Monday, August 31, 2015

Compulsive Reader for Sept is out

Just a quick blogpost to let you know that the latest Compulsive Reader newsletter has now gone out an is making its way through the online superhighway to your inbox even as I type this.  This month’s issue features the usual bevy of 10 new reviews including my own reviews of Jean Kent’s phenomenal  The Hour of Silvered Mullet (Jean and I will be chatting about the book later in the month) and The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna (a book that made me cry so hard, I had to remove myself from the living room for a bit so I wouldn’t frighten my family).  We’ve also got interviews with Val Brelinski, Andrew Joyce, and Mary E Martin (our guest blogger last week), and additional reviews from my fantastic review team including Harper Lee’s very popular Go Set a Watchman, The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham, Hell and God and Nuns with Rulers by John Collings, and plenty more, including 5 book giveaways for our subscribers.  If you can’t wait for your copy or if it got blocked by your spam filters somehow, you can grab one here:
Compulsive Reader Newsletter link

If you haven’t yet subscribed but I’ve whet your appetite enough to tempt you, just go to and sign up.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Poetry Monday: Tincture Journal

The acceptance for publication in Tincture Issue 11 was probably the best acceptance I’ve ever received.  It not only came within a day of my submission, but in addition to a very warm acceptance, poetry editor Stuart Barnes said something to me along the lines of: “I’ve been re-reading Quark Soup, and was hoping you’d submit.”  I know another more well-known poet used to such accolades would not be so ecstatic by the idea of someone re-reading my first traditionally published chapbook (Picaro Press - who have have kept it “in-stock” all these years), but I don’t often hear the phrase “re-reading Quark Soup”, much less in conjunction with “hoping you’d submit.” 

Barnes is no slouch as a poet himself.  After being a runner up last year, he’s just won this year’s Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize for his manuscript The Staysails, which will be published by the University of Queensland Press in 2016.  I intend to grab a copy as soon as it becomes available (I’ve read many of the Shapcott award books and they’ve been, without exception, superb), and I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels personal pride at Stuart’s well-deserved win. The poetry world is a small one, and one of the things I like best about it is that poets tend, in the main, to support one another through reading each other’s work, publishing, reviewing, and promoting, and above all, connecting over it. Despite the solitary nature of the writing process, there’s something particularly communal about poetry, perhaps because it allows such deep and instant insight into emotion, meaning, and beauty, converging the personal with the universal.

Small journals tend to encourage the communal response, and Tincture does it particularly well.  It’s impeccably edited, beautifully presented (a perfect example of how electronic media should be presented), and offers a wide range of carefully curated work: poetry and prose, fiction, nonfiction, interviews.  Issue Eleven, which I’m reading right now, is Kindle or iPad friendly (so you can carry it with you), easy to read (while, for example, waiting for the dentist and other otherwise lost moments), and basically wonderful. I’m proud to have my work published alongside such company.   You can buy a copy of Issue Eleven for just $A8.00 (on today’s xe that’s 5.70usd - such a bargain) here:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Guest blog: Who Has Seen the Cosmic Egg?

Today we are being visited by a virtual blog tour celebrating the completion of author Mary E. Martin's second series, The Trilogy of Remembrance. We would like to welcome followers of the tour joining us from JD Holiday's World of Ink Network BlogTalkRadio interview with Mary E. Martin, on,  and from other sites on the tour.

Followers of the tour have an opportunity to enter in a $200 Amazon gift card giveaway, sponsored by the author, as well as to receive a purchase incentive package donated by the tour sponsors. Entries in Mary's $200 Amazon gift card giveaway will be accepted until midnight on August 31, 2015 with an announcement of the winner posted from Mary's Blog on September 1, 2015. Anyone submitting a proof of purchase entry in the giveaway draw will receive as an added benefit the tour purchase incentive rewards package of free e-books and discount coupons donated by tour hosts. For a full tour schedule of events, as well as details on how to enter the lottery drawing for the gift card and receive the purchase incentive rewards package, visit Mary E. Martin at

We encourage our guests to follow the tour further by visiting Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews,, for a Q&A Interview with Mary. Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies: The Osgoode Trilogy, inspired by her many years of law practice; and The Trilogy of Remembrance, set in the glitter and shadows of the art world. Both Trilogies will elevate the reader from the rush and hectic world of today and spin them into realms of yet unimagined intrigue. Be inspired by the newly released and final installment of The Trilogy of Remembrance, Night Crossing.  

A painter in his studio

Alexander Wainwright, Britain’s finest landscape artist, has been pacing his studio overlooking the Thames.

Disgusted with his feeble efforts at painting, he
flings his palette at his new half-finished canvas. He cannot, in his heart and mind, create something new. But then—in all its shimmering glory, the cosmic egg floats up before Alexander, the visionary artist.

He caught some movement—a shadow or shifting shape dancing on the wall. As he turned toward the shadows, his mouth grew slack. His breath deepened and a blissful, innocent smile spread across his face. His legs grew weak and he staggered toward his vision as if drawn by irresistible but unknown forces. Against the tall windows, now blackened in the night, a golden egg rose up, shimmering with beautiful gems—diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds which sparkled like the purest sunlight. Turning slowly, this marvellous object throbbed with life as if it contained all the energy in the world. His lips parted and he spoke three words—“the cosmic egg.” 

The third in
The Trilogy of Remembrance
It was perhaps three feet in height and, at its widest point, two feet in breadth. It rotated majestically several times and then drifted upward toward the ceiling. Although stunning, it was as insubstantial as a rainbow and began to dissipate before his eyes. Awe struck, he stood motionless. The cosmic egg was the seed heralding new creation. Everything necessary was at hand and contained within that egg. For eons, it had tantalized humankind with the secret mystery of creation, life and death and the promise of immortality— From Night Crossing.

And so, Night Crossing, the third in The Trilogy of Remembrance begins. Alexander has experienced a very real vision, which propels him on a hero’s journey from London to Paris and also St. Petersburg.

The train is Alex’s favourite
mode of transportation
Although Alex would tell you his inspiration comes from his muse, he learns much from his travels and the people he meets. Some quality of mind or spirit within him causes people to confide their stories in him and contemplate their own lives—in fact, the very nature of existence itself. In his presence, people experience a rare attentiveness and wisdom. But it is very much a two way street. Alex gains as much as they do and he comes away enriched by a profound respect for and love of the human spirit. He calls it searching for his light.

What is this cosmic egg? It’s not just a static symbol. It’s a potent living force or energy which we sometimes experience, if we are lucky, as our creative spirit. Alex very much needs it at this moment of extreme dissatisfaction with his work.

 “The shell of the cosmic egg is the world frame of space, while the fertile seed-power within typifies the inexhaustible life-dynamism of nature.” —says Joseph Campbell, the renowned writer and lecturer about mythology and story-telling.

Joseph Campbell
So many thoughts and directions! At the start of the novel, I was nearly overwhelmed. But there were a number of fundamental ideas which came from Campbell’s work and they kept me on track. He often spoke of the hero’s journey underlying so many stories.

In brief, the protagonist of the story, Alex, is living in circumstances which are highly unsatisfactory to him. He is hungry, if not desperate, for change. And so, an event occurs—envisioning the cosmic egg—which sets him off on an adventure. In that journey, our protagonist will meet many people, some who help and others who hinder.

In Night Crossing, Alex meets Miss Trump on the train headed for the ferry at Portsmouth. Who is this elderly woman who first appears to Alex as a rather simple or dull companion? She is part seer, part goddess of love and teacher of the power of synchronicity.

He will find many problems and challenges but learn much by overcoming them. Then he will return with something new and wonderful, which after all is what we want from any creative endeavour. The hero’s journey is the creative process.

Carl Jung
Speaking of synchronicity, The Trilogy of Remembrance is filled with many instances of it. Where did that concept come from? Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist spent much of his career exploring the idea of synchronicity.

It’s simply this—two or more events occur simultaneously or pretty close together with no apparent causal connection between them. In fact they seem unrelated in any way in time and space, but they come together to form a personal and meaningful message for you. Lots of people call it a “sign.” Others dismiss it as coincidence or happenstance.

Jung spent years considering synchronicity in his research and clinical practice. If a person has not had a synchronistic experience, then it is hard to really believe in it. But I can assure you that Alex does.

Here’s an example from Night Crossing. The very next day, after envisioning the cosmic egg, Alexander has lunch with his art dealer James Helmsworth. He is dumbfounded when his dealer shows him a painting of the cosmic egg—not just any old cosmic egg but exactly the same cosmic egg which appeared to him the night before. Who could not be stunned by these occurrences?

Alexander Wainwright
That event raises a question—if another artist has seen precisely the same egg, does that mean it exists in the real world as opposed to just in Alex’s imagination. Seeing this image of the same cosmic egg spurs Alex on to find the painter of the egg. What happens next is the story of Night Crossing.

From this you can see that both Campbell and Jung are great influence not only in the realms of mythology and psychiatry but also in story-telling. And story-telling, as Alexander Wainwright will tell you, is one of the favourite, age old pleasures of humankind that will never die.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Poetry Monday: Martin Langford’s ground

I’m very lucky in that I get lots of new poetry books sent to me.  I hope I never become so spoilt or jaded that I lose the excitement I get when opening up a new one - the sense of adventure it contains, the silky feel of the cover as I crack the spine open and begin exploring new words, full of promise, of new worlds - like a kind of travelogue into the human condition.  Martin Langford’s ground is a bit like that.  Though I have yet to fully digest it, the poetry takes the reader through so many shades - not just actual places, though there are plenty of those - all throughout Victoria and Tasmania and especially Sydney, with its “Layers” and lines, but through times and themes, colours and historical moments - sometimes pastoral, sometimes post-modern apocalyptic, always mingling personal perception and political impact. Many of the poems concatenate place, event and multiple interpretation into a single space--a plane of semblance that builds towards cumulative meaning (“as if there were only this moment of grassed undulations.” (“Looking East from the Castlereigh (London, 1820)”). 

I have a feeling that many of these poems will take time to open out fully for me, as is often the case with good poetry, though they’re eerily beautiful and engaging on first reading.  Here’s a very small sample:

From “The Detectives of Light”

For years at a time
they had breasted the could-dreams of shorelines -
the sky-bleed the storms -

and now they were home, the detectives of light,
shuffling, in rooms thick with interests:
boxes of artefacts, orchids;
charts dense with patronage;
moonrise distilled into ink -- (19)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Poetry Monday: Ali Cobby Eckermann on Inside my Mother

A few poetry monday’s ago, I did a little feature on Ali Cobby Eckermann.

Following on from that, my full review of her gorgeous book, Inside my Mother was featured on Compulsive Reader here:  Heres a little snippet from that review: “Inside my Mother is a beautiful and moving collection, full of gritty pain, transcendent joy, celebration of the land and its animals, grief for all that has been lost, and a transformative reconciliation, both in its political sense and in terms of coming to terms with personal wrongs.”

I’m never content to just read a book I like.  I also have to talk about it, re-read it a few times, analyse it, and chat with the author wherever possible (all part of the fun). This is especially true for poetry, where there’s nothing quite like listening to the poet read his or her own work.  Ali joined me today on my radio show to read from and talk about Inside my Mother as well as some of her other wonderful projects and you can now listen to the show anytime it suits you:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

CR Newsletter for Aug is now out

This month’s Compulsive Reader Newsletter is now out and should have already arrived in your inbox.  This month we’ve got 5 brand new (some only just released this week books to giveaway (8 if you include the 3 copies of A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Eunsun Kim), a global round-up of literary news from the month of July, and ten fresh new reviews/interviews from all sorts of genres to keep you in the know, and booked up.

If you haven’t received the newsletter as yet, don’t fret, as you can grab yourself a copy from the archive:

If you’re not a subscriber, just drop by and pop your address in the box on the upper right hand side.  We only send out one issue a month, and our readers are the best bunch of book lovers - we’d love you to join us.