I have a new publication out this month. It’s a picture book. It’s nothing at all like a picture book.
Allow me to explain.
Back in 2003, I was an aspiring children’s writer. My aspirations took me regularly to the local library, where I would comb review magazines such as Magpies and Viewpoint – to see what was being published, and by whom, to find reading recommendations, and – let’s be honest – to torture myself with little frissons of envy
One such frisson – more of a seismic tremor, really – occurred when, scanning the review columns, I happened upon the title How to Make a Bird, by Martine Murray.
Instantly, I was a mix of excitement and regret. For I knew exactly what this book must be – a slightly weird, lyrical picture book about someone trying to build a bird from raw materials, about the tangible and the intangible, maybe even the existential. And oh, how I wished I had written it. It felt like a perfect fit for me, rightfully mine somehow. If only I’d had the idea first.
Here beginneth the second in what appears to be a biennial series. It’s my own personal poetry week, very much like the one I held back in February 2010. It’s being held for exactly the same reason: I’ve been invited to guest at Perth Poetry Club and really need some new material to read.
But more than that, I really need to work on the hundreds of fragments that have been accumulating in notebooks and files for years, the many beginnings of poems that sit quietly, waiting for my attention.
In my quest to have some of them ready for this Saturday, when I’ll be reading, I’ve identified a handful that look promising. I’m going to throw the (current) opening lines down here in order to hold myself accountable in a semi-public way. And also because I’m narcissistic like that. I did this last time, and it worked. And I’m all for whatever works, narcissism and all.
So this appears to be the fourth in the three-part blog-a-palooza I embarked on recently with Sally Murphy and Anna Branford.
Yes, I am aware that makes no sense.
I’m adding this coda simply to say that although it was fun, I doubt I’ll be doing something like that again. I have no idea how anyone keeps to a regular posting schedule and still manages to keep up with all the regular aspects of work and life and writing and all of that. Impossible.
I really enjoyed thinking about all those topics, and there’s a satisfying discipline in committing to setting my thoughts in order for public consumption. But when writing time is at a premium, I’d rather be chipping away at stories than composing blog posts.
I did promise the occasional dash of random and I’m not sure I’ve really been delivering. To rectify that, here are two completely unrelated things:
Random Item #1
Surface Tension came out this week. This is excellent and I’m thrilled to see it on shelves. I’m told it received “a cracker of a review” in Bookseller + Publisher, though I’m yet to see it myself. As you do when you have a shiny new book, I’ve taken to picking up a copy, opening it, reading a few lines, sighing, and putting it back down.
Shall we call it Shiny New Book Syndrome? It is an identifiable disorder – I’m sure of it.
Yes, I’ve re-entered the atmosphere.
Last weekend, I read at the Moon Cafe. I scrambled to stitch together some poems that had been lying in pieces for far too long – one a day for the eight days leading up to the reading was my goal, but in the end I managed seven. Which is pretty good, I think. What’s that old saying – “Reach for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars?” Lately, I have been feeling rather more like the more recent re-working – “Reach for the stairs; they’re closer” – but either way, I got seven new poems out of it, so I am very happy.
It was a lovely afternoon – stinking hot on the Moon but I like the heat. I like the weather, actually, and do not like the way we seem to increasingly avoid it via the so-called necessities of air-con and so forth. I do like it when the air is moving, though. An oscillating fan will do me most of the time. It was almost tropical at the Moon, with the humidity and the closeness and the overhead fans and the languid couches, and I loved it. And I think there might be a poem in there somewhere – “Give Me Weather”? Perhaps I’ll scratch that down shortly.
Or rather, at the Moon. If you grow weary of the international excellence and convivial literary atmosphere that is the Perth Writers’ Festival, come up to the Moon Cafe and enjoy the local excellence and so-called ‘op-shop decor’ (to quote the West) of Perth Poetry Club.
I’ll be reading on Saturday 27 Feb, in two slots from around 2pm and there’ll also be open mic for those of you so inclined.
I hope my legs don’t break/reading at the Moon.
Perth Poetry Club: “Where Slams Meet Sonnets”.
The Moon Cafe: 323 William St, Northbridge.