Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 - My Year of Reading

The last two months have shown an incredible spike in the page views this blog has been getting. I haven’t blogged anything new in the last two months so I can only assume that Google has found me or that through you good people reading and sharing I’m getting some pretty good backlinks.

Anyway, in honor of this increase and to show people I am still indeed alive and kicking (well, kicking back anyway, I’m on leave) I thought I would end the year with a bit of a list of some of the books I have enjoyed in 2012.

I read some amazing fiction this year - 31 titles in total - but my top ten were:

Nine Days by Toni Jordan.
White Horse by Alex Adams.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett.
The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail.
Revived by Cat Patrick.
Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell.
House Rules by Jodi Picoult.
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

I also read a lot of poetry, a couple of biographies, a handful of writing reference and one self-help. All up I devoured 55 books total for the year which isn’t half bad. The best of the non-fiction were:

The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring King’s Magnum Opus by Bev Vincent.
Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King by Lisa Rogak.
Help! for Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces by Roy Peter Clark.
Wannabe a Writer by Jane Wenham-Jones.
Tamam Shud: The Somerton Man Mystery by KerryGreenwood.

Well, that’s it! Why not get along to your local library and borrow some of these to read over the summer? If you do, come back and leave me a comment to tell me what you thought.

No matter how you spend this holiday season I wish you a wonderful time with good food, family and friends and all the best for a happy and safe 2013.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The draw of the Dystopian novel

I am drawn to the dystopian novel. Perhaps it's because I've lost my faith in the happy ending; or perhaps I never had faith in it to start with. I have long been a fan of anything a little dark, a little menacing. I'm too much of a realist, not enough of a romantic, I suppose. I like the stories I read to be gritty, messy, complicated - because that's how life is. I thought I'd write something about two books I've read recently that fit that description.

White Horse (2012 Simon & Schuster) is the debut novel of Alex Adams, and is most accurately described as a 'post-pandemic' novel. The story is reminiscent of McCarthy's The Road, but is not so much a journey to 'somewhere' as a journey to 'someone'.  Zoe, a cleaner at Pope Pharmaceuticals, is the unwitting catalyst of a deadly virus. She travels through a changed and dangerous world but she has hope and humanity. She is prepared to travel across the world to find Nick, but will her journey be in vain? A fabulous debut by a talented female writer. 

Kazuo Ishiguro's novel Never Let Me Go (2005 Faber & Faber) was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in the year of it's publication. This novel is best described as an 'alternate history'.  The story is narrated by Kathy H as she reminisces on her childhood at Hailsham, a boarding school in what seems an idyllic 1960's country England setting, and her friendship with Ruth and Tommy D.  As you read you become aware Kathy's naive and almost immature voice. You sense she is different. There is a business-like detachment in the way she tells the story, almost a lack of feeling and yet you feel for Kathy and Tommy and Ruth. I came across the movie by accident and was so moved by it that I immediately went looking for the book. Read the book first if you can.

I like books that have a certain degree of menace and the possibility for tragedy. I think tragedy is filled with the opportunity for greatness - for growth, compassion, selflessness, heroics. After all, courage is not a lack of fear, but action in the face of that fear. Whether the guy gets the girl or vice versa doesn't really do it for me. There must be insurmountable odds to the getting and it's perfectly okay by me if they don't. Sometimes that's the whole point.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Garth Nix - Author Event 

Garth Nix is the New York Times best-selling author of the Keys to the Kingdom series, and the acclaimed novels Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen.
 His books have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York TimesPublishers WeeklyThe Guardian and The Australian, and his work has been translated into 37 languages.

After being delayed leaving Melbourne due to an accident involving two trucks and a tunnel, Garth arrived at the Cranbourne Library to an enthusiastic audience of around fifty who had waited patiently. They knew it would be worth the wait and it was. 

Looking around the room I was instantly struck by Garth's wide appeal. His audience was made up of people ranging in ages from 10 yrs to sixty and with good reason. His writing spans junior fiction to adult and occupies the realm of the fantastic. Genre fiction, especially Fantasy, is the ideal way for us to leave the real world behind. There is nothing I love more than being persuaded by a great writer to suspend my disbelief for a time and enter the world they have created.

When writing, Garth said he often starts with something visual - an image, "one slide inside a frame" - rather than with words or a title. He had some initial advice for any would-be writers in the room (and there were a few). First - "Finish things. You never know what might happen." Second - "Be too dumb to quit." His second novel was rejected by the publisher of his first. If he had quit then, well...

He described his first published novel The Ragwitch as a darker, scarier Narnia. He submitted this novel to five different publishers and three automatically rejected it. The other two asked to see the rest of the manuscript and of those, one failed to get back to him at all and the other published the novel. He was 25 years old at the time and admits to listening to the message on his answering machine many many times, and why not! This is an exciting time for any writer.

When asked what advice he'd give to young writers his advice was simple.

Read everything. You learn a lot subconsciously. The more you read, the more you learn.

Write a lot. Garth is surprised by how many supposed writers he meets who don't actually want to write, but rather want to 'have written'.

Revise a lot. Garth said he didn't believe people who claimed to write perfect first drafts.

Submit. "It's perfectly all right if you want to write purely for yourself," he said, "but if you want to be published you must send your writing out." Do your research. Find out who publishes books like the one you have written then send it to them.


Then there was the advice he'd given earlier - "Finish things. You never know what might happen" - and I think this advice applies as much to life in general as it does to writing.

Find out more about Garth here.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Winter Writing Workshop - Kate Forsyth

On a rather dismal wintery Sunday in June I joined a group of thirty or so like-minded souls as we absorbed some writerly lessons from Australian author Kate Forsyth. Already a fan of Kate's work, which has been widely published to critical acclaim, I was keen to learn some of her 'secrets' to success.

The morning was dedicated to "The secret structure of story" - something with which I, with three unfinished novels moldering away for want of the skill and confidence to finish them, need all the help I can get. 

"The story dictates the structure - the more complex the story, the more important the structure," Kate said. She likened a novel to a train, with linking carriages - a causal chain of events. She said the novels that fail are often 'episodic' in nature - some publishers even have an acronym for them: ODTAT - "one damn thing after another" - the incidents have no reason, no purpose. In a novel, each scene must lead to the next, there must be a story arc, a sense of rising tension that eventually reaches the climax. To make sense, and be satisfying to the reader, the climax must be the result of everything that came before.   

Kate told us a book should offer a cathartic experience for the reader. "You want your reader to feel something," she said. The best way to achieve this is to create a character the reader can connect with. "You want to connect reader and character as soon as possible." Kate spoke about the amount of space the writer gives their characters on the page as 'screen time', saying that "the more time spent with a character, the more emotional connection the reader will have with them." She also said it's a good idea to put your characters in jeopardy - physical or emotional - to heighten that connection.

Later in the day Kate spoke about 'writers block', explaining that true writers block has nothing much to do with fear or not having any ideas or even having too many ideas - though these can all stop you writing - but is more about being 'stuck'. "If you're stuck, you don't know enough about your story," she said, "you don't know your characters well enough. Go back to your original notes. Review your plan. If you haven't made one, now's the time to do it."

This day gave me what I needed - a large dose of inspiration and a gently administered kick in the pants. I already 'knew' so much of this. I'd lost my confidence and forgotten the lessons learned while studying for my Diploma. I've always been a 'pantser' not a 'planner' (even if you're not a writer I think you'll understand the difference), but on this day I finally realised that some amount of planning is not only helpful but necessary. 

The big lesson would-be authors need to remember is that there's no magic formula to writing a novel. The 'magic' that ultimately ends up on the page gets there through sheer determination and will. My favourite tutor at TAFE once told me that the difference between an amateur writer and a professional writer is determination, paraphrased from Richard Bach's original quote which Kate shared with us this day - "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit". 

Now that's good advice.

Kate's latest novel, Bitter Greens, interweaves the Rapunzel fairytale with the scandalous life of one of the tale's first tellers, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. Moving from Venice in the 16th century to the glittering court of the Sun King, Louis XIV, in the 17th century, Bitter Greens is a story of desire, obsession, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

You can find out more about Kate here.

Kate is interviewed elsewhere on this blog here and here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tiggy Johnson - Poet Series

Tiggy Johnson is a Melbourne-turned-Brisbane writer and editor whose stories and poems have appeared in various literary magazines and on Melbourne trains. Her short story collection 'Svetlana or otherwise' was published in 2008 and her poetry collection 'First taste' in 2010.

When did you first start writing poetry? What do you enjoy most about it?
Excluding limericks about my high school teachers and classmates, I started writing poetry about six or seven years ago, when a friend from my writing group, where I only ever took fiction, pushed me into it. Writing poetry helps me deal with difficult times, particularly the passing of my grandmother and later my father, while at the same time helping me keep those moments and memories alive. At the other extreme, I like it for the same reason, that it helps me hold on to the special moments that come with being a parent, like watching my baby daughter discover for the first time that she was controlling her hand movements. I also like that I can fit poetry writing into my busy life, compared to needing to schedule time in for writing fiction.
Tell me about the first poem you had published.
The first poem I had published (I think) is called ‘Minutes’. It was originally published in Tamba 38: Winter 2006 and has been republished online here. It’s about that difficult time in life otherwise known as the first year of being a stay-at-home mum. I wrote it initially as prose, but it didn’t work, and soon after trying poetry, I had another go at it. The hope at the end was added at the very last rewrite, perhaps to make it (more) appealing, though also because I felt a little apprehensive of putting it out there otherwise.
What is your usual writing routine? Do you write every day?
I don’t have a usual writing routine, except that I like to take a month or two off writing every year, partly so I can feel that itch to get back to it again. I like paying attention to my process though, and once I notice something that works, I run with for a while and then look for something new to try.
What advice would you give a would-be poet?
Accept that not everyone will like your style, which doesn’t mean it isn’t good enough. It just means you need a different audience. There are so many different styles of poetry, that everyone’s will appeal to someone. I’ve seen too many poets lack confidence because they think their style isn’t good enough, often because it’s not ‘academic’ (whatever that means) or what I like to call ‘arty-farty’. If you have something to say, say it. Then edit it (that’s probably two things, hey).
What’s your opinion of self publishing? Would you recommend it?
I think self-publishing poetry is very much accepted these days, and I say go for it. I do think it is a good idea to first accumulate a decent number of publications and to include both some of those and some unpublished pieces in the collection.
Do you perform your poetry? What are the differences between writing for the page and writing for the stage?
I do perform my poetry, though I sometimes prefer to think of it as ‘reading’ rather than ‘performing’. The way you communicate with a listening audience is different to when the reader has the time to ponder your words. You can often get away with a less polished version ‘on the stage’ and I sometimes use the opportunity of reading at an open mic to ‘test’ how I feel about a particular poem: it’s a great way to get instant feedback, mostly my own. I’d think twice about ‘performing’ a dense poem that could be too difficult for an audience to pick up on one listen, though I’m not sure I consider whether I’m writing for page or stage during the writing process: it’s something I think about later.
Have you been inspired or influenced by a particular poet’s work? How did it affect your own work?
Of course, and I’ll limit this to two poets (even though you imply one). First: Emilie Zoey Baker. I think she’s amazing for many reasons, but specifically she inspired me to have a go at writing what might be termed ‘feminist poetry’ though I wouldn’t call it that. Like her, I wanted to try this without the angst, ‘poor bugger me’ or other stereotypical attitudes that often come with ‘feminism’. I haven’t done a lot (nor any for quite some time) but it’s something I’d like to come back to. The second poet is Rosanna Licari, or particularly her book ‘An Absence of Saints’. For years I considered that writing poetry was my way of expressing myself and I pretty much only wrote about my own experiences and observations. Last year I took up family research, and I’m super keen to present much of my findings in poetic form, and this book is showing me how it can be done. It’s also great poetry.
If you had to choose a favourite contemporary poet who would it be and what makes them your favourite?
This question is too hard. I like many contemporary poets, for different reasons. As well as those mentioned above, I love that Sean M Whelan can write about love in ways that make it sound fresh and new, I love the way Ross Donlon can evoke emotions with strong images and more recently, I’ve discovered Michelle Dicinoski, who writes about ordinary people and events in extraordinary ways.
What about the masters? Who would you choose and why?
I would choose a contemporary poet over a master 49 out of 50 times, though I have been known to spend time with Sylvia Plath, as well as recently hooking up with a handful of haiku masters. 

Please include a favourite poem of your own to be published with your interview and tell me what inspired the piece.

Family secret #8

She’s on the lounge room floor, an eighteen
year old foetus, clutching her own through
layers of blouse and skin, her undies stained
with thick blood. Her cries are heard by
neighbours, though nobody comes.

Her mother is in the kitchen, pouring
gin into three glasses, the ice chinking
while she laughs with friends.

After four nights in a clinical bed, she
returns home to her own, continues
to rest. When she comes to breakfast
her mother makes tea and toast and says
you don’t have to marry him now.
She stares into her tea, whispers
but I love him, I want to get married
and so she did
                        for a while.

As part of the ‘genealogy’ poems I’m working on, there are a series of family secret poems. I’m titling these ‘Family secret #n’ where n is a semi-random number. I’ve written about ten so far, though my favourite of these is definitely ‘Family Secret #8’. It was published in Vine Leaves in February 2012. I can’t say too much about the inspiration (as it’s a secret) but it is one of the stories I uncovered in my family research that really affected me and made me rethink some of the things I already knew about some of my ancestors. 

‘First taste’ was published in 2010 and is available via Tiggy’s website. It will also be available sometime during 2012 as an ebook
Twitter : tiggyjohnson

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ashley Capes - Poet Series

Ashley teaches Media and English in Victoria, Australia. His first collection of poetry pollen and the storm was published with the assistance of Small Change Press in 2008, and his second collection Stepping Over Seasons was released by Interactive Press in 2009. A haiku chapbook Orion Tips the Saucepan was released by Picaro Press in 2010.

When did you first start writing poetry? What do you enjoy most about it?
During high school, I think I was about fourteen. They were a mixture of awful teenage poems and hopeless recreations of The Beats, and I think I was relying on the natural world a lot too. Probably the best thing about them was the simple fact that they could be finished in a reasonable amount of time. Not like a novel, and I liked that.
Tell me about the first poem you had published.
The first poem published was by the dubious folk known as, variously, ‘The International Library of Poetry’ the ‘International Society of Poets’ and the ‘International Poetry Hall of Fame.’ It was exciting for a kid, but after being given an ‘offer’ to pay a lot of money to travel overseas for their award ceremony, the shine was of course tarnished. It was about animals in a forest or a jungle (it seems to change a lot when I look at it now) and was heavy on imagery. And bad.
What is your usual writing routine? Do you write every day?
I do write every day, but it’s difficult. The time I have to write varies of course, and what qualifies as ‘writing’ does too. It might be part of a story, haiku, verse poetry, a lesson plan or something for uni. Like most of us, with obligations all over the place, that time gets eaten away – especially in daylight hours. I usually end up writing late into the night. It’s quieter and my mind seems to work better then, though in the morning I’m usually not impressed with myself for it.
What advice would you give a would-be poet?
Read widely, because in some ways that is your preparation – but just as importantly, don’t forget to actually write. Don’t think or talk about it, don’t plan to do it, just write. That one sounds obvious but sometimes it isn’t I guess, sometimes (in all fields) we can become obsessed with preparing.
I’d also suggest one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given – that is to switch mediums. If you hit a wall with writing, paint for a while. Or turn to music, or something else artistic – or even something not artistic at all. Just get some distance, recharge with that other art form then come back to poetry and you should have some more ammunition.
What’s your opinion of self-publishing? Would you recommend it?
I am a fan of self-publishing if you have two things: a good instinct (or editor-friend) for quality control and a base in a metropolitan area. Make that three things, if you’re personable. If not, I think it’d be hard to sell your books. When you self publish you’re afforded control of your work, from layout to cover art to content, which is awesome. It’s tough however, when you get to things like distribution – which is why I mentioned that second point. If you live in or near a city at least, you’ll have easy (and cheap) access to events and markets and you should thus be better able to sell your work.
Do you perform your poetry? What are the differences between writing for the page and writing for the stage?
I do, though not as much as I’d like. The difference for me is in the audience – because, of course, it’s live. It’s immediate. I imagine it’s a bit like acting or standup vs a film. In a film, the reaction to what you’re doing or have done, it delayed (or absent). On stage, you hear the audience, see the audience, and get an immediate sense of what your material is like. It’s very nice – it can certainly be daunting, but it’s something you get at no other time as a writer.
Have you been inspired or influenced by a particular poet’s work? How did it affect your own work?
In the beginning it was the Beats, and rock and folk lyricists, but perhaps the most important influence would be from haiku poets. I think whatever imagistic elements are present in my work are due to influence of the haiku masters like Basho and Issa. What they did, I believe, is demonstrate beyond a doubt (among other things), that narration can be achieved indirectly, through images created by just a few words. I’ve since then continued to struggle to achieve that ‘economy of words,’ and to prune back my natural tendency to overwrite!
If you had to choose a favourite contemporary poet who would it be and what makes them your favourite? 
Graham Nunn. For his ability to floor you as a reader – whether it’s through his imagery, his tenderness or his insight, but for his commitment to the art form and to those around him too. (I thought I should mention that I added that last bit to my answer not to detract from his poetry, or as an attempt to bolster it, but rather as a very serious and equally important aspect to Graham as a poet. I don’t feel the worth of poet should be just the measure of their (published) output, and so I’d like to suggest that Graham’s skill as an editor, promoter, organiser, motivator and supporter is just as powerful and valuable to the community as his written work.)
What about the masters? Who would you choose and why?
Here I can combine a few things together – this one is a haiku that Graham reminded me of when I interviewed him last year.
on Starvation Ridge
little sticks
are trying to grow

and it’s by Jack Kerouac, so there’s an Australian poet, haiku and The Beats all in one answer! What I enjoy about this most is probably the verb ‘trying’ or perhaps the simple, effective contrast between ‘Starvation’ and ‘grow.’ It’s also a great demonstration of why the 5-7-5 syllable count isn’t needed in English language haiku. This doesn’t adhere to those limits but it is undeniably a haiku, and it evokes a story through the image.
Please include a favourite poem of your own to be published with your interview.
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.

Why is it your favourite?
Other Objects is probably my favourite because it’s hopeful without being treacly, and I usually find those poems really difficult to write. I think it paints a realistic picture of marriage, and it was through this poem that I was able to recognise a habit I’ve picked up, of writing about objects and the store of emotion we seem to place within them.
Where was it first published?
July 2009, in Island – a journal I’m very happy to have appeared in, it’s always beautifully presented and has such great material, cover to cover.
What was the inspiration for, or story behind, the piece?
I suppose it addresses my belief and concern, perhaps, that my marriage not become snagged on a single symbol, and that the wear and tear of the marriage is ultimately just as important as any other aspect. It runs through a few other objects that have memories attached to them, triggering for me, the night I met my wonderful wife. 

Find out more about Ashley here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Nathan Curnow - Poet Series

Nathan Curnow is an Australian writer and spoken word performer. In 2007 he stayed overnight at ten haunted sites around the country and wrote a book about his experiences, The Ghost Poetry Project.
When did you first start writing poetry? What do you enjoy most about it?
Like most people I mucked about with poetry as a teenager and wrote some terrible rhyming stuff full of archaic language, but I truly began when I was first introduced to contemporary poetry in university and realised that it was more than I thought.  
I enjoy the challenge and complexity of poetry, although it leads to what Les Murray calls the ‘painless headache’.  You end up agonising over every little thing, teasing out the worth and power of every word.  Poetry is short but expansive, powerful but frail, hard work but also play at the same time, so I guess I enjoy the mystery and contradictions of it.   
Tell me about the first poem you had published. What was it about etc?
It was published in Swyntax No.4 in 2001 and is called She Swings Content in Sleepy Mood.  It’s about a girl swinging on an old tyre amid a sunny afternoon.  I was really proud of it at the time of course.  It was a big deal for me.  But on occasions like this when I fish it out of the box and look at it again I cringe.
What is your usual writing routine? Do you write every day?
I work in fits and starts around the demands of my family, and have done ever since I began.  But even when I don’t write for a day or two I still have my head in the project/s I’m working on.  Things have to stew for a while in the Crock Pot of my mind and that’s just as important to the process as banging on the keyboard. 
What advice would you give a would-be poet?
Read and write.  Do your homework on the journals and editors that you’re submitting poems to.  Know that grit, fire and dedication always pay off in time.  The path comes with significants costs and it’s easy to get bitter about them (but that’s the same with anything), there are many privileges along the way too.
What’s your opinion of self publishing? Would you recommend it?
Generally I would say that if you’re going to self-publish then wait until you’ve had a number of poems in journals or have a few awards under your belt, but things are changing so quickly these days, along with the stigma of self-publishing.  When I was starting out I self-published a novel as a bit of an experiment and although it didn’t get very far it was an important step (albeit a little misguided) towards considering myself a writer. So would I recommend it?  Sure.  If it doesn’t take off then it won’t be the end of the world, and you always have to back yourself.  Take risks. 
Do you perform your poetry? What are the differences between writing for the page and writing for the stage?
I have been performing for about as long as I’ve been writing, which has led to some good, some bad and some very strange gigs.
The page and stage are two very different spaces and filling them successfully demands different skills, but they’re also related, just as the line and the breath are related.  The blank page can be unforgiving and expose the weaknesses of a poem whereas the stage can throw up so many variables on the night that you have to be on your toes.  And yet whether you work on the page or the stage you still have to address similar questions ie.  What is my poem about?  What is its core/tone?  What’s the best way to convey it?  Where do I want to take the audience? etc.
Have you been inspired or influenced by a particular poet’s work? How did it affect your own work?
Kevin Brophy’s work has been a huge inspiration and I learn something every time I read it.  His poems showed me how to write about the things I knew, such as my religious upbringing, parenting/fathering and the domestic life.  I encounter play, depth, risk and passion in his work, plus an attention to the twists of language.  His work asks questions of poetry itself, and with such deceptive, disarming simplicity.   
What about the masters? Who would you choose and why?
I don’t have any hard and fast loyalties regarding the masters. Perhaps I can answer the question with poems instead.  Here are a few (among so many) which I will always love:
Kubla Khan (Samule Taylor Coleridge), Ulysses (Lord Alfie Tennyson), Beach Burial (Kenneth Slessor), The Secret (Denise Levertov), I’m Explaining a Few Things (Pablo Neruda), St Petersburg (Keith Eisner), Burro (Cate Kennedy), What the Light Teaches (Anne Michaels), Free Union (Andre Breton), Inside a Tree (Doris Brett), Stalingrad Briefing, 1943 (Ian McBryde), The Hand (Sharon Olds).
Please include a favourite poem of your own to be published with your interview and tell us a little about it.

Whaling Song (Norfolk Island)

each tier of a pine tree is a curved whale boat
launched into the sea at dawn, lost at dusk
beacons are lit, soft language upon the horizon 

a glowing ship marks the earth’s turned side
steering on mutineers’ blood, history is towed
like the Lord’s Whale, boiled down, into song

enjambed, the living upon these stones broke
stones to anchor old dreams, from the work
of hands the shore is made—rowing forward

heaving back, rowing forward—Come Ye Blessed
memory like shadow is best stored upon itself
though darkness refuses to pass without trade

claim the red earth turned for good, climb
like a seed, spread even on the wind, silhouette
upon the dawn, beneath the freshest star you are

here, departed, sing with us yourselves back home

I chose this one because it comes from an amazing experience I had on Norfolk Island, and was written as a kind of thankyou for the hospitality I received.   It was also translated into the Norfolk language by Archie Bigg, so I’m very fond of it.

I became fascinated with the history of the Pitcairners following their relocation to the prison-island—how they traded for what they needed from passing ships and taught themselves the skill of whaling.  If a whaling party failed to return by nightfall beacons would be lit upon the cliff-tops to guide them back home.  Norfolk Island is so small that if the men steered on the wrong course, were out by even the slightest fraction, then they ran the risk of missing the island altogether and becoming lost in the Pacific.  (The ‘Lord’s Whale’ is the name given to the biggest whale they ever caught).

It was first published in Island 119 (2009) and then in my collection The Ghost Poetry Project (Puncher and Wattmann). 

The Ghost Poetry Project - Published by Puncher and Wattmann 2009.  Available at Readings, Gleebooks or any good independent bookstore. ISBN: 978-1-92145018--1

No Other Life But This - Published by Five Islands Press 2006.  Out of print, but available from the author.
Interview at Verity La
Interview at The View from Here:

Indiefeed audio Made from the Matter of Stars: