I never did get that selfie with Shaun Tan…

You see I attended my very first literary awards dinner on Monday night. Big fancy do. In an art gallery. White tablecloths, waiters, TV cameras, a souvenir programme – that sort of thing. I had big plans. Almost none of them came to fruition. Not only did I leave selfie-less, I also neglected to conclude the evening face down in the chocolate fountain at the Langham hotel. Circumstances and Ray Martin intervened, shall we say. But I did bring back something for the pool-room from Melbourne on Tuesday morning. I’m a bit short on time so I’ll leave it at that for now. More details and proper linkage to follow.

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I always wanted to have the word WINNER on my wall

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Making a list and checking it twice

So I had a pretty quiet Sunday last weekend. I spent all morning doing my tax, and most of the afternoon planting some salad vegetables with my eight year old in a pathetic attempt to develop a hitherto-non-existent green thumb. And to stop him asking me so many questions about germination.

Around 5pm my partner took our other son, the ten year old, out for the evening. Around 6pm I got a text from my good friend @hackpacker:

“Congratu-bloody-lations ! You are shortlisted for the Prime Minster’s Literary Awards !”

Oh. I thought. Am I? Wait….WHAT ?

I refused to believe him until he texted me a link to the press release.

Then I sat down and had some heart palpitations.

I couldn’t ring my partner as I knew he was in the middle of driving to his destination. My eight year old was playing in the front yard and couldn’t care less about such things. I was alone in a silent house with some very very big news.

Eventually I did make contact with my partner, who when he finally returned brought home a bottle of champagne. The sort we don’t usually drink because we are not extravagant types. And we shared the whole bottle.

Image of champagne bottle and two full glasses

Not extravagant at all

Once I calmed down (about 24 hours later) I realised many things. One of them is that I am a fan of all the other poets on the shortlist (Sarah Day, Jakob Ziguras, Stephen Edgar and Geoff Page), so whoever wins I will be happy. No, really. If I were a horse I would give me about 50-1, so this is also helpful thinking.

Another thing I realised is that because in my day job I am a public servant, I am legally prevented from commenting publicly on political matters. So while there has been plenty of discussion of panel composition, etc elsewhere, not to mention discussion of the policies of the Abbot government in general, you will not be getting any of that from me. I’m just making it clear that I am not ignorant or naive, merely obliged to silence on some things.

The final thing I realised is that sometimes, it really is worth buying the expensive champagne.

PS. My favourite bit of the press release is the bit where it says

These thirty books have become part of the contemporary Australian literary canon

Bit soon for mine, I thought. Which is, incidentally, called Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call (Pitt St Poetry, 2013). Just because I haven’t mentioned that yet.

 

Reading in Sydney 13 September

Apologies for the long silence. Long story. Poems to follow. Happy National Poetry Week !

On the good news side of things, I am pleased to announce that I will be giving a poetry reading in Sydney on Saturday evening 13th September, at the Stanley Street Gallery in Darlinghurst.

Reading and signing

It is a double reading with poet Nicola Bowery. Nicola will be reading from her brand new book married to this ground, and I will be reading from Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call (Pitt St Poetry 2013), and also possibly from First… Then… (Ginninderra Press 2012) and from some unpublished new material.

The event kicks off at 5pm. There is a $15 cover charge which does include a glass of wine.

Here is a Facebook Event for the reading, and here is a link to the event details at City of Sydney What’s On.

The reading is organised by Poetry Alive, which is Nicola and her partner Harry Laing, who will MC. Should be a fun night, and the formal part of proceedings should all be over by 6.15pm, so you can start your evening in Darlinghurst and then kick on to wherever your other plans take you.

Love to see you there !

My new book of poems and its launches

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I am very pleased to announce a few details for the launch(es) of my new book, Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call, out in November 2013 from Pitt St Poetry.

There will be two Canberra launches and one in Sydney (plus possibly one in Melbourne but this is not yet confirmed).

I am also extremely pleased that two eminent poets have agreed to do the launch speech honours: Geoff Page (Canberra main launch) and Mark Tredinnick (Sydney launch).

Details as follows:

Canberra – ‘Soft’ Launch
Wed 6 Nov 2013
From 7.30pm
Manning Clark House
11 Tasmania Circle, Forrest ACT

This was a reading I was booked to do anyway – along with Adrian Caesar and Jen Webb – only now I will have a stack of newly pressed books to sell. The cover charge is $10 non-members, $7 students, MCH members free.  Bookings 6295 1808 or email info@manningclark.org.au.

Canberra – Main Launch
Tue 19 November 2013
from 5.45pm
Venue TBC

This is a joint launch with Geoff Page, also a Pitt St Poet. I will be launching Geoff’s new Pitt St Poetry book, Improving the News, and he will be launching mine.

Sydney Launch
Sunday 24 November 2013
3.30 for 4pm
Gleebooks Bookshop
Glebe Pt Rd, Glebe

RSVP at this link

Again this is a joint launch with Geoff Page. This time though, Mark Tredinnick will be doing the honours for my book.

Hope to see you there (if you are within traveling distance and free on the right day). There will be nibbles ! There may even be jazz piano ! How can you miss it ?

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.

TrainDoorsClosingPic

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

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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.