3885 (because summer is a distant memory right now)

the clothesline
in a dry wind

and the echo of our voices
down from the river
to where I stand
in yellow grass
eyes fixed
on a horizon swollen with blue

the river
where we’d swim
through the black gold of the water
gnashing teeth
and water dragons
as we give chase

how sharp the bite
of the sun
who we would
worship for the entire season
no sand too hot
no bike seat too hard
no hole too far
and nothing
even close
to lasting long enough

Writing Process Blog Chain

Really happy to be tagged by Devin Madson in the current ‘writing process’ blog chain – if you like stories of vengeance in a Japanese-influenced setting then you’ll love her books, check ‘em out here and visit her blog here, to see her response to the process chain.

I also interviewed Devin on my fiction blog, where she talks about her work and her experiences with crowd-funding.

So, here are my responses, hope you enjoy!

old stone - haiku (first)
Q. What am I working on?

I’m currently working on a haiku, haibun & senryu collection (working title: old stone) and tinkering with a follow-up to my last collection of free verse between giants. I’ve been obsessed with haiku now for a little over ten years – the form is just rife with possibility and I love the challenge of compressing language down to such a small amount of syllables.

In old stone I also want to include senryu and haibun and as travel is traditionally a big part of haibun, I’ve included a lot of work I wrote in Italy or soon after my trip there in 2011.

You can see me drafting cover art for old stone here if you’re curious.

Q. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Tough question. I’ve been told that my free verse background makes my haibun a little different and that my haiku background influences my free verse, so I hope that’s true!

In terms of my work and its place in the poetry world, I’m a proponent of being direct with my poetry. Writing is a communicative act, and I don’t like to put too many barriers between writer and reader. At the same time, I don’t want to be over prescriptive. There has to be room for the reader. It’s a fine line but I hope I walk it well.

Q. Why do I write what I do?

I think one of my main obsessions as a poet is with objects and places, with the meaning they take on for us. We instil so much of ourselves in them and for me, there’s no limit to where that can take me as a writer. The material never dries up.

Well, there is a limit, I guess, and that’s my execution from poem to poem.

Q. How does my writing process work?

I keep my eyes open. Wherever I am. There’s a certain amount of reflection that goes on before I write a poem, whether conscious or not. Sometimes a phrase comes to mind when I see something – like a wildflowers in a ditch – I had half a haiku as I drove by. The other half I finished when I got home that night.

Other times it’s a much longer process. Earlier this year I was walking to Collected Works in Melbourne and noticed that I was walking a lot faster than I would at home and the obvious thought came to me, that the city (any city) has its own pulse. It almost changes your blood. Everything is faster. Everyone needs to be somewhere quickly. Time felt shorter for me in that moment.

That poem I actually haven’t finished yet and I had that moment back in January.

After I get a first draft, usually completed at night, I leave the poem alone until at least the next day. Then I come back and refine. I might do this for days, or weeks. Sometimes, if I’m very lucky, the poem feels close to ready after draft two (generally only if it’s a short poem.)

Then I begin the long process of sending it out for publication – or post it here!

Q. Who will you meet next week?

I’m happy to send you to two fantastic Australian poets whom I count as friends. Both Robbie and Mark have supported my writing for years now and I’m hoping you’ll visit, check out their answers and their poetry!

Robbie Coburn
Mark William Jackson

a haibun


Roman Forum (1)

the spot where Caesar’s body was burnt seems to scare our guide. she does not look at the flowers, a sheen of sweat on her face as the sun works its centuries-slow destruction on pillars in the Forum

uneven footing
horns from
the imperial road

up where the Vestal Virgins had their garden, rose beds breathe easy. green pools might once have hidden tears or swallowed sighs. of the many statues, only two have heads and their creamy robes are mute. people rest before them, hands on hips

posing for photos
other tourists
fill the frame


RIMG0116 - Copy

between giants – a blog launch! (april 15th – 19th)

Today I’m most happy to announce the launch of my latest poetry collection between giants, which will be hosted right here on the blog!


Long overdue, this launch is going to be a bit of a party (hence my fantastic hat below) with giveaways, poetry deals, interviews and performances from myself and other poets, to give you a chance to get a closer look at the new collection.


Everything kicks off on April 15th, hope you enjoy it!

Tintin & Stuart – a series of favourites, reflections and responses to Tintin by guest bloggers

In 1986, aged nine, for twenty-four consecutive Saturday mornings, I bowed before a revolving magazine rack in a corner of Hobart’s Angus & Robertson, mesmerised by the twenty-four Adventures of Tintin. The half-hour it took to read and twice re-read each book was an immunisation for the half-hour of pallid, ludicrous Anglicanism I endured the following morning.

……..The Ancient Egyptian pantheon had bewitched me at an earlier age (my bibliophilic parents would deliver me to the State Library—my preferred childcare centre: so many heathen texts—and pick me up hours later). Accordingly, my favourite Adventure was—and still is—Cigars of the Pharaoh: the eccentric Doctor Sophocles Sarcophagus who, struck by one of the Fakir’s poisoned darts, eventually went insane (‘Well, between you and me, I AM SECRETLY RAMSES THE SECOND’); the introduction of Thomson and Thompson, the bowler’d, bumbling detectives; the rank of mummified Egyptologists, gothic, catalogued (one—‘Lord Carnaval’—a nod to George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, Howard Carter’s financier); the vivid hieroglyphics and the gleaming uraeuses that might have been Xeroxed from the volumes I pored over.

Cigars of the Pharaoh instructed me to keep writing, to smoke opium, to visit Egypt.

I’ve yet to take my trip.

Stuart Barnes