Thursday, December 31, 2009



Didn't win the Melbourne Prize for Literature -- Nam Le did for The Boat (a very cool collection of short stories) -- but I did get this video that they showed at Federation Square...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Melbourne Prize for Literature

Magisterium, my second collection of poetry, has been named as a finalist in the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature's Best New Writing category.

It's a unique award, run ever three years and open to just about every literary form, from poetry to fiction to non-fiction to theater. The only criteria is that award has to be 'for a piece of published or produced work of outstanding clarity, originality and creativity by a Victorian writer, 40 years or under.'

The range of work represented by the other finalists is very broad. Those finalists are:
It's great to be in such good company.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Poetry reading: Westword Poetry

I'm the feature reader at the next Westword Poetry, on Sunday, August 9, from 4.30pm.

Westword is held at the Dancing Dog Cafe, 42 Albert Street, Footscray.

I'll be reading mostly from my second collection of poetry, Magisterium.

Monday, July 27, 2009

'Tuk-tuk' reviewed

Stylus magazine has published an interesting review of The Best Australian Poems 2008. What's interesting is that the reviewer, Simon Patton, takes a critical stance. He spends most of the review pointing out what he doesn't like about Australian poetry. Call me perverse, but I enjoyed the read, which included this dissection of my poem, 'Tuk-tuk':

"'Tuk-tuk' is frustrating: it blends textures in a deliberately incongruous way, and yet incongruity is a part of what the poem seeks to tackle, the mismatch between mass-produced music, mass-produced images and tawdry reality:

San Francisco, O San Francisco
I can no longer - could I ever - dream you in dreams that smoulder
Like a deserted desert street after the explosion.
So, San Francisco, so I Google you unfiltered,
Scroll down the dimpled thumbnails of amateur porn;
Each coupling couple coupling tediously towards dawn
While I lie, an actor on the queen-sized stage,
And yawn.

[...]

I tuk-tuked to a stop and stared back at a pair of immortal eyes
Staring into the mirror of my servo sunnies
Out of the mask of a model face
That could appear flawless if its humanity was blown up,
Out of all proportion,
Billboard size,
To cover the slab side of some piece of concrete brutalism –
Selling the product, the promise, the lie
Of immortal youth.

"San Francisco the dream is brought at once into abrupt contact with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Site 300, a place where testing of nuclear material takes place. The degradation continues with the description of 'dimpled thumbnails of amateur porn', the word 'dimple' suggesting a vulnerable human quality alongside the harsh, trivial 'thumbnails'.

"The degradation of the sexual act is enacted in the repetitiveness of 'Each coupling couple coupling tediously'. The poem plays artfully with the tension between contemporary references and conventional end-rhyme: 'porn' chimes discordantly with the poetic word 'dawn', while the two resolve in the final 'yawn'.

"Later in the poem, the same tension continues: 'eyes' rhymes with 'sunnies'. The punning on 'was blown up' is perhaps a little obvious, but its use helps to underscore the links suggested in the text between consumerism and the threat of destruction. Desire is suggested in the expression 'immortal eyes', but such desire is at once threatened by mechanical reproduction – Staring into the mirror of my servo sunnies / Out of the mask of a model face – at once narcissistic and 'masked' (that is, that face both conceals and falsifies in some fundamental sense what it projects)."

Read the full review.

Read all of 'Tuk-Tuk' at Jacket magazine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eighteen Challenges in Contemporary Literature

Sci-fi writer Bruce Sterling has some interesting thoughts on literature and technology on Wired, some of which I agree with, some of which betray his prejudices (ie. "18. The Gothic fate of poor slain Poetry is the specter at this dwindling feast." Excuse me?). Well worth a look.

Read the article.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Should Australia have a poet laureate?

The Age published a piece by Fiona Gruber on the topic on Saturday, June 6. Personally, I'm all for anything that gets poetry into the public.
"Should Australia have a poet laureate? Is it good for poetry, for the poet chosen, for the public? It's seen by some as a symbol of queasy nationalism and parochial pride, by others as a useful way of promoting poetry, an ambassadorship of verse." Read the full article.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cordite review of Magisterium

"Magisterium is the second collection by Joel Deane, following on from his debut collection Subterranean Radio Songs and his debut novel Another. In an interview with Cordite in 2006, when asked about the interplay between his work as speechwriter for the Premier of Victoria and his other life as a poet, Deane cited American poet Eleanor Wilner, who said of poets that, “We need to take back the rhetorical high ground from the politicians who degrade it”. Deane went on express the hope that the poems contained in his next book might approach “the kind of apocalyptic public language” hinted at by Wilner. Such ambitions can sound a little lofty, but Magisterium would seem to be a successful achievement of that goal." - Adam Ford, Cordite

Read the full review

Monday, May 11, 2009

Poetry Workshop

I'll be taking a poetry workshop at the Australian Poetry Centre on Sunday, May 24.

The workshop, "Poetry and Politics", runs from 1pm until 3pm. I'll also be a featured reader at a poetry salon afterwards, from 4pm to 5.30pm, with Lisa Gorton and David Reiter.

For more information go to the APC website.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Poetry Salon at Australian Poetry Centre

I'll be a featured reader at APC's next poetry salon, on Sunday, May 24, from 4pm to 5.30pm.

I'll be reading from my two poetry collections, Subterranean Radio Songs (Interactive Press) and Magisterium (Australian Scholarly Publishing). I also intend to read "Bushfire Elegy", the poem I was commissioned to write for the National Day of Mourning after the Black Saturday fires.

The other featured reader will be the poet-publisher David Reiter, who published Subterranean Radio Songs.

Go here for the Australian Poetry Centre.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review of Magisterium

"Magisterium is an intricate collection. There is a subtlety to this poetry that defies any crude attempt to label it ‘political’, while politics remains a deep and orienting awareness in all of Deane’s verse. ...

"This volume, as with his last, is haunted by Deane’s children lost in childbirth, yet one of its last poems, dedicated to his daughter allows a note of healing, however difficult: ‘When, in that perfect moment, I first hold you, / and golden light refracts the lens / of this obsidian heart.’ Obsidian or not, it is clear that there is a fierce, real heart driving Deane’s poetry and like [Judith] Wright’s, it attempts to span this whole country. He is also a poet who cares about how Australia is represented in poetry. ‘Duyken 1606’, which traces the landing of the Dutch East India ship on Cape York Peninsula, is possibly one of our best poems about the first foreign encounters with this continent, written with a courageous sparseness that reveals yet another dimension of this fascinating poet."

- Natalie Owen-Jones, Stylus Poetry Journal

Review of £10 Poems

'This latest collection has a dark tone. Deane’s world is one in which he is witness to the despairs and joys which is life. Provocation, not subtlety, is the writer’s special effect. He demonstrates this in two poems: “Sea Lake” and “Prehistoric”. “Sea Lake” plays on the anxieties we feel in the age of global warming: “This land / is a drowning land. // Red chalk earth / stirred by // a desert northerly, / choking you,” while “Prehistoric” has the flavor of a cautionary tale:

I dreamt
I died
and,
in the compression,
became a seam
of brown coal

'These sentiments mess with a reader’s head. It is the compression and the feeling of being buried alive that both repel and attract us, and around which the poet navigates his thoughts. ...

'Sweet, sour, comic, cosmic, Deane’s wisdom lies in its fidelity: to the fox that strikes suddenly, and to the lamb that escapes to the “stolen field.” Deane bears witness, and we relish the confirmation of his testimony.'

- Patricia Prime, Stylus Poetry Journal

Read the full review.