for my new poetry book ‘What the river told me’ and the other Flying Islands 2022 pocket poetry books
My new chapbook of poetry and prose was published by Rochford Press in December 2020. If you’d like to purchase, please click here
Anna Couani writes of Chimera, ‘Jane Skelton’s work is disturbingly real but defamiliarises the familiar. Everything close is made distant, whether it be family members, random people, foreign cities or landscapes. It follows in the tradition of Modernist female writing where The Real is not a tidy narrative. The Australia in this book is a secret Australia – one we all know but don’t like to think about too much. Narrative threads remain ‘incomplete’ and highly suggestive. The haunting visual works by Louise Kerr perfectly match the tone of the text. Along with Jane’s other work, this book is another important addition to Australian writing.’
Chimera is beautifully illustrated by artist Louise Kerr
Here I am, looking out at the dark night now, the sun sets at 4pm. This current residency focuses on the use of text, and brings together artists and writers using a range of mediums.
“Arteles Creative Center in Finland is one of the largest and most international creative residencies in Scandinavia. Welcoming over 100 selected visual artists/ musicians/ writers/ performance artists/ photographers/ designers / architects per year. It is an inspiring place to produce original work and collaborate with other energetic and ambitious artists & creative professionals for a concentrated period of time from 1 to 2 months.”
View website here
See all the current residents and be introduced to their projects here
Some images from the area:
Some trees have strong presences
I’m continually drawn to certain trees and visit and re-visit them. I’ve always loved trees. When I lived in the city I would gravitate to the parks, to the botanical gardens, and the massive Moreton Bay Figs of Sydney, with their fleshy limbs, their strange indentations, their hairy aerial roots. Trees are sacred in many cultures, especially in Aboriginal culture.
In the bush, the Angophoras reign, for me a favorite tree, their bark like flesh, ‘bodies’ graceful as dancers.
Trees have their own characters, revealed by ways of looking. In writing this blog, I discovered that there’s a whole ‘wood spirit carving’ community – carvers of totems, walking sticks, strange tree-men, who say they are releasing the wood’s ‘spirit’.
I’m not necessarily talking about ‘beautiful’ trees. A favorite poet, Robert Gray sometimes writes about pines – from his poem The Pine:
The rhythm amongst these
a music, all
in the back paddock
in the yellow grass
Some trees have bark like flesh, like skin, especially the Angophoras and the Scribbly Gums. From Judith Wright’s poem, Scribbly Gum:
I peeled its splitting bark
and found the written track
of a life I could not read
These intriguing designs, like a kind of writing, are caused by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum moth, Ogmograptis Scribula. Read about the facinating life-cycle of these rarely seen moths here.
Wright says, ‘Words are not meanings for a tree.’ This is true – I am imposing my own meanings upon the tree. In Gum-Trees Stripping, she writes:
Wisdom can see the red, the rose,
the stained and sculptured curve of grey,
the charcoal scars of fire, and see
around that living tower of tree
the hermit tatters of old bark
split down and strip to end the season;
and can be quiet and not look
for reasons past the edge of reason
Trees are sacred in many cultures, including in ancient Europe, which was once covered by great primaeval forests.
Trees are an important part of Aboriginal culture.
Watte Wanne & Dhunghutti Aboriginal Elder and artist, Aunty Kerrie Kenton writes, ‘Since time began trees have held significant value to Aboriginal people. Trees are not only culturally and spiritually important, but their importance also forms part of everyday life.’ Aunty Kerrie Kenton writes about the Parramatta area – see the full text of her article and see some of her artwork here.
Aboriginal poet and activist Lisa Bellear’s poem, Beautiful Yoroke Red River Gum talks about the survivors of genocide watching over the remaining Red River Gums along the Yarra in Melbourne. Read the full text of her poem here.
‘Flying Foxes’ is to be launched on July 25th 2015 as part of the Michael McGirr series of digital long stories.
The series is being launched by the fabulous Walter Mason writer, spiritual tourist, lifelong dilettante and author of Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia. As well, Carmel Bird’s new short story collection, My hearts are your hearts, will be launched on the night by queen of Australian fiction Gabrielle Lord. Read an interview with Carmel Bird at a bigger, brighter world blog here.
The 12 stories in the series were finalists in the Carmel Bird Long Story award, and includes ‘We’re all Travellors Here’ by award winner Marjorie Lewis-Jones.
by Marjorie Lewis-Jones – See more at: http://shortaustralianstories.com.au/ebooks/esingles/michael-mcgirr-selects-series/#sthash.7Rddkl4f.dpuf
Should be a good launch! Come along from 5.30pm and enjoy readings, book signings, refreshments and meet the authors. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the rain, fungi are everywhere, breaking through the damp soil. The part we see above the earth is only the reproductive structure, the fruiting body. The rest of the structure is underground, and can go for kilometres.
These strange eyeball-like protubences have suddenly appeared in the mulch in the front garden. They are called Geastrum or ‘earth stars’, due to their star-like frill. I like to think of them as eyes – the eyes of the earth? They are a kind of puffball, shooting spores through the central pore in the middle of the ‘eye’.
A patch of tiny, brilliant blue fungi. This is an uncommon one. It’s Entoloma Virescens.
Omphalina – a gilled fungi.
Literary mushrooms. I don’t know of a more famous evocation of ‘mushroom essence’ than this poem by Sylvia Plath, which captures the insistence of a humble survivor. Click here to listen.
And the there’s the novel Puffball by Fay Weldon, which uses mushrooms as a metaphor for nature and fertility. Read a review here.
My story ‘Flying Foxes’, a finalist in the Carmel Bird long story award, is to be published in 2015 as a digital story.
Twelve stories, including award winner Marjorie Lewis-Jones, will be published from June this year as the series Michael McGirr Selects, by publisher Spineless Wonders — host of the Carmel Bird Award.
Publisher, Bronwyn Mehan, said Spineless Wonders’ mission for the 2014 competition was to find the best Australian long stories between 4,000 and 10,000 words. The competition had drawn an unprecedented number of entries, she said, and Mr McGirr told her reading and judging the stories had been ‘a real pleasure’.
Carmel Bird is one of Australia’s leading authors of short stories with a new collection to be released by Spineless Wonders in August 2015.
‘Flying Foxes’ is the story of a relationship between two brothers, one suffering from schizophrenia. Flying foxes are a persistent presence in their lives. I will post details about how to purchase ‘flying foxes’ when available, later this year. I look forward to reading all 12 stories.
Louise Kerr’s tribe of hand-sewn soft scuptures, these subtly-painted dingos of coiled twine, cotton, paint and clay, evoke mythic animal characters. These sculptures have a double-edge, a darkness. They are also reminiscent of nailed-up carcasses, exposed innards, genitals, holes. Their faces are mask-like, but with glimpses of ‘human’ expression. They are “revealing masks.” Like dogs, and not like dogs. These are not only dingos but mirrors of us.
Lousie Kerr recently exhibited at King Street Gallery on William St, Sydney.
See more of Louise Kerr’s work here
My short story, ‘the cradle arms of strangers’ (an edited version) will be read by a professional actor at Knox St bar in Chippendale, on Monday March 9th at 7.30pm. ‘Little Fictions’ is held on the second Monday of every month, and should be well worth a look. It’s a small space, with an intimate and enthusiastic audience. For more info click here