Tag Archives: Junky Comics

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content warning: slight mention of self-medication with alcohol (not reviewing alcohol for this one though!)

 

I know, I was supposed to have one of these up ages, but got slammed with work. I started a new job, came off my second antidepressant (because I’d gained too much weight, and guess what, now I’m just not sleeping as well) and had a few freelance deadlines that had quick turnaround.

I know, I know, living the overworked, underpaid creative dream but I feel like because my mental health isn’t an acute worry, I can’t really refuse the ace work that’s coming my way. It does tend to mean on days off, sometimes I just sleep the whole bloomin’ day or try to do as little as possible. I also finally got confirmed as having premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and the months where it doesn’t pwn my mood, there’s just so much blood. Been joking that I’m a DIY pagan ritual (probably inspired by a particular scene in s3 of Outlander – Jamie Fraser isn’t the only red babe…?)

Anyway, maybe some more cheerful stuff! Finally got to go through a stack of zines I bought when visiting Brisbane and found that I’ve got two copies of the zine I’m reviewing today. Nice one, doofus!

zine: The Tundish Review #5 (Apr 2018) by various authors; edited by Katelyn Goyen & Nick van Buuren

drink: Macro Wholefoods matcha (with milk and maple syrup) to make a matcha latte!

I’m going to lay off the booze for a couple of weeks because drinking when you’re run-down or have epic insomnia is not a good idea (yes, I’ve been less responsible before, and not proud of it). It’s weird but am also slightly proud of myself for wanting to develop healthier habits since I got a regularish job?

Matcha lattes are so first-world wanker I can’t even but I love them: I love how bitter matcha, and how rich it is with milk and soft, caramelly sugar. I suck at making them, but am practising while I have access to my dad’s fan-ceh milk frother whatsit. They’re also a bit of an energy kick in the same way tea is? I’m actually one of those weirdoes who isn’t kept up by black tea, but forget drinking coffee regularly on my current dosage of my day antidepressant unless I’ve had three full meals a day, if you know what I mean…

The Tundish Review is a zine from Brisbane, where the Queensland Poetry Festival was. Part of the festival had a mini-zine fair at Bloodhound Bar (omg I drank so much good beer there – Trois Mousquetaires ho-lee fark! and even got to share a bottle of one of Moon Dog’s Black Lung iterations with Healthy Party Girl!), and you gotta support the artists and buy all the zines when you can!

Um, so the zine. Gorgeous line illustrations and starts with a poem by Robbie Coburn about fucking Rimbaud. Ouais, ouais, ça je sais, Rimbaud est magnifique et tout les poetès veulent manger son cul défunte, I get it: Rimbaud’s a big deal to European poetry and he kind of had a rock star life before rock stars existed, but NNGH. I dunno, let’s make a bigger deal over Louise Labé or something?

I’m sorry, that turned into a rant. I shouldn’t be knocking a more accomplished poet than myself based on what their inspirations are – I can be pretty insufferable when harping on about Sir Thomas Wyatt (making heartbreak cool, yo, in early modern English, gush! You lust after that swan Anne Boleyn!). And look, it’s a lovely poem but maybe I just expect to be shaken and turned on by contemporary poets in all possible ways. It’s a beautiful poem for a reflective, quieter headspace.

But then I will still go all mushy over a villanelle? Isn’t that just as wanky-exclusionary as being in love with Rimbaud? ‘Villanelle for the sleeping Orlando’ by Frankie Brown is poignant, has striking imagery and I totally want more after the poem is finished! It’s also not a strict villanelle, so it doesn’t read as forced or contrived.

It turns out I’m not the only person with a rant up my sleeve! ‘Existentialist Letters’, addressed to Sartre may just have restored some faith in humanity, it’s just the kind of continental philosophy/anti-Anglo-Aus snark you need and picks apart some of the privileges first-world wypipo have…and abuse.The croissant rant is inspired! Maddeningly, it doesn’t say who it’s by, pout!

Raelee Lancaster’s ‘An open letter to my father’ is heartbreaking in all the right ways and a shift in emotional tone from debates above to the deeply personal. These are the sorts of contemporary poems that shake a reader to their core…I don’t think even think my work now is as brave, vulnerable and reflective as Raelee’s? Will it ever be? This is why I shouldn’t be knocking younger poets like above…? *blush* I heard Raelee read her work on a local indie radio station and remember being hungry for more of her work (which you can find in Overland).

Is it okay to admit that I needed a lot of time between now and reading Raelee’s poem? For all the right reasons…guess that’s part of the sensitive creative thing, eh?

John Ballot’s ‘Just-a-boy and his shadows’ has sparse, cut-to-quick imagery about driving at night. The attention to tension and grip on the steering wheel, and how it can give away so much about a person if their face belies none of the stress or concentration needed for driving. There were so many ‘yes!’ spots in the poem, but this line made me exhale loudly:

bark is steel at 160kmh

One of the uniquely Australian experiences I will always remember is driving in areas of complete darkness, It reminds me of when my family first moved to Melbourne, and how some parts of it still had dirt roads! That halo of ‘perfumed light envelops You’ as you try to swivel your steering wheel as quickly and as economically as possible to get back into better visibility where things feel less daunting.

The next poem is a hybrid poem-as-recipe or perhaps vice versa: ‘Cocoanut Cake: an Emily Dickinson Recipe’, which takes lines from Dickinson’s work, and a recipe of the aforementioned coconut cake which you can get at the Poet’s House at Harvard College (not university). Dickinson’s poetry is the kind that years later, you can still be finding koans in her single lines that didn’t occur to you, oh, twenty years ago? If you don’t believe me, check out ModPo. I did it a few years ago when I wasn’t well enough to write or do anything at a sustained level – it really helped me find my way home to poetry and literature. It doesn’t say who mixed/arranged this poem, but it’s really fun!

Morgan Kinghorn’s ‘Criminal Code Act 1899 sect. 224, 225, 226’ starts with each stanza with a question of the same form, and then asks for qualifiers on that initial question. It’s an interrogative poem, with erotic and existential turns, ending with the subject framed as the ‘other’ or an abstraction. It’s an odd one, but in a really satisfying way, and the images and questions are simple but feel necessary.

While at the Queensland Poetry Festival, it was a relief to be able to talk to another poet of colour about how obsessed white poets are with centos. Yes, I get that they’re all about skill and poetic craft, but they are also quite classist: they’re meant to make poets (like me – autodidact poets are not considered good at their craft unless they mimic their ‘intellectual betters’ very, very well) without their knowledge feel second-rate. You’re basically showing off what you’ve read, and then ‘remixing’ other peoples’ works and continue the lineage of homage-wank (reification of new exclusionary ‘canons’). You bored reading this rant yet?

‘Alphabeat Soup – @realCagedTrump’ is a cento using (dear god) Donald Trumps Twitter updates interlaced with Maya Angelou’s ‘Caged Bird’ – this is the kind of playful genius one wants from art! It’s heartbreaking (as anything to do with Trump if you have half a heart is, I’m not budging on this), and it’s also the kind of poetic innovation that old white male exclusionary-town poets wouldn’t catch themselves doing. Also kind of scary as I imagine the poet who wrote this cento had to become very familiar with The Donald’s Twitterstream which sometimes reads as if he’s a fascist or a contemporary of Ezra Pound when he got all ranty.

Andrew McGowan’s ‘Grimace’ is naturalistic and gruesome and set in an Australian gothic sort of aesthetic. The strongest parts are where nature’s brutality is documented and not ‘explained away’ – e.g. ants eating and decaying a dead bird, ‘Dragonflies and mosquitoes murder / each other, a colossal hum.’ The place setting is compelling, and I wish the poem focussed more on that and really pared back mentions or statements from the human subject. I’d be keen to read more poems set in this place of quiet, implied menace.

The second-last piece is a mini-essay called ‘Good Form’ about rhyme, half-rhyme, slant rhyme, internal rhyme and eye rhyme. It’s a bit down on nursery rhymes (but the greats Pope, Shakespeare, Poe, and Chaucer are okay, YAWN. Christ: reading Chaucer in middle English is really fucking hard work). It does end to say that poets should be open to wandering off the rhyming path, which to be honest, if you haven’t hit upon that now as a practising poet (ideally you should be able to do both rhyming and non-rhyming poetry) best to start trying ASAP?

Then to end, there’s an exercise! ‘The Man From Snowy (Blank)’ suggests that you:

fill in the blanks to create your very own canonical Australian ballad. Whether you’re naughty or nice to old mate Banjo try reading the Good Form feature on rhyme first and see what you can do with this dusty ABABCDCD rhyme scheme here.

Always good to have a bit of audience participation! Might have a go for next Patreon blog post when I review the other Tundish Review issue I have…

you got your health, kiddo…

It’s early in the week, the month, the year. I’m nearly forty and still classify myself as a loser (not by choice). My parents are about to retire, and I’m living with them after being bumped out of a shit sharehouse situation (woah, alliteration much?!?!). My job network provider doesn’t think I’m a total burnout* because he sounded remotely interested in the notion of my freelance writing. The person before him – my actual consultant – was a deeply empathic human. I’m guessing this is why he’s no longer in that…’role’.

I’ll always have booze, words and cats, right? I put on  the soundtrack to Miss Sloane, by Max Richter, after having caught Richter’s name in the credits. Watching TV is not a habit that feels comfortable anymore, not while there’s so much daylight.

My folks are out wishing my gorgeous younger nephew a happy birthday, I’m here getting ready for a housesitting gig, and doing a bit of reading, and writing. These posts aren’t for personal or professional gain – it’s to remind me that other creatives exist and to pay tribute. My song might be very, very, very quiet or barely audible, but that’s okay for now.

I got two zines recently from a Brisbane-based distro because I wanted to read Shastra Deo‘s contribution in The Tundish Review #4. It’s pretty exciting to see a Fijian-Indian Brisbane-based poet having a collection published (fuck yeah!) and Junky Comics had some other fabbo offerings. I loaded up my e-cart like a good sad consumer drowning her sorrows with two teeny zines by Linkraptor because: 1. mental health, and 2. who doesn’t love burgers?!?!

You all know I’m all about the mental health crapping on (I have major depressive disorder and NO, YOGA WILL NOT FUCKING CURE IT). You may also appreciate the gentle irony that for most of my life, I struggled with very disordered eating. Hated food. This dramatically changed once my psychiatrist put me on antipsychotics. One in particular stands out as really encouraging me to love food, and that one is called quetiapine (brand name is usually ‘Seroquel’ or variations thereof. I refer to chemical names because that is the constant name they share). As someone who has never taken recreational drugs, the ‘marijuana munchies’ started to make some sort of sense once quetiapine was prescribed for me (for PTSD-type symptoms; no! yoga did not cure it so stop thinking about it!). Holy fuck. GIVE ME ALL THE CHEESEBURGERS. WITH ALL THE BEEF PATTIES. NOW. NOW. NOW.

The last page of ‘Top Secret Burger’ has the words ‘the mission of the secret burger is to give the best burger for whatever you enjoy…’ and it’s a damn pure sentiment. Everyone being entitled to the burger of their dreams – yep, vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free folks…it sounds like a dream, huh?

My cat is lying out of the sun, to my right. There is something supremely comforting, knowing that she’s alive and relaxed, and feeling safe. When I first met her, she was an anxious cat – being a rescue, and belonging to someone else. Watching her gradually ‘undo’ her nervous habits has helped me undo some of mine.

‘Space Out’ has some sentiments that remind me, or help me feel okay about not having all of my long-term memories intact (I explain a bit about that here, but please be mindful that it contains reference to medical procedures some may find disturbing). That we’re fallible because we’re human, and that is okay (well, as long as we’re not doing it on purpose).

Both the zines are like reading a hug from a stranger who is somehow familiar. Isn’t that why we choose to create, and keep on creating? Most of our economies don’t value creatives the way they should – unless they’re able to be profitable (which is totally crap, by the by – please do NOT confuse me for one of those who thinks this is a good way to be). One of the things I like about my depression is that due to seeing the lows the mind can fall to, sometimes a stranger being kind – or being themselves has this ability to make you feel like…you could be a nobody to yourself but someone who doesn’t even know you thinks you’re worth something, and they don’t look to gain from it.

That’s also what this series of posts will hopefully be about. Revelling in multidimensional living when you’ve spent twenty or so years with…the volume turned down, or not up to speed. Rejoicing in half-price boxes of choc-coated matcha ice cream confection-whatsits. Rejoicing in having a clean, dry, warm bed to sleep in. Not worrying about how much you get paid, and when that will be.

Soooo, guess who’s the dumbarse who totes picked a tinnie based on its purty label! Was expecting a watermelony gose like the one I’d tried at Bar SK but accidentally got one that tastes like seaweed and a bitter lager – which is actually the pilsner influence! And no, the seaweed isn’t gross, and – bear with me – isn’t awful! Goses are supposed to be salty anyway, and this had that savoury, clean Mex-lagerish thing happening that went well with my matcha ice cream splurge. It’s sort of sad that just as I was really digging ‘Down She Gose’, it finished!

Just as it was starting to warm up and get less lager-pilsnerish, it was GONE. Having said that, in terms of gose-country, it’s not that salty or sour, but that might make it an entry-level beer into that style (protip: now you know what to get for your beer-nerdy family member/friend/colleague etc.).

If you have a perv on their website, they have quite a few fab tinnies (the grapefruit and marigold saison sounds divine?!). Anyway, keep an open mind and palate! Seaweed-salty low-booze beer is way better than you think it’d sound. Besides, this is Melbourne, we’re used to assaulting newfangled sensations!

In acknowledging that not everyone wants to drink alcohol, a great non-alcoholic alternative might be genmaicha (Japanese roasted rice green tea). Of course it goes well with sushi, and light, subtle flavours. Hit me up with hiyayakko right now, please!

*sings* it’s gonna be alright…with Gigiiiiiiii…

*worth watching the whole thing, but from 4’24” is why I’ve hotlinked it!