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Jul. 21st, 2013

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my paper went live last night! Volume 3 Issue 1 - check it out!

Nov. 2nd, 2011

“Le Mans & the manuscript” - my judge's report for NP17

“Le Mans & the manuscript”
Kate Deller-Evans
New Poets 17 Judge’s report delivered 1 November 2011 SAWC Rundle Mall
Why your poem is like a car
The spark from your plug
at just the right moment.

Your valves fan air & fuel
expel exhaust:
compress, combust, seal.

When your piston moves
oil’s kept from the sump
or, like Icarus you’d burn, be lost.

Without a connecting rod
your crankshaft won’t rotate
there’ll be no Jack springing from any box
or tricks from any toolkit trade.

So your poem is like a car
kitted out for the endurance race
to rally throughout the day
and all through the night.

I speak figuratively for a purpose. My simile brings me to expand why poems are like cars into why poetry collections are like car races, or particularly, Le Mans. And the reason is simple; it’s that key word: endurance.
I speak of the effort of writing a manuscript – not the process of judging. For, like a sports commentator, I’m passionate about that job and it was a pleasure, not a chore.
This is for the NP17 competitors who entered the field. Like a Le Mans start, they lined up, sprinted into their cars, jumped in and took off. For those of you unfamiliar with my motorsport metaphor, I’ll briefly fill you in:
Begun in France, 1923, Le Mans is the oldest sports car race in the world. It’s also known as “the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency” where teams have to balance speed against the cars’ ability to run 24 hours straight. What counts, is the way fuel, tyres, and brakes are maintained. Drivers rotate shifts two-hourly with three drivers to each competing car.
So much for Le Mans – I think there are three things I like about my comparison - firstly, is its continuous nature – this is unlike drag racing, for a manuscript there is no quick sprint, it takes unremitting thought. Secondly, it’s not just round and round like NASCAR – you need to be more varied than stock variety – and keep prepared with a variety of tools and strategies, where your manuscript is not the same throughout, but is full of surprises, and thirdly, it’s not so cross-country as rally – though maybe a full collection for a book is as tough as the Paris – Dakar in a Kamaz truck, but a la Le Mans, is a first manuscript in a shared collection like NP17.
You’ll remember what was needed: fuel, tyres, braking.
Fuel – you need the resource to make the poem ‘go’. It’s not just gas, it’s combustible – able to be sparked into ignition – and go the distance. Some poems fizzle, splutter, and don’t really leave the starting line. Some peter out before the end – the race fuel was not conserved properly, not paced, and the juice ran out before the end.
Tyres – you need traction, and for the rubber to last, not shred before the end. Some poems are too slick, others too deeply grooved. Like your choice of tyre for climatic conditions, your poetry manuscript must suit its competition.
Finally, braking – knowing when to apply pressure, to adjust to the corners a poem might through up – a curve, a hilltop – a collection must encompass all the topography and know how and when to stop.
As I do now, to announce my selection. I commend all the entrants and thank you for the thoughts and emotions you presented me. I feel privileged. I’d like to particularly note four special mentions: manuscripts entitled ‘Guerilla Poet’, ‘Buttons on my dress’, ‘A Tourist without a Map’, and ‘The Spaces in Between’. To each of the contestants unsuccessful tonight, I encourage you to keep honing your craft and to resubmit in future years.
For the three winning publication in NP17, I’m very excited to announce the manuscripts: ‘Fence Music’, ‘Gunyah Healing’, and ‘Sliding down the belly of the world’. I can’t wait to see the book in print and look forward to its launch next year – it will be a strong collection and everyone here will want to buy multiple copies.
Thank you

Sep. 19th, 2011

my poem 'Nonfiction' for Steve posted on Casey-Cardinia Library 'Wall of Poems'

reading Ron Brooks' 'Drawn from the Heart'

usually not much of a memoir reader, but have taught 'Fox', 'Old Pig' & 'John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat' - so when Steve borrowed this from the library, I bagsed it first. It's clearly written by an illustrator, - a man of his age - will post notes about creative process from it

Drawn from the Heart

Macbeth review

University of Adelaide Theatre Guild


DON’T miss this thrilling production of an always-relevant play. Macbeth is bookended with battle scenes, and the final big-stick duel comes down to visceral hand-to-hand combat that is a breath-taking pleasure to perceive. Which isn’t to say it’s all about the men – women star, too, and in ascendance is Amanda Shillabeer as Lady Macbeth. You won’t be able to take your eyes from her whenever she’s on stage.

Directed by Michael Eustice, this small staging grows as exponentially as Macbeth’s vaulting aspirations. It’s easy to see how ambition overtakes the victorious Thane following portents by the three witches, as it’s clear the relationship between husband and wife is passionate, with each flaming the other’s designs.

Brant Eustice as Macbeth has the gravitas of a home-grown Kenneth Branagh. His enunciation is clear and uncluttered with pretention, and he is thoroughly engaging as he seeks an ever-more-bloody grip over Scotland’s throne.

The staging is lively and energetic but not carried away senselessly; rather it is filled with the senses – lighting is pivotal, sound is significant throughout. Bird song and more often the noise of sinister things, like bats, provides unease, in addition to the thrumming of drums, muffled heartbeat, banging doors, or grind as if of gears from mega-carriers rallying in the Dakar.

The entire cast clearly enjoy their roles, right down to the “little ones”, with father Macduff, Simon Davey, deserving particular attention in his physically confronting efforts. He’s handsome, to boot, a bit like David Campbell picking a fight.

At Little Theatre, The Cloisters, University of Adelaide, August 9-13 and 16-20.

Buried child review

DRIP-DROP, drip-drop, shall I at least set my lands in order? Hats off to Ron Haddrick in a major play you won’t want to miss. This veteran actor’s performance as Dodge marries the frail vulnerability of age and dependency with incoherent, deep-seated resentment which rises sharply to the fore.

Like TS Eliot’s Fisher King, it’s been a metaphorically arid time down on the farm in mid-west Illinois, but now the unrelenting rain has arrived, and with it a couple of newcomers able to rip open the deceit stuffed into the cracks through the years.

“Once it’s picked, you can’t put it back”, declares eldest son Tilden, who has returned home after years away in New Mexico where he says he thought he was dying, but just lost his voice.

He has a secret he now wants revealed to the rabbit-fur-jacket-wearing vegetarian girlfriend of his son, Vince, who’s blown in. Vince is on a roadtrip, a memory lane of every milk bar and playing field that constituted his childhood. But it’s not happy families where girlfriend Shelly finds she’s landed when Vince is sent off to buy more liquor for old grandpa and doesn’t return.

She’s stuck with creepy Dodge and poor benighted Tilden, who’s then chased out the back by limping younger brother Bradley, who has an axe to grind.

In a debut direction for the State Theatre Company, David Mealor has had to stick to playwright Sam Shepard’s instructions for production, and the set is a static room with a decrepit plaster-lathe interior unrecognisable as ever being “Rockwell pretty as a picture”.

Rain sounds come and go and perhaps it’s just as well not to have relentless noise. Glaring lights and spooky music knock you on the head to announce: here comes the symbolic part. But the fresh flowers and vegetables and genuinely shattering china provide verisimilitude that is thrilling.

The fine cast does Adelaide proud: Patrick Frost quaking in his Father Dewis shoes; Nicholas Garsden husking corn as hulking Tilden; Patrick Graham’s malevolent bully-brother Bradley; fresh-faced Tim Overton’s exuberant Vince; Jacqy Phillips’ unrelentingly wonderfully mistress- matriarch Halie; unflappable Hannah Norris strident and striding to perfection as Shelly; and of course Ron Haddrick, in a role always to be recalled.

Finding voice is thematic of this play and in its execution, a special acknowledgement should be made of the training that really shows by coach Helen Tiller.

Sam Shephard is an award-winning, dashing actor, film director and playwright. Not a bad heritage for Buried Child, which won Pulitzer Prize in 1979. In this script you can see the genesis of the yearning loneliness and fractured dysfunction of family that brought cult status to Wim Wender’s 1984 haunting film Paris, Texas. You could wish for a Ry Cooder soundtrack but live stage always exerts its own beauty and veracity.

With a few nods to Down Under, a footy chant and paperbag Ned Kelly mask, you might wonder, what could be done with a fully Australianised version? Way out West Australia? The Wimmera? Deep south Queensland? Someone, give that a go.

At the Dunstan Playhouse until October 2.

Jun. 17th, 2008

cleaning the toilet poem


who amongst us volunteers
signs on the willing roster
for this always thankless task?

I don’t remember how old I finally was
when I realised what had to be done
had to be done

it was Gandhi, who, by film accounts at least
reminded his wife cleaning toilets
would recall her own humanity

I still harbour guilt
for that one dreadful condition
I left the bowl
after being clogged
travelling the continent

some unknown one else
shouldered that freight
not I

as now I do
every time it’s required
contemplating this is
what living’s
all about

(c) Kate Deller-Evans from Coming into the World book of poetry published by Bookends Books

helen garner's the spare room book review

Book Review – The Spare Room, Helen Garner
Kate Deller-Evans

House guests are like fish, after three days they stink. Imagine a three-week visit, from a friend, with fourth-stage cancer, who’s in denial. Garner’s protagonist, Helen, sets her spare room in order for Nicola’s visit. But she isn’t ready for the state she’ll find her in. So far, Nicola has breezily cast aside Helen’s offers to visit her in Sydney, where her niece Iris has been caring for her. Now no further conventional treatments are offered, Nicola is spending big on alternative therapies.

The head of the Theodore Institute has scheduled Nicola for a program of mega-dose intravenous vitamin C in Melbourne and insisted she arrive early for a private consultation. That the charlatan has skipped off to an overseas conference should alert her, but like other clients of the quackery, Nicola believes the process will force evil toxins from her body, that she will be cancer-clear within a fortnight. Rigours of undergoing the procedures are horrendous, and on top of already being frail and incapacitated, Nicola’s blithe dismissal of all Helen’s efforts on her behalf cut Helen to the quick.

Despite its grim topic it’s not a grim read because Garner’s prose is strong and sparce, and her facility to render character so concisely means the novel moves at a cracking pace. Garner’s ear for dialogue is a delight. She’s self-aware about using a specific lexicon for Nicola, with her jolly bonhomie at odds with the gritty reality of her corporeality. ‘Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt’ - if you liked Ingmar Bergman’s 1972 classic, ‘Cries and Whispers’ you’ll appreciate this. It’s a book you’ll hear spoken about in hushed tones, perhaps because (to paraphrase more Shakespeare) we all may fear our pageants will fade, we will dissolve and ‘leave not a rack behind’. Hardback, Text Publishing, $29.95.

Jun. 12th, 2008

end of teaching term

just given my last class to the Engineering students
lucky to get a gig to the staff curry lunch
now to face marking short stories of English students
longing to get back to my own writing
maybe something will come in my dreams

The Invisible Ring review

The Invisible Ring, Anne Bishop, HarperCollins Voyager, $20.99 pp 452 by Kate Deller-Evans
The Independent Weekly published
25 March 2008 - 2:40PM

This is a fantasy novel set in the dark world of predators and prey and follows the author’s earlier Black Jewels trilogy. For the past nine years protagonist Jared has worn the Ring of Obedience, slipped on his dangle by a vicious queen when he was only 18 years old.

Though of aristo blood, and having Red Jewel power, his ensnarement as a pleasure slave has meant years of torment and torture. Finally unable to stand any more of it Jared has slain his owner and escaped, only to be recaptured and returned for sale. Murder of such a prominent woman means he is fit only to toil in the salt mines, but his purchase by the Gray Lady promises an even more terrible fate.

Rival queen Dorothea has evil intentions for the Gray Lady and plots to kill her in order to expand her power base. In this world of court scheming and machinations, more violent and cruel than any Shakespeare could have envisaged, much vile slaughter must ensue. But is the old Gray Lady as fearsome as her reputation insists? And what of the Invisible Ring that has replaced Jared’s former Ring of Obedience?

Men are honour-bound to serve the women, whether that be even to break the witches’ spirits, violating their bodies and their minds. An exciting cut-throat world, Bishop’s prose sweeps the reader along at a cracking pace. It’s dark, thrilling, mesmerising. If the ‘my jewel power counters your jewel level’ thing is a bit Yu-Gi-Oh! card swaps, then she can be forgiven. It’s still exciting. HarperCollins Voyager, $20.99.

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