2006 : 2016 (a ‘least worst of’)

The ego of it, right?

Of course there’s got to be at least some involved any time I post, since the very act of sharing my stuff implies that I think it doesn’t suck.

Well, with that in mind, I’ve recently released 2006 : 2016.

In this collection, I’ve tried to cobble together 116 or so pages of poetry that I can still look at without chuckling at myself (or worse :D).

There’s also a few pieces in here that might have been previously published individually but which never made it into a collection, something small for longtime readers — otherwise you’ll find a range of free verse, haiku, haibun and senryu spanning the collections pollen and the storm right up to VI.

* * *

When I started sifting through notebooks, old files and the individual collections themselves, I thought I was taking a final step in book-ending my time as a poet. My fiction was selling and I was finding it harder to commit time to poetry, since I had a couple of ongoing series-length fiction works to keep me busy and which readers seemed keen for.

But the more I looked through my old stuff, even the rubbish, the more I missed poetry.

It wasn’t like returning to an old ‘mistress’ or any of those sorts of cliches, it was more like the cliche of returning to a neglected part of me.

Despite the frustration I’d always feel whenever I struggled with a poem, the way I always fought myself over ‘using language poetically’ while still keeping hold of the idea that poetry was ‘an act of communication that actually needed readers’, I was excited to return to poetry because that struggle was also fun. (I was so excited that I did two things, I started writing poetry again and I sought out two poets from Oz whose work I loved and offered to publish their collections, but more on that in another post!).

Now, writing poetry might seem like a rather unspectacular thing for a poet to do. Utterly regular, really.

But it wasn’t regular for me at the start of 2017, and hadn’t been for a long time. I remember looking at my bio on my website one day and asking myself, am I still a poet if I don’t even write poetry anymore? (‘Ex-poet’ doesn’t look as snappy, huh?).

The act of writing poetry had become ‘irregular’ because I’d stopped writing poetry a couple of years ago. I mean, I still tried here and there, but I went from writing anywhere from 2–5 poems most nights to 20 aborted pieces a month, and then to about 5 finished pieces for an entire year.

And I know why, but it took me a long time to figure it out.

Part of it was the fiction — that was taking off in late 2014 and it was fun, I was giving it a proper shot. But the other part of my poetry-drought came from a crash in confidence; I’d totally lost it when it came to verse.

A few years ago, one of my mentors let me down (and the poetry community here in Australia, and overseas too) in a pretty significant way and I hadn’t realised until this year, while putting together 2006 : 2016, just how deeply his mistakes had impacted me.

I’d tied too much of my self-belief to his support.

Once the depth of his plagiarism became clear, aside from the disillusionment I felt, I realised that if he thought I was good and yet he turned out to be dishonest, how could I trust his opinion of my work?

And so I slowly stopped, just kinda gave up on poetry. Stopped writing, stopped sending it in to comps and mags, stopped reading it, stopped looking for it.

And like I said above, I now see it was stupid of me to tie my confidence up that way. I should have been stronger.

But thankfully, putting this ‘least worst of’ together reminded me that I had improved over the years. When I looked at stuff from 2006 and compared it my most recent work, I saw the change. And it reminded me that once upon a time, I’d push through all kinds of flat spots, all kinds of rejections, and just keep writing. My stubbornness would fuel me; I wanted to get better and for a while I think I did get better each year.

Back in Feb, I collected all the poetry I could find and announced what would “probably be my last poetry collection” rather dramatically, I guess. It seemed the right choice at the time, since my heart wasn’t in poetry anymore— not wholly — but now it strikes me as almost childish. And I’ve since realised that poetry really is Hotel California (and that’s okay too).

Now, I’m happy to say that I’m ready to push myself once more in 2018 and there’s gonna be fiction and poetry this time 🙂

New Cover for Stepping Over Seasons

As I mentioned not long ago, the sad news around funding for the Arts in Australia right now has impacted a lot of great journals and presses, one of which being IP, who published Stepping Over Seasons for me.

Due to this, I’ve taken on SOS myself and wanted to share a mock-up for the new cover, hope you like it!

seasons-BW

Like my cover for The Fairy Wren and A Whisper of Leaves this was designed by the awesome Rebekah Haskell whose work can be found here at VividCovers. Stay tuned for a re-release date, hopefully late July.

Stepping Over Seasons – Reissue

Hi everyone – just a quick e-mail to let you know that with the sad news of IP being forced to reduce their publishing operations, my second poetry collection Stepping Over Seasons will now be reissued this year (late).

It’ll involve some minor updates and a few small ‘extras’ that I hope will be interesting! It’ll be available as paperback and ebook.

Stay tuned for more details and in the meantime, here’s one of the short ones from the collection:

 

slow moon

out of the night
a slow moon
drips onto the driveway

his cloud-hat
lost back there somewhere
drifting
in the black-pupil sky,
his beams like
sagging tent ropes
while far below, patches of frost
sparkle on leaves

and he’s too tired
to take them back.

 

 

6 Years, Cripes!

Six years since I registered with (W) – feels like a whirlwind 🙂

Really enjoyed the blog and despite some big patches of low activity, I feel like I’ve put some good stuff out there and hopefully folks have had a good time reading!

Here’s a poem from back in 2009:

 

small town

has an old Esso sign on a tin shed
and someone who used to sell honey
painted yellow on the next one,

at the corner a pink golf ball
towers over the coastline, ridges
like the moon.

in spring flowers grow
round the blue tractor
and dirt collects in the seat

marks on the footpath
don’t fade and the cemetery
never shrinks, only the town around it.

beyond the tennis courts
ghosts shed fingernails and
police sirens skip over fences;

no-one lives down there
where the surf plays dead
and moonlight walks on water.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

March Poetry Sale (and fiction)!

Let’s have a bit of a sale!

For the rest of March, signed copies of all my poetry collections are on sale (and my fiction titles too) so if you’d like to grab some poetry for cheap let me know here or send me an e-mail 🙂

mountain0ash[at]gmail[dot]com

(that’s a ‘zero’ in the address)

 

 

P o e t r y

 

All titles $5 posted

pollen and the storm

pollen and the storm cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stepping over seasons

stepping over seasons cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

between giants

betweengiants(web)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

old stone: haiku, senryu & haibun

old stone - haiku (larger)2 - Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$3 posted

orion tips the saucepan

orion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Years

7yearsPP(2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

F i c t i o n

 

$10 posted

The Fairy Wren

tfw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$15 posted

City of Masks (original cover)

CityofMasks(final)

Poem from ‘Stepping Over Seasons’

stepping over seasons cover

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Jumping to 2009, when stepping over seasons came out, I’m struck by big changes in length and theme. I think SOS spans the widest set of topics I’ve written on in a single collection (so far) and I realise, with a bit of sadness, that I haven’t come back to many of them in subsequent releases.

Here’s the opener:

 

other objects

my wedding ring is a plain silver
barrel band. same as dad’s, very modest
and very hard to keep smooth,
with scratches I can’t keep track of and
don’t want to hide. it’s no good pretending
the marriage is perfect, no use
hanging all our memories and every
step of the future on just one symbol. other
objects speak of love, too. the weeping
maple we’ve shifted to every house, the
cup we fill with knives and forks
or the handwritten address you gave me
the night we met, walking the city
and flinging orange peel into hedges, things
that endure, things that have lines
and marks to prove them.

 

 

Bianca

Commended a few years ago in the Melbourne Poets Union poetry comp, here’s one of my poems from Stepping Over SeasonsBianca, hope you enjoy it!

bianca

on the bus
two girls talk baby names.

bianca
is popular

and I wonder if
they know it’s italian for ‘white’

and if they do
which ‘white’ do they have in mind?

is it the morphine
white of hospital walls
or the hard-working
plastic poly pipe
nestled beneath the sink?

could it be white like rabbits, robes
and weatherboard,

or milk and snow?
is it the white of a cloud
racing across sky

clever-marketing-ploy-white
of their iPods

or is it cherry blossoms nestled
against pink in spring?