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Rebecca Jessen

Reading at the QWC Lit Salon this Saturday

This Saturday night I will be reading some new poems at the QWC Lit Salon. The lineup is absolutely stellar, and includes Miles Franklin shortlisted author Emily Maguire, Thomas Shapcott shortlisted poet Mindy Gill, Chloe Callistemon, Tessa Rose, Ben Hobson, and me! It’s also Brisbane Pride day so expect me to read some very queer poems to celebrate! (I was going to anyway).

You can buy your ticket here.

 

Full venue/time details are below!

QWC Lit Salon – Saturday 23rd September

Red Box, SLQ @ 7.00-8.30pm

 

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Post-QPF 2017 Highlights

The Queensland Poetry Festival is done for another year and I have resumed programming as a shy introvert and have spent the last week catching up on sleep after four memorable (and intense) days of reading, listening, and absorbing everything poetry.

What I love most about QPF is the atmosphere of camaraderie and community it creates. The festival is a place where (most) people can leave their ego at the door and contribute in a positive way to our poetry community.

Below are some of my highlights from this year’s festival:

  • Ali Cobby Eckermann’s opening night speech
  • The queer representation across the awards winners and shortlists
  • Reading some new poems at the QUT Lit Salon with my fellow QUT poets: you’re all amazing! Also, the fabulous Sarah Holland-Batt telling us at our post-reading photo op that we looked like a boyband (new future aspiration)
  • The mental health and chronic illness panels/readings at the Brisbane Square Library which were full of honesty, courage, mutual respect and a sense of community
  • The Literary Cabaret: just all of it. And afterwards when I excitedly told Hera Lindsay Bird about the Friends reference in my poem and she wrote ‘how you doin’ in my copy of her book
  • The launch for Shastra Deo’s debut collection The Agonist–a truly special moment seeing a friend and brilliant poet break into the world in such an assured way
  • The Queer Lit Salon: just all of it, so much love and talent in one room! Special mention for the new poetry from Betsy Turcot–especially loved the poem that started with a line about Jenny Schecter (I won’t misquote it because my memory is rubbish)
  • The ‘Deep North’ session with Zenobia Frost, Tamryn Bennett, and Bronwyn Lea: my favourite ‘reading’ session without a doubt, especially loved Brownyn Lea’s poem ‘Australia’ and the line about avo on toast (I won’t misquote it here)
  • ‘Losing the plot: Poetry and mental health’ panel: each poet was admirably open and vulnerable about their lived experiences of mental illness and (Co-Director) David did a beautiful job in gently guiding each poet through this. This session really highlighted how important and necessary it is to not only talk about these experiences, but also to have spaces where one can feel safe enough to do so
  • ‘Viral Verse’: what a lineup! This was the last session I went to and I spent it equal parts laughing, crying laughing, and sobbing which is probably a good indicator of my mental state before, during and after the festival.
  • Spending time with friends, old, new and virtual. And having many meaningful and open conversations with fellow poets/humans about mental health, and feeling safe enough to do so.

Until next time!

Val Vallis Award Shortlisting + Reading at the QUT Literary Salon at QPF

Yesterday I found out that my poem (after) HER: dating app adventures was shortlisted for the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award for an Unpublished Poem. I’m completely humbled and thrilled, it was such a surprise I even shed a few happy tears at my desk! This shortlisting means so much, and has come at exactly the right time. Many thanks to the judges, Arts Queensland and QPF, and congratulations to my fellow shortlistees, especially my QUT post-grad poetry group buddies Ella Jeffery (Val Vallis) and Mindy Gill (shortlisted for the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize). Winners of all awards are announced on Thursday night, opening night for QPF, come along!

The full shortlist is below, and you can check out the shortlists for the other Arts Queensland awards here, so many brilliant poets!

VAL VALLIS AWARD FOR AN UNPUBLISHED POEM

Buying satin dresses at Yu Garden – Ella Jeffery
Quietly, on the way to Mars – Bronwyn Lovell
His Master’s Voice – Jeff Guess
The Future of Music – Laurie Keim
(after) HER dating app adventures – Rebecca Jessen

Friday 25th August – QUT Literary Salon Reading at QPF
10-11am @ IMA Screen Room – Judith Wright Centre, Fortitude Valley
free

The lovely folk at the QUT Literary Salon are having a special QPF event this year and you’re invited! I’ll be reading my shortlisted poem, and a couple of other new ones. Even better, I’ll be reading alongside fellow poets Ella Jeffery, Zenobia Frost, Emily O’Grady, Laura Kenny, Leo Porter and Sean West. And the event will be emceed by the lovely Mindy Gill and filmed by the QUT Lit Salon folks! Come along, it’s free!

QLD Poetry Festival 2017: Distant Voices

My favourite time of the year is almost upon us again! August and September in Brisbane are particularly fabulous, the weather is gorgeous and the festivals are aplenty! The Queensland Poetry Festival officially begins next Thursday 24th August and I’m beyond excited.

This year’s theme is Distant Voices and I think it couldn’t be more relevant, considering the current states of affairs, Australia and elsewhere. There is no other festival like QPF who so strongly and passionately champion the voices of the people in society who we most need to hear the voices of.

I had planned to write a post about this year’s highlights and I’ve been looking over the program and thinking about how impossible it is to mention only a few of the events at the festival. I know I say this every year, but this year’s QPF program really is the best I have seen, it is so good in fact that I am struggling to decide which sessions to go to, and seriously considering cloning myself so I can go to everything.

Annie and David (and now Carody too!) do a tremendous job of pulling it all together, and they do it with such genuine heart and passion for poetry. As a writer and reader of poetry it’s such a privilege to spend time in the company of so many likeminded people, and an opportunity to meet and catch up with poetry friends across borders. Everyone who I’ve spoken to who has been to QPF talks about the beautiful, welcoming vibe it has, it’s unlike any other writer’s festival. And, over 75% of the program is free!

I’m going to name a few personal highlights which are also must-sees, especially if, unlike me, you have a life (outside of poetry) and won’t be able to spend 4 whole days at QPF.

Thursday 24th August:
10am-5pm @ Brisbane Square Library
– A day of panels and readings by some brilliant poets sharing their experiences with mental health and chronic illness. I’m particularly looking forward to these sessions, especially those on mental health; it’s so rarely talked about in an open, honest way and yet nearly every artist I know deals with mental health issues on some level.

6-7.30pm @ Judith Wright Centre – The official opening night, including a keynote address by the QPF Indigenous Poet in Residence Ali Cobby Eckermann, the Arts Queensland Poetry Awards, the Phillip Bacon Ekphrasis Award and the Oodgeroo Indigenous Poetry Prize, as well as a feature reading by Arts Queensland Poet in Residence Courtney Sina Meredith (NZ).

Friday 25th August: @ Judith Wright Centre

11.30am-12.30pm What Even Is Contemporary OZPO? A Panel
Free event co-presented by Australian Poetry
What is the state of affairs in contemporary Australian poetry? What is a state? An affair? What is contemporary? What even is poetry? Join leading poets and editors Sarah Holland-Batt, David Musgrave and Michelle Cahill as they discuss the state of play with chair Toby Fitch.

4-5.30pm Avant Gaga Reading
Free event co-presented by Australian Poetry
Experience some of the latest experiments in poetry and performance by leading, emerging and unexpected practitioners: Lionel Fogarty, Pascalle Burton, Nathan ShepherdsonShastra Deo, Chloë Callistemon, Stuart Barnes and Vernon Ah Kee. Followed by a half-hour headline performance by Christian Bök showcasing his newest volume of poetry, The Xenotext (Book 1). Hosted by Toby Fitch.

8-10pm QPF2017 Literary Cabaret
Ticketed event $25/$15 BOOK HERE
Join an all-star cast of multi-award-winning voices from across the globe, featuring QPF2017 Indigenous Poet in Residence Ali Cobby Eckermann; acclaimed author, poet and rapper Omar Musa; National Book Award for Poetry winner and New York Times–bestselling memoirist Mark Doty (USA); one of Australia’s most innovative poets and Stella Prize–short-listed author Maxine Beneba Clarke; leading Queensland poet and recipient of the 2016 Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry Sarah Holland-Batt; viral poet and 2017 Sarah Broom Prize winner Hera Lindsay Bird (NZ); and world-renowned Tibetan musician Tenzin Choegyal.

Saturday 26th August: @ Judith Wright Centre
1-2pm Thomas Shapcott Book Launch: Shastra Deo
Free event
UQP launch Shastra Deo’s stunning debut collection, The Agonist, which won the 2016 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. Pretty damn excited about this one! Shasta is a friend in life and poetry and she was the runner-up of the SLQ Young Writers Award the year I won so I feel like a proud awards mum watching her go on to even greater successes. And I can tell you, you WANT to read this collection, AND come to the launch. I hear there are cupcakes too, as if you needed any convincing.

4-5pm Dog Years: Mark Doty
Ticketed event $15 BOOK HERE
‘Being human is most likely a much lonelier endeavor than being a dog.’
Mark Doty’s bestselling Dog Years is an intimate poetic memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about living, love, grief and loss. Join Mark in conversation with Felicity Plunkett as part of his QPF–exclusive first Australian visit.

10 pm-late QPF Queer Literary Salon @ Bloodhound Bar
Ticketed event $15 BOOK HERE
There are no words to express just how excited I am about this event!
Stay up late for QPF’s Queer Literary Salon, a sublime celebration of diverse and daring voices ready to take you deep into the heart of Saturday night’s fever. Join MC Ruth Gardner and a glittering line-up of poetry, prose, music and more, featuring Quinn EadesOmar SakrAdele Pickvance, Ellen van NeervenEleanor Jackson, Courtney Sina Meredith, Jackie Ryan, Betsy TurcotOfa Fanaika, Jarad Bruinstroop and Torrey Atkin.

Sunday 27th August: @ Judith Wright Centre
10-11am QPF New Voices
Free event
I love having the opportunity to listen to and watch some of the best upcoming poetry talent. Come and hear six of Queensland’s most exciting new voices: Vivienne Mohan, Grace Lucas-Pennington, Nic Addenbrooke, Rae White, Nick van Buuren and 2016 SlammED! winner Lucy Cottier.

2.30-3.30pm Losing the Plot: Poetry and Mental Health
Free event
This panel explores how mental health informs writing, the fine line between poetry and psychosis, and the power of reclaiming language from institutions. Songwriter, author (and closet poet) Justin Heazlewood aka The Bedroom Philosopher, memoirist Paula Keogh and local poet Anna Jacobson join QPF Co-Director David Stavanger to discuss the page and the pill. 

4.30-5.30pm Viral Verse
Ticketed event $15 BOOK HERE
Fusing writing, technology and pop culture, a new generation is taking poetry beyond the bookstore. Join three leading lights of the online and social media poetry revolution as they read for you live beyond the screen: Button Poetry’s Co-Founder Sierra De Mulder (USA), award-winning and bestselling NZ poet Hera Lindsay Bird, and acclaimed USA author Patricia Lockwood, dubbed ‘the poet Laureate of Twitter’.


Okay, so that’s a wrap of my very limited highlights/must-see suggestions for this year’s QPF. It’s almost painful to only mention a few sessions, but make sure you click through to the full program and see for yourself the amazing quality and variety of sessions on offer. See you at the festival!

‘Hello Dolly’ now online at Verity La

The lovely people at Verity La have published my memoir ‘Hello Dolly’ which is about dealing with grief and the eccentricities of family. You can read it in full here. Like Tincture Journal, Verity La publish challenging, courageous, and thoughtful writing by a diverse range of emerging and established writers. So while you’re there have a look around and read some of the other brilliant work on the website.

 

‘Some Days’ now online in Tincture Journal

The lovely people at Tincture Journal have made my poem ‘Some Days’ (published in issue #17) available for free online for your reading pleasure. Read it in full here and while you’re there, read some of the other free content available. And then subscribe, not that you will need any convincing.

‘We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday’ published in The Lifted Brow #33

This month The Lifted Brow are celebrating 10 years of the Brow! I’ve been lucky enough to be published in the Brow a few times now, and I can tell you that their 10th Birthday issue is in itself something worth celebrating – and not just because I have a piece in there.

My memoir ‘We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday’ is featured in this issue, and I was really grateful to see it find a home here. Writing the piece, and reliving the holiday was… well a labour of love, or self-torture. Read it and decide!

My inner music nerd was delighted when TLB asked me to make a mixtape and commentary to accompany my piece – which was perfect really, considering that the piece involves a road trip, and already had its own dedicated playlist. Also, if you ever wondered how trashy my taste in music really is, here’s your chance to find out! Listen to my mixtape and read the commentary here.

I’m still slowly devouring my copy, but a few pieces really blew me away. ‘Something To Be Tiptoed Around Until It Goes Away’ by Emma Marie Jones was so heartbreakingly good. It’s a beautiful meditation on grief and grieving, something so raw and true that there are post-its, highlighted passages and I’m pretty sure a few tears shed on those pages. You can read an excerpt here but really, just go and buy a copy of the issue because you’ll want to read all of this one.

Another piece I loved was ‘In Pursuit of Nostalgia’ by Anna Spargo-Ryan. I happened upon this piece rather serendipitously after talking to a friend just hours earlier about feeling nostalgia for home, and wondering whether the feeling was true.

I enjoyed reading ‘Thinking of You’ the conversation between poets Alison Whittaker and Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Intelligent, interesting poets talking about important things – read their poems on the preceding pages, then read their to-fro.

Lastly, the comic ‘The Gap Between Theory & Practice’ by Nicky Minus is brilliant – check it out!

All that’s left for you to do now is buy a copy or even better, subscribe if you can. You won’t regret it.

(TWENTY-SIX) World Poetry Day 2017

In honour of today being World Poetry Day I thought I would share a little something I wrote for the now (in)famous QUT Z2 curlew.


(for the Z2 curlew)
IMG_0176

I’m fine
I just like to stare at myself in the window

sometimes I want to scoop up every vulnerable creature that has ever wandered
and transport them to an alternate reality

I am a knight
with no armour

sometimes I want to make every baby in the room smile

I’m living in the future
according to my diary

sometimes I want to give everything I have to someone
who doesn’t want it

I am a curlew
with no call

sometimes I think my real self is trapped
inside my imagined self.

 

 

 

‘Some Days’ New Poem in Tincture Journal

Once again, the lovely people at Tincture Journal have published one of my poems. Many thanks to the wonderful Stuart Barnes (poetry editor) and Daniel Young (editor) for their continued support, not only of my own work, but that of many other wonderful emerging, and established voices.

My prose poem ‘Some Day’s features in the latest issue #17. I’m really pleased to see this poem published, the poem is somewhat of an ode to returning home, to the place you grew up. Partly inspired by the Nelson Mandela quote: ‘There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.’

Buy a copy of Issue #17 to read the poem and many other great pieces of writing. Or even better, subscribe and get a whole year’s worth of wonderful writing for the price of a single book.

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