Poems by Juan Garrido-Salgado and Ariel Riveros Pavez

Posted on September 16, 2016 by in Discoursing Diaspora

(edited by Ramon Loyola) 

Changing Places to Sleep Not for Political/Security Reasons After the Reading at Sappho Last Night (Juan Garrido-Salgado)

To Beth Spencer and Claudia Taranto


It was a cold and wonderful night to catch up with poets.
A long conversation with Stuart Cooke on Pablo de Rokha & Nicanor Parra.
A conversation on Valparaiso & Chilli Picante. He missed it at meals, he said
in a Chilean accent.
To listen and laugh with Ouyang Yu, Claire Nashar and Beth Spencer,
their poems of life’s luggage
creating sounds and stresses on the English vowels
and Chinese/Spanish consonant accents.
Making Australia an open mic today
were ten readers, young and serious. It was a great birthday celebration
for Neruda on the 12th of July.

Sappho Bookshop was a ship anchored at the shore
of Isla Negra… voices, accents, simple gifts to the poet assassinated on September 1973.

Believe me, Toby Fitch, I saw you there as the Captain of our journey
into the sea of verses and conversations.
Believe me, David Ades, I saw you there as one of Neruda’s ancient figureheads.


Yesterday after the reading, I was a child standing still
at my mother’s front door
with no key; only an electronic card.

An empty room keeping a vigil for a dying ghost in the white bed.
Beth and Claudia offered for me to sleep in Claudia’s son’s room, Ramón,
who was travelling in Colombia.

My stillness disappeared.
I felt my mother smile on the other side of the moon.
Ramón’s room was as warm as when I was Ramón
in Chile in 1983 on my clandestine bed,
in places where I stayed with compañeros.

Yes. I was Ramón, Samuel o Bernardo —
Never introduced myself with ID for security reasons.
Ramón was my name last night; I slept underground snuggled up in my memory
but my dreams were real.
I woke up with the dogs barking & hunting the moon’s shadow at the door.
I, sleeping south of what used to be.
Durmiendo hacia el sur de lo que un día fui.


Whilst I Was Here With You and Living on the Other Side of the World…  (Ariel Riveros Pavez)

I am unsure
how many languages I spoke
and what algorithmic cycle
under 5, 8 and 13
I revolved around

English to touch
the old fallows
of Chaucer and
the mappa mundi of sea monsters

speaking and stretching my arms
under water
talking in the seafarer’s currents
that drowned sailors only know
like the keys they carry

Spanish, with an embarrassed foil
enough to walk by promenade
port and Plaza de Armas,
less the concrete quality
of those who work
and transact a living with
the persistent white-collared
clerks and managers

close enough to read
newspapers as poetry
and poetry as prosaic newspapers
the crooked cinema of
as otherness
and the bruised dreams
left sleeping by English

Mathemata, an open
algebra where integral
consistencies internal
were decentered
where equations
muttered like Rimbaud’s
j’suis l’autre

and nominally it was a base 5
and the hub to the spheres as
sprawled spectrum
penta to pata

a genetic Patagonian
a phantom vault
without horses
ancient megafauna as
an inheritance of invisibility
where a matriarch’s thoughts
by magic, eventuate after
one moon’s passing

and the language that crossed
the world, linked cells
reproducing old worlds
capturing with leaped hands
the promise of constants
and the hypnosis of fault lines
as I looked into chasms
to say

the abyss itself is a world
but not one meant for humans
without wings

I made those wings and
there was a ground to the fathomless
there was no light
yet in the melee between
myself and the civilised world
a purple torch appeared
and I saw nothing but ground
and a long flight back to the earth’s
surface, back to the ravines and horizons
where all there is, is light
and where the abyss afforded
me rest

and I smiled
not fearing creature
nor monster in any moon’s passing.


* This poem previously appeared in Southerly 74.1 (2014)


juans-photo-1-1Juan Garrido-Salgado is a political refugee who immigrated to Australia from Chile in 1990, fleeing the regime that burned his poetry and imprisoned and tortured him for his political activism. He has published five books of poetry and his poems have been widely published in a variety of literary journals. He has translated works into Spanish from John Kinsella, Mike Ladd, Judith Beveridge, Dorothy Porter, MTC Cronin, Samuel Wagan Watson and Lionel Fogarty, including Cronin’s Talking to Neruda’s Questions (2004). He has translated five Aboriginal poets for Espejo de Tierra/Earth Mirror Poetry Anthology (2008). One of his stories has been published in the anthology Joyful Strains — Making Australia Home, edited by Kent MacCarter & Ali Lemur (2013). With Steve Brock and Sergio Holas, Garrido-Salgado also translated The Trilingual Mapuche Poetry Anthology (2014) into English.

arielAriel Riveros Pavez is a Sydney based writer and translator. His works have appeared in Southerly, Contrappasso Magazine, Mascara ReviewFourW  and Forgetting is so Long Love Poetry Anthology. He has published a chapbook of short stories, Self Imposed House Arrest, among many other publications. Find out more about Ariel on his blog.





The Bridge I Must Walk Across (David Adès)

Posted on July 22, 2016 by in Discoursing Diaspora

bridge-13307985005FnThe Bridge I Must Walk Across

Is this what it means to be lost?
Stuck inside my skin —
unable to shed it, unable to grow another —

I am between desolations:
between the man I have been
and the man I must become.

My life’s stories are in flames,
becoming black smoke, ascending.
Who will speak now the tales of the ancestors,

who will listen, who will hear?
Who will be guardian of their old ways,
who will tend to their burial grounds,

calm them in their restless prowling?
I am a vessel for what I carry, untranslatable,
legacies it has taken a lifetime to learn:

who will pour me out, who will drink me?
Who will read to me this new book
of the night sky, its panoply of trembling stars?

Who will decipher the strangeness all around,
who will gather all the broken shards?
How can I discard myself, all that I am?

I am becoming a stranger inside my skin,
my children becoming
the bridge I must walk across.


This Shall Not Be Taken

All this talk of beginnings —
as if we could unwind ourselves
                                           from our own history,

from the cultural baggage
that is the frame, the walls, the house,

as if it is destination that matters
and not journey.

Beginnings go back
                      to where we cannot go:
the road ahead opens
as the road behind closes

and what has been left there
and what is known.

What we drag with us
in our nakedness
                      leaving furrows in the path:

the weight of our dispossession,
the dead gods of our childhood,
thicknesses of scar tissue.

We promise each other nothing,
know that even if we stop
                      arrival is illusion.

Wherever we are,
we have dust on our feet,
we huddle like timid sheep,

we look for shelter in each other’s eyes:
the only place we can find it.



Come to strange and distant shores.
Come to a strangeness of birdsong
and leaf, where the sun burns differently

in the sky and there is no sureness of foot.
Come, where you will trip and stumble
on hidden rocks of language and meaning,

carrying your baggage of other customs,
your baggage of kin and history,
carrying fears and hopes for safety,

the color of your skin, the ill-fitted
speech of your tongue.  Come, find
welcome where there is welcome,

however sporadic, however cautious.
Feel the warm breeze of welcome
on your cheek, rough hewn but not unkind.

Rest in the shade of the tree of welcome,
its gnarled limbs, its broad canopy.
Plant your seeds nearby

where they can take root, grow strong.
This will be your home now,
where you, in turn, will open your arms.


* ‘The Bridge I Must Walk Across’ and ‘This Shall Not Be Taken’ were first published in     Social Alternatives
* ‘Welcome’ was first published in Philadelphia Poets



Friendly Street reading 2.7.11 (1)
David Adès
has recently returned to Australia after living for five years in Pittsburgh. He is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet and short story writer and the author of Mapping the World (Wakefield Press / Friendly Street Poets, 2008) and the chapbook Only the Questions Are Eterna(Garron Publishing, 2015).

David won the Wirra Wirra Vineyards Short Story Prize (2005). Mapping the World was commended for the Fellowship of Australian Writers Anne Elder Award 2008.

David has been a member of Friendly Street Poets since 1979. He is a former Convenor of Friendly Street Poets and co-edited the Friendly Street Poetry Reader 26. He was also one of a volunteer team of editors of the inaugural Australian Poetry Members Anthology ‘Metabolism’ published in 2012. His poetry has been published in numerous journals in Australia and the U.S. with publications also in Israel, Rumania and New Zealand.

David’s poems have been read on the Australian radio poetry program Poetica and have also featured on the U.S. radio poetry program Prosody. He is one of 9 poets featured on a CD titled ‘Adelaide 9’. In 2014 David won the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. He was recently Highly Commended in the 2016 Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize.


Black Wire (Kushal Poddar)

Posted on June 22, 2016 by in Discoursing Diaspora

Black wire swirls the blade of the sun on blue.
Isolation is sweaty. Isolation is hot.
Smell of frying fish permeates the sphere.
Sphere is small. Sphere is caged in doubts.
My daughter crafts a snail necklace.
I hook its ends at the back of my love’s neck.
A hundred eyes watch me unzip emotion.
Hands are God. Hands are lonely.
We wait for the people from the government.
Government is. Government is.

FullSizeRenderKUSHAL PODDAR is the author of three collections of poetry: The Circus Came To My Island (Spare Change Press), A Place For Your Ghost Animals (Ripple Effect Publications) and Understanding The Neighborhood (BRP, Australia). His work has appeared in Men In The Company of WomenPenn International MK and Vine Leaves Literary Journal’s Best of 2014, and he was Tupelo Press’s featured poet for the month of December. He lives in Kolkata, India, where he is editor of the online magazine Words Surfacing, and writes poetry and fiction when not engaged in his day job as a lawyer in the High Court of Calcutta and as an English Language Trainer in various universities. Scratches Within is forthcoming.


Discoursing Diaspora

Posted on May 21, 2016 by in Discoursing Diaspora

FullSizeRender1-1It’s International Diversity Day and at Verity La we’re taking this opportunity to announce our Discoursing Diaspora writing and arts project.

International Diversity Day (also known as World Day for Cultural Diversity, Dialogue and Development) is a United Nations sanctioned holiday celebrated on 21 May worldwide. It aims to foster community understanding of the value of cultural diversity and encourage people from various backgrounds to live harmoniously. And boy, do we need that right now!

At Verity La we’ve decided to do our bit by launching Discoursing Diaspora, a project which strives to recognize the work of those living through, or standing in solidarity with those experiencing, diaspora. We wish to support writers and artists experiencing exclusion from the dominant discourse by creating a space for their unique narratives, as well as providing a platform for works which address issues of social justice.

For this project we will accept submissions of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, essay, multimedia – and anything in between. We expect that many of the works will come from people whose English language skills are still developing, and as such, full editorial support will be given to successful submissions by the project’s co-editors, Ramon Loyola and Michele Seminara. Works by those who aren’t writing from a personal experience of diaspora will also be considered as long as they explore themes of social justice, diversity and inclusion.

Please see our Discoursing Diaspora page for more information and for full details on how to submit to the project. And please spread the word to help get those submissions rolling in!

Our first piece from the Diaspora project is ‘The Strong Sunflower’, a poem by Iranian asylum seeker Mohammad Ali Maleki, who is currently living in detention on Manus Island.

The Strong Sunflower

Translated from Farsi by Mansour Shoushtari 
Edited by Michele Seminara

Manus Island knew nothing of sunflowers
so I planted some seeds, from my heart, on Manus.
These seeds from a refugee, me,
grew into a flower for the Manus people
and the heat of the sun created new hope in their hearts.
I planted this happiness into the heart of the soil,
I willingly left it as a souvenir—
now in my name I bequeath it
to all who may come.

You, sunflower, are a stranger, like me, on Manus;
I hope you will not be cursed here.
Friends help me stay sane in this land;
I hope your friends, the sun and the rain, will help you.
Sunflower, my people have been disrespected
but I’m happy this island is kind to you,
my sunflower friends
on Manus.



Mohammad Ali Maleki,
originally from Iran, was forced to leave his family and country in 2013 and came to Australia as an asylum seeker. He has been detained on Manus Island ever since.

In Iran, Mohammad worked as a tailor and as a prop maker in the film industry. Since living on Manus Island, he has begun gardening and writing poetry, activities which give him purpose and hope.