Leaves of Glass: the reviews!

Happy new year, everyone! I hope your 2015 turns out to be even better than your 2014. Rather than engage in a Facecrack-style review of ‘my’ 2014—boy, didn’t that one get old quick?—I thought I’d celebrate with a review of the reviews of my book Leaves of Glass. To sum up, despite the fact that 2014 was the first year since 1998 in which I did not have a single poem published, it was nonetheless a great year because five people reviewed my book. And the good news is that they all liked it. Honestly!

Continue reading

Leaves of Glass: it’s real!

LeavesofGlass_cover front

Yes, in the words of Jersey-based pop band Real Estate, ‘It’s real!’

Seven years in the making.
Trans-continental in its composition.
Green as a blade of grass in its wrapping.

Leaves of Glass is real.

‘But what’s it all about …’ I hear you whisper.

Well, as I’ve explained here and here and here, Leaves of Glass is a book of poems (47 in all) based on actual correspondence between American ‘Dead Poets Society’-inspiration Walt Whitman (W.W.) and Aussie no-hoper poet Bernard O’Dowd (B.O’D.). These two cats wrote letters to each other in the 1890s in which they poured their hearts out to each other and generally raved on.

In fact, to be honest, most of the outpouring and ranting was on the part of B.O’D. For his part, W.W. seems to have enjoyed the attention, and wrote back to B.O’D with a sort of ‘I’m amused but only in a flattered way’ tone, as if he’d known him his whole life. Between them, W.W. and B.O’D. racked up at least twenty letters, although it’s apparent that many of the letters are missing.

All of which possibly does little to explain why I became so fascinated by this weird ‘roaring days’ correspondence. Call me old-fashioned, call me what you will — I guess I just found the whole thing kind of funny and sad at the same time: funny because B.O’D. was so obviously besotted with his ‘revered master’, but sad because the two of them were unlucky enough to have been writing a century too early to benefit from the Internet and email.

Anyway, my book – called Leaves of Glass in homage to Whitman’s Leaves of Grass – takes the correspondence as its cue and features poems about both B.O’D. and W.W. as well as re-writes (cover versions) of their works. It’s published by Puncher and Wattmann and is available via the P&W website and in all good (read: about two) bookstores. Or, if you’d like a signed copy, send me a message.

The first ‘launch’ of the book took place at Bella Union bar, Trades Hall, Melbourne on 1 December. The second will take place at Balmain Town Hall on 14 December. Information about both events can be found here. You can also sign up to attend the Sydney event via the Facebook event page.

Any questions?

Smokin’ Leaves of Glass!

I’m really glad to announce that my second full-length poetry collection, Leaves of Glass, will soon be released by smokin’ Sydney-based publisher Puncher and Wattmann. Long-term readers of this site would know that said collection has taken a few years to finalise but the wait has surely been worth it.

The book, which was inspired by actual correspondence between Walt Whitman and Australian poet Bernard O’Dowd, and which features re-imaginings of both poets’ works, will be available at two P&W events in Melbourne and Sydney in December 2013 – that’s less than two months from now!

I’m also happy to say that I’ll be in attendance at these shindigs in order to read some poemz, sign autographs and mainline champagne. I’ll post more details soon but I’m looking forward to catching up with loverz of all things Whitman, O’Dowd and Oz-po.

In the meantime, here’s a teaser: ‘O Kitteh! Meh Kitteh!’, a LOLCats transliteration of Whitman’s ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ that may or may not appear in the book.

Yikes! Where did the time go?

‘Regular’ ‘readers’ of this ‘blog’ would be excused for thinking that I’d fallen under a bus, given the absolute lack of any kind of update for over a month now. But the contrary is true: far from having fallen under a bus, I’m actually – ah, whatever.

The truth is, I haven’t had a whole lot to blog about recently. My new job has occupied a lot of my time, as has socialising with colleagues from said job and, when it comes down to it, who wants to hear how many Jäger shots I’ve had in the last thirty days?

‘And yet’. (I’ll explain the significance of this phrase one day). To answer the question posed by Big Star in the title of their song ‘What’s going ahn?’, I can say the following:

(1) I’ve had an academic article published

Hot on the heels of my post-doc research at BTH in Karlskrona, I’m excited to say that ‘Flash points: Reading electronic literature as a metaphor for creativity’ (PDF), an article I co-wrote with Maria Engberg, has now been published in the latest issue of TEXT Journal. To be exact, it’s a part of a special issue entitled Creativity: Cognitive, social and cultural perspectives, edited by Nigel McLoughlin and Donna Lee Brien. So that’s untold.

(2) I’ve presented a paper in Bristol on the subject of myself. Or, um …

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Bristol, UK for the final ELMCIP seminar, on the subject of E-literature in/with Performance. I presented a paper entitled Davey Dreamnation and the Performance of Self. Here’s the abstract:

Since 2002 I have maintained a series of personal websites (now amalgamated into one website: daveydreamnation.com) that explore questions of personal identity and performativity through the character of Davey Dreamnation, a failed rockstar and comic alter-ego. The performance of this character (what could be described as a form of avatarism) brings with it various notions of play, irony and humour that are not necessarily often associated with the performance of electronic literature. This presentation seeks to engage with notions of performance of the self with reference to (and critical appraisal of) theoretical notions of performance as expounded by Butler and others. The performance of character in an online space which is heavily mediated by its form (that is, the blog format and its attendant proprietary structures and limitations) raises questions about human interaction with personal websites ‘performing’ as actors in their own right – that is, as co-creators, the performance of which influences other users’ readings of character and identity. This presentation will offer a glimpse into the workings of one such character, with reference to archived screenshots, audio files, text extracts and character analysis, with the aim of offering a humorous yet serious examination of the playfulness of online performativity. The presentation will also take into account and address some of the issues raised in the call for papers, specifically the usefulness of performance studies in blog environments. Finally, both the presentation and the accompanying paper will seek to offer themselves as examples of performance writing about electronic literature.

And here’s a pic of me and Davey during the delivery of the paper:

(3) My poem Övergången has been ‘analysed’ online …

THis is kind of nice. William Fox, who tweets as @readism and who runs a Tumblr of the same name, has written an entry analysing my poem Övergången, from the chapbook of the same name. Have at it:

The authoritative voice works well because it gets at how confidently we can trace the narrative of our social successes these days. It’s therefore no surprise that the poem hits the ground running – the opening line is in dactyls that are promptly broken up by a line break & the more awkward phrase ‘very quickly now’. The smoothness of my own commute is always determined by the extent to which I don’t think about how quickly I want to get it over & done with. On a tram / train this is easily achieved. I think this ‘transition’ is a special case because the poet’s probably walking the streets after dark (‘It’s already too late to plead…’) & more than likely through a city. This makes casual & indifferent mannerisms even more imperative, if only to avoid getting the shit kicked out yourself. It also makes you yearn for the ‘ignorance’ of non-self-consciousness, or to be a ‘special case’ (i.e. to be so deliriously shitfaced that you don’t care if people laugh at you).

Read the rest on your own.

K. So, that’s not bad: three cool things have happened. And here’s three more cool things that are destined to happen at some stage in the future:

(4) My poem ‘Wireless’ is going to be published in Overland

Not much I can say about this right now, except that I’m rather chuffed that Overland poetry ed. peter Minter has chosen this poem for inclusion in that erstwhile journal of the progressive left in Australia. Wireless first appeared on my blog last year. But don’t let that stop you from checking out Overland’s cool new website.

(5) ‘Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles’ finds a home … of sorts

My poem ‘Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles’, dedicated to poet Jill Jones, will be appearing soon as part of a special project. And that’s all I’m saying for now.

(6) I’ll be giving a paper at the ELO conference in June

No, not that ELO. I mean the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) conference, Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints, which is taking place June 20-23 in Morgantown, WV, US of A. My paper, whose semi-absurd title is “Why ‘But is it e-lit?’ is a ridiculous question: the case for online journals as organic, evolving works of digital literature”, will be part of a panel called Practices: Definitions and Pedagogies for E-Lit, and will be delivered at the godless hour of 8:30am on Saturday 23 June. Here’s the abstract:

Cordite Poetry Review (http://cordite.org.au), an Australian journal of poetry and poetics, was founded in 1997 as a print journal but since 2001 has appeared only online. Over the last ten years, as the magazine has grown in size and reach, the question of Cordite’s status as a journal has become more vexed. Can it be regarded as a ‘proper’ literary journal, in the way that other, offline journals are? Is it truly electronic, given the relative absence of works on the site that explore the possibilities of the online space? Or are these merely ridiculous questions, the posing of which reflects a pre-online hierarchy of prestige? Why do these questions exist in the first place? If we assume that any work or collection of works available online is automatically digital in nature, then the issue instead becomes one of whether or not sites like Cordite function as organic, interconnected and hypertextual spaces for creative expression. The inclusion of electronic literature works in the magazine for the first time in 2011 brought into focus the problematic nature of categorization. This presentation will explore the evolving nature of the Cordite site in order to demonstrate the highly complex and sometimes chaotic nature of journals and magazines in the online realm, and to therefore argue for a rejection of the binary characterization of new media literature communities as either ‘electronic’ or ‘static’. In doing so, it is hoped that the presentation will stimulate discussion of the ways in which electronic sites for literature embody the contradictory capacities to organically evolve, mutate and disappear.

I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow-panellists Clara Fernandez-Vara (whose paper is entitled “Electronic Literature for All: Performance in Exhibits and Public Readings”), and Alexandra Saemmer (“The (problematic) issue to evaluate literariness: Digital literature between legitimation and canonization”). I’m also just looking forward to being in a seriously hot and humid place this summer!

So, that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll see you again in a month or so when I’ve got some more news.

KFXBAI.