this is such a straightforward post. maybe that’s where my writing is heading… literal, truthful, calming. idk.
this is such a straightforward post. maybe that’s where my writing is heading… literal, truthful, calming. idk.
falling sick is falling into a pleasant & easy air of detachment. for a change i can drive to work without dwelling, mulling. realising ten minutes after the fact where i’ve been at. the flu seems to occupy some careful part of my brain that won’t leave the past or future alone, in perhaps a more effective way than prescription drugs. memory still exists but it’s elided, the substance of the footage slides into a mild haze, a wispy & dreamy slush pile of thought. the seasonal body invasion that is, yes, surely ‘going around’ leaves me free to operate at a slightly elevated level, above normal consciousness, observing the circular drift of cloud & the illusion of cold air paralleled in the sky’s colours, or something. i photograph it all – keeping my left hand on the wheel – & later edit for sharing. but the best bit is that an unexpected lapse in my hand’s steadiness creates an extra roil, an enhanced cloud curlicue. i go with this as a metaphor for something i haven’t discovered yet (like the people who like beautifully rendered slices of motivational text in a 1:1 ratio image, but who also like ironic commentaries on motivational text) everything is accidental, inconsistent, meaningless. but nevertheless beautiful & poignant. because why not. we catch a vision out of the corner of our eyes & hold onto it. something as simple as a shaft of ice blue sky against the late-early morning cumulus. or, particularly impractical shoes, a freeze-frame from behind, captured but untagged in someone else’s album.
hi. let me take you on a little tour of my garden. the lawn area is incredibly large & was overgrown since i moved in, so i’m ever so gradually chipping away at the edges, making it tidy, pleasing. i hope you notice the front is looking nice.. (i was at with scissors today & yesterday) & also out here i have roses on the side. a few different colours when they’re blooming. out the back i’ve planted beans alone, tho i have plans for some more things. i’m a fan of herbs.. (the snails have been eating the beans but i’ve been a bit lazy & not done too much to stop this. anyway, it seems like once the creepers grow high enough the snails can’t get up there.) right down the back there’s a separate fenced off area that i believe once would have kept horses. i’m yet to determine a use for it, tho i have placed the poetry panels there, left over from last year’s project – they continue to degrade nicely in the weather. that’s about it. oh i also have a nice wild patch of mint down in the back corner. it’s a herb you don’t use too much but i like having it. there’s a great mint sauce i remember making once that i should look into preparing again..
so how was your new year’s? i spent mine quietly in a hotel room. i was quite happy with that tho. i’d gone out with some friends the night before so was tired, & content to watch tv & be by myself. i didn’t feel particularly reflective but that’s ok. right now i’m preferring to look forward rather than dwell on the past. i did see the fireworks on the melbourne horizon. it was pretty, albeit kinda distant. it was good to be away for a short time. now i’m back somewhat refreshed, & as you might have ascertained, i’m pouring some efforts into the garden before work life intrudes next week.
i’m still waiting for the necessary work-role enthusiasm to appear. perhaps it won’t. it might. perhaps i’ll change roles. idk. it’s not that easy for me tho.. if anything, i’m ok with my lack of arts project motivation at the moment because i’m enthusiastic about my own work. this should provide some balance. i do aim to travel around a little this year & take on some writing projects. my dream locations are back to tasmania (loved it the one time i’ve been, & wrote a lot), but also new zealand.
while i was away my cat had to stay at the narrandera pet motel. she was totally wild-eyed when i picked her up, not understanding anything. you can understand what it must be like for a pet. she seemed to weigh more too when i put her in the car. the proprietor told me that often happens – there’s a continuous supply of food in the caged area so some cats just do nothing but eat. for a change she curled up right under my arm to sleep the first night back. but of course, she’s now back into her home-life routine, & has gone back to being her more aloof self, only appearing for food, sleeping out of reach.
perhaps i need a dog? we were talking yesterday about the differences in the two, how dogs can sometimes be more human-like companions, how you can talk to them more like they’re people, how you can elicit responses from them, play with them, et cetera. people seem pretty certain about being either dog or cat ‘types’ but i don’t know.. look at this dog tho!
he stormed around the house yesterday bringing a lot of joy. i’m still loving the idea now of a companion i can take places, who’ll hang his head out the window of the car lapping up the air.. anyhoo.. we’ll see.
i began unlocking all of my social media accounts & unblocking every person i’ve ever blocked. it all seems pointless. i’m here, writing things & existing. you can read, look, interact. or not. i don’t have anything to hide. (oh except for that one guy i don’t know who bizarrely msgd me a few months back with ‘fuck you’re a wanker derek motion’ – he can stay blocked i think?..)
i hope you achieve beautiful things in 2016, take on challenges, tackle changes, love & be loved.
a few days ago i camped at gooloogong & saw darren hanlon play, then drove back in some middling, desultory drizzle, my wet camping gear stuffed in the boot functioning as an olfactory memory aid. this was the fourth time i’ve seen him play & i’ll probably continue to seek the shows out. i’m a big fan of his unaffected yet incisive writing.
the final song darren played was ‘home’ off his album of a few years back. it struck a chord with me (aha – literally & metaphorically) because i’d been listening to it & thinking about it quite a bit in the days leading up to the gig. it’s the narrative of returning to the place you grew up in & feeling simultaneously connected, but also ‘other’. i’m not sure how much i identify with the situation but i do somewhat, at least a little bit. the story of being punched in the face also never fails to have me mentally summoning up every such incident that has occurred to me. there’s not many, luckily. the worst happened in wagga many years ago. (wagga, of course.) after being unexpectedly knocked to the ground i remember lying on the tarmac for what must have been a good 20 minutes. partly it was a defence mechanism, waiting for the guy & the group to be well gone. but i also just lay there looking at the stars. nothing was fair or made any sense. eventually i went home alone.
i only want to live in places with big skies. that, and a river running through. i think if i have these things it will be all i need. these landscapes mollify my sense of some over-arching universal injustice.
i’ve been pondering exactly how the uptake inhibitor is affecting things. i guess it’s important to monitor. maybe. there’s some sense that maybe i’m trying to observe the impact from inside my own head, a sort of impossible position, & so, who knows. but then again.. there seems to be a slight difference. often on waking i completely forget who i am. does this happen to you? to everybody? i find it kind of blissful. i’m born into the world with no memory, no thought. there’s just sensations, like the textured feel of cotton sheets, the warmth of the early light through the window. but of course things flood back – memories, anticipations, things you need to dwell on, things that might demand action – everything that makes you ‘you’. i think at the moment the daily flood is provoking less of a physical reaction. less nausea & accelerated heart beat. at other times of the day too. it’s a weird kind of detachment almost, like, you can still think about something but you’re not as much ‘in it’. if that makes sense.
having said that, it’s not completely impossible to upset things. the tendency lurks. i’m quite good at structured long-form rumination & gosh it can be negative. i’m doing my best to avoid the spiralling. i’m about to set off by myself to see some more country & that always helps.
i received the latest Overland in the mail today, featuring one of my poems. it’s been a curious thing this 12 month gestation period, from composition to publication. & now i’m trying to focus on other themes. but if i have nothing else though i’ll always have the initial reaction that poem provoked, when it was posted in draft form. & i’m keeping that just for me. nobody has ever said anything nicer.
it seems true, the media you find yourself drawn to echoes aspects of your own experience. the mood of that specific song speaks to you: it articulates something you’re going through, it’s extra poignant even though you know it might not be months down the track. why did i listen to that on repeat?
i watched buffy lose her virginity recently (you know, in the 90s tv sense, heads lowering to the pillows & the screen fading to black) & i found the whole follow-up really sad & moving. i mean the set piece where she rests her head on her mum’s shoulder… that made me feel things. good & evil are ultimately so simple. it’s all the moral ambiguity in the middle that hurts. love & loss; meaning & feeling. anyway, it’s always surprising to find yourself getting somewhat emotional in response to a fictional/textual scenario. i turned it off & started following sarah michelle gellar on instagram. that seemed to help. she does things with food now.
it’s her against the world. again, connections. the 26 minute drive to the office is planned auto-sensory-meridian-response time – that’s 52 minutes per day & i need to feel things otherwise i’m just staring straight ahead as the road, the world, unfolds in front of me.. (or ‘unravels’, right? because i did write a thesis on michael dransfield so what was the point of that 5 years of study if i can’t pepper the future with meaningful quotes? ‘the road unravels as i go’.. the poem also references a ‘wagga rug’. i think.)
so at least gang of youths aren’t outnumbered by vampires, it’s life & relationships, & this album is my current 52 minute jam that makes me believe art is on my side.
‘fire of my loins / light of my life / we’re vastly outnumbered’
& though i normally hate textual memes (it’s irrational & yes i know it – i secretly (or not-so-secretly anymore) judge people who share clichéd motivational stuff on social media. i should definitely work on this problem of mine..) this one worked for me yesterday afternoon (from the instagram account youremytype – sorry not sure who the designer behind it is):
it speaks to me about the sense of just letting everything take me along, floating directionless, mainly acting to avoid risks & uncertainty. damn motivational statements!
finally (if you’re questioning how this blog post could possibly appear during work hours.. well, it’s not important) here’s another update sort of thing. if my work appears in a contemporary art space can i start calling myself a contemporary artist? will someone engage with the work in north sydney this month, start connecting it with his/her own life experience, knit it into a tapestry of poignancy? maybe it will motivate someone..
my poem ‘density’ will be published in fourW 26, launched at gleebooks 21st november. it’s been ‘shortlisted’, so to speak.
my poem ‘binding’ will be published in the Australian Poetry Anthology 2015. it’s being launched on the same day, 3-5 pm, Stanley Street Gallery, 1/52-54 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst. (pretty sure i can’t be at either event.)
finally, my poem ‘pages’ will be published in an upcoming issue of Overland. i’d forgotten about it – i submitted the work 10 months ago. feels like such a personal piece. but. idk.
i was interviewed by the local paper this week, the narradera argus. one of my poems has been shortlisted for best poetry in the upcoming issue of fourW & it’s kinda nice that someone is interested in talking to me about that. the best bit was this though: the journalist didn’t bother to ask the question i was expecting, ‘so what’s the poem about?’ instead he asked the title, then if it was a series of short poems. i said no, it’s one longer poem. great he said, & wrote that down. & that was the end of that. so i’m expecting a story along the lines of ‘narrandera-based writer publishes one long poem’. & i like that. it’s the straightforward truth.
i told my sister about the poem tho & she did ask ‘what’s it about?’ i sort of fudged the answer & just said it’s about a certain period of time, covering lots of stuff that happened during a few days. there’s a line in it ‘i facebooked my sister’ so i thought she needed to be aware of the impending publication. there are some other things in it too. i’ll tell you later.
i’ve just recently collaborated with local artist Sarah McEwan on an installation work for On Common Ground (it’s on this weekend only!) after i drafted some text for the work she too asked the inevitable question. & look there’s nothing wrong with this. people will ask such things. people are people. she was even more probing in her question tho, asking who the poem is about, & then (despite me not answering properly) asking if whoever it was about would be visiting narrandera & attending On Common Ground. that made me laugh a little bit because it seemed so silly & impossible. however beautifully that plays out in my mind.. but anyway, you decide:
(the title of the work is ‘indigo’. hill indigo is one of my favourite wildflowers that pops up down near the river in narrandera. they’re not blooming anymore but i took the photo at the end maybe a month ago.)
it’s just past 8pm. i’m still in my office, eating a piece of birthday cake & typing this. we just ran some local grant assessments & i’m pleased, i think. this is not a picture of what it looks like right now. but if you drive down that road a bit you’ll get to my house. you can do that if you want.
last year we toyed with idea of doing up a poster to advertise my grant writing workshops. it was to feature famous ‘grants’. grant denyer of course was going to be front & centre. but there were a lot of other grants suggested, some historical, some contemporary, some even local (such as stan grant). the workshops would have been branded as ‘secure your grant!’ and the posters would have been a photoshop set-piece with all of the human grants literally secured in some way – tied down, chained up, etc etc. just enough to hint at inappropriate sadomasochism, but also subtle enough to be funny. in the end it never happened. it was probably for the best.
(the cake though is not one of my best. it was made from a packet mix, & the icing was also pre-made, even though i usually hate doing that. i needed to produce a cake with limited time & equipment. don’t judge me. it is strawberry flavoured though, with toffee apple flavoured m&ms adorning, & it is totally over-the-top sweet. i can feel the short-lived energy filling me now. ask me anything! but quickly, i’ll fade.)
last night i watched black mirror (episode 3 series 1). in this particular dystopia most people have implants that record everything they see & hear. people are continually rewinding & reviewing moments, either in their eyes or displayed on screens for group viewing. the real topic becomes obsession. with these capabilities & information do people gain anything? does limitless review lead to further certainty? or conversely further uncertainty?
i’ve been thinking about this notion of review a bit, probably mostly because of facebook. the morning of zadie’s birthday as i still lay in bed: here, says facebook, would you like to share this memory? & it’s a picture of her hours after being born 5 years before. so algorithmically apt but also not something i chose to share. i’m not sure why. i like people seeing my photos, my memories. later that day i share a photo of a friend adjusting a mic stand from 2012. then that evening i delete it, wondering why i had done it in the first place. i felt vaguely ridiculous.
i know i spend too much time thinking about these sorts of things. which is probably why the black mirror episode worked on me (i was genuinely surprised at one of the twists, and then had an almost physical reaction to the graphic way the ending was filmed). it felt a little too real. if i was in that situation, with the capacity to replay every moment of my life in HD, what would i do with that?
(close to 9pm now & that cat is going to hate me. she’ll be stressed, roaming the house, thinking i’ve left her forever.)
well i know i’d start by replaying some recent interactions, looking for cues that might guide me. i guess i’m on the autism spectrum. i’m pretty functional but this thought process isn’t particularly normal either.. so what do i do next? was there a slight but yet earnest smile on your face? was there at any point a hushed quality to your voice? when i said some of the things did you reply out of politeness or out of genuine common feeling? did your eyes give anything away as i looked back? i could zoom in. i’d totally make use of the technology to review it all. but would it give me further certainty? this is such a stupid sideways approach. do you want me closer? or more distant. or just nothing. i have to write these things. all the rest of you who are reading this / it’s not about you.
added drama nothing ends or
begins the pan-browned burn-
off haze merging with that
roiling bulk of cloud over
my right shoulder angles
in a tightening circle
thought: speechless loving segments of
hill / half gold half black (momentary)
it’s the effort at being forgettable
wrote: what’s going
on & where are you