2013 Guest Poets
The poems, performances or readings featured on this page remain the copyright property of the individual poets. 

Eleanor Jackson 
and Doubting Thomas

Eleanor Jackson: 
Two-time winner of the Midsumma Poetry Out Loud slam and recent National Poetry Slam finalist, Eleanor has featured at the Overload Poetry, Queensland Poetry, Sydney Writers, Melbourne Writers, Brisbane Writers, Anywhere Theatre and Woodford Folk festivals.
Her audio poems have been published in Overland Journal,  Going Down Swinging and the Cordite Poetry Review, while recordings of her work have been featured on RRR’s “Aural Text”, 3CR’s “Spoken Word”, ABC Radio National’s “Night Air” and the online poetry channel, “IndieFeed: Performance Poetry”. Her video poetry collaboration with Doubting Thomas “Just before you died” was the winner of the Queensland Poetry Festival Filmmakers Challenge in 2012 and has been featured on Wunce Magazine and Slam TV.
She is the co-creator of several extended poetry works, having collaborated with fellow poet Betsy Turcot as The Belles of Hell and with multi-disciplinary artist, Doubting Thomas. These works include the two-woman poetry dialogue, She Stole My Every Rock and Roll; an audio visual remix and tribute to Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, DJ Thought Fox vs MC Lady Lazarus; and Chosen Family, which premiered in 2013.  She is currently working on an audio installation of poetry works for the Exist performance art program at Metro Arts.

Thomas Day: 
thomas a. day is a mulit-disciplinary artist. As a spoken word performer he has shared work widely throughout Australia as a solo artist and as a member of collectives, including feature appearances at the Woodford Folk, Queensland Poetry, Brisbane and Brisbane Fringe festivals. In 2011, he was winner of the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup for a performance critiquing the nature of charity under Capitalism.

Thomas' current practice involves a number of ongoing collaborative projects, including Noknowthing Films, which promotes creative experimentation with poetry and film; Carrion Gyre, an audio/visual collaboration which generates new works using salvaged technologies; and live visual collage and projection work with digitally-mangled, electro-acoustic free-jazz trio Feet Teeth.
Visit Thomas on the web here.

MC Lady Lazarus vs DJ Thought Fox is a thirty-five minute exploration of the poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, interpreted through the lens of two contemporary poets, Eleanor Jackson and Doubting Thomas. Combining music, visuals and commentary ranging from the deeply personal, articulately obscure and the lovingly plagiarized the show is as much an experiment in how to read a poem as a pie-eyed, whistle-stop biography of two great poets. The show premiered in 2012 as a part of the Queensland Poetry Festival showcase, Storm and Honey, before being featured as a part of Un-required reading in the Brisbane Fringe Festival and travelling to Sydney for another incarnation in the iconic art-space, Hibernium House. In 2013, it featured at the Art, Not Apart Festival in Canberra.

Sandy Holmes
Sandy suffers from a bad case of poetic licence. She indulges in excessive alliteration, dubious double entendre, ridiculous rhymes and questionable content. Sandy’s quirky works dance across ridiculous and sometimes serious content. She writes relentless wordy verse exploring the apparently universal themes in diverse topics; Morris Dancing, performance anxiety, fishing, OH&S, birth, sex and social etiquette are all subject to Sandy’s mischievous observations. 

Sandy grew up in seventies suburban Sydney, reciting Banjo Patterson and singing Slim Dusty songs. She was “saved from the suburbs” with the discovery of PACT Theatre, an experimental youth theatre in the city. She attended drama workshops, performed and later directed no-budget productions with PACT, supplementing her income by traditional theatre-workers means of childcare and bar-work. 

Motherhood prompted a move to the Blue Mountains in the early 90s, where Sandy now works in ecotourism, MCs at festivals, runs a children’s choir and recites poetry. In 2012 she produced her first anthology; ‘Sandy versus Sandy: A Bad Case of Poetic Licence’. 

“It was my childhood aspiration to recite on Young Talent Time. I’ve always loved poetry, especially rhyming verse. Poetry makes stories accessible, especially when it’s rich with honesty and humour. Spike Milligan, Roger McGough and Pam Ayres were my early inspirations. I’ve been a writer and talker throughout my life, but I listen too. That’s how I uncover stories.”  

OH&S Gone Mad (aka The New Act or The National Prophecy) 

OH&S gone mad they say? What lies and exaggerations!
Though it’s true that the festival has had to make a few trifling modifications

OH&S isn’t over the top but we care for wellbeing and health 
And festival-goers, you’ve shown us for years that you cannot take care of yourself

So I’ll just explain a few changes this year and I trust that you will understand 
It’s just for your safety a few of the things that we used to enjoy here are banned

It’s clear now that dancing is very high risk: you may trip and be injured and sue us 
And the festival team need to demonstrate clearly that legally you can’t pursue us

So we know in the past that you all had a blast as you tangoed and danced for the crowd 
But Belly Dance, polka, step, square, Latin, Morris and Contra are no more allowed

We have had to ban strings: banjos, uke’s, mandolins, for we simply can’t manage the risk 
Of duelling guitars against fiddles and harps, though I’m confident they won’t be missed

I am sorry to say that we’ve lost the ‘P.A’s, due to serious risk to your hearing 
So performers will all be unplugged, hippy style: we trust you will find it endearing

As we cannot enforce you to sing with good pitch and flat notes are painfully dire 
We’ve had to ban singing; my ears are still ringing from last year’s intolerable choir

Drumming of all forms is definitely out whether tabla or bodhran or snare 
In fact drummers themselves are no longer accepted: the hazards are too great to bear

I fear when I tell you the next bit it well could see festival audience shrinking 
But let’s make it clear: we have had to ban beer...whisky, wine, in fact all forms of drinking

I’m sure that the ban on the alcohol really needs little or no explanation 
Though one or two other ‘deleted lines’ may cause some consternation

I’m sorry there won’t be hot coffee this year, I’m sorry you think this rule stinks 
But audience members may well lose their grip and we can’t have you wearing hot drinks

We won’t have the food stalls or markets this year: the hazards are simply too great 
Of food poisoning, diarrhoea, bad breath, cholesterol, allergies, putting on weight

Vomiting, additives, hygiene and food handling, well-managed food waste disposal 
So bring your own gluten and nut-free delights is the festival menu proposal

We’ve sadly no stages in case they collapse, another unfortunate fact 
And banished the bands as you would understand: all the noise and the crowds they attract

We’ve built a big fence though we mean no offence but we can’t let you loose in the dark 
And we haven’t banned cars, though except for the stars, you’ll find nowhere at all you can park

But we’re confident this year the festival will be the best one we’ve ever held yet 
And we hope that you all have a blast of a time and the talent is hard to forget

The program is up and the tickets on sale, please help us let everyone know it 
This year the festival line-up comprises of one unplugged rhyming bush poet.

Aidan Coleman
Aidan Coleman is a speechwriter and co-author of a series of Shakespeare textbooks. His first book Avenues & Runways was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Kenneth Slessor Prize and his work was recently included in Australian Poetry Since 1788. His latest collection Asymmetry is published by Brandl & Schlesinger.

Victor Harbor  
For Abbie & Dan

The evening is 
garrulous where I am 
quiet; like contentment, 
like envy.  

I practice my sounds 
when the house 
is empty. As dusk draws 
the water closer, 

the town is raised  
to glittering heaps.  
The sea is the place 
to take your losses:  

how it connects 
and the dead are there. 
At night the house fights 
with itself. My sleep 

fails at every angle.  
The pine outside 
my window has a thousand 
snowflake hands. 

Midday I jog 
the gum of the surf, 
stumble beneath 
the weight of a body. 

Michael Sharkey
On leaving school, I commenced training as a science teacher but left to work in a publisher’s warehouse for 3 years. I worked for two in the Commonwealth public service and completed a BA degree at Sydney University, where I worked for two years before departing to New Zealand. Auckland University awarded me a PhD in 1976 for a dissertation on Byron’s dramatic poetry. I taught at a succession of universities (Auckland, New England, Victoria University of Technology, Bond University, and again New England – from 1992 until I quit the position as Associate Professor of English and Communication in 2010). I also taught at several universities in Europe and China; my field is Australian and American Literature, English composition and Rhetoric. I have also worked for a photographic company (Agfa-Gevaert) and a recording company (Vanguard).

I have published poetry since 1969; my first collection appeared in 1978, and my work has appeared in periodicals, newspapers and anthologies in Australia and overseas. Many poems have been translated into other languages, and many appear on the Internet (e.g., Poetry Archive (UK), the Poetry Foundation (USA) and lyrikline (Germany). My poems have been translated into half a dozen languages, and provided libretto for composers (e.g. Rolf Gehlhaar’s Waiting For Rain: Ten Songs to Poems by Michael Sharkey (Feedback Studio Verlag, Köln, 1998)

For several years I was coordinating editor of Ulitarra literary magazine, and I have guest-edited other journals. In addition to poems, I have published biographical essays in Australia and New Zealand, critical articles on literary topics, and several hundred book reviews. I also edited an anthology of Australian humour for Oxford University Press in 1988, and several collections of other people’s poetry. The Austlit database lists over 760 of my Australian publications. 

I have conducted poetry and writing workshops for educational, cultural and poetry organisations, including the several library groups, the South Coast Writers Centre and Australian Poetry. I was chairman of the New England Writers Centre from 1993 to 2011. 

My biography Apollo in George Street: The Life of David McKee Wright (poet and journalist] was published by Puncher & Wattmann in 2012, and I have completed an introduction to the ‘Signatures’ photographs of John Fields for Galerie Langman (Wellington, New Zealand). I currently write poetry and edit a collection of Australian civilian women’s World War One poetry. 

My latest collection (Another Fine Morning in Paradise) was awarded the Grace Leven Prize in 2013. 

The ABC Radio program ‘Poetica’ featured my poetry in November 2012. 


In each photograph I see
what captured me
when I first looked at you
and saw
time stopped: 
I nearly died. 

Since when,
I'm echo to myself.
When you're away
each day's the same
as yesterday:
tomorrow is the blank page
in a diary, never touched;  

without you
all music 
would be late quartets and blues:
there'd be no news
to fuel poems:
paintings would hang down
their heads in shame.

Without you
I'd live with just one heart
and without art:
elegies would speak
of nothing else,
the birds would sing
and I would not.

Darkwing Dubs (aka Scott Sneddon)

After years of performing and being involved in theatre shows, hip-hop crews, poetry collectives, bands, beatmaking and DJing, Darkwing Dubs has come to the fore as one of Brisbane’s most exciting and dynamic performers. With a wry sense of humour, tongue in cheek observations of the world and a little bit of earnest ear bashing, his performance poetry has allowed him to travel across the country as a word-smith with the best of them.

After a standing ovation (and an ice cream) at BADSLAM!NOBISCUIT! in Canberra 2012, a mind blowing performance at TEDxYouth Brisbane 2011, winning the 2012 Bellingen Poetry Slam and being a finalist for the third year in a row at the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup, Dubs is clearly a force to be reckoned with.
He’s heavily involved with the Brisbane slam poetry community as host of Jam Jar Poetry Slam, the 2012 QLD Poetry Slam and 2012 Queensland Poetry Festival Slam. He also contributes to the ever-changing face of poetry by facilitating workshops at schools and community groups. 

In July 2012 he hosted workshops for students at Ascot State School and Mabel Park State School, from Prep to Grade 7, as well as workshops throughout rural QLD as part of the QLD Poetry Festival Roadshow with Zenobia Frost and Steve Smart.

Check out clips of Scott performing his poems below!

Bennelong’s Ghost


For more Darkwing Goodness, check out his blog.

Lisa Jacobson
Lisa Jacobson is an award-winning poet and fiction writer on Thursdays and Fridays. The rest of the time she is a mother, creative writing tutor, community arts consultant and youth worker. Jobs skills so far include how to give birth, revive a poem, make paper lanterns and avoid getting punched in the head. Her verse novel, The Sunlit Zone, was published by Five Islands Press in 2012. This book was recently shortlisted for the new and glittering Stella Prize, The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Poetry, the Wesley Michel Wright Poetry Prize and, as a manuscript, for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. In 2011 she won the Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize. Her work has been published in Australia, Indonesia, London and New York, and is represented in Heinemann’s Best Short Stories (UK) and Peter Porter’s The Oxford Book of Modern Australian Verse. Her poem, ‘Girls and Horses in the Fires,’ was the epigraph for Adrian Hyland’s book on the Black Saturday bushfires, Kinglake 350. And she recently completed a new poetry collection with the assistance of an Australia Council grant. She lives with her partner, her daughter and a golden labrador in Melbourne. 

Check out Lisa’s website here.

Extract from The Sunlit Zone

Part 2: Salt
Angler’s Bay, 2020

Designer embryos had been novelties,
expensive options for the privileged
and popular amongst celebrities
until a local company slashed
the cost for each firstborn
and threw in a new electric Ford.
Dream Genes was spawned.
Wistful parents could tick a box
and order in a child who would excel
in law, be strong or fast or just pretty
like little Cello Green next door,
born three months before Finn and me.
She got her face on a swag of zines.

Dream Babies, they called them on iTV.
Fertility Clinic and other soaps like this
sprang up quickly. On Quantum
and 60 Minutes, the older scientists
thrashed it out with the newest wave
of graduates, already rich on GM profit.
Genetic, Robotic, Nano, InfoTech.
Whatever it was, my mother ignored it.

—What will be, will be, she said.
Richard agreed. Their neighbour, Jo,
was swelling with the neat bundle
of Cello Green. Feline and graceful
were Jo’s requests, with a capacity
for turning heads. Jo left brochures
when she dropped in.
—Read these, Jo said, and rinsed
her cup. There’s a discount for referrals,
ten percent. It’s not too late for you
to select a few last minute prerequisites.
The usual small town telepathy
ensured the news was spread
that Flora had refused all tests,
even the standard ultrasound.
Jo’s brochures lay around until
my mother tossed them
in the Eco Bin.

By December Flora’s breasts
hung pendulous and ached.
Lettuce and spinach made her retch.
Meat gave her heartburn, and chicken.
But salty things, how she craved them:
smoked fish, olives, anchovies.
Salt drove my mother from the house
and out along the tensile wall
that held the sea’s hard logic back.
Down she went towards the shore.
The waves swirled lacily at her feet.
Craving overrode all risk. Furtively,
lest someone see (truant teens, young
retirees), she crammed kelp thickly
in her mouth, washing it down
with salt water and the tears
that assailed her in pregnancy.

Anne Kellas
Writers in Australia who've migrated from English-speaking countries are not often thought of as migrants, but Kellas's themes often address deracination, dislocation and loss. Anne was born into apartheid South Africa, left to live in England, returned to South Africa, left to live in Swaziland and finally migrated to Tasmania in 1986 where she worked in youth research for many years. She now writes full time.She's taught poetry workshops, reviewed books, mentored several poets and has had two collections of poetry published: Poems from Mt Moono (1989) and Isolated States (2001). Her writing blog is North of the Latte Line, and she occasionally tweets at @TWS_TAS  Her most recent poetry collection is being set to music for performance in 2014.

Portrait of A Pianist
Cape Peninsula, 1975

Valda Führ gets up from the piano, 
Mozart in her hair. 
Outside his cottage, overlooking the Atlantic, 
her ancient father sits in his deck chair, rocking. 
Mozart, ah yes, he cries. As he watches her move.

Silhouetted against the afternoon light, 
she opens out her arms to the glass-green waves, 
her blonde hair streaming in the southeaster’s blasting 
her dress raging about her like a black flag in the wind. 
She stands there like a figurehead, letting the world unfurl.

Eyes smarting from the wind.
– She has played the sonata so finely,
her father calls to me through tears. 
Far below, a spray of rainbows flies back from the waves 
combed by the wind.

All I can think of is my paper dolls, 
of how we'd played and played with them as children 
in our dingy 1950’s mining town 
so far inland, so long ago, 
and how I’d lost them, 
cycling home from Valda’s 
how they’d fallen into oily rainbows in the rain.

Andy White
Singer-songwriter and author Andy White carries a 12-string guitar under his arm and wears his particular brand of charm on his sleeve. With the political edge of Billy Bragg, the romance of David Gray and the Celtic lyricism of the Waterboys, Andy is a fully paid up 21st Century Troubadour (and that’s the title of his journal-memoir, recently published by Lagan Press in Ireland).

Belfast born and raised, White has earned a global following for blending folk and pop stylings with a poet’s sensibility. Working with the great names of Irish music - Sinead O’Connor, Donal Lunny, Van Morrison - and writing with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Neil and Tim Finn, Andy has won Ireland’s top songwriting awards and toured the world many times over.

Since his first album Rave On Andy White, recorded in a field in Northern Ireland, Andy has been produced by top producers John Leckie and Kim Fowley, recorded in studios from Real World in the UK to Australia and Canada, along the way writing many songs now engrained in the Irish psyche – including ‘Religious Persuasion’, ‘James Joyce’s Grave’ and ‘Street Scenes From My Heart’.

Andy’s latest release is a double CD ‘album of the book’ set, also entitled 21st Century Troubadour (Floating World). The first CD is a collection of songs mostly taken from his last four solo albums – including favourites ‘If You Want It’, ‘Italian Girls On Mopeds’ and ‘Travelling Circus’ - and all referred to in the book of the same name.

The second album is what Andy describes as an ‘audio book with a soundtrack’. Six readings set to music, a bebop poem from his second volume of poetry Stolen Moments (Another Lost Shark Press, 2011) and a brand title song for the double album set.

Andy’s work as a writer and poet is closely linked to his songwriting output. He’s been described as writing in the tradition of the Spanish troubadour poets and the Beats, yet he retains a strong classical sensibility. Perhaps a hangover from the trauma suffered during his years at Cambridge, studying under the post-structuralists.

As a performer, as well as playing solo, Andy has collaborated with like-minded friends, musicians and writers both in the past – ALT with Liam O Maonlai (Hothouse Flowers) and Tim Finn (Crowded House, Split Enz) – and the present – Fearing & White with Canadian singer-songwriter Stephen Fearing.

Andy is a singer-songwriter of and for our times, documenting the world and its current chaos and beauty with remarkable insight. As he says in ‘I Decided To Fly’, wherever he is, with an acoustic guitar in his hand, he’s still “blowing bubbles on the Lisburn Road.”

For more information about Andy and his work, visit his website.