March Here

I tried really hard to make a good pun on “March Hare”, but I failed. I’m so sorry.

It’s been a quiet start to the year. I moved house, fell in love with the neighbour’s cat (Sable, pictured), and have spent a lot of time re-scaping my fish tank.

Sable_Jan15

I received happy news yesterday: Salt and Bone has been commended in the FAW Anne Elder Awards. So chuffed! I look forward to reading the winner’s work. (Last year it was Vanessa Page’s excellent Confessional Box.)

I’ve had the great pleasure of spending time with Bronwyn Lea, my Australian ArtStart mentor for the year. Bronwyn is so sharp, and so lovely; it’s wonderful to have her brain turned towards my poems.

It’s high time I booked tickets for my European adventure. A week or so ago, I put two and two together and realised that the Roxane Gay giving a nonfic/personal-essay course at the Black Forest Writing Seminars, where I’ll be studying poetry, was the one and only Bad Feminist Roxane Gay. I rushed to sign up! What followed was basically credit-card kink; my wallet’s sore from the exercise, but both my wallet and I are prettty satisfied. I can’t wait to learn everything I can from Roxane.

I was so, so sad to hear of Terry Pratchett’s final meeting with Death yesterday, and will be blogging my goodbyes this week after it’s sunk in better.

Zenobia x

Dolly, Mr Boots, and Other Good Things

Mr BootsI am listening to Lion Island. They are the perfect soundtrack to a lazy Sunday on which I’ve got nothing much done, but feel quite, quite content. They launched their debut EP at Ric’s bar on Friday night, and it’s a cracker. They’ve come so far so quickly, and they deserve it. I’m biased, I know — my sisterthing plays trumpet (“and when she’s not playing the trumpet,” says one reviewer, “she’s playing the smile”), but they’re really, really worth a listen. And when you’ve finished listening, you can pop along to the uncharTED website (they’ve been short-listed for an amazing award), and vote them all the way to the Big Day Out.

There’s been lots going on in the world of Zen. I moved out of home just over a month ago, and my new place is a haven on the hill, overlooking Brisbane. It fits me perfectly, and my housemates — both fuzzy and unfuzzy — are quite lovely. The humans in the house bake a lot, so it always smells good, and the cats in the house are eccentric and aristocratic.

I went on tour a few weeks ago, courtesy of Arts Queensland, the Qld Writers Centre and the Qld Poetry Festival. It was wild. Adventure stories to come. In a minute. Promise.

My new place is a short walk from Toowong Cemetery, and I’ve become a bit obsessed with it and its 127 000 quiet inhabitDollyants. I’ve started planning out a rather large project: a book of poems in which history and whimsy overlap, and we meet the cemetery’s earliest dead. There are so many gravestones there that can only barely be read, now, and I want to write their stories before they disappear. In the 1970s, the council removed about a thousand old memorials – I fear this might happen again, to make way for the newly deceased. Thus, my quest begins! I am on the hunt for stories about Brisbanites buried between 1971 and 1950, in particular.

The hill — all 250 acres of land there — was first used as a graveyard, the history books say, in 1871 (Colonel Samuel Blackall in January, baby Ann Hill in November, and then another four), and wasn’t officially opened until 1876, and yet I’ve found graves dating back to 1863 (Malynn tomb, pictured) in some of the most overgrown parts of the cemetery. If anyone has any clues as to why this might be, please let me know. (This site says the cemetery was established, as Brisbane General Cemetery, in 1866, but that’s still three years after my earliest grave-find.)

Malynn GraveI anticipate I’ll be spending a lot of time at the John Oxley and State libraries in coming months, and I’ll definitely be getting hold of ‘Friends of Toowong Cemetery’, who apparently conduct free tours. I go gravewalking a couple of times a week; anyone who’d like to come along on adventures is welcome. It’s easy to walk for two or three hours in there and never pass the same gravestone twice. It’s a veritable museum.

Hoop pines rise
from the jaws of skeletons:
a final word.