Tag Archives: poetry zines

late night tea and reflective reading

zine: Smut  ‘Day Dreamer’ issue 4

drink: Afternoon Australian Grey (Ceylon, bergamot, and Aus. lemon myrtle) by Madame Flavour

Wow, today was a very good day. I’m currently working on a commission, and today, I was adamant that I had to get the damn thing done so that I could print it out on paper (don’t judge me!), and finally call it finished. It’s been a work-in-progress for quite some time, and one I’ve agonised over in several drafts. It morphed a lot in those drafts.

Tonight, I deliberately picked up a super-short zine for the daily read, as a result of my brain being mush thanks to editing, Trying to read this zine after watching Thor: The Dark World (is it odd that I find superhero films boring? not counting Black Panther because that was fucking rad, you know it) to wind down still meant a shift back into poet-as-reader mode! And no music – just comforting late-night outdoor ambient noise. Is it weird to hear trains so near but find their sound reassuring?

Tea, time for tea.* It’s also been a while since I did a non-alcoholic post, and today has Melbourne in glorious cool change mode. This Australian take on Earl Grey I’m drinking is so damn fragrant. I’ve had it in my pantry for a while and the scent it leaves lingering is heavenly, and distinctive (the lemon myrtle).

Online hunting has revealed that Smut is a microfiction and poetry zine from Melbourne, and the ‘Day Dreamer’ issue is the latest one. Each contribution is numbered and has a reproduction of what look like vintage photos (of very white people…). My favourite ones were the very amusing one about a dog burning shared memories and recollections with a human onto CDs, and a poem about a sinister dream, blood, and reproduction (which, if you read yesterday’s entry, you’ll know has been on my mind very recently!)

The zine ends with a single word on its last page – ‘dream’ – another topic that’s been preoccupying me lately. I’ve been rewatching The Fall and one of the main characters, Stella Gibson, keeps a dream journal. I used to do something similar when I was on medication that on certain doses, gave me the most vivid, violent or downright ridiculous dreams (though sometimes it’s not the meds, it’s past trauma stuff). It’s funny because as a kid, I never had nightmares (probably because I found it so hard to sleep!). I’ve had a lot as a grown-up.

Venlafaxine in particular on high doses is notorious for night terrors, nightmares (that wake up everyone else in your abode but you), and sleep paralysis. Quetiapine just makes me you dopey as fuck, so the dreams tend to be good-weird and rambling. Zolpidem can give you even weirder dreams: it never gives me nice ones, they’re always regret-laden ones that make me feel sad and lonely upon waking. This is why it’s good to have a cat. My old cat Wolfie, was a fantastic grump and nightmare vanguard, and my cat now Fance is a huggy cat who’ll let me snuggle her like a soft toy (under quilt and all! if she’s not sleeping on my hair!) who’ll sneak out from under my arm when I’m just about to fall asleep again.

Sorry, not a fun note to finish on, despite feeling a really good kind of tired. The Bengal kitty I’m looking after likes me again (she’s been napping as I’ve been working my arse off today), and I’ve got another cup of tea to attend to that may have been left to brew for a wonderful-but-socially-unacceptable time…g’night.

*Nope, tea doesn’t keep me awake. I also find it comforting to have hot drinks before bed. Coffee is the drink that mess up my ability to sleep, upset my tummy, make me shake lots. It clashes a fair bit with my day med unless I’ve eaten shitloads. Boooo.

what are the odds, girl?!

It’s been an…’interesting’ start to the week, and yes, by ‘interesting’, I mean ‘slightly challenging’. For the most part, productive in a healthy way – I got proofs for a poem that will soon be out in the wild, and fretted over whether the scanner I had access to was doing a good enough job of photocopying/scanning marked-up pages so that the folks responsible for rendering the text for the journal could read!

That’s the good stuff to have anxiety over – I don’t want to be difficult to work with, so was worried I was being too demanding by wanting my poem to appear on the page like it should…look, anxiety doesn’t listen to humans trying to be reasonable with their brains!).

I also found out late last week that an application I submitted for an emerging producer programme through Melbourne Fringe was unsuccessful…which is hard, but that stuff happens. I personally think that in the interview, I should have discussed my personal creative practice more than I actually did – which, in hindsight sucks, but it’s helped me come up with a few ideas of how I might be able to play with recitation and performance of my poems and as well as exploring mental health (and illness), I’ve started to look at one poem in particular that I can perform/recite/experiment-like-hell with in terms of chronic physiological pain.

So some folks might know that I’m a bitter, failed musicologist. In order to get to that stage, I was a music undergrad at Melbourne Uni, when they still had double degrees covered under HECS, and the Victorian College of the Arts (the joke goes) is where the folks with actual talent went. I incurred overuse injury to both arms as a result of several years of practice without taking proper breaks in high school. Activities like writing or typing for long periods of time can also bring on the pain, or even shit beds. It recently flared up at the start of the year after pulling a muscle in my neck, and the pain in my supposedly good shoulder…UGH. Let’s just say that it was agony trying to wipe one’s arse regardless of what hand you favour

This is a very, very long introduction to my coincidental choice of zine to review, though the drink not so much – I can’t sleep, so thought I’d read the following zine by Rachael Wenona Guy, a Castlemaine-based artist. In yet more coincidences, Guy is the partner of a poet with Marfen syndrome – me and Ben (of Melbourne Spoken Word fame) were gushing about Andy’s work, some of which I’d come across in an anthology called Shaping the Fractured Self, edited and selected by Heather Taylor Johnson, which is supposed to be a chronicle of work by people whose lives are affected by chronic pain or illness. I didn’t enjoy most of the anthology, and it pains me to admit that but hopefully it’s for valid reasons. The choices made as to what poems were featured needed introductory essays – many of which couldn’t be read independent of these explanations. Having said that, Andy Jackson’s poems in the book were freaking fantastic – you had a picture immediately in your head as you read his words, and it made you feel srs feels. There were a few other authors who stood out – and sadly few examples of repetitive strain injury (which I don’t have – overuse injury is a lesser beast) and mental illnesses.

zine: Girl: poems on childhood & Eulogy (photo-essay) by Rachael Wenona Guy (2016)

drink: Magic Rock Brewing (UK)  ‘Salty Kiss’ gooseberry gose (330mL can, 4.1% ABV)

Ooooh, I think I like the Red Duck gooseberry gose better, gasp! though this Magic Rock one is probably a better example of the style? It’s bang-on with the half-salt, half-sour, whereas the Red Duck one was juicier and just a tad sweeter, and much less salty. This one feels like it has more of the sea in it (it does have sea buckthorn listed as an ingredient).

I don’t remember how or why I bought Rachael’s zine, but it was still in the envelope I’d received it in when I found it last month, after very slowly starting to sort and unpack drafts of poems, and medical evidence of hospitalisations. It’s the sort of zine that you want to read when you’re alone, and it’s very late and dead quiet, while your beloved pet sleeps on next to you, on your bed.

A few images wouldn’t leave me alone, as happens with good poetry – I liked the poems ‘Portrait’, about how the person (in the poem), her father is drawing, and she mentions something about drawing a baby’s hand. I loved ‘Robe’ because it reminded me of growing up in England (weirdly enough…!), and the following line from ‘Girl in a Tree’ which again summons memories of my own childhood in London:

(…) The girl surveys her home — it

is ordinary, yet it is everything.

Isn’t it a magical time, when this feels so true, for us?

 

 

those overuse blues

I’ve been in pain the last few weeks after pulling a muscle before a poetry reading. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but driving seems to have made it worse, and it eventually became full-blown overuse pain, which I haven’t had to deal with for the last near-twenty years?!

Anti-inflammatory pain meds help (admittedly I’m pretty stubborn about taking them because I’m used to actually having a pain threshold), but it’s made eating, sleeping and working difficult. Hot showers haven’t helped much and I’ve spent the entire weekend wincing and feverishly sleeping in an old blue nightshift that used to belong to my mother.

I hate my body a lot less than when overuse (in the right side of my body, not left like now) was an issue, and having left my zine-drink review post till so late in the week again feels like cheating. I’ve made myself a strong, bitter hot chocolate sweetened with maple syrup and can’t really blog about the beer I got to drink over the week, because it’s all review beer for next month’s Froth, glee!

Admittedly, I have been doing a lot more things than usual…as ‘overuse’ implies, it tends to flare up when some part of the body is used too much – the lesser version of repetitive strain injury. It’s been a mindfuck listening to my left shoulder trot out an opera libretto-length version of ‘The Ballad of the Crunchy Shoulder’!

Anyway, I’m reading ‘A Sharp Knife x FOUND’ from 2015, which has ‘short, sharp poetry by women’. There’ll be a bunch of folks to tag when I post the photograph on Instagram, and I love how unapologetically hot pink the cover is. It’s put together by Alice Belle.

 


This zine is volume 6, and subtitled ‘ Positive Protest’. There’s a myriad of ways women or female-identifying voices can protest that doesn’t involve violence, and this zine offers so many paths into those possibilities…the selection does have common threads – blood, heart, stone and digging into ground, skies, what the body is made of, emancipation or extrication from stifling sources. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite poem!

I did think ‘Terra Nullius’ by Polly Glamorous was especially noteworthy because it talks about who was on this land, Australia, before white colonisation, and it’s short and sharp, just like the zine brief states. This zine was part of an event that occurred in Melbourne called ‘Found Festival’ at Testing Grounds, where many of us also read work by other female-identifying writers – I still fondly remember audience reactions to my reading out Anne Sexton’s ‘The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator’!

It’s also interesting to look back at how terrified I was then of occupying creative space…I still didn’t feel like I deserved to be there, even though the people that asked me to take part were so supportive and encouraging. Most of the year after did start to fix a lot of that; I’d never really realised how much my mood disorder contributed to my outlook and self-worth.

Anyway, contents, in order of appearance:

‘untitled’ by Alice Belle; ‘Together’ by Laura Bibby-Bell; ‘Terra Nullius’ by Polly Glamorous; ‘The Caddisfly’ by Ad Hoc; ‘Starry’ by Tilly Houghton (poetry ed of Concrete Queers fame, yea!; ‘Red’ by me (shh!); ‘Letting Go’ by Bianca Martin; and ‘Alien Girl’ by Tegan Webb.

I kind of like the idea that all these folks have been slowly and steadily creating lots of things, and since this zine volume, have been really lucky to get to learn more about their work in visual art, music, and of course writing. I tried to track down as many of the contributors without being too stalky, so if you like their work, let them know and find more!

It’s started to rain again, which totally aggravates my overuse pain, but bless that ibuprofen tablet’s magic! The pain’s become easily bearable again.