Data on the Download

  • austlit

In this statistics driven world, here are some figures from the Austlit database of Australian writers’ publications. The first figure is for overall text publications, while the second figure is for poetry publications specifically. Granted, the good people of Austlit don’t always find every publication, review or award that an author receives and actually need writers to email them with publication details to make their listing even more accurate.

Below are the 8 Queensland poets chosen by Sarah Holland-Batt for this year’s 2016 The Best Australian Poems ranked according to their number of poetry publications. All excellent and award-winning poets and Holland-Batt should be applauded for ensuring this significant Queensland representation. I’ve included Felicity Plunkett and Tom Shapcott in this list; Shapcott because his genesis was in Queensland and Plunkett because of her publication and editorial role with UQP. Of course quality overrides quantity every time, and as Holland-Batt has also pointed out  – there are always more than 100 best poems published in any one year and editors are restricted to this number.

I’m fine with not being included for the last three years in this anthology; living in Queensland, away from the editorial, academic, generational and cliquey powerhouses of Sydney and Melbourne, I’m sure that Geoff Page doesn’t even know who the fuck I am. I’ve never been published in ABR either. Or in Quadrant. Or in Jacket.I’ve learnt to be patient, resilient and just to keep on writing, as without a doubt, existing on the margins and in the regions of the art form is a serious impediment to national reputation and publication, unless you’re playing the scene I suspect.

*Thomas Shapcott – 1520 (1053 poetry)

*M.T.C. Cronin – 943 (898 poetry)

*Lionel Fogarty – 637 (634 poetry)

*Liam Ferney – 149 (140 poetry)

*Jaya Savige – 157 (115 poetry)

*Bronwyn Lea – 130 (108 poetry)

*Felicity Plunkett – 166 (46 poetry)

*Ellen Van Neerven – 30 (14 poetry)

Furthermore, I have included the list of the Queensland poets published in ABR’s Queensland – ‘States of Poetry’ project edited by Felicity Plunkett. The 5 italicized poets have had poetry collections previously published by UQP. The double asterisked poets are included in both anthologies. Felicity Plunkett, herself a UQP poet has been the UQP poetry editor since 2010. Three of the selected poets had new UQP collections out this year. No conflict of interest here I guess in cross-promoting authors but, was this anthology really the ‘state of poetry’ in Queensland, or more the ‘state of UQP poetry’ in Queensland?

** M.T.C. Cronin – 943 (898 poetry)

**Lionel Fogarty – 637 (634 poetry)

Stuart Barnes – 123 (112 poetry)

Sarah Holland-Batt – 108 (96 poetry)

Nathan Sheperdson – 54 (52 poetry)

**Ellen Van Neerven – 30 (14 poetry)

So according to this comparison, when Felicity Plunkett edits an anthology she chooses Sarah Holland-Batt, and when Sarah Holland-Batt edits an anthology she chooses Felicity Plunkett. Poetry editors keeping things tight. Both chose Lionel Fogarty and Ellen van Neerven, supporting established and emerging Indigenous poets from Queensland which is a good call. I have no beef with that.. At best, however on paper this looks to be a homogenization of Queensland poetry , a select few being promoted, almost a closed shop and unless you’ve signed up to the union…..At worst it looks like pure nepotism and favouritism amongst a select coterie of editors and their stable of poets.

My bitch is that Queensland poetry is far more diverse in nature than is represented by either of these two new anthologies. Plunkett assured us at the recent 2016 Queensland Poetry Festival that there will be a second round of the ‘States of Poetry’ series for Queensland poets. Holland-Batt assured me that she, ‘excluded many poets who [I] have known in Queensland, including most of the poets recently published with UQP. Hopefully, some of my concerns about inclusion will be addressed in 2017.

Oh, and for the record my publication details are;

B. R. Dionysius – 525 (513 poetry)






2016 The Best Australian Poems

The Best Australian Poems 2016

This post will win me no friends, but fuck it who cares – the world has shifted on its axis. It’s been spurred by the Facebook pain of my dear friend Rebecca Edwards who is not included in Puncher and Wattman’s Contemporary Australian Poetry 1990-2015. (Update – Rebecca was included, but didn’t know about it). I did make the cut, which for me marks the first time I’ve been included in a national anthology of Australian poetry since Five Island Press’s, New Music: an Anthology of Contemporary Australian Poetry published some fifteen years ago in 2001. So I understand some of her psychic discomfort; some fucked up sliding doors phenomena, as though your poetic life over that period never existed at all.

So, the annual ‘best of’ Australian poetry published in 2016 is out courtesy of Black Inc. and edited this year by Sarah Holland-Batt (with the help of her cat Lola it seems). Right now there are two parties of Australian poets – the ones who were published in the anthology celebrating the fact, and the other party who missed out, scratching their heads and thinking ‘Why wasn’t I included?’ ‘I published heaps of poems this year, why didn’t she pick one of my poems?”I didn’t even get a rejection email!’

Anthologies I’ve learnt, are pretty random like poetry prizes. With poetry prizes the top say five shortlisted poems could all have won said competition usually, such is the quality of poetry now being produced in this country. The anthology I like to be included in is the annual Newcastle Poetry Prize anthology because all the entries are judged blind and get up on the strength of their writing, not because of some past or present association, political/aesthetic allegiance, part of some academic coterie, generational junta or for heaven’s sake because of mutual respect or god forbid conference friendship.

The usual names are there. The big guns.Generation 68, L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E poets, current literary journal editors, PhD poets, concrete poets, anti-pastoral poets, landscape poets, lyric poets, Sydney poets, Melbourne poets etc. As one of the poets who is scratching their head whilst members of the other party celebrate on social media, I could give in to bitterness and depression and paranoia about being left out. Jesus, the editor was even from my home state of Queensland (and city Brisbane), but that still didn’t sway her decision to include my work. Good on her for not being too parochial. There is at least a smattering of sunshine state poets included.

Clive James is in there. Again. Not quite dead yet I see as he’s still able to submit poems for consideration. I wonder how many poems he published in Australia this year? Then again he was video-cast during the Queensland Poetry Festival too this year, so he must still be of some cultural significance to editors and organisers in Australia – a place he hasn’t called home for a while. Then again, Clive Palmer got a gig too last year at Australia’s premier poetry festival and he’d only published a single slim volume of juvenilia maybe 30 years ago. But he made poetry actually newsworthy! Maybe that’s the strategy to adopt – go a long way on little talent, bullshit your way to the top like Trump has this week.

Then again this year I’ve had to deal with another oversight, so I’ve learnt to turn myself into steel. The best way to hit back at omission is to keep on writing and publishing your work. Like that scene in ‘Die Hard’ when Hans Gruber says to his gang of European criminals after they’ve hit an armoured police car with a rocket launcher,’Hit them again.’ There was that incident at the QPF when I questioned Felicity Plunkett over her editorial selection for the ABR ‘States of Poetry’ Queensland series. I asked her how she could justify selecting five UQP poets for the anthology out of the six poets included, when she was a) not a resident of Queensland, b) a published UQP poet herself, and c) the current UQP poetry editor. I don’t know, maybe I am being paranoid, but she gave a long-winded response about wanting an Indigenous poet and a queer poet and how two of the poets had been selected six months earlier when they didn’t have UQP contracts or publications, so they didn’t really count as UQP poets then. She didn’t mention either that three of the UQP poets had new books out this year – Holland-Batt, Barnes and van Neerven, so including them would help publicise their collections I guess?

What I objected to in that project was that two of the poets chosen didn’t even have books published at the time (they do now), and two of the poets are practically interstate blow-ins, one having been here for only three years. All I could help thinking was, what about other Queensland poets like Liam Ferney, Brentley Frazer, Vanessa Page, Kristin Hannaford, Chloe Callistemon, Carmen Leigh-Keates, Duncan Richardson and Ross Clark? Even Anthony Lawrence and Stuart Cooke who teach at Griffith University GC could surely stake a claim representing Queenslandness! Plunkett said that there’s more anthologies to come from ABR, a second or even third round maybe where inclusiveness (or non-UQP published poets) will get their chance. I just hope we don’t have to wait another fifteen years for the opportunity.

On the way out of that QPF session I was hissed at by Madonna Duffy, who said and I quote, ‘Maybe they were just the best!’

When it come to the selection of poetry in anthologies, I do hope that’s the goddam awful truth.




2016 Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Competition

“Das Kapital” and “Goblin Valley, Utah” have been shortlisted in the Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Competition. “Das Kapital” was written in response to the sudden and untimely death of the poet and thinker, Thomas Connolly who I knew in West End in the 1990s.Tom was a regular on the Brisbane poetry scene reading at venues such as Café Bohemia, Chalice Poets, Metro Arts, the Brisbane Fringe Festival and the Brisbane Writers Fringe Festival. He relocated to Tasmania where he continued to influence people with his wisdom, poetry and knowledge. “Goblin Valley, Utah” tells the recent story of a troop of scout leaders who knocked over precariously balanced boulder formations in Goblin Valley, Utah, that were millions of years old, out of ‘safety concerns’. The winners and place-getters will be announced at the MPU Awards Night on Friday 25 November 2016 at Collected Works Bookshop, 1st floor, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne.