launch season 2010 – or, why just do it once?

Earlier this week, I heard the sweet thump of a box of books landing on my doorstep.  So, time to announce the launch of “Among the Regulars”, and also to mention a few other readings I have coming up.

Friday, June 11th @ 5.30pm for a 6pm start – Brunswick Bound Bookstore, 361 Sydney Rd Brunswick.

Hosted by the inimitable Maurice McNamara.  Launched by the inestimable Jennifer Harrison.

If you’re that way inclined, you can find the event (and me) on (de)Facebook!

Other feature readings this year include – 

  • Saturday, June 5th @ 3pm – Word Tree, Burrinja Gallery, Olinda.
  • Monday, June 14th @ 6.30pm, Readings at Readings, Carlton.
  • Saturday, June 19th @ 2.30pm – Dan Poets, Dan O’Connell Hotel, Carlton.
  • Sunday, July 4th @ 3.30pm – EcoCentre, St Kilda Botanical Garden.
  • Monday, July 19th @ 6.15pm – Wheeler Centre, Debut Mondays.
  • Saturday, August 14th – Perth Poetry Club, The Moon, 323 William St, Northbridge, WA.
  • Tuesday, August 17th, 7pm – Literary Dinner at Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, Greenmount, WA.
  • Last weekend in August – Queensland Poetry Festival, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.
  • Wednesday, October 27th – Somewhere in Sydney.
  • Tuesday, November 9th – Somewhere in Canberra.

More details as soon as they thump onto my inbox, but for now, here’s the book cover….  If you can’t make these, and you’d like to buy the book, click on the Papertiger link on the right.

overload | ambiguous mirrors

In April this year, at La Mama Theatre, and then this week, during the 2009 Overload Poetry Festival, I performed alongside Rachael Guy and David Churchill in a piece called “Ambiguous Mirrors”.  It’s a 12 minute collaborative piece, combining puppetry and poetry, with live cello and voice.  I talk about my father, Norman Charles Jackson, born 1926, died 1973, of complications from the same genetic condition I have.  The poem is a blur of my searchings for him – sincere, complicated, clumsy and fated searchings.  The puppet is me, and echoes of him.

With any luck we’ll do it again sometime.  Last night we were awarded Overload’s “City of Yarra Award for Most Innovative Work” (in a festival that was full of originality, I felt, so this was quite an encouragement).  It’s exhausting to perform, in a way – little barbed tears tend to well up no matter how cold I feel.  It will get easier, I’m sure.  Performance is, I suspect, a kind of doubling – being present and detached simultaneously – while poetry, traditionally, for me has meant pure autobiographical bodily communication, presence.

Enough.  Anyway, thanks (as I hope I said on the night) to Rachael for her exquisite puppet and voice and performance, and to David for his sheer unshakeable tones.  And to Kate Hood, who provided sensitive and intelligent direction.  And thanks to the City of Yarra and Overload.

Overload highlights?  Ali Cobby Eckermann, Maxine Clark, Lewis Scott, Barry Dickens… and the fact it only went for 10 days.  You can have too much of a good thing.  I feel tired, but fuelled, excited to get back to the page.

I’d like at some point to post up a few ghazals, and some thoughts on form.  For now, let’s just say, I’ve written two dozen ghazals, felt their concise, disorienting, rhythmic textures, become addicted to the stitching together of loosely-connected couplets, grown a little fatigued of the close-up editing required, and now itching for the horizons of free verse again.

Next time, not so long between posts…

post-India post

Before I reminisce and debrief myself, I’ve put up a few photos – go back to the individual pages, and you’ll see photos on most of them…

India leaves me with distinctly Kolkatan memories.  Rachael is leaving a day before me, so we take a taxi out to the airport, organised by where we’re staying – the Sunflower Guest House.  They load her luggage into the boot, then realise they have a flat tyre, so immediately set to swapping it with their spare.  Lungi-ed men stagger up to the car to watch and scratch themselves.  Nearby, a hjira propositions a truck-driver.  Piles of rubbish burn.  On the way back from the airport, 2 am, the taxi stops at a mechanic to get the flat tyre repaired.  Ah, India.  Maddening and wonderful.

Kolkata International Terminal is hilariously slapdash – it has a strong 1960’s vibe to it, there are very little actual counters and signs, there are I think four shops…  The local terminal is much more equipped and welcoming.  Even the pre-paid taxi sign is more obvious.  Intriguing.  Makes you wonder if Kolkata expects any visitors.

After waking up at 6am in Ali and Penny’s loungeroom in Dubai (thankyou so much – it was a superb stopover), I packed myself into a smooth, air-conditioned, conversationless Emirates taxi, then into a smooth, air-conditioned, conversationless Emirates airplane – for around sixteen hours of limbo.  The land around Melbourne is yellow from a harsh summer.  The light is yellow, somehow more open, broad.  As the plane lands, burly airport workers punch each other playfully.  At customs, a peroxide-mulleted woman shouts in her best “Kath & Kim” accent to a man filling out his declarations form at the front of a queue, “yous carn’t fill that out thayre, sur!! You’ll haf ta go over thayre!!”.

Walking around Melbourne with India still in my body is strange.  Everyone seems slower, fatter, bigger, more cumbersome and clumsy, yet also self-consciously “cool”.  I ride a tram and there is only one conversation happening; the others strain to surreptitiously listen in, keen to somehow assuage their boredom and detachment.  The streets are impeccably clean.  There are footpaths.  It’s windy and cold.  Lunch at an organic cafe costs as much as a double room at Hotel Derby, Puri.

It was definitely time to come home, and being in India reminded me of how Australian I am, how it is in my bones and muscle.  But I don’t feel I’m at home.  I feel alienated.  It’s as if I slipped into another time entirely, and have slipped back in to Melbourne and nothing’s changed.  I go straight back to my RMIT course, our home in Coburg, our bills in Coburg, and because I’m sick (a throat cold from someone on the plane, I think; how ironic!) I’m spending my time indoors and lethargic.  Maybe my soul is still lost in transit, circling some lonely baggage carousel somewhere.  I’m sure it will catch up with me someday soon…

So, was India what I’d hoped, expected, planned?  No.  It’s completely confounding and astounding.  It has its own agendas and energies, which force you to accommodate to it.  I’d wanted to go to the International Poetry Festival in Kolkata, but we got stuck in the West Bengal Hills.  I’d wanted to meet some friends of friends in Hyderabad, but they were away when we were there.  I’d wanted to go to Varanasi and Bodghaya, but underestimated how huge the country is, how “little” you can fit in in three months.  I’d wanted to find qawwali, but even the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department don’t know anything about the Deccan Festival.

We did somehow, with only a few days notice, manage to meet up with a lovely Bangalore-based writer, Anjum Hasan.  Her poetry is evocative, lyrical and restrained, quite beautiful.  We had a very civilized dinner at the Jayamahal Palace with her and her partner Zac, talked about the arts and literature scene in India and Australia, cultural nuances and annoyances.

Would I go back?  Yes.  Not yet, but hopefully soon.  Next time, I’ll plan in advance, get some solid contacts, base myself in one place, do less trekking.  India reminds me of the luck of birth, how our futures are shaped so much by where we’re born.  Being born into my life, I have the mind and sometimes the financial ability to travel.  I’ve caught the bug, I think.  Who knows what it will do to me!

Departure

I’m writing this at a coin-operated email facility at Melbourne Airport.  Perhaps I should be operating it by pedal power.  Heart-breaking to leave my partner.  Rachael joins me in five weeks.  The other huge emotions are excitement and trepidation (or is it tripidation?).  Kolkata here I come.  Via Dubai!  Such a weird feeling to be anticipating what I can’t anticipate…

So, now I’ve joined them…

Who’d have thought I’d be writing a blog.  I’ve already broken a few of the rules, though, having edited and re-typed my first entry.  Will I learn?  Who knows?

Two short things – 1) I’ve just handed in my last assignment for the Graduate Diploma in Information Management, aka Aversion Therapy for Apprentice Librarians.  I feel like my brain has cramp.  Poetry feels a long way away.

2) I am 24 days away from flapping my skinny wings and making my way towards Kolkata, India.  This blog will be serve as some kind of pseudo-documentation/virtual postcards/indulgence…  At the moment, I’m too busy feeling flat to get very excited, but I know I will be soon.