Small Australian Poems, in Barcelona

Coolabah is the electronic journal of the Centre for Australian and Transnational Studies at the University of Barcelona. The journal aims to be an international forum for research in Australian studies and to be totally interdisciplinary in its content.

The most recent issue, The Coolabah Short Poem Issue (No 23, 2018), is edited by Australian poet, Peter Bakowski, who has been a practitioner of the short poem for 34 years. Included is an essay by Claire Rosslyn Wilson (currently a PhD candidate at the University of Canberra), in which she reflects upon her experience while a visiting researcher at the University of Barcelona’s Australian Studies Centre. In her essay, Claire muses on how the unfamiliar gradually becomes more comprehensible:

My short poems, framed in the streets of Barcelona, pin fragments to my changing wall of cultural understanding, creating a post-it collage that oscillates between acceptance and confusion. The fragments overlap the more I write, each reframing and adjusting what I think I know about this place.

One of Claire’s poems from Coolabah No 23, presumably a reflection on the recent political uncertainty in Catalonia:


Rain clouds clearing later the weatherman promised, but for now unrest.


And yet, in any new land there always seem to be traces of commonality which provide us with points of reference. As Claire says, coffee shops give me patterns I repeat in different cities with only small variations.

Some more poems from Coolabah No 23:


Patience in the coffee queue. Sunday morning’s sermon.
(Geoff Page)


Autumnal hymn, outside

Autumnal hymn, outside
a leaf expands, exotic
as a spacecraft, yet
we look for bigger things
(Julian McLucas)


On a Naples street a barefoot boy selling socks
(Marisa Fazio)


Poetry is like looking

Poetry is like looking
for a haystack in a needle.
(Joe Dolce)


The following poem of mine also appears in Coolabah‘s short poem issue:


 jellyfish      handbags
bobbing       at a summer sale


As you may have noticed, this poem can be read clockwise, counter-clockwise and across the diagonals. It is reminiscent of the zip form of poem proposed by English poet, John Carley, in the late 1990s.

To read Coolabah No 23 in full, and to savour more short poems written by Australian poets, please visit the Coolabah website at the University of Barcelona.