supporting the Manus men

 

Last Wednesday we conducted a Vigil for the Manus Island refugees, detained by our own heartless federal government and Papua New Guinea. The event was organised by Juan Garrido Salgado, his son Lenin and the Pablo Neruda Cultural Committee SA and sponsored by Writing Through Fences. We sat – or stood – on the steps of Parliament House and read and listened to chilling poetry from the men held in the Manus concentration camp (for that’s what it is) for over four years. I joined SA poets Ali Cobby Eckermann,  Amelia Walker, Ian Gibbins, Sergio Holas and Juan Garrido and speakers Lenin, Jaimie Newlyn, a whistle-blowing Manus nurse (whose name I’m embarrassed to say I’ve forgotten!) with beautiful music from Jen Lush.

I read my poem the bird leaves its cage and enters another (dedicated to Juan Garrido) and an extract from Manus detainee Mohammad Ali Malecki’s Truth in The Cage

the opening of more little windows

 

Last Tuesday night I went to the launch of the latest series of Little Windows Press poetry books by publishers Alison Flett and Jill Jones at Howling Owl in Adelaide. The lovely little hand-made books are The Aura of Loss by Yankunytjatjara woman Abi Cobby Eckerman, The Body That Holds by Kathryn Hummel, Mortis & Tenon by Jen Hadfield from the Shetland Isles in Scotland and Notes on The River by Sydney poet Adam Aitken. The books were launched by local poet and academic Jill Jones – who also read some of Adam’s work and Alison who read a selection of her friend Jen’s work. Ali and Kat read their own.

There were a lot of local poets and writerly-types there, all keen to witness the birth of this superb little collection.

Promoting Kat

Ali & Kat

australian short story festival

My gratitude to Tony Birch for his motivational 3 hour workshop on short fiction at the first day of the Australian Short Story Festival at UniSA CityWest this morning. Thanks to all the other participants for their contributions and ideas too. So many ideas to put into action!

It was a great evening opening too. Tony Birch’s “key note address” was more stand-up comic routine than academic discourse – yet he still managed to make some seerious points. I met and spoke with Kaurna elder Uncle Lewis O’Brien, Lynette Washington, Anna Solding, Stephen Orr and Andy Kissane and caught up again with Peter Goldsworthy and Lisa Temple, Alex Skovron, Kristin Martin, Gay Lynch, Beccy & Mike Lucas, Michael Bollen, Sharon Kernot, Amelia Walker and Annie Fox!

Tomorrow’s panels promise to be interesting too…

The Hearth: Of The Night

Last week I went to a wonderful new reading night at The Jade called The Hearth, a kind of literary salon similar to the Quart Short series where writers perform new work (this time their own) in a club sort of atmosphere. I mainly went to hear the poetry of my friend J V (Julie) Birch but I was also introduced to the work of:

Lisandra Linde who read a non-fiction piece about her intimate experiences with cadavres as a forensic scientist,
Andy Lee, who read from his work about earth, environmental crisis and interplanetary travel,
Marina Deller who read a very honest and beautiful personal essay on the death of her mum Kate, grief and healing and
Melanie Pryor who performed beautiful Australian landscape work accompanied by the music which inspired it.
J V Birch  read a selection of her poems from her two collections on the themes of darkness and the moon.
These were interspersed with music by local folk artist Dee Trewartha who played excellent acoustic guitar & ukulele to her own (and others’) compositions.

A brief Q & A at the end allowed the talented writers to give the audience a bit of insight into the motivation and thinking behind the works.

What an amazing night for $5!!

(All photos courtesy of The Hearth.)

Andy Lee

Dee Trewartha

Emma Maguire

JV Birch

Marina Deller

Melanie Prior

In a subjunctive mood

 

It was my great pleasure to launch David Harris’ first full poetry collection In a Subjunctive Mood (Ginninderra Press) on Friday night at Coventry Library, Stirling. David has done so many interesting things in his life; an engineer, entrepreneur, pilot, speaker of five languages, musician – and now , at eighty – a witty and intelligent poet.

David’s partner Valerie Volk filled us in on his remarkable background since most of us only knew only one or two aspects of his very full life. David gave us context and read a few of his poems. Nigel Ford did an excellent job as MC. After reading a few more verses and launching the book I sang If I Were a Subjunctive Clause.

A great night to celebrate the publication of a great book!