between giants – blog launch – day one

between giants is launched!

To help me celebrate, each day this week I’ll be posting performances of work from the collection by myself, Robbie Coburn, Mark William Jackson, Jane Williams and Graham Nunn, in addition to giveaways, competitions and offers – where you can win a copy of between giants over at Goodreads – or if you’re a poet looking for some feedback, a critique on your work (details tbc).

I’m also offering deals on my back catalogue and free postage on between giants (in Australia) along with a few surprises, including an interview by A S Patric, so stay tuned!


between giants is published by Ginninderra Press and is available through paypal here or by contacting me directly in the comments below for $18 (postage paid in Aus). Here’s a part of a mini review by Mark and a short poem from inside.

Mark William Jackson Ashley Capes has come through again with another brilliant collection. Moving on from “Stepping Over Seasons”, this time Capes takes inspiration from further ports and knits them seamlessly with domestic visions, melding Italian scenes with Australian ordinariness, but I mean “ordinary” in that Capes, as I’ve written before’ has a remarkable ability to draw poetic beauty out of seemingly “ordinary” moments and objects. For example, in “Archaeological Moment” Capes writes of a simple penny “a penny has come thousands of miles / to hibernate in the dirt // it’s not worth much / but neither is it worth nothing”.

And the poem Mark quotes from, archaeological moment as featured in Best Australian Poems 2012:

archaeological moment

a penny has come thousands of miles
to hibernate in the dirt

it’s not worth much
but neither is it worth nothing

once we clean it in a glass of coke
and the royal head has a nose again

we take it inside, though the first one
to tire of it reaches for the Sega

later on I don’t know which one of us
will take it to the front shed

where the Nissan lords it over dead flies
that gather in the window sill,

and hide the penny behind a landscape
mum and dad haven’t unpacked

years later when moving house
and neither one goes back for it

the penny can close its tiny eyes
to wait for a more archaeological moment.

“Music for Broken Instruments” by A.S. Patric – A Review

Music for Broken Instruments – available to read free here!
by A.S. Patric
The Black Rider Press
April 2010

Review by Ashley Capes

A.S. Patric’s “Music for Broken Instruments” reads as a kind of language-based salve for what Patric sees as a variety of wounds cut deep in our society, injuries he explores at length in this chapbook-length work. Released as the Black Rider Press’ first e-book by poet and publisher Jeremy Balius, the collection is presented in black and white, looking as if it has been typed on paper that’s been crumpled and folded, a touch which shows welcome attention to aesthetic. Otherwise it is presented like a conventional chapbook, in that the collection not a multi-media text.

However the poetry doesn’t feel conventional, instead it’s almost a call to arms – the opening lines of lead poem, King Hit for instance, urge readers to open themselves to experiencing the world and to Thought itself. And our greatest tool as thinking beings, it seems, is the Question – a theme Patric returns to throughout the collection, and one which is cleverly transformed into a poetic device in final poem Q&Q.

These two pieces are a wonderful compliment to each other as opening and closing pieces, both in form and content. Where the urging of King Hit to:

drop a brick
into your soul
kick out the heart
of the old man
wandering, drooling
roaming your head

directs the reader to follow suit through use of its verbs, Q&Q is just as direct, but instead poses questions. And questions may be more powerful, may be more disruptive than a kick, requiring as they do, some engagement on the part of the reader. In fact, this aspect is a key strength of much, if not all of the poetry within, where a challenge is thrown to the reader. Read! Think!

Patric also shows a deft hand with repetition and variation, not only in the bigger picture of the collection, but from poem to poem. We see this especially in poems like Paper targets, A tissue, a tissue and the wry In defence of blind ignorance:

every now and again
every again and now
someone offers you
you’ve ever dreamed of
the trouble is
they take it
more often than not
reconsidering and rethinking
on second thoughts on second

the poem also demonstrating the importance of layout, which should not be overlooked – as the poems in the chapbook often lead the eye down the page, engaging the reader both visually and verbally. Both Mr. Leviathan goes on a holiday and Kicked in the teeth when I was just coming in for a kiss blues do this wonderfully, adding movement to pieces which already have a startling sense of movement – where Patric ‘leaps’ from one image, thought or mood to another, and does so within a clear set of thematic borders all the while keeping things interesting, such as in Kicked in the teeth…:

………I’ve told you that before
…..the waves and the ocean beneath are real for God’s sake
entering my ears when I’m sleeping
……………….and I wake with a goldfish in my mouth
it’s not what the doctor ordered
……when I told him I was worried
…………all my tentacles looked less octopus
……………..and more fish’n’chip calamari
….and you and your fat oily lips acting like I’m barely even tasty

Mr. Leviathan… is one of two pieces that seem to carry the bulk of the thematic concerns, whereby a deep frustration with modern society’s inability to slay giants, slay the Leviathans of our world, is most apparent. Patric seems to be asking, where have the heroes gone? This frustration comes through in the lexical sets used in the collection, those of war, death and pain, but also of the body and of the ocean for instance, where water is a dark, troubling thing full of monsters or disappointments.

But the tour de force of the collection for me is The meaning of a dream. Here we see the same frustration and uncertainty that keeps Patric probing and questioning, and equally so perhaps, asking the same of the reader, as in the opening – when he purposefully contradicts any idea of authorial-instilled themes or ideas:

I will not make sense
any greater significance is refused
and I will certainly be careful
avoiding any kind of unravelling
satisfying dénouements or conclusions
any and all a-ha moments

something which in turn demands of the reader that they create their own meaning from the text – not unlike a review of course. When I read The meaning of a dream, there are so many little signposts that pop up to convince me of what I see as a bittersweet description of Patric’s disappointment in classic dreams or ideals, like financial security, religion, home ownership, family, and even stability in general:

I’d rather be a mouse
at a feast of metal shavings


just the old man
waving at you
in a cloud of flies
that we used to call God

The impression of dissatisfaction and even loss is also clear from the closing lines of the poem, where the wild pace slows:

divining underground springs
in the outback of your
great Australian dream

But there are lighter moments throughout the collection. In Flick of the wrist the reader gets a nice change of pace, as the force of the collection is broken up with a snapshot of happiness, where a simple coat rack is the catalyst for a moment of respite. A lover in fortuna has a wonderful absurdist bent (‘First thing I’m going to do is grow me a Friedrich Nietzsche moustache’) and A little something stars a cloud as metaphor for a child, a poem which, by virtue of its non-romantic aspects, avoids becoming cloying:

the sunless baby fed by blood
it is able to swallow and dance
before death, before this vast blue world
before and after all our names

There’s a thrill to the challenges posed in “Music for Broken Instruments” – not only to think about the words, images and poems within, but about our role as readers of poetry. What is it to actually engage with a poem, to question it, to do more than simply consume it?

From Q & Q, two questions I liked:

Have we been little things?
……..Have we been voiceless?

Patric has blended his themes and form in a manner which is both pleasing and exciting and I think “Music for Broken Instruments” shows hopes that we won’t be voiceless, which is a welcome change from the nihilist side of poetry, which can frustrate even as it draws our attention to things unsatisfactory.

The Verity La Forum

Alec Patric just published my thoughts on an interesting question, over at Verity La. Do have a read, as there are many great answers more articulate than mine!

And here’s the question

A New Archaeology?

When the novel first emerged it was considered trivial entertainment. The literary productions most honoured were to be found in verses and sometimes on stages. As those mediums waned in their traditional states, the art of song writing matured and attracted many of the talents driven by poetry. Cinema rose into a global phenomenon—becoming the major cultural agent for all Western cultures.

We are presently watching the book dwindle into the doddering ineffectuality of old age as print media prepares for retirement. A new medium is already emerging. It is often considered trivial entertainment, just as the novel was in its youth. Will an e-form emerge in the coming generation as the new literary standard? Is the blog already the key artefact for a new archaeology?

Interview & Poem at ‘Verity La’ – 200 Poems

I’ve been crushed somewhat by the weight of regular, non-writing things of late.

But after getting 3 pieces of great news/anthologies (see post below) I wanted to share a fourth.

‘stamped flat stamped’ is my 200th poem accepted for publication (and 188th in ‘print’ as of writing this) so I’m feeling very happy! HUGE thank you Alec & Nigel at Verity La – thrilled that ‘stamped flat stamped’ is up, and just as great to see, is a short interview too – and what a treat it was to be asked smart, insightful questions!


stamped flat stamped

While you’re there, check out a wealth of other brilliant work from a growing list : Mark William Jackson, Luke May, Pierz Newton-John, Bel Woods, Shane Jesse Christmass, Kirk Marshall, Rjurik Davidson, Ryan O’Neill, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Andy Jackson & Alec Patric

‘Sketch’ Issue 2 & ‘Miscellaneous Voices’ Vol 1

Recently I received my copies of two great Australian publications and although I’m nearly collapsing under dozens of obligations at the moment, I just wanted to quickly mention how much I enjoyed reading (and being a part) of them both.

Nicole Taylor & Christine de Saini of Sketch have just released their second issue of literature and art, and once again it’s a beautiful collection, it’s great to see a fine balance between image and text. Just a few favs, but I especially liked the photography of Annevi Petersson and the drawings of Janet Fletcher.

There was also an amazing piece ‘Bright and Pure’ from Les Wicks, which I loved, along with Jeff Klooger’s ‘Jade and Porcelain.’ My piece ‘Grass Seeds’ also appeared, and, in something rare for me, an article on Poetry & Participation in society.


Karen Andrews of Miscellaneous Press has edited a broad and fascinating collection of articles, poetry, short fiction and pieces that are definitely somewhere in between, that first appeared on blogs. Released in just a few days (April 1) the issue is, like Sketch, beautifully presented and contains a great range of writing. What’s especially impressive, is that it collects work that, I do hope, will reach an audience who might not otherwise come across it.

Once again, just a couple of favs, of course, poetry from Mark, Maxine, Alec & Brad, also Stu Hatton, Cordite Editor David Prater and others, along with a great essay from Derek Motion on silverchair, poetry & pain, and an honest look at the writing process from ‘page seventeen‘ editor Tiggy Johnson, where she explores structuring time for writing and becoming aware of what it is that triggers her to what, what it is in life and writing that sets off the spark. My poem ‘Capture’ is also featured in the issue.

Going Down Swinging No.29

Very simply, you should get this one.


But glib statements aside, this is a fantastic issue. Right down to the beautiful print job – holding GDS #29 you almost get the feeling that you ought to have cotton gloves on, it’s just a wonderful finish.

And the cover by Mila Faranov is outstanding, presented beautifully by Morpheus Studios’ jacket design.

Inside it’s still great. To choose only a few favourite moments, there is Graham Nunn‘s Sentinel – where a found animal skull has “ants completing the delicate work” of cleaning it.

Oslo Davis‘ graphic novella is a perfect centrepiece, with especially effective use of perspective in the images and humour in the story of Walter, “an undercover, undercover ticket inspector [who] could be under investigation.”

And the humour continues with Simon Cox‘s Instructions for Bored Children on Long Car Trips which had me smiling ruefully with unpleasant memories.

Then you have the powerful contrasts elsewhere in the issue, where Jane’s To Do List by Ivy Alvarez is full of striking lines and a general feeling of threat and tension: “his eyes on my skin/two slugs silvering”.

It’s really nice to have a beautifully presented magazine paced well too, the running order and balance of the work inside is a testament to editors Klare Lanson & Lisa Greenaway – thanks for a great issue indeed.

Heaps more that I should mention in detail – but I’m running out of time today, so quickly; there are also great works by (among many others) Lorin Ford, (a delicate meditation on water) Matthew Hall (with a quartet of pieces dealing with light and memory) and Alec Patric‘s prose poem with its impressive construction and almost stream of conscious word choice.

Clearly, I recommend this issue – I feel quite honoured to be alongside the artists within!