Geoff Page reviews ‘Carte Blanche’ for ‘The Canberra Times’

Thom Sullivan

In the 22 August 2020 edition of The Canberra Times, Geoff Page reviews my book of poems Carte Blanche. He writes: ‘It’s satisfying to observe that the sophistication and idiosyncratic uniqueness of Thom Sullivan’s Carte Blanche have recently been recognised by the judges of the 2020 Mary Gilmore Award for the best first book of poetry in Australia last year.’ A very big thank you to Geoff for his kind words about the book. Carte Blanche is available from Vagabond Press as a paperback, and a limited edition hardcover.

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Four Poems by Su Zi

IceFloe Press

            fine point


dear mom,
in my next life
I want to be a nuclear warhead
all cozy in my silo
like a mom & pop motel with its gift wrapped soap.
I’d miss all the tender social events
but imagine me fashionably late!
(I can see the dread on your face when I peek at you)
instead I’m Penelope pink in the shower
foamy
and with cockroach legs.
my skin is a desert
complete with a bleached arching bone
a sticky tongue
I’m a model
a carbuncle of airplane glue
I’m porcelain and undrinkable;
I’m a mayonnaise jar filled with false teeth
and only my hair is plantlike,
only my toes are worth eating.

Elemental


I always thought I was water, salty blood,
a flitting, nervous little bird, be
cause that’s what my mother named me in the nick
cause I look like her she’d say.
I feel water…

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‘There’s a special obligation on poets, I think…’

Thom Sullivan

There’s a special obligation on poets, I think, to know the names of things, and with specificity. Just as there’s a value in any or all of us knowing the names of those birds and plants that we find in our home environment, for example, our garden or our street. It’s part of a greater work of attention: we start to notice the comings and goings of birds at different times of the day, or across the seasons, and we begin to mark the progress of time by a plant coming into blossom, or a tree that begins to shed its bark. It’s a particularly worthwhile idea now, when many of us are spending more time at home.

With a recent move, I’ve had to acclimate to a new home, and to a working/writing space that looks out onto a garden. I readily identified the birds that were coming and…

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How many of you with poetry collections out soon, or next year would like me to interview you about your new collections?

Please keep the requests for poetry book/pamphlet interviews about your recently published work/ to be published later, even next year coming in. I am arranging them in chronological order. Dealing with the recently published first and those due to be published next month.

Seven Leaf Sermons by Peter Larkin artwork by Rupert Loydell (Guillemot Press)

Tears in the Fence

In Part I of A.N. Whitehead’s Process and Reality, the title of which suggests the connection between being and movement, the philosopher asserts that the number one ‘stands for the singularity of an entity’ and that the term ‘many’ presupposes the term ‘one’. A quarter of a century later Charles Olson was to write to Robert Creeley that the term ‘One makes Many’ had been overheard by him as being uttered by Cornelia Williams, the cook in Black Mountain College and the phrase was then adopted by Olson as an epigraph for The Maximus Poems. On similar lines Olson wrote an autobiographical note in November 1952 stating

‘that there is no such thing as duality either of the body and the soul or of the world and I, that the fact of the human universe is the discharge of the many (the multiple) by the one…’

In the…

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Tears in the Fence Festival 10-13 September 2020

Tears in the Fence

The Tears in the Fence Festival this year is on 10-13th September via Zoom video conferencing.

The Festival has a long history back to the 1990s and has always attempted to showcase a range of alternative voices associated with the magazine and workshop group. Each themed event stems from the issues of the day and attempts to continue conversations from the previous Festival. The Festival consists of readings, discussions, conversations, and is a gathering of friends and an opportunity to make new friends. Previous themes have included ‘Difference and the Other’, ‘Visionaries and Outsiders’, ‘Hidden Connections’ and ‘The Politics of Engagement’. This year’s theme in the shadow of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter is ‘Lost Connections: Light and Darkness’.
There will be sessions around migration, environmental, multilingual, power and gender dynamics, colonial issues as well as the solitudes and vicissitudes of lockdown. There will be talks, videos, conversations…

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New poem: Raining Poetry in Adelaide

Thom Sullivan

One of my poems is among 20 that have been tagged on the footpaths of Adelaide’s CBD. The poems have been stencilled with invisible paint, and will only appear when it rains… a little something to brighten our downcast/overcast winter days. A map of the poems’ locations is forthcoming, but I particularly like the idea that many people will come across the poems incidentally. A big thank you to Jill Jones (who selected the poems), the Raining Poetry in Adelaideteam, and the City of Adelaide.

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Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Kate North

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Kate North

was born in Glasgow in 1978 and moved to her family hometown of Cardiff soon after. She studied English in Aberystwyth (BA) then Creative Writing in East Anglia (MA) and Cardiff (PhD). Kate is currently the Programme Director of the MA English Literature and Creative Writing pathways at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She has previously published a novel, Eva Shell (Cinnamon Press, 2008) and a poetry collection Bistro (Cinnamon Press, 2012).

Find out about her new short story collection, Punch

Find out about her latest poetry collection, The Way Out

@katetnorth

http://www.katenorth.co.uk

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I’ve felt a need or a compulsion to write poetry since I was child.  I think it is simply quite an ingrained requirement that some people have to express and make sense of the world they experience.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My grandfather, reading it aloud as I sat on his knee as a child.  ‘The Pied Piper of Hamlyn’ by Robert Browning was a firm favourite.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

Initially, I wasn’t particularly aware, but I think I was influenced.  Through the poems selected by my grandfather and then through the education system right through to University.  Though I never felt excluded by their presence, I’m not sure why.  Possibly because English is my mother tongue and the language of older poets is very present in English, I feel.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have a daily routine.  I work in chunks according to projects.  And then I prefer to write from the morning, starting as early as possible.  I write for as long as I can.  Once I have stopped writing the rest of the day is for editing, reading or doing something entirely different.

5. What motivates you to write?

It is part of who I am, in terms of my work, my identity, my life.  I don’t think I could change that even if I wanted to at this point.

6. What is your work ethic?

I find that a really hard question to answer.  In terms of the value of my work, then it depends, as I have so many aspects to my work.  I have an academic role which I think is important.  I have a commitment to my students that I take seriously.  In terms of my writing, I feel that I have a duty to myself and my family to publish what I am proud of.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

In ways that I probably don’t even understand!  Those early texts snared me into the whole business of writing.  And those authors, like Robert Browning and Roald Dahl, gave me rhythms, cadences and sounds that are part of my lexicon now.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Ali Smith is an amazing writer.  She is utterly engaged in the world and her novels are endlessly exciting to me. He interest in the history and ecology of language is so compelling.

In terms of poetry I admire Selima Hill for her distinctiveness and her stamina as a poet. Her surreal and humorous writing often carries a stark sadness also.  For consistent brilliance and powerful intellectual inquiry with deep personal insight I value Denise Riley.  A recent arrival on the scene with real talent I enjoy reading is Kayo Chingonyi.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I do other things as a well.  I teach, I work on community projects, I communicate ideas and I work to support the literature sector in Wales and beyond through my work as a trustee.  I don’t think I would be able to write if I didn’t do other things as well.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

I think you have to find your own way to become a writer.  And there are many types of writers.  The most important thing is to write.  And keep writing.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

Well, having recently published two books I have been enjoying a break.  I have started something very recently, but I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it.  Watch this space!

 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Jessica Drake-Thomas

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Jessica Drake Thomas posession

Jessica Drake-Thomas

is a poet, fiction writer and blogger. She holds a B.A. in English from Tulane University, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College, and a Master’s in Education from the University of Arizona. She’s the author of one chapbook, Possession (dancing girl press) as well as full-length collection of poems, Burials, which is forthcoming from CLASH Books in 2020. She writes book reviews for her blog— This Week, I Read, and she is also a regular contributor at 24Hr Neon Mag, where she writes fictional obituaries. Her poems and short fiction have appeared or are forthcoming at Grimoire Magazine, Ghost City Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Coffin Bell, and Three Drops from A Cauldron, among others.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

In the eighth grade, my English teacher gave us the entire class period on Fridays to write. We could work on anything that we wanted, so long as we spent the whole time writing. I wrote poems.  Ever since then, I’ve not stopped writing.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My mom tried to get me to read Robert Frost’s Collected. I didn’t particularly like it, but it was definitely the intro for me.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I never thought their presences dominating. Rather, I found them to be kindred spirits. Even from a young age, I could identify that their thought patterns were similar to mine.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I work on poetry during my breaks from working on freelance projects. Between 9AM and 5 or 6PM, I’ll work for an hour on a freelance project, then do thirty to forty minutes of working on poems. After 6, I might end up working on poetry until 9PM, which is when I do research and focused edits on pieces.

5. What motivates you to write?

I have a definite need to evoke certain images and feelings that come to me. I’ve always had a strong drive to complete things once I’ve started. Writing is hard work; hard work is something that I’m good at.

6. What is your work ethic?

Very focused. I get up and I work hard, every day. Lately, I’ve been even more focused than ever. It took me six years to do a chapbook, then my first collection took me about two years to complete, while my second collection has only taken ten months.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I’ve always had an obsession with the macabre. When I first became interested in writing when I was about eleven or twelve, I was reading Edgar Allan Poe and sneaking Stephen King books home from the library. I’ve definitely been able to synthesize my love of poetry and my love of horror into something that’s my own.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

No one writes like Chelsea Minnis does. Her work is bold, quirky, and original.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

Because I love it. I love to write, even when I’m struggling with it. I’m currently writing full-time, and even on my worst days, I’m still happier than I was before.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

You come up with a practice, and you stick to it. Writers write. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, and often not for much money or praise, so if you become a writer, then you have to do it because you love writing. And, you must read, as much as you possibly can. You need to know where you fit in among literary tradition, and why, and you need to support your fellow writers. A writer is inextricably linked with their status as a reader.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’m doing final edits on a horror novel and my second collection of poems.
I’m doing research for and beginning to write a third collection focusing on bad omens and Norse mythology. Finally, I’m about thirty thousand words into another novel.

For #WorldBirdsOfPreyWeekend my poem “Blue Hawk”

Blue Hawk

Stream and hill follow my contours.
This beak is a high jut of rock.
I command the veer of rivers.

My black wing tips
are the storm’s edges.
My gyre makes the gust.
My white feathers, clouds.

Rain is the pelt of water
off my pinions and claws.
One of my eyes is the sun.
The other eye is the moon.

Gravity is my fall.
Death, my talons.
Sharp edge of ice,
my beak makes orphans.

The unwary, unwatchful,
unaware and weak
are morsels for my young
that turn in the world of my eye.

II

II.

I pass

. the dead

to my wife

. in

flight.

. Two rocks

. bridged

. by red sinew.

-Paul Brookes