Inkerman and Blunt’s Australian Love Poems 2013

ALP_coverA quick post to celebrate the recent launch of Australian Love Poems 2013 (from new publisher Inkerman & Blunt; edited by the Montreal-prize-winning Mark Tredinnick).

The book (an anthology of 200 new poems on the theme of love by Australian poets) was launched at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival a few days ago. Here is a write-up of how the launch went – a sell-out apparently (in a good way), and here are some photographs of it.

I should declare an interest – I have a small (tiny) poem in it, as do several of my poet-friends such as Suzanne Edgar, Michael Thorley, John Foulcher, Geoff Page, Alan Gould, Lizz Murphy, Russell Erwin, and Helen Thurloe, to name just a few. Michael Thorley was among the poets who read at the launch.

Despite my ulterior motive, you can trust me when I say I do recommend a thumb-through. The poems in the book are extremely varied in style and form, and explore love in all its phases and moods. Some of the poems contain adult themes, some are hilarious, some are poignant, some are quietly luminous and some are just blow-the-top-off-your-head wonderful. It is a book full of surprises, discoveries, insights, and bewilderments. There really is something in here for everyone.

And if you were keen to hear some readings from the book, it’s not too late. While Byron Bay was the first outing, there will be a number of launch events around the country over the next few months. The next launch is in Melbourne on August 14. I even heard a rumour last night of a possible Canberra launch in September, which would be lots of fun. Watch this space.

My very own author page

Super quick post today. This is just to say I now have my very own author page on the Pitt St Poetry website to help promote my book *Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call* , coming out in November 2013:


Found poem: As Whitlam wrote

Some fun follows.

Yesterday I spent most of the day at the University of Canberra, at a poetry symposium organised by UC’s new International Poetry Studies Institute (or ipsi for short). It was a very thought-provoking day with a number of papers addressing various aspects of ‘Poetry, Creativity and Knowing’.

In between taking actual notes and scribbling down ideas to chase up, I also composed a found poem with various phrases taken from the papers and from audience questions.

Given the poem’s title, you may wonder why we were talking about Whitlam* at a poetry symposium. Ah. That would be because one of the speakers, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, made a slip of the tongue for ‘Whitman‘.

I know for certain that other poets present were also scribbling away, including PS Cottier and Lizz Murphy. I wonder if they’re game to share what they came up with ?


Whitlam Pic

‘Well may we say…’

As Whitlam wrote:

It goes without saying

I am going to offend most of the people in this room

I am a concrete, time-bound entity

I want to say something in favour of resurrection

Steady yourself against me here

To whom will I offer this witty little book ?

I acknowledge the elders past and present

I am what you say I am

I am, more often, not to be found

(These are not two stages, but one)

Everybody knows that in fact men think but rarely

Always first press ‘ESCAPE’


*For non-Australian, and younger Australian, readers: ‘Whitlam’ in the title refers to Gough Whitlam, an ill-fated former Australian Prime Minister. No, not the one who drowned, the one who was removed from office, along with his government, by the Queen’s representative, the Governor-General, in November 1975 – a dramatic event still known as The Dismissal. Hence his interest (in the poem, at least) in resurrection, stability, rarely-thinking men, and escape.

Passengers are reminded

The following poem of mine appeared in The Canberra Times last Saturday, 18th May.  It will also be in my new book, Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call, out late 2013 from Pitt St Poetry.


Doors closing. Please stand clear.

Passengers are reminded

The 11.44 Emu Plains service will depart in six minutes

a cigarette butt is stuck to the black spiked heel of my left shoe

This service is experiencing a slight delay due to a sick customer at Town Hall

I have been carrying the lilies too long

This service is experiencing continuing delays due to a sick customer at Town Hall

the petal edges fray to bruised brown, like old lettuce

Customers wishing to travel on the Western line are advised to proceed to platform twelve

my black stockings are bunched and twisted

Customers are reminded

The 13.00 funeral service

will commence promptly at the appointed time

whether I am there or not

This is the 12.09 Lithgow service

First stop –

Rust-coloured crumbs of lily pollen on my black suit

– then all stations to –

my mind is still not full enough

Doors closing. Please stand clear.

(c) Melinda Smith 2013

Pitt Just Got Real


A very quick post today – just wanted to share some good news. I am very proud to announce that my fourth poetry collection, working title Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call, will be published in late 2013 by Sydney publisher Pitt St Poetry.

If you pop over to their website and check out their 2013 poetry list, among the distinguished poets with national profiles and swags of awards, there at the very end is little old me, honoured to be keeping such distinguished company.

This blog contains earlier versions of a number of poems that will be appearing in the collection, including Roadside Memorials – which is (quick plug) being read out on ABC Radio National’s Poetica program next Saturday (May 11) at 3pm.

Watch this space for details of final title, launch dates and locations. And wonder of wonders, it will be coming out as a $5 e-book too. Can’t wait.


A poem of mine on ABC Radio National’s Poetica

Those of you who live in Australia may be familiar with the Poetica program on ABC Radio National, produced by poet Mike Ladd. It is broadcast on Saturdays at 3pm with a repeat broadcast the following Thursday night at 9pm.

I am very pleased to say that my poem ‘Roadside Memorials‘ will form part of the May 11 program, which is a feature on the villanelle in Australia.

Picture of roadside memorial

‘another kind of road sign, small but clear’

(If that technical name is unfamiliar, it may help to know that a villanelle is a highly structured poem in (mostly) three line stanzas with two repeating refrain lines appearing in turn throughout. Think Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’.)

Now I’m not privy to the full schedule, but I believe you can expect to hear villanelles from Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Stephen Edgar, Suzanne Edgar and Michael Thorley among others. So lots of reasons to tune in, really.

And in case you were wondering, it won’t be my voice reading Roadside Memorials out on Poetica. The ABC are in the happy position of having trained actors available to do that job. Having read my own work on radio – and to camera – before, I know from experience that it is extremely difficult to produce an effective ‘read’ without the instantly available feedback of a live audience. Frankly I don’t know how the professionals do it, but I’m very grateful one will be doing it in my stead with this poem.

So why not make a date with your radio – Sat 11 May 3pm or Thursday 16th May at 9pm. Or, for about a month afterwards, you can visit the Poetica site and listen via the audio links, or download the program as a podcast.

Thanks for listening 🙂


Reading at Manning Clark House in November 2013


I am delighted to have been invited to read my poems at Manning Clark House later this year. The reading will be on Wednesday 6th November at 5.30 for 6pm. Wine and nibbles will be laid on, and of course you can buy my books if the mood takes you.

Manning Clark House is at 11 Tasmania Circle, Forrest (in Canberra’s South). It is indeed the last home of Manning and Dymphna Clark, and is now operating as a museum, library, and working, meeting and exhibition space for writers, artists, historians and other academics. Find out more about MCH here.

I will be one of three featured poets on the night : the other two are Adrian Caesar and Jen Webb, both eminent and much awarded. I feel very privileged to be sharing a bill with them.

The reading is part of a year long series of ‘First Wednesday’ poetry nights. Here is the full program as it currently stands – possibly subject to some slight changes.

Wed 3/4 Wanta Jampajinpa, Keith Harrison

Wed 1/5 Charlotte Clutterbuck, Penelope Cottier, Geoff Page

Wed 5/6 Jessica Wilkinson, Alan Gould, Michael Byrne

Wed 3/7 Theodore Ell, Paul Hetherington, Luke Whitington

Fri  12/7 Anthony Lawrence, Alison Clark

Wed 7/8 Nicola Bowery, John Foulcher, Martin Dolan

Wed 4/9 Kerrie Nelson, Harry Laing

Wed 2/10 Penelope Layland, Paul Magee, Judy Johnson

Wed 6/11 Adrian Ceasar, Melinda Smith, Jen Webb

Wed 4/12 Moya Pacey, David Brooks, Bronwyn Lea

I hope to make it along to several of these. If you are in the ‘Berra it would be lovely to see you there.