Cynthia Sharp has been published in Toasted Cheese &
Haiku Journal and was nominated for the XXXVIII Pushcart Prize & Best of
the Net Anthology. She enjoys the beauty of nature on the Canadian west coast,
where she is at work on a series of fantasy novels for tweens and teens.
(18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013) "Courage is not the absence of fear - it's inspiring others to move beyond it." Nelson Mandela
Raise the colours to half mast.
Bow your heads in benediction.
Angelic chorus is weeping.
The world keeps on going. Look to the person deep within yourself, and look at the person you hate, you fear, despise the most.
Are either of you really that different from each other?
Do not allow the trains to run, shut down the schools, ground all the flights.
Stop the traffic.
Suspend the stock-exchange.
Cancel your trip to the plastic surgeon. Stop all the killing for just one minute…
For a great man sleeps eternally now.
Not a man raised in privilege or sort, stardom, wealth or fame…
A simple man, an angry man, freedom and justice his only aim.
A generation he sat in a vertical tomb of stone, hatred, oppression buried him—patience and love, eventually freed him.
A man of violence and struggle, who found wisdom, inner-peace.
Do not let his passing go un-noticed, do not let his sacrifices, just become legend and myth.
The world’s become a little colder, the stars just a little more dim, for tonight he sleeps in eternal reverence and we’ll be all the better, all the wiser, all the more loving, for having shared the world with him.
The touch of your hand in the darkness, the longing for hope in our kiss, the chill of the bedroom, in your absence oh, the way you light up the room is bliss. The fear in your eyes in the morning, the echo of our own, and shared past, his shadow over the bed, haunting; every embrace ends too fast. But, look inside yourself, Quicksilver mercury girl, twisting, road all around us, decisions, revisions, fear and solitude forever consume our hearts, but lust is a constant. Lust is so clean, Lust doesn’t hang up mid-conversation or see either of us, seething green.
Is there anybody there? Lofty, lonely, mad on that diamond chair. All the world is cold, all our love is old, nothing compares to the sunshine we once shared. Now, I'm floating in this vortex, this rushing wave of fear, standing in front of my reflection, just one thing remains to be clear... Yet in this world full of ugliness, just you, just you know how to reach me by that tenderness in your touch. That death watch beetle, stalks me tonight, that death watch beetle of the soul. Twisting everyway, no clear path. No clear way of getting out of here. I'm the middle man, of the three in the cave, light and shadow, puppets on the wall, is suffering an illusion, is there nothing left for me at all? (c) James WF Roberts
(An ode to John Donne's Ode to Death (ya shrouded prick)
And the skin with which within I hold myself will fail
like my bladder and my faith in the immorality
that hides behind youth as a disguise
and if I'm lucky I'll have memories
and if I'm lucky ones I'll remember
and if not at least be remembered
but of all the terrors hidden in my cellular decay
that could potentially manifest
and replicate and replicate without my say
until I'm riddled with deaths reign on my parade
the only fear I'll struggle to swallow
the only thing that keeps me awake
is that I treat every day the same
and become as weak as my body will
by not remembering I have will
and not just doing with it what I may
but doing something, something
being someone, an individual can be defined no other way
“I never want money for art because I believe that is what eventually leads to the destruction of your desire to create, you create art, to me, because you need to, because it helps you and you hope that at some point what has helped you create that art, the things that have inspired it may help somebody else… saying that I would still love to know what’s happening to the stuff I create, if it’s read out loud or just emailed to somebody, I’d like to think that my art is created because there has and always will be a desire to express not because of what you gain but what you can change”. John O'Rourke. Dublin.
Hello there, the angel from my nightmare. This shadow of my life’s despair, omnipresent, perpetually you linger, my tainted destinies harbinger, lurking, those empty eyes, that burning, piercing stare, a window to my own demise. Through my eyes I see you, but are you ever truly there? Or are you just the figment, of a twisted minds imagination, a deranged manifestation of my crippling despair.
These manipulative voices in my head, only I can hear as they jest and jeer, never willing to just evaporate, to just disappear. As these voices, through this tormented mind they swirl, and right on time, like clockwork, you appear, but still I can’t tell if you are really here.
Nothing works, so numb to the world, no respite do I ever see, just the strings you use to contort me. These knives, these pills all feel the same, just another twist in your torturous game. And this hatred, anger which burns inside, this destructive flame, no longer can tame.
Alone and scared, no more pain upon myself can I inflict, these open wounds, these searing slits, trying to expel, this creature stirring, devouring me from within, my personal hell, I look at you now , this angel of sin, those jagged teeth form, a menacing grin. Your presence, a dreary cloud, over my dawns every sun, and my spirits at every chance they try to escape, they try to run. But these walls of despair you conjure, trapping them, a massacre of hope, slaughtering every last one, nowhere for me now to run. And that empty expression, you always assume, my sickness obsession, the devils own son.
My life consumed by this constant fear, to my eye comes but the last remaining tear, no longer am I able to cry, and alone in this empty room I lie, no longer will I try, Against your torture, I will no longer stand, and into this pit of dark and hopeless plight, reaches, no helping hand, no piercing light, no salvation, just an exodus, fated, to walk alone through this endless night. And as I lay, my heart devoid of warmth, of life, my soul bereft of light, and no longer your temptation do I choose to fight, I slip into my final sleep, this final tear now I weep, and for the final time, alone, I cry, this angel, now its hand I take, my eyes they close to never wake, and like a blossoming flower, stripped of light, I wither, I die.
at the point of breaking, this
pain forsakes me.
Flat, I lay, my consciousness it slowly slips, seeps away.
Murmurs, hushed, their tones unerring, messages of bleak despair.
Still I lay, my mind not there,
it has deserted me, trapped, a slow decay.
Encircled, these figures, silhouetted, faces which have washed away.
Faceless, these people, a world away.
And still I lay, my heart, my mind, my life astray.
Engulfed by the blinding lights the figures fade, this light,
this light, has it come to guide me away, content to go, and still I lay.
I plummet, the light swept away, falling,
hopeless, sinking and still,
I lay. spiraling, darkness creeping in embracing me,
a beeping, beeping, beeping,
slowly but surely fleeting as the darkness penetrates my soul,
this rasping breath, a tear,
a muffled scream, then silence, darkness... nothing more.
Alone and still I lay, this room, a sombre shade of grey,
so clearly different, yet strangely, the same.
So alien, so different, this room in a way,
wanting to run but my fear drifts away.
And still, on the floor of this strange room, I lay.
Nothing, no windows, no doors,
the silhouetted figures stood over me no more,
just these expressionless faces etched into each wall.
A sound, breathing, a whisper swirling like air,
a single phrase, several letters just lingering there.
These words evaporating, as if never there, and the room,
again it feel silent, as it had just been.
The faces they faded, and the room now the same,
except the lingering whisper, which echoed, my name.
Silent, I lay, a thought on my lips,
but unable to say.
And in this room, alone,
I would stay.
And still through it all with my fate all but sealed, no weapon,
no thought and no hope I could wield.
As again my mind distant, my thoughts in a vice and my spirit torn away,
I lay, I lay, and I lay.
But suddenly, the walls start to change,
as they shift, and they crack, my fear kept at bay,
as there in the centre, rigid I lay.
Distorting, these walls,
before me they blur, and by some force to me unbeknownst like paper, they’re
The mist it grows thick like haze before dawn.
Slowly, softly, the darkness, returned.
Beep, beep, beep, alone once again through this darkness I surged, in this whirlwind of chaos I
feel like I’m a bird, though my wings are of paper,
which is shredded and burned.
And again I’m thrust into this blinding light my
wings now drifting, my body a kite.
This rasping breathing, this pain subsides.
My heart, mind and body as one they re-surge
and above me from these all consuming shadows, these faces emerge.
From this life, almost torn,
A phoenix from the ashes now reborn.
The house lights go down, purple, blue and red filters
change slowly one the black curtain. A black clad figure moves across the
stage, an old fedora and a pin-stripe suit.
The light catches his shadow like a predatory shadow in a noirish film.
The fusion of jazz, blues, gypsy folk and modern balladry begins.
It is hard to review a live concert. I will say that from
the get-go. It is like reviewing a football match, not from the comfort from a
press box or the over-privileged God’s
view of the game from the commentary team. Sitting in the throng, the mass of
people at Rod Laver arena, all in riotous chanting, applause and devotion to
the craggy-faced, troubadour, the would-be self-styled prophet, Leonard Cohen.
The crowd is mostly middle-aged, or older. Very well dressed
for a pop-concert. Trilby and fedora hats flood the hallway, when you are
trying to line up for a beer. For
someone like me, still regarding himself as an emerging poet/writer and an
amateur musician and would-be song-writer. It is a dream come true to see Mr.
Cohen on stage. For 79 years old he is spritely, and charismatic. He jokes with
the audiences, he bows in reverence, he crouches on his haunches, like in
prayer and offers his benediction of song to the audience. He is rather captivating to listen to and to
watch. Even though his standard and
somewhat minimal vocal and range of movement is repetitive. The first half of his first Melbourne show saw
seamless transitions between songs – songs that we all know if you have ever
gone to an open mic night or know a few singer-song writers, Cohen’s canon is
almost as popular with emerging musicians as Lennon/McCartney songs.
Cohen’s electic style of writing and influences is echoed by
the fusion of jazz, blues, gypsy folk, rock, pop and electronica. Cohen is
flanked by some of the best musicians in the world, all experts and some
professors in their field; bassist and musical director Roscoe Beck, guitarist
Mitch Watkins, violinist Alexandru Bublitchi, keyboardist Neil Larsen (on
Hammond organ), guitarist Javier Mas on Bandurria guitar, drummer Rafael Gaol
and vocalists Sharon Robinson and Charley and Hattie Webb.
Cohen is a very generous performer. Generous with his audience
and with his ensemble, many times throughout the show, the Webb sisters and his long time song
writing collaborator Sharon Robertson do their own solo work. He allows the
spotlight to shine on the rest of the band, like no other solo artist I have
seen. You get the feeling there is that gypsy/jazz sense of a wandering band of
musicians on stage.
“Thanks friends for your warm welcome and those who have
climbed the heights. Tonight we’ll give you everything we’ve got,” promises
Cohen and he remains true to his word. On occasion, Cohen kneels towards the
floor. During “Tower of Song,” the throng claps after his amateurish keyboard
solo. “You must be kidding”, retorts Cohen.
Cohen’s career and canon and quite interesting from a
historical and a pop-cultural sense. His songs reflect life, death, sex,
revenge, compassion and the spiritual ennui that we have found ourselves in
over the last few decades. With a
twenty-six set song list, a 3 and a half hour show and many encores it was
truly an impressive and emotive spectacle. The older songs in the middle of the set list
and at the end of the show, were the stand outs for me. “Suzanne” was powerful
and beautiful, as it always is, as was “Bird on a wire”, I still find Cohen’s
original version, though there are several versions he recorded, his rendition of
“Hallelujah “, to me has always been the best, it has a satirical and edgy dark
humour to it, that I think is often missed in many of the covers of that now
standard/ almost torch song, as my fellow Writer Joe Dolce wrote on here a few
weeks ago, that Cohen’s most famous song has now become almost a
party-favourite, a show-stopper on American Idol and the X-factor, and people treat
it as a prayer—much like I find they treat Cohen as a would-be prophet, Nick
Cave is often revered in the same way for much of the same and wrong reasons, I
Cohen’s music and songs, and
indeed his poetry is often quite complex to get around, highly sexual and
masculine, yet soul-searching and full of reverence.
One of his most sexually explicit, which also one of his
most one most famous songs, “Chelsea
Hotel # 2”, which as Cohen admits in interviews now is his most un-gallant
song, it’s basically about getting a blowjob from Janis Joplin in the stairwell
of the famous New York hotel. I like the darkness in Cohen’s work, “Future”,
famously used in the soundtrack of the Oliver Stone film, Natural Born Killers,
“Democracy”; these are fire and
brimstone songs, apocalyptical prophesies of the highest order. Even, things
like the Euro disco style New world order call to arms, “First We’ll Take
Manhattan”. Cohen is still very much the old school folk singer, he is just
electrified and modernised. The new
stuff he was doing in the first half of the set did get a bit repetitive. His new
stuff is trying to be his old stuff, and it simply isn’t. it’s not the same
time, or the same world it was when many of his major hits were written and
I like Cohen immensely. I guess what he is doing now, is
what I want to do eventually. But, I do get the sense that he is repeating
himself with some of his new pieces. Even, on stage much of the backing music
to the new stuff sounds remarkably like Bird on a Wire, Tower of Song and So,
Long Marianne. But, of course that could just be the MD trying to give the
performance stage scope and symmetry.
Overall, I quite liked this concert and I do recommend Cohen
as a stage performer and a song writer. I agree with Joe Dolce though, that I think
Cohen still has the potential to be one of the great poets, but I think fame
and anxiety and the mythology surrounding Cohen has made him less of a poet and
more of a man playing the part of a prophet/poet song-writer.
But, please do yourself a favour and go see Cohen on his
Nov/Dec 2013 tour and listen to his music, especially if you are an aspiring
poet and/or song writer. There is a lot from Cohen you can inspire you and
teach you what to do and what not to do.
What better way to end
the busy Silly seasons, and see 2013 to its inevitable end then by coming down
to the Brunswick Hotel, having a drink, buying a book, reading a poem, singing
a song, you can do it all on Monday 30th of December, 2013...
Red Wolf Press
Australia, Lulu Publishing.com,the Brunswick Hotel and Passionate Tongues
proudly brings to you, two new poetry collections by James WF Roberts, Ten
Poems and The Preludes. Red Wolf Press Australia is a new experimental and dark
prose/verse publisher. These first two publications are the foundation stones
of what will hopefully become part of the Melbourne and Australia literary
So what are the books about? Ten Poems, is an experimental collection of ten poems written in a variety of different voices, textures and tones; ranging from a bank heist gone wrong, the miracle of birth in the tragedy and banality of a war zone, drug addiction, the trials and tribulations of love and relationships, to Indigenous Australian Land rights and spirituality.
The Preludes, by James WF Roberts, is a work of more serious literary and artistic pursuits. The Preludes are series of 50 individual pieces that are connected by narrative, structure and ideas. A philosophical work meditating on what it is to be an artist living in the world today, how do we cope with the loss of a loved one, the loss of the soul, the mechanical nature of society, does God exist? Is love real or just a chemical in-balance. Preludes is a cross-genre work, based on the traditions of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, the Psalms of the Bible, Classical mythology and modern contemporary pop-culture—the poet is going on a journey in this collection, he is trying to find meaning in homogenized, digitized, corporatized world. Will he find what he is looking for?
Passionate Tongues, (aka The Brunswick Hotel, 140 Sydney Rd Brunswick, Melbourne VIC) on Monday 2nd DECEMBER 2013 at 8:30pm.
Book prices: $5 AUD: Ten Poems. $10 AUD: The Preludes $20AUD: Blue Electric Dusk.
or buy all three books for only $30 Aud on the night.
Catherine Zickgraf is a writer first, a performer
second. As Catherine the Great, she has
shared her spoken word from Madrid to Boston, from Miami to San Francisco, and
on scores of stages in between. See her
perform at youtube.com/czickgraf
Yet the written word is her first love. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of
the American Medical Association, Pank, Bartleby-Snopes, and GUD Magazine. Her chapbook, Every Clock Has Its Place, is
forthcoming from Sweatshoppe Publications
What Melbourne writers are saying about Amanda Anastasi’s
“2012 and other poems is a richly contemporaneous. Amanda
Anastasi takes on various occasions as various as saving a great tree,
Fukushima and the tragic shipwreck at Christmas Island. But the key to the book
is the poet in person, a skilled wordsmith exploring, with candour and some
irony, herself and the subtle extended life of her experience” Judith Rodriguez
“Amanda Anastasi is passionately committed to the emergence
of the individual and directs a sharp philosophical critique towards anything
which blocks this emergence, whether insitutions in society, consumer culture
or sheep mentality. This philosophy is delivered in rich language which is
nonetheless plain-speaking and avoids saccharine expression. These meditations
on what it means to be an individual have their greatest impact precisely on
the individual who thise collection privately and reflectively, perhaps in a
bath of still, warm water”.
Santo Cazzati, 3CR Spoken Word.
“In 2012, Anastasi invites you to question the social and
political constructs we take for granted in our day to day lives and over
generations. Don’t turn a blind eye to this impressive collection. Amanda
Anastasi is an emerging poet to watch”. Tiggy Johnson, Editor Page Seventeen
Nothing excites the blood, in my opinion more than seeing
inside another person’s mind, going to the weird, wild, wonderful and sometimes
downright whacky imagination of another creative spirit. This is real
excitement, not the cheap thrills of a roller-coast or a ghost train at Luna
Park, but real danger. The danger of allowing yourself to feel as another
person feels, to love, to hate and to think the same way as that person. It is
intimate, passionate, distant and ravishing. And this is how you will feel when
you read this fantastic premiere collection by one of Melbourne’s finest Spoken
Word Performers, Amanda Anastasi, 2012 and other poems, published by Lulu,
A lot of people, especially in Australia I think, are
distrustful of poetry. I want to say that they don’t understand it, or they
afraid of it, or they just don’t care. But that is too harsh and also quite
elitist on my behalf. Deep down I think though, that people are distrustful of
poetry because it is thought of as something far above everyone’s own daily
struggle. That it is for people with University degrees, wear black turtle
necks and drink Chardonnay, go antiquing in the Grampians or at Daylesford and
enjoy the spectacle of mass sport as masturbation or a modern church, I think
you get the point, ( a note to any of my friends who suddenly want to beat me
up after reading that last line, if you recognise yourself like that—it’s time
to change your clothes)
But, poetry in its individual and unique form is quite
different than what most people are exposed to, say at school, or what they see
on TV or movies about poets. Poetry is essentially the vehicle of direct
language meeting direct emotional response. Beauty, truth kind of thing. The
rythms, and structures, the cadence and form of good poetry are desgined for
the reader, or the listener to build images up in their mind, without the
audience knowing what tools, what road map the writer is using. This is very
much the case with Amanda’s poem, Poets. [originally published in 2011, Short
and Twisted, anthology, Celapene Press, then in 2012 Horizons anthology,
Poetica Christi Press]
We run our fingers over the shell
of humanity, feeling for the pulse
of its mettle; the rhythms of its
prejudices, the beat of its concord;
drunk on the beautiful, redefining its
boundaries: its height, its breadth
and its colours, worshipping a
horizon’s sweep and the vein
of a leaf, the collected light
of a city and the glisten in
an eye; capturing a moment in the universe
and the universe in a moment.
I have heard a colleague and friend of mine, Michaeal
Reynolds, say that Amanda doesn’t necessarily use words, it’s more that she honours
them. And I agree with that idea. Read this poem aloud and you will feel that
seduction take place.
Yet, there is irony in her words as well. Look where the
word ‘boundaries’ appears, it is not on the regularly accepted position, or
boundary at the end of the line. It is at the beginning of it, so maybe not so
much a boundary rather a door, or portal, a journey towards a new realm of
Without spending too long on this poem, I can see many of
the same ideas flowing through her pen, as one of the great English poets of
all time, certainly in the top four of the Great Romantics, S.T. Coleridge. I
think this poem, certainly falls within the same scope of ideas and utilizes the
same seductive language that S.T. Coleridge uses in Kublai Khan. One of the
arguments I have heard about that piece by Coleridge is that the Poet is witnessing the sexual fury, the giant release of the creative spirit, as the
Pleasure Dome rises from the tumult, ie: the Dome is actually the poem itself.
In literature today, there is pretty much no, real no-go
areas for writers of any gender, orientation, age group or religious background
to explore. I am in favour of this occurrence. The global world is shoved down
our throats 24/7 and I know a lot of poets feel the same as I do, that we have
a right, if not a responsibility to respond to this new over saturated world.
And Amanda certainly does that, with quite expert hands. She takes on a trip of
emotional expeniture. Ranging from the first contact between Europeans and
Aboriginals, the wreckage of Fukishima and of Cyclone Yasi, to our own shopping
centres and suburban gardens and to marvel at the ‘Saturn’s rings’ of a
thousand-year-old tree. She shares with us her own wonderment of our capacity
for seeing, remembering, grieving and joy. This is a collection of wide scope,
a path with many turns which constantly asks the reader to go just a little
further every time.
First Boats is a prime example of the way Amanda builds up
images with a simple yet refined way we find ourselves longing for
understanding and being filled with compassion and I think a lot of shame.
January 18, 1788
they sail across our waters
they sail across our ancestors
hair the hue of sand dunes,
skin white as a sea eagle’s belly
thin second skins sheathe
their arms, legs, torsos
the colours of billowing sea,
moon and dead eucalypt bark
sun-like rocks decorate their
chests in long vertical lines
shiny skins blackened, moulded
to shape their feet that now step
from bulky canoes; we wave spears
above our heads: warra warra wai
where are your message sticks
they look upon us as they look upon
the mangrove trees, without seeing
this rainbow serpent will form a
second world on our mountains,
our waterways and forests – full with
spirit – though they brand it as bare
they stride across our land
they stride across our souls.
This poem was Highly Commended in the 2011,Julie Lewis Biennial
Literarary awards, presented at the Peter Cowan Writer’s Centre in Western
Australia.The judging poet was Kevin Gillam and it was one of eleven poems
shortlisted from the 212 entries. There are more poems I could discuss here but
then if I did that I would be too tempted to post all of them, and you would
have no real need to buy this lovely book and Amanda would be very cross with
What intrigues me the most with Amanda is her own sense of
style in her verse. She uses concetre imagery, and allows that imagery to speak
for itself, she doesn’t illustrate the point she is trying to make by hitting
you over the head repeatidly with the metaphor until you are dull. She uses all
of her stylistic and versification weapons, admirably and doesn’t seperate the
reader from the unravelling mystery in our heads. We are with the writer, the
entire length of every poem, this is more like a greatest hits album from a
singer than a debut album, almost every poem is a gold record that is
critically acclaimed. There is an upsurge in the Melbourne Spoken Word scene
and indeed in most Poetry Scenes, I think of trying to make poetry more
mainstream, more sales, from a desperate readership looking for truth in an
over saturated world. I think so many people are sick of reality TV shows,
mindless panel discussion shows and pointless politicians, if Poetry in
Australia is to move into the mainstream of Art and Entertainment where it
belongs, it will be the poetry of Amanda Anastasi, I think that will be the
first beginings of said movement.
Amanda’s poetry also works if you are new to poetry, or you
want to give someone not very familiar with poetry, or with Australia as it is
today, their very first book of contemporary Australian verse. This is a direct
writer-reader response experience on the page, it will leave you wandering and
thinking for hours after you have one piece, or two or three lines, but that is
the beauty of good art, once it leaves the hands of it’s creator it constructs
its own world and views, images, emotional complexity around whoever is willing
to take the first steps of the journey. After all, beauty and poetry—beautiful,
instense poetry is not just in the eye of the beholder, it’s also reponses to
the beholder’s heart.
Amanda is also very passionate about new and emerging writers. She is always there to lend a helpful and supportive ear and is someone who is very well beloved and trusted, from what I can see in the Melbourne Poetry community.
She is the one who
re-introduced me to the Performance Poetry scene in Melbourne, at Passionate
Tongues, at the Brunswick Hotel. So we are friends and colleagues, but my
opinions of her work are not reflected or maintained by my friendship with her.
I would hold these views regardless if we were friends of not.
For more information on how to purchase a copy of this
tantalizing collection please visit: http://poetryamanda.blogspot.com.au/
Amanda Anastasi’s Biographay:
After completing her arts degree at Deakin University,
Amanda shed her former conservative self to embrace independent thought. She
started a piano tuition business, Virtuoso Music, through which she teaches up
to sixty students a week, runs recitals and performs at the occasional
function. Although she had majored in writing at uni, it wasn’t until 2009/10
that Amanda threw herself into the wonderful world of words. In 2009 she was
surprised to find herself shortlisted in the Page Seventeen Poetry Competition.
This gave birth to an insatiable poetry monster, and Amanda subsequently had
poems published in many Australian and international anthologies and magazines.
She was even more astonished to find herself the winner of the 2010 Seagull
Poetry Prize at the Williamstown Literary Festival, with a poem concerned with
asylum seeker issues. Amanda often drops in at Passionate Tongues or The Dan
O’Connell readings to perform her work.
Amanda has also recently begun working and performing a very extraordinary collaboration with Steve Smart, Composer Yvette Audain and Violinist Sarah Curro on Loop City.
Venue: Deakin Edge Federation Square, Melbourne, Vic, 3000, Australia
November 9, 2013
November 9, 2013
Loop City - Fed Square Performance and Album Launch Promo # 2