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.

giphy

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

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

It Never Rains — It Purrs

 

1.

the sky conjures
luminous catastrophe
never delivers

poinciana lit up
like a cabaret stage

the spitting rain comes and goes
doesn’t even bother the cat

raindrops waver in clouds
lips inches from first kiss

2.

The storm plays with us,
rain falling and falling back
into the safety of clouds.

Wind bats at windows
we forgot to close. Hung-up
washing tries to flee.

Lightning eyes glint
and narrow, and unhurried
thunder purrs after, grey clouds

all puffed up, just watching
with one eye half-open,
not stirring, not yet.

The Problem at Hand

So, my note to Queensland cracked 1000 page views yesterday. Not a big number, in the scheme of things, but certainly a happy anomaly for a little poetry blog. Thanks for reading and sharing. Glad to know you’re out there.

A brief exchange at Brisbane Airport hit the nail on the head for me yesterday, when our shuttle bus driver asked us if we’d heard the results. He explained that he usually votes Labor but — like many Queenslanders wanting change — voted Liberal this time around. He looked uneasy and said, “I just hope Campbell and the Libs have some good plans for the next few years.”

Herein lies our problem, Queensland. You’re meant to check out your candidates’ policies before you number the boxes — not cross your fingers afterwards. It’s your democratic right to vote. But however your politics swing, it’s your democratic responsibility to vote with forethought.

Oi, Queensland!

Dear Queenslanders — no, let’s get more specific. Dear Queensland women and feminists, artists and arts workers of all kinds, Indigenous people, refugees, queer and LGB people, trans people, genderqueer people, poly folks, pro-choice people, environmentalists, unionists, students, academics, journalists, weirdos, and friends and lovers of the above:

Now is not the time for that peculiar Aussie apathy.

Nor is it time to skip town.

More than ever, now is the time to be visible and vocal in Queensland. It’s time to be patient, fearless, and determined. It’s time to be aware of your rights and to be vigilant.

And above all, it’s time to create as much art as superhumanly possible. Get cracking.