One of the most simultaneously terrifying and enjoyable experiences I’ve had in recent times 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
Here is a small selection from (far too) many poetry books I’ve purchased over the past twelve months or so. I might even get myself sorted enough to write about them on here soonish.
I Was the Jukebox – Sandra Beasley; Exactly my own Length – Olivia McCannon; Tracy K. Smith – Life on Mars; Never, Never, Never Come Back – Kirsten Irving; Australian Love Poems 2013 – Edited by Mark Tredinnick; Even in the Dark – Rose Lucas; Some Ether – Nick Flynn; Black Aperture – Matt Rasmussen; Stag’s Leap – Sharon Olds; Theories of Falling – Sandra Beasley; and Firekeeper – Pattiann Rogers.
You might have noticed one name coming up twice. There’s a very good reason for that. Here’s an example of Sandra Beasley’s exquisite poetry from her second collection Theories of Falling.
enrolled in May 1993 has the same
solar eclipse scorched into her retina:
under the basketball hoop, hand out
pinhole viewers cut from cereal boxes
Now. Look now. Now stop.
And of course my whole science classkeeps staring,
anoles lose one tail and grow another,
who have learned to diagram & spell
through cardboard emblazoned
with the Froot Loops toucan.
hovering in front of a bare light bulb.
That must be the hand of God,
inside now. Could the punch
be coming straight at us?