Friday, December 10, 2010


i promised myself that I would never
use the word love in a poem:

i am so sorry.
i have failed you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Australian Poetry Slam Final

Yesterday I represented the ACT at the Australian Poetry Slam final in Sydney. I performed in front of the set for Uncle Vanya, on the same stage Cate Blanchett, John Bell, Jacki Weaver and Hugo Weaving had paced the night before and will pace again tonight. Over 400 people, who had paid to come and hear slam, were in the audience.

It was exhilarating!

My performance was only one small piece of the afternoon and early evening. I got to hear sixteen other fantastic finalists, Archie and Bravo Child performed and I shook Kamahl's hand before he sang acapella and read Mandela's 'Invictus'.

I was uplifted by the diversity of the finalists. We had poets from age 16 to something quite a bit older, from western and eastern european, african, asian and middle-eastern backgrounds with political, emotional and humorous stories. The variety and quality made me feel we have a vibrant slam community in Australia. It also humbled me - it is only going to get harder to win this in the future.

And, no, I didn't win. I didn't even come close. The winner was Kelly-Lee Hickey from Alice Springs with one of the most poetic pieces of the night. There was a slam off for second place won by Darkwing Dubs from Queensland, followed by Tariro Mavondo from Vic.

Miles Merrill, with a core of strong supporters, has done a fantastic job with the national slam. Despite losing some financial support this year, the event was bigger than ever. Miles spoke of ideas to keep evolving the event and potentially even moving the final to another city in the future.

I hope to get to be a part of it again. It was a moving experience.

Here is the full version of the poem I performed at the final. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finally, a new poem

Back to the Sea

The water in our bodies has a memory
It recognises its kin and is calm
When we sit on a cliff by the sea

Our bodies rock with the waves
Memories of mother’s lullabies
And submerged heartbeats

The water in our bodies has a memory
The water in me is drawn
To the water in you

Sea Monkeys in my veins dance
Energy of darting schools and fanning tails
And the tide in me comes into your beach

My heart beats like a sprinkler on a hot day
My breath apexes like a dolphin’s leap,
Before falling back with a suction gulp

Our souls are liquid
We will always flow back to the sea
And crash against the rocks
Whitewater twisting, braided licks skyward

Until we fall into green

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Canberra arts podcast on ABC

Check out this new podcast, CanberrArts, and not just because I am featured on it along with Raphael Kabo:

ABC Canberra are featuring the best of the local Canberra arts scene (and me). The focus of the new podcast is not the big acts at Canberra Theatre and AIS Arena, but on the smaller, grittier, street art that is thriving in this town.

Check it out and subscribe.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The competition is hot!

The heart rate is rising and the voice starting to choke up. One week to the Australian Poetry Slam final in Sydney.

I am really looking forward to hearing the performances of poets from around Australia. It looks like the competition will be strong, which means I will get to hear some great poems.

As a sample, Australian Poetry Slam linked to this video on its Facebook page:


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The new CJ Bowerbird album is out!

Well, that's the Christmas presents sorted.

I have just sent the master of my first ever CD to the printers, in time for the Cannibal Kittens and Dubious Mothers gig this Friday.

I am really happy with it, but I feel a little strange. If I did this with a novel it would be vanity publishing. But with audio it is 'unearthed'.

My other half bought me studio time as a birthday gift, which was good, because apparently it is quite expensive. I was well prepared, which helped, and ran through two takes for most of my poems, three if I stuffed something up. Even then, it took three and a half hours to record and master what ended up being just over 30 min of performance poetry.

I will see how it sells, but in any case it is useful to have recordings to share with venues, poetry podcasts, promoters, A&R reps, etc. If I can work out a way to order it through my blog, I will do that too.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Australian Poetry Slam ACT Final

Last night, Smith's Alternative Bookshop hosted the ACT Final for the Australian Poetry Slam. It was a great night with some fantastic performances.

It was disappointing, though, that all of the finalists were blokes. The best we could muster was a guy who performs under a girl's name as the feature poet.

Here is an extended version of the poem I performed about the hidden side of Canberra:

I came second to Raphael, who performed a great poem with a new take on Ned Kelly. This means I get to go to the national final at the Sydney Theatre Company on 5 December. We are, appropriately I believe, squeezed in between performances of Chekov's Uncle Vanya, featuring John Bell and Cate Blanchett. I am looking forward to meeting Cate at the poetry slam.

The Bard of Montreal

I did it! Finally, I saw Leonard Cohen live. And he was awe-inspiring.

The man is a Poet. I would like to read more of his early poetry. I have his recent Book of Longing, but it is more of a doodle-book of poems. Cohen saves his best lyrics for his songs.

Less than half-way into the first song, I had that urgent need to write. Ideas were lighting off each other in my head, like Cohen had tossed a match into a fireworks factory. (Apparently, this is the same effect a woman's orgasm has on her mind. Makes you think.)

I was inspired.

Leonard Cohen has some of the best lines in music. I had tears in my eyes when he gave a spoken word introduction to 'Anthem':
Rings the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

I would give anything to be half as sexy as Cohen when I'm 76. Who am I kidding? I would give anything to be half as sexy as he is right now.

The ladies in the audience went wild when Cohen sang 'I'm Your Man':
If you want a father for your child
Or only want to walk with me a while
Across the sand
I'm your man
They all reacted in their own way. Two women sitting next to me spontaneously combusted. Another, sitting three rows in front and slightly to the left, evaporated in her seat, turning into a small cloud of steam which floated across the heads of the audience and condensed as a light sheen on Leonard's neck.

Cohen is the common man's dream: he proves that you don't have to look like Ronan Keating, sing like Jeff Buckley or dance like Justin Timberlake to have luck with the ladies. Oh, but you do have to have the words.

Yay! Poets have a shot.

I wish.

Here is the best love song ever, followed by a great poem 'A Thousand Kisses Deep':

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Situation Normal X

I went to the Situation Normal night at Smith's Alternative Bookshop for the first time last night. It was a lot of fun - uncontrolled, random and chaotic. The concept is more open and free than the excellent slam poetry nights run by Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit! and Traverse Poetry.

The only real rule appears to be there are no rules. The best features of this open approach are a lack of competition (an essential part of slamming) and creativity. Music, props, teamwork, audience participation, connections with the spirit world - anything goes.

It has inspired me to be more creative and look at incorporating music and other media in my work.

Here is the poem I did as my second piece:

Apologies - it is a standard, 3 minute slam poet. I hope to get more creative in the future.