It’s come to my attention that this afternoon you may have received 118 emails from WordPress about updates to my blog.
I am so sorry. I was messing with my blog archive and switching a bunch of posts from private to public, which posts had previously been public. I had no idea that every one of those pre-exisiting posts would be re-sent to people who were following this blog.
I would like to apologise to you all by offering you your choice of one of my ebooks for free. If you would like a free copy of either Not Quite the Man for the Job or Man Bites Dog, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a link and a code you can use to download the book.
Once again, apologies and thanks for your interest in my writing.
In response to recent developments relating to arts funding in this country, back in June 2016 I decided to temporarily take my entire website down in protest.
The current Australian Government seems to have little or no interest in meaningfully or realistically supporting or sustaining the arts in Australia. While they continue to subsidise mining and fossil fuels, they refuse to understand or acknowledge the importance of arts funding or even the arts themselves. All they seem interested in is making cuts to arts funding budgets.
Art won’t disappear from Australia if the declining trajectory of arts funding continues, but it will become a smaller, less diverse, less widely available aspect of our national culture.
None of the writing on this website would have been possible without the support of the Australian government, both direct and indirect. It is because this country has a history of financially supporting culture and the arts that I was able to even contemplate devoting my time and energy to becoming a writer.
My first poem ever published appeared in a Federally sponsored youth poetry anthology. My first gig as an editor of creative writing was with a youth arts organisation funded by the Australia Council. Without these federally funded opportunities I would probably not have considered pursuing a career as a writer.
Market forces are not enough to sustain a diverse and inclusive artistic culture. Arts funding is crucial to the continued existence of the amazing arts scene that exists in this country. I urge everyone reading this to look closely at the arts funding policies put forward by each of the parties contesting the Federal Election on July 2, and to vote for the party dedicated to supporting and sustaining the vibrant and diverse Australian arts scene.
I’m switching things around a bit and putting this blog to bed. Blogging has long ceased to be the central point of online communication. I hung in there and kept on blogging well past the point where it became clear that people were more comfortable aggregating themselves across the web instead of setting up a single home base as a central repository of all their online engagements, mainly because I still remember the transition from “home page” to “blog” as something exciting, but also maybe because I have so many fond memories of reading so many excellent blogs over the years.
But now it’s time to wind things up and try something different. As an old fart in internet years, I’ve been delighted by the recent rise in email newsletters. In some ways the way that newsletters work is the way that blogs used to. I don’t know if it’s the fact that newsletters are much more of a deliberate opt-in thing as opposed to the random short-term encounter thing that social media and listicle sites seem to be, which may incline those who DO opt in to read a little more intently and tolerate something not particularly written in a “what do I get out of this?” kind of way.
I’ve also felt that of late the focus of this blog has been quite scattered, and it’s not really realistic to expect my blog’s audience to be equally as rapt with my poetry and writerly life pontifications as my comics and action figure musings and my random whatevers.
So from today if you want to find out what I’m up to poetry-and-other-writing-but-probably-mainly-poetrywise, you’ll need to sign up for Adam’s Occasional Poetry News. You’ll get one email a month, much like this one here.
Those of you who hanker for yet another online dose of random pop culture commentary, general silliness and supposedly wry and insightful life observations can always follow me on twitter or instagram.
This website will stick around, featuring samples of my past writing and books, and any updates that might be necessitated by the hopeful future publication of even more books, fingers crossed.
Thanks to everyone who’s helped out with the blog to date by reading it, doing things that excited me enough to write about them, agreeing to be interviewed and leaving lovely comments. Hopefully I’ll see you in your inbox sometime soon.
Anna scored a $1 DVD copy of LadyHawke at the op shop the other day.
What’s that? You don’t know of LadyHawke?
To be honest, the trailer doesn’t really sell it, but trust me this is an excellent film about a cursed werewolf and a cursed hawklady in love who team up with Ferris Bueller and Rumpole of the Bailey to break their curse and win each other’s love again. It’s awesome. I watched this movie a bajillionzillion times as a kid on a crappy TV-dubbed VHS tape. It’s pretty shlocky, but it’s also pretty wonderful too.
Anyway, I did the only thing a sensible person could do in response to such a great op shop find: I livetweeted the sucker.
It’s a blow-by-blow retelling of one man’s evening spent rewatching a movie he’s watched over and over since his teenage years. There are laughs and there are tears and there is also what may well be the beginnings of what I like to call “The Ladyhawke Cinematic Universe”.
A while ago I went away by myself for a weekend to work up a couple of poetry manuscripts for some prizes, one of which was the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize.
I was pretty happy with what I walked away with after that weekend, and also pretty stoked to find out a couple weeks back that I’d been chosen as one of the 12 shortlisted poets for the prize. It was a nice affirmation and an indication that I might not be the only person who’s interested in poems featuring Robocop and Richard Nixon.
Attention conservation notice: this guy makes crazy fun toys and comics. I talked to him about bespoke action figures, comics and the pros and cons of nostalgia. (2564 words)
Brandon Barker is the man behind Warlords of Wor, a series of handmade limited-run toys coming out of Barker’s own ManOrMonster? Studios. Warlords of Wor celebrates 1980s fantasy barbarian action figures (think He-Man) right down to their awkward bodybuilder physiques, furry underpants and goofy names.
Figures released so far include the claw-handed Clawbber (“Two-fisted General of Justice!”), the evil scientist-turned-swamp-monster Bog-Nar (“Mutant Muck Menace!”) and the skull-headed albino gorilla Beastor-9 (“Twisted Abomination of Science!”).
In addition to the action figures, Brandon has released 5 minicomics featuring stories about the characters in the toy line. They’re fun little reads, great examples of shortform genre comic writing that pack a lot of plot and character in between action scenes and still leave time for a bunch of playful riffs on childrens’ activity books and the crazy ads you used to see in 1970s comic books.
What makes Warlords of Wor different from other retronostalgic offerings out there is that, while it’s following in the tradition of the toys and comics I loved as a kid (and still love), it never crosses the line into simple pastiche, mere mashup or thinly veiled fan fiction. They’re a great example of using tropes to tell new stories instead of slavishly referencing and remixing characters and stories that are already out there.
A little while back I got to swap some emails with Brandon, talking to him about how he got started making his own toys, how he negotiates the pitfalls of nostalgia and how he comes up with such cool and kooky names.
To start with, how did you get into making your own action figures?
I got interested in model kits when I was young, and I’ve always drawn and created in other ways, so building and customizing toys is something that developed very early for me.
“…it just takes a little DIY, punk rock spirit.”
I think the first “custom” toys I made were cyborg army men. I would take green army men, cut off arms or legs, and glue on pieces of chrome model kit sprues (the plastic “trees” that model kit parts were attached to). I would also repaint action figures to give them new, mission-specific outfits like night ops, desert camouflage, or arctic gear.
As an adult I decided I wanted to create my own comics and toy lines, so I just started doing it. The materials and resources are out there… it just takes a little DIY, punk rock spirit.
Over the last 6 weeks I’ve had a series of photos published on the inestimable Instagramazine, an instagram account run by Gemma Mahadeo. The deal with Instagramazine is that it publishes flash fictions that people write in response to photos that they or others have taken.
The photos I took and the flashfics I wrote to accompany them are of my beloved Masters of the Universe action figure dollies catching a break from the humdrum of fighting and world-conquering and discovering and/or inventing pseudoscientific-cum-mystical weapons for fighting each other or conquering the world or preventing said fights and conquests and just hanging out with that certain special someone for a little while.
I had a lot of fun setting up these photos and writing the stories to accompany them. It was a genuinely neopulp experience that captured exactly the way I like to humanise, whimsify and sentimentificate the tropes of fantasy and science fiction.
The photos and stories are all over on Instagramazine, which you can check out even if you don’t have an IG account, using the #mastersoftheuniverseinlove tag. But if you do have an IG, I’d recommend following @ig_ezine. It’s a fun, sweet little account.
I have an “ideas piece” over on Writers Bloc today. It’s about a thing that happened in my brain about a month or two ago where I decided to finally stop writing the novel I’ve been working on for ten years. Here’s an extract:
…it was exciting being a novelist. A real, actual novelist. Good word, that. The kind of word you can say with pride at a dinner party without anticipating the need for clarification or worrying about killing the conversation.
“Novelist” is what people assume you mean when you say “I’m a writer”. Not “poet”. “I’m a writer,” you say. “That’s great,” people reply, putting you on a mental bookshelf next to Tim Winton and Joan London. “A poet, actually,” you might clarify, then clear your throat.
So there I was, a published poet and a published novelist in a world that by and large valued fiction much more highly than poetry. “I love reading,” someone might say to you, and pretty soon odds are you’ll be comparing favourite novelists. Never poets. Unless the person you’re speaking to is a poet, which is lovely, but that doesn’t happen much.
As a result of all this, I stopped thinking of myself as a poet and started thinking of myself as a writer instead.
A couple weeks ago I submitted a short story to Chart Collective’s I Was Here project.
The deal was they were asking for anonymously submitted 300-character-max stories about real things that had happened in the Melbourne CBD. 50 stories would get picked and put onto posters that would be stuck up around the city as part of some This Public Life festival of landscape architecture or something.
So this week I was doing a bit of story stalking after being sent an email with a map pinpointing the 50 stories. Since the stories were anonymous nobody was contacted to be told if they got picked or not, so I was checking out the two posters placed in flinders lane, near where my story was set. I found the two posters, one on the notice board at the City Library:
And one in a shop window in the Nicholas Building:
Neither of them were mine, so I figured I hadn’t got in.