glenside

glenside

the asylum is green dust. not the green of fresh leaves, but the green of skies falling, the green of clouds opening, the green of hailstorms. green dust rises but does not fall. green dust floats in tormented corridors. green dust touches saffron robes and indifferent coroners. motes of green dust mingle with wafts of singed hair. layers of green dust spread like encrusting coral on deep-water gates. threads of green dust stitching yellow-buttoned madness. green dust buzzing like phosphorescent bees over nightmare stew.

green dust shadows on a moonless night concealing condemned geniuses. shadows inside brown-buckled straightjackets. disinfected shadows stretched over piss-stained gurney-scarred floors. silent shadows seeking audiences. screaming shadows cast upon dilapidated walls. honey-coated electric-shadows seeping from shock-pad temples. distorted shadows drip from slanted faces. suicide-watch shadow. bedframe shadow. sighing-door shadow. torn-sheet noose shadow. swinging shadows of green dust and lithium.

lithium rolling-doors and corner-less walls, save and deliver, sliding-windows and razor-sharp wolves. lithium children, count and dispense, two-tablets three-times daily. lithium snow, powder and shower, chemical straightjackets. decision-making lithium. double-vision lithium. wasted-mind lithium.  manic-depressive lithium. sedated-zombie lithium. transcend the prison of lithium. transcend the green dust and the shadows.

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A Small But Explosive Book: Moya Costello Launches ‘Cactus’ by Stevi-Lee Alver

Rochford Street Review

Cactus, by Stevi-Lee Alver (Rochford Street Press 2016), was launched by Moya Costello at the Bangalow Heritage Museum & Tea Rooms on 30 April 2016

steve 2 Stevi-Lee Alver at the launch of Cactus

Thank you Nancy, for the welcome to country (Bundjalung nation). I do feel a great sense that this country has made and is making Stevi-Lee. The Mirning and Wirangu nations border the Great Australia Bight: Cactus mentions both the Koonalda cave, in Mirning country, and, of course, Cactus Beach in Wirangu.

This launch, this setting of this book into the world, is an exciting moment for the Writing Program of Southern Cross University (SCU), and we are very, very proud of Stevi-Lee. And it’s also a moment when I think teaching is a privilege.

I’m just going to give you a little bit of history. But being history, Stevi-Lee most probably has a different version of it.

I remember, distinctly…

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Living Twice Squared: Stevi-Lee Alver Observes Eileen Myles at Sydney University

Rochford Street Review

Eileen Myles performed at the Footbridge Theatre at the University of Sydney on Thursday 26th May 2016

Eileen Myles. Photograph Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/) Eileen Myles. Photograph Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/)

Experiencing Eileen Myles perform at the University of Sydney last week left me floating in an indelible cloud of jouissance. It wasn’t as simple as hearing her read or the sound of her voice, it was interacting with a corporeal performance of poetry. It was witnessing a body becoming the beat of a poem, an act that changes something in the room, shifts directions, alters perceptions, tattoos the air with words.

It felt as though there was a collective transformation as language, moving through the flesh of a poet, generated a bodily response within the audience. When introducing Myles, Kate Lilley couldn’t have put it better: “an event with Eileen Myles is no ordinary event, in this country or any other… It’s a page-turning, hanging-out…

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Rochford Street Press announces the publication of ‘Cactus’ by Stevi-Lee Alver

Rochford Street Press

Cactus by Stevi-Lee Alver ISBN: 978-0-949327-03-1. $7.50 (plus $1 postage).  Cover design by Narelle Adair. Release date  1 April 2016

CactusRochford Street Press is proud to announce the publication of Cactus by emerging writer Stevi-Lee Alver. Based in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, Stevi-Lee has had her fiction, poetry, and reviews published across Australia and the United States. In 2014, while studying at the University of Massachusetts, she received the Class of 1940 Creative Writing Award for poetry. She was one of the winners of the 2014 Questions Writing Prize for her short-story ‘Phoenix’. She received the 2015 Southern Cross University award for Excellence in The Arts and has published a number of reviews and articles in Rochford Street Review. Stevi-Lee currently works at the North Coast Cancer Institute and studies at Southern Cross University. Cactus is her first book.

Cactus Beach: famous for its left and right hand breaks…

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a madman’s lullaby

 

it’s an obsession, the doctor said, but you disliked hearing that word, obsession. it wasn’t the colour that you disliked. in fact, you said, the word is colourless but tastes like burnt toast.

obsession, your brother once said, is hazy-lavender.

my son’s words are extraordinarily colourful, but he’s never tasted language. my words are neither coloured nor flavoured.

 

~

at the time, you were trying to figure out what becomes of meaning when two coloured words rub up against one another. what happens, you asked, when two primary-coloured words, such as sunshine and concrete (yellow and blue), bump into each other? does that make meaning green? is concrete-sunshine green?

perhaps, i said.

perhaps concrete-sunshine is green.

 

~

i don’t know how spirals work, you told the doctor. only that they do. only that spirals are the fingerprints of god.

 

~

what is called a beautiful bouquet nauseates me. what i admire is the macabre-scent of a single flower dying, with the colours fading and the petals so brittle they disintegrate when rolled gently between my fingertips. what i admire are flowers that delight in death and decay.

 

~

for several years we, your father and i, brushed off your spiral infatuation. a phase, we told one another. a passion. just a creative preoccupation.

at times you endeavoured to hide your desire, tried to act as if nothing was going on. but there was no point, you were transparent. you wanted to be normal. but you disliked fleshy-umber, aftertaste of dirt, normal.

 

~

as a small child you nurtured certain words, such as: galaxy, the sharpest red; and fairy-floss flavoured yesterday; and bright-electric blue, with a hint of peppermint, ripple. your favourite word was purple which just shimmered and tasted of plums. this made jacaranda-mauve, 8, your favourite number.

i remember how your dark eyes shone as i listened, nodding my head in agreement. i still cherish those moments, when your reasoning made sense to me.

 

~

there are certain sounds, like the fracturing of autumn leaves underfoot, that evoke something within me reminiscent of childhood. even still, during these times of tender nostalgia, i lack some fundamental ingredient in existence. i lack the flavour of being real. as a child i would tell myself that if i believe i exist then i think i exist then i do exist.

 

~

every picture, every early doodle, you drew was a maze of spirals. the repetition, the troubled insistence of curved lines, alarmed me. the absurd intricacy, the assiduous attention to detail, always astonished me.

 

let’s presume that, in a twist of fate, you were born with this passion. let’s presume that, indeed, you fell in love with a shape:

a spiral…

a pattern persisting in time.

a romance, unfolding slowly: an early fascination followed by appreciation, adoration. and in an instant lust becomes love.

 

the outline sweet and terrible

shaped like a madman’s lullaby

how dangerous… you wrote

to finally have something worth losing.

 

~

did you use your whole body to taste that first instant of love? did pure silence vibrate within you? did a melody of diabolical joy dance in the shadows of your loneliness? did you tremble with pleasure and, for a measure of unutterable instants, were you free?

 

~

when you finally started speaking, your little voice always sounded plagued by pain. as if every word uttered had just escaped the torture chamber of your mind. each word released in a state of mutilated shock.

you were 4.

i was more than alarmed.

 

~

your father denies synaesthetic tendencies. i remember how thrilled i was by the idea that we’d created synaesthetic twins. as though, together, we’d produced humans with a language of their own. i imagined the microscopic meeting, dancing, twisting, twirling and replication of our genes occurring in a helix of colour and flavour.

i was mystified by my own capacity to create. i was mystified that my children could feel the smell of words, that they could see the silence that follows each sound, that my children were four dimensional.

 

~

we gave you butterfly nets, snorkel sets and totem tennis for your eleventh birthdays. that night, when i tucked you into bed, you said: sometimes i wonder about the silent colours, the ones i can’t see. then i feel empty. then i bash my fists into my eyes until i’m lost in a labyrinth of colour. then i feel better.

you were attempting to explain. i was attempting, desperately, to understand.

 

~

once i had a dream within a dream where reality and fantasy both had instantaneous lifespans. one could not interfere with the other for one became the other. reality was fantasy and fantasy was reality. reality was not to be confused with fantasy and instantaneous lifespan was not to be confused with average lifespan. but in this dream within a dream the spiral was the only one who left everything as it was, the spiral was neither fantasy nor reality, but the spiral was a real thing. i woke sobbing, and my pillow was damp with tears.

 

~

as a child you spent your days building kaleidoscopes: aluminium tubes; triangles of mirrors; tiny windows, and coloured plastic-globes caged in acrylic perplexity. you spent your nights peering into the soul of colour.

 

~

‘my soul is a black whirl pool, a vast vertigo circling a void, the racing of an infinite ocean around a hole in nothing.’

—Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet.

 

~

in a later attempt to explain, you told me: my thoughts simply appear in the form of spirals, circles that begin but never end, continuous circles refusing to return to the same point.

que será será, i thought, my daughter’s mind moves fatalistically into the future.

other times, you said. my thoughts begin as a single interstellar spec and spiral inwards, evasively entangling my mind. twisting my thoughts, tighter and tighter, until i’m completely fixated, isolated, and confined in despondency.

 

~

in lipstick you wrote on the mirror: like ripples in a galactic pond, my lover’s spiralling arms, simultaneously, embrace me and show me the way. Our passion moves in circling waves.

then you carved three deep spirals, one on each thigh and one on your left wrist, allowing the pain to orbit out of you. i found you coiled, like a haunted fetus, in a pond of your own rippling blood.

 

~

we’re here to help, they told you.

you didn’t go peacefully.

with the brown buckles strapped tight, you screamed and struggled in the straightjacket until, finally, you passed out.

 

~

‘i’m no more your mother

than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow

effacement at the wind’s hand.’

—Sylvia Plath, Ariel

 

~

a form of objectophilia, they told us, an intense love of inanimate things.

you rejected this completely.

spirals, you said, give birth to animate matter. they shape the precise instant when inanimate matter is endowed with sentience. spirals are the pulsing lifeblood of all inspiration, of all creation, of all thought, of all being. circles that begin but never end. spirals are the souls of things.

tell us, they asked, why do you hurt yourself?

that was your first admission, this is your eighth.

 

~

you have less spirals in the asylum and the medication locks every word, every sound, every number in a military green, flavoured of hailstorms. you spend your days horizontal, in sedated fits, tangled in bed-sheets. you spend your nights, in heavy silence, believing your lover waits in the shadows just beyond the gate.

Martyr

MARTYR

[after the painting of the same name by Daniela Bradley, 2012]

1.

The mother so distressed, a plover pecked her son, was compelled to campaign. Blood was drawn she said, and invited me to join her Facebook page, ‘The Conservative Management of Pesky Plovers’.

2.

Initially, the mother posted only occasionally, offering titbits of advice such as, ‘an eggless-nest is a simple fix: pick it up, bin it.’ Now my newsfeed is swamped with these posts. She updates her status about twenty times a day, with things like, ‘omnivorous disease-causing plover-poop covers everything,’ and ‘whatever you do, when a plover attacks, don’t lie-down,’ and ‘lock-away your birdbaths the plovers are coming.’

The mother and her son live (four doors down) in the white fibro house, with manicured lawns and flowering star-jasmine.

3.

The manager of IGA is also the local Australian Seabird Rescue volunteer. He told me the Egyptian plover is referred to as the toothpick-bird. Egyptian plovers, unlike our awkward black-helmeted yellow-masked plovers, wear black as if it were a fashion statement. Only segments of white separate their jet-black crowns, masks, backs and breast-bands. And wear tinges of blue (on their legs and wings) with pride and importance, like interns masquerading surgical scrubs. On the Nile, Egyptian plovers earn their keep by cleaning crocodile’s teeth.

I think they should be called croc-bytes.

A float of crocodiles is the collective noun for a group of crocodiles.

4.

Recently, the mother uploaded a picture of herself, pegging out washing. For protection she wore a plastic ice-cream container on her head, red flag jetting out the top. In conjunction with the photo was a microblog-thesis.

l Remove plover-eggs from within and around your yards. Wear rubber gloves. Fasten a washing-basket to your head, use tea-towels as cushioning. Ensure gloves are on securely, head’s protected, dog’s locked-up, and go outside. Go to nest (on ground somewhere). Make no sudden jerking-movements. Pick eggs up, usually 2 or 3 brown-speckled sandy-coloured twenty-cent-piece size eggs. Take eggs to sand dunes, be sure plovers are following. Scrape a shallow depression in sand, lay eggs.

It had  like, I didn’t Like2 or Share .

5.

The manager tells me that sometimes plovers strategically feign injury, dragging a sandy-coloured wing along the ground, attracting and distracting potential predators. Sometimes, instead of swooping and piping, plovers just carry-on behaving casually, pecking in the sand, pretending to eat, as though there were nothing worth protecting. He says the truth unfolds when someone or something gets too close to the fuzzy grey-hatchlings.

Alarm in a plover’s voice is warning mistaken for anger.

Martyr n. 1 a person who suffers or pretends

to suffer in order to obtain sympathy or pity.

2 (foll. by to) a constant sufferer from

(an ailment)

6.

The manager questioned the mother’s status, ‘Plover Spurs are Poisonous,’ asking, ‘isn’t the boy killing plovers in this clip your child?’ And posted aYouTube video on her page.

YouTubeSS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn0-9BwdSlI

The post promptly disappeared.

7.

Perhaps the plover should take a leaf from the Osprey’s book, and build nests on top of light-posts and mooring-pylons.

A duet of ospreys is the collective noun for ospreys.

8.

A few nights ago, when the manager was leaving IGA he found a plover, neck wrung and de-winged, between the windscreen and wiper-blade of his car.

A wing of plovers is the collective noun for a group of plovers.

Martyr n. 3 a person who is put to death for

refusing to renounce a faith or belief.

9.

Dozens of rotten eggs were hurled at the mother’s car.

10.

The manager used to live in Adelaide where he worked with Mr Percival, the pelican from the film Storm Boy. He tells me that after filming the movie in 1976, Mr Percival spent twelve-years at Marineland aquarium, then lived at Adelaide Zoo until, in September 2009, he died from old age. Thirty-something. The zookeepers called him Gringo.

A pod of pelicans is the collective noun for a group of pelicans. A squadron of pelicans is the collective noun for pelicans in flight. A raft of pelicans is the collective noun for pelicans on water.

11.

Superglue was squirted into the locks at IGA. It took the manager three-hours to pry open the sliding doors.

12.

Plover nests were raided. Eggs were smashed.

13.

Silently, we stood watching plovers collect and carry away pieces of shattered shell in their pale-yellow beaks. The birds continued coming back again and again, yellow lidless eyes scouring the sand, until the last unhatched fragment had been carted away.

14.

Martyrdom n. 1 the sufferings and death of a

martyr. 2 torment. martyrise v.tr. & refl.

make a martyr of. oo martyrisation n.

Mine


[1]

[1] Bradley, ‘Martyr’, painting in ‘An Implicit Inheritance’, exhibited Lismore Regional Gallery, April-June 2013, http://www.danielabradley.com.au/project/the-martyr/


Martyr, from An Implicit Inheritance, was first published in Coastlines 5: An Anthology of Creative Writing from Southern Cross University, 2014.

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PLOVER MOTHER PLOVER




Specialling the Special: Stevi-Lee Alver reviews ‘The Special’ by David Stavanger

Rochford Street Review

The Special by David Stavanger. University of Queensland Press, 2014. 

Screenshot 2014-11-06 14.55.20Within the health system the word “specialling” implies that, for various reasons, a patient is provided with one-to-one care. The Special is concerned with the practice of specialling that takes place when people, at risk of harming themselves, are placed under continuous supervision. This occurs generally in prisons and psychiatric hospitals and is colloquially known as suicide watch.

The Special, initially propelled by urgency and speed, becomes obfuscated by unperturbed acceptance. The sentiments fuelling this collection are, if not obfuscated than at least, restrained by a seemingly transparent nihilism described by Stavanger as, ‘the loss of agency, the Seroquel / mandala, the thoughts that walk.’

This nihilistic tone meanders the entire collection, which is comprised of a prologue, Axis I to Axis V, and an Appendix. Drawing on professional and personal experiences, Stavanger’s poetry playfully embodies desolation, allowing voices…

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The Restraint of Meaning: Stevi-Lee Alver reviews the #concrete issue of ‘Australian Poetry Journal’.

Rochford Street Review

Australian Poetry Journal Volume 3. Issue 2 # concrete. Edited by Bronwyn Lea

APJ-3.2_Front-CoverThe diversity of contributors and the perceptivity of criticism make this an approachable and compelling introduction to the form and history of concrete poetry. For those same reasons, the #concrete issue of the Australian Poetry Journal is also an amusing read for those acquainted with the movement.

Bronwyn Lea, in her final volume as editor, has selected pieces that place more emphasis on the role of the reader and revisit that century-old phrase: a picture is worth a thousand words. Lea, in the forward, summarises the poetic intention perfectly when she says, “concrete poems ask readers to look simultaneously ‘at’ and ‘through’ language.”

In this issue, the pieces attempt playfully to free language of its burdensome obligation as the transmitter of meaning and ideas. The common aim of concrete poetry is to enable semiotics to stand…

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What is Power: Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church

Child Sexual Abuse & the Catholic Church: a discussion at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Photo: Cath Piltz Chair Janet Steele, child abuse survivor John Saunders, journalists David Marr and Joanna McCarthy. Photo: Cath Piltz

In 1996 John Saunders – author of Sexual Abuse Survivor’s Handbook – walked into the local police station and reported he had been sexually abused as a child.

In the gruelling proceedings that followed, John’s sexual abuse claim was dismissed on the basis that Saunders was made to feel special by the perpetrator, therefore enjoyed the interactions, and therefore is not considered a victim of sexual abuse.

In an emotionally charged session at the Byron Bay Writers Festival, Saunders violated every aspect of the gag order placed on him by the Catholic Church after receiving insignificant compensation.

David Marr – journalist and author – revealed that American victims of abuse are compensated $1,000,000, by the Catholic Church, whereas Australian victims receive approximately $60,000. The difference in compensation is due to the fact…

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The Nest isn’t Always Safe: the topic of home with Jessie Cole and Inga Simpson

Australian authors Jessie Cole & Inga Simpson on their latest novels

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Jessie Cole (centre) and; Inga Simpson (right) discuss the second novels. Photo: Cath Piltz Jessie Cole (centre) and; Inga Simpson (right) discuss the second novels. Photo: Cath Piltz

Authors Jessie Cole and Inga Simpson have a few things in common. The second novels, of both writers, hit Australian shelves two days ago. But the similarities don’t stop there.

According to session chair Lisa Walker, both novels explore the liminality of leaving or returning home, and although the stories feature starkly different protagonists, they share thematic qualities.

A small crowd of die-hard book lovers endured polar winds, looming mud, and darkening skies on the festival’s chilly final afternoon, to hear Cole and Simpson read at the last session of the Byron Bay Writers Festival. It was well worth the wait!

Imagine, in a world void of men, being home-schooled in an isolated valley, the only one of five siblings still left at home, with a deafening silence building between you and the only other…

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Be Still My Beating Heart: Amy Andrews and Jennifer St George on writing romance

On Romance Writing at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Introduced as having transformed from “corporate bitch to romance queen”, writer Jennifer St George spoke at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival about the conventions, expectations, and processes of being a romance novelist.

Writing to the conventions of the romance genre can be difficult, explained St George. Every story has the same “happily ever after ending”. The art is in creating enthralling and greatly nuanced relationships, tensions, and conflicts between characters.

Amy Andrews has written forty romance novels, sold over 1.6 billion books, and claims the genre is all about the “build up, not the sex”. It’s all about the longing, yearning, burning, and seduction. The push-and-pull. The will-they-won’t-they.

From L - R: Mandy Nolan, Amy Andrews and Jennifer St George. Photo: Cath Piltz From L – R: Mandy Nolan, Amy Andrews and Jennifer St George. Photo: Cath Piltz

One thing the two authors have in common – observed the session chair, local comedian Mandy Nolan – is that they both have true love.

According to…

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Small Gems: writing short stories, what is left out?

Maxine Beneba Clarke, Kate De Goldi, & Abbas El-Zine on the Art of Short Stories at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Kate De Goldi reading from ACB with Honora Lee. Photo: Cath Piltz Kate De Goldi reading from ACB with Honora Lee.
Photo: Cath Piltz

The short story can be a challenging form, as the writers in the Small Gems session, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Kate De Goldi, Qaisra Shahaz and Abbas El-Zein, agreed. More is omitted and inferred than is included.

But what participating chair Abbas El-Zein wants to know is: do omissions heighten or limit the form?

Maxine Beneba Clarke, an Australian spoken-word poet of Afro-Caribbean descent, believes that “what is left out, is the beauty of short stories”.

“It stirs-up curiosity, possibilities, raises issues, and introduces a character,” she added.

Abbas El-Zein responded by reciting two of the shortest stories ever written:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The author of this six-word story is unknown.

And Knock by Fredric Brown: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…”

Kate De Goldi

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The Nature of Corruption: glorified, vilified and at the heart of our culture

Tara Moss, Matthew Condon, P.M. Newton, & Moya Sayer-Jones on the Nature of Corruption at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Matthew Condon, P.M. Newton, Tara Moss, & Moya Sayer-Jones on The Nature of Corruption. Photo: Cath Piltz Matthew Condon, P.M. Newton, Tara Moss, & Moya Sayer-Jones on The Nature of Corruption.
Photo: Cath Piltz

The boiling frog anecdote questions our ability and/or our willingness to react to, gradually occurring, significant changes. The belief is that a frog placed in boiling water will jump out, but a frog placed in cold water – which is slowly heated – will be cooked to death.

Novelist, journalist, and activist, Tara Moss believes that corruption is at the heart of our culture, and that we can change that. Moss says corruption is rewarded, and encourages us as a “society to question why we think celebrating corruption is acceptable”. She defines corruption as “the grabbing of power wherein one person wins, and many people lose out”.

P.M. Newton spent thirteen years as a detective in the police force, and is now a crime writer. She warns of the law unintended consequences, which…

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Frank Moorhouse: writing unconventional characters

Frank Moorhouse at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

The early-to-mid twentieth century was not an easy time for non-conventional young Australians.

Australian author, Frank Moorhouse and session chair, Sophie Cunningham discussed the lives of young people during these years, their attempts to stop the war by flocking to Geneva, and the difficulties faced by non-heterosexual individuals.

_MG_5564 Frank Moorhouse.jpg Frank Moorhouse explains the extent of research he undertakes for his novels. Image: Kalem Horn

Moorhouse showed himself to be a master storytelling, and an entertainer. His anecdotes were not only amusing, but also illustrated the years and depth of work and research that went into constructing his heroine, Edith Campbell Berry, in his trilogy of novels: Grand Days, Dark Palace, and Cold Light.

Moorhouse spent four years in Geneva researching archives, and had almost completed his novel when he discovered (through the United Nation Pension Board) the one surviving first-generation idealist, Mary McGeachy, who was living in Canada.

Moorhouse was shocked…

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Turning Passion into Vocation: The dealer is the devil

At Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

A fusion of genre, Adrian Newstead’sThe Dealer is the Devil examines the Indigenous art industry. A blur of personal memoir and art history, the book captures the trajectory of one of the 20th century’s greatest art movements.

IMG_1717 Edna Carew presents Adrian Newstead’s The Devil is the Dealer

Also the director of Coo-ee Art Gallery, Newstead spoke at the Byron Bay Writers festival about the 100 most influential artists during the Indigenous art movement.

Sessino chair, the teacher, translator, journalist, and commentator, Edna Carew asked Newstead how had Indigenous art climbed onto the world stage in the way that it did.

Despite the Indigenous art movement being globally renowned, “only a small number of Australian Aboriginal artists have broken through onto the world stage,” replied Newstead.

According to Newstead, “Emily Kame Kngwarreye is the only traditional Aboriginal artist who has work shown on the international stage as the art of…

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Sh*t Asian Mothers Say: siblings Benjamin and Michelle Law set the story straight

Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

_MG_5555 Benjamin Law Benjamin Law during his session on Sh*t Asian Mothers Say.

Two siblings of Asian background, Michelle and Benjamin Law, are eminently qualified to write and get away with a hilariously controversial book titled Sh*t Asian Mothers Say.

A self-proclaimed ‘neighbourhood Asian and local homosexual,’ and author of The Family Law, Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East, Benjamin was happy to be at the Byron Bay Writers Festival discussing their “fun little racist comedy book”.

Before the book was published, Michelle and Benjamin gave their mother a copy of  Sh*t Asian Mothers Say, and were surprised to find her feedback was based mostly around spelling and grammar – not content – with big red ticks and love hearts around the passages she liked.

Session chair Moyer Sayer-Jones was concerned that Michelle and Benjamin were holding back on the “mother-dirt” because their mother was in the audience.

“She’s in the…

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fucking alphabets

fucking alphabets

 

1. sometimes, when i was a kid, i would wonder if the letters of the alphabet fucked each other.

2. to be honest, i would imagine how the letters of the alphabet went about fucking each other.

3. d would definitely fuck c.

4. h would try to get on top of p.

5. b would do e back-to-front and e would ask f for a three-way. 

 

 

 

Acid-Base Titrations

Acid-Base Titrations

 

Stop. It’s too pink.

How pink is too pink?

That pink is too pink.

It just became pink.

Well, it’s too pink.

One drop too pink?

Probably three drops too pink.

It wasn’t pink two drops ago.

It must’ve been, it’s more than translucent pink.

It’s one drop too pink past translucent pink.

One drop too pink.

 

 

 

Enjambment: Pause-Free Line Breaks.

Enjambment: Pause-Free Line Breaks.

Enjambment: Pause-Free Line Breaks.

 

Just because a line breaks doesn’t mean you need to pause, breathe, and wait to keep reading. Pause-free line breaks, technically referred to as enjambed lines, are ubiquitous in poetry and occur when a thought runs on from one line, or stanza, to the next. Enjambed lines prompt readers to barrel on through without pausing at line breaks. The word enjambment, from French enjamber, literally means ‘to stride over’, and is exactly what William Carlos Williams does in ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’.

 

The Red Wheelbarrow

 

so much depends

upon

 

a red wheel

barrow

 

glazed with rain

water

 

beside the white

chickens

 

1923

 

 

Comprehensive interpretations of ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’ can be found here: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/williams/wheelbarrow.htm

 

Another brilliant example of enjambment occurs in ‘The Day Lady Died’ by Frank O’Hara.

 

The Day Lady Died

BY FRANK O’HARA

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday

three days after Bastille day, yes

it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine

because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton

at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner

and I don’t know the people who will feed me

 

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun

and have a hamburger and a malted and buy

an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets

in Ghana are doing these days

I go on to the bank

and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)

doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life

and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine

for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do

think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or

Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres

of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine

after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE

Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and

then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue

and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and

casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton

of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with

her face on it

 

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of

leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT

while she whispered a song along the keyboard

to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

1959

Frank O’Hara, “The Day Lady Died” from Lunch Poems.

 

Song

BY FRANK O’HARA

Is it dirty

does it look dirty

that’s what you think of in the city

 

does it just seem dirty

that’s what you think of in the city

you don’t refuse to breathe do you

 

someone comes along with a very bad character

he seems attractive. is he really. yes. very

he’s attractive as his character is bad. is it. yes

 

that’s what you think of in the city

run your finger along your no-moss mind

that’s not a thought that’s soot

 

and you take a lot of dirt off someone

is the character less bad. no. it improves constantly

you don’t refuse to breathe do you

1959

Frank O’Hara, “Song” from Lunch Poems.

 

‘Recyclopedia: S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge’ & The Commodification of Stein

‘Recyclopedia: S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge’ & The Commodification of Stein

As painful as it sounds, the commodification of Gertrude Stein is not a detrimental process, but more a process of evolution. Authors such as Harryette Mullen, take rolling pins to appropriation and intertextuality, flattening, extending, reshaping, and re-baking that which has come before, stretching new texts into realms beyond postmodernism.

 

My writing has been overtly influenced by Gertrude Stein, and is increasingly influenced by those who, not only pay homage to, but also write back to, and revolutionise Stein. And Mullen’s Recyclopedia does all of this and more!

 

Recyclopedia is a book that does exactly as its title suggests: an encyclopaedia referencing, through recycling, various art forms. As mentioned above, it is widely accepted that Recyclopedia pays homage and critiques the work of Gertrude Stein and the Language poets; however, this book extends beyond fanatical appropriation and intertextuality.

Mullen twists and pushes appropriation and intertextuality, reaching new discursive limits, practically forming a genre of her own, redefining concepts of homage and critique. Through recycling historical subversive and experimental techniques, Recyclopedia is a uniquely familiar text that is equally (if not more) destabilising, and yet less confounding, than Tender Buttons or much of the work of the Language poets, making Mullen’s poetry immediately more accessible to a vast range of readers.

 

Hear Mullen read from Recyclopedia below.

 

 

Download PDF to read my full review of Recyclopedia: Trimmings, S*PeRM**KT, and Muse & Drudge Harryette Mullen