Archive for April, 2015

Boasting, Hubris, and One Exceptional Birthday Present

Posted in creative writing, literature, stupidity with tags , , , , , , on April 15, 2015 by drayfish

Vogels 2015 shortlist

IMAGE: The Vogel’s Shortlist (The Weekend Australian, 18-19th April, 2015)

I’m not very good at boasting.  I’m just a completely awesome person that way.

…See what I did there?  Seamless.

But this past week I had the extraordinary honour of being one of four writers shortlisted for the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award for my as-yet-unpublished manuscript, Sign. 

If you are interested in reading an extract from the work, or seeing my pasty, egg-shaped face (the photographer from The Australian performed some kind of dark magic and made me look vaguely human), you can find the announcement article here on The Australian’s website.

The entire experience has been delightful.  From the welcome and kindness shown by everyone at the publishers Allen & Unwin, to the encouragement of the judges, to the continued generosity of the Vogel family and company for funding the award, to the other nominated authors who could not have been more lovely.  I keep waiting for everyone to yell ‘Psyche!’ and push me in a puddle.

The winner was the richly deserving Murray Middleton, whose exceptional collection of short stories, When There’s Nowhere Left To Run, proves yet again that despite what conventional nay-saying wisdom has been bleating on about for the past few years, the short story form is not just still alive, it is happily, proudly thriving.

So, a rare, good week.

And again, not that I’m going steadily mad with hubris or anything, but did Shakespeare ever shortlist in The Australian/Vogel’s Awards? Nope.  Didn’t think so. So that’s one/nil Shakespeare!*

Murry Middleton Cover

IMAGE: When There’s Nowhere Else To Run (Allen & Unwin)

* Don’t wave those exquisite, soul-penetrating works of immortal artistic wonder at me, Shakespeare!  You’ve been riding on those for years.

Poetry Unearthed By Legitimate, For Real, Authentic Poetic Research (Now With Facts!)

Posted in criticism, literature, stupidity with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2015 by drayfish

What was before a Chicken or Egg?

I despise April Fools Day.

A completely arbitrary mark on the calendar, used to justify telling outrageous lies and spreading often galling misinformation. And for what?  Just to make others feel stupid?  To exploit their trust in us?  To laugh at how foolish they must be to ever take at face value something we – their friend, family, colleague, newspaper, government, or scientific body – have told them.

Clearly the only real fool is anyone stupid enough to take the hard-earned faith of their fellow human beings and toss it in the trash for a cheap gag.  You’d have to be a shameless, self-destructive narcissist to do anything so glib and facile.

So anyway, apropos of nothing, I did some research on the weekend, and found a heretofore undiscovered poem by the iconic Romantic poet, John Keats.

Yeah.  That happened.  Why not?*

Like his poem ‘Bright Star’, said to have been discovered in the front cover of Keats’ collection of Shakespeare’s poems, I tracked this one down in his thoroughly dogeared copy of 101 Chicken Jokes for Transcendently Tortured English Poets (3rd edition).

I include it here without alteration, including his haunting postscript.

Let history make of this bombshell what it will…

On Looking Into Why Everything Tastes Like Chicken

by John Keats

Oft have I sought to roost in solemn dark,
to scratch for seeds and preen a lyric phrase,
Only to wake, my nests dissolved away.
A nightingale? A Grecian urn? A star?
What was all that about? What drunken haze
Sought ‘truth’ in chirps, space gas, and lumps of clay?
But lo – at last – a vision clears the strife:
two-legged waif, a symbol left unuttered,
Eternal, fowl conundrum: Which came first?
We, the cockerel’s dame, ripe with sunlit life,
Poised upon the threshold of the gutter,
Designed to fly, but doomed to walk the earth.
O chicken – ruffled, squat pedestrian!
Thou knowest where to cross; not why. Not when.

Signed, John Keats

And yes, I am the real John Keats – the one who wrote ‘Ode on Melancholy’ and all that stuff. So anyone who finds this poem should probably be given a Nobel Prize in Literature, or something.

And also a Playstation 4.)

He was a true visionary.

John Keats by William Hilton

IMAGE: Sony Fan Boy John Keats by William Hilton the Younger (National Portrait Gallery London)

* Because facts.

%d bloggers like this: