Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What Inspired Me in 2012

Here are some of the Australian poets and publications that kept me going through the last year. I have limited them to Australian publications released in 2012. As Graham Nunn (who inspired this post) describes it: the riches of Australian Poetry.

Steve Smart - Voices In My Head

When I picture Steve Smart, he is always in a long black coat, with unruly dark hair and practical glasses, hunched over a page. He is always hunched, as if bearing the weight of all his words.

Voices In My Head is a 79-track record of that weight and an inspiring package for an aspiring performance poet. It records poems from several of Smarty's performances, including shows he put on for the Brisbane Writer's Festival and Overload Poetry Festival.

You can read a track listing and liner notes on Smarty's webpage here. Unfortunately, it is not clear how to buy the album, but I recommend going to hear him perform and buying it from him in person.

A review of the album by Amanda Anastasi is here.

Julie Chevalier - Linen Tough as History

I went to the inaugural Southern Highlands Writer's Festival in Bowral this year and got to hear Mark Tredinnick speak and read some of his poetry. After I got home I ordered Mark's Fire Diary online. Lots of googling later, I found a review of Julie Chevalier's poetry collection, Linen Tough as History.

I bought both it and her earlier book of short stories. Chevalier's poetry is modern and pop culturally aware. It contains sharp social criticism without being preachy. I much more enjoyed the first half of the collection, which focusses on this contemporary critique, than I did the second section of ekphrastic poems. Regardless, it was engaging and a fantastic example of modern Australian poetry.

The book can be purchased at this site and a review is here.

Going Down Swinging #31 and #33

Ok, I am going to cheat a little. I bought Going Down Swinging #33, which was published in 2012, but what came with it was the little gem of #31, which was a 2011 release. I love everything GDS does, but I particularly want to focus on #31.

#31 was GDS's first multimedia digital edition. The variety and combination of forms keep you engaged throughout. Collaborating with musicians, videographers and visual artists is something I am looking forward to and GDS #31 is a great place to get ideas.

Luka Lesson - 'Please Resist Me' video

'Please Resist Me' is one of Luka Lesson's older poems, but it is the title track of the album he released this year. Please Resist Me contains spoken word and hip hop pieces, perfectly demonstrating Luka's combined strengths. It also shows the impressive collection of collaborators and artists he has ties to.

The video for 'Please Resist Me' was released this year as part of the promotion for the album. It too shows Luka's broader family of people dedicated to the cause of words, being a collage of performers and writers miming to Luka's voice.

Australia has a vibrant and motivating arts and performance community. It continues to surprise and comfort me. I feel particularly blessed to be a small part of it.


  1. Thank you for sharing, CJ. We should talk more. Caitlin has worked with poets before and though she has a busy schedule with three exhibitions, pitching for a documentary grant and a NFSA Fellowship, you two might find some common ground with your poetry and her photo/video art.

  2. Thanks for the link to my review of Steve Smart's album,CJ! Agreed, it is one of the riches of Australian poetry & is not being talked about enough in my opinion. Steve and I are co-writing and performing in a spoken word show 'Loop City' in July 2013, which I think you may be interested in so look out for it! Cheers, Amanda.