Tag Archives: poetry

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!

 

 

 

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.

 

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!)