ArtStarted

It’s real! My tickets to Germany are BOOKED!

I’ve not been to Europe since I lived in Cambridge for a couple of years as a kid. I remember mountains flashing past my Gameboy Colour from the back of rental cars and getting in trouble with security at a castle for fishing coins out of a grand wishing fountain. I was very privileged to also see a lot of art and eat a lot of delicious food. My parents are nothing if not adventurous.

This will be my first time travelling overseas in six years (New Zealand doesn’t count, right?). Thanks to the fairy godmother that is ArtStart, I’m travelling to Freiburg for two weeks in the Black Forest studying poetry. Whaaaaaaaat! I almost don’t believe myself, but now that I’ve paid for real actual existing tickets, reality is finally sinking in.

my feels right now

my feels right now (the whole video really)

I’ve been working my booty off at my fave home-away-from-home, Lush, so with my savings I’ll also be able to see Munich and Berlin; go hiking in Sorrento; make limoncello on a lemon farm; and say hi to some dead people in Pompeii. (I had a list of cemeteries and catacombs I dearly wanted to visit, but that’ll have to be next time.) I hit the road (or the air, really) for a month in July.

Meanwhile, back in Brisbane, I’ve finally made my first poetry subs of the year. I’m challenging myself with new themes — fewer graveyard poems this year; more poems about fury and desire. I spent this morning peeling drafts out from under the cat (of course she sat on whatever I was working on), and made breakthroughs with some tricky poems started last year. (Thanks to Bronwyn and Francis for critique time.)

I can also officially announce (last time I mentioned it, it was actually embargoed — whoops) that Salt and Bone was commended in the FAW Anne Elder Awards. Hooray! Congratulations to Cathy Altman for her winning collection, Circumnavigation (Poetica Christi Press). The judges, Anne Elvey and Garth Madsen, had the following generous things to say in their report:

Salt and Bone shows intelligent writing with a brilliant use of metaphor, poems that twist their way and are always surprising.

I’m currently rereading Jeanette Winterson’s Sexing the Cherry, which for me has always felt like a big velvet poem. Not that you ever really finish reading a poetry book, but Patricia Lockwood’s Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexual has continued to be rewarding and confronting. I also read the whole of Kristin Hannaford‘s Curio in the bath a little while back and it was a damn fine bath.

I also finally scored a copy of Woolf Pack‘s fourth issue, celebrating a year in print, and let me tell you it is a gorram ripper of a zine. I especially loved Dashurie’s gorgeous and empowering comic “Rise of the Merbabes”, editor Rebecca Cheer’s confronting personal essay “Vagina Christmas”, K. Queene’s Spice Girls collage and basically any image drawn by Talia Enright. You can find out how to buy a copy here.

Woolf Pack: Issue #4

Woolf Pack: Issue #4

This post shouldn’t end without saying I had the immense privilege of seeing Hot Brown Honey Burlesque at the Judith Wright Centre earlier this month. On a personal level, this cabaret burlesque combined exactly the right blend of rage and joy I needed that night. On a critical level, Queensland is so bloody lucky it is to have this performance collective making great art and fighting the power right here, right now. I wish I’d had the space in my work-life that week to write a thorough review (and to see it more than once), but I had cider and a dance-at-the-end instead. Hot Brown Honey Burlesque is technically polished, politically informed and artistically confronting. As always, hell yeah to the Judy for supporting challenging new work.

That’s about all from me. If, by chance, you’re reading this from London, my oldest and probably most genius-y friend, RAM composer Timothy Tate, has a show on at St. Marylebone Parish Church on April 22. Like on the Monopoly Board.

Zenobia x

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ArtStart: 2015

It’s been a big week — and 2015 has its claws around the door.

I’m thrilled to announce (I’ve been bursting with the embargoed news) that I’ve received an ArtStart grant!

Australia Council’s ArtStart grants can be used to kickstart creative careers. After the launch of Salt and Bone, I’ve wondered where to go next with poetry. ArtStart will help me spend a year learning under awesome mentors: Bronwyn Lea in Brisbane, Warsan Shire in London and Adrianne Kalfopoulou at the Black Forest Writing Seminars in Freiburg.

Holding off on planning till after this crazy Christmas, but I’m excited to share this explosion of exclamation marks with you: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks, OzCo!

Z. xo

Hares, Hyenas and Home

Just dragged my suitcase in the door after a whirlwind week in Newcastle (at National Young Writers’ Festival) and Melbourne (for the Melb. launch of Salt and Bone at Hares and Hyenas). I met so many fantastic writers and readers at NYWF, thoroughly enjoyed lording it as a judge at the Epic Word Nerd Battledome (pictured, with Jane Howard and Adolfo Aranjuez), and relished reading Foreign Soil on the beach.

Word Nerd Battledome JudgesHearty congratulations, also, to Scum Mag on the launch of their first print zine. It comes with TEMPORARY TATTOOS. What’s cooler than that? Zero things. The zine fair was a highlight, as was getting up on stage at the launch orgy in a nightie to perform Blood Spells with the Scum gals. (Photo below by Alan Weedon.)

I’m so grateful to ReVerse Butcher and the team at Hares and Hyenas for hosting the Melbourne launch of Salt and Bone. Thank you to everyone who came along. Here are the lovely Broede Carmody’s words on the book (and thanks, Broede, for the launch snap):

“Zen describes herself as an expat of the Voiceworks editorial committee, for which she read and edited poems for a number of years before she turned 25 and we realised she was not just too old but also too disgustingly talented to be involved in the magazine any more.

“But seeing as we’re here for the launch of a poetry collection and not a memoir I should probably talk a little about Zen’s work itself and not just her pretty face.

“I think it’s appropriate that this book is called Salt and Bone because not only does the powerful imagery in Zen’s poetry leave a taste in your mouth but it also affects you physically. Poems like ‘Aftershocks’ deal with sexual assault but importantly use the language of survival. Similarly, other poems celebrate women, sex, polyamory and the queer identity. A lot of poetry out there—particularly the kinds we are introduced to in high school or that are available in book stores—are by old, white men and Zen’s poetry really strikes a chord with me because it’s different. It’s so important that queer Australians see themselves reflected back on the page.

“So with that I would like to say fuck you to the patriarchy, and consider this book launched.”

Hares and Hyenas launch

Stop! Grammar Time!

Stop Grammar TimeKaitlyn Plyley snapped this great pic of me crushing the competition underfoot Grammar Bee triumph at National Young Writers Fest in Newcastle. My Voiceworks co-EdCommer Broede Carmody was the runner-up! And a worthy adversary! Thanks, Quiz-Master Fez and Sticker-King Aidan!

 

Seeya, 2012

It has been a mixed year, but somehow we packed a lot into it. Like a small bottle overfilled with the makings of gingerbeer; if we shake it up too much tonight, the whole year might burst out and overflow into 2011 and ’13. (2011 deserves everything it gets, but I’d like 2013 to have a shot at a fresh start, thank you.)

In 2012, I’ve travelled more than ever: overseas once, and interstate three times (to Vic., NSW, and SA) and all around Queensland with the QPF Regional Roadshow. At Varuna, in November, I finished an 80-page poetry manuscript (I hope you’ll see it soon) and sent dozens of new and edited poems Continue reading

Varuna-ings

This weekend I’ll be on stage at Raw Poet Roar (Saturday, Dec. 1) at The Box in West End. Darkwing Dubs has organised a massive line-up of features, so it’s going to be intense like 70% chocolate. Om nom nom. See you there?

Time has slipped away again, and the week I spent at Varuna occupies a dreamspace between Continue reading

September gigs: Brisbane and Melbourne

September, festival season, is always my favourite time in Brisbane. The Spiegeltent has appeared by the river; the Lantern Walk illuminates South Bank; and I’m completely immersed in wonderful Brisbane Festival art. Whether for OffStreet Press or in poetry, I’ve been writing up a storm. (It’s nearly rainy season Continue reading

QPF Roadshow Round-Up

The dust has settled in Central Queensland, and the good people of Bundy, Gladdy and Rocky have survived the onslaught of poets. The Queensland Poetry Festival was a blast last-last weekend (24–26 August, 2012) at The Judith Wright Centre, but we touring poets didn’t skip a beat. We arrived in Bundaberg on Monday, 27 August, to give the first of our regional workshops.

I had the pleasure of travelling nationally with the Arts Queensland Touring Poets Program in 2009, but this is the first regional outing for QPF. I joined performance poets Scott Sneddon (Darkwing Dubs) and Steve Smart (from Melbourne), and QPF’s lovely Talina McKenzie Continue reading

Poets on the Road

Delight! After Queensland Poetry Festival weekend in August, I’m joining Darkwing Dubs and Steve Smart on the QPF Regional Roadshow. We’re stopping in on Bundaberg, Mackay and Rockhampton to give performances and workshops. I can’t wait. We get to go by plane and train! I’m picturing Platform 9 & 3/4, pumpkin juice, and an owl… I’ve always wanted to travel by train — and it’s high time I saw more of Queensland. See you soon, northerners!

All the workshops are free, and you can book in by emailing Talina at qldpoetry@gmail.com.

Here’s our itinerary:

Continue reading

NZ: North Island

My childhood in New Zealand has long since faded into a pastiche of greens: long car trips through the mountains with the windows down; the lowset jacaranda in my grandparents’ front yard and Granddad’s maze of fruit trees out the back; Nana’s lavender hedge and its cult of bees; and the smell of feijoa from my aunt’s verandah, overlooking Hawke’s Bay.

Last time I flew overseas, it was alone — to America. I certainly haven’t travelled with my parents for years. On board, we’re a pressurised mess of sound, light and bacteria. An inordinate number of Continue reading