Thursday, January 29, 2015

Post it Note Poetry 2015 - Guidelines

shot_1391417144948 So the time is nearly upon us.  February 1st is the day it all begins.  If you are new to Post It Note Poetry, check out Co-founder Adam Byatt’s post here

The general gist of it is:

  1. Give yourself permission to write poetry, badly if need be
  2. Write out that poem on a post-it note and photograph it
  3. Put it on twitter with the #postitnotepoetry
  4. Do this every day of February (if you can)

I credit Post It Note Poetry for getting me back into writing poetry seriously.  You are posting a poem a day so there’s not really time for agonising over things too much.  There’s no expectations that you write like a Poet Laureate.  Hell there’s no expectation that you write good poetry.  Free yourself from the nagging self critic, the inner poetry snob that says don’t bother, you’ll never be Les Murray or Dorothy Porter.

The only real rules are that the poem must fit on a Post-It Note.

I will maintain a curated twitter feed here.   I will add twitter posts that have the Hashtag above. 

Enjoy meeting new poets and writers.


Helpful Advice:

If you are new to poetry try an English Language Haiku or an American Cinquain.  Both of these provide a form that’s not too rigid.  Haiku are good for training your observational skills too - I noticed a type of Bee that I had never seen before.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Poetry in the Pub, Gawler

shot_1422171602960 This Sunday past we took our new, super fuel efficient car down to Gawler so that I could attend the closest Poetry in the Pub event.  Gawler’s about a good hour and a half trip and I am hoping to make it down on a bimonthly basis( as was my plan last year).

Meeting poets face to face is something I lack due to my remoteness.  I have a very good online poetry group but it is good to perform to different audiences and to do so live and out loud.

I read out two works in progress and got good enough feedback that I will push on with submitting them for publication. 

I note that it’s getting pretty close to February and the mad rush of poetry that will be Post it Note Poetry 2015.  Check out one of its founders here and join in.

(Photo:  Part of the wall art at the Poetic Justice Cafe in Gawler)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review – old stone: haiku, senryu & haibun by ashley capes


Ashley Capes continues to impress me.  I have previously reviewed his poetry collection Stepping Over Seasons and have also had the pleasure of reviewing his debut fantasy novel, City of Masks.  His ability to straddle such diverse genre spaces would have me jealous if I hadn’t come to know him as such a generous and warm hearted author and poet.

As the title of the book forewarns, old stone is a 45 page collection of Japanese form poetry.  Now, some poets and readers might look down their nose at Haiku and Senryu as perhaps childish or unchallenging.  Indeed Peter Sansom in Writing Poems, was particularly (and entertainingly) cutting in his summation of the form and the peculiarity of some of the poets who like to specialise in it. Being a writer of Haiku and Senryu myself I have a difference of opinion.

Haiku and Senryu in my experience are similar to a game like chess.  It’s easy to learn the rules but can take a lifetime to master or in the case of poetry produce something lasting.  If you are still of the opinion that Haiku are just seventeen syllable poems, it might be worth learning a bit more about them.  I suggest and introductory text by Jane Reichhold.

The challenge with Haiku, especially Haiku divorced from its cultural roots is to take what is a simple form and produce something startling, something memorable (see my post Translations).

But that’s enough about Haiku and Senryu in general and on to Capes works in particular.

Some of these works I had the pleasure of reading prior to publication, either in other publications or in some correspondence with Ashley.  A number of the works appear to be themed or relate to his travel in Italy, but they are not so tied to place that one can’t appreciate them.  Indeed we get to be voyeurs and vicarious participants of place and mood at a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket. The power of Haiku is that of the moment.  If you are doing it well the reader is getting an image, a sense of a place.

shuffling over old stone

the echo

of tour guides


Senryu are Haiku not bound by certain strictures involving seasonal words(a basic definition), they are often humorous, witty or risqué.  One of my favourites is

re runs-

the police chief

is always balding

What I really enjoyed about the collection was the Haibun – a combination of prose poetry observation and a complimentary Haiku.  It’s a form that I haven’t attempted and I like the considered observations written by Ashley and his choice of Haiku to accompany them:

Roman Forum (1)

the spot where Caesar’s body was burnt seems to scare our guide. she does not look at the flowers, a sheen of sweat on her face as the sun works its centuries-slow destruction on pillars in the Forum

uneven footing
horns from
the imperial road

up where the Vestal Virgins had their garden, rose beds breathe easy. green pools might once have hidden tears or swallowed sighs. of the many statues, only two have heads and their creamy robes are mute. people rest before them, hands on hips

posing for photos
other tourists
fill the frame


To appreciate Haiku and Haibun it pays to have a little understanding of the restrictions/guidelines that contemporary Haiku poets use.  Almost anyone can appreciate and delight in a straight reading of the above but familiarity with the form will add to the experience.

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable collection that is rewarded by subsequent re-readings. old stone can be purchased through independent Adelaide publisher  - Ginniderra Press (click here and scroll down).  I won this copy.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

WRIT Poetry Review Issue 2 is Out

shot_1382531418742 WRIT Poetry Review, who were kind enough to reprint That Summer, in their launch issue have released their second issue titled Myriad. 

This issue showcases two poets: Bronwyn Lovell and Tracy Ryan in addition two some 29 poems from other poets( including Indigo Eli, Ron Barton, Ashley Capes and Felicity Plunkett).

There’s also reviews from Robbie Coburn, Nathan Hondros and Siobhan Hodge.

Definitely worth a look.

Monday, January 5, 2015

eBook Review – Writing Poems by Peter Sansom

writing-poemsPart of my poetry practice last year and this year was reading more poetry and reading more about poetry. Peter Sansom is a noted English poet and teacher of poetry. His Writing Poems was published in the mid nineties, making this book 20 years old and you may well question the relevance of a text two decades out of date. 

Thankfully, much of what Sansom has to say is relevant to an emerging poet today.  It’s relevance and applicability no doubt contributed to Bloodaxe Books decision to create it in ebook from in 2011.

Writing Poems is approachable, conversational in tone; a read enjoyable outside the information and opinion it attempts to pass on.  How relevant it is to the poet seeking to refine their craft will depend on individual experience.  I found the first three chapters full of timely reminders for myself, the later chapters on forms less relevant - the information here is widely available, though Sansom’s observations are entertaining and informative.

Looking back over the table of contents Writing Poems seems to break into two parts.  The first half deals with why we write poetry and how we should approach the writing of poetry, the later part focuses on mechanics. 

What I take away from the work is a focus on discernment, increasing my own experience through reading and writing - building a sense of knowing what might be good about my own work.  Building the capability to recognise whether a poem is being knocked back from publication because it doesn’t fit, or because the poem is lacking.

The information on the technical aspects of both form poetry and free verse are helpful, though I still find Stephen Fry’s Ode Less Travelled the best text I have read for getting iambic pentameter drumming in your ear.

Could a beginner pick this up and enjoy it?  Yes I think so, the tone is approachable and the technical details supported by a variety of modern examples.  I also think there’s a good deal of value for those, like myself who have had some small success and struggle with refining their work and producing something of more lasting value.

I borrowed my copy from the SA Library but you can purchase both the paperback and ebook through Booktopia.

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