Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How a poem frames a page

Leaving the studio after our on air conversation, Anne Kellas and I chatted about the nature of the (possibly, nearly, obsolescent) book - in book format - and she commented that a poem is restricted in a book - and how, by itself on a loose piece of paper, it frames the page.

Kellas is a poet, has always been a poet though was wary to call herself one, or even a writer, until one day it just became apparent to her that she was. She just was.
She has lived in the UK and also Australia, more specifically, Tasmania, where she arrived with her husband and sons after they chose not to live in Apartheid ridden South Africa. "We did not imagine Mandela would be free in our life times."

The poem that begins her first collection of poetry, 'Poems From Mount Moono' (1989) is actually the 'introduction to the author' - 'To Anne Kellas, in exile' - by Lionel Abrahams. She gently riles against the title of poet in exile, suggests that an exiled writer is one who has no choice - and that she chose to leave South Africa - though goes on to acknowledge that exile is about loss - and she lost her homeland to Apartheid.

Home is a recurring theme in both collections of her poems - as are tigers.
Her second collection 'Isolated States' was published by Cornfield Press in 2001 and she is currently working on her third.

Kellas, who is nearly sixty, softly spoken and considered with her words and language, first fell for Shelley in a poetic sense, more recently being inspired by contemporary Australian poets, Robert Adamson and Eric Beach - and translations of Georg Trakl.
She confessed to having had an allergy to poetry for a while and to not being "the world's biggest fan" of ABC Radio's Poetica, but recently did a u-turn back to poetry by going back to her first poetic loves, Shelley and Yeats.
To hear her read her own poems out loud on the show tonight completely changed my 'reading'of them. Thoughtfully paced, considerately weighted on words I would have skimmed, the poems took on a new and more powerful life. She felt, has felt, that poetry read out loud, by its author, is really being dictated by another poet residing in their heads - I imagine, for example, that any poems I read out loud in my early twenties would have the rhythm of Ginsberg, as they may have Mary Oliver coursing through them now.

Kellas teaches poetry - and feels that the crystalisation of our language, which is what poetry does, is teachable to those who recognise that. She works with each student from the point where the student is - and recognises the need for encouragement - and laments the abuse of empty criticism.

Of more robust and necessary criticism, she calls for non poets to review poetry - in more mainstream media - and I agree.... we need more poetry in our lives, we need poetry to be more accessible. We need to allow the insight and magic in poems into our lives - to swoon us away from scientific fragmentation and a periodic table view of this universe.

Anne will be reading at the Poets' Republic in July,
coedits The Write Stuff along with Giles Hugo
Blogs @ http://northline.blogspot.com/
and tweets @ http://twitter.com/TWS_tas

An event:

The Hobart Bookshop invites you to attend the presentation of the Eve Masterman Poetry Prize. Eve, who will be celebrating her 103rd birthday, will present the prize.

When: Sunday June 6th, 2.30pm
Where: The Hobart Bookshop

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gore, sex, Death and vernacular

I chatted to Anna Dusk on The Book Show (edgeradio.org.au). Anna is Melbourne based, Tasmanian born, Oatlands raised. Her first published novel is 'In-Human' - which, on the blurb, is likened to a cross between 'Catcher in the Rye' and 'Buffy.' Not having 'Buffy' as a benchmark, nor any recent horror reading to compare it to, I found it a visceral and furious read. It is the story of Sally Hunter, a teenager in small town Tasmania, who finds herself, painfully at first and more and more elatedly as the story wears on, turning werewolf. Sally becomes a hunter, a drunken sex fiend furious teenager - and she goes on a killing spree. The story is fuelled by violence though there is a narrative that does propel the reader forward.
Anna and I talked about the process of writing such anger, we talked about what propels us towards fear, why there is such an industry for horror - why do we seek to become paralysed. 'In Human' isn't a scarey novel as such, though fear definately enveloped this reader.

And - having spent about 50 000 hours of the last week endeavoring to podcast this interview I'm leaving you all on tenterhooks.

Now, there's a lovely word, tenterhooks.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Award-winning writer, regular writer for The Owner Builder magazine, and blogger Sharyn Munro will be at the Hobart Bookshop on Thursday May 13th from 5.30. Pete Hay will introduce her, and Sharyn's books 'Mountain Tails' and 'The Woman on the Mountain' will be available.
Event supported by the Tasmanian Greens.
All welcome to this free event.

The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
P 03 6223 1803 . F 03 6223 1804

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book slut and tanka

With a name like mine sometimes it is difficult not to be slutty about books. I have seriously indulged lately - and one little tome that I can now justify the purchase of was just used for the first time. The (Penguin) 'Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory' has just saved me from a potentially awkward conversation with Chris Gallagher, the lovely director of The Tasmanian Writer's Centre (TWC) (see earlier blog post). TWC are holding a series of workshops throughout April and May (excuse late post, but I have been far, far away). Their workshops include ones on creative non-fiction (a genre I love to pieces beginning with Capote's 'In Cold Blood'), Haiku (yeah yeah, know all about it, did it in grade 6) and Tanka. Tanka. Lovely word, solid and quite visceral - but what on earth? 'A Japanese lyric form of thirty one syllables in lines of five/seven/five/seven/seven syllables. Also known as Waka or an Uta it originated in the 7th Century and is regarded as the classic Japanese poetic form.' (Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory' Penguin, 1999 p901.

Paige Turner November

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