Saturday, September 24, 2016

Poetry News from HARRIET the Poetry Blog

National Book Awards Longlist for Poetry Announced

By Harriet Staff
Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 11.15.43 AM

Today, the New Yorker takes a look at the longlist in the poetry category for the National Book Awards. The list is a mix of established poets and emerging poets, with Donika Kelly and Solmaz Sharif’s first books appearing in 2016. Now for that list:
Daniel Borzutzky, The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press)
Rita Dove, Collected Poems 1974 – 2004 (W. W. Norton & Company)
Peter Gizzi, Archeophonics (Wesleyan University Press)
Donald Hall, The Selected Poems of Donald Hall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Jay Hopler, The Abridged History of Rainfall (McSweeney’s)
Donika Kelly, Bestiary (Graywolf Press)
Jane Mead, World of Made and Unmade (Alice James Books)
Solmaz Sharif, Look (Graywolf Press)
Monica Youn, Blackacre (Graywolf Press)
Kevin Young, Blue Laws (Alfred A. Knopf)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Ron Pretty Poetry Prize
Submissions for the 2016 Ron Pretty Poetry Prize are now open!

First Prize: $5000
Second Prize: $1500
Third Prize: $750

The prize will be awarded to a single poem of up to 30 lines, and is open to anyone over the age of 18 years, including overseas applicants.
Entry fee is $25 for the first poem and $10 for subsequent poems. There are no limits on entries. Online submissions only.
Judge: Ron Pretty
Opening Date: 15 July 2016
Closing Date: 22 November 2016

The long list will now be announced on 21 January 2017
The short list will be announced on 31 January 2017
The prize winner will be announced at an event on 3 March 2017

Enquiries should be directed to:
Read more:
Sonnet Writing Competition now open!
This year is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, and like other Shakespeare lovers worldwide, the Shakespeare Club of Western Australia plans a celebration of the bard's life.


We are going to commemorate with a sonnet-writing competition for adults and secondary school students, open to would-be writers and experienced poets alike.

 Adult Category: The Competition is open to any Australian Resident (excepting members of the Shakespeare Club of WA): 1st Prize: $300; 2nd Prize: $200; 3rd Prize: $100
Entrants will be invited to attend the Awards Ceremony in Perth.

Competition Rules

1.   Sonnet entries must be accompanied by an Entry Form and must be submitted by post to Shakespeare Club of WA, PO Box 100, Mt Hawthorn, WA 6915. 

2.    In the Student Category there is an entry fee of $5 per sonnet entry. In the Adult Category the entry fee is $10 per sonnet entry. Payment may be made by cheque, Money Order or by Bank Transfer. Entries received without payment will be excluded from the Competition. Entry fees are not refundable.
3.    Entrants may submit more than one but no more than three sonnet entries. Each entry must be on a separate sheet of paper and must not include any information that might identify the entrant.

 4.    Deadline: All entries must be received by September 23, 2016. r Entries received after that date will not be accepted.
5.    The identity of entrants will not be known by the Panel of Judges. The decision of the Panel of Judges will be final. The n the Prizes are awarded.
6.   The Composition Guidelines form part of the Competition Rules. By entering the Competition, entrants agree to the Competition Rules.
7.   The Shakespeare Club of Western Australia reserves the right to publish any entry. Winners will be announced online at: agree to allow their names to be published; at the Awards Ceremony photographs may be taken for publication.



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Australian S/Story Festival - in Northbridge, WA

The three-day festival will offer over twenty-five paid and free events, showcasing not only the traditional written form but also storytelling in the oral and recorded forms.  A total of thirty local and national writers, will be participating in the event, along with Parashar Kulkarni, who recently became the first Indian writer to win the prestigious Commonwealth Short Story Prize for his story, ‘Cow and Company.'
Key events include, 'In Conversation' sessions with prominent writers such as Ryan O’Neill (VIC), Ellen van Neerven (QLD), Cate Kennedy (VIC), Paddy O’Reilly (VIC), Fiona McFarlane (NSW) and Isabelle Li (NSW), publishing advice with three independent publishing houses, the launch of Westerly: New Creative issue, a collaboration between local storytellers and raconteurs - Barefaced Stories, Magnolias Late Night Live and Ships In The Night, a celebration of five years of the Margaret River Short Story Competition and a street reading walk of Northbridge.
Host organisation, Centre for Stories in Northbridge will be the Festival's main venue, with activities also scheduled at the State Library and Northbridge Piazza which will showcase an Indigenous Yarning Session, featuring prominent personalities from Warakurna, a remote community of Western Australia situated 330km from Uluru. Cate Kennedy, one of Australia’s most celebrated short story writers, will give the opening address. Professor Kim Scott, twice winner of the Miles Franklin Award will deliver the closing address.
Australian Short Story Festival Patron highly acclaimed author, Gail Jones, has described the event as “an audacious, intelligent and very welcome initiative at a time when the short story as a form is enormously popular with both emerging and established writers”.
The Australian Short Festival has received funding from the Department of Culture and Arts, Copyright Agency and the City of Perth.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Issa Haiku

she keeps the nest
nice and neat...
widow bird

Issa 1821

kogirei [ni] shite kurasu nari yamome tori

Though Issa is known for humor in haiku, this one tugs at the heart strings ... hard.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sonnet Competition now open

From the Shakespeare Club of Western Australia:



This year is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, and like other Shakespeare lovers worldwide, the Shakespeare Club of Western Australia plans a celebration of the bard's life.


We are going to commemorate with a sonnet-writing competition for adults and secondary school students, open to would-be writers and experienced poets alike.


Competition Rules: Click here! 


Adult Entry Form:  Click here!


Student Entry Form: Click here!

Sonnet competition again

Our sonnet competition has received some very good entries - but not enough of them! While we are delighted with the standard of the entries, we do hope more people can be encouraged to send in their sonnets.

Originally, we barred members of the Club from entering, but entry numbers to date suggest that perhaps most of the people who write sonnets are already members of The Shakespeare Club of Western Australia! Therefore, the Committee has decided to open the competition to members of the Club. Members are advised that they must not enter under their own names, but use a nom-de-plume, so that the judging can take place on a level playing field.

So come on, members! Pay homage to our beloved bard by putting pen to paper. Or, rather, fingers to keyboard!

From the Captain of the Modern Poetics course (FREE)

My profuse apologies. I promise to be a better proofreader! The problem with open enrollment has NOW been fixed.—Al
Dear andrew burke:
For a day or so, those who tried to enroll in ModPo a few days after the start of the course were told that enrollments were closed. This was an error in the system. It's now been fixed. ModPo is always open!
Anyone can enroll in ModPo any time.
Tell your friends. Tell your family. Share ModPo with loved ones, colleagues, neighbors!
Give them this URL:
Go to course

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A small poem in Honour of Merv Lilley's passing at 96


Merv’s riding down
for his cremation. He wouldn’t
miss it for all the sugar cane
in Queensland. All the family
will be there and people
he only half recognises. Will
the undertaker ladies have
a hitching rail and safe storage
for his saddle-bags? They’re new,
you know. They were on
Merv’s last shopping list: 'I need
pack saddle with a couple of splitbags –
also a .22 rifle to shoot whatever...'
All the cane fires of Queensland
couldn’t burn Merv’s rage out
but now all his energy goes
up in smoke in one last blaze.

Don’t call the wallopers or

the fireys. Merv’s just going out

in one last blaze of glory.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Dog Wisdom

Issa Spring Haiku

even the turtle
wants feathers...
the geese depart

- Issa 1820

suppon mo hane hoshige nari kae[ru] kari

Shinji Ogawa points out that kaeru in this context can be translated as "return" or "leave." Since this is a spring haiku, the wild geese are leaving Japan (i.e., returning to northern lands).

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Coy Mistress by Annie Finch

Sir, I am not a bird of prey:
A Lady does not seize the day.
I trust that brief Time will unfold
Our youth, before he makes us old.
How could we two write lines of rhyme
Were we not fond of numbered Time
And grateful to the vast and sweet
Trials his days will make us meet?
The Grave’s not just the body’s curse;
No skeleton can pen a verse!
So while this numbered World we see,
Let’s sweeten Time with poetry,
And Time, in turn, may sweeten Love
And give us time our love to prove.
You’ve praised my eyes, forehead, breast:
You’ve all our lives to praise the rest.

- from 'Spells' by ANNIE FINCH

Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Inward Morning - Henry Thoreau


Packed in my mind lie all the clothes
   Which outward nature wears,
And in its fashion’s hourly change
    It all things else repairs.
In vain I look for change abroad,
    And can no difference find,
Till some new ray of peace uncalled
    Illumes my inmost mind.
What is it gilds the trees and clouds,
    And paints the heavens so gay,
But yonder fast-abiding light
    With its unchanging ray?
Lo, when the sun streams through the wood,
    Upon a winter’s morn,
Where’er his silent beams intrude
    The murky night is gone.
How could the patient pine have known
    The morning breeze would come,
Or humble flowers anticipate
    The insect’s noonday hum,—
Till the new light with morning cheer
    From far streamed through the aisles,
And nimbly told the forest trees
    For many stretching miles?
I’ve heard within my inmost soul
    Such cheerful morning news,
In the horizon of my mind
    Have seen such orient hues,
As in the twilight of the dawn,
    When the first birds awake,
Are heard within some silent wood,
    Where they the small twigs break,
Or in the eastern skies are seen,
    Before the sun appears,
The harbingers of summer heats
    Which from afar he bears.
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This poem is in the public domain.

About This Poem

“The Inward Morning” was published in Poems of Nature (Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1895).
Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. His collections of poetry include Poems of Nature (Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1895) and Collected Poems (Packard, 1943). He died on May 6, 1862.


Hello Jazz in Concert at The Gods supporters

There are about twenty places left for the next concert on Tues Sep 6 which features the Dirk Zeylmans Quintet in a Tribute to Bernie McGann. Dirk was a good friend of Bernie McGann (1937—2013), probably the most original jazz musician this country has produced. For this gig, Dirk has a trio in the first set, comprising himself on tenor, Graeme Monga on guitar and Lachlan Coventry on electric bass. In the second half he'll add two more saxophones played by Joe Taylor and Oisin Smith Coburn. He'll also tell a few anecdotes about Bernie.

Please book dining seats with Jaye on — or with me via this email address if you want to join my table/s for dining up the front. Also book through me if you just want to hear the show only. Dinner at 6.00; music starts at 7.30. Please note: special dietary requirement requests, e.g. gluten-free can be sent to the Gods (via Jaye's email) ahead of time to ensure satisfaction. There is always a vegetarian option too.

Admission: $22/$15 conc.
All the best and hope to see you there

Friday, September 02, 2016

Who wins the Nobel Prize in Literature 2016?


Odd unit: EU | UK | US

Writers Victoria and Geelong Qriters workshop

Geelong Writers and Writers Victoria Present
Writing Workshop with Toni Jordon
at Belmont Library
on Saturday 24th September 10am to 4pm. 

N.B. You book and pay Writers Victoria by the link:
Presented in association with Geelong Writers. Supported by the Grace Marion Wilson Trust.Details about Workshop  By Toni JordanFiction Essentials: Point of View, Tense and Beginnings
Fiction writers use many exciting, experimental and unusual techniques - but for now, let’s get the foundation right.
You can write better fiction if you choose the best point of view and control it elegantly and logically. The tense of your piece also shouldn’t be random, but a deliberate decision that takes into account your natural voice and the requirements of your story. And your first two pages should grab your reader and not let them go.
You will learn
The strengths and weaknesses of various first-, second- and third-person points of view and how to control them.
The strengths and weaknesses of various past, present and future tenses and how to control them.
Which kind of beginning suits you and your story best. 


Thursday, September 01, 2016

A Characteristically Bold Innovation in Form: Peter Stanley Launches ‘Plevna: A Biography in Verse’ by Geoff Page

Plevna: A Biography in Verse by Geoff Page. UWAP 2016
plevnaLadies and gentlemen, colleagues, friends. Good evening and thank you, Geoff, for inviting me to do the honours tonight. I’ve known and admired Geoff Page for about thirty years. In the early 1980s he put together an anthology of poetry reflecting on the Great War and submitted it to the Australian War Memorial, where I worked, and which in those days saw itself as open to publish words that did more than merely salute brave, dead diggers. His book, Shadows from Wire, was an honest and critical reflection on that war and all war, and it went on to be re-published by Penguin and become what I think can rightly be described as a best-seller in Australian verse.
As a sign of the passing of time, I remember that Geoff submitted the manuscript in a blue spring-backed binder, with the photographs (which were an integral part of his concept) stuck into a series of typed pages. It looked more like a school project than a manuscript, but he was after all a high school teacher, and ah, it was a more innocent age …
Since then Geoff has of course established a reputation as one of Australia’s foremost poets, and there can be few readers of the Saturday Canberra Times who are not aware of his standing as not only a poet himself but also as a critic and interpreter of poetry. That Geoff has survived the Fairfaxisation of our Canberra Times is a testament to his stature as a poet known nationally and not just in Canberra.
Geoff has always had an interest in reflecting on history through his use of words. I had the great pleasure in preparation for today of reading his novel Benton’s Conviction. It was not, as I had mis-remembered, written in verse, but it was all the same a very fine rendering of the stresses that the Great War brought to an Australian community. I noticed that it was dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Linden Webb, whose unusually principled sermons in Hay, NSW, questioning the easy acceptance of the war as a Christian crusade I referred to in my recent chapters on the war’s effects on Australian society.
And Geoff’s use of poetry to sharpen our awareness of important issues in history is fixed in my memory. In the early 1990s Geoff spoke at one of the big annual history conferences we used to hold at the Memorial. Geoff recited some of the poems he’d written commenting on frontier conflict in the settlement of colonial Australia: an unusual form and an unexpected venue, but they were different times. That subject – the acceptance of the fact and significance of frontier conflict – is still not resolved. It might be time to give those poems another outing, Geoff.
This evening we gather to celebrate Geoff’s latest book, and a characteristically bold innovation in form, a ‘Biography in Verse’ of Charles ‘Plevna’ Ryan. (If you try to find ‘biography in verse’ in the National Library’s catalogue you get just one hit: Plevna. (There are a very few memoirs in verse, but only one biography: this book is literally unique. As people say these days Plevna is ‘one of the only’ books to describe a life in verse.)
Who was Charles Ryan and why was he nicknamed ‘Plevna’? I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of Geoff’s account of Ryan’s life, so I’ll just say that he was a Melbourne-born surgeon who in the late 1870s found himself working as a medical officer for the Ottoman Turkish army at the siege of Plevna, in Bulgaria.
As Geoff shows, this eventful, stressful and traumatic period was the most intense time in Charles Ryan’s life and it defined him thereafter, when he had returned to practise in Melbourne, to marry and live a more sedate life – but he always carried the nickname of ‘Plevna’.
Ryan became the Ottoman empire’s first honorary consul in Australia, and he embodies an important stage in the long relationship between Australia and Turkey. In a book that I’ve just published, co-written with Vicken Babkenian, Armenia, Australia and the Great War, we mention Plevna Ryan’s service during a typhus epidemic in Ezeroum, in eastern Turkey. Indeed, we noticed the same anecdote that Geoff tells – but I’ll quote Geoff’s version, because it’s more economical and elegant than ours:
Along with Denniston and Stoker [British surgeons]you treat Armenians for nothing,including their archbishop whoinsists you take, in recompense,an ancient Persian braceletrescued from the time of Xerxes.
Did its maker’s father fightat Salamis or Marathon?you cannot help but wonder …
Here we have a writer whose skill and confidence with words enables him to do something that no one else has dared to do – to render a man’s life (or at least the most dramatic and accessible parts of it) in a form not usually associated with biography. It persuades me how verse enables a biographer to expose the essence of the story and of the emotions that underpin it – even when they are not apparent (as I hinted, Charles Ryan was a pretty buttoned up Victorian, and a surgeon to boot) – but some of his experiences in the Russo-Turkish war must have affected him for years, something to which Geoff’s text alludes. Geoff’s adept words and spare but sharp lines are like a lively life sketch rather than a fully worked-up oil painting.
But in just a few lines Geoff gives us the essence of Ryan’s experience – as a 60-year-old he served on Gallipoli as the 1st Division’s senior medico (one of the oldest combatants on the peninsula). Here he is at the celebrated 24 May truce on Gallipoli:
Those bodies, sprawled and rotting,are hazardous to healthand dysentery is rife already.You walk among the corpses,quietly giving orders.The shovel parties overlap;and now some Turkish officershave seen your Plevna decorations.They think, like some Circassian,you stole them from the dead and start to remonstrate.‘No, no,’ you say in Turkish.‘I got these when I fought at Plevnawith Gazi Osman Pasha.’And then, we’re told, they’re hugging youexpansively as comrades.
And so on until Ryan’s death, on a ship off the South Australian coast in 1926.
I liked the sense of Geoff’s reflections throughout the book. On the very last page he wittily observes the challenges of writing any biography, in verse or not, noticing the
… random slips of evidencethe internet preserves,managing the clash of dates,the multiple accounts,the various lacunae,the several contradictionsthat hinder and release,forcing one to speculatewhile falsifying nothing.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends, I hope that I’ve given you a fair impression of a wonderfully innovative, bold and fair ‘biography in verse’, one which resurrects one of the great characters of late Victorian Australia and one of the most notable characters on Gallipoli, a man who uniquely spanned two of the belligerent nations then and forever since.
On your behalf I congratulate Geoff Page on another wonderful book, which I pronounce duly launched. Congratulations, Geoff.
 - Peter Stanley

Prof. Peter Stanley of UNSW Canberra is one of Australia's most active military social historians, and President of Honest history. His latest book is Armenia, Australia and the Great War. 
Plevna: A Biography in Verse is available from