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

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:
  • Salt and Bone: Melbourne launch, 7 Oct
    Salt and Bone launches in good company at Hares & Hyenas. Details TBC.
  • Sleep: Oct–Nov


Civic Duty & other poems

A splash of November news:

  • The Red Room Company commissioned me to write a poem about an object dear to me — so naturally I wrote a love poem to my local Civic Video. You can read it here.
  • In 2014 (and beyond!) I’ll be helping out Five Islands Press, serving as their consulting poetry editor for Queensland. Their annual submissions window for poetry manuscripts closes on Nov. 30.
  • Voiceworks Magazine launches “Prime” at the 2013 Express Media Awards on Dec. 5. VW is always stuffed full of wonderful stuff. Broede Carmody (2013 Booranga Prize-winner for fiction; Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize finalist — such talent very babe wow) edited a poem I was lucky enough to have included. It is possibly my only successful sexy poem.
  • Tincture Journal launches its fourth issue on Dec. 1. Tincture is a fantastic digital publication — in fact, it has been nominated for the Express Media Award for “Best Project By/For Young Writers”. Nice one! They’ve kindly included a couple of my poems in the new issue.
  • A poem of mine has been included in the inaugural Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman Prize Anthology. Hooray! I think this is the first time I’ve been anthologised.

Today's mail

Anywhere Fest: Live on Air

Melbourne’s own Telia Nevile hits the airwaves for Anywhere Fest. As her comedic character Poet Laureate Telia Nevile, our host broadcasts Live on Air from her lounge room to yours.

Q. Describe your show in under 25 words.
A. An ode to the outsider full of tongue-in-cheek poems set to backing tracks that range from rap to blues, death metal to bubblegum pop.

Q. Anywhere Festival is about making art everywhere. What makes your venue (or in this case, airwaves) unique?
A. There’s something about bringing theatre into your own home, where you can experience it in amongst your own reality and entirely on your own terms, that makes the idea of live-streaming really intriguing. With a show over the internet, which you can watch while you’re in your pajamas curled up on your couch, there’s a lot of possibility for intimacy and honest reaction without any big emotional demands on the audience. I’m both excited and terrified because it’s such a different experience as a performer, but I hope that it will open up new places within the character and that it will expand the audience experience.


Q. If your show were a new My Little Pony, what would it look like? What would its superpower be?
A. Is there a dark, furtive and socially awkward one that reads Proust in public and Mills & Boon in private?

Q. Live on Air sounds like it’s billed as part BBC radio play, part character comedy and part poetry. How do you meld these forms in your show?
A. The poetry is an inherent part of the character — it’s her chosen form of expression and it acts as a pressure valve that releases all her greatest hopes and frustrations. The radio part was inspired by a 90s film called Pump Up the Volume. In this, as in that movie, it allows the protagonist to be entirely, unflinchingly honest because when you’re alone in your room there’s nothing to lose — you can’t see any shock or disappointment or disapproval on anyone’s face because you never really know if anyone’s listening or not. In that aspect, radio is incredibly freeing.

Live on Air runs online from 8 to 16 May, 2013.


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.