My poetry collection, When Figs Fly, is on the brink of release, so this feels like a good time to revisit an old poem.

The poem plays on the old adage oft thrown around in academia, the one about surviving only if you get your work into print: publish or perish. But what if it’s not a matter of ‘or’ and the little word transforms into ‘and’?

What if you do get published and nothing good comes of it? Beware the black hole of indifference! Better not to step in that direction…

‘Publish and Perish’ was first published in 2007. It took me more than a decade to talk myself back into the idea of approaching publishers about a collection.

Coming soon…!


Publish and Perish

Do I want to be published? You bet!

A slim volume, subtle cover

nothing glitzy, mind

But there was another rejection

the other week

impersonal and final

A blessing in a way


Do you read the reviews on Saturdays?

Words slicing right to the heart

mauling some poor writer

A Big Name no defence

just more to get the teeth into            and rip

Only one thing worse

Published – and ignored


Have you ever tripped over a remainder basket?

Books shoved out on the pavement

to be scanned by commuters

rummaged through by the bored

           the unemployed and housewives

and left still at $6 or 4 for $20

Those unread words were someone’s pride


Let that happen to my work? No way!

No, I’m not a silly fox

those grapes up there

the ones I cannot reach

are far, far too sour



[First published in Poetry Monash, Issue 77, 2007].





Feature Image: An illustration by John Rae from Fables in Rhyme for Little Folks, 1918, showing Aesop’s wily fox in the bottom right hand corner contemplating the lovely grapes he cannot, for the life of him, reach. The origin of our little stub of a retort: sour grapes!


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