Thursday 10 October 2019

Tasmanian Poetry Festival inspires

I was privileged to attend the Tasmanian Poetry Festival on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th October, 2019, in Launceston. 

The two half-day poetry workshops on Friday were great. Gina Mercer's "Mesmerizing Monologues" workshop gave us the opportunity to read different types and examples of monologue poetry and start writing one of our own. It's a great form and it was fun to play with different voices. 

Chrys Salt (pictured below), who came over from the UK, taught us about performing poetry. She gave us some excellent tips and tricks on reading or performing our poetry in a riveting way. With her direct, engaging and honest manner, Chrys coached us to improve our emotional expression, pace, voice projection and ability to "scoop" lines from the page and deliver them with eye contact to the audience. I learnt so much, and applied it in the open reading on Saturday morning which led to some great audience feedback afterwards. 

Gina and Chrys both gave great performances on the Saturday morning. Chrys used her set to deliver a series of powerful poems about the Iraq war, some of which used the technique of refrains to masterful effect. It was great to be there for Esther Ottoway's first open reading in a long time, and I enjoyed the other poets too, including Ross Donlon's ode to washing machines! 

The Friday night opening launch was great, with Rees Campbell reading some beautiful Tasmanian-based poems and Greg North bringing the house down with some hilarious performance poetry about fracking, carpets and sticky tape! 

The Poetry Cup on Saturday night saw a diverse range of poets try and beat the one-minute timer. My poem about trying to break my relationship with sugar went down well, (thanks to my friend Jen's help with work-shopping it in her kitchen that afternoon) although I ran out of time to deliver the last two lines. Nancy Corbett won the audience over with her gorgeous poem about wanting to save the world. 

Wednesday 4 September 2019

The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss launch

The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss was launched at the Fullers Bookshop in Hobart on the 26th June, 2019. Edited by two dedicated and inspirational writers, Terry Whitebeach and Gina Mercer, it was great to hear them talk about their passion for the project when they spoke at the launch. It was a real labour of love and I treasured being able to celebrate the finished product with them and a packed room full of other people. I read out my suite of poems titled Vacant Seats, which was published in the book, and explores the emotional impacts that infertility can have. I received lots of warm comments from people afterwards who appreciated or could relate to the poems.   

One description of the anthology reads: "In this compelling collection, eighty-nine writers traverse their particular territory of loss and bring back travellers' tales. Their skillfully crafted accounts are insightful, inspiring, amusing, heart-breaking, resilient and, above all, damn good reading."

'This beautiful collection of writings explores the landscape of loss. It will meet you where you are. You'll find yourself reaching for particular pieces that somehow articulate how you're feeling, even before you've found the words to express it yourself... May this book become both a friend and a warm companion.' - Petrea King, Quest for Life Centre

You can buy copies here, here or from your bookshop.

Sunday 17 March 2019

Students of the Anthropocene

A poem I wrote inspired by the youth uprising around the world on Friday, 15th March 2019. Unfortunately ABC news Tasmania did not bother to show us that 1.5 million students went on strike in more than 2000 locations in 123 countries on that day. Including over 100,000 marching in Milan (Italy) and Montreal (Canada). 

Students of the Anthropocene

by Susan Austin

we concern ourselves with today as well as those pesky tomorrows
as much as we try, we fail to placate the advancing sea,
the flourish of coal-defending mockery in our highest halls enrages

for decades you marketed the system as natural,
with in-built mechanisms for righting itself
but the climate changes, ecosystems scream in the face of all you say

take your slogans of fairness with you as you retreat
we know the size of the pie you smuggled
behind your video-monitored double gates

we’re led by the young who teach themselves the science
we down tools, pens, don’t log in today
we storm the streets and send you on your apocalyptic way.