countdown to QPF begins

The USQ Bookcase last weekend was a terrific lead-up to this year’s Queensland Poetry Festival. I am so excited this year to be programmed to perform at QPF, so having the opportunity to test out 15 minutes of new material on an appreciative Toowoomba audience was great.

This year, I will be performing alongside two other giants of Australian poetry in David Brooks and Michael Farrell in our session ‘Better the devil you know’. I do hope you can come along to catch the performance, which will be held on Sunday 30th August in the Shopfront, 1:30-2:30pm. There are a whole heap of awesome things planned for this year’s festival, which runs from 28-30 August at the mighty Judith Wright Centre in the Valley, so I urge you to check out the program in its entirety at the QPF website.

From Ali Cobby Eckermann, MTC Cronin and Ivy Alvarez to Sarah Holland-Batt, Les Murray and even Clive Palmer MP – there is sure to be something for everyone. And if performance and experimental poetry is more your flavour, I think this year’s program will really ignite your senses.

More soon!


USQ Bookcase this saturday!

This Saturday I’ll be returning to my home town Toowoomba to take part in the USQ Bookcase for a second year. This is a great little festival that showcases some of the University’s alumni as well as the best local writers from the region. I’ll be joined on the main stage from 3:30-4pm by Brett Dionysius and I’m really looking forward to performing with Brett again.

We’ll both have books for sale on the day, so if you are in the Toowoomba region, it would be great to see you there. Check out the program, as there are all manner of workshops and events and performances taking place over the weekend.

It’s great to be involved and give back to my home town and contribute to the cultural life of the region. It’s also a great lead up event to the Queensland Poetry Festival, happening next month. More on this event soon!


China Bull to be published by work & tumble

This week, China Bull was selected as the winner of the 2015 Work & Tumble Chapbook Competition. The prospect of seeing this story in print and in a beautiful, tactile format is really exciting. This work is special, and I am very grateful to my friend and fellow poet John Koenig who has co-authored this book with me.

Work & Tumble describe themselves as an Australian publisher of high quality, limited edition poetry chapbooks – using time honoured letterpress methods and cutting edge digital techniques. You can read more about their ideology and services by visiting their website.

One thing is certain, these chapbooks will be objects of beauty and I can’t wait to start working with the Work & Tumble team to bring our vision to life. Stay tuned for more information, including details about where and when the book with be launched, and how to get your hands on a copy.

Many thanks to Amy Hilhorst who judged the competition, selecting China Bull from a strong field of 58 manuscripts. This is what Amy had to say about China Bull:

Judge Amy Hilhorst highlighted its ‘strong narrative’, ‘powerful poetic imagery’ and ‘awesome concluding lines’ with each section. She went on to state ‘it is so measured, professional, original, and well-paced.’

Thanks also to the many people who came to listen to China Bull, performed live last year at Riverbend Books in Brisbane, at the USQ Bookcase Festival in Toowoomba and earlier this year at Poet’s Corner at Maroochydore. The great response we received at these gigs encouraged me to keep sending China Bull out for consideration.


Recent poems and poetry news

Part of China Bull has found a home and I couldn’t be happier! The Annie Caroline section of the work will be appearing in an upcoming edition of Rabbit as part of a double volume called ‘Biography’. The two parts should be available by the end of June and I can’t wait to read all of the works.

My poem ‘Petrichor’ has also been accepted for publication in Southerly’s upcoming Elemental issue. This is the first time my work has found its way into these wo respected journals, and its wonderful to keep opening up my poetry to new audiences by finding homes in many and varied journals and publications. I also recently received my copy of Cuttlefish – a very handsome new journal out of WA and edited by Roland Leach. My poem ‘Papier Mache’ can be found in its pages, along with some beautiful illustrations and artwork.

It’s getting cooler in Brisbane (well marginally) and as always, at this time of year the poetry events continue to inspire in the lead up to the amazing Queensland Poetry Festival. Earlier this year I was so thrilled to meet Judith Rodriguez and hear her perform a set of her work at Speedpoets. I have a copy of Judith’s 1982 release ‘Witch Heart’ and have found myself going back to it a number of times since. I also picked up a copy of Judith’s latest work, which retells the true story of Minnie Thwaites. As a lover of history and non fiction poetry, it really struck a chord.
Vanessa Page and Judith Rodriguez

It was also great to join Matt Hetherington for the launch of his new haiku collection ‘For Instance’. At a chilly evening at Pallet in West End, we gathered to enjoy the simplicity and power of Matt’s new collection. Launched by Nathan Shepherdson (as Pascalle Burton) and featuring a set from David Stavanger – it was a great way to spend a couple of hours.
For Instance

Last Friday evening, I joined with a small group at Archives Fine Books to read the poems of Judith Wright, as part of her 100th birthday celebrations. Archives has a wonderful reading space and you could definitely feel the spirit of Judith alive in the room as those gathered read their favourite pieces. I read a poem called ‘Sanctuary’ and it’s one of those poems that is beautiful and works under your skin and can truly spellbind.

Looking forward, I’m currently preparing a set of my work for the University of Southern Queensland Bookcase – a two-day literary festival in Toowoomba. I was excited to be invited back and this year I’ll be performing on the 18th July from 3:30-4pm on the performance stage. As we get closer, I’ll share more details, but the program is already available to view on the USQ website.


Writ Review Issue 2

I’ve finally had a chance to read through the excellent collection of poems that make up the Writ Review. It is well worth checking out. My poem Fontanelle has made the cut which is fantastic.

There are some wonderful poems in the mix, and I especially loved Felicity Plunkett’s poem ‘Yellow’ and Rose Hartley’s ‘Metal Fume Fever’.

Here’s the link.


China Bull shortlisted for the Whitmore Prize and other news

China Bull co-author John Koenig and I are very pleased to share that we have been shortlisted for this year’s Whitmore Prize.

There are some wonderful poets on the shortlisted, so it feels great to be in such good company. China Bull is a special piece of work and close to my heart as it is based on the true story of my great grandmother Annie Caroline. Everywhere JK and I have performed the work it has been well received, so it is great that it’s able to connect with audiences just as strongly on the page.

You can read the full shortlist here. The winner will be announced any tick of the clock.

In other news, I received my copy of the latest Page Seventeen, in which my poem ‘Bellarine Machines’ appears and also my copy of the Grapple Annual, in which my Toowoomba flavoured poem ‘Hunting Season 4350’ appears. Always feels great to come home and find new poetry to read.

This week I also got along to a new open mic event on the north side, and the very cool Cardigan Bar at Sandgate. This month, the gig was hosted by Matt Hetherington and we were treated to two 15 minute sets of his work, along with a bit of open mic in between. It was great to catch up with some of the crew who got along – Melissa Jeffreys, Fiona Privitera, and Tony Mutton. Here’s hoping it becomes a regular event on the calendar. If you live Brisbane north side, I encourage you to come along and see what it’s all about.

And finally, today I take to the Speedpoets stage to battle it out with the other Call Back Poets for the year at the annual Speedpoets Open Mic Championships at the Lucky Duck, Highgate Hill from 2pm. I was lucky enough to be chosen as the Call-Back Poet for May and I’m planning on reading some pieces from the China Bull manuscript. More info is on the Speedpoets website.


Martha Richardson memorial poetry prize

I received some great news overnight, learning that my poem ‘Something old, something new’ had won the 2014 Martha Richardson Memorial Poetry Prize. The prize is coordinated by the Ballarat Writers organisation on a bi-annual basis, to honour the renowned Australian/American poet Martha Richardson.

This year’s prize was judged by Peter Bakowski. The poem will be available soon on the Ballarat Writers website, and when it is, I’ll post a link here.

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