Monday, September 29, 2014


corners conspire to define my context, box
my use but not my purpose

I carry meaning outside of design

right angles bracket my body but
I delight in diagonals
and have seen curves in my dreams

when I wake to the whispering
traffic sounds of winds weaving
words through my body, wearing
memories of being someplace else

cut short by the clatter of my rolling

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bloody Lips Video

Raphael Kabo, who lives here, has posted on YouTube three videos of Catherina Behan performing at Bloody Lips on 24 August. The quality is really good. All of them are captivating poems, but below is one of my favourites. Check out the others here.

The next Bloody Lips is on 30 November in the Monster Kitchen and Bar at Hotel Hotel.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Buddy Wakefield at Bloody Lips

The Innocence of Buddy Wakefield (David Burke)
On Sunday 14 September, Buddy Wakefield blew apart the Monster Kitchen and Bar in New Acton, ACT. Here is his set list:

1) Mash up of we were emergencies, let it go, the information man, human the death dance, and tattoos of bakeries (not published)

2) Gandhi's Autobiography

3) Guitar Repair Woman

4) Bedrooms and Battlescars 

5) Convenience Stores

6) Pretend

Nearly all of these poems can be found again on YouTube or at Buddy's website here.

The next Bloody Lips is on Sunday 30 November, featuring Sean Whelan and the Mime Set.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Orlando After Dark

He calls me brother, stops his bicycle, and asks me for thirty-five cents. I give him a sandwich bag of nickels and quarters and dimes I'd hoarded. He grins wide, calls me brother and tells me how his lover left him for someone with a house and a BMW. Someone without nine felonies. He doesn't tell me why that means he needs thirty-five cents, but now he can get the bus and a meal. He calls me brother and his smile drives his bicycle down the street.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ellis Collective Album Launch Post Mortem

Wow. Just wow.

The Ellis Collective. Kira Puru. The Street Theatre.

This was one of the most rewarding gigs I've done. Being able to perform a few poems in front of such an attentive and receptive audience, and then introduce two incredibly moving acts, was dream worthy.

The Unicorn of Awesome T-shirt
(Adam Thomas)
I performed six poems:

The Silent Poem (with Emma Kelly on violin)
Red Charts, Red Hands

I wrote "Ellis" specifically for the event, on a train ride with a stanza of Canberra poets the day before. Here it is:


I'm in your songs,
sitting, always sitting
on a verandah, or a stump, or the
ground alone,

Or perhaps with someone in the
background, out of focus, but
never in my sight,

Bare feet, always worn jeans, 
bare-sleeved, hands always
empty, or holding a stubby, or
a letter, or a rock,

Forehead heavy, face twitching, 
dry-eyed with a chestful of
cocked sobs, the
butterflies dead in my
stomach years ago, feet
heavy as the trunks of
her clothes,

There is the sound of a
crow, or a saw, or a
shovel in hard soil, the
smell of eucalyptus, or
smoke, or hot tin,

Besser blocks of sun on my back,
dusty ant puncturing my

I feel like I should be
moving, or I am moving, but
getting nowhere, or I've just
returned, or I've always been
right here, I've never left.

Then your voice fades like the tactless sun,
I tear the page from my notebook,
Crush it like a drained tinnie,
Drop it to the dirt where it
Lands with thud which
Springs me up

And I stride on.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Wordsmith Opening Words Pt 2

At the opening of Wordsmith at M16 Art space on 21 August, I performed Knowing the Trick Spoils the Magic and then followed with these words:


That poem gives a little insight into my creative process. The wonder of an exhibition such as Wordsmith is that it gives you an insight into the creative processes of a collection of writers and artists, and the interaction between those processes.

Creativity is essential to my identity, to who I am. Creativity grows me in two ways. It teaches me about myself. I often write something and then think: “I didn’t know that was inside me”. Creativity also teaches me about others. Seeing the responses in the eyes of the audience or talking to them after I have shared my work brings me closer to other people. It illustrates the connections between all of us, the common elements of humanity we all share. But it also highlights that how we experience, interpret and reflect the human condition varies between us.

The ability to find our own expression of the human condition in art is its essential beauty. I believe the defining characteristic of art is ambiguity. It is the space an artist creates for the reader, listener, viewer to live within the work, allowing them to interpret and experience the work through their own frame of reference.

In this sense, Wordsmith delivers four times the value of a conventional exhibition. Firstly, you have the opportunity to lose yourself in the writer’s words. Then you can experience the depiction of truth found in the work of visual art. You can marvel at the interaction between the artist’s response to the words and the original writing. Finally, the two pieces beside each other create a whole new work, that is bigger than either piece alone.

Four times the value!

I would like to thank Sarah Norris for curating such a talented group of artists and including me within that group. Congratulations to M16 Artspace for sharing this exhibition with all of you. And I commend my fellow artists, Gina, Jackie, Julian, Ian, Caren, Sarah, Yolande and Nigel. It is truly an honour to be included among you.

So, please enjoy the glimpses we have provided behind the screen. I hope you can find some of your own magic within.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wordsmith Opening Words Pt 1

Here is the poem I performed at the opening of Wordsmith at M16 Art space on 21 August.


Knowing the Trick Spoils the Magic

I know the moment I became a poet -
My parents have taken me to my first rodeo -
This is what I remember:

            fist-falls of hooves; bone
            pummelling earth's skin; wide nostrils,
            flared eyes, peeled back lips; earth
            flicked in clumps, grenades of dirt; sweat
            torn off in clouds of steam; fleshy
            punches of flanks
            colliding; wheeling western fighters
            diving; lassoes strafing the ring;
            a caught calf's sudden

            I cannot separate the hides,
            can't divide excited from
            scared, as I sit in the bleachers,
            pinned, afraid to 
            share my breath with the
            weight of the forced
            snorts in the air.


            one horse fallen. a
            cracked bone protrudes
            rudely from its shin.
            sharp. white. sheer.

            the cowboy pulls his caught leg free,
            puts his mouth straight to the horse's ear.
            whatever he says, the horse does not shift,
            except for short bellow-throws of its chest,
            its eyes fixed on something only it can see.

            a truck and trailer appear in a puff of smoke,
            behind the stricken horse,
            and a tarpaulin is hauled across our view,
            as mysterious as a magician's screen.
            the last thing I see as the horse disappears
            is a vet showing us nothing up his sleeves.

            I sit breath-held and leaning in,
            listening to the dust settle on the emptied ring.

Merlin was a boy from school with white, wise hair.
the other kids told me it was once pure black,
but he had been in a car crash when he was five,
and the shock of the smash
drained the colour from his hair overnight.

            as I stare at the tarp, I conjure an image:
            trauma has turned the horse's hair glaring white
            and, somehow, the vet takes the bone from its leg
            and fixes it as a glowing horn to its head.

            when the tarp is re-rolled and the truck drives off,

            there is nothing left but a dark outline of horse sweat
            and a cowboy, head bared, ignoring the crowd,
            not doing anything, just staring at the ground.
            he waves the dust from his chaps and dons his hat,
            before wide-walking to the yard to accept another mount.

            that moment, on bare bleachers, set my writer's course:
            to search for what's behind a canvas screen;
            trying hard to write me as the wise magician,
            more often the cowboy,

            sometimes the horse.

First published in spoken in one strange word - Queensland Poetry Festival Anthology 2013

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Ellis Collective Launch "Carry"

It's one of those dream sequences. One of your favourite musicians, who writes lyrics as naked as poetry and sings like a knife, contacts you without warning. And asks you if you'd like to MC the launch of his band's new album.

So it happened when Matty Ellis, from The Ellis Collective, messaged me recently. I have the true pleasure of hosting their album launch at the Street Theatre in Canberra on Saturday 6 September. I will perform a few poems between sets and introduce the acts.

The Ellis Collective are supported by Kira Puru, who sings with The Bruise and has a beautiful, gut-wrenching voice. Some of her work can be found here.

Tickets for the event can be bought here. The Facebook event page is here.