I'll get.

It would be pretty had for me to have missed this one.  I follow Jones on twitter and we even pass some idle tweets on South Australia back and forth between us and as chance has it we have been in an anthology together.

One of her talents is in evoking a sense of place and its good to see the judges applaud this:

Jill Jones has a fine touch with representations of place and sensation: bringing to life scents and images, and the way the body bumps up against the world. Her signature pared-back lyricism is an ideal form in which to show the unexpected or barely-understood disturbances that thread through the everyday experience. She breaks (open) the days, rendering both the quotidian and the uncanny. [Read On]

Breaking the Days doesn't seem to have made it onto Booktopia yet, but the publisher is Whitmore Press and you should be able to get it through your local bookstore or buy it direct.

Get yourself over to the NSW State Library Page to read more about the award and past winners.

Read more on Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry | State Library of NSW:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Heads Up - Commonplace Podcast

or to give it its full title, "Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People)"

It does, literally, not cease to amaze me how many good poets there are out there in the wider world (and here I am talking only of Angolphone writers) that I have never heard about.

I was apprised of the Commonplace Podcast by no other than the talented Alice Allan at Poetry Says (who somehow manages to keep many fingers in many poetry baked goods).

The podcast is the creation of American poet Rachel Zucker, who defines Commonplace as:

A series of intimate and captivating interviews by Rachel Zucker with poets and artists about quotidian objects, experiences or obsessions,Commonplace conversations explore the recipes, advice, lists, anecdotes, quotes, politics, phobias, spiritual practices, and other non-Literary forms of knowledge that are vital to an artist’s life and work. 
Which is a nice way of saying poets "shooting the shit" with other poets about life and poetry.  But it's the second part of the About Page blurb that gets to the heart of why I am hooked after only one listen:
One feels, when listening to Commonplace, the pleasure of eavesdropping on the kind of unexpected, intriguing connections that only happen when interesting people sit together in a small room and talk about their real concerns and ordinary lives.
I don't really want erudite, well presented essays in oral form.  I want the literary salon-like atmosphere in my headphones and Commonplace delivers.

Alice recommends starting at episode 18 where Zucker talks to fellow poet Terrence Hayes.  The conversation is so gloriously all encompassing and at the same time free ranging that I am inclined to agree with Alice here.

For non itunes folk go here  for Episode 18.

Friday, April 21, 2017


In honour of the news that a New Zealand/ Australia production is going to be updating Monkey for 21st Century screens. I re-post my poem, The King.

The King by SB Wright

first published in Tincture Journal 5, March 2014

Sun Wukong
was my first
No journalist Jesus
with his undies
on the outside. 
No dark defender
of the city's
status quo. 
It was . . . 
philosophy lite
on a weekday
a broomstick
to a seventies
pop tune. 
His journey
to the west
gave us cloud surfing
and Buddhism 
...before Tenzin. 
He was a larrikin
in yellow skin 
before chip shop
owners and
card playing
brought us to hating
those like
It didn't matter
back then;
the colour of his skin. 
He was irrepressible,
the King.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Published Lucilia Cuprina — an Ode

You may have noticed that the crickets are chirping. which might be good for say, a Haiku but not so good for blogs.

I have been working full time and studying but there's some news today that deserves mentioning.

The Lovely folks at Verity La have published my poem Lucilia Cuprina — an Ode, just in time for Easter.  Though perhaps put off eating the chocolate and hot cross buns before reading.

Lucilia Cuprina — an Ode
first beat of spring
careening down chimney
full bore into wall,
window pane, again
read on...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Post It Note Poetry - Day 23

Well that was a long break.  Here's today's poem, inspired by fellow Post It Note Poet Adam Byatt - you should be able to see his poem in the twitter feed to the right.

future tide -  
               i draw a line under  
dried bluebottles

Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Post It Note Poetry - Day 16

This poem was inspired by a conversation on Facebook.

two men argue 
                    about the burqa ban - 
she feeds the blackbirds

There's some interesting symbolism around the blackbird that is revealing additional depth that I didn't actually intend - but I'll take it.

Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Post it Note Poetry - Day 13

Yes this happened : 

by the door 
          faded sand shoes sprinkled

by the cat

 Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Post It Note Poetry - Day 11

Waiting for the heatwave to end.  This poem came after this morning's practice.

nirvana -
                  attempting awakening
I fall asleep

Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Post It Note Poetry Day 9

Struggling in the heat.

woke late  -  
                stopped rendering

the walls  

Possibly tried to do too much with this one. Played with tenses to try and generate a matter of fact, brief, diary entry tone and then contrast that with a philosophical ending.   Not sure if it works. I do like the multiple interpretations of rendering though.

Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Post it Note Poetry Day 7

I have been reading Issa.  Can you tell? 

drinks all round - 
my pot plants after 
the forecast

 Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Post It Note Poetry - Day 6

A lighthearted poem today.

I took a relief class today and had to fall back on my "small" bag of magic tricks to do some pre- lunch entertainment.

first graders - 
          after the coin trick
that one kid

Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Post it Note Poetry Day 5

Took yesterday off from writing poetry and bought a writing desk instead.  Today's haiku like poem comes to you from the moist airless library where my mistral fan and I battle to find a breeze.

discordant -  
            the fan and I 
dream a breeze

Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Day3 Post It Note Poetry

Thank goodness it's Friday,  half the day went to pot due to network issues.  But still, it my frazzled state I came up with this after looking at some inspiring artwork.

Wanted to write it as a monostich:

eating  twilight  shadows  in  the  koi  pond

Now I am not sure if the post it note version looks better.

Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Day 2 - Post It Note Poetry

Day Two and I couldn't help but try a senryu.

bruised orange -
              the minister swallows 
a bitter draught 

Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Day 1 Post It Note Poetry

Day 1 of Post It Note Poetry.

I have had a couple of goes at this today, not entirely happy with it but as per the guidelines I am posting it.

concert selfie 
          I catch the headline act 
out of focus

Find the participant guidelines and rationale here 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Poetry Says - First Episode of 2017

Finally a new Poetry Says episode - I have been hanging out to hear Aussie voices talking about poetry in a long form interview.

Though I do respect the fact that Alice
a) does all this work for free
b) keeps an insanely regular schedule.

So much respect to Alice for giving us this, the first Poetry Says Podcast of 2017.

Ep. 31 Robin Wallace-Crabbe: ‘Art can be a lot of fun’ – Poetry Says:

Post It Note Poetry 2017 - Participant guidelines

So the time is nearly upon us and I think we are entering our 4th year of the project.  

Only 2 days to go.

February 1st is the day it all begins.  If you are new to Post It Note Poetry, check out Co-founder Adam Byatt’s original post here

The general gist of it is:
  1. Give yourself permission to write poetry, badly if need be
  2. Write out that poem on a post-it note and photograph it
  3. Put it on twitter with the #pinp17
  4. Do this every day of February (if you can)
I credit Post It Note Poetry for getting me back into writing poetry seriously(thanks Adam and Jodi).  

You are posting a poem a day so there’s not really time for agonizing over things too much.  There’s no expectations that you write like a Poet Laureate.  Hell there’s no expectation that you write good poetry.  

Free yourself from the nagging self critic, the inner poetry snob that says -  "don’t bother, you’ll never be Les Murray or Dorothy Porter".

The only real rules are that the poem must fit on a Post-It Note ( and even then some folks get creative with the concept of post it note).

I will maintain a curated twitter feed here.   I will add twitter posts that have the Hashtag (#pinp17) above. 

If Twitter isn't your thing then we do maintain a Facebook Group here.

Helpful Advice:
If you are new to poetry try an English Language Haiku or an American Cinquain.  Both of these provide a form that’s not too rigid.  Haiku are good for training your observational skills too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

TS Eliot Prize Winner - Jacob Polley for Jackself

$20.75 Booktopia
$19.72 Bookworld 
Jacob Polley has taken out the 2016 TS Eliot Prize for his work Jackself.

Jackself is the fourth collection from one of Britain's finest poets, and sees Jacob Polley at the height of his powers. 
In one of the most original books of poetry to appear in the last decade, Jackself spins a kind of 'fictionalized autobiography' through nursery rhymes, riddles and cautionary tales, and through the many 'Jacks' of our folktale, legend, phrase and fable - everyman Jacks and no one Jacks, Jackdaw, Jack-O-Lantern, Jack Sprat, Cheapjack and Jack Frost.
 At once playful and terrifying, lyric and narratively compelling, Jackself is an unforgettable exploration of an innocence and childhood lost in the darker corners of Reiver country and of English folklore, and once more shows Polley as one of the most remarkable imaginations at work in poetry today

Not sure if its your thing?  Here's Jacob reading one of the poems from the collection on youtube.

If you want to check out a write up of the prize I suggest you checkout this article by Claire Armitsted at the Guardian.

Note:  Bookworld have free shipping till the 23rd of January, check out the post here for details.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Slow start to the year and Free Shipping at Bookworld

Astute readers may have noticed the general lack of posting- at least I hope you have.

The heat combined with house renovations and a general feeling of wanting to do absolutely nothing has combined to produce no poetry reading or writing whatsoever.

I am not particularly worried about this.  I think it is good to give yourself a creative break.

So until next week, imagine me working out how to mix traditional lime render.

Note also that Angus and Robertson Bookworld have got a free shipping deal.  Just use the coupon code Summer17.

I recommend that you check out the new Penguin Modern Poets which I bought myself for Christmas.

Bookworld Free Shipping T&C's

 Free shipping is available on all orders. Promotion is valid on Angus & Robertson Bookworld; offer valid until Midnight 23 Janury 2017

 To redeem offer, enter voucher code SUMMER17 at checkout and follow the prompts to complete your transaction. 

Voucher cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions. Offer only valid at Visit website for full terms and conditions. Angus & Robertson Bookworld reserves the right to cancel or alter the promotion should it be deemed necessary. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A poem for the new year - Some Call Me Raven

If you are subscribed to the blog via email you would have already received this poem as a Christmas present ( lucky you).

This poem was one of my experiments in having more fun in my poetry.  I have this tendency to think that Poetry is all very, very serious (a pattern of thinking I am endeavouring to change) so I tried to be a bit more theatrical ? in my approach this time.  You'll notice this particularly if you listen to the audio below.

I have made a tentative agreement with myself to publish more poems on the blog this year so...

Please enjoy.

Some call me Raven

others Crow.
A god before the slow decline
to memory and thought. I brought
good omens before bad.
Will I rise again? No.
All things must

You judge.
Unkind or murderous,
which is worse?  Forever cursed;
bearer of unwanted news
or to be thought unkind
for all I’ve done?

This unwanted guest
has cleaned the mess of a thousand
bloodied fields. Is that it?
The mud and gore sticks? Am I
the fetish for your hate
and foolishness?


the vulture does the same -
perhaps you pity his ugliness?

I don’t sing
sweetly.  I’m harsh. Frequently
I disappoint you but to say
I lash you with my screams? An obscene
reaction to my call.  Straight spoken truth
never suited you.

Call me cruel?
You pluck the eyes of lambs.

Hypocrite -
their ribs were mutton chops,
lips and arshole spam,
before I came along.

Those muddy squatters under your eaves,
those cooing vermin that breed
and shit everywhere. Nothing to say?
No one ever thought it romantic
to feed the crow.
I’ll build my nest in trees
as far from you
as I can go.

Is it the colour?
The villain always wears black.
If I had a golden bill, I’d be more
pleasing to the eyes? No?
As I recall they ended
up in pies.

I will never lead a nation.  March
golden at the head of men.  Grace
stately coats of arms again. The
harm’s done.

The best I can hope
settled here on this branch
is to herald the oncoming
autumn and the darkness
of things.

All fall.

All fall -
more so those of us
with wings.

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