melbpasstonguesWe — that is, Rob Morris, Kristin Hannaford and Belinda Jeffrey (tour coordinator extraordinaire) — set off on a poetry tour of Sydney, Melbourne and Launceston back at the end of September. The trip couldn’t have gone better, but here are my highlights:

  • Stumbling across a little red door that opened onto the Cafe Lounge, which led to a strange series of events in which I received a free bottle of champagne, which I enjoyed on the balcony of a mansion – trespassing, having climbed up and over the hotel roof – in Launceston with Nathan Curnow, Sarah Day and Ross Donlon, and later Kristin and Belinda.
  • Exploring Sydney with my buddy Clare, whom we in Brisvegas wish we could see more of.
  • Getting revved up at Passionate Tongues in Melbourne, and chilling out at the lovely Spinning Room the next night.
  • Visiting every vintage shop in Australia with Rob, who is a real groover. Losing Rob. Finding that every vintage shop attendant understood what I meant when I asked, “Have you seen a madly poetic sort of chap in a jacket?” (“Yes. He went next door.”)
  • Having a glorious afternoon in Melbourne’s laneways with my old friend Ange from high school, now a med student. Ange and I found (and I purchased) an utterly splendid walking cane (with elephant head), whom I named Oscar. And then we met a witch.
  • Accidently using Oscar to get into the short queue at the Dali exhibition at night (which was, in itself, spectacular).
  • Haemorhaging cash at Route 66.
  • Exploring the park and meeting the monkeys (one of whom I swear was eating chewing gum) in Launceston.
  • Meet all the lovely, lovely people at the Tasmanian Poetry Festival. Hanging out with Nathan, Ross, Sarah and Kevin Gillam. I learnt so much from them and from my tour mates.
  • Selling books! And improving my performance, I hope. I felt like I was.
  • Getting checked over for explosives on every single domestic flight. I must look like a firework, or something. Maybe it’s the hat.

You can read Belinda Jeffrey’s account of our tour here.

Aboard the Poetry Tour Bus

Hurrah! I’m very excited to have been chosen to join Robert Morris and Kristin Hannaford on a week-long poetry tour at the end of September. The Queensland Writers Centre and Queensland Poetry Festival are sending us to Sydney, Melbourne and Launceston. Can’t wait!

I’ve never really seen much of Australia before—I’ve certainly never been to Tasmania—so I’m looking forward to exploring. I’m sure that Rob and I will find quality vintage-hunting time along the way. More news to come as tickets (and gigs) are booked.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to book your tickets for the QPF opening night event, A Tangle of Possibilities, featuring AF Harrold (UK), Elizabeth Bachinsky (Canada), Neil Murray & the 2009 Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence Hinemoana Baker (the festival begins with a lady with fine taste in hats? Perfect!). And I’ll be MCing!

It’s all happening this coming weekend, Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd of August, and it’ll be a blast. Tickets are now on sale from Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts or by calling the box office on: (07) 3872 9000.

Full/Phone/Door: $20
Concession: $15
Groups of 5 or more: $15

The Cure and A Strange Whirring Noise

It occurs to me that I’ve posted a lot of advertisements lately, but not many zenrambles, and zenrambles at the very least amuse the Zen.

So yes, I’m listening to The Cure and A Strange Whirring Noise, both of which are coming out of my computer, but one of which doesn’t belong. I wonder how long it will be until this PC pops. Technology hates me. My typewriter never gives me this kind of trouble, but my typewriter isn’t, well, networked.

The Cure best-of/singles collection, The Cure Galore, I bought while wandering round the city this evening enjoying the rain. I like their clean sound. There’s nothing wishy-washy about The Cure. I also think Robert Smith looked a lot darker than his music sounds, which makes me think of Edward Scissorhands.

Edward Scissorhands was made by an American filmmaker. By startling coincidence, I recently travelled to the States. (How’s that for a subtle segue?) I wasn’t going to see Tim Burton, though (we don’t talk much anymore); I was going to see three people: a dear friend in Milwaukee, Fonzie, and Neil Gaiman.

I found all three, and I didn’t even have to go very far.

I stayed with my friend’s family in Milwaukee, and in the first week headed downtown to find the Fonz. Wisconsin buses are like Brisbane buses, and we had to thump the bus stop with the enthusiasm of Fonzie himself to make the bus materialise. We weren’t sure where to get off, either, but again, the Fonz guided us, and—though we pressed the buzzer more or less at random—the bus stopped directly opposite His Coolness. And here he is, standing immortal, Milwaukee’s own bronze Fonz:

Fonzie Milwaukee

Fonzie’s luck stayed with us throughout the day. Later, I found a book dated 1768 in a second-hand book warehouse (like Black Books x 1000000), previously owned by Lady Douglas, Scottish painter. She was 18 at the time the book was published. The book itself, Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love), is deliciously bound and ancient and smells wonderful.


Back to the 50s. I became quite addicted to cheesy 50s-themed soda fountains, milkbars and diners in the US, and I’m very sad that they don’t abound in Australia. Leon’s, a drive-in frozen custard (oh my! tasty stuff) joint, is said to be the place  that the Happy Days diner was based on. Though I couldn’t see the link, they did do ambrosail sundaes.

But I digress. Neil Gaiman (and how he escaped me!). For my last weekend, we caught the bus down to Chicago and stayed in a hostel in the city’s centre. After getting thoroughly lost (I’ll read the map in future, thanks), we realised our hostel was just down the road from the Printer’s Row literary festival. Nice coincidence. Not only that, Neil, whom I was intending to hunt down somehow, happened to be giving a speech there.

Unfortunately for me, Neil is smart and the event was booked out, so I wasn’t able to talk to him about whether it would be okay for me to take a bubble bath with Amanda Palmer at his house. But I was this close.

Oh, this blog is getting long. My giddy aunt. I should leave it here, and sleep. I was going to tell you about American supermarkets, walking tours of haunted and non-existent Chicago neighbourhoods, Woodland Pattern Books, Riverbend Books, Jeff Harpeng’s glorious poems, my annoying poetry-writing habits, gloves, rat pizzas, pirates, and hat juggling—but these must wait for another time. Let it be said that life is good: the flu is finally clearing up; debts are being paid off; after an uncomfortably long hiatus, I’m writing things again; the Brisbane rental market looks like it might soon be affordable; and I’m making marvellous (and charmingly unrealistic) plans, as per usual.

Spring in the North Woods, Wisconsin

Burdock VI Launch

Milwaukee poetry journal, Burdock, launches its sixth issue this coming Thursday.

May 21st, 7.30pm

BYOB and food; some nibblies supplied

900 S. 5th Street, Walker’s Point, Milwaukee

(On 5th and Walker – enter on Walker, one block south of national.)

Featuring readings from contributors, including Milwaukee’s poet laureate Susan Firer, and international artist, emerging Australian poet Zenobia Frost. (Shameless self-promotion!!)

See for more info.