Tag Archives: poetry

purple pink purple green

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…

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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!

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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