Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Poetry by Carolyn Gelland


Magician, how
did a silk scarf
hide in the hollows
in my heart muscles,

a magic carpet
that eased from its echo chamber,
sparks here and there.

An angel with
whistles for wings
is going nowhere fast
as the ambulance speeds up
to make
telephone poles
a solid valley
of burning crosses.

- Carolyn Gelland 2016

Carolyn Gelland’s two collections of poems are Dream-Shuttle (2013) and Four-Alarm House (2012).  She grew up in Europe and in New York City where she worked as a translator from Norwegian and ran a small art gallery.  She and her husband, poet Kenneth Frost, moved to rural Maine to focus on writing poems.

New Poetry by Martin Christmas

Beach Collection

Into the oily swell
the sun drops
it’s day end heat.

A kite’s rustle sound manoeuvres
wheeling and soaring
like a colourful eagle hawk
tethered to the sand.

Overhead, a lone gull flies
out of touch, calling . . .
until again, the flock

They fly low across the sand
caught in silhouette
against the failing light . . .
seasoned travellers
on the beach run.

The twin helix trails
spew across the
sun spent sky . . .
flashing beacon lights . . .
passengers sipping wine. 

- Martin Christmas 2016

Martin Christmas has an M.A. in Australian Cultural Studies and is an Adelaide based performance poet, photographer and professional theatre director. He was a Friendly Street Poets mentored poet in 2012 and has been published in several anthologies. He teaches presentation elements to young spoken word poets and established poets

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vale Stevie Plunder (1963-1996)

Twenty years ago yesterday the Sydney music scene lost one of its most dynamic performers and talented songwriters. I am referring, of course, to Stevie Plunder, aka Anthony Hayes, who left us suddenly only a short drive from where I am writing. Stevie hailed from a large Catholic Canberra family who still punch well above their weight in the local music scene, with brothers Bernie, Pat and Justin all continuing to carve out a special niche in an increasingly crowded space. As one of the founding members of Newtown outfit The Whitlams, Stevie was thrust for a time into the pop limelight, a situation he was never completely comfortable with. But my memory of him will always be perched on that rickety stool beside his brother, Bernie, Tuesday nights at the Sandringham Hotel in Newtown under the moniker "The Gruesome Twosome". The song, "Pass the Flagon", that I have posted in the sidebar was a staple of those wonderful evenings, and I am merely one of hundreds of people who were lucky enough to be there and who continue to cherish the memory. Thank you Stevie my friend!

Although people continue to speculate why this shining, warm, funny, generous soul left us when he did, I hope you will indulge me, dear reader, while I celebrate this unique presence in the Australian (and more particularly the Newtown) music and arts scene of the 1980's and 90's. Vale Stevie! May your spirit prevail!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

New Poetry by Peter Venable

Slow Motion 

A shadow sliding on an afternoon wall is slow 
Slow is glass flowing in colonial houses 
A sixty month stretch at Riker’s is slow 
Slow is squeezing an ice cube until it melts 
A food line at a refugee camp is slow 
Slow is a man on his walker at the Y indoor track 
A kidney stone squeezing through a duct is slow 
Slow is seven cycles of chemotherapy 
A dusk to dawn vigil in candlelit sanctuary is slow 
Slow is 21,600 seconds skewered on a cross

- Peter Venable 2016

Peter Venable, the author has written poetry for over 50 years and some are inspired out of (his) "monsters of the Id", a Forbidden Planet line. 

Break a leg, Michele!

We get a lot of flyers at Bluepepper, often from poets who seem to regard us as some sort of free community billboard. It isn't, at least not for poets from whom we otherwise never hear. 

Michele Seminara is emphatically not one of these. Not only is she a regular contributor, but she is also one of those rare beings, an effective and no fuss literary facilitator through her work at the august Verity La, while also being a very very good poet. We don't tend to encounter these in the poetry wilds too often. Oh yes, and she is, by all accounts, a damn nice person to boot. 

Thus it is with the greatest pleasure that we post the flyer for Michele's inaugural book launch below....

Dear friends,

 It’s been a steep learning curve but after a year of furious scribbling, editing and proofreading my first poetry collection, Engraft, is finally a reality! I’m honoured to join the stables of Island Press, Australia’s oldest surviving poetry imprint, which for forty-five years have been publishing some of Australia’s finest poets.
 As we all know, financially, writing and publishing poetry is a thankless task, fuelled primarily by passion. That’s why the support of readers is so important!
 It would great if you could come and celebrate the launch of my first book, and in the process support the continuing activity of Island Press. If you can’t make it, copies of Engraft can be ordered using the form below.
 A free copy of a previous Island title is yours with every book purchased at the launch. Children are more than welcome to attend so long as they are under the direct supervision of an adult.
 Hope to see you there!
 (Invite and details below. Feel free to pass it on!)


Michele Seminara’s first poetry collection Engraft explores the darker aspects of the human psyche and relationships. This debut collection by a strong new poetic voice is being launched by distinguished poet Martin Langford. 

Some commentary on Engraft:

“Engraft is a masterwork. Seminara's deep gift lies in her fusion of the viscera of life with a transcendent poetic vision. By turns terrifying and tender, loving and lost, Seminara is a major new voice in contemporary poetry.” –Charles Bane, Jr.

“Michele Seminara’s analytic prayers, domestic fables and eloquent centos work their ludic wit and charms in the house of loss and disturbance. She is not afraid to say ‘beauty’ in the language of economy engrafted with careful flourishes.” –Michelle Cahill

"Engraft is chock-full of tender, brave poems with emotional depth. Seminara's work displays control, deft pacing, and a fierce commitment to witness with clear eyes the horrors we commit upon ourselves and each other. A book filled with variety and surprise which you will want, and need, to return to many times." –Melinda Smith


Les Wicks’ Getting By Not Fitting In – the 13th book 
by one of Australia’s most well loved and respected poets.
Launched by Chris Mansell

We are having a launch for both books at:
Friend in Hand Hotel
58 Cowper St, Glebe
(upstairs bar)
Saturday 6th February 2.30pm
For details ring 0414 767 089

If you can’t make it you may wish to order a copy (or more!)
I wish to order (       ) copies of Engraft at $20.00 each.
Name & Address................................................
Cheques should be made payable to Michele Seminara & sent to 1 Seebrees St, Manly Vale, NSW 2093. Contact to order via paypal or direct credit. 
You can also order direct from Island Press at 29 Park Rd, Woodford NSW 2778.

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Poetry by Jim Conwell

Clearing, off Nordic Drive

The wind has picked up and
is passing through the trees like
freight on the move, whilst
a tiny sparrow works the leaf mould at
the foot of the nearest oak,
it’s dark trunk going straight up to
where the light is most abundant.

Unwitnessed, the
logs over there across
the clearing would
continue to lie,
the symbiotic processes of decay would
still move inside them. Sometimes
the wind would pick up to
a fury and another tree would
go over or simply die from
natural causes. The branch that
has fallen near the corner of
the deck would still
rear up until
its body became too soft to
bear its weight and
it fell prone on
the leaf mould, rolling
sideways a little before
coming to rest again.
Over time, and unwatched, this
clearing would slowly fill with

- Jim Conwell 2016

With an original background in Fine Art, Jim Conwell has worked in mental health for thirty years. He has had poems published in magazines in the UK, Ireland, and North America and had two poems shortlisted in the Bridport Poetry Prize 2015. He lives in London.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Poetry by James Walton

At Cumberland River

At Cumberland River
our love burnt itself out
we fucked ourselves senseless
there where the cabins hid away
between the declining sea and track

Now Otways fires
lick around those memories
receding into themselves unquiet
like pages of tumbling favourites loose
among themselves in an unforgiving too hot wind

Blowing open blowing closed
scorched remnants have their say
dropping parachutes of silky words
trying to make a landing of pillowy remorse
where we laid bare the wide brim of what had been

- James Walton 2016

James Walton lives in the Strzelecki Mountains in South Gippsland, Australia. He has been published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers, and many journals and anthologies. He has been short listed twice for the ACU national Literature Prize, is a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, and Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition.  His collection ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ is available. He’s been a Librarian, bred Salers cattle, and was a public sector union official for many years.

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Poetry by Ted Bookey

                  —Not just any death

As I have lost the previous generation, one after another,
I cried, “I do not want to be one of the elephants
left in charge of memory and the family stories,
who receives all the confidences.”  And now I am
one of the few left of my own generation.

All around us the feeling of life slipping away.
So much loss suffered.  Wanting to hold onto
every minute, to stop complaining, reassure
all those we love.  It can all disappear
in the blink of an eye.

I stroke the dog, she wags her tail.  The cat
lashes hers.  I too would love to experience
the innocence our pets have
rather than this death-
obsessed human mind.

I think I had that innocence and sense
of certainty long ago, when people
still kept being born
into my life, instead
of leaving it.

- Ted Bookey 2016

Ted Bookey’s Collected Poems With a W/hole in One, 1970-2010 was published in 2010 by Moon Pie Press.  Originally from New York City, he now lives in Maine, where he teaches both poetry and humor in the Senior College program at the University of Maine at Augusta.  He is the author of four books of poems, translations with his wife Ruth of the poems of Erich Kastner, and several plays that have been produced in Maine and off-off Broadway.

New Poetry by Tim Staley

Today They Open the Rio Grande   
                               - for Jon

Today they open the river
dusty arteries charge
as the old farmer in coveralls
races to the red wheel
to twist his own fields
full of muddy water.

Draped in his barn
under a heavy brown canvas
is a coffin lined with velvet
plump as ripe mulberries
but Jon, that’s not for you.
The moon like a tumor
grown to be sliced away.

The current says, I'll let you be,
to the cobweb in the reeds.
Each is impressed
with the other's impermanence.

Hold today’s Rio in your brain
rolling high in the grassy banks
on the gurney when they roll you in
like the Sea of Tranquility
holds that last gist of light

in its darkest hour. 

- Tim Staley 2016

Tim Staley was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1975. He completed a Poetry MFA from New Mexico State University in 2004. His first full-length volume of poetry is forthcoming from Pski’s Porch Publishing. His chapbooks are available for purchase at the Grandma Moses Press online store. Journal publications include Border Senses, Cacti Fur, Canary, Chiron Review, Circumference, Coe Review, Malpais Review, Magnapoets, RHINO: The Poetry Forum, and Sin Fronteras. His hobbies include thinking, taquitos, and waiting. Actually, just taquitos.  He lives with his wife and daughter in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Friday, January 08, 2016

New Poetry by Robert David Verdon


looking through a cracked window,
always in my own light

a striped iceberg light,
a strange arpeggio

a lightning flash hissing close
in its own light

light and life is too much for me
suicide is meaningless

I wish my critics only immortality

Robert David Verdon 2016

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

New Poetry by Emily Hart


following the bees

they played violins
as we hunted yellow rockets
always calling us on
until we reached
a low stone wall
much worn by sitting
for concerts such as these.


summer dried

long after you had gone
to old places
and people
whose burrs you could not pull
out of your mind
i drank tea
made from the blackberry leaves
we picked the day you pulled
a trailer of thorns
from my hair.


then rise

birds make good use
of my failed baking experiments
and the loaves that go stale
before i can finish them
at my solitary table.
they cover the crumbs
like leaves covering
the ground after a storm,
then rise
as the light explodes from jewels.
next baking day
i will give the birds
my best loaf,
fresh and warm

- Emily Hart 2016

Emily Hart's work has appeared in literary magazines such as Denali. Groundwaters, A Room Of One's Own, At The Crossroads, Fireweed and others under various pens.  In addition to poetry she has won awards in short fiction, essay, and drama. After much wandering Emily has settled in southern Oregon. Really.  Truly.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

New Poetry by T.F. Rice


We use the same word
for tipping to and fro
as for a piece of
earth heavy and still.
Even rocks move.

I hear in the desert
the wind pushes them
slowly for miles.

You rock. You're the best.
You're awesome,
but don't get a
parking violation
in life.

Even rocks move.

Rock on. Keep moving,
even if only to let
the wind have you
for a while.

- T.F. Rice 2016

T. F. Rice lives in Western New York State with her family and with her creative clutter. Like everyone else, she is trying to find the right mix of work and play. Rice edits the long-running small press publication The Other Herald. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Earth's Daughters and Poieses.