Moving Words

Thank you again to Queensland Poetry Festival, Festival 2018, and Queensland Art Gallery for hosting Moving Words — such a warm, welcoming event. I hope we see more inter-arts collaborations in Brisbane — there was so much energy in the gallery, and clearly the stimulus created fantastic work. (It definitely drove me out of my comfort zone; I loved the challenge.) Special thanks to Melinda Busch from Deaf Services Qld for signing our poems.

Moving Words (1)

You can read the ekphrastic poems of Lionel Fogarty, M.T.C. Cronin, Jarad Bruinstroop, Nathan Shepherdson, Theresa Creed, Angela Gardner, David Stavanger (and me) here. I loved hearing the different forms our responses took, and especially enjoyed Jarad’s “Bribie Island, 1965” and David’s “Bad Dad”.

My poem, Bathers, is in two parts, the first set at the time the poem was painted, and the second a century later.

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Moving Words – poetry walking tour of the Australian Collection, a collaboration between Festival2018, Queensland Poetry Festival and QAGOMA / Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane / April 2018 / Photography: Brad Wagner

We loved having the scaffold-bar at Southbank – like a big deconstructed Queenslander. We even watched a bit of the athletics. The Festival bar set-up should be there always — what a great view. Also digging the Flowstate Jem light installation, which we lay under for close to an hour.

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I’m heading down to Sydney next week to hear Eileen Myles, Carmen Maria Machado, A.F. Harrold, and others at Sydney Writers Festival – my birthday reward for getting a draft of my exegesis sorted this week. (Credit for good taste must go to my girlfriend, who put Myles’ and Machado’s books in my hands recently.)

Huge congratulations to badass writer and Stilts co-editor Emily O’Grady, who won the heckin’ Vogel this week for her novel The Yellow House. I can’t wait to read it.

 

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Forever – is composed of Nows –

My QLA Queensland Writers Fellowship year is already a whirlwind.

I wrote more poems than ever before in 2017 — avoiding my exegesis is great motivation – and published 14 poems, in States of Poetry, Australian Poetry Journal 7.2StylusPressure Gauge Press, Red Room CompanyScumWoolf Pack and more.

This year I have a forthcoming commission for Moving Words (a QPF/QAGOMA/Commonwealth Games Festival collaboration), called Bathers, after a Robert Bunny painting in the Aus. Collection at Queensland Art Gallery. There’ll be an Auslan-interpreted live poetry walk through the gallery in April, where an excerpt from the poem has also been installed.

bunny_bathers-1

(I saw a lot more Bunnys on my trip to the Gallery of South Australia, and expect I might continue writing queer revisionist poems about them.)

I also have poems printed or forthcoming in Woolf Pack #10, Rabbit and Foam:e, with a poem recently shortlisted in the Judith Wright Overland Poetry Prize. Congratulations to Evelyn Araluen and Rae White on their much-deserved wins.

I’m particularly proud of a recent review I wrote (on the plane back from Adelaide) of Dickinson’s Room. This one’s up on Daily Review, but you’ll find my scrappier, on-the-fly Adelaide Fringe Reviews here. (I was meant to be on holiday.) Please go see it, if you’re in Adelaide — and please tour everywhere, Bad Neighbour Theatre.

Emily [Dickinson] is no madwoman in the attic; Bad Neighbour Theatre realise her as a complete and complex woman.  Just as Dickinson made her solitude rich and full, we experience how expansive she made her life in this tiny space.

I’ve joined the editorial team of a refurbished Stilts, with Ella Jeffreys and Emily O’Grady. The journal has a wonderful history, and we’re proud to bring it back to its Brisbane roots and refocus its attention firmly on Australian poetry. The first issue of Stilts is curated from commissioned poets (future issues will be open subs), and we have a truly fine crop of poems to share soon. All the action begins soon; keep an eye on the Stilts website or facebook page for updates.

Longstanding Brisbane femmo zine Woolf Pack will launch its 10th (!!) issue in March – keep an eye out for their next event. WP #10 (founders Rebecca Cheers and Talia Enright pictured below) features poems by Rebecca Jessen, Rae White and moi, plus heaps of gorgeous art and prose.

bectaliasticky

Somewhere in all this, I’m working on my manuscript and MPhil at QUT, and watching a lot of soothing renovation shows (and finding there’s not a dry eye in the Queer Eye house). Pray 4 me.

Web Surfin’ Time

It’s raining poems on the World Wide Web this week (and raining, well, actual rain in Brisbane). This is poor timing for me – our new unit’s NBN is glacial, so we’re struggling to read poems/load gifs while haunted by the smooth white-noise of 1997 modem sounds.

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I’m so glad to have a poem out today with Red Room Company called “Bramble Terrace” – one of my blueprint poems, about a now-demolished house in Red Hill. This was commissioned following the Red Room Poetry Fellowship short-listings, and it’s something I’ve been tinkering with for some time. I seem to have lost most of the the photos I took inside the house, unfortunately, but this was the mosaic in the bathroom:

#brisbanalia #redhill #mosaic #demolished

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Earlier this week, the Australian Book Review published the Queensland wing of their States of Poetry anthology, now in its second year. Thank you Felicity Plunkett for your deft editing and for bringing us all – Anna Jacobson, Pascalle Burton, me, Sam Wagon Watson, David Stavanger and Liam Ferney – together.

This week, catch poets and writers from all over Australia from the comfort of your own bed at the Digital Writers Festival (if you aren’t reliving ’97 download speeds). Don’t miss Brisbabes Rae White, Rebecca JessenQUT Lit Salon (feat. Emily O’Grady, Rebecca Cheers, Mindy Gill, Annabelle de Paola, and more) – and download yourself a sick new zine while you’re there.

What’re you waiting for? Get On-Line!*

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*It took over an hour to upload these gifs… but Neopets still loads okay. 👌

Queensland Writers Fellowship

I’m writing to you through the gentle fog of a well-earned hangover. I’m still in stunned disbelief, but I have the certificate now, and it says I won a Fellowship at the Queensland Literary Awards.

This is absolutely life-changing stuff. Let’s be real: I’m a postgrad student writing poetry in Australia. Making ends meet and saving energy for creative work is a challenge, especially in what has been a varied and strange year. But through 2017 (I guess I’m allowed to toot my own horn on today of all days?), I feel I’ve been writing bolder, sharper poetry – my best yet – and I’m so, so grateful (and relieved and amazed and flabbergasted) to receive a prize that both legitimises my work and buys me real time to write in 2018.

It’s especially wonderful to be recognised by the Queensland Literary Awards – Brisbane is the most consistent character in my writing. This prize means I’ll actually have the time and means to make the various daft paeans to my city I’ve been desperately wanting to: poetry travel guides to lost and uncanny Brisbanes across zines, collages and digital artefacts. I can finish my second manuscript. And I am going to find that damn Dragoncoaster.

Last night was also the night I felt like I finally “emerged” after several years of occupying a strange grey space between “emerging” and “established” writer. Thank you so much to the QWF judges for thinking of me as a grown-up, and thank you for helping me pay my rent and go to the dentist so I can write in a room of my own, with all my teeth.

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Congratulations to my fellow winners and finalists of this year’s Queensland Literary Awards. I hope you, too, are eating cheese jaffles in bed with your cat this morning. (Pictured above are my co-Fellows, Linda Neil and Mirandi Riwoe.)

Many, many thanks are due. Each of these thanks comes wrapped in a very sparkly ribbon, but if you hold it in your hand it is cool and has weight, like a river-stone:

  • The Queensland Literary Awards and State Library of Queensland;
  • Sarah Holland-Batt and Rohan Wilson, my champions and cheerleaders at QUT;
  • Francis, the best and most precious of all humans, whose voice got me (and gets me) through this year;
  • My loving parents, Kathy and Derek, who put Babette Cole’s Princess Smartypants in my young (probably sticky) hands;
  • Tamryn Bennett and the Red Room Poetry Company, who’ve always supported my work;
  • My long-time collaborator and beer pal, composer Timothy Tate – it has been a pleasure to share each success over 15 years of friendship;
  • Woolf Pack‘s Rebecca Cheers, Cordite‘s Kent MacCarter, and my Voiceworks Magazine editors and co-editors;
  • The QUT poetry crew, with special congratulations to my fellow Fellow, Mirandi Riwoe, Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award winner Mindy Gill, and finalists Emily O’Grady and Anna Jacobson (who was also shortlisted in the Emerging Writer Manuscript Award);
  • Sally, for the impromptu writing residency in your home (and perfect NY woods) earlier this year;
  • Kentucky Route Zero and Cardboard Computer, for expanding and challenging the way I think about poetry and space (and working-title inspiration); and
  • Every friend, support person and cat who has believed in me. You keep me afloat.

Here, as a reminder to myself forever, are the judge’s comments:

It was the ambition and design of Zenobia Frost’s proposed poetry collection A Museum of Dwellings that impressed the judges. The collection aims to examine some of the most pressing concerns in our relationship with space and place in the 21st Century, including psychogeography, travel, urban development and displacement, and this with a very Queensland focus. Frost’s poetry is both elegant and philosophically sophisticated and the panel agreed she is likely to produce a work of lasting significance.

Philosophically sophisticated! Me!❣️

Here is a final important gif expressing my feelings today:

scully2bfollows2bher2bdreams

Brisbanalia

 

Abandoned renos, Paddington and Bardon, 2017

Oddities and Esoterica

This month’s QUT Literary Salon theme is very much in line with my brand: Oddities and Esoterica. I’ll be reading from my fave niche genre, eco-fury – come along if you’d like to hear just how mad moths can get.

The guest reader for the September Salon is Mirandi Riwoe, with student readers Sarah Crawford, Annabelle de Paola, Zenobia Frost, Jack Jarden and Chloe Mills.

Here’s the gang at Queensland Poetry Festival – I feel so grateful to have met these poets this year. They’re wonderful humans and, as Sarah Holland-Batt (supervisor to most of us/superhero poet/photographer that day) pointed out, we look like a boy band. High praise.

QPF2017_QUT Salon

Big congrats to Anna Jacobson, Emily O’Grady, Mindy Kaur Gill, Ella Jeffreys and Rebecca Jessen for their current QUT domination of a variety of literary prize shortlists. ✨

Human Geometry (2016)

ZenHumanGeo

“Human Geometry” (2016)

Erased from The Complete Kodak Book of Photography (1985), pp 222–3.
Text first published in Stylus Lit; collage subsequently published in Woolf Pack.

QPF 2017

The program for Queensland Poetry Festival 2017 has dropped. I cannot wait to see Patricia Lockwood and Hera Lindsay Bird on stage for Viral Verse.

I’m stoked to appear on the program on Friday, 25 August in the Judith Wright Centre shopfront, alongside two poets I admire so much:

1–2pm Deep North: Poetry Reading
Free event co-presented by QUT Creative Industries
Readings by Zenobia Frost, Red Room Poetry Director Tamryn Bennett and one of QLD’s foremost contemporary poets, Bronwyn Lea.

This event comes after a great-looking panel on poetics in Australia, What Even Is OzPo. For QPF, I’m refining some very Brisbaney poems. I spent a month in NYC recently – went to a slam in Manhattan, bought a lot of books, etc. – but mostly I sat in a rocking chair on the back porch of this house upstate (below) and read a lot. There is so much poetry going on in NY/America at large; I’m really looking forward to this particular QPF panel, after the contrast of seeing how alive poetry publishing is in other places. On which note, have a read of Kent MacCarter’s recent essay on OzPo in Overland.

And finally reading A Room of One's Own, to go with the view.

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February 2017

Woolf Pack vol. 8 is out and stuffed full of leafy greens! Rebecca Cheers and Talia Enright produce this beautiful Brizzo femzine, which Rebecca launched this month at Festival of the Photocopier in Melbourne.  I love Rae White‘s butterfly-plague poem , ‘blizzards expected’. My erasure poem/collage is an actual fold-out in the centre, so I guess you could Blu-tak it up on the back of the toilet door? Pick one up at Junky Comics or download a digital copy here.

I also had a few little poems make their way into the world in January, in Forage (UK/USA), Veronica, and Small Packages. I’m keen as heck to begin my MFA next week at QUT, researching the poetics of urbanism and intimate spaces. (It’s all an excuse to talk about Kentucky Route Zero for a year and a half.)

#KR0

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Zen 101

Want to dip your toes into my words? Here are a few of my favourite poems and performances:

I wrote ‘Auf Wiedersehen Spiegeltent’ in response to Cantina, a circus-cabaret show developed by Strut & Fret for the 2011 Brisbane Festival Spiegeltent. This poem won third prize in the 2011 John Marsden Awards for Young Australian Writers.


auf wiedersehen spiegeltent

1.

the circus is gone
big top
stripped to bone

wide-load giraffe
skeleton canters

in smoke and hammers
collapses collapses
ghosts of their shimmering
crushed into clay

at first light we steal glances
carnies disguised as men
unravel canvas

for one last act
The Great Vanishment

2.

we return
to one-hearted one-steps

preacher calls to his lambs
bowler tumbling downarm
and we come

their suicides unwind
from sky-held ribbons

our strongest men
are not strong enough
our women cannot fly

that man is a tin soldier
he is all moving parts
that woman hovers
en pointe en tightrope
their drunken limbs forget
the ways they should not bend

we swallow whole words

and the lion obeys
with a wink in the glint of its fang

we cannot contort
our mouths
back into grins

they fold back into boxes
like costumes like paper
with string and bells secured to their toes


‘Civic Duty’ was commissioned by The Red Room Company for their 2013 Poetry Object Project.

Civic Duty

Rosalie, Brisbane

Each day’s late fee
is one more day
in business. Walk the aisles
making mantras of titles,
shuffle worn carpet,
thumb static horror
blurbs in Papyrus:
finite options; infinite terror.

Stocked with boxed ways
to avoid going out,
our last local refuge of
streetpress dregs and special
favourite-members’ deals.
We no longer need to flash our card
to revisit films we rented once
or just once more — their covers,
like windows or tombstones.

But one day Civic Video
will close and on that day
there will be nothing:
neon-gone — a glowing
museum set piece.

Whatever killed the dinosaurs
is killing Civics. Already paleozoic,
Blockbuster never saw Rosalie
craft an ark of empty video cases.

A little more home
with each hole punched
in that loyalty card
we never end up
cashing in.


Here’s a performance from the 2014 Queensland Poetry Festival: a visceral poem about a Parisian cemetery exhumed for resources. This poem was published in Ricochet’s Flashback edition.



An oldie, but a goodie: ‘Bathing with Neil Gaiman’, a poem about reading in the bath, included on the 2009 Queensland Poetry Festival Anthology CD.


And, finally, here’s a growing-up-in-Brisbane poem, previously published in Southerly.

 

early rituals 

unfold the box

first day of school holidays
mulberry hair dye at the chemist
$4.95 for six weeks of tinted revolt

the uniform
absurd plastic gloves

rip open
the first juicy tang of chemicals
the tattered robe   skyclad beneath

plum juice   beetroot juice
combed to the roots
your mother wipes red from your ears

you stalk the timer’s tick
inspect the oil slick of scalp
metamorphose into grown up

you can dye your hair  do anything

at last
in the shower dye bruises water

six weeks pass   back at school
brown hair flaunts summer’s last jacaranda
you hope secretly for the detention


Each of these poems is included in Salt and Bone, published by Walleah Press in 2014. A full publication list is available here, with my performance CV here.

Salt and Bone