Ali Jane Smith
is the author of a chapbook, Gala, published long, long ago by the Five Islands Press New Poets Program.
In 2017 I was commissioned to write a series of poems about colour for Wollongong Art Gallery’s exhibition Chromophilia. Here is a photograph of about half of the exhibition, installed in 2018.
In February 2018 I was included in an exhibition called Slideshow, with artists Hannah Bath, Karen Golland, Elly Kent, Heide Lefebvre and Rose Montebello, curated by Patsy Payne. at ANCA Gallery in Dickson, Canberra ACT. This is me pointing at ‘The Moss Garden’, a poem written for the exhibition:
‘The Moss Garden’ was a set of seven quintains, or five line stanzas, written in pencil on the wall of the gallery. Thanks to Patsy Payne for writing the text on the wall, Patsy achieved the combination of raw and legible that I was hoping for. The catalogue for Slideshow is available online https://issuu.com/ellydotkent/docs/slideshow_catalogue
In 2015 my poem ‘Another Literary Life’ was selected as Australian Poetry Journal’s Poem of the Year. If you click on the link to read the poem, I’d like you to know that there should be a note under the title that says ‘after Laurie Duggan’, as this poem steals the form, and perhaps the mood, of his poem ‘A Literary Life’. The first thing I did when I got the hugely appreciated $250 for this prize was order a copy of Laurie Duggan’s book Allotments. It’s a really good book.
I received a grant from Culturebank for my poetry project Omnibus, a series of poems about Illawarra bus routes. I’ve now written about fifteen bus poems, including the aforementioned ‘Quarry’, but also ‘The January Puzzle’ in Cortex Journal, and the poem ‘Tom’s Blues’ that looks like it will be appearing in a forthcoming issue of Rabbit.
I enjoy collaborating with other artists. I wrote poems for sixty second thoughts digital projections and sixty thoughts with artist Jo Law. If you get the chance to see Jo Law’s work in a gallery space, grab it, her skilled, subtle work is absorbing, and full of very precisely communicated feeling. Tania Maria Mastroianni adapted my poem ‘Number 65: Port Kembla to Wollongong‘ into an amazing animation. Tania Maria Mastroianni is an extraordinary artist, right now she is using watercolours (and a bit of glitter), and over the years I’ve enjoyed (that seems too tame a word) her work in oil paint, her prints, her photography, video and installation work, and I have especially fond memories of drawings made with exquisitely piped pink icing.
I have also written reviews and essays. Here’s the stuff I’ve written for Sydney Review of Books and here is a piece I wrote about the work of Susan Hampton for Southerly, and my ‘What I’m Reading’ piece for the Meanjin blog plus an essay about the prose poem, ‘The Mongrel’ for Australian Poetry Journal.
I was co-editor with Linda Godfrey of the Writing to the Edge anthology of microfiction published by Spineless Wonders, but to be honest Linda did most of the work. Luckily Linda is a brilliant editor so it turned out well.
Right now I am co-writer, with Barbara Nicholson and Anne Louise Rentell, of a piece of theatre with the working title The Siren Project. This project is produced by The Society of Histrionic Happenings and directed by Anne Louise Rentell. Daryl Wallis is the composer and musical director. So far, its been supported by CreateNSW, Culturebank and Wollongong City Council.
In 2018, a development performance was presented as part of Merrigong Theatre’s Development Program. The performers were Matilda Brown, Marlene Cummins, Jeannie Lewis, Billie Rose Prichard, Katrina Retallick and Kerrie Sweeney. It is always a thrill to see my work in print, but to see my words turned into songs and then sung by these artists was something else.
I’m also in a marching band called Radical Drums Corps. We play at rallies, marches and demos. We meet weekly for a drum lesson/practice at Anchors Aweigh Art Studios. We have a drum teacher from Anchors Aweigh who also creates original compositions just for us. So poetry is just my day job now.