Back from another big trip

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I’m back from my latest ‘big trip’, my first since my 2016 ‘big trip’ that took in Gotland (Sweden),  Tromsø (Norway), and big old drive right across Denmark.

This time, flying in and out of Helsinki, I visited Gotland again for the Bergman Week festival on Fårö, which this year marks Ingmar Bergman’s centenary (pictures of the opening ceremony for the festival are below; it was held at Fårö Kyrka, in whose grounds Bergman is now buried). But mainly I was just going back to Gotland because I love it there.

 

I do love Scandinavia in general. I don’t like shopping, or eating in restaurants (which is all you seem to get information about when you’re looking for destination info on anywhere in this era), but I do like being alone and just sitting somewhere outside in the white light, soaking up the vibes. Or sitting in a forest. Or visiting some Neolithic graves in the middle of nowhere.

This trip, I also went to Scotland and went right up to the Orkneys. This was suggested by a friend because, in his words, “if you like Scandinavian archaeological stuff, you should see Skara Brae!” The manner in which he said it hinted something about the Orkney sites being superior in their construction, or arrangement, or ambience, or something.

I had a feeling that this approach — ‘if you like this, you’ll like that’ — was going about things all wrong. I do not specifically ‘like archaeological stuff’ — it’s just that I encountered ancient megalithic sites on Gotland as part of a larger, solo travel experience that was definitely formative.

Ring of Brodgar (left) and Skara Brae (right). No picture of Maeshowe, as pictures were not allowed on our tour.

So, although yes, Skara Brae, and Maeshowe, and the Ring of Brodgar are astounding sites, the bulky administrative and tourist structures that they now exist within made it difficult for me to appreciate the visits. There was little opportunity to be alone or to soak up anything without a particularly infantile type of touristy guidance being superimposed over whatever you were trying to make direct contact with.

The Scandis seemed to have avoided most of these problems somehow, and even in museums, the organisation of things was more relaxed, and certainly aimed a little higher (even the things aimed at children were more intelligently arranged).

Give me good old, empty Gålrum Gravfält on Gotland any day, where I can walk among seven stone boat-graves, plus a whole bunch of cairn-hills, without seeing another tourist. Maybe I’ll get stared-down by the odd ram, but that’s about it. And certainly I can enjoy Gålrum without booking in advance for the dedicated shuttle bus and buying a ticket online! I’m so glad I revisited Gotland and Gålrum; I think it’s one of my favourite places in the world.

Gålrum Gravfält on Gotland, Sweden.

At least now I am pretty sure I would not enjoy visiting Stonehenge or the like; that whole tourist thing is not that way I like to get a feel for a place.

Next trip: less driving; less tourist stuff; more quiet; more time in one place; more wandering around alone; and more following my nose.

 

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Associative Leaps: a poetry workshop in October

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I’m holding a poetry workshop at the Queensland Writers Centre on October 13. I’m formulating a little writing process that we’ll use once then dispose of / transform quickly so that it’s a spark for a random leap, not a template to repeat.

Come along and give it a whirl.

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Bookable now through Eventbrite.

Foam:e 15

Issue number 15 of Foam:e online poetry journal is now published.

Foam:e, which comes out every March, is co-edited by Angela Gardner and by me; a good place you may like to start might be our current Editorial.

This issue includes the work of around 20 poets, and everything is accessible for free. Poets include Jill Jones, Stuart Barnes, Shriram Sivaramakrishnan, Rose Hunter, Mark Prendergast, Les Wicks, Zenobia Frost, Ali Znaidi, Elaine Leong, David Stavanger, and many more.

As well as poetry, the issue contains a number of reviews including two that I have written: a piece on Andy Jackson’s new poetry collection, Music Our Bodies Can’t Hold, and Jonathan Hadwen’s book of vignettes, All That Wasted Heat.

I am also very pleased to say that the featured interview this issue is one I conducted with prolific poetry critic and editor, Martin Duwell. Duwell’s Australian Poetry Review website recently reached 1 million views, no small feat for a poetry criticism blog run by one writer (who is also, predictably, an extraordinarily devoted reader).

This new issue of Foam:e has seen us move platforms, so thank you for bearing with us while we ironed out a few formatting niggles at the start of the month.

That said, we’re pleased to say that all the past issues are viewable on the new site now, too.

Enjoy this avalanche of wonderful new poems.

 

Upcoming Reading: Queensland Writers’ Centre Literary Salon – 9th February 2018.

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I’ll be reading at the QWC’s first Literary Salon for 2018. 

The event will happen at the Red Box in the State Library of Queensland on February 9.

Other readers on the night will be Ryan O’Neill, Laura Elvery, Simon Groth, Grace Lucas Pennington, and Adam Hadley.

Tickets are available now for QWC members and then available to the general public from December 1. Book here.

The Best Australian Poems 2017

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I’m happy to be a contributor to The Best Australian Poems 2017 anthology, available through Black Inc. The poem appearing in the anthology is ‘To Paint the Inside of a Church’, which is from my Whitmore Press poetry collection, Meteorites.

This is the first time I’ve been back in this particular anthology since 2013 and it’s so good to have work in such a recognised and widely-distributed publication. My sincere thanks to the editor Sarah Holland-Batt.

The Best Australian Poems will be available from November 6.

METEORITES shortlisted for 2017 Queensland Literary Awards

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My Whitmore Press poetry collection, Meteorites, has made the shortlist for the Queensland Literary Awards in the poetry category, which is called the State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection – Judith Wright Calanthe Award.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on October 4; you can view all the shortlisted authors in all the categories on the Queensland Literary Awards website.

You can purchase Meteorites now from the Whitmore Press ‘titles’ page.

(I think there’s even free shipping within Australia!)

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Poetry Submissions Call for Foam:e Issue 15

I’m happy to say that I’m once again co-editing Foam:e online poetry journal with Angela Gardner.

The poetry submission window will be open from the start of September until the end of November. You can send us up to six poems in the one email. Head here for more information: http://foame.org/submissions.html

We look to include around 20 poets’ work in the one issue. Last year we received poems from almost 200 poets!

If you would like to review some new Australian poetry, please get in touch; we can show you our list of review copies and you can choose what you’d like to be sent.

Foam:e is published each year in March and is online and free. I love publishing in free, online journals —it makes it so much easier to direct people to a sample of my work!

 

Thanks, QPF

That’s the Queensland Poetry Festival over for another year. The event has such a warm vibe to it — many people from interstate and overseas say it’s unique. I like the festival because it gets me out of that (rather adolescent) attitude of engaging only with the type of poetry I know I already like. The QPF tries to bring all different styles together, and all different voices. Each year, I’m always shocked or moved by something extraordinary, and always come away with at least a few new obsessions.

So thanks QPF, and especially co-directors David and Annie, and all the interns, for making me like my home town more.

Here’s a picture that my friend, the author Jonathan Hadwen, took of me enjoying the DJ set of one Matt Hetherington (poet). This was during a little QPF zine fair down the road from the main festival venue. Again, just a beautiful vibe!

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