everything’s gone not quite green

beer: cherrywood smoked rye Baltic porter (355mL can, 8.8% ABV) by Dainton Brewery (Dandenong, VIC)

zineThe Coelacanth Journal 4: the dream has gone but the baby is real by various contributors

So an old friend that is kind of the closest thing I have to a big sister sent this to me a ridiculously long time (it’s dated 2012) when I would have just started having ECT. Every so often, she’s sent me care packages, and is responsible for my love of pocket notebooks!

I’ve been looking at various stacks of unread books and thinking about assembling them by colour, but that’s kind of not entirely fair on me, as some are I guess what I like to think of as work-related. In the photo for this post, you’ll see:

  • Maggie Alderson’s Bluets: verse novel and particular poem sequence research
  • Vanessa Berry’s Mirror Sydney: reviewing for Plumwood Mountain
  • Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness because I don’t get to read enough speculative fiction
  • Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God because it was Teen Vogue’s first-ever book club selection

The above titles are definitely going to make up part of my winter reading stack, as is sipping darker beer styles! I was not at all prepared by how syrupy, rich and sweet the Baltic porter when I opened the can — I think I was expecting something with a thinner mouthfeel and, due to the smokiness, perhaps a bit more savoury. It does settle down a little, but the booziness has also really caught me off guard! That’s not a bad thing, I’m just out of practise? Also not a bad thing for my liver!

Let’s start reading: for some weird reason, I thought this post’s zine was from the US but it’s UK-based. The editorial is really on its way to hooking me in by starting with the quote “Poetry won’t get us to the moon!” — which I’ve been thinking about a lot after finishing a poem I started earlier this year which tries to marry physics and poetry. Why should it matter whether or not poetry could get us to the moon? Despite being a practising poet, I do find myself asking this question and defending responses to it very, very frequently.

This zine is actually quite heavy-going; the three standout pieces are one about crop circles (seriously fascinating shit!), a section of a theatre play about training to become one of the first cosmonauts, and one about an ugly-sounding fondue set and the council estate Thamesmead. The other submissions are somewhat dry though perhaps very suited to visual arts academics, and oddly show heteronormative bias within sexist remarks that could easily be skipped over (e.g. apparently the pregnant body is not sexual to which my first thought is well, if it’s pregnant it was perceived to be sexual, and I don’t know that that switches off at a given point in a pregnancy? Which then leads to questions and definitions of what is construed as ‘sexual’, sigh, soz). I think too that my lack of knowledge on cultural theory relating to fine art might be impeding full appreciation of the other contributions?

The beer is alternating taste-wise — one sip will be sweet and syrupy, the next smoky, woody and aromatic the way you expect burning an exotic wood might be. It’s warmed up a little and feels a lot more balanced than my initial sip-reaction, and it’s taken me about two hours to finish it and the zine above.

I’ll finish with a quote from the zine’s editorial that struck my fancy, because it reminds me that science and creativity are excellent bedfellows, and long may they continue to be.

Dreams are often the ‘innocents’ that become real in ways quite opposite to their germinations.


ode to a bar

Wow. Last week was exhausting but in the best way possible. I ran an intro zine workshop for the Freeplay festival, and then appeared on a panel with another poet, and both of us got to chat like mates on stage/streamed from ACMI! On poetry and video games!

This time last year, I was nursing a moderate heartbreak (the main bits of it had begun at the beginning of the year), and was preparing for a non-ECT hospitalisation. An interstate ex-housemate was trying to bully me into putting a utility bill under my name because she was being hounded by debt collectors. Not my problem. I felt lucky to have the excuse of impending hospital admission as well as rehearsals for Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s SHORE to say that that would not be useful to either herself or the current household.

So this year, my emotional and professional mind landscape is vastly different to last year’s, and definitely for the better!

zine: Backyard: number one by Backyard SK collective (various)

beer: KRUSH! tropical pale (4.7% ABV, 375mL can) by KAIJU (Dandenong, Melb.)

It’s been far too long since I had a KAIJU beer, for whatever silly reason (I didn’t really go to any events for Good Beer Week or GABS, I know, should hand in my membership badge stat), which is stupid as I love their beers (their Cthulhu and Betelgeuse are my kind of flavour country <3) and they’re a staple at Bar SK. As soon as I open my can, the tropical notes waft up, and it gives the beer a subtle, balanced fruit kick. I do tend to ignore drinking this in favour of beers I’ve never tried, and I enjoy it during the heat, but damn! What the hell was this doing, languishing in my bar fridge for so long, so neglected?!

If someone wanted me to recommend beers to someone who didn’t really know where to start with craft beer, I’d definitely name this brewery in a top five list.

To the zine, which I can’t actually flick through right now because my cat has decided to sit on it. I don’t have the heart to push her off! She has been and is a kickarse companion in my countless times of psychological distress which is why I tend to be pretty soft on her loving to sit on my paper-anything. The zine looks like a document to a game that perhaps was part of ‘Delete’ or an unfinished prototype – it’s kind of hard to tell, but I did see a Trello board screenshot photocopied, and a few diagrams with character attributes, possible text responses in certain situations. It looks like it’s set in someone’s bedroom for part of it.

Piecing it together from what I remember gives me an inkling to what reading a poem and trying to record an extended analysis might be like – poems are very rarely literal and it’s not often obvious whose ‘voice’ it’s told/narrated in. I’ve been thinking a lot about poetics after Saturday’s panel, and more so about what poetry and video games do have in common. I’ve also played a shitload of Pokémon GO today, because there’s one special research task that asks you to evolve 20 Pokémon! I had a job network appointment, then went to pick my mail nearby, and trying (unsuccessfully) to be in a raid alone forced me to enjoy the sunshine. A looooot of my electronic buddies fainted, whoops! Autumn has been fantastic in that it’s crisp and cold and bright by day, but you feel justified having the heater on as soon as the sun sets.

I also wanted to use this post as a way to point out others’ work I either forgot to mention, or did not mention enough of during my panel chat. I feel really fortunate that my first ever conference experience was such a welcoming, positive experience – at no time did I ever feel like an annoying not-tech creative: everyone really wanted to learn about video games and their intersections with other creative media.

So anyway, thanks Jini for asking and pronouncing my last name correctly! That shit always means a lot. They do a FUCKTONNE of work, so much so that they wrote in The Saturday Paper about the unpaid labour of arts workers. It’s not an easy read – it’s not meant to be, but it’s commendable to go on the record with a lot of what they’ve said in that piece. Jini is also a member of the PlayReactive collective.

Many a fistbump to my co-panellist Rory whose future Pokémon poems I eagerly await! Would you believe, we’re also Rabbit Journal buddies! If you like either of our work (which I hope you might!), please pick up a copy of this journal, and definitely subscribe to Rory’s Tinyletter. Can’t wait to see what future work my Oulipo comrade comes up with!

Thanks so much to Alex for even giving me the notion that video game ekphrasis is a thing! If he hadn’t asked me to submit something for Bonfire Park, it’s no exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t have pitched Writers Vic at all about that fab WWOC commission. For some odd reason, it sounds too hard (in my head) to write poems honouring visual artworks, but that’s exactly what happened when trying to write them about video games?! A blindspot banished, huzzah!

And oh my goodness, so Ian Maclarty‘s game ‘The Catacombs of Solaris‘ won a freaking award at Freeplay! I’m not sure if you still can, but it was also playable in a space set up in ACMI during the festival and conference. We met properly at the festival, though I think we’d met when All Day Breakfast was still around. I was having a fair bit of ECT when ADB still existed and hadn’t actually remembered we’d met, whoops!

This is much longer than anticipated. My cat has fallen asleep on the zine! <3 I’ve got a good beer to finish drinking. Check out the above creatives’ work and tell your mates about it!




craft beer runs riot in market

What a fantastic word week it’s been! I went to a poetry book launch and forced myself to talk to people (why do I still find these events terrifying when I’m a page poet…?) of one of the folks behind Cordite PublishingKent MacCarter’s California Sweet, which also features some fab lime green, and it was on the same evening as the Emerging Writers’ Festival 2018 programme finally dropped on dear ol’ Melbz!

The super-exciting thing about this is I got asked to take part in a panel with Sonia Nair & Cher Tan about food writing! Excitement doesn’t begin to cover it?! It motivated me to get some work done on another work-in-progress, and am already plotting to become a morning person just for the festival (wish me luck!).

So with words, lime green, and off-kilter food influences in my mind, this zine-drink catch-up post is…

zine: I Love Food Network: a 24 hour Food Network fanzine by Holly Casio / Cool Schmool Zines (UK)

beer: Hop Nation (Footscray, VIC) Market NEIPA (375mL, 6.0% ABV)

Let me chuck the can notes for easy ref here:

Hop Nation is a Melbourne-based brewing company specialising in the production of small-batch beers. Our MARKET NEIPA was inspired by the flavours and aromas of the Footscray Market.

A hazy, juicy IPA that starts off hoppy, big and bold before a journey through the subtle flavours of the market begin. Kaffir lime leaf, mango, coriander, Vietnamese mint and subtle chilli integrate and lift this juicy IPA.

NE IPA = New England-style India Pale Ale (so…a juicy, hazy citrus-forward beer that then goes on to taste hoppy and bitter, as IPAs tend to do; IPAs historically had hops to preserve the beers from going off when travelling long sea journeys)

Oh WOW. The chilli kick is glorious, and the coriander adds this odd savoury note that will have you craving good Viet food, but somehow still in the body of a beer that is slightly citrus-hinting?! There’s some bitter, oily lime too! Think of the citrus oil you could squeeze or scratch off lime peel. I love that this beer was inspired by a walk-through one of Melbourne’s most diverse markets – Footscray used to get a bad rap but it has loads of cool shit going on. There are some ace watering holes, and there has always been an abundance of choice in cuisine there, due to the migrant population.

Holly Casio’s zine starts off with how comforting watching the Food Network can be, despite a binge watch session after being at home sick with a tummy bug. Watching others cook is incredibly relaxing when they’re enjoying it, and she notes that it comfort is in as simple an act of sauteeing onions or garlic, or supervising a stew. What will follow now is summaries of the shows discussed in the zine.

There’s apparently a show called ‘The Kitchen’ which is described as a cheesy morning breakfast show, but the presenters aren’t really chefs and perhaps failed auditions for what they wanted to be on! There’s one cast member who is a woman of colour, and she seems to like serrated knives as much as the Ryan Seacrest-wannabe on the show.

She hates on ‘Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals’ which is something I can get behind – he tries to make it sound like everything is so easy and slapdash, but is really just a privileged jerk with a handful of useful tips that relate to home cooking. I know, it’s not cool to hate on Jamie, but he’s not one of us, like he’d have you believe.

‘Lorraine’s Fast Fresh Easy Food’ sounds pretty cool – she’s just made some dessert that involved no baking which reminds me of my cheat method for making trifle!

‘Pioneer Woman’ sounds cool, except her husband and kids sound like chauvinistic jerks by not helping her in the kitchen. She’s all about beans and cornbread, and no veg?! She lives out in a ranch and sounds like a vastly under-appreciated human, pout.

‘Mystery Diners’ sounds like the food version of ‘Tabitha Takes Over’, where fledgling hair salons get a management makeover (usually, kicking and screaming) except that there’s actors/staging?! That’s not how fixer-uppers are supposed to work!

‘Barefoot Contessa’ sounds pretty awesome and she sounds well-loved. She educates her public on how to set tables, and recommends that you garnish dishes with something that represents what’s in the dish she makes e.g. cheddar and blue cheese grits – sprinkle cheese on the finished dish (!!!). Gosh, those grits sound good, and I’m in that point of my beer where a savoury snack would be gobbled up greedily.

Our final show is ‘Diners Drive-Ins + Dives’ – possibly a poor man’s ‘Man vs. Food’ except better because Adam Richman is not very nice. This bloke Guy Fieri goes around to joints, chats to chefs and they make delish not-vegetarian stuff. Like, ALL THE TASTY UNHEALTHY STUFF. American diner food…sounds so artery-clogging, but this isn’t off-putting!

I tend to buy cans of beer in twos, and this ‘Market’ NEIPA is actually comparatively old, but I feel like the flavours have developed in a way that wasn’t obvious in the freshly canned beer, which is a surprise given that NEIPAs are usually drunk ASAP (just trying to get in all the abbreviations, lulz) and at their best then. This had been at the back of my fridge for a bit, and I’m really glad I saved it – it’s kind of the perfect warming foodie beer.