One of the most simultaneously terrifying and enjoyable experiences I’ve experienced in recent experience was speaking to the wonderful Alice Allan* on the latest episode of her podcast Poetry Says.
I was thrilled when Alice asked if I’d be interested in taking part, but I can honestly say I was so cripplingly nervous during the recording that I was oblivious to everything coming out of my mouth. I’ve just had a listen now on iTunes and I’m glad to report that the sounds issuing from my mouth were in fact words, and most of those were arranged in such a fashion that a fairly decent facsimile of a discussion concerning poetry was the happy result.
Annoying and overlong attempts at modesty aside, it was fantastic fun. We discussed my favourite Russell Edson poem, my book, my next project and a whole bunch of other stuff. I even got to read one of my own poems.
Have a listen and subscribe to Poetry Says to hear from the likes of Stuart Barnes, Michele Seminara, Robbie Coburn and a growing number of other fantastic poets discussing their favourite poems. It’s such an excellent podcast for anyone who enjoys hearing poetry read and discussed.
*Alice, a formidable poet herself, has a voice that could calm a rampaging bear. Listening to an episode of Poetry Says could potentially reduce, if not cure, your hypertension. Trust me, it’s good for what ails ya’.
I was lucky enough to attend the launch of Glasshouses by Stuart Barnes at the 2016 Queensland Poetry Festival over the weekend. It’s a fantastic debut collection and I’m sure there’ll be a few glowing reviews and probably some prizes heading Stuart’s way.
I was only able to attend a couple of events during the short time I was in Brisbane, but I’m keen to go again next year.
In other news, my poem ‘Ode to the Saturn V’ just went up at Bluepepper. Check it out!
Why haven’t I posted about any of my recently* published poetry? That’s a great question without a satisfying answer. Let’s avoid the awkward issue and just read a list of poems that exist because I wrote them. Hey, maybe you’ll even read the poems themselves.
The Spiders are Here – WritReview
The International Prototype – Meanjin (complete with misleading image)
Space Age – Mascara Literary Review
Ridley Scott’s Alien and Moth – Verity La
Cologne’s Zentrum Anatomie – Tincture
Surrogacy – Cordite
Rozelle Window on Two Consecutive Days – 2015 Poetry & Place Anthology (audio version)
Memento Mori – Shoreline of Infinity
Also, here’s a recent review I wrote.
*When I say recently published, I mean it in the way that somebody who has no working grasp of the passing of time might mean it.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: So, what’s been doin’, Beniamino?
Benjamin: Lots of little bits and pieces, really, CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP. Nothing spectacularly WordPress-worthy.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: That’s ok. Tell the good people your boring minutiae anyway.
Benjamin: Alright. What do you want me to talk about?
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: Don’t you mean “about what do you want me to talk?”
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: Have you read any decent poetry lately?
Benjamin: I have, actually. I needed to find something that was of a reasonably literary quality, but could be understood by my Year 5/6 class at school for a recent unit of study. I stumbled upon a poem by Ted Kooser in a text book. It’s called Abandoned Farmhouse. It really generated some fantastic discussion amongst the kids and I ended up buying a couple of Kooser’s collections. His work is very clear and accessible, but withstands deeper reading.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: Great. What else have you been reading in the way of verse?
Benjamin: Sarah Holland-Batt’s ‘The Hazards’. A really beautiful collection. I had to review it for an online journal (which I will link to in a new post when it is published), but in the end, it felt like reading for sheer pleasure.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: I’ve seen that book around. Maybe I’ll check it out.
Benjamin: You really should. Also, I’ve been listening to a lot of poetry through the medium of the podcast. There are so many great poetry-related programs out there online these days. I love cueing up an episode most nights before I go to sleep.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: How about your own writing? How’s that going.
Benjamin: During school terms, I really can’t/don’t write much at all. I’m definitely a mono-tasker. I’m taking a bit of leave at the end of this term and I’ll use it to extend my usual holiday writing period. There’s a little place I’m going to visit in the Blue Mountains for the express purpose of writing. It should be fantastic. I can’t wait.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: What are you planning on working on while you’re there?
Benjamin: Don’t you mean, “on what are you planning to work while you’re away?”
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: That’s what I said.
Benjamin: I don’t think you did. [Ed. He didn’t.] I’ve been working on a project for quite a while now that’s slowly beginning to resemble my second book. It’s a verse novel based on true events.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: What’s it like to write a verse novel? Much different from a collection of miscellaneous poetry?
Benjamin: Well, it is a bit different. I’ve never really written so many poems about the one topic, let alone involveng the one protagonist. Each poem needs to make up a vital part of the entire narrative, but also stand convincingly alone. It’s a challenge, but I’m finding it quite rewarding. Another difference, given that the work is based on actual events, is the amount of research involved. That’s not something I’d otherwise do much of.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: I’m sure you mean “that’s not something of which you’d otherwise much do.”
Benjamin: Of course.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: Anything exciting coming up for you?
Benjamin: Yes! I’ll be visiting Brisbane next weekend for the launch of my mate Stuart Barnes’s debut collection Glasshouses. He won last year’s Thomas Shapcott Prize for Poetry and his book is finally being unleashed upon the public during the 2016 Queensland Poetry Festival. I’m looking forward to hearing him read and catching up with him. It’s been a while. The festival program looks wonderful, too.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: Give Stuart my regards and grab a copy of the collection for me.
Benjamin: Sure thing. Will do.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: So, this largely unsuccessful contrivance of an interview has probably dragged on long enough, yeah?
Benjamin: I think so. Let’s slink away and pretend it never happened.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: Gladly. Thanks for pretending to speak/type with me, poet Benjamin Dodds.
Benjamin: Thanks for pretending to interview me, CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP.
CIPABTCOBIIOTFTBP: It’s been a pretend pleasure.
*Conveniently Imagined Persona Allowing Benjamin the Conceit of Being Interviewed in Order to Frame this Blog Post
Let’s just say hooray for Apple’s Keychain. Without it, I’d never have remembered my WordPress login. It’s been a long time since my last post. More than 18 months. So, why am I back (I ask myself, being this blog’s primary reader)? Well, a couple of reasons.
Firstly, I’ve had a few readings over the intervening time and one of them came about solely because of this blog. It was very nice of people to bother to contact me to check that I was still alive and working, even nicer of them to ask me to show off my poetry in front of some actual living people. The realisation that my Mary Celeste of a blog is the first thing that floats into view when somebody types my name into a search engine (we all know which one. Webcrawler and Yahoo are dead, people), is, frankly, slightly embarrassing.
Secondly, I’ve been writing again and wanted the option of being able to waffle about the process. I might rarely use this outlet, but it’s nice to know it’s here and that the hinges haven’t seized.
I’m working on a verse novel that started out like a dream. Fully formed poems were flowing from my fingertips and the research thrilled me. That was more than a year ago, and, of course, I soon realised that it’s not always so easy.
The writing slowed to a trickle, school reports were due and an insidious force called Netflix entered my life. For a worryingly long time, I wrote very little at all. No new pieces for the book. No new standalone poems, either. But recently, thank Creamy Goodness, I’ve remembered I’m a poet who is quite capable of writing, sometimes even to relatively acceptable effect. Rereading the stuff I’d already written for the verse novel didn’t make me cringe and a few new bits and pieces have been added to the existing stuff over the past while. I’m excited again about the book and about writing, which is, well, exciting!
So, I won’t promise I’ll be a regular poster, but I also won’t let the Mary Celeste off the leash again. Gotta love a good mixed metaphor.
Close friend and fellow poet Stuart Barnes recently interviewed me about all things poetic and the result is up on Tincture Journal’s homepage. It was good fun. I’ve also got a couple of new poems in the latest issue. Tincture is a really strong little e-journal, so be sure to buy and download an issue or two to keep your e-reader well fed.
In related news, huge congratulations to Stuart for being awarded runner-up in this year’s Thomas Shapcott Prize. Stuart’s poetry is powerful stuff.