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Hello and happy almost end of Mars Retrograde. Mars has been travelling through my first house, the place of 'self' in my chart and it has been both brutal and enlightening. In this installment I share a few of my favourite things: the art of savouring and my next book.

The Childlike Joy of Looking Forward

Spring is my favourite month here in Brisbane. It kicks off with the unexpected arrival of the buttercup trees exploding in a brilliance of sunflower-yellow. They are followed by my most anticipated flowering of the year...the arrival of the periwinkle clusters of the jacarandas and the purple carpet the fallen flowers lay. Then it is neck-and-neck to see whose blossoms burst forth first: the fiery poinciana or the kaleidoscope of frangianis. Spring is a perfect example of something which has become increasingly important in my life: the act of looking forward to something.

Since Venus's retrograde cycle (12th May - 24th June) I have been slowing excavating what the blue print and architecture of my best life would look like. It wasn't until I read Julia Baird's Phosphorescence that I discovered #BestLife was a popular (and perhaps somewhat superficial) IG hashtag, but by then I already had the seven pillars of my best life and I wasn't about to drop them (or the quest for my best life). My best life is not about an IG-perfect photographic documentation (ie. a facade), it is about understanding more about those seven pillars and pursuing experiences which are congruent with them.

I wasn't terribly surprised, in that discovery phase during Venus Rx, that the second pillar/anchor to get my attention was 'looking forward to things'. When I began dating my Catalyst Beloved in late September 2015, the anticipation of seeing him was through the roof. It reminded me of how I felt when I was a kid, looking forward to spending time with my cousin. Thinking back, I can remember how slowly the clock would grind toward the appointed hour and for some reason, I have it linked in my memories with going between the clock in the kitchen and the barometer in the hallway of my Nanna and Pa's unit--as if a shift in the barometric pressure was a better divining of their arrival than the hands on the clock.

This particular kind of anticipation is encapsulated in the Inuit word iktsuarpok which refers to to the feeling of anticipation when you're expecting someone that leads you to constantly check to see if they're coming. It's the impatient excitement that fires the blood and makes you look out the window countless times in hope of seeing your guest arrive. Even our beloved Smuppy was infected with this in the heady days of that love affair, setting himself up on the balcony awaiting the arrival of the little white car and the man inside!

Becoming an adult, can take the edge of that childlike delight we once felt, and there's something about living in a world marked by a distinct lack of delayed gratification that also erodes the joy of looking forward to things. In the last few months, and especially since our restrictions eased here in Queensland, I've really leaned more into exploring this. It is a perfect way to practice wild patience, delayed gratification and honour the Inner Child. And as it turns out, it fits perfectly into the framework of savouring.

I had never really considered savouring as anything more than the transitory experience of enjoying the taste (and occassionally the scent) of something. And I most definitely consider that it offered a pretty potent way of operationalising the desire to experience more anticipation in my life. Enter stage left, Julia Baird and the chapters in Phosphorescence devoted to the topic of savouring.

And how does one operationalise savouring?

Baird quotes Associate Professor, Fred Bryant's (author of Savoring) three recommendations for savouring:

1. look forward to something

2. enjoy it when it occurs

3. reminisce about it afterwards

There are also strong connections between simple pleasures,  self-discipline (again we wave hello to delayed gratification) and savouring. 

I have been applying these three steps in unexpected ways. Is it possible to actually look forward to an essay or an exam? Is it possible to savour and enjoy them when I'm neck deep in them? Is it possible to return to them, in positive ways, after they are done and dusted? Let's just say, it is easier to apply this to things which are enjoyable (writing as compared with being tested!), but it was definitely something interesting to explore (especially for someone with sometimes formidable performance anxiety).

Looking forward to experiences is pivotal to the way I want to navigate life in the next two years. It's become even more important as I consider it as a panacea for future death grips of panxiety (when panic and anxiety team up to remind you of how pointy the rejection demons are and how despairing the place before releasing something creative into the world can be).

So without further ado, here is something I have been very much looking forward to sharing with you all...

Shades of Paradox

In 2019 I launched The Daily Breath, a poem-a-day-for-a-year project, extending and solidifying my previous adventures in cut-up poetry. Several things were fundamental to The Daily Breath. The first was it would honour my creativity in a way I hadn’t been quite brave enough to ask for: it would be a private, paid subscription service. In this way, it generated a small income but also gave me the freedom to come and go from social media as I chose. It asked me to show up every single day for 354 days (the number of days in a lunar month) regardless of how I felt, regardless of how inspired I was and regardless of whether I thought I was making a difference in the world (or not). I had never done something every day for a year (other than eat and breath)!

The Daily Breath was also, for the most part, a physical project: where possible, I made everything from scratch. I sometimes used commercially produced postcards, mainly for the aesthetic or the artists or designer and there were also the occasional digital series, again mostly because it allowed a flexibility that analogue items couldn’t give to that series.

Across 18 months, I built more than 500 poems for Daily Breath subscribers. At least 3/4 were actual physical pieces which now reside in the many corners of the world, on more than a few walls and fridges (which makes me tear up when I think of my work on someone's fridge, because we all know as kids that pride of place was on the fridge!)

With such a huge back catalogue of work, had I considered creating a collection? Yes, but reproducing cut-up poetry in digital form is tedious as fuck (I know, I’ve tried). I considered just the words without the pictures but that felt empty because there was always an interplay between the words and the pictures. I considered creating a hybrid but the photos had been chosen to make postcards and were not all in uniform orientation needed for a book.

Shades of Paradox was a perfect storm in so many ways. It was the most ambitious series I undertook in the 18 months of The Daily Breath. The series was inspired by Kaolin Fire's urban photos...the paradox of images and the layers within layers gave me an artistic sensibility I wanted to explore from a poetic dimension. The poems were created as longer, thinner pieces, where the photograph was only pasted at the top and was lifted to reveal a longer poem behind. The dimensions was a sheer fluke. All I knew was I wanted to be able to lift the image up to hide a different poem beneath. In the space below the photograph, a short poem appeared. 

While my world hunkered down mid-lockdown and then the wider world howled with injustice and erupted in violence across late May and into June, I turned up and found solace in my daily cut-and-paste. It took me more than two hours to make these every day. Each poems was between 14 and 17 lines long. It was a gruelling creative endeavour, as my trauma bubbled to the surface and ate away at my desire to be here. All my poems mean something to me, but the poems for Shades of Paradox were (and remain) more. They were my anchor to stay here, and I wanted them to be more, as I wanted to be more than a husk.

They were poems that demanded a second life, but my sights were set smaller initially as to what that second life would look like.

I decided I would create a collection, with an extremely limited print run of three for a friend's birthday: one for Kim, one for Kaolin (who gifted the use of his photos) and one for me. When I started assembling the photos and words in Indesign, late one night in early August, there were so many reasons why it shouldn’t have worked, but there is magick in this collection.

It created itself.

And when I got parts of it horribly wrong, it pivoted itself into a better fit. And then again, when I returned to my (disappointingly imperfect) proof copies a few months after they arrived. I dug into the poems in a new way so they could be the best possible poems, letting go of the need for them to accurate reproductions of the originals, and in doing so, release them to be what they wanted to be.

So, for anyone who owns an original Shades of Paradox poem, you are more likely than not to see your poem in a different rendering here. Or you might be surprised to find yours untouched.

If nothing else, 2020 has shown us how the concreteness of stability, order and structure is an illusion. The world we live in is far more complex and simple than we thought it was. It is freer moving and more stubbornly resistant than we gave it credit for. The words of Shades of Paradox held me in the most patient and comforting of ways when I was falling apart. The words, the poems and the images exist in the light and the dark, and I believe there is a mercurial nature to them, so they are in no way firmly fixed in either, but have the capacity to morph to be what they need to be for you, in any particular minute of any particular day.

For that reason, it is a wee book, perfect to be tucked away in handbags and satchels, to be ready to hand when you might need it most.

My hope is you too find a gift in these words as I did; where they can hold a space, and hold you, in the extreme of times and in all the shades between.

Pre-Orders are open now for the paperback, with the ebook and a digital pay-what-you-want to follow. Release date is December, 1st.

Bowie Does Cut-Up

I knew I shared my penchant for cut-up poetry with David Bowie, but what I didn't know was it became increasingly central to his song writing and that a friend created a computer program in the mid 90's so he could retire the snippets of words in a bowl approach.

In the 1970's he spoke of cut-up in this way.

“What I’ve used it for, more than anything else, is igniting anything  that might be in my imagination. It can often come up with very interesting attitudes to look into. I tried doing it with diaries and things, and I was finding out amazing things about me and what I’d done and where I was going.”

You can see him actually cutting up lyrics here.

In an interview in 1995 he spoke more to the use of cut-up, saying it was the generative process half the time in his song writing:

"..if you put three or four dissociated ideas together and create awkward relationships with them, the unconscious intelligence that comes from those pairings is really quite startling sometimes, quite provocative."

And as a side note, he considered the way cut-up had the ability to peer into both the future and past as "a very Western tarot".


While we're talking new books, Elyora will be making its way to Kindle for the first time ever with a brooding new cover. More to come in the next missive.

here and beyond


I've been:

watching To The Lake (Russian and really bloody good) and Brave New World (meh, Huxley would be turning in his grave)

listening to Silverchair's Frogstomp and the newly discovered Ghost of a Podcast by Jessica Lanyadoo

reading FlyAway (Kathleen Jennings) and Ghost Species (James Bradley)

eating the almond croissants at Hallowed Grounds

drinking homemade iced tea (best with both apple and lemon garnishes) and cold drip coffee

loving the cool afternoon Brisbane breezes as the sun goes down

and beyond

The World is the final stop on the soul's journey. It speaks to the end of cycles and is a timely pull as Mars moves through its final week in this retrograde, turning direct next Saturday morning here in Brisbane.

The World invites us to consider how we've grown, what we have learned, what we've let go of and how we're different since September 10th when Mars began their retrograde in  home sign Aries.

Consider the instances where you've lost your temper, or let's been honest, lost your shit? What did that signal about your boundaries, how you establish for them, how you maintain them, how others honour them and what they say about what you will and wont do? Forgiveness for the moments when we've stepped out of integrity is a is offering forgiveness to others as well. We have literally been living and breathing energy the equivalent of sand paper, and I'm pretty sure no one has been immune to the constant aggravation.

As one cycle ends, another prepares to be birthed. What are you ready to dream into existence at the end of this? What are you ready to gift yourself as the fool--stepping out into the Void of Possibility.

The Booktress

Margary Street, Brisbane

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