On this page you’ll discover some of my award-winning multi-media work, short fiction excerpts, and the occasional book review.
Two poems from Kristin’s Wetland Sonnets sequence won prestigious Australian poetry prizes – ‘Grasslands’ won the 2004 Leichhardt New Media Poetry Prize, and ‘Shoalwater’ received joint second for New Media in the 2004 Newcastle Poetry Prize. Her essay on this work appears in James Stuart’s The Material Poem.
‘Quiquiriquí’: Lip Magazine July 2018 – an excerpt
‘Third Prize in the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction 2018’
I wanted to talk to Jorge, to examine his flock up close, but he had passed through a rickety fence of bamboo and chicken wire. I opened the gate and passed through into a network of cages. Each cage was hexagonal. A honeycomb of birds. Small, wooden feeders were freshly packed with dried corn kernels, and leaves of spinach and wild grasses festooned the wire walls. I recognised the black and white rooster. Pressing my face against the wire, I watched it strut the length of the enclosure. Scents of fresh sawdust and ammonia rose through the compound.
Jorge emerged from a shed at the back of the yard with a ball of twine in his hands; he was whistling. He nodded and approached as if it were perfectly natural to find a strange woman admiring his birds. He smiled and crooked his finger, motioning for me to follow him. I tried to talk, to explain myself, but he took my hand and whispered, Silencio. We toured each cage slowly, appraising each bird. There were fifteen in total. A range of younger and older roosters, all fierce in their beauty. Wild and primal. He pulled a pair of spurs from his pocket and opened my palm. They were tortoiseshell, crafted like small slivers of moon into a fine, deadly point. Jorge opened a cage and motioned to the bird’s leg, where its spur had been removed. Closing the door, he brandished the weapons and pretended to be a bird in conflict; they flashed in the sunlight. I remembered the Spanish word for knife, cuchillo, and felt it catch on my tongue.
‘The Direction of Sunlight’
published in Overland 211:5 Winter Fiction – an excerpt.
Martha swung the metal disc to the side and put her eye up to the glass. It took a moment to adjust her gaze to the smallness of the lens. In the hallway stood the health inspector. He had returned.
She recognised the shape of his cranium and its familiar sheen. He wore his silver name badge far too high, just underneath his left collar. Michael Isthmus.
At her Urban Beekeeper’s Group, Michael Isthmus had quite a reputation as a ‘botherer’. Swimming against a tide of popular support for the bees, he’d been diligently policing the New York City Council’s ban on city beekeeping for the past five years. He was charged with the job of monitoring hundreds of covert beekeepers who were establishing hives all over the city.
Martha smiled to herself as she remembered the difficulty he had pronouncing his own name, a tongue tripping over a peninsula of sharp and slippery consonants.
Last week he’d served her a notification insisting on the removal of her bees.
published in Award Winning Australian Writing 2013 (Melbourne Books) – an excerpt
As he spooned risotto into his mouth Clare watched the horns of his head glisten. She thought she could even discern a pulse, regular and hypnotic, under the sheen of taut, moulded skin. His name was Dylan. Clare thought it seemed a normal-enough name, yet the creature himself was far from ordinary. Beside the horned one, her son Josh sat shovelling in mouthful after mouthful. He was avoiding her eye.
‘This is good, Mum.’
‘Glad you like it.’
Clare thought she saw a smirk twitch at the corner of Josh’s mouth: an unvoluntary acknowledgement of the distress he was causing her. Determined not to let him win this round she leapt, headfirst, into conversation.
‘So, what do you do with yourself, Dylan?’
The horned one looked up, startled to be addressed. Clare levelled her gaze a Dylan while observing Josh from the corner of her eye. That’ll get him, she thought. If Josh reckons he’s going to freak me out by bringing home weirdos, he’s kidding himself. Clare raised a napkin to her lips to veil her smils.
‘I work at the tattoo parlour. Doing a kind of apprenticeship.’
Dylan leant over the table and showed Clare the inside of his forearm. A golden koi pulsed against his skin, its broad carp head nuzzling towards the hub of his elbow.
Josh reach across and grabbed a slice of garlic bread.
‘Nice, eh, Mum? I could get one of those. A chestplate pattern. Right across the middle’. Her son traced his fingers over his breasts and raised his eyebrows. He was in his element.
Dylan continued. ‘It’s based on a drawing I did of the fish. It’ll be years until they let me near the gun, though. Jez, the guy who owns the place, did this one.’
Clare scraped at the gelatinous rice grains on her plate.
‘I would have got it the other way,’ she said. She began collecting the plates and headed into the kitchen.
‘What do you mean?’ Josh was quick. He thought he had her.
‘Swimming toward my hand. So it would look like I was going to catch it.’ Clare grabbed
Dylan’s arm and examined it again. ‘Or let it go.’ She traced the pattern of seaweed. ‘Yours will be always trapped. Swimming upstream.’
‘Koi’ was 2012 winner of the Independent Education Union of Australia (Queensland and Northern Territory) Literary Award.
‘The Wind Carver’
published online at 1001 nights cast, a durational performance by Barbara Campbell
Today as we sit here looking out at the sea, our legs braced against the breakwater, he has made me a Zephyr. A parting gift, he says, as he whispers the breeze against my neck, as he lifts the hair from my shoulders and exhales.
Was it so long ago that we had first met? Perhaps, yes, it was.
I had taken refuge from the heat of the day under a market umbrella, a stall which sold jewellery carved from bone. Creamy white patterns of fish and exotic animals were tied with leather thong and lay suspended from the rack. Across the black fabric table pendants were as delicious as pieces of white chocolate, smooth and cool. Under the umbrella the noise and bustle of the market faded, I watched the passage of legs and shoes, and wondered if I could face the hassle of the vegetable stalls.
My fingers stroked the circular shapes of bone carving, and I turned to find a man smiling at me from the back of his Ute. Viento he said, and nodded toward the necklace I was holding, it is the wind. The most delicately carved bone pendant curved, laced, intertwined and rippled in my palm. The piece was exquisite, unlike anything I had seen.
I didn’t realise at the time, but in purchasing the piece I had entered into a contract. He was to become my lover, my translator of the elements. In bed at night he would speak the languages of winds as he traced swirls and whorls with his fingers over the length of my back. Shamal, Meltemi, Coromell, Boreas. His tongue was thick with meaning, as if by speaking he could make me understand the complex and extraordinary patterns of air. Papagayo, Pampero, Maestro he would moan and quake. Once, he climaxed and yelled Cockeyed Bob! and collapsed on the pillow beside me. As he reclined, I watched in disbelief through the window as leaves, dust and dirt spiralled in the backyard. While he slept, I crept out to the lounge room and as the kettle boiled consulted the dictionary to decipher the terms of our lovemaking.
During our lovemaking I felt it was perhaps the only time I ever truly understood him. He was a quiet man, speaking only when necessary and even then only if it related to the weather. Through him I began to understand the meaning of ordinary words I had never comprehended: barometric pressure, south easterly, coriolis