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Oh My Rapture

In Oh My Rapture, Gemma White draws on her own lived experiences with bipolar, and her attempts to transcend it through the power of her imagination and the creation of art. Entwined throughout the poems in this collection are allusions to themes in The Red Hand Files, as every poem is a direct response to a different file. Yet each poem also stands on its own, a testament to fandom but with a self-awareness that imbues each piece of writing with unique insights from the poet herself.

ISBN 9781922830173 (PB, 62pp);
152mm x 229mm
AUD $26 USD $18 CAD $24 NZD $28 GBP £16 EUR €18
ISBN 9781922830180 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $9 CAD $12 NZD $14 GBP £8 EUR €9



In Oh My Rapture, Gemma White stages the politics of fandom in percussive, edgy and unforgettable poems. White performs intense moments of intimacy and yearning against a backdrop of grief, so that lines such as ‘you dumped me in the psych ward’, ‘you kissed me in Dixons Recycled Music’, and ‘my madness is a burnt orange fox’ become deep entanglements of desire.
– Cassandra Atherton, Professor of Writing and Literature, Deakin University

Gemma White writes with radical honesty and wit about mental and spiritual health, love, creativity and exultation in Oh My Rapture. The direct voice and casual tone of these poems make the insights that suddenly sneak up on the reader all the more effectively disarming.
– Claire Gaskin, Ismene’s Survivable Resistance

Gemma White’s poems are maskless. There is a streak of non-conformity running through each of these poems; a tender transparency and an unapologetic poetic ‘I’. You will find bold snapshots of “inflamed” connection and modern human disconnection conveyed in direct language.
– Amanda Anastasi, The Inheritors

Poetry that lives by its own rules, nothing you can find in a textbook. Full of life experiences you can’t make up. A total joy.
– Matt Ryan, The Munster Times

Oh My Rapture is a poetically immersive experience; a cool, edgy ride; an intimate collection done different; a rich journey through TWO hearts that makes poetry feel THREE dimensional. Reading each poem alongside the corresponding Red Hand File is like holding a tumbler to your ear and pressing it against your neighbour’s wall. These poems contain secrets. They are made for reading under the doona with a flashlight. They are deliciously voyeuristic.

– ali whitelock, the lactic acid in the calves of your despair

5 stars out of 5! A fantastic poetry collection by gemma white. her prowess as a poet truly shines through this wonderful work. a mixture of delicately constructed diction and fun, silly repetitions that show the struggles of modern life, love, and music. as a bipolar person, i really connected with her poems. the poems count down from 50 to 1, which i found to be absolutely lovely rather than counting upwards. a sense of urgency follows you as you get closer to the final poem, wishing it would never end. white’s range is incredible, and i truly adored each and every one of her poems. she portrays the human condition in such a way that is quite honestly both relatable and deeply meaningful. love, sex, music, death, dachshunds — it’s all here. i am eager to read more from this author, and i am captivated by her use of form and lyric.

–Nastya Sidorova, NetGalley


The Dark Cracks of Kemang

“That old childhood saying ‘pick what you want from the tree of life’ simply not working anymore? Becoming a foreigner in Indonesia might be as good a stab at something new and rewarding, as anything…”

Armed with a teaching contract, some poems, and a guitar-playing buddy, Roberts discovers a potentially life-changing experience in 2013. And so the Bajaj Boys make themselves at home.

Indonesia is revealed as a challenging but welcoming land of ‘instant millionaires’, ‘beautiful rubbish’, abundant romance, powerful religion, and unnerving history.

Nasi goreng, alcohol, cigarettes, bajajs, motorbikes, a gentlemen’s club, poetry gigs, wild animals, and electrical storms weave together, as the dark cracks of Kemang open.

ISBN 9781922830050 (PB, 354pp);
152mm x 229mm
AUD $30 USD $24 CAD $28 NZD $33 GBP £18 EUR €20
ISBN 9781922830067 (eBook) AUD $15 USD $10 CAD $12 NZD $16 GBP £9 EUR €10


Watch the Book Trailer



A chronicle of interactions with expats and locals, interspersed with impressions of Indonesia, Roberts excels in short, sharp, observational verse. Ripe stuff indeed. You might find yourself simultaneously amused and repulsed. If you’ve ever wanted to be a fly on the wall at gatherings of expats, this is your chance.

– Kenneth Yeung, Indonesia Expat

In 2013, poet Jeremy Roberts did something few of us have the guts to do: he looked at his Auckland life, decided he’d supported his musician daughter on enough gigs, and dared himself to squeeze in some adventure in the third quarter of his life.

Age 53, Roberts agreed to spend a year teaching at NZ International School in Jakarta, a city of 10 million in a nation of 271 million. The move was pretty ballsy. In fact, The Dark Cracks of Kemang, published nearly ten years after his adventure began, is entirely a meditation about finding the beautiful exhilaration of daring oneself to live more adventurously. Why’d he do it, and why’d he write the memoir? Because Roberts is obsessed with rock ‘n roll. It’s his religion.

Roberts is today settled in Napier, running Napier Live Poets, various page projects, and regularly interviewing poets on Radio Hawke’s Bay. To stand up in the literary landscape, though, required a Hero’s Journey. Roberts found that to get the guts and the experience to become a poetry leader instead of a poetry follower required going all the way to a strange country, thrusting himself upon unfamiliar stages in an unfamiliar culture for countless gigs, and trusting a colourful Manchester socialist to be his on-stage companion, playing guitar while Roberts waxed poetry.

The name of the poetry duo Roberts created in Jakarta was The Bajaj Boys – named for the three wheeled tuk tuk taxis which thousands of expatriate international teachers like Roberts relied upon to get around a city so humid that Roberts’ leather jacket turned mouldy in the cupboard.

In the spirit of wild writers like Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith and Sam Hunt – all of whom get discussed in the book (remember, rock is Roberts’ religion), The Dark Cracks of Kemang flits between English and Bahasa Indonesia and back again.

Just a couple of pages in, we get a description of the bum-washing hand-held bidet device known as ‘semprotan air’; then again, the book covers Indonesian food, language, clothing, customs, corruption, religion, attitudes – as well as taking an objective look at the attitudes of Roberts’ peer Western teachers, for better and worse (one teacher mourns the vibrators which Customs confiscated at the airport).

Each page is wide-eyed with fascination at the colourful country of 17,000 islands. You’ll find yourself engrossed in a first person personal poem about Indonesian culture before the camera lens zooms out and discusses what life is like for an expatriate classroom teacher, before Roberts veers back to his student days at Auckland Uni, to discussions of tropical storms, monkeys, and a tonne of cultural discussion told without any pejorative Western condescension. It’s pure fascination – Roberts is as impressed or unimpressed with Jakarta as he is Auckland, Napier or California (where – at the same time as Roberts is finding his inner rockstar, his famous daughter Eden Iris is doing the same in Los Angeles).

Want a book which takes you on a three-wheel motorised rikshaw tour through a huge segment of the world’s population whom Kiwis hardly ever interact with? And would you like your book to discuss Ozzy, The Stooges, the Smiths, sweaty palms, c-dizzle, sex, death, and explain the Bahasa Indonesian word for ‘boring’ all on page 138?

Read The Dark Cracks of Kemang and think about doing something exciting with your life, even if you’re 53 like Roberts. Write about it in steamy, sensual poetry. Record it and publish it on Soundcloud and YouTube – just like Jeremy Roberts has done.

Michael Botur, Award-winning New Zealand author

This collection of saucy tales and its contributing cast of misfits pulls back the curtain on the expat dream. A fascinating odyssey that titillated both the adventurous and depraved parts of me. I loved every second of it.

– Darren Shrek, JGC Hall of Fame

Pentimento COv


If you are the only one capable of saving the world, would a hedgehog be your go-to solution? Should you commit seppuku simply because you feel at home everywhere? How much trouble could you be in, if you imagine that most people you meet are your concubines? What if you find out that God occasionally indulges in writing dirty poems? These questions seem absurd. However, before passing judgment, you might discover the surprising poetic resolutions that Daniel Ionita proposes in this volume.

ISBN 9781922332820 (PB, 98pp);
152mm x 229mm
AUD $26 USD $18 CAD $20 NZD $28 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 9781922332837 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $9 CAD $11 NZD $14 GBP £6 EUR €7



With poems often inventive and always gripping our attention, Daniel Ionita’s Pentimento is a much-travelled collection that ranges over geographies, poets, dictators, titillations, violence, bitterness, love… musings on the eternal… and unexpected detours such as a plot to kill Santa.

– Paul Scully, author, The Fickle Pendulum

Ionita has succeeded – with dexterous flair – in meshing history with the biblical while ribbing authority and human excess through absurdity and surrealism – reminding the reader of Tristan Tzara and the Dadaists… This collection is a significant contribution to Australian poetry.

– James Gering, author, Staying Whole by Falling Apart

[Ionita’s poems] are often enigmatic and paradoxical. But they also have a forthright energy and openness, a flair for drama and a desire to connect as well as to entertain… The imagery may be appealingly whimsical, but this is not simple…instantly clear… poetry. A flexible way of reading is required – preferably with a sense of humour and a willingness to respond intuitively to both the charm and the inherent contrariness…

– Jean Kent, on Daniel Ionita’s Short Bursts of Eternity


75 for the 75th – Selected: 2002-2022

In his brand of multiverse, David P. Reiter probes planetary identity as exploratory memoir, ‘tweetem’ snapshots of the mind and body from stress to recovery, and fanzine remixes of Dr Who. In these key selections from the award-winning My Planets: a fictive Memoir, Timelord Dreaming, and Time Lords Remixed: a Dr Who poetical, he tests the limits of genre and text.

The physical edition features colour images and links to external sites intended to spur the reader’s imagination.

ISBN 9781922332851 (PB, 124pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $30 USD $20 NZD $33 GBP £18 EUR €20
ISBN 9781922332868 (eBook)

AUD $15 USD $10 NZD $16 GBP £9 EUR €10


Here we have a satirical, surreal and insightful narrative that invites readers to click through, look up, chuckle and question everything. In this complex world of prokaryotic spiders, robots, Light Eaters and other science fiction treats, readers encounter poetry that serves as its own Tardis. Using the persona of Dr Who, Reiter warps dimensions and definitions. All is not as it seems though. Beyond the sci-fi fandom and miscellany is a distilled and vital poetry that deserves multiple readings.
– Jayne Fenton Keane, author of The Transparent Lung

Whether you’re a proper Whovian or someone who’s never encountered the Doctor before, you’re going to find plenty in Time Lords Remixed to intrigue, entertain and surprise you. David Reiter’s cunning, elegant poetic recaps of several seasons’ worth of Doctor Who take the Doctor through the most significant regeneration yet: from him to her, from Peter Capaldi’s practitioner of the midlife crisis to Jodie Whittaker’s lighter and more optimistic touch. David Reiter skilfully captures this change in voices, while bringing along for the ride all manner of companions, adversaries, monsters, and recurring characters and themes. Time Lords Remixed is bigger on the inside: climb in.
– Tim Jones, author, and co-editor of The Stars Like Sand

Time Lords Remixed is a collection of poems for Whovians or whoever likes their poetry fast-paced and clever (but not smart-arsed). It’s one for disciples of the time lords, but written by a poet who can turn a tercet or two. Reiter wants to know what makes a good man (it comes up more than once):

I realise I’m
not a good man, or a general, or even
President of the Earth, but an idiot
– (from Death in Heaven)

Why do people talk aloud
when they know they’re alone,
skipping heartbeats in the dark?
– (from Listen)

Sometimes you think you’re in a surrealist dream (also in the manner of the Doctor):

Reality has a glitch in it
as you watch for the trap street
There are only two

ways to escape a quantum shade:
undo your tell-tale tattoo or
unplug the raven’s death counter
– (from Face the Raven)

Time Lords Remixed stitches in references to just about everything (in the manner of the series) from Christie, to Dickens via Valhalla and the rest with a short salute to politics and more deeply to current eternal issues:

At what point does migration become
invasion? The trick is to go opaque,
shapeshift your skin or better yet

your small talk. And fine-tune your grammar
to the edge of visibility. I consider these portals
as I saunter through “Amazing Grace”
– (from The Zygon Invasion)

which feels very much like the life of a poet (or is that just me?).

Inevitably physics comes into it:

How can you doubt that poetry and physics
are the same? They almost rhyme except
when they don’t but even then their tune

begs to be discovered. Most people
frown when they don’t understand,
– (from The Pilot)

There were many things I didn’t understand because I’m not a Whovian, but there was much I did and all of it was interesting. And there are references which can be followed (I did sometimes). You could spend days inside this world if you wanted to. Whatever a day might mean in this world.

Time Lords Remixed is confident. It moves with assurance and intelligence and has something to say, then enacts it:

Trust nothing.
Interrogate everything.

There are some things we should never
proxy to our dreams.
– (from Last Christmas)

– Chris Mansell, author, and publisher of PressPress

In this volume, Reiter presents the reader with a poetic response to his experiences in hospital, as the cause of extreme pain is diagnosed, treated, and operated on.

The short poems inhabit a region between reality and the speculative. The treating doctors merge with images of Doctor Who, and various inhabitants of that Doctor’s universe, or multiverse, appear in the pages. Daleks, Cybermen and equipment such as the sonic screwdriver run shoulders with nurses, spirometers and the dubious properties of hospital food. The result is a vivid and, at times, moving chronicle of the journey through serious illness, and the mysterious world of medicine from the patient’s perspective.

Here is an example, from early in the process of diagnosis, where the poet is in the Emergency Ward:

"Excluded your heart. Now for the shadows.
My 10#sonic screwdriver will scan for 11#aliens."
Yes, my pain is there, and there – a solid 8.

Immediately apparent is the inclusion of links, which take the reader from the text of each poem into the worlds of the internet. These links are repeated in footnotes. The "aliens" link in the poem above, for example, takes one to a web page outlining identifiable mistakes in Aliens, the 1986 film. We immediately see the hideous attraction of mistakes to someone caught in the terrifying parallel universe of medical diagnosis. The ebook, of course works more efficiently in this regard than the printed book, although one could use the links given in footnotes to explore the added dimensions.

Personally, while I chased some of the links, and found some of them fun or illuminating, I also found the appearance of the poems a little cluttered. At least in the printed book, I would have preferred simple footnotes (or end notes) containing some of the linked information, and the poems presented without the underlining and tags. Others may delight in the intertextual voyages being ticketed from within each poem.

David Reiter dubs the form of these poems, which he writes that he invented while in hospital, the tweetem, which he states is a cross between the "character limited tweet" and "Japanese forms like the tanka". I have to say that I do not like the word "tweetem"; to my ears it sounds too cute. But there is no denying the powerful kick of some of these works, whatever one thinks of that name.

Many people are writing poems combining the exigencies of Twitter and either haiku or tanka, and finding this to be a convenient and portable way of composition without the need for pen, paper, or even sonic screwdriver. A phone is all one requires. At, tweeted poems from around the world are brought together, allowing the curious to find poets of interest. Most of the poems here are, in some way, derived from Japanese forms. Tinywords, founded in 2000, is a daily magazine publishing and distributing haiku, tanka and brief haibun by web, email and SMS. Timelord Dreaming can be seen as part of this developing tradition.

This book is disconcerting, amusing, timely and adventurous. It should be of particular interest to those undergoing medical treatment. In reusing motifs from popular culture, particularly that of science fiction, the poet ties deeply personal experiences to those we share through the web and other created worlds.

– P.S. Cottier, Sydney Morning Herald

Illness as altered reality isolates us from the world. Sharp as a scalpel, David Reiter beams trippy tweetems from his hospital bed, cracking sterile walls and piercing us with poignancy.

Dr Leah Kaminsky, Deputy Editor, Poetry & Fiction, Medical Journal of Australia

In the half-life world of hospitals, pain and medication, Dr Reiter has taken us on his journey into and through his mind. Taking twists, turns and delightful detours, he has developed a new form of digital communication – tweetems. While some draw on visitations of Doctor Who, the tweetems also take us on a myriad of musical and educational voyages. Between sonic screwdrivers and white cell scouts, Timelord Dreaming ensures our normalacy bias will be prodded and deconstructed.

Anna Maguire, Digireado

At one level, David Reiter’s My Planets is extremely complex (verse, prose poems, autobiography, short fiction, photographs, etc.), but at another it is quite simple. The author, a Jewish only child, at the age of 50 with both his adoptive parents dad suddenly discovers his birth mother, Eileen, and that he is in fact the eldest of seven across the combined families of his genetic parents.

In common with the memoirs of many of other adoptees, Reiter’s also brings out the insecurity the process almost necessarily involves – and the long-standing question, "Why was I given up?" Luckily, Reiter’s adoptive parents were by-and-large supportive, though the death of his father when Reiter was only 11 was clearly a setback.

Reiter grew up in one of the poorer areas of Cleveland, Ohio, where he seems to have been one of the very few white kids in a black neighbourhood. A further isolation was that there were very few Jews in the suburb. His frustrations in this context and well brought out and there is a child-like envy of some of his (adoptive) relatives who live in the richer, white part of town. Reiter’s treatment of this early part of his life is almost a bilungsroman, albeit told in fragments.

What is equally remarkable, however, is the author’s more difficult attempt to capture the life and personality of the birth parents he never knew when young. The social context in the United States cities at the end of World War II is graphically brought out, including the sexual recklessness of the time and the psychological damage experienced by veterans, even by those who (like Reiter’s birth father) didn’t see combat. In prose sections like "What a Girl’s Got to Do" and "Dancing Sinatra", Reiter very convincingly recreates a sense of a woman who is drawn to sexual adventure and who feels that a more luminous fate should await her than her circumstances allow. It’s hard to know how much of this material Reiter heard directly from his mother after he met her again and how much he fictionalised from the raw data his birth family must have supplied after the reunion. In either case, it’s done with both an understanding of the times and considerable empathy and affection.

Some readers may wonder why the book is so consciously fragmented and perhaps why Reiter has arranged his material in terms of the planets of our solar system (and the classical myths associated with them). A part explanation might be that the materials of his book are either remembered in fragments or came to him later in that manner.

Another, perhaps, is to give the story of his early life (and those of his relatives, biological and adoptive) a wider resonance, to place himself and them in more universal context. Some may consider the dramatic monologues spoken by some of the planets as distractions from the "real" story but, as Reiter’s concise outlines of some of their associated myths implies, our human behaviours are often influenced by factors well beyond our own knowledge and/or control (including the eternal patterns of mythology).

My Planets is also available from the publisher as an enhanced eBook, which pushes the fragmentation principle even further by adding more images, sound, music and film."

– Geoff Page, The Canberra Times

"David Reiter’s provocative fictional multimedia memoir combines a textual narrative with a rich tapestry of audio, video and animation to explore the meaning of family, connectivity and identity. The planets provide both a narrative structure and a shifting series of perspectives asking not just how we understand who we are, but how that story shifts with different sets of eyes. This is a profound digital narrative which both makes the most of the various possibilities of the digital realm whilst weaving a provocative, engaging and all too human tale."

– Judges’ Report, WA Premier’s Book Awards

"David Reiter subtitles his latest book ‘a fictive memoire’, which is an essentially contradictary term and at the same time complementary. If ‘fictive’ is make-believe and ‘memoire’ is autobiography, where do the two come together?

In My Planets Reiter weaves memories of his own upbringing as a white Jewish boy in an American inner-city, with present-day musings of a fifty year-old American Australian who has just found his birth mother after his adoptive parents have died. These stories, presumably, are true. He also gives a third-person account of his birth mother’s and father’s memories. These, presumably, are not. And I’m not saying that they are false, it’s just that one cannot write about one’s conception from the points of view of the lovers without using a bit of imagination. After Reiter’s father recounts his nightmares of fighting Nazi soldiers in the war, he writes:

The real moon came out from behind a cloud just then, and he looked so pale to her, like an abandoned child. She eased down, covered him with her body. (26)

This has to be imagined. And it is beautifully imagined. These were my favourite passages in the book.

The book is divided into nine parts, each given the title of a planet. This works as a structural link to the psyche of Reiter who, as a child, always felt he didn’t quite belong and must have come from outer space and who, as an adult, lives on the other side of the world from where he was born, seeing a whole new set of stars. Each first chapter of each part is told in the voice of the specific planet so each planet, too, has a story to tell. This suggests that stories are both ancient and endless, and no particular story carries any more weight than the next. I love the writing of the planets and think them a clever strand for Reiter to work with, but conceptually I think it has been taken too far: the book’s title, its cover, the black and white photographs of the solar system throughout the book. Too much ‘planets’.

Alongside crossing over from fiction to memoire, from first person to third person narration and from human to inanimate narrator, Reiter also plays with form. He weaves poetry into prose, and some memories bear both of those titles. This seems a very natural way for a poet/novelist to write and Reiter seems to do it organically. Yet with all of these juxtaposing styles it is no surprise that the chronology of the telling is all over the place: back and forth, and sometimes repetitive. But this is the way memory works. When we think of a person from our past, we don’t create a timeline of images. We remember in a much more fluid way. Though this doesn’t make for gripping storytelling, it does experiment with memory and art, and so the story is told uniquely. I think the patchwork craft of the book works well for Reiter, placing it in the overall literary genre. But with it comes some confusion as to where all of the names fit into the family, and into which family they fit (we are, after all, talking about two mothers, two fathers, both of their mothers and fathers, several siblings, aunties and uncles and children). A family tree at the beginning of the book would have helped this confusion but, given that the crux of the book lies in its disjointed telling, a little confusion doesn’t hurt.

Reiter is the founding publisher for IP, which is an interactive press publishing poetry and fiction in print, e-books and multimedia. A ‘Reunion Page’, as an accompaniment for the book, is soon to be published on IP’s website, but for now you can visit it on"

– Heather Taylor Johnson, Transnational Literature

I am a writer myself, and this work shows me just how many new tricks the simple book still has up its sleeve. There are some amazing samples of it available online, if you go to

The online version is a knockout multimedia show, but there is more poetry here in this version. I met the author when he won the Digital Narrative category in the 2012 WA Premier’s Book Awards, in which I shared the Children’s Literature category. I heard his acceptance speech, and I had a chat with him after. I sensed that this was something different.

I was right. This is a book I will keep coming back to, for the joy of reading, and also to learn more of my craft. Aspiring writers are advised to do likewise–and aren’t ALL readers, at least in their hearts, aspiring writers?

– Peter Macinnes, Feral Word Herder


More Lies

More Lies is a highly referential comedy thriller about a writer being held hostage in their own apartment and forced to type to hide the manoeuvres of a femme fatale, holding a pearl handled gun, and her brother, a small-time thug with big time ambitions. This wild tale about assassination, lost gold, betrayal, passion and identity theft engages the reader in the many layers of the author’s witty but deceptive journey. Through a series of lies, backflips and alternative versions of the tale, the author moves from being a trapped hack, forced to prostitute themselves, to dazzling the world with the acrobatics of their imagination, to the heart of the matter: storytelling is all that is keeping them alive.


ISBN 9781922332646 (PB, 66pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $26 USD $18 NZD $28 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 9781922332653 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $9 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7




A wonderfully warped journey into one man’s unravelling psyche, and a joyous celebration of the necessity of story.

– James Bradley, author of Ghost Species

Richard James Allen takes the world of Raymond Chandler – the mysterious murder, the femme fatale, the world-weary observer – and turns it on its head. We end up with a funny, provocative novel that shakes up how we think about reality.

– Anton Enus, SBS

More Lies is a metafictional romp. It is also an engaging and funny tale, full of twists and narrational acrobatics. And, though its narrator is as slippery as a Lehman Brothers banker, there is something almost believable about it.

– Matthew Campora, Head of Screen Studies, Australian Film Television & Radio School

A phantasmagoric, avant-garde story set in a lost New York, Richard James Allen’s More Lies both entertains and provokes as it reveals a world where ‘truth is never enough/Or it’s unlikeable.’ Allen deploys a madcap couple, Stricklandson and Peters, to conduct us through a world of threat and potential which ends up being spooky in many senses of the word. A fluid narrative forward motion and a sense of the fundamental mystery of it all have never been so closely intertwined.

– Nicholas Birns, New York University

Enjoyed More Lies in one hit – like swallowing a tab spiked with speed – with Raymond Chandler’s spook dealing and watching from the corner.

– Rae Desmond Jones, author of The End of the Line

The unnamed fabulist at the heart of this literary crazy quilt says he ‘comes from a family of entertainers’, and I believe him. Even though he told me he was lying. But that is the magic trick of More Lies: every time you feel you’ve got a grasp on it, it springs free, breaks into song, tap dances circles around your expectations and teasingly mocks your longing for a plot by giving you half a dozen. More Lies is an anti-novel, and not for the faint hearted. Get on board if you like dismantling cliche, trouncing propriety, and taking a rollercoaster ride through the fairground funhouse of the implausible, unlikely, outrageous and ironic all dazzlingly stitched together to cover a confession that feels somehow true. Even though it can’t be. You wont be disappointed and you will be entertained, and who needs the truth when you can have More Lies?

– Karen Pearlman, NetGalley

More Lies is like being arrested and given your rights – anything you do or say or read could be used against you. The tension is high in this novel, it is not a relaxed afternoon read. Very much in the moment to the point where the “writer” is practically standing behind you, reaching over and turning the pages for you, giggling in your ear in a manic pitch. It is a continuous flow, the writer must write to stay alive, just keep typing.

The result is a performance piece of the mind. A novel played out in real time before you. It is dynamic, dramatic, and crazy. I loved it.

– Martin Thorne, NetGalley

Richard James Allen’s More Lies is [a] rollercoaster romp through the eyes of an eloquent unreliable narrator, who is a writer, using a noisy typewriter at gunpoint to cover for a criminal pair with their sights on assassination… what happens next is a tumble of ideas… a ride of rapid-fire gaps, tricks, illusions and references to hard-boiled 1930s’ private detectives, crime noir and cold war thrillers that’s really a book about…whether what matters is the factual truth or emotional truth and the nature of storytelling itself.

– Emma Lee

There is seemingly nothing that Richard James Allen cannot do. Actor, poet, yoga teacher, filmmaker, dancer, and now novelist, though it’s a bit of a stretch to call More Lies a novel. It’s a kind of novel pastiche.

There is always a degree of artifice in the process of creating a narrative. A story must be constructed, and the many and multiple perspectives of reality fixed into something linear and sensical, which is, in its way, antithetical to the reality of life. Allen plays with this notion, weaving together multiple narrative threads into a story that sets itself up as a noir thriller with an engaging tagline: a writer held hostage by a beautiful woman, forced to type on his typewriter as a decoy to an assassination. But there are many other plotlines that come into this entirely unreliable narration. These include a story about a dysfunctional (to say the least) family, about the shifting nature of identity, a story about deep-seated, endemic corruption, a tale of seduction which may or may not be a love story, and a number of other mini-tales that form part of our nameless narrator’s tale, including the self-referential one about the nature of story-making itself and the way in which it creates reality–is that good (will it save us?) or bad (will it undo us) – there is no moral here but there are plenty of questions that come out of the work.

The story is told in short vignettes of one or two pages long, that repeatedly break the fourth wall:

I am the story. Don’t ask me if I am true. (54)

The book engages directly with the complexity of the narrative, playing with the form in a way that is quirky and fun but also unsettling. There is always a different perspective, another story, another socially constructed identity, a different community that we might belong to. Allen creates a dynamic story that continually undermines the reader’s perspective while simultaneously drawing us in as participants:

For all of this long and winding road you have allowed me to exist. Otherwise, I would have been only potential. Without your gaze, I am nothing. (53)

It’s hard to fix the story, as the narrative journey continues to morph in a way that is increasingly multi-genred, with poems, theatrical dialogue, a blank confession form, and regular shifts in time, space, and setting. Throughout the book we are continually reminded of the image of an author at his typewriter—the one constant–even as, quite humorously, the protagonist does a range of things that generally are not possible to do while typing at a typewriter, such as having sex, running for his life, telling his story to the police, and even changing gender and identity. Binaries like guilt and innocence, desire and compulsion, knowledge and ignorance to name a few, are all messed with. There is a meta-fictional aspect to the story which continues to break the fourth wall, bringing us back to process:

Fear wakes you up. It makes you think clearly. At least for a time. Then it wears you out. It’s the adrenaline rush. Suddenly I’m exhausted. I don’t even know why I’m typing any more. I guess it has become a form of thinking. (27)

So what is More Lies? It is really not a classic thriller, a coherent narrative, or a story that goes through the standard hero’s journey towards closure. Above all, it is a thought-provoking, humourous, entertaining, and occasionally disturbing story that will unhinge the reader, leaving more questions than answers. You’ll be all the richer for it.

– Magdalen Ball, Compulsive Reader

Richard James Allen is a widely published and prize winning author, as well as being a multi-talented artist excelling in many art-forms. Allen describes himself as a poet, dancer, film director, actor, novelist and choreographer. His latest novel More Lies contains 33 chapters, each chapter no longer than one and a half pages, it is a small book but what it contains is a treasure of laughs and lies.

More Lies is a thriller where the main character is a writer, a prisoner at the hands of well … at different times different people, or are they the same person with different roles? The reader will discover that between laughs and intrigues. The novel has all the elements of any famous crime novel: the hero, the villains, the sexy blonde and the right story.

I would describe More Lies as ‘absurdist fiction’ because it focuses on the experiences of a character whose actions are called into question because they lack certainty, there is also satire and incongruity plus brilliant humour. In this small gem there is tension, drama, sex and suspense as well as crazy characters and a quick developing plot.

The reader is in the main character’s mind, reading his thoughts, what he writes and how he questions himself, like in the following excerpt:

“Let’s see … am I a famous man, am I a wealthy man? Have I done great acts, have I altered the state of things? Am I kind, compassionate with others, am I at peace and in health with myself? And, since I am not an entirely selfish person, I cannot help but wonder who you are, dear reader, my only companion along this road of wonders, memories and – what are they called? Oh Yes – old chestnuts.”

The colloquial style of the writing makes the character very real and very believable until the reader is confronted with the a possible truth, but which one is the real truth? No wonder Allen titled the book More Lies.

Allen has included some poems in the book which add another dimension to the development of the story, this is one of the poems titled “Blackout”, it really gets the reader into the character’s mind (In italics in the book):

Don’t ask me to believe
all that vampire,
werewolf, slime monster stuff!
Since when were
Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff
experts in electrical de-circuiting?
They always work the late show,
they’d never make it to night school.
I bet some local punk
just kicked in our fuse box.
Whichever, it’s too dark
To stumble about,
just to make sure my pot plants
haven’t strangled the cat,
& my budgie hasn’t turned into a crow,
& the steak and kidney hasn’t reconstituted itself
as Frankenstein in the fridge.
The TV’s starting to blink & sigh & gargle
like a goddam baby. Don’t
dribble on my new carpet.
& don’t start again
with that used car business
or I’ll kick your face in.
I’m feeling so edgy tonight.
Maybe I’ll go & wake up my buddy
Uptown a couple of blocks
& chew over with him.
&, that’s right, his sister’s
staying over for the weekend.
She’d look so cute in her pajamas,
half-asleep & standing in the hallway.
Course his old lady’d
Probably bite my head off.
3 o’clock in the morning.
I’d better switch off this doggerel,
before one of us turns into Mr Hyde.

In More Lies expect the unexpected at one point the writer gives options for the reader to select how one of the characters feels, as follows:

“At which point, the police officer:

A. ‘unhousel’d , disappointed, unanel’d’
B. tired and bamboozled,
C. jilted and repudiated,
D. all of the above.

will break into another kind of rap, an irrelevant, tangential spoken word poetry all his own (which I wish you could hear, but you will just have to imagine), as he sashays through my ajar door.”

At one point the story about the writer being held hostage in his own apartment and forced to write by a sexy blonde, makes detours and leaves the reader hanging: what will happen next? Yes, more suspense and laughs many laughs. And can you believe it: the reader becomes part of the narrative, like in the following excerpt:

“Who’s to say I haven’t been monitoring you ever since you picked up this God damn book? Now you didn’t think that, did you? Eavesdropping in on you, watching your every move this whole time, through some tiny apparatus implanted in this book? Yeah, a microchip receiver, a video camera. Who’s to say this whole text hasn’t been a trick to keep you in the one place, or, more precisely, to allow you freedom of movement, but for us to know exactly where are at all times?”

Furthermore, later the reader is given a few lined pages titled ‘Confession’ so you can write about your “peccadillos” and indiscretions and given absolute confidentiality.

Richard James Allen has brought to life a small gem, where the reader will go through a series of lies, alternative versions, deceptions and fantasy all told in a fluid narrative which will grasp you from the first page. In these difficult times of lockdown and mask wearing there is nothing better than getting involved in a book that will transport you to New York by the hands of a prisoner not only keeping your interest but also making you laugh from the first page.

– Beatriz Copello, Rochford Street Review

For me, there is always an exciting air of anticipation whenever I learn that Richard James Allen has committed his vivid and articulate imagination to ‘paper’ (or I guess it could be some smart device as well). More Lies is Allen’s latest venture in literary writing, having written several anthologies of poetry prior to this work. He has an exquisite talent for throwing us right into the heart of the action but without necessarily explaining the context at the outset. Rather, Allen respects the intelligence and sensitivity of the reader to work at discerning where they are, what is at stake and whose voice is framing each scene. And that would be highly appropriate for a novel that apparently positions itself playfully walking a tightrope between comic thriller and literary wit.

More Lies employs various conceits in its particular manifestation of the central character-narrated story. However, the delight of this novel is that it doesn’t become constrained by convention. Allen constantly surprises and delights us with his stream of consciousness explosions that compel us to savour almost every sentence for its unique combination of flavours. Each concise chapter offers itself as a distinct course within a degustation menu of desire, intrigue, absurdity, philosophical musings, memory and melancholy.

Like an orchestral concerto, as one moves through each chapter, various recurring ‘voices’ and ‘motifs’ emerge that may trigger meaning-making to attempt to contain the experience of reading (and imagining). There are significant stylistic breaks from chapter to chapter as the narrative shifts between being ‘in the story’ and various commentaries or musings about life beyond and outside of the narrative.

I especially enjoyed the occasional typographical play with italics and the page layout of texts (a visual device Allen has used across several of his poetry anthologies) in different chapters – for example, in Chapter 21, entitled The Homeless, until I turned to the next page, I felt the very layout of the words worked in parallel with the theme of the chapter, as a symbolic representation of the inevitable powerlessness of so-called ‘pawns’ of society who have no home, no secure place of power – but maybe that’s just in my imagination too, and not verifiable, as this is the overarching challenge of More Lies.

More Lies is a playful, engaging and potentially confronting exploration of our desire for truth, our familiarity with lying and selective memory, and our need for the apparent continuity of trust. At the heart of this book, there is a kind of self-righteousness about needing to know everyone else’s ‘truth’ while maintaining the legitimacy of one’s own right to lie that is put under interrogation by Allen. He deliciously wins us over and then flips all that we might assume in our place of privileged knowledge as we sit outside the narrative. Is he lying to us, or is it we who lie to ourselves by selectively choosing what to make sense of and forgetting what doesn’t ‘fit’ our assumptions of how things ‘just are’? More Lives is a very special and singular meal – but take your time to savour and digest it.

– Mark Seton, FemAsia


Never Good at Maths

Never Good at Maths is a collection of contrasts and voices, ruminating on the everyday, our global, and personal passions. Except Maths. (Spoiler Alert) Kate Maxwell’s passion for Maths is not a topic explored in any tangible way. But her poems are delicate and gritty, whimsical, sharp, even if decidedly unnumeric. She paints pictures and tells stories in ever-changing tones and voices. At times satirical or lighthearted, and then deeply moving and personal, many of the poems resonate with raw honesty or humour. With vivid imagery, the underlying beauty of our world is evoked with fresh perspectives.

ISBN 9781922332547 (PB, 70pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $26 USD $18 NZD $28 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 9781922332554 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $9 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7


This is the debut collection of an already published and awarded writer with a well-developed poetic style, and a strong awareness of how language and form work together to convey meaning. To read Kate Maxwell’s poems in Never Good at Maths is to enter a world of social conscience, of ironic humour and satire at the expense of pretentiousness, privilege and inhumanity, and to listen to the not-so-small personal voice of the poet. A recurrent device is that of poetic ventriloquy, of subject matter spoken through a persona, to both distance the poet and reinforce her stance. In each case, Maxwell’s language invokes the spoken idiom to good effect.

The opening poem, “Crossing Borders”, showcases some of the poet’s imagistic and descriptive skills: “where power lines/stretch like spider silk/across this never end.” The heart of the poem lies in the metaphor of the connectedness between landscape and lovers, in the second stanza:

Caught in the driver’s window
white muscular clouds
paint a silver-edged halo
about your nose and jaw.
Right now I’d drive with you
into forever.

The eponymous “Never Good at Maths”, another wry love poem, uses mathematical metaphors so well it negates its own title:

You’re content with tested
calculations, yet
I’ve noted fear and confusion
in the furrows of your brow
the grey flecks of your eyes
when equations crumble.

“I Could Have Been a Contender” speaks with the failed voice of a woman retired into comfortable domesticity:

Are you listening?
I plead silently from the board.
Can you hear my creativity winding down?
Each year they learn a little
wear me down a lot and I am tired of scrubbing at rocks
to make gemstones.

In this poem, the volte-face of its conclusion reveals the further punishment of a little self-knowledge:

I could have been a contender
I mumble rebelliously
to my old self that never was.
But she doesn’t believe me.

“Boss of the Sandpit”, with its unstated reference to Donald Trump (“So you start building a wall…”), exemplifies Maxwell’s ironic ventriloquy, allowing the protagonist no room for self-knowledge or empathy:

Let’s make the sandpit great again,
drive Tonka Trucks through
those stupid single bucket castles
with their dumb stick fences, plastic goats
and sheep. We’ll make a huge castle instead,
the biggest, best one of all.
Nobody makes castles like me.

In its exploration of everyday characters and scenarios, whether with sharp-edged wit or fellow-feeling, the poems in Never Good at Maths will strike a chord with readers, requiring them to re-assess many current issues.

– Margaret Bradstock, author of Brief Garden


The Fickle Pendulum

The Fickle Pendulum assays belief and doubt through three historical figures – St. Thomas the Apostle, Galileo Galilei and Laura (Riding) Jackson – and uses them to pivot into wider thematic worlds  The writing is thoughtful, exploratory and never weighed down by its subject matter, and the language vibrant and rich in metaphor.  The reader ineluctably mixes Paul Scully’s meditations with his or her own.

ISBN 9781922332660 (PB, 98pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $26 USD $18 NZD $28 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 9781922332677 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $9 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7


If there are no easy answers here, there is nevertheless a sense, as Browning says, that ‘All our life is some form of religion.’ In verse that is measured and always thoughtful, Scully weighs the detail and delight of things against their difficult, confronting implications.

– Martin Langford, author of Ground

A numinous gaze sequesters these apocrypha from history’s barbs and the traumatic coalitions of religion and empire. Yet there is clarity and grace in Scully’s poems and homages. A quiet harvester, he writes poignantly of the past, making words whisper and shine.

– Michelle Cahill, Mascara Literary Review


Staying Whole While Falling Apart

Staying Whole While Falling Apart celebrates troubled all-rounder, Aaron Auslander, as he strives to find meaning and shape his identity in the midst of too many influences. Love and parenthood complicate matters, and Aaron has to find creative ways to rally and stay whole.

Gering artfully combines surreally black humour, arresting imagery, and tenderness to take the reader on a grand tour of the human landscape. The narrative roves from apartheid South Africa to the beach suburbs of Sydney, from the orange cliffs of the Blue Mountains to Nazi Europe. In precise and vivid language, the poems deliver fresh takes on life, at once quirky and bittersweet.

ISBN 9781922332608 (PB, 104pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $26 USD $18 NZD $28 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 9781922332615 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $9 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7


Staying Whole While Falling Apart is a playful yet serious exploration of loss and grief, of trying to find balance and stability amidst a giddying welter of experiences. You’ll laugh and cry with Aaron Auslander, a kind of everyman, as he tries to make sense of the flux and tumble of his life. The poetry is sharp and it cuts right to the bone, exposing the vulnerabilities and the precarious provisos under which we all can live. This is a potent book animated by courage and finely-honed craft.

– Judith Beveridge, Australian Poet

In Staying Whole While Falling Apart, a cycle of poems documenting the “finest failures” of one Aaron Auslander (foodie, divorcee, outdoorsman, self-analysing, self-medicating, dysfunctional dreamer), Gering has orchestrated a wry, deadpan fanfare for the common man. The result is by turns ruthlessly unsentimental and grimly funny, and as a whole, oddly moving. In searching for a comparison, the best I could come up with is Ted Hughes’ Crow. But where “Crow” is bleak and dismal, Gering’s anti-hero poems reach quixotically for the glowing heights of redemption.

– Peter Selgin, author of The Inventors and Duplicity


Unbounded Air: A collection about birds and their world

This collection of poems aims to introduce the reader to the richness of birds and the need to care for their world. The poems bring to life their beauty, their song and the intriguing and sometimes funny behaviours as well as their remarkable skills, especially in nest building.

The poems are presented in a loose semblance of order beginning with the signifier poem, “Unbounded Air,” followed by the shorebird poems noting the urgent need to address their threatened habitat. This environmental theme continues in many of the poems.

When we are more attentive, we see birds in all environments. Travel gives opportunities for fresh discoveries, particularly in Australia’s distinctly different environments. A number of poems reflect this happenstance. Yet, it is at home in our gardens, nearby parks and waterways where we really see birds up close. Many of the later poems represent the richness and diversity that surrounds us if we take time in our own patch. The final poem, “A Murmuration of Birds,” focuses on the awe and wonder of seeing huge numbers of birds in the magic of synchronised flight.

A close connection with birds can be transformative. The same occurs when we allow ourselves to be emerged in poetry, to take the time, to read closely and allow our thoughts to move to a new knowing.

ISBN 9781922332578 (PB, 84pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $26 USD $18 NZD $28 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 9781922332585 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $9 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7


Surrounded daily by birds, a poet sits down to write. The effect of these poems is as calming, joyful and uplift ing as it is when we watch birds ourselves. Rainforest birds are particularly beautiful and these poems about them, and other birds, are also. Whether you mean to or not, when you write, you reveal yourself and here the nature poet reveals herself as Mary Oliver and Gerard Manly Hopkins and all those other poets of their ilk do too; which is why we treasure them.

– Kate Llewellyn, award-winning Australian poet

Unbounded Air gives a fascinating insight into the secret lives of wild birds. Fitzgerald introduces us to the dear familiar birds who visit her mountain garden, and to shore birds, eagles, robins, currawongs and other winged creatures she has encountered in the parks, waterways and in her travels. h ese beautiful, funny, sad poems will soar into your imagination and stay there forever.

– Sandra Hogan, author of With My Little Eye

These beautiful poems wash with colour, beat like wings, soar with song. For Fitzgerald, nature is a language, and noticing a sixth sense.

– Kristina Olsson, author of Boy Lost: a Family Memoir


The Moorings: a poetry workshop collection

Here is an eclectic collection of poems by Janne Graham, Amelia Fielden, Julia Irwin, Neva Kastelic and Meryl Turner.

Together, they have explored forms and themes and triggered ideas for each other. You will find poems following the unusual Golden Shovel form through to three on tomatoes … and much else beside.

The title, a nod to the home address where the group meets, also suggests the sense of a safe place in which they practice their art.

The content is a reflection of a workshop in action, experimental and friendly.

ISBN 9781922332462 (PB, 112pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $26 USD $18 NZD $28 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 9781922332479 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $9 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7


What shines out from this anthology is the huge enthusiasm for words – honouring, shaping and simply playing with words. The delight in experimenting with poetic forms indeed reflects the writers’ fascination with life and what asks to be expressed, each writer reflecting her individuality in the process. The book offers encouragement to anyone interested in words and the possibilities of poetry to ‘Have a go!’

– Nicola Bowery

The Moorings is a collection of poetry by five members of a poetry workshop group convened by Janne D. Graham. Graham describes her venture into poetry writing as “newish”, but she has contributed to several other poetry groups for some years, published in their anthologies and in various journals as well. As editor, she is joined by Amelia Fielden, who is well known and widely published in Japanese forms. Three other poets, Julia Irwin, Neva Kastelic and Meryl Turner bring their experience in other art forms to the group. Irwin returns to poetry with a dance background. Kastelic“likes to take photos” and has provided an original cover image. Turner has an interest in art. All these skills and interests have contributed to the richness and diversity of the group. The women have developed a special closeness, enabling them to produce a collection of poetry written between 2016 and 2019, where the joy of words and writing is always present. These poets are not daunted by the diversity of poetic forms They are aware that years can pass before one feels confident to work in a particular structure with all its technical demands, but are still willing to attempt them. Metaphor, rhythm, rhyme, volta, syllabic and stanza length are only a few of the challenges that accompany a poem and allow its story to be revealed. There is too, the problem of choosing a form that will best complement message of the text. For example, Graham chooses repetition to bring childlike simplicity to her triolet “At Three” (p. 26). It is a fine example of the successful blend of form and theme:

You cannot dream what you’ll become
The world is small when you are three
A sandpit and a gate to swing on

Haiku poet Matsuo Basho’s (1644-1694) travel journey The Narrow Road to the Deep North, became his most famous publication. In “Oregon Holiday 2018” (p. 44), Fielden brings her experience in writing tanka journals to the collection as she reflects on the past in this poignant poem:

why should I
climb every mountain
to find my dream
in old age I sleep well
with the sound of the sea

Animals and the environment are prominent themes in this collection. For example, the hare has inspired artists for centuries. Turner’s “New Year’s Day 2017” (p. 59) offers an unusual turn in the final stanza as the live hare of earlier lines becomes a work of art:

I know this hare, it has escaped
from a medieval scene recently
embroidered by me on tie-dyed linen.

Kastelic’s shaped poem “A Photographer on Dairy Farmer’s Hill in July” (p. 34) also contains an interesting turn where she takes the word play to a new level:

This hill was once on fire. Scorched. Black. Lost. A raven soars.
Quick! Before he too is gone… click.

In Irwin’s “A Winter Diva” (p. 85) we have a glimpse of her love for dance. With all the characteristics of tanka, but written like a five line poem withconventional punctuation, it turns in line 3 :

A winter diva –
They pelt me with flowers:
I, the backyard star!
Wattlebirds strew my feet
with next door’s red gum blossoms.

There are many other poems worthy of mention in this collection, including Fielden’s carefully sculptured “Cafe in Burgandy (p.73)”, Irwin’s topical “Tourne-Soleils . . . For Clytie” (p. 58), Turner’s “Another Fall” (p. 70) and Kastelic’s enigmatic “May 2018” (p. 84).

As Graham points out in her sonnet “Cultural Threads” (p. 65):

Food ties our disparate cultures by a thread

The Moorings shows us that poetry can tie us together in a similar way allowing us to experiment with words, share and celebrate our offerings together.
– Hazel Hall

This is an anthology with a difference. In addition to offering ‘an eclectic mix of forms and themes which five women have produced each in her own style’ (Foreword), it manages to convey a poetry workshop experience. While certainly not a manual on how to conduct an ongoing poetry writing workshop, the Foreword, potted biographies of the writers and the concise introductions to the different sections all contribute to a sense of the evolution of a poetry writing group. As do the poems themselves.

The first poem, ‘The Poetry Cat’ by Neva Kastelic, helps to establish this workshop context. The poem begins, ‘Janne’s tabby cat sat not on the mat/ She preferred the top of the sofa back’. This ‘brindled enigma, this cat in the know’ seems to watch them ‘with a look just/ this side of smugness. Call this poetry? / Those marks on the page?’

The book is structured into two main sections: Experimenting with Form and Themes. The concise explanations of the different forms, together with the examples provided, invite readers not only to expand their understanding of these forms, but to experiment for themselves!

In reading the ekphrastic poems (those deriving their inspiration from the arts), I found it helpful to have the poem in one hand and the ‘inspirational work’ – accessed on google – in the other. This was particularly the case in Janne Graham’s response to The Ogress by Peggy Bacon where Graham seems to be inviting the reader to join her in interrogating the details of the painting. Her description of the ogress is particularly telling: ‘head vulture-like settled into the mountainous frame; / ham-bone arms reach out of voluminous sleeves; / pudgy fingers furiously forking the face with food’. I remain intrigued by the title, ‘Focus On the Fan’, which raises other possibilities and questions not addressed by the writer. And that is perhaps as it should be – an ongoing dialogue between writer/viewer and reader– that helps us to see differently.

An important benefit of belonging to an ongoing poetry writing group is that it provides an opportunity for hearing others’ responses to our work. ‘We learned from each other how to notice things differently’ (Janne Graham, p.50). Themes in this section range from the local and contemporary – seasons, food, plants and gardens, wildlife, topical observations, personal experience – to the more exotic derived from travel, history and mythology. Within this eclectic mix, readers should find much to interest and perhaps delight or touch, including Julia Irwin’s image of a ‘moss-backed tortoise crossing/ stalled at our approach … as we lift him, small paws dangling’ (‘At Strathnairn’).

I conclude with two poems that suggest the diversity in setting, mood, theme and overall style encountered in this collection. Amelia Fielden’s ‘Café in Burgundy’, set in Paris, depicts a riveting drama of human passion through the beautifully crafted contrast between the sensuous, almost-bodice-ripping imagery within the burgundy room and the desolation of the scene outside: ‘grey-whiteness/slipping away/down the hill/ to the icy chasm of the metro.’ Meryl Turner’s ‘Music with a View – The Arboretum’ is set in Canberra. The mood is contemplative. Against a carefully layered backdrop of misty limestone plains and benign pewter lake mirroring a formation of blackbirds in flight, the final image that both completes and beckons: ‘Throaty cello plays a Bach suite/ in C Minor./ Transcendence in order.’

– Dr Frances Mackay lives in Canberra. She confesses she has done more appreciating and teaching poetry than writing it herself.