A Review & Some Opportunities

Today I wanted to share a couple of opportunities for writers and link to a fantastic review of Stepping Over Seasons, by Sean Wright.

stepping over seasons coverThrilled to read it, not just because he enjoyed the collection, but because as with all reviews, it’s shown me something about my own work that I hadn’t realised. And it’s especially gratifying to hear that the poem ‘Small Town’ rings true!

Here’s the review at Sean’s blog.


birsI’m also pleased to announce that I’m back as editor for the poetry section for the 11th issue of Page Seventeen and this year, and as a judge! And so on that note, jump over and have a look at the guidelines – submissions are open now (for fiction & poetry) so get going! :D



Submissions are also open for Regime’s 4th – and this year they’re trying a different structure too – details are right here. The shift includes a wonderful plan to support artists more, while maintaining the high production standards we’ve come to expect from magazine, so check it out – fiction and poetry too.

That’s all for today!

Poem from ‘Old Stone’

old stone - sample


Next up, planning for this year (2014) will be old stone. Here I want to bring together a collection that features haiku, haibun and senryu, with both more traditional forms and experimental pieces. Not quite gendai haiku style, but hopefully pushing the form a little.

Here’s a piece that should appear:



beneath the Duomo, cameras mill about like ants. their owners are most dutiful, clicking then looking. inside my skull are painted green and white stripes and when I look back, it’s with some terror. I don’t know if I wanted to go home. the air here is warm, eternal pink, as if trapped in a fairytale. the tourists are so alive, even as they kill the moment with SLR

grand bells
cross the rooftops
our hands meet


Poem from ‘Between Giants’



Skip a year or two and onto 2012 for between giants. My obsession with travel kicks in, though the collection has a wider span of topics of course – but my trip to Italy features heavily. The act of being a tourist features too, something which I still feel conflicted about.

With that in mind – here’s a non-travel one :D


one of the townsfolk

despite our closeness
after all the hours I’ve spent
at its feet
from childhood with sticky fingers
& wide pupils
to today, sneering at it from the couch
but still unable to switch it off
for good,
it waits
making no overtures
from plastic feet,
so still but still so predatory;
the remote, its sly little
its patience like an old, desert stone
waiting for rain.
it knows I will push, press
& stab at it with lazy fingers
in an almost stoned
fish-bowl dance
& I wonder what the television gives me

not just the pleasant cut-outs
of the sitcom & their dependability
being so utterly unlikely
to change,
nor is it shameful joy
beamed in via predictable
or even the news
when all I seem to want is mild weather,
& so if I’m not David
then I’m one of the squashed townsfolk
& I know that whatever resistance
I put up
is hardly going to wrap up a Western
or save planet earth.


Poem(s) from ‘Orion Tips the Saucepan’



On to 2010 with orion tips the saucepan. My first haiku collection! I loved selecting ku for this one and adore the smaller format, it’s so damn neat. I tried to give the collection a loose feel of changing seasonality as you read through, which was tough but fun to arrange.

Here’s a few where I tried to show a transition of seasons:


sneaking through the fence
last year’s
blackberry patch


air crisp
beside the road
yellow grass


autumn moon
groan as feet
hit cold tiles

Poem from ‘Stepping Over Seasons’

stepping over seasons cover


Jumping to 2009, when stepping over seasons came out, I’m struck by big changes in length and theme. I think SOS spans the widest set of topics I’ve written on in a single collection (so far) and I realise, with a bit of sadness, that I haven’t come back to many of them in subsequent releases.

Here’s the opener:


other objects

my wedding ring is a plain silver
barrel band. same as dad’s, very modest
and very hard to keep smooth,
with scratches I can’t keep track of and
don’t want to hide. it’s no good pretending
the marriage is perfect, no use
hanging all our memories and every
step of the future on just one symbol. other
objects speak of love, too. the weeping
maple we’ve shifted to every house, the
cup we fill with knives and forks
or the handwritten address you gave me
the night we met, walking the city
and flinging orange peel into hedges, things
that endure, things that have lines
and marks to prove them.



Poem from ‘Pollen & the Storm’

pollen and the storm cover


Looking back to 2008, when pollen and the storm was released, I can see a much younger poet. The poems are often shorter than what I write now, but the haiku influence is there and they’re quite direct and I’m still happy with a lot em – so I thought I’d share one now.

(I’m also going to post one from each of my other collections for the next few days, hope you enjoy!)



funny how odd socks
make me happy

but then, so does wind in my sleeves
or the printed word
and sun dried tomato

so do truly shabby
second hand bookstores
and a whole day without a phone call

so does chocolate that stings my teeth
rain on a tin roof
and your tattoo

funny how these things
are enough.


Book Piracy & Entitlement

Chuck’s ‘Blackbirds’, which I loved. Great pace.

I recently read an fascinating post on book piracy, where an anonymous person (drunk on their own sense of entitlement perhaps) posted a letter to author Chuck Wendig, where this person outlined their reasons for stealing Chuck’s books.

Well worth a read, especially Chuck’s responses.

But here’s my favourite point from the letter-writer:

1) I cannot afford buying all the books I wish to read; as simple as that.

Wow. I can’t afford a villa in the South of France. Guess I’d better just go take one.

I also can’t afford to buy every book or album I’d like to buy but I respect the art and the artist enough not to steal from them.

One of the classic responses thieves give for similar actions, is that by downloading art without paying for it, they’re “giving the artist more exposure.”

That later, they might go to a band’s show or buy a book and become a fan.


In my music class we often talk about piracy and its relationship to file sharing. I bring up the days of swapping mixed tapes with them, or use Metallica as an example of fans sharing and building a base with such tapes. We also discuss YouTube as a place to sample an album without buying it, much like a listening station used to allow in music stores.

So the sharing of content among users might build a set of loyal fans, which is awesome.

But we also discuss the revolutionary idea of libraries.

With libraries, it’s possible to obtain a book without paying for it, legally, and to become a fan and still support an artist. Tell a friend how much you loved the book. Save up and buy the artist’s next work. Review the book you borrowed, mention it online somewhere.

Do it without ripping artists off first. Because, what does it cost to borrow something from a library? Exactly.

[I understand some books are priced quite high, and that for some folks, libraries are distant or non-existent. But I still don’t believe in refusing to financially support an artist. Find a way.]

Year Five

I was searching the archive of posts here for a haiku I wanted to rework and I realised that I started this blog in August of 2009!

It’s already been five years – I’m surprised and kinda pleased that people still visit after that long! Now, I’m not sure I’ve written five years worth of quality posts (365 posts total), but I’m happy with a few of them at least and have been  thrilled most of all with the people I’ve met through the blog.

Writing can be lonely and it’s great to have the support of everyone who visits, even if it’s only once, though I deeply appreciate the support of folks who stop by regularly.

So thanks everyone, hope you stick around!

Here’s a poem and a photo – haven’t posted either for a while now by the looks of things. (and a quick link – a haibun just went live at foam:e!)



when diving
the rain always
finds an upturned face

but no mythology

just the ocean
as background,
waves onto old sand

without even a hair-like whisper
of the horrible things
it knows about us

just a rhythm
for sleeping
and endless, endless forgiveness



On a train to Florence, smiling obviously

Writing Process Blog Chain

Really happy to be tagged by Devin Madson in the current ‘writing process’ blog chain – if you like stories of vengeance in a Japanese-influenced setting then you’ll love her books, check ‘em out here and visit her blog here, to see her response to the process chain.

I also interviewed Devin on my fiction blog, where she talks about her work and her experiences with crowd-funding.

So, here are my responses, hope you enjoy!

old stone - haiku (first)
Q. What am I working on?

I’m currently working on a haiku, haibun & senryu collection (working title: old stone) and tinkering with a follow-up to my last collection of free verse between giants. I’ve been obsessed with haiku now for a little over ten years – the form is just rife with possibility and I love the challenge of compressing language down to such a small amount of syllables.

In old stone I also want to include senryu and haibun and as travel is traditionally a big part of haibun, I’ve included a lot of work I wrote in Italy or soon after my trip there in 2011.

You can see me drafting cover art for old stone here if you’re curious.

Q. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Tough question. I’ve been told that my free verse background makes my haibun a little different and that my haiku background influences my free verse, so I hope that’s true!

In terms of my work and its place in the poetry world, I’m a proponent of being direct with my poetry. Writing is a communicative act, and I don’t like to put too many barriers between writer and reader. At the same time, I don’t want to be over prescriptive. There has to be room for the reader. It’s a fine line but I hope I walk it well.

Q. Why do I write what I do?

I think one of my main obsessions as a poet is with objects and places, with the meaning they take on for us. We instil so much of ourselves in them and for me, there’s no limit to where that can take me as a writer. The material never dries up.

Well, there is a limit, I guess, and that’s my execution from poem to poem.

Q. How does my writing process work?

I keep my eyes open. Wherever I am. There’s a certain amount of reflection that goes on before I write a poem, whether conscious or not. Sometimes a phrase comes to mind when I see something – like a wildflowers in a ditch – I had half a haiku as I drove by. The other half I finished when I got home that night.

Other times it’s a much longer process. Earlier this year I was walking to Collected Works in Melbourne and noticed that I was walking a lot faster than I would at home and the obvious thought came to me, that the city (any city) has its own pulse. It almost changes your blood. Everything is faster. Everyone needs to be somewhere quickly. Time felt shorter for me in that moment.

That poem I actually haven’t finished yet and I had that moment back in January.

After I get a first draft, usually completed at night, I leave the poem alone until at least the next day. Then I come back and refine. I might do this for days, or weeks. Sometimes, if I’m very lucky, the poem feels close to ready after draft two (generally only if it’s a short poem.)

Then I begin the long process of sending it out for publication – or post it here!

Q. Who will you meet next week?

I’m happy to send you to two fantastic Australian poets whom I count as friends. Both Robbie and Mark have supported my writing for years now and I’m hoping you’ll visit, check out their answers and their poetry!

Robbie Coburn
Mark William Jackson