I’m particularly excited to be reading on Wednesday night in Glebe with two of my favourite writers and very good friends, Anna Couani and Sarah St Vincent Welch at Mr Falcon’s (92 Glebe Point Road) as part of the regular Rhizomic Poetry Reading.
The Basil O’ Flaherty is an interesting newish on-line journal run out of the US by J.K. Shawhan. In the best tradition of small literary journals it was established by a writer wanting to create outlets for the sort of writing and artwork she was interested in – 30 years ago it would have been gestetnered or photocopied, these days it is a free online journal.
Along with its normal editions The Basil O’ Flaherty is also devoting sections to feminist poetry and poems in translations. It will be interesting to see how these sections develop over the coming months.
My two poems in the current edition can be found at http://thebasiloflaherty.weebly.com/mark-roberts.html. While you are there you can check the archives for my prose piece ‘red’ which was published in the first edition back in March 2016 http://thebasiloflaherty.weebly.com/archives5.html
My block-poem ‘Shark’ has appeared in the on-line journal Otoliths Issue 43. Otoliths is one of of those journals which flies a little under the radar but which has a rich history and continues to play an important role both locally and internationally. Otoliths is edited by the New Zealand born Mark Young who curently lives in Queensland and who has been publishing poetry for over 50 years. He describes the journal as publishing “e-things, that is, anything that can be translated (visually at this stage) to an electronic platform”. As a result Otoliths contains an interesting mix of poetry and prose ranging from the almost traditional to the experimental including some very fine visual poems.
I have described ‘Shark’ as a ‘block-poem’. It is a form that I have been playing around with a little recently where what would normally be a conventional prose poem is ‘forced’ into a contained space – a square, rectangle, circle etc. ‘Shark’ is the first of these poems that I have sent out and is based on a childhood memory of an old creek at the end of the street that had been encased in concrete and was referred to as “the canal”. It basically became the local dumping ground and filled up with car bodies, discarded washing machines and the like. By being forced into a column ‘Shark’ takes on the appearance of a traditional newspaper story where the importance of the story could be measured in column inches – but the actual text of ‘Shark’ retains its poetic origins.
‘Shark’ can be found at http://the-otolith.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/mark-roberts.html. While you are there make sure to lose yourself in the reach archive of work that can be found at the Otoliths site. If you haven’t been there before you are in for a treat.
I went through a literary hibernation for a number of years from the mid 1990s. There was an element of burn out involved, together with the pressures and joy of being involved in bringing up young children. The result being that for many years any writing I did was private and not intended for publication. A few years ago, however, I started thinking of re-engaging with the wider writing community. Around this time I saw a call for submissions from the Red Room Company for the first version of the The Disappearing project and decided to dive back in.
The Disappearing was/is an intriguing project. Designed to be linked to place by mobile device or website, the project highlights what is being lost by means through poetry. I had a poem selected for that first Disappearing release. ‘Flood Watch’, which was about a relationship that had long disappeared, as recalled a Newtown that was also fast disappearing. The poem can be found here http://disappearing.com.au/poem/flood-watch/.
The Disappearing has now been relaunched with a new website and more poets and poems. Among the bunch of new poems are two of my Newcastle poems which first appeared in the anthology A Slow Combusting Hymn: Poetry From and About the Hunter Region (edited by Jean Kent and Kit Kelen). These poems, which are based on my memory of two photographs taken by my grandfather in the 1950s, can be found at: http://disappearing.com.au/poem/photographs/
While you are at The Disappearing make sure you have a look around, there are some great poems about place and memory there and they are still looking for contributions.
Forgetting is so Long: An Anthology of Australian Love Poetry edited by Robbie Coburn & Valli Poole. Blank Rune Press 2016
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
………………………… – Pablo Neruda
When we think of anthologies were generally think of larger books with lots of pages so it was exciting to be asked to contribute to a chapbook anthology of Australian love poems. Some years ago I had some poems in the Inkerman & Blunt Australian Love Poetry anthology. That was a huge, diverse and ultimately uneven anthology (as anthologies of that size tend to be). Forgetting is so Long is the opposite – it is a small, beautifully constructed chapbook and it features love poems by men. When I was submitted my poems to Robbie Coburn I was unaware that the anthology would be purely love poems by men but I have been pleasantly surprised by the result and the company in which my two poems have landed. There is a hint here of a different masculinity, something that deserves to be explored in greater depth.
Along with my work Forgetting is so Long contains poetry by Ashley Capes, Robbie Coburn, Glenn Cooper, Phillip Hall, Ramon Loyola, Pete Spence, David Ellison, Andy Jackson, Ariel Riveros Pavez, Kenneth Smeaton and Les Wicks. It is available from Collected Works Bookshop in Melbourne or you can contact the publisher for details on how to acquire a copy email@example.com
I was recently asked to write an introduction on the work of Christopher Barnett for an exhibition of paintings by Luciano Prisco and poems by Christopher Barnett which is currently showing at the Langford 120 Gallery (120 Langford Street North Melbourne Victoria 3051) until 9 October 2016. Christopher has been one of the great influences on my work and my understanding of poetry and literature and I hope that this is reflected in this introduction – if nothing else this project has also introduced me to the wonderful paintings by Luciano Prisco.
The test to my introduction can be found on Rochford Street Review: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/09/12/luciano-prisco-new-works-poems-from-christopher-barnett-mark-roberts-on-christopher-barnett-poetry-and-collaboration/
I have been waiting over twenty years for the call from Hollywood. I knew it would come, it was just a question of when. You know the call: “Hi Mark, We’ve read your micro-fiction and we want to make it into a movie. Yes a three hour blockbuster with Tilda Swinton, Charlotte Rampling and Harvey Keitel”. Well I’m still waiting for that call but I did receive an email from the wonderful Spineless Wonders to let me know that my small micro-fiction piece ‘City Circles’ was being made into a very short video by Emily Twomey and will be screened as part of the Beams Arts Festival at Chippendale this Saturday. The piece will be part of Spineless Wonders #storybombing initiative. #storybombing takes place at 15A Dick St, Chippendale NSW and I believe that the videos will also appear on the festival show reel.
If you are in Sydney come along and have a look.