Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Paris Review 187

While the mercury here in Melbourne reached a hard-to-breath 45 degrees, I was greeted by the latest edition of the Paris Review in my mailbox. Any day this publication reaches my hands is a perfect day, at least for a few hours, and yesterday was no different. A tall glass of homemade lemonade, a fan, the journal and I was was set to beat the heat.

For those not familiar with this publication, hop over to the website to find out how to subscribe and treat yourself to a hearty meal of literature. Those of you short of funds (who isn't these days?) can spend hours sifting through the substantial archives, consisting of award-winning fiction, poetry and interviews.

With an Issue number of 187 (famous for being associated with homicide) who could expect what lay inside its covers to be normal?

The first short story was The Lover by Damon Galgut, a South African writer whose novel The Good Doctor was short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize. The Lover was the best crafted story I have read in a long time. It is a story where it could be argued nothing much happens, except it does. The main character, Damon, a perpetual traveller, travels through Africa crossing borders that lay inside himself as well as on a geographical map, as he puts it. Familiar themes of political unrest and racism are evident but take a backseat to a less didactic story of falling in love.

Without knowing Gulgat's personal history, he does leave you wondering if this story is one in a growing trend of autobiographical fiction, especially since the author and protagonist share the same first name. Those of you familiar with Nam Le's short story collection, The Boat, which won the Dylan Thomas Prize, will recall the story Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice. Or Helen Garner's latest novel The Spare Room. Who can argue with this trend when what is produced is intimate and moving and somewhat brave on the writer's behalf. Gulgut's writing is clear and concise, giving it a beautiful rhythm. Not one word seems superfluous.

Among poetry, the interview with Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, the Northern fishing photographs by Corey Arnold, and other fiction in this issue, was another gem. Document contained a series of letters written in verse from Ezra Pound to Marcella Spann, a young woman who visited Pound in St Elizabeth's Hospital for the insane. It also includes one of his unpublished poems.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Poetry

The Writing Partner

You remember things
like titles, directors and writers
while I sit dumb and collapsed
empty of remember

You show me scars
round cherries ash burnt
and I show you my remember
wishing it were empty

You talk of directors
and I think about cherries
burnt and ash pink
but your remember is empty

of those things collapsed.

(Originally published in Sketch Literary and Design Journal November 2008)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Launch Time Again!

Well, it's that time I love again, as long as I'm not reading my work. Actually, I don't mind reading as long as I limit the people I know in the audience. I used to have to sneak out of the house in full Shakespearean costume back in my acting days. I would often hear my mother shouting, 'Where are you going?' and I'd answer, 'Out for coffee'. They must've thought I was madder than crazy.

I actually love reading poetry. Call me old fashioned (cliche for the day-tick), but I wish poetry could go back to being about words and content rather than based on how well a writer can perform. I've recently seen some poets whose poetry ranges from mediocre to great but people don't take in the words during a reading, they focus on the poet's performance, much like listening to music and not the lyrics. Brilliant poets might get lost this way. Hopefully not. Perhaps it is simply about adjusting to our time and the evolution of writing/promotion/publishing.

Vignette Press is launching the Death Mook, which I'm grateful to be included, in late February. I can't wait to read the finished product. At least one other author I know, Angela Myer over at Literary Minded, is also represented in the Mook. The launch is taking place Upstairs at Dantes (150 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy) Thursday February 26th and starts at 7pm.

To purchase copies contact Vignette Press for a stock list.

Currently Reading...

Try as I might to support independent book stores, my cinema is next to Borders and inevitably I do the 'I want a new book now! search'. Borders has a greater selection of books at cheaper prices, which is important to me because I am not rich. However, of late, I've been disappointed to see that they have none of the books I want to read, which are:

Borges and the Eternal Orangutans by Luis Fernando Verissimo
I Haven't Dreamed Of Flying For A While by Taichi Yamada
2666 by Roberto Bolano

In fact no shop has these books in Australia (Ahem, well Readings has 2666 but it is $59.00). So instead of spending $36.99 for a book that didn't really seem to be 'mykindabook' I went to my secret bookshelf at a nearby op shop and picked up four novels: Watership Down (which I started to read but it smelt like poo! so I'll have to get another copy if I can get over the whole talking animal thing), Bridges of Madison County (hated it but finished the novella), Briefing For A Descent Into Hell by Doris Lessing (I'll do a seperate review of this) and Sol Stein's The Husband (proving to be good in a theatrical and thematical kind of way).


A bit about moi.

The facts:

I am 27,
spent fifth grade with an English accent,
ate my entire eraser collection when I was six,
told everyone in grade one and two I was born in San Francisco,
have been to Paris,
spent nineteen years living in British Columbia, Canada,
made my younger sister cry by telling her that her bike was a dead horse,
have a Cornish Rex and a hell of a mean chihuahua/mutt,
have a phobia of drowning,
will eat cereal with a salad spoon before doing the dishes,
and miss the northern lights.

Other less interesting facts:

I am a full time writer currently living in Melbourne, Australia. I am working on my second novel entitled The Woods Between. In 2005 I completed RMIT's Diploma of Art (Professional Writing and Editing). 2006 made me a finalist for the SOYA (Spirit of Youth Australia) Awards in the Words Category for my short stories Kinship and The Mare and my poem Talk, judged by Allen and Unwin publisher Jude McGee. In 2007, I was long-listed for the HarperCollins/Varuna Manuscript Award and received the Varuna Pathways to Publication Masterclass residency. I also was a finalist for Young Writer of the Year by Australia's Sunshine Coast Literary Association for my novel The Islands.

My short fiction and poetry have appeared in Switchback, Visible Ink's Contemporary Soul anthology, Vignetts Press's The Death Mook, Sketch Literary and Design Journal, Harvest Literary Magazine, Paroxysm Press's anthology Ten Years of Things that Didn't Kill Us, Voiceworks, Noise, and Red Leaves Bi-lingual Literary Journal.