Indie publishers & Hulking Poetry Trolls

Slate offers a wonderful takedown of Mark Edmundson’s bleak, scathing assessment of the state of American poetry. What’s not to dig with lines like “you could say, maybe, that poetic voice is the expression of a soul, and that souls have porous edges”, and a final paragraph which goes a little like this; “But, you cry, “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world!” Auden’s tart rejoinder was that “Poetry makes nothing happen.” (“It is a way of happening,” he adds, “a mouth.”) Auden wanted to steer the art away from truth-claims and toward something more flexuous and subtle—a mode, not a message. For Auden, poetry unfolded in hypotheticals, in half-truths and possibilities, toggling between feeling and thought.”

“Nonetheless, financial return isn’t the only reason to publish, as Caroline Wood, publisher and director of Margaret River Press, and Lynne Leonhardt, author of Margaret River Press publication Finding Jasper, discussed at the Small publishers are an author’s best friend panel of the Emerging Writer’s Festival 2013.”

They’re right. I can think of better reasons, and there are few other professions in which being paid anything for your work is regarded as a bonus.

In other news I’ve been working on some short stories. This handful have been on my To-Do since getting back from overseas earlier this year and there’s some momentum behind them so that’s a start. We’ll see.

Untitled Film Stills

Haven’t travelled in a while and am living in a flat that’s waiting (and oh yup, still waiting) for a reno job so it’s starting to feel a lot like this:

From an (epic) series by Cindy Sherman – Untitled Film Stills. Sixty-nine black-and-white photographs made between 1977 and 1980 in which Sherman appears as fictitious characters in scenarios resembling moments in a film. She used vintage clothing, wigs and makeup to create a range of female personae which she then photographed in apparently solitary, unguarded moments of reflection, undress, or in conversation with somebody off-set and outside of the frame.

Roseanne/Angry: Rage is a Feminist Issue

Amira H. Eating Hotdogs in Instant Photo Booth when Pissed Off (2012)

Amira H. Eating Hotdogs in Instant Photo Booth when Pissed Off (2012)

Roseanne/Angry: Rage is a Feminist Issue

Roseanne nestled in the warmed couch cushion between valium-laced Leave it to Beaver, re-runs of motherhood and the rise of the MILF. In those days feminism felt it had achieved something: a woman was able to say – on air – that she was fat, bored and generally pissed off, without being derailed. Fittingly, the recent exhibition at Adelaide’s Format Gallery Roseanne/Angry uses the TV show as a springboard from which to review the relevance of feminist frustrations and to underline the cultural capital of outrage… See more at:
Kate White for Das 500

Adrien Abbott Prize

I won the inaugural Adrien Abbott Prize for a short story which – beyond the money (always appreciated. writers are rarely paid enough; coffcoff.) – is a boon to my self-esteem. I haven’t entered or submitted much in the last 18 months what with moving from country to country so often my friends tell me they can no longer keep track; A generally wonderful, inspirational if in-the-moment unproductive experience.

I appreciate the words of the judge, Kathryn Heyman,

“Winner: Nature Morte

This is a stunning piece of work – well crafted, confident, compelling, moving. In just four pages the writer manages to create a world – two characters, who love each other, who are afraid, but brave – full of subtext, an implied past, an implied future. The dialogue is pacy and sharp, and at times funny. The reveal towards the end of the story is heart-rending and reveals the hand of a masterful writer.”

As an emerging writer receiving feedback like this from a respected, published author is manna from Heaven. It’s the kind of thing you want to staple to your forehead so you remember this gig isn’t all rejection slips and wondering if that MBA wouldn’t have been a such bad idea after all.

The constraints of the award make it a less-than story in terms of how I feel about it now. I’d “fail better” if I had another go. It was themed, ‘water’, which is always tricky and had to be under 750 words so it’s microfiction really and that is a thing unto itself. Not something I’ve written before and not quite poetry but wanting a poetic touch to keep it from seeming too little, too thrown together at the last second and stuffed with whatever’s on hand.





  1. A gift, testimonial, compliment, or the like, given as due or in acknowledgement of gratitude or esteem.

This guy resided on my daily walk home (west London, that was then). Stoic fellow.

People leave him hole-y shoes, crisp packets, soda because the cans fit nicely at his right paw… Or they go by — tsk — shaking their heads, maybe picking the detritus up to put in the nearby rubbish bin. Sometimes that was me, or I’d be curious enough to get out the iPhone, make a pause big enough to stop walking, head down, thinking ‘I know where everything belongs!’. That’s long enough to catch onto the niggling, striving belief that there is a place for everything; that I could find it, pin my butterflies there, keep beauty from flying off without even a moment’s notice. Then lions wouldn’t leap out of the backs of west London buildings, asking for spare change and Mountain Dew.

My mother and I used to argue about when to do the dishes. She wanted them cleaned, immediately – preferably before the eating of dinner. Letting them sit around ‘til what felt (to me) like the right time to do them (later; tomorrow; when do things turn green?) bordered on the unthinkable. They were out there, sitting, waiting – couldn’t I see? Didn’t it rattle my cage, didn’t leaving things undone un-done bother me?

It took me years to acquire anywhere near this level of agitation toward the unfinished bits of my days. 

Of all the things un-done, it’s the things which — day-in, day-out — are neatened, tidied, emptied and stuck back in place that convince me I’m not getting anywhere. & for every day I walked by that statue (and there were many) and there was something else; present, worn, framed, exactly as you see – grated, yellow, where new street meets old stone – I only fell deeper into the knowing of the thing that has no place but which is exactly as it should be. Which is a peace of mind uneasily won; This part of my day where I am pretty sure I’m only 1 empty can away from being a rusty lion.

sidebar: the shop in front of which the lion stands does framing. they’ve been there for yonks and have 5 levels of picture frames. wonderful.