Tag Archives: Tiggy Johnson

review of ‘That Zero Year’

Phillip Ellis recently posted a review of ‘That Zero Year‘. Click on over if you have a few minutes. This is my first publication and therefore my first review so I’m pretty stoked Phillip has sat with our poems long enough to write about the collection and collaboration.  Here’s a bit from his review:

That zero year

The nature of this language is uniform between both poets. It can be seen clearly via quotation; the following comes from the final half of “Routine in Grief”:

I sit and wait
for the spoon to drop

try to work out my answer
to the question
that will follow

The language of this poem (and the others) is a pared-back, quiet language. It makes no stylistic flourishes but, rather, sets out its narrative and situation with a minimum of ideolectical qualities. This language is simple, yet not simplistic, emotive yet not emoting, and the poems are all the stronger for this plain-speaking quality.

If you would like to buy a copy of your own. Please send me an email to: piedhilllprawns (at) gmail.com and I’ll send one to you. They’re a great gift for new mum’s and dad’s and for $10 super-affordable too.

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brisbane is friday square library with poetry

You heard me.

This Friday

Alchemy presents: February in Reverie

Tiggy and I are performing our ‘That zero year’ setThat zero year
(including the two-voice poems ‘Options’ and ‘Drowning in three children’)

It’s a conversation of pieces
delving into grief, loss of child, mayhem, escape, home birth and the odd happy moment too.

Friday also throws at you music from Tony Dean and dance from Vivienne VSassy.

Friday 5:30pm – 6:30pm
at Brisbane Square Library
266 George

hope you can make it and say g’day

No, you can’t borrow our book
because we’re in the library

but you can buy it for ten.  

 

The next big thing (for me anyway)


Ashley Capes invited me to continue a self-interview (started by Ivy Alvarez) to talk about my latest book/blog/writing. Cheers Ashley. You will find his own interview about his newly released book between giants hereI’ll now tag five other writers to talk about their writing so stay tuned to hear about them soon.

It thrills me to say that I do have a book to talk about (my first – launched in September this year) and Ashley was the superb editor for it

What is the title of your book?

That zero year – by Tiggy Johnson and myselfThat zero year

What genre does your book fall under?

pOeTrY

and Attempted-Parenting – is that a genre?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s (almost) a conversation of poetic portraits touching on topics of birth, family, love, loss and grief from a husband and wife’s perspective.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The whole thing may have started halfway through a Speedpoets gig in Brisbane. I had just stepped down from the open mic (in fact I may have just read a version of On a hunt for my face) and Tiggy mumbled something about doing a project together.

We wrote the project through 2012 and performed the poems plus a few extras at the 2012 Queensland Poetry Festival, which is also where we launched the book.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

My poems range from early versions in 2010 through to the rigorous on-demand 2012 writing regime demanded by Tiggy, ‘You’ve got to write a response to this poem… now!’

Actually, Tiggy really taught me how to write intentionally on a given subject. That was foreign to me. It’s been a fascinating exercise working together on this project. The majority of work in That zero year is from the past 12 months.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Family.

The death of my son, Isaiah, in 2007 inspired me to start writing in the first place. Writing has been pivotal in helping me process the grief and pain of losing him.

My wife Rebecca, who I get to share this smudge and scream journey of parenting is also a major inspiration to me. And of course my boys, like all children, are able to show me the world through their tears or Tigger-leaping eyes. I love being a dad to Jonah, Isaiah, Noah and Josiah.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Independently published. You can get your hands on one by emailing myself or Tiggy.

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?

My sister has just had her first baby so I’m sending her That zero year along with Graham Nunn’s The first thirty and other poems and Julie Beveridge’s Home{sic} as a Brisbane/Tasmanian taste of parent-oetry.

I’ve also got to mention Nathan Curnow’s The midwife from his latest book RADAR which is a contrast of (un)co-ordinated movements of his own wife catching babies. It’s a piece in praise of midwives, which I’ve also attempted in my poem The home midwife (see below).

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Steve McQueen – because sometimes parenting is sitting in a confined room and throwing a ball against the wall, while plotting escape.

Did I say that aloud? I didn’t really say that did I? Will family services come to get me?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I love how Tiggy’s and my poems weave around a thin narrative from the vastly different perspectives of man and woman. There are topics like death of a child, home birth, marital frustration, burnt hands, hospital rooms, kids on flights, sewing and fishing with kids and breastfeeding at 2am. I hope you get your hands on a copy and enjoy something from it. Here’s The home midwife for you to get a taste.

 

The home midwife

She pulls up in a hatchback
carries a leather case swollen
with years in and out of waters

a little vial of rose oil
and herbs transferred through bellyskin
to help the body yawn.

She walks down a hallway
to brew a pot of raspberry leaf
fennel, stinging nettle

and chats between the heavy breathing
makes a joke about stir frying the placenta
but doesn’t laugh.

No phone code or knife sharpening
for spine on spine, head up bottom down
or umbilical wrapped around the neck

she has whispering hands;
chinese point massage to coach
an aquatic half somersault
and unfurl the ribbon.

She reads faces too
guides a father’s hands
to be in on the magic of catching skin
slippery as water

it’s a black art
to let a baby happen
in your living room.

Now here’s something we hope you’ll really like.

Brisbane poetry seems to be bubbling at the moment. Performances happening everywhere (i’m missing one tonight I really wanted to be at).

Words or Whatever is coming up very soon and you won’t want to miss this one. If you hop over to Eleanor J Jackson you’ll find a great write up about my That zero year partner-in-crime, Tiggy Johnson. Check it out: When I was seventeen

By the way, if you want a copy of That zero year ($10), send me an email at: piedhillprawns(at)gmail.com 

That zero year

That zero year is the publication of work Tiggy and I have collaborated on over the past year. It deals with all things parenting and kids, hits raw nerves in places and I’m stoked to be placing it out there for readers to enjoy. I love what these three brilliant poets have to say and feel truly blessed to have their words donning the back cover: 

From the sudden weight of Thirteen weeks to the biting complaints of Fishing, That zero year screams with joy. These poems form a dialogue of love and loss; unpicking stitches in the family weave to welcome us to the bedside table of these most private moments. Here, we witness breath-taking devastation – the missing knee in the chest, the remembered rub of a belly – and wide-eyed wonder – a smile wriggled through to the toes. That zero year is an unflinching celebration of breath and blood. Phillips and Johnson know what it is to be alive and we are richer for it.

Graham Nunn

This collection is like an unsuspecting orientation manual, uniting what appears to be uncomplicated materials, recognisable motifs, familiar situations and mapped out structures but, in all reality, holds the weight of ten sinking cities and leads me back to that Talking Heads lyric, ‘how did I get here?’

Pascalle Burton

As reflections on domestic life and the intimacy of family, these are fine poems. But as portraits of loss, love, and grief, and of what happens in the months and years that follow tragedy, they are vivid, unflinching, and beautiful.

Michelle Dicinoski

The book will be available for purchase at the QPF bookshop this weekend. We will be performing our set on Sunday morning so if you’re around Brisbane, we would love to see you there – 11am at Judith Wright Centre and here’s a taste of what you’ll get if you pick up a copy of That zero year.

The home midwife

She pulls up in a hatchback,
carries her leather case swollen
with years in and out of waters

a little vial of rose oil
and herbs transferred through bellyskin
to help the body yawn.

She walks down a hallway
to brew a pot of raspberry leaf,
fennel, singing nettle

and chats between the heavy breaths,
makes a joke about stir frying the placenta
but doesn’t laugh.

No phone code or knife sharpening
for spine on spine, head up bottom down
or umbilical wrapped around the neck

she has whispering hands;
chinese point massage to coach
an aquatic half somersault
and unfurl the ribbon.

She reads faces too
guides a father’s hands
to be in on the magic of catching skin
slippery as water

it’s a black art
to let a baby happen
in your living room.

Call-Back-Poet! Yeewwww!

SpeedpoetsSpeedpoets Call-Back-Poet

Hop over to the Speedpoets website to check out my new poem ‘The home midwife’ I read at Speedpoets open mic last month. I was stoked to be called back up to the mic again to read a couple more poems. August Speedpoets happens this Saturday 4th at Brew, 2pm.

QPF Interview

The Queensland Poetry Festival is just around the corner. You’ll find the interview with Tiggy and I over at the Queensland Poetry Festival website. Click on ‘Program’ to find all the brilliant artists performing at QPF later this month. I hope you come along to enjoy the weekend festival of words and sounds.  It’ll be spectacular.