Category Archives: Featured Artists




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by | October 27, 2014 · 8:31 am


lesley synge
on september 27







one of the great things about the move to the Lucky Duck is that some of our prodigals (and prodiguys) have returned to SpeedPoets more regularly
Lesley Synge is one of these, and we are so pleased to have her dropping in so often that we asked her to do a feature

I missed out on a copy of ‘Organic Sister’, but have long owned and cherished her book ‘Mountains Belong to the People who Love Them: Slow Journeys in South Korea and Eastern Australia’.  Grab a copy at SpeedPoets this Saturday.  You will not regret it.


LesleySynge Sep 14

  There is         © Lesley Synge

 There is evil in the world:
I’ve seen it glow.
I have looked into its furnace
and seen it blow.

 There is love in the world:
I’ve eased its flow.
I’ve dived beneath its surface
and felt its tow.

 There’s emptiness in this world:
emptiness to know.
I’ve slipped into its nothingness
haha hee hee
……………………ho ho


Lesley Synge documents life with eyes wide open. She turns her gaze with equal intensity to all before her, whether the wrongs of contemporary society or the serendipity of passing clouds.  She is widely published in prose as well as poetry and is an award-winning novelist and short story writer. Lesley Synge’s first collection of poetry Organic Sister has gone out of print and her most recent book is Mountains Belong to the People who Love Them: Slow Journeys in South Korea and Eastern Australia. For sale at the special price of $20.

My Hairdresser

Don’t even think about
spending more than two seconds
bleating about your broken heart
in her salon
because she’ll tell ya straight –
men are only good for one thing.
After a hair appointment with Terry
you’d come out feeling like
you’d danced all night at a disco
steada having the dead cells on top of your head
tizzed up.
Know what I mean?

Bit on the loud side, our Terry
a bit … OTT.
Every time you booked in
she’d have redecorated
and be swirling around in a weird teenage outfit
running a hand through the latest
colour in her hair
or through the tinsel wig she wore
after illness struck.

She hated it when she couldn’t work any more
drove her husband nuts as she
ran up her bankcard
on rows of lights across the lounge-room ceiling
and huge mirrors.

I saw this jazz when I came to stay the night.
She was wearing slinky tight black pants
and a sexy pink T-shirt
and I was in my fake leopard fur
to help her feel as if we’d returned
from drinking cocktails
and not about to spend the evening
lounging on the double bed she could hardly leave
now her bones had started to shatter.
She told her husband
Darl, you gotta get me to the hospital
for a decent shot of morphine.
The poor bugger was so sleep-deprived
he could hardly summon the ambos.
When they came, she refused
to utter the word pain
but when they heard the name of her condition
they knew she wasn’t faking it.

She chirped away
as if some spunk was tempting her
into the back of his panel van
to zoom her to his favourite midnight beach
instead of the Emergency Department.
Hey haven’t I seen you guys somewhere before?
That naked ambos calendar?
These boys are spunky she winked at me.
And they laughed back
Lady, you belong in that TV show
Absolutely Fabulous.
And before they closed the ambo doors
her husband tucked a basket under the high-tech stretcher –
whenever she went to hospital she knitted psychedelic scarves
for the homeless –
and said Darl! you won’t believe the number plate!
it’s 124 LUV
and she said
I’d like to give these spunks 124 love.
The ambos eased away like they had celebrity cargo
while we stood in the empty driveway
and punched the air
and cried 124 LUV!
as if we’d discovered
the meaning of life.

Down Here, our Terry’s not cutting hair
anymore, making her clientele look good
for weddings, parties, divorces, new lovers.
But we all know what’s happenin Up There.
In her black miniskirt and stilettoes
brandishing her scissors
she’s chasing God around
from cloud to cloud shrieking:
You’d look spunky with a bleached crewcut!
Why the hell do ya wanna look like a hippie?
I’m gonna texturize the crap outa that beard of yours.
Have ya seen how cool the angels look with purple streaks?
God, we have ta brighten This Place up.

Lesley Synge 

For Terry Windred 1951-2012

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SPEEDPOETS feature poets for the rest of the year WILL ALL STAR AT QPF this weekend

SpeedPoets will enjoy the QPF this weekend

and will continue the celebration of great poetry with features from:


lesley synge
on september 27


zenobia frost
on october 25


david stavanger
on november 29

david will also judge the Call Back Poet for 2014,
following features from all those who have been
call back poet of the month during 2014

zenobia’s and david’s new books will be available


Filed under Featured Artists


Sean M Whelan is a poet, playwright, DJ and wedding celebrant. He has published two books of poetry, Love is the New Hate and Tattooing the Surface of the Moon. He also collaborates extensively with musicians working with Isnod and The Interim Lovers. He is the co-producer of the popular literary cabaret show called Liner Notes, which most recently was performed to a sell out audience at the Byron Bay Writers Festival, Sean was also coproducer of Elemental, a show combining poetry and astronomy at the Melbourne Planetarium.



I am hot stinking decaying light.

I am the melting ice caps at the bottom of your whiskey glass.

I am the shhhhhhh on the tip of the librarians lips.

I am that small purple bruise on your thigh that you have no recollection of receiving.

I am the dust slowly gathering in the grooves of the record you left on the turntable overnight.

I am the big I am.

I am the 39th second of a New York Minute.

I am that letter you never sent.

I am the recession you had to have.

I am sorry about that.

I want to be your economic recovery.

I want to be MY economic recovery.

I am a grand design, in danger of not being finished and waaaay over budget.

I am the drawer full of Michael Jackson’s unused left handed gloves.

I am the ground control to your major tom.

I am 33 dogs that can’t even handle this right now.

I am grumpy cat’s secret smile, when nobody else is around.

I am very good at opening, terrible at closing.

I am the lipstick you used to write upon your mirror. Here Lies Buried Treasure.

I am this far away, from being this far away from you.

I am the grammar nazi taking apart your status update.

I am concerned at the diminishing effects of the word ‘nazi’ when describing anything harsh.

I am okay. Thanks for asking.

I am a free floating full torso vaporous apparition.

I can’t walk through walls but I can walk through trees. I have no

explanation for that.

I am the painting that the painting of Dorian Grey was painted over.

I am that noise you make in your sleep when you turn over in bed.

I am the jerk photobombing your family holiday snaps.

I am the dick you drew in the Herald Sun.

I am the books you never finish.

I am less than certain but I’m more than unsure.

I am the submarine caught in the seaweed of your subtext.

I am the snow covered pine trees that break your fall when the plane goes down.

I am the cherry stem deftly manipulated by Audrey Horne’s tongue.

I am everything: all the time.

And I am truly grateful.

But I’m not yours.

Not yet.

© Sean M Whelan. 2014.



Tell me where to stand in the garden.

And I’ll mark the spot.

You’ll find me there every evening at dusk.

Watching the day transmogrify, just like we did.


Tell me where the light falls the best upon my face.

I want to be just as handsome as you are supernatural.

Just because I don’t believe in permanence.

Doesn’t mean I want to forget this.

I want to build a theme park to us in the mountains of my mind,

travel there every lonely hour and take all the rides.

Tell me where to stand in the garden.

Where nobody will see us.

Not even Lou Reed’s satellites.

Tell me this shit is real.

Or unreal.

That works too.


Show me a species of bird that migrates from Melbourne to Manhattan every year and I’ll tie a love letter around its ankle.

Tell me, do birds even have ankles?

Tell me how somebody so old could still be learning about birds.

And by that I mean actual birds, but the other way works too.

Tell me how you know so much stuff.

I only want this love to have its own Wikipedia entry.

I only want the New York Times to tell me we’re getting married.

I only want to be more famous than your dresses.

I only want to live long enough to know how to die right.


Let’s synchronise our watches so we break up at the same time.

Then let’s drown our watches in the kitchen sink in sync, so that we never break up.

I know, we broke up, but for the purpose of this poem, let’s pretend that we didn’t.

Or let’s write up a post-breakup agreement with plenty of day passes.

Then let’s swap shadows, so I can watch your determined walk all the time.


Tell me where to stand in the garden.

Light has the highest concentration of magic at dusk.

We can dig in here forever.

We can learn how to grow.

Tell me where the soil is the softest, where the underworld will receive us the quickest.

I have the best of friends in low places.


I’m sorry.

I’m sorry the love letter I wrote you was eaten by the sky.

How could I know the future could eat so much?


Tarkovsky wrote poems with a camera.

He knew about us.

He knew we would break up.

He knew we didn’t need to worry about this.

And he was right.

When those doe eyed beared boy scouts come at you

With a pocket full of sadsong mixtapes.

Wait and remember

they don’t love blue like I do.

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Who is Jake Connor Moss?

He’s our feature poet for August.  Not a poet you will see at QPF.  Not a Poet you have seen before.  So you do need to come to SpeedPoets one week before QPF, or you will miss out on the stranger everyone is talking about at QPF.

Find out who is Jake Connor Moss.

have another beer, Jake we're only here for the beer

have another beer, Jake
we’re only here for the beer

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Goodbye Andrew


The man who took SpeedPoets from the broiling waves and brought it safe to shore is leaving us for a while.  Andrew Phillips stepped up to the microphone at the end of last year in a storm over plagiarism and saw the event safely through.  As he leaves Brisbane ‘for a few months’ for California, SpeedPoets has asked him to present a feature on The Stinson Series of poems.

In these poems, Andrew takes the voice of Bernard O’Reilly to tell of his journey across the Lamington Plateau to rescue the occupants of a Stinson aircraft that crashed on the mountain.

Andrew is the feature poet for July 2014.


Andrew Phillips



I plant my feet
 in steep leaf-mould

and it threatens
 to let go

lick the soil 
in the air;

a mix of oxygen, water 
and a slit of sunlight.

I zigzag like ground locals

this place asks for instincts

moss gives directions. the mug

sleep-sack, bread and onions

slice into my shoulder

heavier than thoughts.


8am on Mt Throakban

my anxiety swirls like clouds

this is the first of four ranges

I reckon the liner could be

I stare into a grey blank, waiting for clouds

to lift, to offer a view

then the grey splits to a vast green sea

of ranges and gorges

there are creamy white splashes

of flowers in bloom

then something makes me jump

one brown tree

it is eight miles away on the third range,

where it swells up to join the border

Is it naturally brown? No,

trees die a branch at a time.


There’s been no natural fire in this dripping rainforest

since time began. Lightning

perhaps? Or one hundred

gallons of petrol?

Clouds swoop in.

I put my head down. Tear into

the soaking green jungle.

I don’t see that burnt tree again

until I stand twenty yards from it

eight hours late

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Simon Kindt – the new face and voice of SpeedPoets – the new MC

June 2014 Call-back Poet graciously declines the honour!

Simon Kindt

Hi speedy poets,

With Andrew Phillips disappearing into the thready winter sunset and heading for the warmer shores of California, it’s an honour and a privilege to  be joining the Speedpoets crew as the guy who jumps on stage and says things (read MC). With that said and done, it would be a little odd to be both an MC and a call back for the year so I’m going to respectfully decline my spot at the November showdown and make way for finer poets than me to get up and make noise. Looking forward to seeing you all at the Lucky Duck (bring your friends- all of them!) and thanks for making Speedpoets one of the pillars of culture in Brisbane.

Bio. In collaboration with Chloë Callistemon, Simon co-published the collection air / tide in 2014.  He is currently working on various projects including a verse novel and – as a teacher at a major Brisbane High School- he is working on building a youth slam community in Brisbane to provide opportunities for teenage writers and performers to share their work. Some of his students are going to be onstage at QPF in 2014. And you, well… you should go and see them.
Simon’s writing explores the sublime and the ordinary in the colliding territories of landscape, the body, and the whole human mess. He has an open, gentle performance style, a generous grasp of human emotion, and a willingness to carefully peel back the seemingly ordinary to reveal what lies underneath.










We, such stuff as dreams are made

it’s true sometimes,
a day     will end like this:

the river swelling as the tide
comes in,
the sun slouching down
below the ridgeline,
light unstitching the horizon.

the shadow of a hunting hawk
spiralling a thread of air
above the headland,
waves singing quiet through the water,
golden light    washing your hands.

your daughter carrying
a bucket full of shells she plucked
from the lowtide line,
she’ll spill like jewels
across your palm,

and         you,     for once with no desire
to weight these things with any
meaning but their own,
for once with nothing
in your head but
thank you.


some lost and broken thing

the whale, thrown off course,

a compass no doubt spinning in its skull,
came ashore in the night.

its belly, fat and heavy with myth,
bottomed out against a sandbank,
then hauled itself, fat on grief,
into the shallows, and waited
as the tide fell away beneath it.

in stranger days than this we might
have taken to the sand in celebration,
lit a pyre and hauled the beast above high water,
sunk a blade into the flank and carved the fat
in slabs, rendered blubber into lamp oil,
cut and cured the meat, carved totems
into bone and offered up the heart
to old Poseidon.

now we, so thoroughly enlightened,
so insistent on solidity of borders,
hang fences round our necks,
take those who’ve lost their way
or fled from something brute and full of teeth
and say ‘no dear, this is not your place.’

we turn the the lost about,
point them back towards the waves
from which they came
and declare the brace and rope
and chain we used to haul them out
the proof
of our compassion.

when the ocean offers up a metaphor
we look anywhere but inward for meaning,
for the risen scrimshaw guilt,
the bloodied history written
in our bones and all our unpaid rent,
we tell ourselves everything can be forgotten,

that all history is palimpsest

unremembered as words written in sand,
scraped by tide and draining out to the pacific:

“Here some lost and broken thing 
tried to make its way to shore, 
here we hurled it back to sea.”

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