Mount Pleasant Cover Reveal

I know I have been banging on about working towards a new project so I am very thankful that today I can reveal the cover for my 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 my next post I will explain the inspiration behind each track from the band’s perspective and how it inspired my take on each track.

Links for preorder will be available very soon via The Jar Writers Collective.

Dear 2021: The Start of It

Late last year I contributed to a project run by Nik Perring, Writer-In-Residence at Sheffield Library in the UK, titled Dear 2021: The Start of It.

The project was an initiative of Sheffield Library and their new digital channel. And it is now live. You can watch and listen to a range of poems.

Dear 2021, The Start of It videos

Here’s the teaser: Sheffield Library Teaser

There’s also a playlist of those who contributed: Sheffield LIbrary Playlist

And here is the link to my contribution: A Prayer for 2021

I hope you spend some time listening to these are there are some remarkable pieces reflecting on the year that was, and looking forward to the year that will be.

Here is the text of my poem so you can follow along as you listen to my Antipodean accent.

Next year
is a year of cautious uncertainty
of starting lists of Things To Do, People To See, Dreams To Have
written on sheets of wet paper
trying hard not to push the pen through in our haste and excitement
Slowly, slowly. Take your time.
We wish for the ordinary like shopping for toilet paper, attending birthday parties, listening to live music, having cups of tea together

After the year that has been
we remember Death still has its sting
not the quick, sharp bite of a Band Aid pulled from the skin
but the tearing of a soul from soul
where we collect the leftover memories like crumbs
to drop them as markers to find our way back to a hope worn gently across our shoulders
a favourite hoodie we wear for comfort in our solace and solitude
hands stuck deep into pockets, cradling ourselves

May gentleness be our watchword, a whispered prayer for salvation
heard in the boiling of the kettle
seen in the pegs holding our washing on the clothesline
the ghosts of ourselves dancing in the wind

When our hands were empty of crumbs, they retreated in fear
tightened into fists holding nothing but emptiness
let us unfurl our fists and dip them into bags of seeds
planting in the fallow soil and hoping for a harvest
let us return to the courtesy of common unity, enrich the soil of our neighbour’s yard
bless each other’s humanity and pray for rain to water the soil

Next year
we will listen for the cadence of time in the snap of fresh bed sheets
not the turning of pages of the calendar like autumn leaves

Next year
while I have lungs to give breath to speak
soaked as they are in the condensation of compassion and doubt
I will squeeze my lungs out like sponges
and give utterance to my hope
letting my words drip over my hands
down my arms
running off my elbows
into the ploughed ground of next year

Next year
each day is an advent, the waiting for an adventure
the coming of things promised

2021 is Limitless

2021 is Limitless

Each year the members of The JAR Writers Collective develop a word for ourselves that will help define the year to come for our individual goals and pursuits, dreams and visions.

My word for 2021 is LIMITLESS.

I can see it as a reaction to the restrictions we have endured in 2020 but I am thinking more along the lines of internal perceptions of my own creativity, faith and spirituality, sense of self, who I am as a husband and father (and what it means for my family) who I am as a teacher (and what that means for me and my students). I am no fool to think that 2021 will not have its challenges and difficulties (I can already outline a few of them) but where is my focus to cope with them and to build resilience?

In being limitless.

I have stuck the Post It Note above my desk to be a constant reminder to build my foundations in something stronger than myself in order to know who I am and to be a blessing to others.

What is your word for the year?

Gallery

What I Will Leave Behind… and is it worth it?

A story, attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, recounts his time working alongside an archaeologist who began to ask Kurt questions about his life and his interests. Kurt commented on his activities such as choir, literature, learning an instrument. Yet Kurt felt … Continue reading

The Fallow Season

The Fallow Season

Due to the nature of my job as a high school English teacher there are certain times of the year when the time to create is very limited.

This is one of those times.

July to September is very busy, and time to focus on large projects or develop new ideas is very limited. Therefore I call this my fallow season.

I leave projects and ideas on hold, waiting for the next break to pick them up again. I can do little things like drawing but writing projects wait.

It is frustrating for a number of reasons. If I have built momentum on a project I have to let it slow down. If I want to spend time developing a new project it can only be done in small parcels of time if I have the mental strength to do so. It is frustrating because I am not where I want to be as a writer. There are other factors in the background that also hinder progress, and each time I think I have found a new pattern or way of creating, the parameters shift and I have to restart.

So this is me, waiting out the season but watching over the fields.

Things To Do While Sitting With Grief

Things To Do While Sitting With Grief

tie your shoelaces with the perfect tightness you like. send a text to your best friend asking how he’s doing at the moment because you haven’t spoken in a while. and send one to your sister for the same reason.

write out a shopping list of what you will need for the week and include a treat for yourself. count the drops of rain falling and see if you can make it to one thousand.

read a book; the one you said you always would but never get around to.

respond to your best friend’s text and invite him over for dinner and ask him what his favourite food is and plan to make it. add the ingredients to the shopping list you started earlier.

turn your phone off. listen at the window. make a mental note of what you see in the colour of the sky and shape of the clouds. remember your first kiss and why it stays in your memory and not the last kiss you gave or received. wait for the echo.

paint your fingernails and toenails even if no one will see them. later, put on your favourite socks, the comfy ones you wear around the house with slippers.

measure the distance the shadow travels as it pushes in like the rising tide. tomorrow, time how long it takes.

draw the flowers in the vase and capture their fragility; a daguerreotype of death. next week, draw them when they have wilted. preserve it.

listen to the sound of your breathing, through your mouth, through your nose. clench your fists breathing in. release them breathing out.

The Cartographer’s Journal

Hello there,

It has been a little while since I’ve dropped in here to announce anything but in the background things have been happening.

During June I was participating in the #JARWriteathon where I set out to write a zine combining vignettes and poetry with continuous line drawing.

It is now finished and very soon it will be available for sale.

Here is the blurb:

The Cartographer’s Journal is the fragmented exploration of a man’s life following the death of his grandfather and is the catalyst for examining his life and the moments he remembers. He plots his experiences as way points and erects milestones to understand how memory, distorted and fragmented as it is, constructs an identity although it is not fixed until secured in retrospect.

These random moments of memory are catalogued in our heads, a sequence of unconnected and disconnected events that serve as marker points of who we are. To explore the past is to chart the periphery of maturation as “Here Be Dragons.”

We make our way forward in life by walking backwards.

You can see a preview HERE.

The Correlation Between Writing and Single Line Drawing

The Correlation Between Writing and Single Line Drawing

A single line drawn; a continuous, unbroken line.

The pen invents the existence of the image from the blank space of the page, drawing the white into the pen to reveal the darkness of the solar system beneath. Conversely, the tabula rasa of sight is given vision through the pen, leaking the blackness of the imagination onto the page.

The line takes shape: straight paradoxes, curved obstructions, angular indices, folded waves, circular epiphanies. The brevity of a single line suggests, coaxes, entices or has the complexity of a woven tapestry to illuminate, postulate, seduce.

As it is with words.

Single words.

Verb. Noun. Adjective. Preposition.

When connected together they expand, like the line, to form phrases and clauses. When arranged in single horizontal lines as sentences they give direction and purpose to the shape of the narrative.

Sentences with the lines of tailored couture bestow a resplendence of awareness.

Sentences with the sparseness of underpants and socks bestow a nakedness of understanding.

What are words but a single continuous line.

Mount Pleasant – Prologue

As you will now no doubt be reminded that Solkyri’s new album, Mount Pleasant, launches on March 6, 2020, and I am in the process of writing a piece of flash fiction for each track. Grab it, have a listen.

You can read Holding Pattern, and Pendock and Progress, the first two pieces.

The band is hosting an album launch on March 28, 2020 (if you’re in Sydney, Australia).

I am launching one more piece, a prologue to the album. After this I am setting out to write six more pieces for the other tracks and will launch the collection as a chapbook later in the year, probably before June (to allow for typesetting, set up, ordering copies and the like – stay tuned).

The prologue sets the scene for the thematic focus of the album: deception, decait and false facades. The stories are based on the inspiration behind each track, and interpreted in my own way, and my response to the music.

Mount Pleasant

Prologue

Four boys pulled up on their BMX bikes at the sign declaring the name of their suburb, dismounted and dropped their bikes just off the footpath in the unmown grass and collected rocks from the broken edging of the bitumen where it crumbled and exposed the road base.

The white reflective background of the sign mimicked a rainbow from the right angle as the boys took aim at the black and faded capital letters. This invisible line of demarcation creating a boundary of narrowed expectations as thin and carcinogenic as a cigarette. Scratched and pockmarked with its own acne.

The boys threw their rocks with no other intention than to score a hit, celebrating the ping as each rock struck. One of them drifted away, found a length of stick and started swinging through the heads of grass and weeds. He flung the stick towards his mates, skittering it along the footpath as it twisted and jumped, hitting one of them in the back of the legs. It was thrown back with greater force, catching him across the shins.

“Shithead.”

“Arsehole.” A smirk at having drawn spots of blood.

The honk of a horn and the rattle of ute pulling over onto the crumbled verge, tyres coughing through the gravel, passing the boys and pulling up just beyond the sign. Two council workers hopped out and began setting up tools at the base of the sign. The boys watched, ignored by the council workers. One of them pulled a packet of Burger Rings from under his t-shirt, filched from the servo where they’d pumped up their bike tyres. Another one passed around a packet of chewie.

A piece of gravel taken from the footpath and chucked it at the sign. It pinged and the council workers flinched and retorted, “Piss off!”

“What ya doing? Having smoko?”

“Changing the sign; what does it bloody look like?”

“Why?”

“Suburb’s getting a name change.”

“What for?”

“Because of hooligans like you, that’s what’s for.”

The four stood around as the council workers set up two step ladders behind the sign, climbed up and began loosening nuts. The spanner slipped from the hand of one of the workers and clattered in the gravel and dirt. The boys raised a mocking chorus of approval. They watched the name of their suburb come down, thrown into the back of the ute tray before the new sign was pulled from a cardboard sheath.

Within a few minutes the new sign was in place instantly changing the name of the suburb. The new sign gleamed pristine and fresh.

“Dad reckons changing the name of the suburb is like wearing a suit to the pub.”

“Yeah but your dad’s full of shit, too.”

Beyond the sign the suburb looked exactly the same, unaware of the name change and probably wouldn’t have cared for it anyway.

One of boys picked up another piece of gravel and chucked it at the sign, the ping ricocheting into the traffic noise.

“Different name. Same shithole.”

They spat their chewing gum at the sign, picked up their bikes, rode under the sign and headed home.

Momentum and Progress

For the first time in a long time I am feeling like I am riding the crest of a new creative wave; one of momentum and propulsion.
For the past few years, due to specific personal circumstances, my creativity has felt compressed and it was more of a release valve for me, by writing brief snippets of prose on paper, or writing poems on Post It Notes, and starting continuous line drawing.
None of it allowed me to build momentum and movement to pursue a project the way I wanted it to.
However I felt that if I stopped creating it would cease to be a significant part of my life in the way I believe it to be. Small pieces were a way of creating an equilibrium, allowing me to breathe above water.
This new year has opened up, and there is a great sense of peace and joy. I feel I am able to write freely again like I haven’t for quite some time.
Here’s to this year to bring dormant seeds to life.