Launch speech for fourW

(18 November 2017, Wagga Wagga City Library)

Good afternoon. On behalf of this gathering, I acknowledge and respect the traditional custodians, whose ancestral lands we are meeting on today. I acknowledge the deep feelings of attachment and relationship of Aboriginal people to country. I also pay respects to any Aboriginal people and Elders present here coming from other areas of Australia. I acknowledge that many cultures live on this land today, and that we should collectively respect the land, its past and present story for our future generations to enjoy.

Hello, my name is Ivy Alvarez. Welcome, one and all, to the launch of fourW twentyeight. fourW is one of Australia's longest-running annual anthologies of new poetry and prose (and “best”, as their website states ever-so-boldly). Congratulations to editor David Gilbey and to Alex Segal, Tracie Miller, Michel Dignand, and Breanna Blundell — fourW’s reading panel — for their diligence in bringing forth this anthology. Congratulations to the journal’s 63 writers, whose work appears in these covers, and well done, you, the audience, who are about to read the words in these pages.

fourW and I have a decade-long association together: my first fourW poem appeared in #18 (and I’m proud to say my work has appeared in every one since then). Soon after that was my first visit to Wagga in 2008. The multi-talented wonder that is Derek Motion was Booranga Writers’ Centre’s Director, and Sandra Treble the Centre’s valiant and stalwart Office Manager. So not only am I delighted to renew my friendships here, I’m also pleased to reacquaint myself with the possums-in-residence at the Writers’ Centre.

What always strikes me about fourW, as a literary publication, is its boldness of position, its openness to fun, adventure, experimentation and the raw original voice. I value fourW as an Australian journal unabashed in its outward-looking perspective, one unbound by location, while prizing writing that resonates, whether it is from Wagga, Australia, or beyond.

I like to imagine what larks the editorial panel gets up to when it comes to making their selections — maybe sitting together, paper everywhere, poems and stories scattered every which way. There would be laughter, and impassioned arguments, as people campaign for their favourite line of poetry or short story. Someone would bang on the table so hard, the glasses clink and the pizza slices leap out of their boxes. Then they’d laugh some more. (I don’t want to know if this scenario is untrue, by the way.)

According to the Booranga Writers’ Centre’s page, twentyeight contains “more than 50 poems and nearly 20 short stories stretching the boundaries of writing in multi-layered, allusive writing that engages, challenges, seduces”, 1 so I urge you to reserve your copy, whether as a last-minute standby present or as a beach-reading treat — for the season of gift-giving is well and truly upon us.

I can think of no better way to honour the work that goes into stitching together this journal, number twentyeight, by writing a cento in dedication. The word cento comes from the Latin word for patchwork. The cento, or collage poem, is a poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets. 2 For this cento, I am lifting the gate, and have included fiction writers, too.

The fourW28 cento

                     with thanks to the authors in this edition

By the way, did you know / rain is the buzzing of bees vertically
landing on flowers? Even bliss             has its palsy to yank. The river of
ghosts / spatters over rocks                                       the young man
shifted about, as though trying to coax more comfort from the chair
                                       beer in hand, sack open.
                                                                              kay okay lang kami, don’t
worry about us, we are fine here. Drugged icy air, dazzling light
                                       we climb knuckled fault lines / when we find
anything                      following through with sharp attacks // on
sensitive parts of the body                                       another memento from
when things were more in control.                   He is my third eye, my
spinal rod.                    Suffocation and empty lungs
                          and a hundred men blinded by your charm
But the real estate man was looking at his clip board and gave no
sign of hearing.                                       Mare and foal gaze through cicada haze
                                       though I doubt you’ll remember details of the affair
Want your miracles / fat, loud & obvious?
               the itch goes away, but not the
               itches in her brain
                          allowed to recreate Philadelphia from its
insides out                  its bourgeois interior rich with brocade and
(suggestion)               Her goats have breasts.
                                                                           though I know I’m
currently employed    at Kentucky Fried Chicken
my mother was born in a town like this         in creek water shallow
sometimes oddly neglecting to mention         whatever the clock
Where are the people / In the cars, in the glass        if I said where
would you be there?                     “But we were speaking of oysters,”
cos I’ve got that bearded brown face?    Dissolves under erasure’s X
In the other lounge a fire has been lit, but no one is present. My
balcony is their dining table!    I dive into a clarity
Beneath the waves is hot and silent
                                                        stretching to match the murders
The woman pregnant / with a skin of health        “I’m not dressed.”
Katerina brushed back her long black hair        Vanya felt in a stupor,
unable to take it in                                   Stiff quiffs, soft cocks, shit music.
before its lines / were said        i’ve encountered three irish accents
Summer seeps through flannelette.    The jetty burns with fireworks
Begin with a verb    escaped from a London winter   Writing pretty
letters    windows leaking life        she pauses. like lightning.
a holy & blessed ascension                a hundred respectable denizens
I feel slightly sick    A drink of water.                A hole in the ceiling
She and I / are getting to know the puddles    dewdrop of longing
he’s under the filleting knife                              A boot was kicking
the heat & itches you must shed blood    fixed      an extended wing
escape, a reverb under                                   to grant saintliness

Sources: Sofial Azam’s 'To a Gunman', Christopher Barnes’s 'Lord Byron Joins a Dating Site', Robert Beveridge’s 'The Poetry Bowl', Craig Billingham’s 'The Messenger', Julie Briggs’s 'White Christmas', Erwin Cabucos’s 'Lights of Different Colours', Joan Cahill’s 'One-Eyed Trust', Chloë Callistemon’s 'X', John Carey’s 'Post Truth', Carol Chandler’s 'Watched', Sue Clennel’s 'Frida', Lucy Coughran’s 'Hera', Michael Crane’s 'A Café in Marrakesh', Louise D’Arcy’s 'Alex and Max Go for a Walk', Sally Denshire’s 'after Horses', Michel Dignand’s 'Next Door to Charles', Tug Dumbly’s 'Incredible', Claire Feild’s 'Palpable', Adam Fieled’s 'Nights I Staggered Drunkenly', David Gilbey’s 'To Speak of the Woe ...', Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois’s 'Stinky Cheese', Jonathan Greenhause’s 'I am a God', Rory Harris’s 'road', Elanna Herbert’s 'Road to Gallipoli : between Cappadocia and Pamukkale', Matt Hetherington’s 'Seidel’s', Ross Jackson’s 'Waking something', Jill Jones’s 'Undoing', Christopher (Kit) Kelen’s 'practice of a disappearance', Maryanne Khan’s 'Sideways', Zohab Khan’s 'Untitled', Daniel King’s 'King Henry X and The Astrological Coasters', Vanessa Kirkpatrick’s 'The balcony', Andy Kissane’s 'Caught,' Mran-Maree Laing’s 'The raw faces', Gary Langford’s 'p154', Wes Lee’s 'Airbnb Weekend', Alison Lesley’s 'Weightless', Rosanna Licari’s 'All Saints’ Eve', Natalya Lowndes’s 'The Professionals', Julie Maclean’s 'Joel and Jess on the Verge', Alex McKeown’s 'qu’est-ce que c’est qu’un sansonnet?', Derek Motion’s 'birds poem', Jan Napier Kennels’s 'The Black Dog', Damon O’Brien’s 'Catching the Last Wave', Mark O’Flynn’s '(Missing)(The)(Point)', Nathanael O’Reilly’s '(Un)belonging', Liam Perry’s 'Fool’s Gold #1', Andrew Purches’s 'Individual Cities', Caroline Reid’s 'the kid', Graham Rowlands’s 'Absolutely', Rajith Savanadasa’s 'T'o Keep Pace', Steven Sharman’s 'The Kill', Dorothy Simmons’s 'In Your Face', Ali Jane Smith’s 'Christmastime!', Barnaby Smith’s 'Docklands', Ian C. Smith’s 'Mixed Fruit', Rob Walker’s 'Tommy Ru', Biff Ward’s 'To the West', Les Wicks’s 'The Mad Book', Gail Willems’s 'Woman Holding Roses Standing Between Two Springs', Jena Woodhouse’s 'Wild Geese Migrating', Mark Young’s 'or part thereof', Robyne Young’s 'Afternoon Tea'

Thank you to the Wagga Wagga City Library for hosting this 28th-year celebration of poetry and short story. Thank you to the Booranga Writers’ Centre’s new Director Kathryn Halliwell for inviting me to launch this esteemed and belovéd journal. It is my pleasure and my privilege. Please join us in celebrating local, national and international literary achievement — through the hand-stitched quilt that is fourW — as we declare fourW twentyeight launched into the world.

1 David Gilbey, Booranga Writers’ Centre FB page, 15 November 2017,
2, Cento: Poetic Form, 21 February 2014,

Born in the Philippines, Ivy Alvarez grew up in Tasmania, Australia. Having lived in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, she lived almost ten years in Cardiff, Wales, before arriving in Auckland, New Zealand in 2014. Ivy has a website presence at