Post-It Note Poetry Collection (2021)

February was a huge month of poetry, with the successful hosting of Post-It Note Poetry by Christina Hira and myself. It was our first foray into the world as public partners of a creative or poetic project (though if we’re honest, Post-It Note Poetry is less of a project and more of an ocean with a tide and mind of its own).

This year, we chose to infuse the month with the theme of ‘poets write poetry’. This was all about claiming ourselves as poets, something both Christina and I have struggled with…how the word ‘poet’ holds a torch for our words in a very different way.

Among the possible ideas we entertained under this umbrella of ‘poets write poetry’ was to publish a collection at the end of the month.

We are very proud today, to share with you the very first collection of Post-It Note Poetry, containing the work of the following poets from the 2021 round:

Effie Katrakazos
Yvonne Sanders
Adam Byatt
Christina Hira
Jodi Cleghorn
Dianna Manjarrez
Nichole Pace
Robert G. Cook
M.X. Kelly
Denise Sparrowhawk
Fiona-May
Janette Dalgliesh
Jessica Morgan
Tiare Snow
Heartland Magic
Knight_of_Cats
Robin Bower
Trish Weill
Judith Milburn
Marion Taffe
Jen Byrne
Rebecca Bielik Zick

You can download the collection here for free.

 

 

 

Mount Pleasant – A Track By Track Breakdown

Here is a track-by-track breakdown of the songs on the record, what inspired the band and how I used those ideas to create the narrative of each song for the book.

Listen to the album here: MOUNT PLEASANT

Prologue

I wrote the Prologue as a way of establishing the setting and motifs of the collection, that of deceit, deception and false facades. The setting of Western Sydney was inspired by the origins of the band, and it is the city I live in.

The Prologue is a fictional retelling of the changing of the name of the suburb where three of the band members grew up. There is no music for this piece of flash fiction but it explains the origins of the album’s title and frames the inspiration of each track, and allowed me to explore a set of stories based in Western Sydney in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The title of the album comes from the name of the suburb where three of the band members grew up. As a name it no longer exists. The local council wiped its name to clear itself of the violence and dangerous youths inhabiting the space. Nothing changed except the name.

Track 1 Holding Pattern

This was the first song released off the album and the first story I wrote. The title of the song is an in-joke as a close friend of the band claimed they were being kept in a ‘holding pattern’ due to the band’s lack of decision making. The band describe the song as being a bit all over the place but feeling right.

It was released with the cover art of the album which gave me the idea of a young girl living in an apartment complex, running up and down the stairs as a means of having some form of control in her life. She meets a recently arrived young boy and the story explores the holding pattern each of them lived in based on their suburb and how it affects their lives.

The song is angular and emphatic in the opening before a pause, a held breath leading to a crushing crescendo, and I wanted the narrative to have that same sense of movement. To have the reader imagine what it means to run, to be held within social strictures, and to be left behind.

Track 2 – Potemkin

The song title refers to the Potemkin village. The myth of the term comes from stories of a fake portable village built solely to impress Empress Catherine II by her former lover Grigory Potemkin, during her journey to Crimea in 1787.

I translated the original setting of Crimean Russia to that of a high school student, the pauper queen as she is named in the story, attending a performance of King Lear and explores the artifice of theatre as a metaphor of the schoolgirl’s existence. This existence extends to where she lives and how it defines her life and the life of her younger brother.

For the ending of this story I channelled John Hughes and The Breakfast Club for a monologue that would look great as a short film or a slam poem.

Track 3 – Pendock and Progress

This is my favourite song on the album. It is fast, frenetic, chaotic and triumphant, yet has pauses for breath. And I love the sound of the snare drum; it’s a perfect sonic fit in the track. It is the names of the streets where the band grew up.

It was the second song released and the second story I wrote. Pendock Close became a cul-de-sac, a dead-end street the protagonist rides his second-hand bike around. The cul-de-sac stands as a metaphor for the facades of society we inhabit, those we are forced to live and yet have no understanding there is something other what you consider normal.

Track 4 – Meet Me In The Meadow

This is a softer sounding song, and the narrative follows the burgeoning relationship a girl has with her crush, and the metamorphosis of adolescent sexuality. It is almost romantic in its feel, and the band used a quote from the Wes Anderson film, “Moonlight Sunrise” as the title.

In reading a synopsis of the film, the romantic element stood out. Not wanting to frame a narrative with a Wes Anderson style I diverted it to examine how boys and girls engage with the facades of masculinity and femininity; how they are both forced into frameworks that are detrimental to their developing sense of emotional, sexual and mental identity.

There are echoes and facets of these facades found in other stories in this collection, notably “Potemkin,” “Time Away” and “Gueules Cassees.” We need to interrogate who we are and understand how we have been deceived into accepting less than what we are worth.

Track 5 – Shambles

This story has a lightness in the music and in the content in comparison to the other stories. It is more comic in its approach than the other stories but still reflects the divide we encounter between what we think we are and what we really are. It is tongue in cheek in places, and it was definitely fun to write, and is reflected in the bouncy joyfulness of the music.

The protagonist is in his last year of high school and his academic life is a bit of a shambles. He’s a Western suburbs philosopher who likes grunge, works in a fish’n’chip shop and says there are two types of people in every situation. It even had my editor, Jodi, using “There are two types of people…” in her vernacular after editing this story.

I don’t think we use the word “shambles” enough. Time to bring it back.

Track 6 – Time Away

The band describe the song as an attempt of taking “time away” from all of the pitfalls of life but the escape is never found. Therefore my vision for this story was the father of a family who get to go on a holiday to the Gold Coast only to come home and find out he has been retrenched.

When Jodi sent back her initial edits, the email began with an expletive enhanced exclamation. I know if I get that then the story is working. Ben Hobson, who provided the quote on the cover, also connected with this story. I believe it is the heart of the collection.

The opening of this song has two parts. The first sounds like a demo track, setting up the motif of the track. The second part of the opening is a favourite section of mine as it has the drum track muted, all the top end rolled off so there is no sibilance in the hi hats, and it feels like a heartbeat, which was channelled into the father in the story. When the track kicks in proper, the bass drum is a thumping vibrancy underpinning the remainder of the track. There are so many layers to this track in its construction as it builds and builds in the midsection of the track before pulling back, and it is in this section, the return to the muted drums, that the father in the story wrestles with himeself.

It is perhaps one of the “softest” stories to read but the resonance is unsettling. Stories of masculinity and what that means, are in the forefront of our minds, and how that affects us, our children and families, and the wider community. From that central story, which as Track 6 is like the halfway point, every other story resonates from that point and reflects the broader perspectives and perceptions. One action can have far-reaching consequences.

Track 7 – Summer Sun

This story references the horrendous summer bushfires of 2001/2002 in Sydney where the paradoxical beauty of the world is slowly being destroyed. Our understanding of the macro comes into focus when we see the lives of individuals in the micro.

Bushfires are a constant threat in Australia and in 2019-2020, from September to almost March, significant parts of the country were on fire. This year we have had significant rainfall and lower temperatures.

We will within this dichotomy, between risk and reward, and the story focuses on a young man who observes the destruction of the bushfire even as his own body undergoes chemotherapy treatment.

Track 8 – Well, Go Well

This song serves as an interlude before “Gueules Cassees” and the band was influenced by Boards of Canada in the composition of this track.

I used it as a platform to lead in the final track, and once I knew what the focus was for “Gueules Cassees” I focused on developing a masculine voice for this interlude. A Twitter thread gave this piece its impetus where the user asked people to respond with apologies used by men in situations of domestic violence, sexual assault or manipulative behaviour in relationships. This narrative is a compilation of various apologies which frames the final track on the album.

The opening of the narrative begins, “APOLOGISE LIKE A MAN.” and uses various iterations of this sentence with different punctuation and capitalisation. It is also the final line. I was interested in how punctuation and capitalisation affected the reading experience and the intended meaning.

Track 9 – Gueules Cassees

The band describes this as the most brutal track to close on. “Gueules Cassees” is a French term meaning ‘broken faces’ and refers to ex-servicemen of World War 1 who returned home with disfigured faces due to the war. A Google search will provide you with some horrifying images of the reality of war, and the people who tried to assist them in their return to society where physical disfigurement lead to social ostracism, loss of status, breakdown of relationships or being turned away from jobs.

I needed to find a parallel of broken faces and in choosing the issue of domestic violence, I wanted to engage with the issue and the hiddenness of its impact on women. I was hesitant to write this, wanting to be authentic and truthful without getting it wrong, so I sought the opinion of other readers. Three women volunteered to read for me, to ensure I had the veracity of the story correct. Unfortunately, it rang true for those early readers, and they also offered new insights to develop the narrative further. I hope I have done this narrative justice.

It is a brutal concept, reflected in the music and the language. Seeing this song played live at the end of 2020 was remarkable as I had had the story drafted, and the intensity of the track was palapble to me.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for listening.

POETS WRITE POETRY FOR THE 9TH CONSECUTIVE YEAR

Post-It Note Poetry Returns, 1st February 2021

Post-It Note Poetry (PINP), incepted in 2012 as a writing dare, returns for its 9th year in February 2020. Begun by writing partners, Adam Byatt and Jodi Cleghorn, the challenge was to write bad poetry on post-it notes for 28 days. From humble beginnings, it quickly caught the quirk and imagination of poets and non-poets alike across social media. Many foundation participants return each year to exercise their micro poetry muscles.

Curators of this year’s event, Jodi Cleghorn and Christina Hira, are excited about what awaits.

“I am in awe that what began by accident nine years ago is both a calendar event for seasoned Post-It Note Poets but something which grabs the imagination of new people who jump in to try it each year,” said Jodi, who published her debut cut-up poetry collection, Shades of Paradox in 2020. “Often for those new people, it is their first time playing with words poetically since they were teenagers. For the returning poets, it is very much like getting the band back together.”

This year PINP21 embraces the theme: “poets write poetry.”

 “The fear of living up to the title poet is one that often stops me from beginning in the first place” said Christina, whose debut poetry collection Her Webs was published in 2018. “As I was creating the image for this year’s PINP, I came across the 1980 dictionary by Funk and Wagnalls. The definition of a poet is as follows: One who writes poems. It isn’t one who writes good poetry, or one who writes poems every-day, or one who has a published book of poetry. No, just one who writes poems.”

“We invite everyone to be a poet in February,” said Jodi, “by letting go of value judgements or expectations, and just having fun with word.”

Curation duties will be split between Instagram and Facebook with Christina facilitating the challenge on Instagram and Jodi in the dedicated Facebook group.

Hashtag for this year’s event is #pinp21

ABOUT POST-IT NOTE POETRY

The philosophy behind Post-It Note Poetry is simple:

  1. To encourage people of all skills sets and persuasions to explore and have fun with poetry – whether they are seasoned poets or curious souls attempting poetry for the first time.
  2. To create within a confined physical space (the size of a post-it note) as a positive limitation. It is also a way of making poetry composition possible for 28 consecutive days.
  3. To come together once a year as a community to write, read, share and amplify the joy of poetry.

THE RULES

The rules are simple for those who’d like to play along at home (at work, on the bus or in any of those in between places perfect for scribbling poetic words on small squares of sticky paper).

  • Write/build/create a poem every day of February*
  • Poems must fit on a post-it note (or be an equivalent sized poem – ie. no more than 8 lines on a larger backing).
  • Poems must adhere to the original light-hearted spirit of permission to write badly – in which poems can tackle serious content, but internal editors/critics all get a break over February.
  • Post poems to social media with the hashtag #PINP21
  • Follow the hashtag and enjoy what others are creating.

*or as many days as feels comfortable and capable for you.

For more information contact:

Jodi Cleghorn via Facebook

Christina Hira via Instagram @wild.dark.magic

 

 

Mount Pleasant Cover Reveal

Today we can reveal the cover for Adam’s forthcoming release, Mount Pleasant.
Mount Pleasant is a concept chapbook of 10 short stories based on the music of Solkyri, from Sydney, Australia. Solkyri are a post-rock band, and this is their fourth album, released in February 2020. Mount Pleasant is inhabited by individuals who experience joy and laughter, doubt and confusion, fear and uncertainty, revelation and resurrection. These stories invite us to reflect on who we are now and ask us to investigate ourselves in relation to the pasts that may or may not have shaped us and the futures we wish to shape for ourselves. “I am conscious of where I come from and the sadness that grows inside of me. I am curious to know what it means and what it makes me.”

In a Western Sydney suburb that no longer exists, its name erased and replaced with another, a façade is created to mask the truth of its existence.

Behind it is… a girl who runs a young woman dreaming beyond her uniform a boy cycling through his family line a girl who yearns for metamorphosis a young man playing with polarities a father who has lost himself a young man decaying under the summer sun a man’s apology a woman who longs to be seen

When the viciousness of hope is a powerful drug, the inescapability of hopelessness is even more devasting.

What is Post-rock? Post-rock is a form of experimental rock music characterised by an exploration of textures and timbres, structures and forms, soundscapes and riffs, rather than a verse/chorus, verse/chorus structure typically found in rock music. The music has its own narrative through the rise and fall of sounds, textures, tempos, crescendos and decrescendos, aural assaults and minimalist orchestration. Who Are Solkyri? Formed in 2006, Solkyri deliver moments that blend intense vulnerability with pure power built around the interplay of guitars and driving rhythms, with nods to math-rock, shoegaze and ambient music. ‘Mount Pleasant’ strives to push the boundaries of both sides of its personality, its unyielding energy and its tender moments of intimacy. It is the culmination of years of personal reflection and the rediscovery of passion. Prominent radio station Triple J described it as “Beautiful yet precisely chaotic post-rock.” I encourage you to have a listen to the record (link below) via Bandcamp: Mount Pleasant. I have been to many of their gigs in the past and they are always a great live band. And check out other great bands on Birds Robe Records. A huge thanks to Jodi Cleghorn for the design work and layout. Another thank you goes to Ben Hobson, author of To Become A Whale and Snake Island, who said, “Profound slices of human truth. There is such a clarity in character, and a precision in a lived experience of Australia within these stories. Adam’s skill is in making us remember those small moments in our lives that mean so much to us. Read this to engage your heart.” In the next post Adam will explain the inspiration behind each track from the band’s perspective and how it inspired his take on each track. Links for preorder will be available very soon.