Sunday, October 31, 2010

Small Island Dreaming

If I didn’t know it before I came here, I do now: the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre is an integral and vibrant part of the Tasmanian artistic scene. With their fabulous website and resource centre, reading series, writing competitions, writing workshops, residencies, mentorships, and, of course, the PEI-Tasmania Writers’ Exchange, Director Chris Gallagher and the Centre are doing amazing things for this island’s writers. As the founding president, former treasurer, and long-time member of the PEI Writers’ Guild, I know how hard it is to offer programming that suits a wide range of interests and experience, and to do it, as Pete says, on “the smell of an oily rag.” Chris has the knack – and the tenacity and drive and vision - to pull it all together.

So when she realized that Deirdre and I were going to be here in Hobart at the same time – Deirdre in the Writers’ Cottage for the month of October, writing and doing consultations with writers, and me studying - she quickly invited us to be part of their regular monthly reading series at the Lark (a local whisky distillery near the waterfront). In keeping with earlier formats, she invited Pete Hay to lead us “in conversation.”

The Lark is comfortable and informal – conducive to literature and music, and, of course, those interested in a wee dram. There were 20-30 people in the audience, and, not too surprisingly, some familiar faces. After all, everyone says, it’s Hobart! I counted five publishers or former publishers there: my good friend Ralph Wessman from Famous Reporter and Walleah Press, Warren Boyles from 40 South, Anne Kellas (Roaring Forties Press and the online journal, The Write Stuff), Lyn Reeves from Pardalote Press, and Anica Boulanger-Mashberg from Island (who, in true small island fashion, was also working for the Hobart Bookshop that evening). Ralph Forehead’s lovely flamenco guitar got everyone in the mood for listening. It was a lovely audience – so attentive and responsive – any writer’s dream! And Terry Beach, whom I'd met at Anne Kellas's "Poetry Alive" class, kindly agreed to take a few photos with my camera.

But, in the event, the evening had to go to Pete and his questions. I’d already been interviewed by Annie Warburton on ABC Radio's Statewide Evenings (go to the blog entry for October 25) earlier in the week, which was chatty and fun and, I hope, somewhat informative and inspiring to get people thinking about islands. But Pete’s questions were MUCH harder, probed MUCH deeper into what it is to dream islands… especially Prince Edward Island and Tasmania.
He started off by asking why both islands seem to have so many poets. I recalled then when I first thought of doing my Master of Arts in Island Studies, I toyed with the idea of seeing if the size of PEI and Newfoundland had an effect on what their writers produced. This was based on my observation that there’s an inordinate amount of poetry coming from PEI, and a similarly prodigious output of “big” novels from Newfoundland. Could it be because PEI is small and compact, which suits the form of poetry, and Newfoundland is huge, which suits epic novels? Could it be that somehow your writing is bound by the limit of your horizons? But in focusing in on my topic of islandness, I decided that there are so many other factors – not just geography – that this couldn’t be attributed to “islandness.” (After all, you can have prairie literature, mountain literature, urban literature, and people writing about the prairies who live on mountainous islands!) So I did something else (in the end, my thesis explored island identity in the fiction of Wayne Johnston and Alistair MacLeod).

But now I’m here, and Tasmania is huge, too, and there is more poetry being produced than fiction, so geography can’t be the only factor. I went on to talk about PEI’s strong storytelling tradition, and the language rich in metaphors, which Alan Buchanan has talked about in his stage show, “Hedgerow” (especially his neighbour in Belfast, Harry McTavish). And the influences of early teachers at SDU and UPEI – poets like Frank Ledwell and John Smith and Reshard Gool; the shadow of Milton Acorn; and people like Ella Chappell who authored many of the rhyming poems that were a regular part of the Guardian years ago… Deirdre talked about the influence of LM Montgomery – who had written over 500 poems and loved writing poetry – how she shaped the landscape for poetry, had recognized that the light and vibrant colours, the size of the island, and the landscape are so conducive to poetry. I suppose in a way Deirdre was echoing my earlier thoughts about landscape and poetry, so I think it’s worth exploring further. And I wish now that I’d asked Pete why he thinks there are so many poets in Tasmania! 

Pete then asked his next question - about the similarities and differences between PEI and Tasmania – with the recognition that we were both pretty new to Tasmania so these would just be first impressions. The landscape is the obvious difference – the three-dimensionality of Hobart, with Mt. Wellington and Mt. Nelson rolling spectacularly down to the sea, compared with our gentle hills that pillow out before us like a tangle of legs under a blanket. There’s the size and the population – both MUCH bigger… Charlottetown is almost the same latitude north of the equator as Hobart is south. Deirdre mentioned the indigenous peoples: our Mi’kmaq and Tasmania’s Aboriginals. I forgot to say that the people are very similar to home: everywhere I go I see people who remind me of someone on PEI. (The other evening I leaned over to Deirdre and said, see that guy sitting there with his black hat? Doesn’t he look like Chris Kenny? She had to agree!)

Pete noted that one obvious difference is that Tasmanians aren’t as publicly aware of the fact that they live on an island. He mentioned that the host of the ABC evening newscast introduces the weather by saying, “The weather across the state today…” whereas Boomer says, “The weather across the Island today…” (I piped up that maybe they should start a petition to change that…)

He also mentioned that Tasmanians aren’t nearly as polite as Prince Edward Islanders – that there are deep hatreds that divide families – hatreds that stem from different visions of how people see their island (particularly in forestry and other resources). He talked about being known on Prince Edward Island for his “rants” (particularly about the state of our democracy – or lack thereof; he’s on record as decrying our first-past-the-post system of voting, arguing passionately instead for proportional representation). He said those weren’t “rants” at all! 

Another difference is that Tasmania seems to be more honest in its myth-making than PEI is. Their historic “stains,” such as convict history and Aboriginal history, receive greater acknowledgement than ours do. For instance, he described leading a field trip (part of a course in the Master of Arts in Island Studies program) to PEI’s North Shore last year, which both Deirdre and I had been part of, and said how he told us to listen for a lynx or a moose or a bear when we went into the woods on the way to the Bubbling Spring in the PEI National Park. We all laughed and said we didn’t have any of those. He replied, “Well you used to. So now I want you to listen for the absences…” We stopped laughing. We then went to a cemetery near Darnley on the North Shore, where none of us had been before - and yet he seemed to know about it. The tiny overgrown cemetery was filled with markers for hundreds of the young men who had died in the Yankee Gale - and he told us that the North Shore is dotted with cemeteries just like this one. He reminded us that the Yankee Gale was one of the biggest storms in our history, yet it’s a story that’s not a part of PEI’s mythology – not like “the birthplace of Confederation” or “Anne of Green Gables.” (Someone later asked me the year of the Yankee Gale, and I had to ask Pete… 1851…  I was suitably chagrined…)

The evening wasn’t all conversation – as stimulating as it was… We each read several poems – Deirdre dipping into her book, Afternoon Horses, as well as reading a poem she’d written about the field trip mentioned above – and I reading from my manuscript, “I’m Here for the Music.” I started with “What the Apple Lady Says,” inspired by a story that Margie Carmichael told me last year when our writing group had its annual writing retreat at a house on the Brudenell River, near Montague. Afterward Ralph Wessman asked if he could publish it in Famous Reporter.  I said sure! Wow!
We prevailed upon Pete to read some of his poetry, too. He said later that he doesn’t get the opportunity very often to read in Tasmania, and that some of his poems, including his wonderful poem about “Gentle Annie” was getting its first public airing here. (He had read it a couple times in Charlottetown.)

Because I’d spent two hours snugged up against a smoky keg of whisky, my first stop after the reading was at the bar to get a sample of the stuff that had been teasing my nosehairs all evening. It was smooth going down – though I much prefer the peatier stuff – Joe Sherman, who taught me to drink scotch whisky 19 years ago in his kitchen on Edinburgh Drive, would be proud.

Pete then introduced us to two of his “best mates”: the novelist Richard Flanagan and “the great riverman” Marcus Morse (who is also doing his PhD with Pete). We then closed down the Lark, and went on to Knopwoods, where we sampled a few glasses of “Wizard Smith’s” and “White Rabbit.”

We proceeded to close that one down, too, but that’s another story…

Monday, October 25, 2010

Songlines and storylines...

I had the opportunity to return to Launceston this past week, to attend the Association for the Study of Literature, Environment and Culture – Australia & New Zealand (ASLEC-ANZ) conference called “Sounding the Earth: Music, Language and Acoustic Ecology.” Organized by UTas Research Associate CA. Cranston, who lives in Launceston – along with several other helping hands from ASLEC! - the conference brought together approximately 50 scholars from Tasmania, the mainland, England, and the US and Canada, from disciplines ranging from English Literature and Anthropology to Cultural Studies and Geography. There was also a performance component featuring musicians, dancers and writers (including PEI’s own Deirdre Kessler!). The conference revolved around the role of sound: bird song, Aboriginal song, city soundscapes, country soundscapes, “making waves in the ocean of air” (which is where my talk on island culture and identity was situated), stories, poetry, animal sounds, and absence of animal sound (e.g., animals - like the extinct thylacine or Tasmanian tiger).

The opening of the conference was so amazing that I had to share… For me, it was pretty much the highlight of the conference (although there were some other amazing presentations!). As Kate Booth (a recent UTas Geography PhD graduate and another student of Pete’s) said, after the keynote address on Thursday morning, “I can just go home now.”

The conference began Thursday morning, Oct. 21, with “Welcome to Country” by Dyan Summers, a Tasmanian Aboriginal, and her husband Ronnie Summers, an elder from Cape Barren Island, located off the northeast coast of Tasmania. I was curious about the usage of the word “Country” without a qualifier; it wasn’t “Welcome to the Country,” or “Welcome to our Country,” but “Welcome to Country.” But what it seems to mean – and I may have this wrong – is “Welcome to our homeland, a land that was taken from us by colonizers, a land that we are now sharing with you. We call it Country.” Over the two days, several conference presenters prefaced their talks with an acknowledgement that they are on land that once belonged to the original inhabitants, Tasmanian’s Aboriginal peoples, thanking them for the privilege of being here. It was a lovely and respectful way to begin.

Dyan invited her husband to sing a song she had written: “The Songlines of the Moonbird.” A moonbird is a muttonbird, the harvesting of which ("muttonbirding") is a cultural tradition for Aboriginal Tasmanians from Cape Barren Island. The birds are collected for their oil, which apparently has healing properties - akin to our cod liver oil in the northern hemisphere, and, I understand, just as foul-tasting. Ronnie is a descendant of the Trawl-wool-way and Palawa people, and author of Tasmanian Songman, Ronnie (a book with accompanying CD).

Following this was a presentation by Bruce Watson, a folksinger-songwriter from Melbourne. 
As part of his Powerpoint, he showed us a photograph of Fanny Cochrane Smith, “the last Tasmanian” (1834-1905), taken in 1903. Fanny is singing a song, in her native tongue, into the long brass tube of an Edison phonograph, which was being operated by Horace Watson, a relative of the people who started Keen’s Curry in Hobart in 1841. I only learned of Keen’s Curry about a week ago (though I certainly have Keen’s Mustard Powder in my kitchen cupboard at home; it turns out the mustard people eventually bought out the curry people). One of Hobart’s attractions is the unusual sign for Keen’s Curry - made of white stones on a hill overlooking Hobart. Apparently, it’s been there since 1915, and from time to time “larrikins” (the word used here for hooligans) or even political activists sneak up the hill in the middle of the night and rearrange the stones to read messages reflecting the tenor of the times, such as "HELLS CURSE" or "NO CABLE CAR."

Anyway, Fanny sang some traditional songs in her language, and the recording is now the only record of her language, a language that has since died out. Bruce played us a clip from the recording: a voice, high and haunting, with an unmistakable rhythm, and even though you don’t know what it is she’s saying, her voice stays with you - notes that have survived over a century even though the language is gone… sound waves captured not in memory but in wax… Here are some photos of the cylinders located in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, along with the photo; in the interactive display you can press a button to hear some of the recording. (I learned afterward from a security guard that I wasn’t allowed to be taking photos… oops… sorry! I beg for forgiveness…)

After his talk, Bruce invited Ronnie to join him in singing his song, “The Man and the Woman and the Edison Phonograph.” The evocative melody and lyrics are still rattling around my brain – symbolic of a time and place and a way of life that is disappeared: “The song lives on, but the singers are gone.”

Now this is where I want you to go on YouTube to listen to the song for yourself.  It starts with the photo, and a clip of Fanny singing, then moves onto the song, recorded recently at a folk festival on the mainland. When you’re done - and make sure you stay til the end! - come back and I’ll tell you the audience’s reaction…
I don’t think very many of us made the connection between Bruce Watson, the man with the guitar standing before us, and Horace Watson, the man with the phonograph, so the last lines of the song hit us like the proverbial tidal wave: “The man had a son and that man had a son and that man had a son and that son is me.” (I remember gasping just before he got to the end, knowing full well what was coming…) And then Ronnie sang these lines: “And that woman had a son, and that son had a daughter, and that daughter had a son, and he had a son, and that son was me.” At first I thought he was just echoing Bruce, but when he got to the word “daughter” I knew he had to be Fanny’s descendant... And then the tears started. And I looked beside me and Kate was crying, and I looked around me and others were weeping, too… tissues coming out of pockets… the applause… Bruce and Ronnie both so moved…

It really was hard to wrench us out of the mood and move on to the next part of the conference, but CA. persevered. Good thing, too, as John Bradley, an Anthropology professor from Monash University in Melbourne, was simply amazing. His talk was entitled “Earth embedded song and human amplifiers: A case study of songline knowing.” John is the author of Singing Saltwater Country: Journey to the songlines of Carpentaria. The Gulf of Carpentaria is Yanyuwa Country; and his talk was about the politics of place. These islands on the west coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria is where John has chosen to do his work on songlines - the invisible threads of connection that wait to be voiced by humans, who are the “amplifiers.” The songs and stories have agency; he says, “Each song is a keyhole into another world,” and humans are a part of that narrative, embedded in the songs.  To “sing Country” is the ultimate way to know a place. If songs are no longer sung in Country, there will be no Country left – and the land will be silenced. (I found this resonated tremendously with my work, which phenomenologist Edward Relph - one of my theory guys - calls “placelessness.”)

John ended his presentation with three videos, animations in which he was “animating Country.” He was pleased to show us what technology can do, and that not ALL technology is bad… The films are intended to help us grasp the idea of a songline: “We draw so we can begin to see inside the song, to see what kin might be – animals, plants…” And it worked. With his voice in our ears… the visuals in front of us… the characters that were created… the effect was VERY powerful: I can now understand how songlines and storylines connect us all, in everything we do. I had a visceral reaction to the rainbow serpent in the last video (snakes do that to me, so you know it must have been excellent animation!). Then someone asked a question about the power of the serpent in the Aboriginal culture – and John replied that the artists and production team had made a point of making sure that they got it right… And it was lovely to know that the rainbow serpent is the same as a rainbow in the sky.

In one of his slides, he had quoted the following:

“We are the people
Whose spirits are from the sea.
We are the people who are kin
To the island country.”
   (composed by Dinah Norman)

… so I asked a question about islands, since this is where these people live. He said that islands are all about kin and connection, that in their language there is no word for “friend,” but that “kin” is what they use since they’re ALL connected. “There is no separation between land and sea: it’s all Country.” He added, “Kinship is the strength of every human being.”

I think it was the best conference keynote speech I’ve ever heard. He sang for us in the language of the people who have adopted him as kin. He was SO passionate, SO generous-spirited, and SO in love with what he is doing… I, along with the rest of audience, was awestruck. Thank you, CA., for your vision, and your orchestration. You played us like a symphony!


The other highlight for me - surprisingly, given my aversion to movies featuring cannibalism and other blood and guts - was the screening of the feature film Van Diemen’s Land, which was filmed in Tasmania and Victoria’s Otway Ranges. The story is about the Alexander Pearce story, one of seven convicts who escaped from the prison in MacQuarie Harbour, on Tasmania’s west coast. Pearce ended up being the last man standing, after participating in the murder and cannibalizing of his fellow inmates in order to survive. It was gruesome – haunting – upsetting – but it was also an excellent film. (I couldn’t eat supper afterwards, so I drank instead.)
Jonathan auf der Heide, the director and co-writer (who looks like he’s 12, but is probably in his early 30s), was on hand to introduce the film and answer questions afterward. His graduation film from Victorian College of the Arts was Hell's Gates, a 21-minute short version of the film we saw; it was named Best Student Film at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2008. He was able to use the short film to leverage money to make the feature, though Van Diemen’s Land was made for $250,000 – and $50,000 of that went to getting the quality sound. (He says most of the money came from private sources, including friends and family.) The actors, including his co-writer, Oscar Redding (who also played Pearce), lent their talents for free – they were all Jonathan’s mates from theatre school and wanted the opportunity to be in a feature film. It took six weeks to shoot, and it’s had some good reviews. Here’s a quote from IMDb: “Van Diemen's Land is a stunning debut feature from one of Australia's newest and youngest directors. If this film is any indication of the quality of writing and directing coming out of our film schools today, it augers very well for the future of the Australian film industry as a whole.” (And here's a link to another review...)

Jonathan told us that he very much intended for the landscape to be a character unto itself. You don’t see much more than trees, rocks, mud, trees, streams, trees, rivers, more trees... At one point you see the desperation on the men’s faces as they reach the top of a mountain, only to discover more tops of more mountains… then watch the seven men trudging in a ragtag line along the crest. And you always get that “heart of darkness” feel – the Tasmanian bush as harsh and unrelenting, dark and brooding, and downright dangerous – a mirror for the desperation and blackness that is these characters’ lives…  Jonathan had told us at the outset that the film was dark – in more ways than one…

Jonathan told us that it’s been released in Britain and as a slasher/horror movie, much to his annoyance. The people who like that kind of movie are disappointed because the horror is psychological – the violence is for the most part implied (though I spent much of the movie with my hands over my eyes in anticipation of blood and gore, and my stomach was doing backflips and somersaults).

It’s an important Tasmanian story – and even though I wonder sometimes why people feel that they have to make films out of horrific incidents, I’m thinking now that it might have something to do with a land’s songlines that HAVE to be voiced, and Jonathan and his team are just the human amplifiers…

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Out for a Sunday drive

On the way back to Hobart from Launceston on Sunday, October 3, I was able to take some pretty amazing photos through the car window!

Here are a few to give you a sense of what the central part of the island looks like in early spring. Of course, the photos are no substitute for the real thing...

Oh, and the geese are for you, Kate Graham!

Thanks again, Ralph Wessman, for driving... we discovered many a shared taste in music, from Cry, Cry, Cry (my favourite CD in the whole world - created by Richard Shindell, Dar Williams, and Lucy Kaplansky) to Alison Kraus and Neil Young (to which we ALL sang along!).

And here we are, just north of Hobart, on the other side of Mt. Wellington from where I live!

But I don't know if I'll every get used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road... "No, no, your other left..."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Poetry: alive and thriving in Tasmania

You know how we say at home that there are more poets per square inch than any other province…. Well I’d say that Tassie would give PEI a run for its money. And that’s saying something since they have nearly five times as many people in an area that is twelve times the kilometerage of ours.

One of the first things I did when I arrived in Hobart was go to a poetry reading at the Republic – a pub that’s known for its alternative music scene and Sunday poetry readings. The following evening I sat in with a group of writers learning more about poetry in an eight-week class called “Poetry Alive” with poet and publisher Anne Kellas; Pete had been invited to talk to them about his long poems and he invited me to tag along. Anne then very graciously invited me to come back in October to talk about my prose poems, which I did this past Monday. It was such a treat to read some poems and then talk about them to this wonderfully informed and interested group of people.
From left: Anne Kellas (our teacher extraordinaire) with Esther, Hilary, Terry, Geoff, John, Jan, Karen, and Michael
So on the weekend of Oct. 1-3 I attended the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, in Launceston, a city of about 100,000 two-and-a-bit hours north of Hobart.
The festival was founded 25 years ago by Tim Thorne - familiar to many of us already as he was the most recent Tasmanian to come to PEI as part of the Tasmania-Prince Edward Island Writers’ Exchange. Over the years, the Festival has showcased hundreds of poets from around the world. Writes  the current Festival Director Cameron Hindrum in the 16-page program, it’s “almost certainly the longest continually held regional event of its kind in Australia (I keep making this latter claim, and as yet no one has produced any evidence to the contrary).”

(All weekend I kept thinking to myself how much it was like the Milton Acorn Festival, one of those rare gems that died a tragic death... It was the only Board that I, along with Joe Sherman and Frank Ledwell, was ever fired from!)
Festival Director Cameron Hindrum
So 25 years was pretty special, with guest poets reading alongside local poets in various venues, such as on board the Tamar Odyssey “as twilight settled over the Tamar River,” the Boatshed (home to the rowing club), Fullers Bookshop, Taste on Q cafĂ©, the Mowbray Golf Club, and the Old Baptist Church. The Festival included two Canadians, including our very own Deirdre Kessler, who was a guest of the Festival in 2007.  She read from Afternoon Horses, published by Acorn Press (ME)! The other, Jacqueline Turner, also a repeat guest, is from Vancouver and is the author of Seven Into Even, Careful, and Into the Fold, all published by my friends at ECW Press in Toronto. (Such a small world, really…)
Poet Emily Ballou
Other Australian poets included Joe Dolce, whose 1980s song "Shaddap You Face" holds the five times platinum record for most successful song in Australian music for three decades in a row; he read from his first book of poetry, Hatbox. (Check it out on YouTube, and see if you remember it! I did!) Mark Tredinnick, author of The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir, was thrilled to announce that his first book of poetry, Fire Diary, was making its debut at the festival. (I’m sure his publisher was happy, too!) Emily Ballou read from her award-winning verse-portrait of Charles Darwin called The Darwin Poems; Ray Liversidge read from Obeying the Call and The Barrier Range; Peter Bakowski read from his various publications, as well as from a manuscript of 202 witty, aphoristic, and often hilarious two-line poems he’s working on now; and Myron Lysenko performed some of his performance poetry (Myron was a founding editor of the literary magazine Going Down Swinging). Ben Walters from Hobart was the only official guest Tasmanian poet. He is the author of the “melancholy wilderness story” Below Tree Level and represented Tasmania in the first national poetry slam. After each of the featured events, the floor was open to local readers, who regaled us with more poetry of varying quality, from the already-published to the writing-for-sixty-years-and-never-read-before, and heaps in between – including some with rhymes. I felt right at home with our PEI Writers’ Guild AGM open-mic readings!
Poet Peter Bakowski
Poet and essayist Mark Tredinnik
The Festival culminated in the much-anticipated “Launceston Poetry Cup” on Saturday evening, which lays down the gauntlet to anyone willing to read a one-minute poem. “If you can generate the loudest audience response, the silverware is yours! It’s loud, it’s contagious, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have in verse” decrees the Festival Program. And it was great fun – 32 poets took up the challenge, and I, never known to sit on my butt when I could be behind a microphone, got up and read “How to Catch a Cowboy.” I didn’t win, but I reckon I was in the top ten! Joe Dolce, who by the luck of the draw went last, was the winner with a song called “Guantánamo Bay” to the tune of “Guantanamera (count 'em – same number of syllables – just change the emphasis!). His scathingly satirical lyrics brought down the house and he got to take the much-coveted silver cup home to the mainland.
Back row: Jacqueline, Myron, Deirdre, Peter, Emily, and Ben; Front row: Joe, Ray, and Mark
Just some of the poets' books...
I had the privilege of travelling to Launceston and sharing a house with the lovely Ralph Wessman, publisher of the literary journal, Famous Reporter (in which one of my poems was published several years ago), and Walleah Press (which published Pete Hay’s Vandiemonian Essays and Silently on the Tide, as well as Tim Thorne’s Head and Shin); ...

... and the equally wonderful award-winning poet Jane Williams and her amazing 22-year-old daughter, poet/photographer Emily Kelly. Jane is the author of Outside Temple Boundaries, The Last Tourist, and Begging the Question. A veteran of the Festival from a very young age, Emily is working on her courage to get up and read some of her poems one of these years.

I urge you to check out Famous Reporter. It’s a fabulous mix of poetry and fiction a labour of love for Ralph. And he’s open to submissions from non-Tasmanians!

My favourite new poetry – besides Jane Williams, who didn’t read on the weekend, but I got to read some later – came from Ben Walters, by far the youngest poet on the program. He’s writing about his place – Tasmania. He’s grown up keeping his eyes and heart open to this gorgeous island, and he’s now writing it. Plus he’s just a lovely guy. I suspect we’ll be hearing more from him in festivals to come! 
Poet Ben Walters
I also liked Mark Tredennick’s work: accessible, elegant, with poetic preoccupations ranging from home life to his sense of place, which for him (I suspect) are the Blue Mountains in Australia. I’m very much looking forward to reading his books. Indeed, Ralph asked me to review Fire Diary, and after a slight hesitation thinking “what do I know about reviewing poetry?”, I agreed. I mean, duh…

SO much poetry… so little time… (Precisely nine weeks and counting for Ralph’s review!)
A poem on the Sober Poet Tree (there was also a Slightly Inebriated Poet Tree)