Wolfpack Contributor: Stephen House

Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright and actor, including two Australian Writer’s Guild Awgie Awards, and a Greenroom Best Actor nomination. He has had 20 plays produced, many of them commissioned. He’s received international literature residencies from The Australia Council and Asialink. His chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press. His next book is out soon. His poetry is published often, and he performs his acclaimed monologues widely. 

5 Poem Poetry Showcase from Stephen House

*note all 5 poems below were previously published in the following magazine/websites
“ditto” published by Pif Magazine USA 
“closure” published by Honest Ulsterman Northern Ireland / Culture Cult India 
“café of then” published by The Blue Nib Ireland  
“self-preservation” published by E Ratio USA
“thankful” published by Verse of Silence India / highly commended for The Robyn Mathison
Poetry Prize Australia*

ditto

crawling gentle on splintered wood
shards of trickle a smudge reminder 
of my still alive continuing

did a muffled dream breathe isolated
or was combination itinerant scribe
nature presenting elementary grasp

nobody knew i played with dangerous
why discard compensation ongoing
endure dependent relies on silent

it was murky rain on broken past
that spelt me your eyes meant truth
only a fox smiles of not eat fresh kill 

they must realize decades of try
to slap me down bred pointless
achieved their angst and my freedom

i’m no real poet of anything actual
an assembly devised in lockdown
became art form notorious slap

would the cluster believe joyful
comes from non-adherence be normal
essential queer chime takes final bow

ditto answers all when constructing
sliding chapters in pandemic scale
decades taught me heaven belief

closure

we pondered final cold parting
debated repeat inevitable flee 
two bodies stifled year sly passion
nil fact else glue seal tight stay
avoidance trick of never be closure 
rational discuss lost in bull-shit whine  
ritual words drown keep damp clinging
next sex muddle bed fake home 

so i pulled at pin grip tight near always 
pricked hope inflate squirm slippery in need  
goodbye whisper pack tremble escaping 
pleaded no call scream baby come back 
stopped slept empty alone beach hiding
cried as kid lost new toy in snatch
grieved be missing us body kiss struggle
hope tear brittle gone lope sliding waste

began roam swept coast bird-screech singing 
forest cloud trail growth calm give murmer
ocean flounder icy blue dreaming
sand warming pillow fall white stretch no end
inlet granite time old grow always
trees reach sway weather element life
mantra name silent supreme inner ancient
horizon arrive red-orange new cycle 

returned to corpse house once empty grip lover 
smelling lust-chaos tales more never will
ghost-me wet screaming memory ghost-you
life drift lame kind nothing now all
breathe in true wanting back me be only
calm alive here alone fleshing stable 
silence time beauty return wallow sacred
nil regret you naught never will me be

café of then

there’s a café tucked into a city nook
where i’d regularly be three decades ago
when i’m back this way   
i always stop by 
take my old table spot
float back 
to life of then

i’d skulk here to hook up late at night 
drop in heading home in wide eyed dawn
speeding crazy 
crashing low
nowhere to go 
needing somewhere be
boy dream soaring
hard morning pain
confused by not real
escape bad trick danger

a mate from that epoch appears 
i nip in and order bitter blacks
bump into an italian with now dyed hair 
who i knew from more than here 

shakes hard my hand 
recalls with worn grin
us in a dim city room with new-found trade 
on the game together 
a few times one year 
i chuckle wry at street-wandering ways			
he sniggers sly at what’s still not forgot

as years slide on 
and ways of vanished youth 
drift into psychedelic space 
i give thanks to run-away eons and after dark lads 
who faded out through fate and choice 

or kept going on like me and some
riding faded spontaneous memories
jolted along by almost old age  
struggling against blatant facts 
of a dwindling now

hidden stories of bygone reality
steering the remembered route
back to this café of then


self-preservation

silence knows conceal of stifled queer self-young 
kept tight vigilant under wrap in never give my all 
careful instilled damage residing in thrown chains 
dragged along by experience regardless as they dish
put down cards to remove shadow of privately safe  

so i floated away to hidden no name bliss destination 
for sweet acceptance relief from lectured draining calm  
to soft vision harmless shell of no expectation burden 
without abuse process adding toil to how and why path 
obvious returns in who cares elation of run fast escape  

and fuck their taught lessons since born glimpse told
instilled frozen dread of alone when human complexity
was not spun by doctrine heterosexual churching values 
or biding by rules of no choice made to cry sorry twice  
for me is not on offer to them of unnatural changing plan 

rhyming inner agenda through persuaded knot in mindful
by internal direction ordained psychology taught analysis
education in social norm drives convention in exist try
work living and expected interaction delivers cold tedium   
to view unfolding destroyed into obscured by adherence  

but self-preservation designed by realization life known 
without measured layer expectation drowning internal truth
offers combination of one-ness that is fact of all-together  
teaching avoidance of dictated pushed enquiry conveying be 
of circling still point in time universal honesty delivers win

thankful

breathing in 
real

ice sea-froth lap naked feet pinking
ramble be one follow winter grit beach

twist trail gum trees hike wild step pacing
screech birds flock-massing silent move gain

coffee two more shadow tall morning city
eyes blue-grey playful near switch click device

bag travel packing in wheels joining ramble
park scrub moon welcome lone slowing slumber

pink-red shiraz sip blue flute chill crystal
dark shadow dance once was i can as them

your you-voice sweet choir my fade tune sing missing
gaze look in dreaming rise float waning heaven

ocean submerge womb heal water still body
blood-drip set sunning sky envelope calm 

words written think verse take given by honest
universal be living celebration now with

smiling out 
thankful

Wolfpack Contributor: Stephen House

3 poems from Stephen House



Bio: Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright, and actor. He has been commissioned many times, and had 20 plays, and several word and image exhibitions and short films produced. He has received international literature residencies from The Australia Council for the Arts to Canada and Ireland, and an Asia-link India residency. His chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press Australia.His new book will be released soon. He is published often and performs his acclaimed monologues widely.
Stephen House | Australian Plays Transform (apt.org.au)








A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Michelle Marie Jacquot (Poet, Actress, singer/songwriter)

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with Michelle Marie Jacquot:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Michelle: I’ve been writing ever since I can remember— I have no memory of a moment when I distinctly started “doing” it. It’s just an instinct, or even a compulsion, I’ve always had. My first influences were all songwriters. I always paid close attention to lyrics. I was a dancer from age 3 to 14, we were always told to get into the emotion of the song, the story. I think that might be how I became so interested in storytelling, and I’m sure in large part why I became a writer. So many songs and artists stick with me from that time. Anything Imogen Heap or Tori Amos, Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega, Red Football by Sinéad O’Connor, Mad World by Gary Jules. Unfortunately I don’t have a very good memory of when I was younger, but one of the most vivid flashbacks I have is from a dance class. Our instructor turned off all the lights, had us lay on the ground in the dark, and told us to close our eyes. She played “Let It Be” by The Beatles. It was the first time I had ever heard that song, and possibly ever The Beatles (consciously, at least). That moment changed my life.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Michelle: I don’t know if influence is the right word, but I’m really into Yoko Ono and John Lennon at the moment. Joan Didion is my favorite writer. As for poets, Charles Bukowski might be that. There have been certain poems from him that I’ve found in the exact moments when I’ve needed them. Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, Mary Oliver. All of the Beats. I would say the way people live their lives inspires and influences me more than their work, at times.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art?

Michelle: I grew up in Southern California— Temecula, but I spent a lot of time all over. I was always going to concerts and running away to LA, San Diego, Orange County. Where and how I grew up influenced my work more than I ever realized it did until recently. There’s a very California way of living or thinking that I didn’t know I had— kind of like how your house has a certain smell, but only other people can smell it. You don’t even know it exists until you leave and come back. I found out that way of living existed when I discovered Joan Didion. Every lived experience or thought she had, I took in as my own. As if we shared the same childhood, down to the street signs. Somehow she knew it was specific all along, but I didn’t until her work told me it was. Something about growing up in a desert cultivates a toughness, but equally, a need for freedom. I actually went back a few weeks ago, I was walking outside for about 30 seconds, it was 100 degrees. I thought to myself, “no wonder I am the way I am, having to learn to grow up in the middle of this and survive it, and no wonder I had to get out as soon as I could.” I drove three hours to get there, I left almost immediately.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work?

Michelle: Travels have been the most influential force on my work by a long shot, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from anything I’ve released yet. None of it has outwardly been about travel, I suppose that’s been my little secret until now. That’s actually what many of my future skeletons of books are all based around. I have lots of upcoming travels and I’m excited to see where they’ll take the work and where everything will land. I think it’s better not to plan, to leave room for life to happen, to be surprised. You’ll suffocate the ideas and kill them before they even get off the ground if you don’t. Ideas come to you, you don’t chase them down and tell them what to be, they tell you— the good ones, at least. They say you have to live in order to write, I think that’s true. Half of my writing experience means not writing at all, filling the well, followed by obsessively doing only that. I do write most and am constantly inspired when I’m traveling though, to the point where it’s almost annoying. It’s like I can’t sit down and enjoy one meal without having to pull out a pen. I’ve actually found myself recently making an effort to write less, not treating every thought as life or death to get down. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. You might lose some really important ideas that way, and come to terms with never getting them back. But at what point does that obsession to note everything become worth not being able to enjoy your dinner? I don’t know. I suppose it’s about choosing which one is more worth it at whatever point in your life you’re at in that moment. But anyway— travel. When I was 20, after half-quitting music school, I didn’t go to a proper college, I went to London instead, and Europe. I quit my job and just left. That trip and everything that followed was what made me rearrange my life and start taking writing seriously (but wasn’t aware of it at the time).

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?

Michelle: No. I think being an artist is just a way of being, not a title someone can give you. You either are or you aren’t, it’s not a job description. I didn’t even know I was a poet by the time I put my first poetry book out. I probably never even said the word out loud until the following year. It was all an accident, something I never even thought of or gave names to.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Michelle: I laughed out loud at the word “relax.” I enjoy lots of things, I don’t know if I can ever relax. I really love stand-up comedy, maybe that’s because it forces you to relax. You can’t laugh and be (too) stressed out at the same time. I wrote a few scripts last year in lockdown, that was fun, but also doesn’t fall into the category of “not writing.” I really can’t seem to stop, in whatever form it takes. I love film, reading. Reading is another thing that forces your own inner monologue to shut off, you don’t have a choice but to listen to someone else’s for a while— next to comedy, it might be the only break I get from that, and I don’t take it for granted. I just realized none of these are considered activities, and I’ve described them all as “forced.” Like I said, I’m a really relaxed person. I’ve been living in the mountains for the last six months, and that’s been a beautiful break. I’ve always enjoyed going on long walks, I make sure to do that every day and have for years now. Let’s pretend walking and sitting on the porch are activities. I actually relax most when I’m doing absolutely nothing. I’m anti-activities.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Michelle:

I just released my second poetry book, a chapbook called DETERIORATE. It’s all about my disdain for the digital age— contemplating how our modern world has changed humanity, changed how we produce art, how we live. Mostly for worse, but my hope is that we might be able to change that if we’d all just look up and turn off (or on, rather). It’s available wherever you get books. 

https://www.michellemariejacquot.com/poetry

https://amzn.to/3iuX1PL

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Michelle: I can’t pick a favorite. I’m one of those weird people that really likes their own work and listens to/reads it. I have a whole album of songs I haven’t recorded yet— I’m really proud of all those lyrics. I worked for so long to become the songwriter I wanted to be, and I finally started to get there right before the world shut down. I’ve yet to start again, we’ll see what happens with that.

The first good song I wrote (after six or seven years of trying) has a chorus that ends with this lyric— “I spend all my time stuck in a car in the past, you’ll forget about me and I’ll drive me mad.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Michelle: Honestly, it’s been a very solitary journey for me. I was about to say I wish I could say otherwise, but I suppose I don’t. I enjoy being and working alone. I’ve always helped myself in writing, if anything I’ve looked to other artists that came before me and found their help along the way through their work and lives, and through other moments of inspiration from the greater world. Paying close attention has helped me most.

Also from Michelle:

Death of a Good Girl

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