Posts Tagged ‘poetry festival’

I have been crazy busy. I mean really, really busy. All self inflicted I’m afraid.

Part of what I’ve been doing the last few months has been helping out with the organisation of the Poetry on the Move Festival in Canberra. I volunteered over the weekend as well and did a couple of workshops.

As a prose writer, I have only ever dabbled in poetry. I’m often moved to write it. My ideas and words usually come when I’m driving the car so I can’t capture them. That’s probably my best poetry–the stuff that’s lost to the air as I speak it.

I have written poetry and shared it with my partner, Matthew. He then asks me if I’m feeling okay and was I depressed and so on. I don’t label myself as a poet.

I thought I’d share with you some of what came out of the workshops I did.

The first workshop was with one of the international guests, Moira Egan. She did a workshop on scents. It was really interesting and fun and made me think. First up I should own that I like writing exercises where you respond to some random thing. I may not create something out of it, but some times I do. Moira does synathesia-where you respond to say smells by thinking of a colour, or a pattern and so on. We smelled perfumes and then wrote a colour, a shape, a memory. It was a bit intimidating being in workshops with people who can craft a beautiful, exact poem on the spot. I’m not one of thse.

I did not respond well to my perfume. This is what I wrote.


The fussy old lady with pink rinse hair

moulded into waves so stiff

they defy the wind.

Rigid handbag thrust in front

like a weapon

–a blunt instrument.

A stench redolent of a 1960s public toilet

with the tough crackle of paper endured

and a hint of urine peeking through.

Breath like atomised musk stick lollies

hovers and then attacks

as faces meet.

The standover tactics

of a hundred room deodorisers,

falls back into baby powder

and disposable nappies

A pink so washed out

its not really there

Just the after sting

of a collision.


Then I took a workshop with another international guest, Oz Hardwick. HIs approach was to give us a prompt, a mirror, and then while we wrote about the mirror he would introduce words and we had to include them. This resulted in our poems going in different directions. This is what I wrote but I’ve edited it a bit.  Recall that I’m a speculative fiction writer so you might notice that. It’s quite long, too, as it was a stream of consciousness thing. I was amazed at some of the crafted poems in that session compared to me and my verbal vomit.


A Fractured mirror

a thousand eyes staring

more eyebrows querying

inspecting the hole

with probing gaze

travelling along the rivers of lines to the centre


What punctured this plane?

What thrust through from here to there?

A projectile? A bullet?

A broom handle too casually dropped?


Finger tracking lines leaves a droplet of red

A DNA sample, a piece of me, a trace, traceable

My head exploded, disfigured by shards

I want to see the other side

I see the other me

the other mes


This reality, jagged pieces

is more interesting than this flat world

cold, frigid, shallow

I can see depths there in irises multiplied

and pupils dilated teach

with hints of something else


Soldiers march, guns discharge in utter silence

Mouths of children open in empty screams

No one is listening

We can’t hear

lost in the fractured mirror,

multiplied, amplified, stupefied


One asks if reality is real or imagined

in voices pitched higher

so high one cannot hear

only dogs with pricked up ears

tails down and trembling


A wimper escapes

It’s me, tight lips, body tense.

I’m so far in now

I’m seeing from the other side

In the war of self

reaching for the real and finding dust

Dust and bone

everywhere I step

They crunch and splinter like glass underfoot


People lived in this space

office worker, teacher, student

I see the echo of them at empty desks

taste the sweat of them on my tongue

inhale them as breath

exhale them as death

becoming one with them

as thoughts slow and harden


An image caught

like an animal frozen in headlights

my light

my reflected light



I had a good time, learnt some stuff, listened to poetry readings. I’m not giving up my day job. I think writers should get stimulated with experiences and ideas and form. I’m not giving up my day job for poetry but I like how it can capture a moment, a feeling, a river of thought.

When my mother lay dying some words came to me at 2.00am. They were weird. I’m going to find them and put them here. They ended up being the inspiration for Cold Soldier, my SF romance story and a fragment of this poem is featured in the story.

Cold Soldiers

Bring out the soldiers who lie within their frozen crypts

Do not wake them or disturb them

Their time is done

They gave us this peace,

This life and we are thankful


Let not their sleeping tranquil faces beguile you

They are bringers of death, purveyors of harm

It is time to let them go


Let them burn

Their flesh no more to rise

Let us grasp a future where

they no longer exist

Where we a free.




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