Sunday, July 27, 2014

Launch of A Slow Combusting Hymn

A Slow Combusting Hymn
 is a brand new, hot-off-the-press poetry anthology featuring poetry from and about Newcastle and the Hunter Region
, edited by the dynamic duo Jean Kent and Kit Kelen. The book's cover features a beautiful painting by local artist Claire Martin.  I am very proud to have a number of poems
included in this anthology, not least of which because of the illustrious company: the anthology includes some seriously amazing poets, and has been lovingly organised and edited by Jean and Kit, who have, as you might expect, done a wonderful job.

The book will be launched by Rosemarie Milsom on Saturday, August 9th, 10:30 for 11 am 
at The Lovett Gallery, City Library, Laman St, Newcastle.  The event is open to the public, but you need to RSVP at the event page or directly to Jean no later than August 6th:

A Slow Combusting Hymn is a poetic map of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. It contains poems from 64 poets who currently live in the region or who have strong local connections. The book is published by ASM and Cerberus Press and its production and launch have been supported by the Hunter Writers Centre.  If you'd like to order copies of the book but can't make the launch, just drop a line to Jean: with details of what you want, and she'll take care of you. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Changing the world - week 3

It's been quite difficult for me to blog about the Coursera How to Change the World course I'm doing, for a number of reasons.  The first is that the problems and issues that we're exploring are vast and complex, and covering social goods, poverty, climate change, disease and health care, women;s rights, education and social change in seven weeks is rushed, and at times, feels superficial.  Another is that every time I learn something new, I'm ashamed that I didn't already know it. The world is a small place these days and if my neighbour is suffering, and I can help, I should make it my business.

My son tells me I don't need a university course - I should just spend a few hours on Tumblr, and I've done that and will continue to do so, but there's something to be said for having a formal, well-thought through structure for self-education, and for allowing some time (no matter what else is happening) to read carefully (rather than scan), think through that reading, and then, in a curated way, applying it to a local context where a little effort can actually make a significant positive difference.  How to Change the World is very thoughtfully curated, and despite the grandiose title, Michael S Roth approaches the issues carefully and humbly, acknowledging that he's learning along with us, and always allowing local and engaged activists to have the final say and present an insider perspective using a variety of media, and encouraging students to use a variety of tactics and media in the assignments. This week we've focused primarily on climate change, and though I well knew about the inherent challenges of our changing climate, the course has encouraged me to take a positive approach and to see every thing that I can do, whether it's as simple as assessing and then finding ways to decrease my own (fairly considerable, it turns out) footprint, or getting more broadly involved in sustainability projects, as valuable.  Every week I've begun by thinking "this is an issue that is particularly important to me."  This week, which is no exception, is Disease and Global Health Care, and I look forward to watching the videos, delving into the readings, and then applying the learning in a way that is relevant to my life and uses my capabilities.  It may be small, and a little superficial. I can't deny that I'm still ashamed about that.  But doing nothing or becoming overwhelmed is no solution to shame.  I have to start somewhere, sometime, and here, and now, seems to me to be right. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Poetry Monday: Czesław Miłosz

It must have been some 30 years ago when I went to hear Czesław Miłosz read his work in New Jersey at Princeton.  What I remember most was the intensity of his gaze, the way he lost himself in his words as he read, and power that resided as an undercurrent to the simplicity of his words (especially in light of the literary pyrotechnics I was usually drawn to at the time). It was a relaxing evening, involving, if I recall correctly (memory being entirely unreliable), wine, cheese and very little intimidation or pomposity, in spite of the grandeur of our surroundings and the size of the audience, given Miłosz' fame at the time. I've just re-encountered him and the poem below, through a course at the University of Iowa titled How Writers Write Poetry which I couldn't resist checking out (did I mention how easily distracted I am at the moment?) - you can still jump in - this one is totally ungraded.  The workshops have already spurned several new poems, as has my other MOOC course through Coursera How to Change the World, which I'll be posting on shortly if I can find a moment to summarise my thoughts between all the readings.  For now though, here's are a few of my favourite Miłosz poems courtesy of the Poetry Foundation to start the week. 


Ars Poetica:


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Compulsive Reader Newsletter for July is out

The Compulsive Reader Newsletter for July has now gone out.  According to my reports, they have all been delivered, but if, for some reason, you don't have yours (or you want to preview before subscribing), just drop by our archive here for a copy:
Compulsive Reader News July

The newsletter this month has the usual bunch of reviews and interviews including Elizabeth Gilbert, Christos Tsiolklas, Sheila Kohler and lots more, as well as all the latest literary news, and three great giveaways (including some things you just can't buy).  If you aren't a subscriber, it's free, we only send out newsletters once a month, and you can sign up in a few seconds at the Compulsive Reader site: