Note: a ‘Cento’ is a form of poetry dating back to the 3rd Century. It is a ‘patchwork’ poem, pieced together from fragments. These fragments can be taken from one poet, or several. In this case, all fragments are lyrics from the (seriously underrated) Australian band Savage Garden.
All These Mixed Emotions a Savage Garden cento
slow motion daylight
feel the presence all
around lift me up
into that privileged
point of view beauty
so unavoidable steel
& granite reminders
you don’t have to close
your eyes take up
shelter in the base
of my spine compassion
in the jungle when we
used to live for the night
time you just keep
it’s getting so loud
a thousand angels
dance around you
pour my heart to get
you in what a pleasant
dream the snow was
more lonely than cold
if you know what
I mean I believe
in love surviving
death into eternity
I had all the attention and toys before you arrived but I didn’t mind sharing even when you smashed all my porcelain piggy banks – the last time it happened dad brought me the broken snout and said kiss piggy … Continue reading →
Author’s Note: this year I spent a lot of time watching MasterChef instead of writing my thesis. So I decided to make a MasterChef-themed sestina to feel a bit better about wasting my life and squandering my talents.
Bags of Flavour
What we want to see is you on a plate.
It’s essential the meat’s cooked perfectly.
What this dish lacks is a crunchy element.
That sauce has just got bags of flavour!
Time goes fast in the MasterChef kitchen.
You’ve gotta work hard to stay in the competition.
When you first entered this competition
did you ever think that one day you would plate
a dish like this in such a prestigious kitchen
where everything’s gotta be cooked perfectly?
We’re amazed by your ingenious flavour
combinations, and the care you’ve given each element.
She’s enjoying this cook, she’s in her element
and hasn’t she come so far in this competition?
She always delivers: flavour, flavour, flavour!
C’mon you’ve gotta admit this is a cracking plate
of food – that fish is just cooked perfectly.
It takes a lot of strength to survive in this kitchen.
But haven’t we seen some disasters in this kitchen?
I just don’t understand the vegetable element.
We told him the quail has to be cooked perfectly.
Things have really started to heat up in this competition.
The problems in the cook have shown up on the plate:
everything’s sadly lacking in finesse and flavour.
Remember, if your dish doesn’t deliver on flavour
this could be your last cook in the MasterChef kitchen!
Don’t forget, you will need time to plate
and make sure you season every element
because you don’t want to leave this competition
on the back of a dish that isn’t cooked perfectly.
What we want to see is a dish that’s cooked perfectly
and absolutely jam-packed with flavour –
the stakes are higher than ever in this competition
and everyone’s fighting for their place in the kitchen.
Make sure you taste each individual element
together with everything else that’s on the plate.
You don’t want to leave the MasterChef kitchen
because you forgot to include a key element!
It’s simple: just give us who you are on a plate.
I’ll be a guest speaker at the next Sydney Poetry Lounge on Tuesday 1st May, alongside the excellent Anne Casey. This is a new event, organised by Ali Whitelock. The May event will also be the launch of ‘AUTONOMY’, an anthology of … Continue reading →
I was one of a number of people who provided a live ‘voicing’ for the exhibition, which in my case meant thirty minutes of spoken word poetry. Visitors were free to wander in and out during the voicing, as you would an artwork in a gallery.
I’ve performed at spoken word events around Sydney, but never for thirty entire minutes; it was an epic feat! I had to memorise a lot of material, and I had to learn how to ‘read’ an audience within a live setting. I ended up changing my set every time I did a voicing, to keep it feeling fresh and spontaneous.
The best part of the experience was getting past those initial nervous jitters and settling into the performance peacefully and joyfully. When you have thirty minutes to fill, you can’t just race through everything in a bid to ‘get it over with’. You have to pace yourself, take deep breaths, and allow the silences in between the lines and stanzas to ‘speak’ for themselves. I believe that poetry is really just an intricate frame around silence, and for the first time in my life I became comfortable with simply standing before an audience, with stillness and presence.
I am incredibly grateful to the Program Producer David Greenhalgh; thank you for putting Australian poetry in a museum!
Yes, it is true, I have officially become an Insta Poet.
One of the reasons this platform makes me uneasy is because it is so ephemeral (which is a euphemistic way of saying ‘disposable’) – poetry necessarily takes time, whereas the entire premise of Instagram is that it is… insant.
But I’ve decided to put my grumpiness aside and instead embrace the medium by creating ‘Erasable Poetry’. These are spur-of-the-moment poems I’m writing with whiteboard markers on erasable surfaces.
I write the poem, snap a photo, post it on Insta, and then erase it. It’s an entirely different process to what I’m used to (many of my ‘real’ poems have taken actual years to complete, if you chart the process from first draft through to publication). The quality of my Insta poetry obviously isn’t as good, but it’s fun to write, and it’s a nice way to stay creative within a busy life.
As for the other #poetsofinstagram. With very few exceptions, they would all benefit from reading a lot more poetry (the sort that comes in ‘book’ format) and from being open to constructive criticism. If you’re in the game solely for affirmation and accolades, you’ve picked the wrong art form.