Monday, July 27, 2015

Poetry Monday: Lucy Dougan talks

I had the pleasure of talking with poet Lucy Dougan on my radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks, today.  In addition to reading five exquisite poems from her new book The Guardians, Lucy talked with me about a wide range of topics. This included such things as the notion of masks as roles, poetry as archeology that uncovers layers of ourselves, genetic inheritance, poetry as a way of looking at biology, the metaphoric use she makes of animals, including her well-trained mice, poetry as craft and craft as poetry, on the subtle humour that runs through her work, on Agape or selfless love and its power, and the nature of health.  You can drop by for a listen here:
or click on the widget to the right on this blog or at The Compulsive Reader.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Poetry Monday: Poetry at the Lake Mac Pub

Last month was the inaugural Poetry In The Lake Mac Pub, and I was delighted at how big a crowd this first session drew. The pub was packed.  It wasn’t just poets either, though there were plenty of poets reading their work, including the wonderful Jean Kent, who read to us from her new book The Hour of the Silvered Mullet. People also came just to listen, to read the works of their ancestors, and to recite their favourite classics: one fellow did a reading of “Ozymandias" that Kenneth Branagh would be envious of, and another recited “Jabberwocky” perfectly, entirely from memory. Kudos to poet Linda Ireland - pictured on the left - who organised and beautifully MCd the session.  Poetry in the Lake Mac Pub is a monthly event, running on the second Sunday afternoon of each month from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm.  The next one is this coming Sunday, the 12th of July. Come along and participate in open mic readings of your work or another's. Or simply come to listen and enjoy the relaxed and convivial atmosphere (food, drinks and coffee/tea all available from the Bistro). This is a free community event, which takes place in the Lake Mac Tavern in the main street of Morisset (opposite the station).  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Compulsive Reader news for July is out and about

I’m happy to report that the Compulsive Reader newsletter for July has now gone out and should already be in your in-box. This month’s edition features a new set of 10 reviews including Lucy Dougan’s The Guardians, April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Greens, Rebecca Makei’s Music for Wartime, Flash Fiction International, Beth Spencer’s Vagabondage, Graham Stull’s The Hydra, Raymond L Atkin’s Sweetwater Blues, along with interviews with Judy Reeves, Nuala  O’Connor, Phil Harvey.  There’s also tons of literary news from around the world, and four new book giveaways, including Kundara’s latest The Festival of Insignificance, a pretty little hardcover book which I’ve got in my hot hands at this very moment.  If, for some reason, your spam filter has eaten it, you can grab a copy online here: The Compulsive Reader News. If you aren’t already a subscriber, just drop by The Compulsive Reader and sign up for free. We only send out one newsletter a month so you won’t be inundated.  You also won’t want to miss our podcasted interview with Beth Spencer, who reads from Vagabondage, and talks about the book, and her year on the road.  You can listen to at the site or at the podcast here: 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Poetry Monday: Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Inside My Mother

I know it’s not Monday where I am, but my blog, being on US time, still says it’s monday, so I’m going to take the opportunity to showcase a poetry book that is being published tomorrow.  Some weeks ago I blogged about a poetry session My Mother’s Heart that I attended at the Sydney Writers Festival.  Ali Cobby Eckermann’s new poetry book, from which she read, has now arrived, and at first glance, I’m very excited by it.  The work is rooted in the earth, and rich with legend, many stories, love, fear, loss, lost vernacular, a beautiful, and at times terrible history, healing, and as the title suggests, the nature of the maternal, in all its metaphoric implications.  I’ve only skimmed the surface so far, but I’m looking forward to reading through it slowly and deeply and finding new meaning, and new ways of looking at the world through this work:

“there’s a whole ocean filled with sand
between what was and what will be”

More about Ali Cobby Eckermann and her work can be found in this recent interview at Mascara Review:

The book is available, from tomorrow, directly from Giramondo.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Poetry Monday: Australia Poetry Podcast at Regime Books

It’s a public holiday monday and you might just be lucky enough to have a few minutes available to listen to poetry and to poets talking about poetry. Not too long ago, Australian publisher Regime Books started a poetry podcast, in part as an antidote to the loss of ABC’s Poetica earlier this year, and they’re now on their sixth episode, featuring none other than MTC Cronin.  Cronin joins Robbie Coburn and Nathan Hondros from her organic farm (chooks, ducks, foxes and all), and talks about such things as thinking vs emotions, where her poetry comes from, motivation, about the nature of metaphor: “if you go into words--even if you go into a single word--you can probably follow it to another word...if you can find some way to really look at them and really get inside them you can find how things are connected to everything else”, on criticism (and where it fails), the relationship between poetry and law, the roots of words and language, on the joy of reading other people’s work: “I’d like to write certain things but haven’t been able to...”, her new book The Law of Poetry, on the nature of publication “if you put a book out, not many people are going to read it...”, and quite a few other things. She also reads a number of poems from her book: “The Wonderful Lawlessness of God”, “The Law of Wine”, “The Law of the Wound”, and a few others. You can hear the whole thing, which is just over an hour (about the time it took me to make bagels this morning, which was perfect), here:

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Compulsive Reader Newsletter for June has just gone out

Hello fellow readers and happy June.  Just letting you know that another issues of The Compulsive Reader news has gone out.  I know that the word “compulsive” occasionally triggers the spam filters so if you didn’t get you copy, just drop by the Compulsive Reader News Archive and pick one up.  This month we have ten fresh reviews including new books by Helen Razer and Bernard Keane, Brenda Bowen, Philip Glass’ memoir, Carolyn Martinez’ excellent new nonfiction book, several new interviews and a whole lot more.  We also have 3 book giveaways and of course the usual global literary news round-up.  Over at the radio show, there’s my latest interview, conducted live at the Sydney Writers Festival (in the back room of the former Sebel hotel, which was full of visiting authors that day) with non other than Ben Okri, who spoke with candour and intensity about his new book The Age of Magic (as you can see from the photo on the right, taken while we spoke, by Okri’s Australian publicist at HarperCollins).

Ben also spoke about his poetry and the relationship between poetry and prose writing for him, about the value of slow reading and attention, about why it is so important to retain magic in our lives, and so on.  The interview was only 30 minutes but we crammed a lot in!  To listen, just drop by The Compulsive Reader Talks.

If you aren’t a Compulsive Reader news subscriber, you can subscribe for free at - just on the front page (upper right hand side).  I only send out one newsletter a month, it’s a great way to stay on top of what’s happening in the book world, and we give out lots of books!

Books photo credit: Le Jour ni l'Heure 8537 : Francisco de Zurbaran, 1598-1664, L'Annonciation, 1638-1639, dét. (table de lecture de la Vierge), musée de Grenoble, Isère, jeudi 28 juillet 2011, 12:40:20 via photopin (license)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Poetry Monday: A Mother’s Heart

This Saturday, at the Sydney Writers Festival, I had the pleasure of listening to some ten poets (11 if you count the English “heckler” who was invited to join in) reading to the theme of Give Me Back my Mother’s Heart at Wharf Theatre 2. The performers were from across the Aboriginal nations, with the exception of the ring-in, whose British/Caribbean work was in sync with the theme but infused with the pain of diaspora, rather than displacement.  It was so polished and powerful, I knew he wasn’t really a ring-in.

Ali Cobby Eckermann, Director of Aboriginal Writers Retreat, led up the group, whose work was confronting, intense, angry, funny, powerful, and often delivered with the memorable punch of Slam.  Ali’s own opening poem, “I Tell Ya True”, which you can read in it’s entirety on Poetry International Web, presented a moving reminder not to judge others:
you never know
what sorrows we are nursing
Eckermann’s co-collaborator at Aboriginal Writers Retreat was Lionel Fogarty, who, along with Maggie Walsh, Ken Canning, Lorna Munro, Elizabeth Wymarra, and a group of poets from the Redfern Writers Group, presented a varied selection of work, full of stories of loss, love, pain, about losing mothers -- sometimes through having been stolen away during the disastrous Child Removal Policy in 1969, and about finding mother’s heart beating in ones own chest:  “all here without our mothers...”.  I found myself laughing, crying, feeling ashamed and feeling proud throughout this session in various parts, and sometimes all of those things at once.   

What I liked best about the session was how tightly linked the poets were and how the poetry managed to bridge the gap between a deep timelessness and a very modern streetwise sensibility.  Though the work was inherently different: the voices, the ages, the level of experience, and even the backgrounds varied, there was such a powerful camaraderie and connection between the writers and their sense of being part of a single voice gaining collective strength through mutual support.  The audience felt it too: participating with whoops, applause, shout-outs, gasps, tears, and laughter.  It was a great session that left me feeling very excited by what I heard.  I’ll be hunting down Eckermann’s forthcoming book Inside My Mother (it’s Giramondo, who else), and books by other members of the group, as I was left wanting more. I just wish I could find the name of that British fake-heckler “ring-in”, as he was really good.