Tag Archives: poetry

one zine, one drink, one DJ set…

I have an embarrassing stockpile of media to consume, and limited time available at my good friend’s place where I’ve just had to break up two cats in a very hairy, very loud fight.

The scent of possum piss sets them both on edge, regardless of how hot or cold the night becomes. I’m trying to listen to this DJ set (which started off pretty dreamily…tinkling of some sort of hard-cast bell), and one of my feline charges is missing a chunk of fur. I’ve got them cordoned off in separate parts of my friend’s apartment, after brewing a fuck-off sized mug of tea (pic here).

zine: Concrete Queers issue 5

drink: Madame Flavour rooibos mint & choc (as a treat, when grocery shopping!)

Coincidentally, this issue opens with liz duck-chong’s ‘tectonic girl’ which has some awesome  crème brûlée images (they didn’t include the accents, but I can hear my high school teacher cheerily chanting ‘accent grave, acc-cent cir-con-flex-uh!‘ and damn, now I fancy burnt cream for dessert and it’s far too early in the week for such indulgences!) – yeah, this was once a food blog and didn’t I say something about speed-reviewing a zine with a tinnie in hand?

Yeah, well, given how much I drank over New Year’s Eve, it didn’t seem sensible to drink more booze, and I did want to give the teetotallers nice options.

The cats have both calmed down, and it’s on to ‘imperfect’ by Liam Gabriel York. Their finishing line in their poem (promise it’s not a spoiler) ‘Change is the tool that shapes my soul.’ seems especially pertinent to me right now, for my immediate future, my less nearer future. It feels incredibly comforting to read that line, right now.

An anime-style character is represented in illustration, fragmented, by Brigit Macfarlane. It’s called ‘Sleep Paralysis’. One can’t quite tell if the character’s clothes are empty, though what limbs show are solid. It’s probably the most poetic rendering I’ve seen of something so horrific. Night terrors, and sleep paralysis less so, used to be part of a lot of my sleeping life.

I still think it’s pretty funny that I freaked out a goregrind musician ex, once, with my blood curdling scream. A plane could be about to run (him) down and (he’d) still look barely affected, so it was…surprising, to say the least.

The sole prose contribution is by the zine’s poetry editor Tilly Houghton – in ‘On Poetry’, she voices some of her thoughts and motivations on why and how she writes, edits, refines, arranges. Again, it’s comforting to know someone else out there moves and saves versions of works in different folders…when are the damn things ever really…’finished’?!

I’ll pause here, both this ethereal DJ set, and reading – it’s time for another cuppa, and to cordon off the kitties.

It’s just before the halfway mark of the zine, I’m stretching out my choc mint rooibos pyramid teabag for another delicious, divine-smelling mug, and realising my dot-to-dot skills aren’t that great – the zine centrefold is interactive!

Just before that is a cool piece by Hamish McIntyre called ‘Unstuck’ and is somewhat about poetry in motions, and repetition (which old-school poetry does, as do song lyrics – which classify as…poetry! yup). As a former flautist, I’ve never really found repetition of technical work (scales, and similar exercises designed to make you sound flawless when jumping from high and low registers, or just all-out trilling/ornamentation* overly poetic, but bodies in motion, performing repetitive actions in some sort of sync, looks incredibly fluid and elastic. That’s what I got out of reading that piece.

The second half has a poem each by the aforementioned contributors liz duck-chong, Liam Gabriel York, and poetry ed Tilly Houghton, then two photographs by Laura Knott, a gorgeous longer work by clara johanna called ’20/20′ with musings on growing up, feminism, and what it means to start to want. The final piece is an illustration of someone look at themselves in a mirror – I’ve always liked Frank Candiloro’s artwork because xyr linework reminds me of the sturdy thickness of lino cuts. It’s like my friend Chloe once told me – everyone draws lines differently, unique to themselves – it’s so true. I’m personally an appalling visual artist – the lines I seek solace in are the ones made up of letters and words.

That DJ set and tea were really fucking good. Definitely getting another box of these amazeballs pyramid whatsits.

*my first ever personal blog eons ago was called ‘Grace Notes @ Snarkattack’ because of the fluting thing, and how ‘grace notes’ (e.g. acciaccatura, and similar-but-diffs appoggiatura) are fleeting, but there. Also, not sure if this is actually true, but apparently my mother briefly considered naming me Grace, so it’s funny on several levels. I…don’t get out much, huh.

 

 

more book and beer pr0n

A snippet from a recent conversation, not quite verbatim, but as much as I can recall:

person: everyone thinks (artists and writers) just go around drinking heaps doing drugs, having wild sex and parties all night long…
me: …
person: they don’t know that there’s actually quite a lot of work involved…
me: (thinks about rage associated with Paul Muldoon Oxford lecture collection) uh, yeah, it really isn’t, but I like the research except when my brain won’t switch off and read for fun.

In no way am I:

  • suggesting I’m a writer
  • admitting to believing or dismissing the particular stereotypes described above
  • (unprofessionally) mad at Paul Muldoon, the famous Irish poet
  • going to wax lyrical about whatever the hell it is that writers do
  • going to avoid the blissful topic of alcohol consumption. Best for last, chums!

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It’s actually really hard to read and drink because the ‘aspiring writerly’ brain is always looking to pinch, pilfer and transform better people’s words into their own (not referring to outright plagiarism and/or not citing sources – that shit is clearly not on. Some decent wordsmiths actually put effort into their craft, yo!).

A somewhat awkward slide to introduce Paul Muldoon’s The End of the Poem – a collection of lectures about individual poems for Oxford lectures. Muldoon is supposed to close read each poem, that is, analyse and beat it within an inch of its life for intent and meaning and whatever the hell it is litwank nerds do (disclosure: I do it but badly – they’re mainly just boring rants focussed on the possible reasons for the placement of a comma in one spot, etc.).

With close reading, you look for ways in which the poet has jampacked as much potential meanings and readings into as short a space as possible. So when Muldoon’s lecture about ‘poem X’ turned out to be ‘everything possibly related to the genesis of poem X and not really a reading of said poem, it got me into passionate Collingwood supporter mode (note: I do not follow AFL. Never been to a game but kind knowledgeable folks have offered to take me to my first game ever…next year.

It’ll be a good space to get my argh-Muldoon-why-so-info-overload-cant-drink-beer-while-reading rage. Basically, reading one of these lecture transcripts means (if you haven’t already) you’ll need to read five other poets, maybe a biography or two, and a bajillion other poems by the author of the poem allegedly being close read.

Stubbornly, I refused to let my Muldoon rage transfer to impressions of the beer. Reading non-fun stuff and drinking even funner stuff didn’t work – but just in this instance. Above, the beer is one of last month’s TruBru #bearclub selections – Sixpoint’s Spice of Life Citra IPA. Bring on the hop times. Hop times = fun flavour times. Screw autodidacticism. Link is back to full health – for now.

Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma is, reading-wise, easier to devour though its information…not so much. Throughout the first part, I began to understand why Children of the Corn is a horror flick. It didn’t stop me from testing this new fear by buying a quesadilla a few days later. It also helps to know I’m not reading it blindly. Corn and its (natural) growth process still sounds like science-fiction. If we eat enough of it, will it conquer us the way the Adipose did in that episode of Doctor Who? Shudder.

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It seemed like a good time to try out Mikkeller’s ‘Show Me’ Cuvee – a wild/sour beer (another TruBru #bearclub selection). My palate generally is doing funky things and has decided that things I previously thought were nice or okay, are ‘ooh-er, this is really good’ – enjoyed it more than expected.

Finally! I did get fun drinking and reading in! Woo hoo!

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Snatching up some sun, my official mascot/overlord (cat) is resting against my back as I take a photo of The Paris Review summer 2014 issue (Northern Hemisphere summer – just imagine my lit journal reading backlog is the size of a slab) and 2 Brothers ‘Kung Foo’ rice lager. Both were very, very moreish. Ideally, enjoy both in a beautiful patch of public park not crawling with people who may follow you home singing Katy Perry or Britney Spears at the top of their lungs, or the equally intimidating crew who illegally light fireworks near a place I fondly call ‘Mill Park-South Morang Carcossa’. It makes trips to the postbox more…interesting than usual.

PS. The Muldoon lectures are amazing, just hard-going as it’s not the type of thing one can skim-read; I’m merely related to a Collingwood AFL supporter so their zeal is, to my mind, the stuff of mere legend; and lastly, po-mo dictates that you can appropriate others’ work but you better cite and acknowledge the shit out of your sources, k?

PPS. The other book supporting Muldoon-rage-o-rama is Mark Strand & Eavan Boland’s (eds.) The Making Of A Poem – highly recommended if you want to impress someone by memorising or learning to write poems in established forms (it has examples!)

 

Good Beer Week: do some chewin’ while you talk to those that do the brewin’

Think speed dating, but you all stay in your seats and when the bell is rung, a fairly prominent brewer(ish type) has to get up and move on along to the next table.

That is the concept behind The Local Taphouse’s ‘Brewers and Chewers’ event. Not that I know anything about speed dating, but one of my lovely table companions TJ was keen to clue us all in. Basically, we had a sit-down dinner and then a bell was rung and one of seven beery folks had a cloche brought to them and their plate, and they were whisked away.

As usual, the lucky punters had Prof Pilsner from Beer Blokes to assist with MC duties. Here he is introducing a very affable Soren of 8 Wired Brewing to the crowd.

This is going to be a difficult post to rein so bear with me: let’s start with the brewers and if applicable, their beers imbibed. The non-brewy folks had their own spot to sit in and stayed in said spot for duration of the evening. Downstairs of our beloved Local was cleared of its usual suspects (ie. the comfy green couch which eats my fat arse every time I sit in it) and it was converted into a rather swanky dinner hall for the evening. Little did I know that I had the great fortune to be seated next to Richard Watkins, head brewer of the Wig & Pen in Canberra.

Lovely, soft-spoken fellow, shown here listening to a question from a fellow diner. Coincidentally, Tris and I had started with an unstyled wild bacteria and yeasty number that was on its way to becoming a lambic but not quite (his words, not mine!) that is then aged for a year. This beery complement to our esteemed guest was called Bob’s Armpit, at 7% ABV. Incidentally, knock Canberra all you like (goodness knows our MC did!), the weather there is actually very stable and predictable and thus quite good for brewing. I cannot comment on its denizens, never having been…

Though many of you know the Wig & Pen has changed owners, Richard said he’ll still have a fair bit of involvement with the brewpub and definitely with beer. Phew.

Next up was our lovely launchess of the Barley’s Angels Melbourne chapter, the Beer Diva Kirrily Waldhorn. I didn’t get to chat to her much, but just enough to gush to her about her being the one starting me off on my beer-and-food journey. Sam from True South and Karen of Red Hill were also chatting to her at the other end of our table.

Third brewy suspect was Brad Rogers of Stone and Wood, wearing their eponymous “water hops malt & yeast” T-shirt (want!). Stone and Wood is up in Byron Bay, is about five acres and Brad said they like to keep it simple. His beery insight was that Galaxy hops can be variable whatsits. Given last event’s and post’s personal insult hurled at this here writer, I can assure you, this is the last time my ugly mug will ever appear in a blog post. I’m only sorry the beer being imbibed was not Brad’s (confession: it was most likely Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis).

That damn bell, you keep ringing and robbing us of beery folks! Our fourth brewy person in the hotseat was the ever charming Soren Eriksen of 8 Wired Brewing from New Zealand, pictured at the beginning of the post. He divulged that due to shipping and lower excise costs within Australia, the brewery is selling almost more beer in Australia than in their home country! Happy to keep on appreciating, Soren!

It was Brendan Varis of Feral Brewing in Western Australia that got me writing down furiously – he’s been a great inspiration to a lot of Australian brewers and beer drinkers. Karen of Red Hill Brewery (yes, she owns a brewery, she is not a brewer, I’d best specify that) happily sited him in front of our table as what got them started. Brendan was insanely generous with his take on brewing: he said he loves Chinook as his ‘go to’ hop but that the 2011 Australian one wasn’t as fantastic as previous incarnations and that it took ten tanks (or twenty brews!) to actually discover this. He also showed fondness for Columbus and Horizon but was getting all cosy of late with the Sorachi and its lemony goodness but it was his discussion of terroir and whether or not it exists for beer that was truly scintillating. Is this something beer industry folks will be talking more about down the track…?

Though I’d got to listen to James Watt twice before the dinner, I still cannot fucking believe he sat next to me and talked to me personally for the next brewer stint. Oh. My. God. He apologised for coming off as condescending at Ale Stars and seemed to be operating on a cyborg-like amount of sleep since he’d arrived in Australia but look: speaking with him at the dinner is easily going to be the highlight of the week for me. James gave me four minutes to take a sip of his own glass of Hardcore IPA and come up with a poem for him. I did feel like we bonded because and pardon this profanity but I did refer to that fundamentalist organisation as ‘cunts’, or rather how they treated him (yes yes, I realise, not doing my fellow wymmins favours by using the word in a pejorative sense, but as a quick aside, in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, it’s slang for the female nether regions and not considered rude. So there).

Did he like it? As a poetaster, I’ll never really know but he took a photo and I caned it out in less than four minutes. If I’m lucky, it may end up on a beer bottle but these brewing rockstars, bet they say that to every sassy brunette they meet in a foreign town (I wish I’d suggested to James that Sassy Brunette might actually be an excellent name for a future BrewDog brew…).

So could the highs that punky James provided be topped? Last brewy-type Steve Grossman opening with an anecdote about how Sierra Nevada gave the film Get Him To The Greek an ample supply of their beer was a great conversation starter. When I watched it with Tristan, we’d spotted the bottles (and I laughed so much during the film I couldn’t sleep for its sheer hilarity) with much glee. Great to see that the thirty-one-year-old craft brewery got their product on a film rather than *insert your chosen commercial swill’s name here*

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This post is a bit longer than intended so will publish a hopefully shorter post next up about the drinky-chewy aspect of the evening, which really does deserve only the brand of long-winded critique I can give it *wink*.

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