I’m pausing my year of reviewing Australian female writers to sneak this one in and will return to the promised reviews in August.
I saw Andrew Rogerson at an open mike night where he read two poems (performed them from memory actually) and as soon as I got home, I bought this book (which he had spruiked). It’s a high concept book of poems where he wrote a haiku a day for an entire year. For those who don’t know, a haiku is a Japanese poem composed of three lines with the first line containing five syllables, the second line containing seven syllables and the third line containing another five syllables for a total of seventeen.
Sounds easy, right? Not even seventeen words, just seventeen syllables a day. (If all writers could get away with this kind of workload, they’d probably be a much happier lot.) But, of course, there’s very little about poetry that is easy, writing it or reading it.
A Year Rewritten is a very short book, necessarily because of the concept. It took less than hour to read and it’s a little like a verse novel with one obvious difference: I had no idea what the story was. There were hints of love and loss and illness but the haikus were quite obscure. Poetry like this is often difficult to interpret, so attempting to string it all together in my understanding as a linear story proved impossible.Continue reading
Last week, I attended the monthly Spoken Word Night at Bunjil Place in the south-east of Melbourne. My sister had attended the previous month and thought I would enjoy it as well.
“Wow,” she said, as we entered the free event. “There are so many more people here tonight. Last time, there were about ten.” It had increased to around fifty on this night. Word was clearly getting around (pun intended).
Anyone could sign up to speak, before the event or on the night, and a feature performer was also scheduled. My sister was considering it until the organisers announced that they were overwhelmed with people wanting to speak and weren’t going to be able to accommodate everyone.Continue reading
Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock will have heard of Marie Kondo, the tidying expert. She helps people to declutter their homes and their lives and when it comes to books, she lives by the following motto: “I now keep my collection of books to about thirty volumes at any one time.”
As happens frequently on the internet, this statement went through a huge round of Chinese (or perhaps that should be Japanese, in light of her nationality) whispers and suddenly everyone was saying that Marie Kondo was telling people to throw away most, if not all, of their books.
She wasn’t saying that. Her general advice is that the items you do keep should spark your joy. And if books spark your joy, then feel free to have as many of them as you want.
Books spark my joy. I have thousands. I have an entire room just for my books. I could have bought a cheaper house if books didn’t spark my joy so much. Still, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to find the thirty books that really spark my joy.Continue reading
These days it’s on everybody’s bucket list – to write a book. But regardless of whether that bucket list item is a novel, non-fiction or memoir, the world needs more than just book writers. Content is a vast industry in itself and despite the resistance to paying for it, it is continuing to grow.
But there are actually five different types of writing, all requiring vastly different skill sets. So if your heart is set on it, it’s worth considering where your talents and your best chance of getting read lie.Continue reading
Back in May 2016, I reviewed poetry – some books, some poets – en masse but they were books and poets that I knew and loved. This is the first time I have chosen to read and review a book of poetry by a poet and with poems I’m not familiar with. Reading poetry can be very hit and miss. Something that speaks in whispers to one person might speak to another in a scream or not speak to them at all. For the most part, this book was like a recording that needed the volume turned up. Sometimes I could make out what was being said but mostly it was too quiet.
Dorothy Porter died in 2008 and The Bee Hut was published after her death, bringing together poems from the last five years of her life. Because it was published after her death, I wondered if part of the reason why I couldn’t find as much magic in these poems as I want to find in poetry is because she never had a chance to review, to revise, to change her mind, to exclude, to re-order the poems, that maybe they were simply abandoned rather than finished through no fault of her own.Continue reading
I’ve read this book before but The Ern Malley Affair is such a complex and interesting story populated by the most impressive array of real-life characters that reading it again is like reading it for the first time.Continue reading
A girl wading out to sea
Praying there is no baby
And hoping she’ll be able to forget
A guy bragging to the boys
Didn’t leave her with a choice
Left her with bruises and a threat
And now she has finally guessed
Nothing more than second best
Nothing less than worthy of his hate
She can’t forgive the violence
So she balances her silence
With a blood red circle round the dateContinue reading
Although I am a more dedicated fan of modern poetry, Christina Rossetti (along with William Shakespeare) is where I diverge from this dedication. Virginia Woolf in “I Am Christina Rossetti” wrote, “Yours was a complex song. When you struck your harp many strings sounded together… A firm hand pruned your lines; a sharp ear tested their music. Nothing soft, otiose, irrelevant cumbered your pages. In a word, you were an artist.” (I had to include that because it is poetry in itself as much as an ode to a poet.)Continue reading