Book Launch and Poetry Reading | Best of Australian Poems 2022

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending the book launch and poetry reading for the anthology ‘Best of Australian Poems 2022’. This is the second in it’s series, an anthology from the national poetry organisation Australian Poetry (AP) that celebrates Australian poets and their poetry.

…Best of Australian Poems 2022 strives to bring together 100 of Australia’s most poignant, original, and challenging works…

Best of Australian Poems 2022, Jeanie Leane and Judith Beveridge (ed.) – Foreword, pg. V

The night was an absolute delight to attend, and was an example of how wonderful the creative minds of Australian poets can be. Several of the poets chosen in the anthology were selected to read their featured poem. There was such a wide range of poetry forms read throughout the evening, and all poems were engaging and thought provoking.

I ended up purchasing both the collections for 2021 and 2022 and I am really looking forward to being able to take the time to read through them both over the weekend. So expect a possible post about them in more detail soon. From what I heard on Tuesday night, these will be very enlightening reads.

Collectively the poetry in this book tells an important part of Australia’s story.

Best of Australian Poems 2022, Jeanie Leane and Judith Beveridge (ed.) – Foreword, pg. IX

With the quality of Australian poets and poetry displayed on Tuesday evening, I will certainly be attending the book launch for the next anthology from Australian Poetry.

(A Belated) Hello to 2023!

Each year I think I should to a ‘first post’ for the year, and without fail, I manage to forget. Then suddenly there is one week left of January and I am back in the swing of, well, life (and all my old forgetful habits), as if the ‘new year‘ is an alien concept that I can’t quite remember.

So here we are – hello 2023!

I have some exciting plans in mind both for this website, and in terms of my publishing goals for the year. This includes a more regular posting schedule for my book reviews and my other writing projects. As well as some new writing projects for the year.

I am also hoping to set up a newsletter later in the year to coincide with a possible hardback re-release of my poetry collection. (So keep an eye out for that, as I will post more about that later!) The newsletter would include more about my writing process as well as updates for future publications with Tea & Books Press.

Let me know if there is anything you’d like to see more of here, or if you have any book recommendations you can use the ‘Contact’ page on the site. To finish, bring on 2023, and I wish you all the best in the new year!

Melbourne Writers Festival 2022

I was lucky enough this year to be able to get tickets to this years Melbourne Writers Festival – an utterly fabulous, and finally in person (after two years online) annual event. Perchance, I was scheduled on the night shift this past weekend so during the day I could book myself into various Writers Festival events and leave myself completely exhausted by Sunday night. Totally worth it though!

Thurs 8th Sept – ‘The Boy in the Dress’ – Author Jonathan Butler in conversation with Yves Rees

This was such a wonderful start to the week. Butler talked about his debut book – part memoir, part investigation – which started as an investigation into the murder of a relative in 1944. It was so interesting listening to Butler talk about his research process and the different avenues it took him on over the ten years he was doing so.

Fri 9th Sept – ‘Love, Factually’ – Trent Dalton & Clementine Ford in conversation with Elizabeth McCarthy

Was I expecting to be in tears at 10:30 in the morning? No. Was I in tears though? Big yes! And for the best possible reason too. Love, Factually brought heartfelt stories, life advice, and a lot of laughs into one room. I found the whole conversation both inspiring, and emotional. There was a great, effortless dynamic between the three on the panel which was so interesting to listen to.

Fri 9th Sept – ‘Small Town Thrills’ – JP Pomare and Dinuka McKenzie in conversation with Fi Wright

I’ve always loved books set in small towns, especially crime fiction novels. There is something in the closeness and community that you can only find in a small town that makes crime fiction set there so much more intense. I loved listening to the two authors talk about why they chose small towns as the settings for their novels, and how they went beyond the small town tropes to make it their own. So keen to read their books!

Sat 10th Sept – Talking About a Revolution – Yassmin Abdel-Magied in conversation with Roj Amedi

After a day in the city with a friend of mine, it was great to go to this event in the evening. I listened to Yassmin Abdel-Magied talk quite a few years ago at another Writers Festival in Melbourne and absolutely loved hearing her speak. For this event she was talking about a new collection of essays she has published. As always she was engaging to listen to, and managed to be humorous around the more serious topics of conversation.

Sat 10th Sept – Queerstories – Hosted by Maeve Marsden, with stories from Shane Jenek aka Courtney Act, Krystal De Napoli, CS Pacat, Yves Rees, and Omar Sakr.

Queerstories was the most wonderful end to the festival for me. While I had gone to the writers festival before, I hadn’t attended a Queerstories night before, I am so glad to have now done so. Queerstories asks leading LGBTQI+ voices to share a story they’ve always wanted to tell, but have never been asked to before. This led to a night of both humorous and emotional stories, all told with a strong presence and with heart. I also discovered that there is a Queerstories podcast so I will be giving that a listen to soon!

It really has been such a fun and insightful few days! I am excited to get stated on these books by some of the wonderful people I met.

I’ve realised as well that I have a new goal in my writing: to be one of the people to talk about my writing and my books at one of these writers festivals. It would be amazing!

In the meantime, I will always be booking tickets to these events, as it is always such a fun weekend.

Back to Hogwarts?

I had a bad anxiety night recently which brought about my thought process below. This was mainly because a couple of weeks agao started writing a series of essays in which I would record my thoughts after each reread/rewatch of each Harry Potter instalment then post them here. After everything that has happened recently with JKR I wasn’t sure whether to continue with this ‘Back to Hogwarts’ series. I’m still not sure whether I will, but I know I want to continue writing it, so time will tell if I do.

Thank you for reading!

There is a lot being said about the comments J. K. Rowling (JKR) has made recently about transgender and non-binary people. I have a lot of thoughts on this as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and a life long Harry Potter fan.

First I would like to say I in no way believe or support JKR’s thoughts on these topics.

Trans women are women
Trans men are men
Non-binary people are valid

There is no question of that.

I have been trying to work out how to process all of this as I have been a Harry Potter fan for most of my life. When I say ‘most’ I mean it too. That is almost 25 years minus the two years it hadn’t even been published, minus the years before Mum started reading me the first book. So make that 18 years give or take of devotion to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Out of out of almost 25 years, that’s quite a few.

Not only are the Harry Potter books a large part of the reason why I am such an avid reader, but they are also a large part of the reason why I started writing too. So aside from the actual story itself, HP has already formed a large part of who I am and what I do. This was even before I realised I was queer, and I had embraced that part of my identity as well. I’m not saying that books, writing, and my queerness are all I am, but they do make up a large part of my identity. So when these parts of my identity converge in a negative way, I can’t help but feel torn. I am hurt, and I am angry, and all because the person who created something I love has spoken out in such a way which is extremely harmful to others. It is because of this that I am finding it difficult to work out how to respond so that I stay loyal to my community, as well as the books (not the person) that contributed so strongly to my identity.

Beyond this question of books, writing, and identity, there is a question of how much the text itself has informed me as a person. For me, the books themselves have always presented me with the ideas of love, inclusion, and accepting yourself for you are. Harry Potter also taught me about friendship, family, and loss. Those books also influenced my ideas on courage, perseverance, and doing what is right even when it isn’t the easiest option. Don’t get me wrong, my parents, family and friends taught me a lot of this too, but the positive reinforcement of those values within the Harry Potter books definitely helped. It is this I think which has helped to create a morality battle in my mind over this whole situation, and so begs this question be asked:

Is it possible for me to still talk about Harry Potter and the wizarding world so enthusiastically while I know that the woman behind that world has such harmful views?

With how much I love the Harry Potter books it may seem like I think that JKR’s writing, the world she created, and the books themselves are perfect. I don’t. Maybe I did when I was younger and I didn’t know any better, but since then I have studied, I’ve learnt, and I have grown. I don’t think anything can ever really be perfect. With how much I have loved those books, and with how beautiful some of those memories are for me that surround those book, it is hard to extract myself from them.

That is why I won’t be able to cut myself from the Harry Potter world completely, but I don’t think I’ll be able to view them in the same light I used to. I won’t be buying books or merch, unless it is from an independent creator. I will however continue to reread the books and rewatch the films, as the do make me happy, and can be a comfort in my more anxious moments. My patronus is still a Thestral, I am still in Hufflepuff, and I will continue to love and embrace the wizarding world of Harry Potter, all the while keeping in mind and acknowledging its roots.

Poem: Our Dearest George

A couple of days ago we had to say goodbye to our beautiful dog George. Who honestly, has been the sweetest dog in the world! We are so blessed to have had him in our lives, he will be greatly missed! ❤️

On the suggestion from my younger sister that I write something, in typical Anna style, I wrote a poem. So here goes:

I’ve never met a sweeter soul,
Than that of dear old George.
A deep strong bond with all of us,
Was one that he did forge.

I’ll tell you a story of sweetest George,
From when he was a pup.
We took him to a puppy school,
Before he could grow up.

We expected days out in the park,
Teaching him to be good.
But the way that things turned out,
He’d learnt before we could.

“This pup just wants to please you!”
Was what the trainer said.
So on day two, I’ll have you know,
We took him home instead.

This ball of fluff was playful,
He’d run and skid on tiles.
When he really wanted,
He’d leave fluffy rugs in piles.

He’d steal the empty milk bottles,
To run around the house.
Getting stuck under the couches,
Unlike a quiet mouse.

Then he’d get real sleepy,
As puppies always do.
So he’d curl up on his fluffy mat,
Then become the mat too.

There was a game we played while walking,
‘Twas much like hide and seek.
One of us ran down the path,
While one made sure he’d not peek.

We’d ask him then “Where did she go?”
So he’d run ahead with glee.
He’d run then stop then sniff around,
To ask “Where could they be?”

He’d always find us soon enough,
And jump around and bark.
For him and us observers,
This game was quite a lark.

We’d take him to the beach sometimes,
Which would usually go to plan.
He’d run along the shore with us,
Or stick his nose in the sand.

But then we would go swimming,
While he stayed on the shore.
He’d bark and whine and worry,
That we were there no more.

Sometimes then he’d swim out,
To heard us in to shore.
He’d no longer have to worry,
If we did swim no more.

Once we took him kayaking,
We thought it’d be a plus.
But he sat between us lazing back,
With the work all left to us.

Then as he got older,
He matured quite bit.
Whenever we left the house,
The front porch he’d wait and sit.

I also do remember,
When he was knocking over bins.
Sure was the more annoying,
Of the playful doggie sins.

This was a result I think,
Of him always being so good.
He’d simply skipped the rebellious stage,
Of all dogs puppyhood.

Older still he did get slower,
Our walks were not as long.
He’d sit on the back patio with us,
And listen to the evening song.

He’d follow you around the house,
And lie where you would stay.
But he never did tire of the walks,
At the start of every day.

He always was a sweetie,
There’s no question of that.
I knew he’d always listen,
When I was feeling flat.

But now it’s time,
His soul must rest.
Our Georgie boy,
You are the best.

So, dearest George,
We’ll really miss your comfort,
Your unconditional love.
You’ll always have a place in our hearts,
When you reside above.

EDIT: I just got a call from Mum saying George was actually in ‘Pre-Puppy School’ for more like 15 mins, before the woman said “George doesn’t need to be here, he will do anything you say.” So she took him home again.
Mum just wants everyone to know what a good boy he was! ❤️