Launched! broken lines / in charcoal

broken lines / in charcoal is now officially launched. Hurrah!

It was a really fun night. Standing room only, in the end – very glad we’d come out of level two, otherwise more than half our audience would have had to stand outside the room, staring inwards and making a dash for the door whenever one of the people inside ventured incautiously out. As it was, there was a definite Musical Chairs vibe …

We ended up being able to give everyone who wanted to read the chance to do so. And some people who hadn’t actually intended to read, but who had incautiously ticked boxes on the RSVP email without reading the details of what they were saying yes to. (Note to self: next time include a box for financial and/or organ donations. It just might work!) But it felt really good, and everyone read well. There were a couple of glitches with the audio visual things, but given that they are an eternal feature of poetry class sessions, I figured it just helped the students feel at home and their friends and family to understand the true horror nature of their experiences.

And this isn‘t the end of the festivities. Early yesterday Karen and I recorded an interview with the marvellous Morrin Rout (who launched the book) for Bookenz on Plains FM. Three contributors –  Ian McCartney, Helen Mongillo and Irena Tojcic – recorded a poem each as well, and the whole thing is due to be broadcast next Tuesday at midday. (I’ll link to the podcast episode too when it’s released.) Plus we’re going to be doing some readings at libraries – details still being finalised, but one definite date is Lincoln library (22 Gerald St, right next door to The Laboratory) on Thursday 26 November, from 6.30 – 7.30pm. There will be readings from our Lincoln-based contributors, copies for sale, and I will also be there to answer any questions you fancy throwing my way. If you are a local library and would like us to come and read and talk about our book, get in touch – the vast majority of the classes I’ve run have been at libraries, so it seems like a natural fit.

One last thing. As part of putting things together for the evening, I gave myself a homework assignment and just thirty minutes to assemble a cento from poems in the book. I took one line from each person, and it came together really well – it felt like it made a sort of sense, and certainly read well. As a number of people have asked to see it, I thought the best option would be to put it up here, complete with the list of where each line came from. Plus, you know, advertising. Enjoy! (And buy a copy. ) (Seriously.)

Cento of The Book

I am thinking of you here,
– an old friend visiting for an unknown time,
a stern angel, in sharp planes,
your face shrouded by soft lace veil.
On the other side of the street grows a peach tree from the garden of Eden
and the coiled memory
formed itself into the living thing.

Enraptured, and in tiny letters
the greatest miracle of all: words,
bags with golden writing.
Feel the surge of energy,
and the ghosts left below.
My tongue is littered with letters refusing
those countless sheets of fancy paper.

Collect the broken
into the dark chamber; dangle
beside your holy chapels of flesh,
a wild breathless thing
thriving despite the discipline.
It unsettles people.
It is not silent here.
Anoint my scarf in rose hip.

The dead are smuggled
into the fine, tilled soil.
Lines are easier:
sympathy comes in second.
Out past the edge of holy
the oceans of wheat, limitless horizons
we bake our love
but no harvest yet.
Energy is an arc; it ends in depletion.

In the valley we can’t see in the dark,
along a narrow, cobbled, winding road
all the shades of darkness I held
the light, the window, the threatening sky
would the attic still be lit by the glow of the mirror?

We have come to claim our inheritance.


from broken lines / in charcoal
Diane Patricia McCarthy, page 74
Helen Tatham, page 129
Jeni Curtis, page 79
Jess Fiebig, page 95
Joseph Shaw, page 35
Lynn Tara Austin, page 16
Lesley Vlietstra, page 26
Cherry Hill, page 52
Phoebe Wright, page 103
Felicity Cutten, page 105
Kay Wise, page 98
Michelle Leathart, page 114
Karen Zelas, page 108
Suzanne Nesbitt, page 117
Robynanne Milford, page 135
Helen Yong, page 143
Juliet McAra, page 132
Marisa Cappetta, page 90
Jenna Heller, page 126
Janet Wainscott, page 141
Therese Aitchison, page 122
Kate Rennie, page 83
Jane Simpson, page 57
Amalia Fish, page 67
Valerie Creamer, page 99
Kate Fraser, page 63
Philomena Johnson, page 48
Helen Mongillo, page 70
Lyn Minchington, page 60
Irena Tojcic, page 121
Shirley Eng, page 84
Gail Ingram, page 30
Sue Le Mesurier, page 37
Ian McCartney, page 42
Leslie Spillane, page 45
Catherine Fitchett, page 19
Helen Bascand, page 11

2 Replies to “Launched! broken lines / in charcoal”

  1. Fab combination poem Joanna. Good to see you and many other familiar faces last night. Hope your own writing’s going well. All power to your elbow! Amalia Fish 😁

    On Fri, Sep 25, 2020 at 2:17 PM A Dark Feathered Art wrote:

    > Jopre posted: “broken lines / in charcoal is now officially launched. > Hurrah! It was a really fun night. Standing room only, in the end – very > glad we’d come out of level two, otherwise more than half our audience > would have had to stand outside the room, staring inw” >

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