To round off the Metre Maid’s celebration of all things PRIDE & all things POETIC, the amazingly talented and charming FURY gives us a delicious eye-feast that is her TOP 5 FAV POETS. So all you have to do is listen, get inspired and remember to always be furious!


Fury is a Melbourne based writer and poet who flits between book covers and sheet covers. She loves love, OkCupid and poetry that punches you in the diaphram. You can check out her work at or

Featured today is cool-cat Emma Haller and her poem, DRIFTING. Below we have a conversation about poetry and how sexuality inspires Haller’s poetry. Here at Metre Maids love having discussions surrounding poetry and where our poets feel their poetry comes from. We each have a different place that we pull stuff from, and it’s still important to talk about. Without further ado:



Strength holds me,
a coin among the cloud,
shoulders wide and engulfing.

Freckles she once hid,
shine bright,
the Sun and I kissing her elbows in cheeky glee.

Waves creep up,
flew back,
and distill.

I half smile,
feeling myself drifting, towards an unsullied place.

I clasp her hip,
hold my breath in the tenderness,
the opportunity of her world.

A sadness lingered,
I hope for clarity.
Phantom limbs,
scrambling together as one.


How did ‘Drifting’ come to be?
Moving from one relationship to another, it caused a re-evaluation of every facet of my life, and it was a significant and intense relationship so I wanted to capture a sense of that. I tried to convey that new relationships have a wonderful crisp edge to them, the butterflies and all those cliches are real.

How does your sexuality inform your poetic imagery?
I think sexuality is fluid and informs everything I do. My emotions, I’ve come to realise are important, and sometimes you need to let whatever feelings you’re having inform your day-to-day life. My sexuality is vital to who I am as a person and I try to channel feeling however I am able.

What poet do you most look up to and why, how do they speak to you?
Gwen Harwood is a main influence for me, I studied her a lot throughout school. Her poetry has a lovely naturalistic quality and has always been relaxing to read. Also a bit of Emily Dickinson as well, apparently she was obsessed with white clothing which is fun, Judith Wright’s poetry is also engaging.

What is your editing process like?
I read the poem out and try to gauge it’s sound and meaning for the reader/audience. I edit as I go, usually on a computer but I edit a lot in my journal. All my ideas are written down first, then I piece the stanzas together if I see some links or interesting connections.

What is the best tip you’ve received for dealing with critique?
Focus on what you are trying to convey. I’m learning strategies to be able to teach poetry, and putting myself in my student’s shoes is important every now and then. Critique is important and discussions around interpretations have always been enjoyable. I love teaching and writing, they are large parts of my life and wouldn’t have it any other way.


Emma Haller, a curious observer from childhood, grew up on the Mornington Peninsula where coastal living and traditional Aussie charm helped shape an evocative voice. Her poetry explores the manifold nature of human emotions and poems such as ‘Drifting’ seem to offer contemporary thoughts on relationships as being beautifully despondent experiences. There is an emotional truth that lingers throughout her poems, memorable for their honesty and stunningly constructed design. Currently, Emma is completing a double degree in Arts/Education (Secondary) at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) and writes poetry in her spare time.

Today we feature a spoken word performance excerpt by ReVerse Butcher during her feature poet set at the Dan O’Connell (Melbourne, Australia) poetry reading on 11th of May 2013. The poem, STICK TO YOUR SUBJECTIVES, was baked in her brain after being forced to absorb 3 years of Foucault’s writings at university and speaks back to her identity-bending alienpoet persona. She both agrees and disagrees with Foucault.


If you missed ReVerse Butcher’s Collage Poetry you should really CLICK HERE!


ReVerse Butcher is from outer space. She often surfaces publicly on Earth doing a thing called poetry. ReVerse Butcher thinks that poetry should not be looked down upon as a lesser form of literary stimulation simply because it mostly is a solitary pleasure. Poetry can be a group OR solo activity, it often masks its shifting identities, and also frequently hybridises with other genres to better ensure its own survival in hostile territories. You’ll never catch it, unless it wants you too.

ReVerse Butcher finds language both sexy and confusing, so she does with it what any self-respecting alienpoet should do with confusing and sexy things. She cuts it up. Mostly then she glues it to other things and makes cut-ups & collages, better (dis)orders from existing (dis)orders. Not everything she performs or publishes is a collage, but everything that is performed or published is fodder for one.


The Revenge -- ReVerse Butcher 2012

THE REVENGE – ReVerse Butcher (2012)

ReVerse Butcher’s collage poetry style is one that hybridizes cut-up theory, erasure poetry, plundergraphic theory and other experimental writing techniques such as the Jeff Noon’s Cobralingus language filter system, among other methods of her own invention. The idea is to enter into, to take control of, and change the meanings of dominant meanings and source texts. ReVerse Butcher believes that reality is only possible because of language, both flawed systems at best. By accident, she discovered the two systems were not only linked but co-dependent, which meant if you found a way to change one system, the other would mimic the alterations with unexpected creative results. She focuses on destabilizing theoretical binaries by using context as her plaything, in exposing meaning to be a multiple, changeable and uncontrollable thing.


Identity Fakers -- ReVerse Butcher 2013

IDENTITY FAKES – ReVerse Butcher (2013)

She focusses on paradoxes as the way to do this, by using source texts that have received a certain amount of privilege and have achieved a sense of artistic legitimacy which she feels may be dangerous to leave unquestioned. As a feminist writer, ReVerse Butcher is always looking for ways to create or exploit new or existing schisms in culture where the power held by conservative men is shaken loose, if even only for a few moments.


SUDDEN MOVEMENTS - ReVerse Butcher (2013)

SUDDEN MOVEMENTS – ReVerse Butcher (2013)

These pieces are part of a larger series and creative practice/method that calls for an emotional and intellectual reaction, and is an ethical intervention. It hopes to achieve, through the intelligent application of absurdity, what feminist collagist and cut-up agent Kathy Acker suggests might be:


…the only reaction against an unbearable society is equally unbearable nonsense.

WHAT MAKES ME THINK I'M DYING - ReVerse Butcher (2012)

WHAT MAKES ME THINK I’M DYING – ReVerse Butcher (2012)




ReVerse Butcher is from outer space. She often surfaces publicly on Earth doing a thing called poetry. ReVerse Butcher thinks that poetry should not be looked down upon as a lesser form of literary stimulation simply because it mostly is a solitary pleasure. Poetry can be a group OR solo activity, it often masks its shifting identities, and also frequently hybridises with other genres to better ensure its own survival in hostile territories. You’ll never catch it, unless it wants you too.

ReVerse Butcher finds language both sexy and confusing, so she does with it what any self-respecting alienpoet should do with confusing and sexy things. She cuts it up. Mostly then she glues it to other things and makes cut-ups & collages, better (dis)orders from existing (dis)orders. Not everything she performs or publishes is a collage, but everything that is performed or published is fodder for one.


While I was in university studying for my BA, I took an introductory class on the LGBT movement, which covered about 115 years of history over the course of four weeks. When, about halfway through the accelerated semester, we reached the point in recent history when the topic of coming out became more normal and less treated like a disease, the professor (who was remarkably like Ellen DeGeneres in a multitude of ways) asked if anyone would be willing to share their coming out story. After a number of tear-jerking stories, I offered to share mine. The entirety of my coming out story is that one day my mom came into my room and asked, “So are you gay then?” I replied, “Yeah, I think so,” to which she responded, “Okay.”

I always enjoy telling this story. People laugh and smile, and ask if I’m joking or if that’s really how it happened, and I get to affirm with a grin that yes, it really was that quick and easy. Despite the complete truth of my sort of circumstance, there is this notion in the world that it is impossible for being gay to be that simple. Granted, most coming out stories are not as simple or clear-cut as mine, but part of the reason for that is because the stories where coming out is treated normally don’t get told. It’s not thrilling media, it’s not exciting, it doesn’t make for a gripping narrative or an emotion-packed poem. More importantly, it’s not something I want to write about.

For some people, being queer is a huge part of life. It encompasses many of their interests, it is a part of life that manifests itself even in the interests that aren’t directly related to being queer, and that is entirely a good thing. For others, like me, it is a very small part of life, which is just as entirely a good thing. Because being queer is something that should be out in the open and be treated as normal (the way that it really is normal), then everyone on all sides, straight, gay, or otherwise, should grow to embrace the fact that being queer can range from dressing up in sequins and hairspray each night to telling the barista at Starbucks in a completely genuine manner that their hairdo is nice.

In truth, being queer only manifests itself in a few places for me. Read more…


Kicking off Pride Week 2013 with a beautiful piece of poetry from Chloe Brien. This piece shows us how to see, how to fall head first into a disaster, into love and then learn how to walk without a second shadow.  A perfect way to celebrate the beginning of Pride Week on Metre Maids. We will be featuring more poetry and pieces on Pride throughout the end of June.


Abandoned weatherboard house, room of syringes and
their plastic wrappers. I watch her scrawl poetry
across plasterboard walls of the living room—
kicked in television and carpet depressions
where a couch used to be. Rain of chalk dust, green,
pink and yellow on her shoes, streaking black stockings,
bruising the purple jacket — colours she’d never wear.

I read the poetry she uncurls. I’m not sure if it’s hers
or another’s. In that moment I can’t care. Beautiful,
I breathe. And she says, Read more…

I couldn’t read until I was 9 years old, I stared at the words and imagined all sorts of things, longingly filling in the blanks for myself. I pretended to read out loud, I loved the sound of words and how it felt when I was telling a story, but the idea of words was something I only ever enjoyed in private, in places where there were no consequences. School was a treacherous place, and words were hostile, they humiliated me, they played cruel tricks. At the age of nine, after weeks of unsuccessfully tackling the classic b and d problem (confusing one for the other that is), in a fit of intense frustration, I marched up to the white board in front of my entire class and wrote ‘Amy is dumb’, or that’s what I meant to write, what I had in fact written was ‘Amy is bum’. There was of course much laughter, the creation of a new nick name ‘Nunn bum’ and an ongoing practical joke involving a peanut butter sandwich left on my chair. Okay so not my finest moment, but one that began a strange and significant chain of events. This was the moment I quietly promised myself to get even one day, to use the enemy’s weapons against them, wreak havoc, to show them all.

At the age of 12 I moved with my family to Australia, where unfortunately dyslexia is barely recognised within the education system. I was put into a ‘special needs’ class with children who had severe mental disabilities, and spent my days feeling utterly lost, isolated and deeply ashamed. After a few years of my mother pleading with teachers and doing everything in her power to bend a very rigid system, it eventually became clear that my best option was to live with my father back in London for a trial period, where I could attend a dyslexic school. Read more…



University of Queensland Press, 1999.

There’s this book of poetry I take with me to every single poetry workshop I run. It’s Steven Herrick’s young adult poetry novella, A PLACE LIKE THIS. My mum used to buy me books sometimes – she’d give them to me after school in the car. This was one of those books. A PLACE LIKE THIS was published in 1999 by Queensland University Press. It’s the companion volume to Herrick’s other YA verse novel, LOVE, GHOSTS, AND NOSE HAIR, but you don’t need to know that to enjoy its story. The cover is so reminiscent of the 90’s I almost expect The Ferals were occupying the space beneath that sepia corrugated iron backdrop.

As a high school student, there where times when felt like I couldn’t write poetry because I limited myself to thinking poetry was only the rhyme and rhythm available to read and dissect in the classroom. In senior years were asked to pull apart poetry until it didn’t mean what you thought it meant anymore – until it was only techniques and metaphors you argued in essays. By year 12 I could differentiate between the poetry I was asked to practice my thinking on in the classroom, and the poetry of my home-life. Home-life poetry was the stuff I could imagine to, relate to, and marvel at the music of, because there weren’t guidelines or rubrics instructing me otherwise. Two things made this happen for me: growing up, my mum used to play Pablo Neruda’s poetry, read by celebrities including, but not limited to, Julia Roberts, Glenn Close and Madonna, on a CD on repeat in the car everywhere, all the time. It only competed with Vonda Shepherd in her basement bar with its brooding lawyers on the Ally McBeal soundtrack, and Eva Cassidy’s Songbird. By year 12, when I didn’t understand a poem, the Neruda CD taught me to read work aloud and listen to my own words. I learnt to love Margaret Atwood’s JOURNEY TO THE INTERIOR– an old HSC ‘journeys’ text, that way. Also, my Mum bought me A PLACE LIKE THIS, and the book switched something on for me.
Read more…

When I was a student in a Master’s program, I found I’d been accepted into a prestigious program for fiction and had also gotten a fellowship at another brand new program in poetry. I went to my professors, begging for advice. It seemed to me the first time in my life I faced such a big decision and actually had multiple good options, rather than a series of lesser evils. I went to my major poetry professor and asked him what I should do and he said, “You should be the first person to turn down the Prestigious Program,” and he did make that sound appealing. I went to my major fiction professor and he said, “The question is really simple: Do you ever want to make money from your writing?” His implication was clear: everyone knows poets don’t make money. But then, literary fiction writers (with those rare and bewildering exceptions) rarely make all that much either.

I’d like to say that at that moment I thought of the donor of a small prize I’d won earlier. She was a little old lady who wished to remain anonymous but the faculty made sure I got to meet her. She told me about how she’d met Robert Frost when she was an undergraduate, that she had picked him up at the airport for a reading at the school, and how kind and gracious he had been to her. That was one of her main reasons for funding the award. I was very grateful to her (and to Robert Frost for being so civil, so unlike the more common model for poets). The prize allowed me to buy a printer and some books, all of which I still have and rely upon. Read more…

Now and again, I find myself in a rut. I recognize it in my prose, where I write long sentences with semi-colons and similar syntactical patterns on either side. I recognize it in my poetry, where I realize that the pacing of one poem basically overlaps with the one I wrote the previous week, and I could substitute lines and barely recognize the change.

When ruts hit, I turn to improv.

Jodi with her kids. Photo by Jote Khalsa.

Jodi with her kids, having a yes moment. Photo by Jote Khalsa.

I’ve been performing improv since I was a teenager, but it became an essential part of my daily life while I was in the thick of graduate school. I’d plod away at my dissertation in the daytime, then perform on stages around Austin, Texas in the evenings. It took me longer than I’d care to admit to realize that the principles I so passionately espoused about the power of improv were also pretty ideal tools to revitalize my academic writing.

The number one rule of improv is to say “Yes.” The truth is, it’s usually vastly easier to say no. Toddlers find their strength in “No!” Teenagers find a different strength in “No.” “No” seems powerful, but eventually “No” leads to stagnation, to stasis. It’s safe, and nothing will change. But…nothing will change. Say “yes”—on stage, in your life, in your writing—and you’ll find yourself being surprised, taking risks, and having adventures.

Safe is fine. Risky is fun. And scary. And powerful. And surprising.

When we say yes to taking risks, we let our guard down. We let in ideas, thoughts, words, and stories that challenge us, that could be scary, that go beyond what we believe we “should” do or think or say.

Doing risky creative work involves talking to strangers, climbing on ledges, and challenging the authoritative voices of teachers and doctors and judges. Read more…