Last week, I presented at the CBC’s “A Night With Our Stars“, held at Westbooks. I’ve attended this event before, but never presented, since my first novel came out only last year. It’s quite something − twenty writers, three minutes each, one insistent rattle to tell you when you’ve rambled on for too long, and on top of all this, the acute sense of strangeness at being billed as a ‘star’.
But what a great way of bringing children’s writers together with teachers and librarians and other people interested in children’s literature. I got to talk about my books (for only slightly longer than three minutes. I knew my propensity for speed-talking would come in handy some day − so there, speech therapist!), catch up with other writers, chat to teachers, sign some books, and I even found a few people who admitted in hushed tones to a fondness for poetry. I knew they were out there somewhere.
Thanks to Westbooks and the CBC for hosting this great event. Hope to see again you next year!
This is the flowering eucalypt at the bottom of our driveway.
I love this tree, because every time I arrive home, this is what I hear:
But suddenly there it is
right in front of you
bright and vivid
quietly waiting …
These lines are from Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree. You read them and then turn the page, and there is the tree, luminous, and the girl’s querulous face staring at it, uplifted. I’ve always loved this book; I love the movement between these lines and the image of the tree on the final page. Even though I know what’s coming, even though I’ve seen it many times now, it never fails to move me.
Have been Googling “Cleanskin” in an attempt to find reviews, blog posts etc on my poetry collection for the publisher to use in their grant acquittal.
Here’s how it goes:
Search Term: Cleanskin
Search Results: Quality Australian wines from $5.99 a bottle.
Me: Hmm, I wouldn’t mind a glass of red.
Repeat. Repeat again. Forget what I was doing in the first place.
Of course, I could just add “McKinlay” into the search string, but that wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun.
Note to self: do not choose book titles that remind you of red wine. Alternatively, be more self-disciplined.
Thank you to ‘stillcraic’ from Wingello, NSW, who has helped me achieve a quirky little personal goal of mine – to have a book released into the wild on BookCrossing! If you don’t know about BookCrossing, get thee hence and discover its delights forthwith.
What’s more, stillcraic tells us that s/he read my little book ‘with interest’ – what more could a writer ask for? Personally, I always try to approach a book with disdain, aloofness, or a full bag of marshmallows, but each to his own, I guess.
My first volume of poetry is out, and it’s gorgeous! I just love what the designer has done with the image; I could sit and stare at it quite happily for hours. These are poems for adults, rather than children, although I do draw on some of this material in my poetry workshops.
Copies have gone out to Westerly subscribers; non-subscribers can purchase copies either through me or the Westerly Centre. For $9.95, you receive 24 pages of poetry goodness and a CD of me reading and talking about some of the poems.
It’s an incredible thing to have a little book of poems to hold in my hand, and I can’t thank Westerly and ArtsWA (who funded the project) enough for the opportunity.
It looks like the poetry planets are aligned for me at the moment. I just heard from a journal in Queensland that they’ve accepted one of my poems for their next issue, and from WritingWA that they’ve accepted my application for their ‘Writers in Libraries’ Programme, which means that at some point later this year I’ll be conducting poetry readings and talks at libraries in the Perth area.
Here’s the cover image I’ve chosen for my little book of poetry:
The artist is the marvellous Nevin Hirik. Her work is so richly evocative and I love the figurative interplay between the image and the title, Cleanskin. It was quite challenging coming up with a title, but when I sat down to look at the manuscript as a whole, I realised that many of the poems are about the body, identity, memory, the complex negotiations between the past and present. So when I came across the word ‘cleanskin’ buried in the middle of one of the pieces, it seemed apt.
More book news! I have just been contacted by the good folk at The Westerly Centre and informed that my poetry submission for their ‘emerging poets’ project has been successful. The literary journal Westerly received funding from ArtsWA to publish a small collection by a Western Australian poet who hasn’t yet published a book of poetry, and they’ve chosen mine.
My volume, entitled Cleanskin, will be published with this year’s issue of Westerly, some time in November. It will also feature a CD of me reading and discussing some of the poems. I now have to scurry around trying to choose a cover image and think of ways to sound intelligent and thoughtful.
I should probably add that this is poetry for adults, rather than children, although I do use some of my own material as a basis for teaching poetry workshops into schools.