Spent some time on Saturday morning listening to four Commonwealth Writers Prize finalists reading from their work. The four novelists were Michelle de Krester, Caryl Phillips, Diane Awerbuck and Alex Miller. They all read excerpts from their work, and while the cross-over to poetry wasn’t all that direct, it’s always good to hear writers talk about their craft or sullen art.
A small but interested crowd at Molly Blooms for the Poetry Reading on Monday night, which went well. It was John West’s first go at running the night so I was a little disappointed there weren’t there. My brother was in town, down from Sydney, and he came along and enjoyed the night I think.
After me, Richard Hillman read some very good poems from his newest book and you couldn’t get a more different style; so I think the balance would have been pretty good on the night.
Here’s what I read:
History of Bird Rock Beach – 17
Late Summer afternoon at Mills Beach – 35
The Cursed Family – 9 (MAPS)
Site 64 – 27 (MAPS)
bush bashing – 20
great elk in the dublin museum – 53
Snow in Frankston – 29
Bowed, but not broken – 68
Friction – 48
Yeat’s Grave (Max Harris prize)
Last Look at Irish Lake (Salt-Lick Quarterly)
Have just about organised a list of poems to read tomorrow night at Molly Blooms; thought a bit harder about it this time with the aim to try to link groups of poems and try to create some sense of thread, or narrative through them all. I’ll put the list up later in the week, though most are from the newest book I’m going to read two or three new ones too.
Starting to think about the kinds of things I might read at a poetry reading coming up in a couple of weeks. I want to read in a more structured kind of way, perhaps linking poems together, or putting poems that bounce off each other together. A student in my Literature class asked if I would read some poems to the class, so I might do a run-through of some of them there.
Also, just about finished the THYLAZINE article/essay on the disappearing landscapes, which kept me thinking for lots of the summer. I don’t know if it says much ultimately, but perhaps explores some of the ideas, with some poems running through it.
Got the news that I DIDN’T receive a Tasmanian fellowship to go and write there sometime during the Winter, which was disappointing. I felt I had a bit of an affinity with Tasmania and its writing through my association with ‘Famous Reporter’ but the Tasmanian Writers Centre saw it differently. The process was interesting too; you have to pay an application fee, send supporting material etc. but the only response is a generic email, and no criteria on selection are available online at least. I’m beginning to get this thing for criteria.
Got a letter (yes, real pen on real paper) from poet John West this week asking me to be his first ‘guest reader’ at Molly Blooms Pub in Melbourne on 23rd Feb 2004. John has taken over from Phil Iton as convenor of the poetry group, so that will be something to look forward to early in the year.
Enjoyed the Water Rat experience, though I only read three or four poems, but they seemed to get a good response (someone actually called out for me to read a poem they KNEW! ‘The Day it Snowed in Frankston’. I couldnt’ find it!
The main readers of the night were Kevin Hart, who read some wonderfully tender love poems, and Alex Miller, who read from his forthcoming novel. That was good too, but the difference between the poetry form and the novel for readings was pronounced. I bought Kevin’s new book ‘Flame Tree’ and sold a few of my own too. I also met up with Lauren Williams, former editor of ‘Big Bang’ magazine, who’d published me years ago and remembered me. We had a short talk but I could see the attraction of an event like the monthly readings, to catch up with othe writers, hear some new work and have a couple of beers. I’ll definitely go back again later in the year.