This is the August 2016 issue of my monthly newsletter, featuring links to my work online, exclusive looks at work in progress and recommendations for other people’s writing, as well as giveaways and subscribers’ discounts.
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And if you’re real keen, you can read past Adam’s Occasional Poetry Newses here.
Greetings from the abandoned goldfields of Central Victoria. This is Adam’s Occasional Poetry News and here is what has been happening to me of late.
As always, we’ll start out with a little of those too-long-didn’t-read blues:
- We have a winners! – One of our new subscribers gets a prize!
- Poem: Spaceknight update – I read cyborg poems in a comic shop
- What I’ve been reading – Parkour verse novels and Simon Armitage
- Submission status – I found a home for my sonnet about Nyan Cat
- Send them your words – Some poetry comps of note are open
- I wrote a story about the Doctor – It didn’t win a competition
This newsletter was written on Dja Dja Wurrung and Wurundjeri lands.
We have a winners!
Hello to Gaston, Jf, Bec, Neil, Katie, Jamie and Lee, our new subscribers who signed up for a chance to win a Poem: Spaceknight pack, and congrats in particular to Jf, who has won himself:
- A limited edition Poem: Spaceknight booklet
- A Poem: Spaceknight button badge
- A sheet of Rom paper toys to cut out and assemble (or not)
Congrats also to our other new subs, who as a thank you for entering will each receive their choice of:
- A pdf version of the Poem: Spaceknight booklet
- An ebook version of Not Quite the Man for the Job
This giveaway malarky seemed to work pretty well, so I’ll be doing more in coming months. Stay tuned.
Poem: Spaceknight update and such
On 28 July I stood on the shop floor of All Star Comics (the best little comic shop in Melbourne) in front of a small crowd and read 10 poems from my Poem: Spaceknight series. Which was nice.
Everyone who showed up got a limited edition booklet of said poems, plus a button badge and a sheet of paper toys to cut out and assemble your own cyborgs and aliens so they can fight on your desk or whatever.
I cannot thank the folks at All Star enough for indulging me and my cyborg poems. They are a stellar bunch and you should go and visit their excellent shop (53 Queen Street, Melbourne) and buy many comics from them.
There was an attempt to record the event with a camera, so there may be edited highlights on YouTube in the next little while.
In other Poem: Spaceknight news:
My incessant posting of pictures of cyborg paper toys on social media resulted in me sending some to Chris Ryall, the publisher of the new series of Rom the Spaceknight, whose first issue has just come out. I may have broached the subject of writing poems about Rom for introductory pages/blogs/cover blurbs in the course of that conversation and Mr. Ryall may have indicated that he would be positively disposed toward such a thing under the right circumstances. I may also have squealed.
I’ve taken down the poems that went online between January and June so I can revise them for an eventual collection. If any of you know people keen to tap into the ’80s-retro-cyborg-verse-novel market, hit me up.
I’m talking to a friend and self-confessed scientific troubadour about putting some of these poems to music, which ties nicely into my plans to turn Poem Spaceknight into some kind of podcast or rock opera. Or both.
What I’ve been reading
I read Tim Sinclair’s Run, a young adult verse novel about parkour and terrorism. Some lovely experimental layout and an endearing portrait of inner suburban teenagers on the cusp of maybe getting their shit together if the federal police don’t nick them or they don’t get murdered. Lots of fun.
I also picked up Simon Armitage‘s CloudCuckooLand and re-read the first two amazing poems in the collection (about snow angels evaporating and giant abandoned tractor tyres rolling down a hill so fast they disappear) before having my usual Armitage-related thoughts about never writing again, but I managed to wrestle the feeling into something akin to aspiration. Damn the man can write.
I also read issue #1 of Rom the Spaceknight (of course) and it was crazy big high-concept fun with a giant silver man fighting aliens, plus a promise that Rom would team up with Optimus Prime in the near future. Which sounds like fun.
They’ve modernised the big guy’s armour, making him less Gort and more manga. The story gets moving quickly, establishing the lead and supporting characters and the stakes. The cast is nicely diverse too, with the two main supporting characters being both women of colour and officers (one a cop, one a soldier). It was definitely enough to make me want to shell out for the next issue, yeah.
Someone out there likes me (or at least one of my poems)
I finally heard back from Southerly, who’d shortlisted a few of my poems. They want to publish my sonnet about the Nyan Cat meme, a poem that no lesser light than Chris Wallace Crabbe told me was “asking quite a lot from its readers”. So thanks, Southerly, for accepting Mr. Wallace-Crabbe’s challenge.
For those unsure, this is Nyan Cat.
This has given me incentive to finish my poem about Rickrolling.
No indication as to when this sonnet will see the light of day, which sets it nicely alongside the poem I’ve apparently maybe one day got coming out in the Age in November perhaps. Oh, the certainties of poetry authorship!
Send ’em yer words
For those who are also in the habit of sending poems to people for reasons, there are a few biggish comps in the offing at the moment:
- The Peter Porter (prize money $7500)
- The Ron Pretty (prize money $5000)
- The Gwen Harwood (prize money $2000)
Your poems could get you famous. Or at least a chunk of cash.
I wrote a thing with the Doctor in it
Big Finish are a British production house best known for the almost unconscionable volume of audio plays they produce featuring former Doctor Who stars reprising their roles in brand new stories. They also run an annual Doctor Who short story competition.
I pitched a story about the Second Doctor to them, about bullets shooting backwards through time in an attempt to assassinate four women from four different times whose achievements laid the groundwork for humanity’s ascendancy to the stars.
(Speaking of which, check out this awesome Women of NASA Lego set that they’re planning to maybe make if enough people say they want them to.)
I’m pretty sure I didn’t win, since they announced they’d chosen a winner about a week ago. They’re keeping it secret, but I’m confident that, since they haven’t emailed me to say, “hey you won”, it isn’t me. Anyway here’s the 200-word sample I wrote for the comp.
The Bullets Through Time (excerpt).
The Doctor motioned for Sam to hold his arm out. Sam watched as the little man reached into his jacket pocket, rummaging for a moment before retrieving two silver bracelets.
He took one and placed it in his left pocket, then looked at Sam. He seemed momentarily puzzled by Sam’s stance, one arm out and one by his side, then broke into a face-creasing, toothy smile.
“We’re going to need these,” he said.
He took the bracelet and stretched it, revealing it to be made of a substance both resilient and metallic. He slipped it over Sam’s hand, adjusting it so that the square black feature stone, half the width of Sam’s wrist, sat facing upward.
The stone bore a series of green markings that seemed to emit a pale light. The markings were four sigils in random groups of squares and lines, separated into pairs by two small dots that appeared and disappeared with a regularity Sam thought might match the beating of a heart.
He touched the stone and found it perfectly smooth. As he stared at the patterns he thought they might resemble numerals. His suspicion was confirmed as the rightmost sigil abruptly changed from a straight line into a squared-off squiggle that could easily have been argued to represent the numeral “2”.
“Doctor, what are these?”
The Doctor looked up from fastening his own bracelet on his left wrist. “Oh, just a couple of watches I fiddled with.”
“A wrist watch? We are both gentlemen, Doctor. Surely our pockets are a better repository. But this is no clock I have seen.”
“Digital, you see,” replied the Doctor. “No clockwork.” He tapped his finger on the stone. “Hours. Minutes. Much more accurate, no winding. Of course you don’t get any of that lovely ticking and tocking, but you can’t have everything.”
Sam squinted. He saw it. The leftmost two sigils formed the stroke of a one and the squared circle of a zero, while the two on the right formed another square zero and a right-angled five.
“Ten zero five,” said Sam to himself. He looked up. “That must be five minutes after ten o’clock.” With no sky or window available, though, it was impossible to tell the meridian. Sam cocked his head to read the doctor’s watch. Its stone quoted seven hours and twenty-five minutes.
“We seem to be out of step, Doctor,” Sam said.
“Hm? Oh.” said the Doctor, shaking his wrist and lifting it to his ear. “Never mind,” he smiled. “These are chrono disturbance detectors. I can track whatever’s passing through the vortex to a few miles and half an hour, but we’ll have to decamp for a proper fix.”
The pedestal in the centre of the room chimed like a bell imitating a sunset chorus frog. The Doctor spun around to face the pedestal, its central column rising and falling slowly.
“Nearly there,” said the Doctor. He placed his hands on the pedestal and adjusted a series of switches and dials. The sight reminded Sam of an organist preparing for a performance. There was sound like a horse whinnying larghetto inside a distant cavern, and then a bump that caused Sam to loose his footing. The Doctor seemed unaffected by the jolt, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he stepped toward the TARDIS door.
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