Tell Me Like You Mean It: New Poems from Young and Emerging Writers

By and | 18 June 2017

Bella Li | Excerpt from ‘Pérouse, ou, Une semaine de disparitions’, Argosy | 9″x12″

‘Emerging’ is a strange word, and ‘strange’ is probably a cop out. It is often arbitrary, sometimes condescending, frequently empowering and often carries with it an incredible sense of community. To emerge is a term that shifts and contradicts; when are we ever not emerging? How is emergence something that rests when we are forever in a process of moving – always surfacing and then submerging – a process that continually repeats and folds into itself? The term ‘young’ has its own problems, and of course you don’t necessarily have to be young to be emerging and to be emerging isn’t necessarily to be young. Use these as modifiers for ‘poet’ and things necessarily get more complicated.

Both of us are often described as one or all of these things, but for many reasons neither of us feel like we have authority in trying to define these terms. It places us in an uncomfortable position because these descriptors look different depending on what angle you are looking at them from, nor are they qualifications we all consciously think about as being central to one’s practice. We are skeptical of singularly identifying folks in confined categories or the motives to publish a massive variety of poets and poems under one moniker, heading or title. However, in curating this chapbook, when we considered the voices we love, who we wanted to hear more from, what the writers tended to share was at least one – if not all – of the aforementioned labels.

Evelyn Araluen: Wangal Morning
Hera Lindsay Bird: Tax Return
Jessica Mei Cham: seepage swan lake
Holly Childs: Blue Carbon, Intertidal
Amelia Dale: The Brandis Diaries
Elena Gomez: nine minutes two seconds
Holly Isemonger: Sad Witch Psalms
Magan Magan: The Feet that Don’t Stop Will Come to Know Shame
Marjon Mossammaparast: The Spanish Revelation
Leah Muddle: Cut and dried if only.
Claire Nashar: My Kitchen Counter Said
Ella O’Keefe: fodder
Anupama Pilbrow: my mother told this story of the white girl in the library
Ryan Prehn: ante meridiem
Oscar Schwartz: I’d Like to Take a Minute of Your Time to Discuss Short Cuts
Emily Stewart: American forests are moving west and nobody knows why
Stacey Teague: taitamāhine
Saaro Umar: untitled
Sian Vate: Workplace Injury Compensation Form
Alison Whittaker: murrispacetime
Evelyn Araluen: New Town

To edit, specifically the inviting and selecting of poets, is a unique role; deciding what voices should be listened to here is a privilege that is difficult to negotiate – how can it be any sort of act other than arranging your favourite poetry action figures in a menagerie on your most visible shelf? We’re not pretending that this isn’t complicated, or that it’s conclusive, but the voices here are various and bright. Reading these poems together suggests a network of complex poetry communities that co-exist to form the larger body that is Australian poetry. This diversity and vibrancy is something worth celebrating. To us, reading these poems together is to engage in a conversation, a buzz that’s worth talking back to.

We are writing this over a Google Drive document, as one person and two, reading these poems, speaking to them and about them, together and alone. Frankie is in Paris, and I am in a shack at the bottom of a mountain on the south coast of NSW or Melbourne or in a car, which all seems potentially cliché in a young / emerging / poet manner, but maybe that is appropriate, at the very least; a transience or ephemerality that is present not only within these poems, but in how we engage with them.

Techno and fig shadows
are easy to get a hold of
I’ve got a crush on text bubbles
on using emojis to 
talk about taking that last lemon. 

I am housesitting figs
and they are gone before I notice 
they should have been there. 

Lots and lots of figs.

So much so that 
I can’t help but think that ‘fig’
might have an aesthetic 
worth taking with me.  

What about George Brandis?
Where is the 
fresh fig / and / prosciutto
in his diary?

I want you to teach me 
about the history of pomegranates
then teach me 
how to do my tax. 

I’d like to feel 
less alone about not
getting the hang of it. 
I have a bad dream about hornets 
try to work out all the money I owe 
to the institution 
who supposedly gave me a certificate
                                        I could count on. 

In Spanish the word emerging is: 
which reminds me of 
pleased to meet you in French: 

I will say please enchante to meet you 
in emails then poems. 

I will try not to think about it too much, I will
lie on top of a lover & / throw your watch out the / window.

I am not completely sold on anything; 
wooden furniture, giving grief time, 
wine for 4 Euro, lateral violence.

Cross ventilation is something I could try
leave the windows open thru the morning 
smell something like plastic burning
or perhaps new 
deep dark poetry 

how to say 
carpe diem’ -- / with sincerity 
how to nail wood  -- / and mean it. 

I don’t have any sense for you other than 
sugar that engenders sugar tears
which makes me think of 
sugary gender, or how gender is sugared, 
                                        buttery, smooth, glaze

as for the tears part, 
you’ve got a flip-out pocket book for 
swimming in hot wax 
the way codes make way for shame
there’s no words for it only reflex.

How long does it take to get over jet lag? 
How long does it take to get used to the chlorine in the water?
How long does it take for the telly to start talking to you?

Pink toilet paper, pink perfume, pink shirts
the strain of strawberries
a little tired is tired throughout the body.  

Take it from the mm. From the mm
I moan and moan
I’ve a fondness for short cuts
like yours for postcards and mythic barriers
a screen I'm seeing through, I blink 
                                                                 you capture.

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