My Poem ‘Quarantine’

My poem ‘Quarantine’ was first published in Quadrant magazine in September 2020.

Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

Quarantine:

But there still are the other things –

water’s rhythmic tumble

over rocks,

the gentle hush of wind through leaves –

we celebrate

in solitude.

Copyright © 2020 Libby Sommer

My Poem ‘A Jogger At My Heels’

reading from Wild poetry anthology in bookstore

Am thrilled and delighted that my poem, ‘A Jogger At My Heels’ was published in last Saturday’s Canberra Times Panorama Arts section. Big thank you to Poetry Editor, Penelope Cottier and to The Canberra Times for retaining a Poetry Corner.

Have a read:

Did someone say that poetry is the purest form of art?

G. Raja Sebhar writes about the significance of poetry in english literature:

Poetry, the highest form of literature, influences us because it shows different shades of human beings. In fact, poetry is one of the most ancient arts and also the product of human imagination. It expresses different feelings such as friendship, love, death and other human emotions. In literature, poetry stands first even today because poetry has such power to influence this world. Poetry still dominates other forms of literature such as novel, drama, short story etc. Poetry is taught in schools and colleges across the world. The reason is that poetry can tap the emotions of students and their power of imagination. When it comes to English literature, poetry is the dominant form of literature from Chaucer’s period to Modern English Period. In the history of English literature, poetry has dominated other forms in Romantic period, Pre-Raphaelites period, the Metaphysical school of poets, the Classical Movement etc. Thus, poetry has a special place in English literature rather than other forms.

My Prose Poem ‘Amber Puppy’

My prose poem ‘Amber Puppy’ was first published in Quadrant magazine in September 2019.

I do enjoy writing prose poetry. Prose poetry is a cross between a poem and a prose piece, although, according to Wikipedia,  prose poetry is poetry written in prose form instead of verse form, while preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery, parataxis, and emotional effects.

Have a read of my poem and tell me what you think:

Amber Puppy: 

What can an amber puppy mean in a world of Siris and driverless cars?

I was older, one of the Baby Boomers. Life was a series of warnings:  Don’t fall over rugs or loose cords, don’t overeat, don’t go to bed before nine, drink coffee after midday, watch too much Netflix. When the new puppy arrived one birthday, rich brown as a raisin, I heard it shadowing me: Don’t trip on the dog’s lead.

There was much to be anxious about. One day, walking through the park – the rain had eased, spring waterfalls spilled into the creek, soon we would cool off under the trees – I lost my grip on the lead. Into the bushes he fled, disappearing into green. Since when did parks swallow small dogs? I drove home in a frantic car. My best friend. I’d loved him and he’d loved me.

The days staggered past like drunks. I prayed silently, absorbed sunshine, climbed steps, wrote Letters to the Editor. Don’t panic, don’t shallow breathe, don’t think the worst – you could hear it all around. A reclining Buddha could show you how to deepen the breath. A bird call at first light could tell you when to get up. A storm could remember to fill the dams and the water tanks – I was meandering between the trees when I saw him scampering through the creek. Splashing around then shaking himself dry. A muddy escapee. A barking survivor.

Where had he been these three long days? I could wash him, wrap him in a towel, take him home. Unexpected good news could still happen. Dogs off-the-leash need to stay close to their mistresses. Trees shed their leaves in winter and dogs run away, but find their way back. Seventy-two hours later, what can an amber puppy tell you in a world of Botox and identity theft?

See the difference between holding on and losing your grip.

Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer

My Poem ‘Renewal’

Have a read of my poem ‘Renewal’,  first published in Quadrant magazine September 2019. It’s a very short poem, but relevant today. Hope you enjoy it.

Renewal:

To walk

with a heavy step.

Needing nothing

a credit card can buy

but wanting to be

somewhere new.

Seeing the same old things

you’ve explored to death.

Imagining yourself

someplace else

breathing in

a new perspective.

A regenerated self

could see differently.

But what would that do to

the old self still following

in its own footsteps?

Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer

My Prose Poem: Taste

In terms of creating new material during a pandemic, poetry is where I turn for inspiration.  What about you?

According to Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished Professor of English, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, 1976–90. Poet Laureate of the U.S., 1988–90,  Poetry is literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm.

Do you find reading and writing poetry right now is how you are able to express yourself during a troubling time?

Phyllis Klein from Women’s Therapy Services puts it this way:  “Turning to poetry, poetry gives rhythm to silence, light to darkness. In poetry we find the magic of metaphor, compactness of expression, use of the five senses, and simplicity or complexity of meaning in a few lines.”

This is my pre-pandemic poem ‘Taste‘ first published in Quadrant magazine May 2019. Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

Taste:

I rather like poems about minor calamities, bursts of tiny delights, the sun warming the tender skin of the elderly. Also, the way palm fronds conduct themselves during a southerly, dishevelled, exposing the softness of their billowing arms. Pastries in display cases do something for me too. Even cupcakes iced in gelato colours, adorned with miniature decorations … Can you see my preference for the words ‘miniature’ and ‘tiny’, an inclination towards the distilled in a world favouring often the big and the overwhelming? People with the patience to follow a complex recipe – well, that’s not me, but I like to taste what they cook.  Babies in prams kicking chubby legs make me hover – how difficult not to take a bite. If you write something about a paper straw, I will be fascinated. You could try a ladybird, a pocket-size umbrella. The generalised angst of the human condition, however, may be hard for me to get a handle on.  Watch that man with the disabled daughter moisten his finger after her cupcake is eaten and relish the last crumbs. Consider the rainbow-coloured wristband tied to a letterbox on the way to the park or the miniature plastic bucket and spade we found half-hidden on the beach at Bronte and packed with us for years on every visit to the sea.

Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer

My Prose Poem: Sixteen Is A Very Difficult Age, You Know

guitar and harmonica on the grass at sunset

So what is a prose poem? According to the Poetry Foundation, a prose poem is a prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits such as symbols, metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry.

If you are able to distill meaning in a very short form, you may enjoy writing prose poetry.

Have a read of my prose poem ‘Sixteen Is A Very Difficult Age, You Know’, first published in Quadrant magazine September 2018.

Sixteen Is a Very Difficult Age, You Know:

Well yes it is. This time of year isn’t easy either. It has most of us by the neck.  You don’t want to get sick at Christmas. They said he needs six weeks of intensive therapy then they’ll decide about medication. How – when everything’s closed till February? Yes, he’s up and down. Better some days, but hardly ever. They said hide all the tablets and remove the kitchen knives. I ring or text to see how he’s going. He doesn’t always pick up. Don’t refer to the incident. Wait for him to say something. Well, he doesn’t say much though he’ll let me give him a hug – sometimes. So here I am trying to gather his forgotten dreams from the air. They’re drifting just outside my reach.

Copyright © 2018 Libby Sommer

My Poem: Lying On A Harbour Beach At Noon

painting of girl lying on beach in torquoise bikini reading a book

During the pandemic I find myself turning more and more to poetry, to the reading and the writing of poetry.

My first poetry collection ‘The Cellist, A Bellydancer & Other Distractions’ will be published by Ginninderra Press in May 2022. I’m currently working on a second collection, loosely themed around mental health.

My poem Lying On A Harbour Beach At Noon was first published in Quadrant magazine January 2017. Have a read. Hope you enjoy it:

Lying On A Harbour Beach At Noon

There is an opening out of the self which happens

when the sun is high in a cloudless blue

and its warmth sinks into the body.

It occurs on a gentle beach.

It is a slow opening,

like waking up in

your own cosy apartment.

When all the tenants wake up

and the blinds snap

the windows open wide.

If you are in bed you struggle to open to the bright light.

If you are elsewhere, feeling your separateness, alienated,

you long for home and think you’re falling apart.

You are not falling apart.

You could open into your own particular self,

feel your skin move away from the bone,

your belly like an open wound tightening

then opening with everything exposed.

You know you can stop the empty grasping if you want to

because you have a deep knowing,

you open to it, and for now

it holds you gently.

Copyright © 2017 Libby Sommer

My Poem, ‘Between the Islands of the Pacific’

Author Libby Sommer in Harry Hartog bookstore

My poem Between the Islands of the Pacific was first published in June, 2018 in Quadrant magazine alongside poems by Les Murray, Barbara Fisher, Craig Kurtz, Geoff Page, Dan Guenther, Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Graeme Hetherington. Big thank you to Literary Editor, the late Les Murray.

Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

Between the Islands of the Pacific:

Because by now we know everything is not so blue

out here.

The cities had tipped rubbish into the sea,

and we let them without even noticing.

Not even feeling our breathing clear

as gusts reaching ten knots cleaned up our days.

Not even. Today pure blue sky, blue sea,

out there the horizon drawing a line

below the clouds, the absoluteness of it. Nights

of diesel engines shuddering beneath us.

We lounge on chairs side by side on the deck.

At dusk, we stand at the railing of the ship as the sun

slips into the ocean. In the fresh sea air, their backs turned,

some raise a selfie-stick or light a cigarette while others

stand holding their breath.

Where can we go from here, and how?

Copyright © Libby Sommer 2018

Poetry News

reading from Wild poetry anthology in bookstore

Some dates for your diary from The Poetry News Events Guide:

ONLINE EVENTS, WEBSITES AND PODCASTS

ABC Radio:                                                   Free podcasts include The Book Show: Writing In The Time of Coronavirus. Writers from Australia, Italy, France discuss their writing, (no)launch experiences. https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-book-show/the-book-show-monday-23-march-2020/12071544

ABR (Australian Book Review) Podcast:               Released weekly Wednesdays: reviews, poetry, fiction, interviews, and commentary. For a discussion of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Klara and the Sun, his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize, see: https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/podcast.

Apothecary Archive Publishing Hosts The 5 Islands Press Archive:                  As well as publishing new books by Anne Elder Award-winning poet Gareth Jenkins and ‘Outsider’ artist Anthony Mannix, and the sold-out Sweet Forme: Shake-Speare’s Perfect Sonnets, AAP has taken on the task of archiving the history of 5 Islands, the press founded by Ron Pretty in 1986 (which has published 250 books). See https://apothecaryarchive.com/the-5-islands-press-archive and https://apothecaryarchive.com/the-apothecary-archive-press-1

Art Gallery of NSW Channel:                     Download free art appreciation talks, interviews and more. Includes clips, conversations and discussions of exhibitions. See https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/channel/clip/1041/

ArtsHub:                                                        Offers listings of COVID grants available for artists, announcements of residency programmes, opportunities and awards across Australia. See https://www.artshub.com.au/news-article/news/grants-and-funding/staff-writer/opportunities-and-awards-wrap-261844.

Australian Haiku Society:                            Information on Haiku events, journals and a calls for submissions to Awards. With links to haiku groups around Australia. https://australianhaikusociety.org/

BBC Radio 4:                                                The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed. Guests such as poet Kate Tempest, actor Maxine Peake, hip-hop performer Testament and more join UK poet Simon Armitage in his writing shed to discuss poetry, creativity, rapping and more. Details, see: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p085jg48/episodes/player

Biennale of Sydney NIRIN 2020:                The 22nd Biennale offers an expansive artist and First Nations-led exhibition of contemporary art that connects local communities and global networks. See the NIRIN 2020 site for artist interviews and details of exhibitions:  https://www.biennaleofsydney.art/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIpLHJycfq6wIVyRwrCh1HaQlFEAAYASAAEgKXT_D_BwE

Bloodaxe Books:                                            Carolyn Forché. Recording of poet Carolyn Forché, reading from her collection In The Lateness of The World, and in conversation. See: https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/events?articleid=1005

Brisbane Writers Festival:                           Recordings of 2020 BWF events with writers such as Evie Wyld, David Mitchell and more via the site and BWF youtube channel. Donations welcomed to pay the artists. See https://bwf.org.au/online-events

Creative Wollongong:                                   Hub for Regional Arts Grants, news, film competitions, and Circus Monoxide E-Lab Cabaret. More details see: https://www.facebook.com/CreativeWollongong/?fref=mentions&__tn__=K-R

Free Film Downloads (NSW, Victoria and ACT):            See your local library for access to Kanopy and/or Beamfilm, the free on-demand streaming services providing access to more than 30,000 classic Australian, independent and world movies for library card-holders.

Girls On Key YouTube Channel:               See the channel for archived videos (7 months and previous) of female poets and gender-diverse poets from Australia and worldwide. https://www.youtube.com/c/GirlsonKeyPoetry/videos

Indigenous Literacy Day:                           The Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s work continues year-round. See the site for ways to support including volunteering or making a one-off or regular donation. If you missed it on the day, the virtual ILF Celebration is available on youtube: https://www.copyright.com.au/2020/09/anita-heiss-indigenous-literacy/

Instituto Cervantes:                                      2 Quixotes Podcast Series. Sydney’s Instituto Cervantes presents five podcasts (archived) examining all aspects of Cervantes’ famous work Don Quixote, past and present; includes Cervantes and Shakespeare and Planet Quixote: Fans and Detractors. Available to play via https://soundcloud.com/twoquixotes; iTunes, Android or see https://sidney.cervantes.es/en/special_activity.htm for other archived events.

James Laidler LitPoetry Australia:                        See the site for posts, interviews and links to videos of poems set to music including Adrienne Rich’s Diving Into The Wreck: https://www.facebook.com/jameslaidler3280/?fref=mentions&__tn__=KH-R). Also see recently uploaded video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3LcxgIdQeQ) of “Litpoetry’s first partnership with a practising poet: Michelle Seminara. Michelle sent me some of her fantastic poetry from her soon to be published collection, Surburban fantasy (coming out in June by UWAP Press), and I chose one of these to interpret into video form” (James Laidler).

Libby Hathorn Poetry Workshops:            Free online workshop includes Perfect Poetry: Marvels of Metaphor: http://libbyhathorn.com/libby-hathorn-news/perfect-poetry-marvels-metaphor-session-2/ Also see Poetry & You: Get Started!.

Literary Hub:                                                On-line journal with a weekly and daily e-newsletter offers articles on-site or linked. Recent topics include Why Do Some Writers Burn Their Work? More details, see: https://lithub.com/category/features/

Meanjin Journal:                                           See podcasts from the 80-year old journal; features and essays, and sign up for the daily Reading Email Newsletter. More details, see: https://meanjin.com.au/blog/ and https://meanjin.com.au/podcast/

Munster Literature Centre:                         Irish website hosts short story and chapbook competitions (available to international writers but with pricey entry fees), blogs and more. See: http://www.munsterlit.ie/SOF%20Page.html and http://www.munsterlit.ie/blog.html

Newcastle Writers Festival 2020:                Multiple YouTube videos, including Millennial Panic Poems – Readings with Claire Albrecht, Hera Lindsay Bird and Bastian Fox Phelan (57 mins.) See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we0ocIv1ra4

NFSA Is OnLine:                                         National Film & Sound Archive. Offers silent shorts, and vintage and more recent newsreels from Canberra’s NFSA, including ‘Brisbane Time Capsule’, ‘Australian Tennis Greats’ and more. See https://www.nfsa.gov.au/

Not Very Quiet:                                             Audio recordings of featured poets reading their poems to celebrate the launch of the most recent NVQ issue and archived readings. See https://not-very-quiet.com/issue-7-virtual-mic/https://not-very-quiet.com/issue-8-march-2021/

Penguin Books:                                             See the Australian site for The Huddle, an online book club which offers the chance for readers to chat with authors; free to join via https://www.penguin.com.au/book-clubs/2604-the-huddle. See the UK site for collated short articles by writers, agents and publishers.

Pitt Street Poetry:                                         The LEGERE Online Poetry Festival. Weekly-scheduled online event with friends of the PSP press Melinda Smith, Simeon Kronenberg, Geoff Page and more, reading their own poems and poems they love. See:youtube.com/channel/UCYtSvjO3cM8XvelGYDR7ONQ

Poetic City Canberra:                                  See the site (https://www.poeticcitycbr.com/) for recordings of events at the 2021 Poetic City Festival, including: Poet Hazel Hall’s ‘urban nature’ haiga workshop in Glebe Park on 17 April, where participants used their phones to create image and haiku combinations, inspired by the Japanese tradition of haiga (brush painting with calligraphy); see https://www.poeticcitycbr.com/urban-nature-haiku). “Seven poets were commissioned by hosts Aaron Kirby and Zoe Anderson to write poems reflecting a positive vision of the future for the Poetic City Good Future Slam, held on 20 March 2021. See ‘Good Future’ at https://www.poeticcitycbr.com/callouts-and-submissions, a compilation of these poems. (Other highlights include) the Not Very Quiet Drop-in Poetry Writing Session. On 20 March, the editors of Not Very Quiet women’s online poetry journal, Sandra Renew and Moya Pacey, hosted a drop-in poetry writing session at Gang Gang cafe, providing prompts and guidance. These are the poems that resulted.”

Poetry On The Move Podcast:                     Podcast on contemporary poetics from the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI). POTM is an initiative of the University of Canberra’s Centre for Creative and Cultural Research, Faculty of Arts and Design. See https://www.poetryonthemove.net/

Poets.Org:                                                      The site for the Academy of American Poets with poets reading their poems, features and more. See https://poets.org/;

Poets Reading The News:                             California-based collective re-verses news and pop culture; and offers a newsletter with articles and poems. For links and more details, see: https://www.facebook.com/PoetsReadingTheNews/

Queensland Poetry Festival:                        The Panacea Poets Readings. A twice-weekly offering of short readings from renowned poets and authors including Kirli Saunders and Eileen Myles.See: https://queenslandpoetryfestival.com/panacea-poets/

Red Room Poetry:                                         See the site for resources and videos on all aspect of poetry for young writers, their teachers and everyone else (!); for animated clips and free workshops via https://redroomcompany.org/projects/poetry-object-clickview-resources/; and replays of launches (including In Your Hands, an e-anthology of authors whose launches were Covid-affected). https://redroomcompany.org/projects/in-your-hands/

Rochford Street Review:                              Reading The River (Virtual) Poetry Readings. See the journal’s site for recorded readings to celebrate the second River poetry reading, and more: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2020/04/18/the-virtual-launch-of-the-second-reading-the-river-reading/

Screen Illawarra:                                          Hub for drama production and other opportunities. https://www.facebook.com/screenillawarra2020/

Stuart Rees:                                                   See the latest article on ‘the links between poetry and research’ (http://www.transformingsociety.co.uk/2020/09/21/poets-contribute-to-research-and-could-change-the-world/) from Stuart Rees, the human rights activist, poet, novelist, author of books on social justice, Recipient of the Jerusalem Peace Prize, and Founder Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation. Also see https://johnmenadue.com/stuart-rees-poets-can-change-the-world/

Sue Woolfe:                                                   Video series ‘What Cutting Edge Neuroscience Knows’ explores Neuroscience and Creativity. For links, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K7yQ-kXS8c;

WestWords Poets’ Corner:                          “The latest Poets’ Corner YouTube podcast features Damen O’Brien talking about and reading poems on the theme of ‘the end of things’.  See https://youtu.be/4DHmJhj8uyI. To view previous Poets’ Corner podcasts please go to the WestWords Official Poets’ Corner page at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLb8bHCZBRMBjlWlPDeaSanZ3qAZcuVW7N

WriteOutLoud:                                             Poetry-focused British-based site with news, blogs and discussions; an extensive poetry publishing directory; and more. See https://www.writeoutloud.net/news/

Writers Victoria:                                           See the site for news, events, competitions and informative blogs, articles and interviews on self-publishing pitfalls, writers in film, the freelance life, and more at https://writersvictoria.org.au/writing-life

WritersWrite.com (USA):                            Offers extensive links to sites (mostly US-based) for submissions and no-fee contests; literary, music and film news; ‘Types of Rhyme’; ‘Poems For Kids’; collections of famous poems. https://www.writerswrite.com/poetry/

The Writes4Women Podcasts:                     Celebrating women’s voices in literature, media and publishing with interviews, launches and podcasts. Free; listen via site or subscribe. See https://www.writes4women.com/

            MORE DETAILS AND TO BUY:

https://apothecaryarchive.com/about-the-poetry-news

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