2013 turned out to be a doozy of a year and at some point I think I sat around waiting for 2014 to show up. Now that it's here, I'm not quite sure I'm ready, but that may the chaos of school holidays speaking.

Speaking of chaos, in just 11 days I'm heading off for Unlock the Past's 4th Genealogy Cruise, and I am nervous/excited. I say chaos because I have done almost nothing yet to prepare. Eeeeek.

I have had a sneak around at some of the blogs with handy tips on preparing, so I know to take a water bottle, teabags, and warm clothes for when in the conference centre. And a US adaptor to charge my phone. I have at least started making a list. I'm not sure whether I'll need to be organised in case of sea-sickness, though it is a huge ship, so I suspect I'll be okay.

And I still have some work to do to have my own presentation ready. My presentation 'Writing poetry: different ways to present your family history' is on the first full day of the conference, which is great. It means I'll be able to relax afterwards and, as I'm travelling on my own, it's a great opportunity to meet others early on. I'm so looking forward to that, especially the bit about being able to talk about family history related stuff for days on end! I may even set myself the goal of writing a new poem every day.

But really, I think I'll know more next week, when I actively try to organise myself. When the children are all back to school. Then I can start immersing myself into 2014. I hope the new year has been good for you.
I am very excited that Going Down Swinging have published 'Irish Orphan Immigration' in The Blue Corner. This is a piece that is close to my heart as well as being different to my usual style. One of my ancestors, Honora Bentley (photo kindly supplied by Beth Chamberlain) was an Irish Orphan who emigrated to Australia in 1849. She is one of my most fascinating ancestors and her story, or what I have so far discovered of it, has captivated me. Of course, I have to write about her.

But the Orphan story isn't necessarily easy to write. Especially the bit about their reception in Australian ports. I wanted to use the words of the colonists at the time and what better way than to use original text and 'erase'. So, follow the link to the Blue Corner and see what it is/was all about. There's an audio file to go with, which includes the voices of Eleanor Jackson and Andrew Phillips as well as my own.

While we're talking about family history, I have so far neglected to mention that I will be going on a cruise next year: the 4th Unlock the Past history and genealogy cruise. As well as all the obviously exciting things a genealogy cruise has to offer, I will be giving a presentation about 'Writing Poetry: different ways to present your family history'. Earlier this week I got to speak to Unlock the Past. here's what I had to say.

And (it's a huge week for news), speaking of interviews, my third and final interview for the 2013 Queensland Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word, with New Zealand based poet Siobhan Harvey, is available here

That ought to keep you busy a while.

While we're on the topic of the Queensland Poetry Festival, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to a few of the poets who will appear this year. First up, I spoke with Felicity Plunkett and then Aden Rolfe. Find out what they had to say.

In other news, I was very excited last week to finally discover the maiden name of one of my 4x great grandmothers from Bideford, Devon: Grace Moore. I celebrated, as I usually do, with a good dose of chocolate and an hour or so at FamilySearch to see what else I could find. In some ways, it's odd that it took so long to discover her name, as it wasn't very difficult. It just took a little sideways thinking, like ordering the birth certificate of her youngest child. Her eldest is my direct ancestor, but he was born before registration was mandatory. Now the problem is: which ancestor to attack next!
There's something about the end of semester that renders me incapable of writing a list or even acting like there might be something specific I should be doing. But now that I've basked in the nothingness of after-semester glow for a few weeks, it's time to share.

First and most exciting is that the programme for the Queensland Poetry Festival 2013 is out. It's here, and if you'll be in Brisbane during the 23rd to 25th August, then you'd be wise to stop on by. Most events are free to attend, with only the workshops and 'Set Fire to the Air' on the Friday night attracting fees. So there's really no excuse. I love this festival. See you there.

I'm particularly excited to have enrolled in the workshop series with 2013 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence, Canadian poet Shane Rhodes. Can't wait.

If waiting until August seems a little more than you can stand, head on over here. Pascalle Burton's Letter.Box.Stamp.Collect. is an installation that forms part of the 2013 festival and she has already been gathering poems (including one from yours truly), so head on over and check it out. You don't even need to be in Brisbane!
I am very excited about this special event combining poetry and food that Queensland Poetry Festival and Mondo Organics have teamed up to create:  a unique evening of high class dining interwoven with intimate poetry readings from Eleanor Jackson, Graham Nunn and myself. Also known as Seasonings: the poetry of food.

Seasonings: the poetry of food
A 3-course meal, wine and drinks, intimate and unexpected poetry readings, and a special gift for every guest.

Mondo Organics
166 Hardgrave Road, West End, Qld.

Thursday June 20, 2013 @ 6:45 pm – 9:00 pm

Because you deserve to treat yourself.

Book through Queensland Poetry Festival. Tickets are $110 per person, with a 10% discount applying when you book a table of ten.

Seating is limited for this one-off evening, so get in before tickets sell out.

I know, I know, I'm here again, a second time in one week. Crazy. But, I couldn't stay away. I wanted to share some exciting news.

My poem 'Drowning in three children', written for 'That zero year', the set Andrew Phillips and I performed at the Queensland Poetry Festival 2012,  has been published in Audio Overland II: Resistance. Go on over to check out editor Maxine Clarke's fabulous editorial and all of the pieces in the issue or, if you want to save yourself a click, here's a direct link.




Just like I'll have to plan a trip to Ireland the old fashioned way, I decided a few months ago to organise my own writing retreat.

Of course, I can apply for a variety of residencies, pay my entry/submission fee and play the waiting game, and there is every chance I will do that, at least with a select few opportunities, but I am not always a fan of 'the unknown' that comes with that territory. The idea of planning my own time away to write seems so much more efficient  And definite.

So one day I spent an hour or so in what I thought might be 'just dreaming', as I scoured accommodation opportunities within a couple of hours' drive. By the end of the hour, having realised that with such an abundance of accommodation on the Sunshine Coast that at least some places have excellent deals, I decided to make the dream a reality. I tried to be sensible though, and hold off a few days before making a booking, just in case. And to consider dates properly.

And tweet about it. Which turned out to make it an even sweeter deal, as one of my friends is coming along to spend the week writing her own stuff. It will be super cool to share the experience: to talk through writing issues with another writer as they come up, to share the excitement of getting so much writing done, to share the space, the costs as well as to have someone that makes sure I don't sit in front of my screen for too many hours at a time. All this sharing is going to make it the coolest writing retreat ever, and by the end of the week, I may even have learned how to share my chocolate.

We're heading off on Sunday: 7 glorious days and nights on King's Beach. Can't wait!
I've never really been one to apply for residencies: something to do with having young children I suppose. But, now that my husband works from home, and I'm only one year off all three kids being at school, it seemed like a good idea to start.

Especially when I read the prizes associated with the inaugural Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman Poetry Prize. Two weeks reading and writing in Canberra would be pretty cool, but two weeks doing the same in Ireland would be amazing. Particularly as there's a good chunk of research for my current project I could do while there. Not to mention the cash.

A couple of days ago I learned that I'd been shortlisted, with my poem Family secret #8, which was originally published in issue 1 of Vine Leaves, and later, in the Vine Leaves Best of 2012 Anthology, in an interview I did with Lisa Wardle over at her blogbecause writing is my vice, in the Queensland Poetry Festival's 2012 Anthology, and here, below.

It was a bit tricky to continue reading bland articles for uni after finding out about making the shortlist, and I wondered how hard it would be if the wait was longer than a few days. The winner was announced today, and with this news, I'll have to remain stoked with my highly commended. Massive congratulations to joint winners Gerard Butera and Todd Turner (follow the links to read their winning poems). I wonder if one of them will be happy to look up a few records for me in Ireland?

Family secret #8

She’s on the lounge room floor, an eighteen
year old foetus, clutching her own through
layers of blouse and skin, her undies stained
with thick blood. Her cries are heard by
neighbours, though nobody comes.

Her mother is in the kitchen, pouring
gin into three glasses, the ice chinking
while she laughs with her friends.

After four nights in a clinical bed, she
returns home to her own, continues
to rest. When she comes to breakfast
her mother makes tea and toast and says
you don’t have to marry him now.
She stares into her tea, whispers
but I love him, I want to get married
and so she did
                        for a while.

I'm sure it's no great surprise that I'm somewhat fond of stationery. I'm not sure whiteboards fall under that category (even though they come with markers) but I am more excited than I perhaps should be to have these four new boards stuck to the wall (okay, the wardrobe doors) of my study/writing space. Pink and blue may seem like odd colours for whiteboards, but I think they're pretty cool (unfortunately purple were sold out). Anyway, I'll probably mostly use them as magnetic boards, with the very cool magnets I also bought.
This means I now have a sensible place for all the opportunities (with deadlines) for poetry submissions that are coming up. Oh, and a to-do list that I will have to see often (which is much longer than the picture suggest).