Halloween and spooky poems

It’s been a hectic little time both for spooks and for poetry. I’m currently drowning in a pile of Trolli Halloween candy courtesy of my housemate and a lack of trick-or-treaters. Is it any coincidence that my cat (Sable) looks exactly like Salem, but more Australian – i.e. more goofy than gothic? I think not.

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She is, indeed, chilling.

Anyhow! Today (Nov 1) the Digital Writers Festival begins, with so many amazing online (and telephonic!) activities to read, click, listen to, play with, and learn from. I took part in Poem Phone, a dial-a-poem phone number you can call for the duration of DWF. I can’t wait to get my claws into my favourite kind of festival (one I don’t have to leave bed for) over the weekend.

You can call 07 3184 4332 (or +61 7 3184 4332 from outside Australia) to hear poems by Claire Albrecht, Alex Creece, Norman Erikson Pasaribu, me, Harry Josephine Giles, Leyla Josephine, Karen Rigby, Nhã Thuyên, and Rae White. My poem is about the Mojave Phone Booth – something I’ve been wanting to write about ever since I listened to the 99% Invisible episode of the same name.

In poetry news, I recently had a poem published in Meanjin for the first time, called “The Tophouse”. You can read it in the Spring 2018 edition. As well, Overland recently printed a love poem of mine called “Peripheral Drift”. Thanks so much to the editors for including this work.

I have a collage poem called “Chivalry’s Not Dead (It’s Just Been Criminalised)” in Cordite’s TRANSQUEER issue (out today!), using text from a Miranda Devine column of the same name. This issue has an overwhelming list of amazing poets included, from Eileen Myles to the late Candy Royale. Congratulations to the guest editors Stuart Barnes and Quinn Eades. I started reading as the issue launched at midnight and now, at the time of writing, it’s well past my bedtime. I started with Broede Carmody’s poem for Kat Muscat (“Blue“) and couldn’t just stop there; I felt too many big feelings.

This Friday’s Couplet is a special queer edition to celebrate this month’s anniversary of marriage equality in Australia. This event features Kate Mackie, Lucinda Shaw (Silver Sircus), Torrey Atkin, and a special excerpt from The Bachelorette: A Song Cycle from Bec Jessen and I. (While we’re here, shout-out to Bec for being nominated by Impossible Archetype for a heckin’ Pushcart Prize!)

I just nearly signed off “kind regards”, so it’s clearly time to finish up here. Belated happy Halloween!

QPF 2018

Somehow it is August, which means Queensland Poetry Festival is upon us.

I’m thrilled to say that at opening night last night I won the Val Vallis Award! Thank you so much to judges Alison Whittaker and Angela Gardner, and extra thanks to the Auslan interpreter who had to sign the puns/filthy bits. I’m so excited for Anna Jacobson, very deserving winner of the Thomas Shapcott Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript.

This QPF I’m really looking forward to hearing more from poets in residence Yona Harvey and Alison Whittaker, the return of Ray Briggs to Brisbane to read Kinky Sevenlings, the Radical Imagination panel on queer utopias, and the launch of Rae White‘s Milk Teeth.

I’ll be on at The Big Read on Saturday (Alison Whittaker, Tricia Dearborn, Fury The Poet, Laniyuk Garcon-Mills, Stuart Barnes, Zenobia Frost and Rae White). Then, Bec Jessen and I debut The Bachelorette: A Song Cycle on Sunday at Bloodhound Bar. Are you ready to fall in love?

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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.

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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.

 

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.

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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. ✨

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.

Ship-Shape

We’re nearly half way through the year! May brought all sorts of adventures, including two of my favourite-ever poetry line-ups.

Rachael Briggs, Eleanor Jackson and I had great fun reading poems about sex and logic beside the picture-books section in the Wynnym Library at Poets Up Late.

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The next week, the band got back together for Sophie Tarrant‘s brain-child, Below Deck. Angela Peita, Eleanor Jackson, Ross Clark and I performed, with Rachael Briggs popping up on the open mic. This is literally a list of my favourite Brisbane poets, and that’s not hyperbole.

Even if that word makes you think of Chris Traeger.

Angela delivered a heart-stopping performance piece, Eleanor subbed in as my boyfriend for a poem (it was Rachael at Poets Up Late; I move fast), while Rachael and Miranda Sparks battled it out as performers reading from books on pet care. Fuck yeah, diverse poetry spaces! I’m definitely looking forward to next month’s Below Deck.

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Thank you, also, to Anna Jacobson for the awesome photos.

In the end I had a bit too much fun that week, health-wise, and now I’m back to writing poems in bed with tea. Fortunately, Warsan Shire was able to join me last week (via Skype) for a PJ party/mentorship sesh.

I’m gearing up (and resting up) for my July trip to the Black Forest Writing Seminars in Freiburg. The government’s massive budget cuts to the arts are hugely distressing to hear about; without ArtStart‘s support, there’s no way this chronically-ill weirdo poet would be able to take in this year’s travelling and mentorship opportunities, so it sucks to know that the future of support for artists in Australia is endangered.

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

WUNDERKAMMER: Less than one week to go

Less than one week to go until WUNDERKAMMER: the co-launch of Curio and Salt and Bone. Kristin and I are doubly excited! And so relieved that Avid is taking care of everything.

If you’d like to come, please RSVP via Avid Reader (for free!). This ensures we have enough free wine and nibbles for everyone to get sufficiently jolly.

If you can’t make the Brisbane launch but would still like a copy of either book (or both!), here’s how:

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Total Eclipse of the Zen

Well! I’m about to go undercover (read: do a lot of poem-writing and grant-applying in bed) to prepare for upcoming festivals and new work. Salt and Bone is ready to launch (!) and I’m ready to zoom up and down the east coast (including a Lushie work retreat in Sydney). Here’s some of what’s coming up:

  • Queensland Poetry Festival: Celestial Monsters, 31 Aug @ 11am
    Judith Wright Centre shopfront space (FREE): Rachael Briggs and Zenobia Frost have been places humans shouldn’t tread. And they’ve returned with poems, song cycles and the lingering smell of graveyard dirt.
  • Queensland Poetry Festival: Into the Warmth, 31 Aug @ 1.45pm
    Judith Wright Centre performance space (FREE): Poetry can be sung from the rafters, and it can be an intimate act between strangers. Join us for this very special Sunday Poetry Yum Cha session – come in, find a seat, grab a snack, open your ears and your heart. Featuring Candy Royalle, Max Ryan, Cyril Wong, Zenobia Frost and Adam Hadley
  • Wunderkammer: The launch of Salt and Bone and Curio, 18 Sept @ 6pm
    Avid Reader (FREE): Kristin Hannaford and Zenobia Frost co-launch their new WALLEAH PRESS poetry collections. Join us for drinks and nibbles as we celebrate confluence, quolls and possums — and send Hannaford’s CURIO and Frost’s SALT AND BONE into the world. Bookings essential.
  • National Young Writers Festival: Newcastle, 2–5 Oct
    Program launched soon — watch this space. Basically lots of this:
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  • Salt and Bone: Melbourne launch, 7 Oct
    Salt and Bone launches in good company at Hares & Hyenas. Details TBC.
  • Sleep: Oct–Nov