Thursday, February 21, 2013

Valentine's Day

Again he said 'there's no such thing as love,'
in response to something the
ABC radio announced,
'it's just a mathematical formula,
the product of loneliness and lust',
as he brought the mugs of tea to bed.

As we slowly woke to another day,
he settled down into the same pocket
in the mattress, placed his hand
on mine and slurped his tea the way
he has for forty-seven years.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Multicultural Fringe Festival

Last weekend, I performed as part of the MultiFRINGE 9.2.13 at the National Multicultural Festival. Myself and three other poets put on an hour-long performance to a great audience on the Sour Cherry stage.

Tasnim Hossain

Tasnim Hossain
Tasnim opened with some beautiful poems which reflect her cultural background but have a distinctively Australian vibe. Her last poem was the best. Starting with a disclaimer for her mother ('this is fictitious'), Tasnim spoke of mixed-culture relationships and the beautiful babies they produce.

Tasnim doesn't have any of her work online at the moment (that I can see, anyway). If I find some, I will let you know. In the meantime, you will have to seek her out at one of her appearances around Canberra.

Will Small

At the risk of sounding condescending, I think Will's poetry has matured considerably since I last heard him perform (which was a couple of years ago). I loved the pieces he performed for the MultiFRINGE. He presented his socially-conscious observations in his confident rap-based style.
Will Small

I particularly liked O Southern Cross, a poem that discusses symbols and encourages us to treat them as catalysts for thought rather than rallying points for hubris.

Will has competed on the Australian Poetry Slam national finals stage before and currently runs the ANU Voice Poetry Slam for secondary public school students. The link here contains information for 2012, but I believe it will be running again in 2013 as an ACT Centenary event.

Omar Musa

I don't think I need to say much about Omar. He rocked, as he does, with some classics (My Generation and Queanbeyan) and a couple of poems I hadn't heard before. Omar is currently completing his latest poetry collection, Parang, which he will be launching in Canberra at the Electric Shadows Bookshop on 13 March (Facebook event link here).

Being the rockstar he is, Omar then dashed off to perform on stage with The Last Kinection.

CJ Bowerbird

I had a great time performing five poems. I started with one that, I hope, reflected themes in the poetry of all four of us: inclusiveness and openness. I noticed that each of us, in our own style, performed poems that invited people in and created a space in which anyone can celebrate our humanity. I included the closest I have to environmental and political poems. In the middle, I performed two poems that reveal snippets of my personality.

Here is the set list:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What helps my creativity

Last weekend, awesome Canberra poet Andrew Galan* was interviewed by Melanie Tait on ABC local radio - 666 Canberra. Among other things, he discussed the concept of a 'professional poet' and how a regular paying job can be complementary to writing poetry.

This made me think: what are the things I do that support my creativity? I have never tried to survive as a poet, and I am not sure I could, but I can see that other aspects of my life help make my creative work better.

A '9 to 5' job

I agree with Andrew. Besides paying the bills, a regular job supports my creativity and make my poetry more imaginative and relevant. I can't imagine writing locked away in a study somewhere. Some of my best ideas come while working on other things.

While I am fortunate enough to not have a mundane job, there is something comforting in repetition, something fundamental in 'laying bricks' or 'counting widgets'. The brain (and the heart) is not very good at working at 100% all the time. Sometimes, it is happy just chugging along for a while, waiting for that precisely random moment to spring the next brilliant idea on you.


Which brings me to the next point: some of my best thoughts have come when I haven't been thinking. Taking a break from writing poetry (or being creative in any way) is sometimes exactly what I need to be creative. I don't mean that writing poetry and preparing for performance is never simply hard work. Sometimes it is. Often I just have to work through a new poem or rehearse a performance (over and over). But true creativity doesn't seem to come from intense concentration. Often it is the exact opposite.

My best ideas have come either when I have not been thinking about writing or when I have returned to a poem after days or even weeks. Rarely do my most creative moments come three hours into a concentrated period of writing or rehearsal.


I am a big advocate of healthy body, healthy mind. One of the best things I ever did was take up running. I am not a fast runner, but I do run for a long time.

I feel fantastic after a run. It helps physically and it also seems to empty out the trash from my mind. Sometimes I get great ideas running (best thoughts come when not thinking) but even when I don't, my mind seems fresher and more nimble afterwards.

A family

My family keeps me grounded. It provides an ongoing reason to be engaged, to be present and to love. Oh, and it provides ample material for poetry.


*Andrew Galan, together with the Master of Conflict and the Score Adder, hosts BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! at the Phoenix Pub in Civic, Canberra on the third Wednesday of every month. His interview with Melanie can be found here. He blogs at this place.