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I Have Decided to Remain Vertical - poet Gayelene Carbis

I'm delighted to share this update with Gayelene Carbis, an award-winning poet and contributor in our Stories About Penises anthology. Gayelene talks about her new poetry collection, dealing with rejections from publishers and how hard it sometimes feels to pitch her work. I love hearing about the struggle, especially from someone as accomplished as Gayelene. Thank you Gayelene for this.

xx Julianne

Director at Guts

I’m an Australian-Cornish-Irish-Chinese writer living and working on the unceded land of the Boonwurrung people. I write poetry, prose, plays – and short film (as co-writer).

I’m excited to share that my second book of poetry, I Have Decided to Remain Vertical (Puncher & Wattmann), was awarded Finalist in two international awards: Finalist and Special Commendation, Poetry Book Awards 2023, UK (Wales) and Finalist – International Best Book Awards 2023, USA.

It’s amazing and slightly surreal to imagine people from other countries reading your work and selecting it amongst so many entries from all over the world. I feel very grateful, and very chuffed too.

Here are two reviews:

I’m increasingly sending my work out overseas and was thrilled to be shortlisted for the Paul Cave Prize for Literature 2023, UK. I entered three works under ‘Flash Fiction’ but two could also be called poems. I often agonise over categories and genres, but I do like the slipperiness of text, that I can call it whatever I like really.

I’ve had many rejections of my prose poetry over the years, so was pleased to be one of the poets selected for the prestigious collection of new prose poetry, edited by Peter Johnson and Cassandra Atherton: Dreaming Awake: New Contemporary Prose Poetry in the United States, Australia and in United Kingdom, MadHat Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 2023. I felt my perseverance and hard work in prose poetry had paid off. It’s not just the external validation here – I could see I had actually improved; grown as a poet in the area of prose poetry.

I’m currently working on a collection of prose poems/microlit, a hybrid text about a daughter-mother relationship and how the intersections of class, race, education, gender, and identity play out in their lives; and a collection of stories/memoir/auto-fiction. They both have working titles but I’m a little superstitious about sharing these before I get the work out there, so for now, that’s all I’ll say until I make up my mind about which title I’m going with!

I hope to finish both these projects in 2024 and then I face sending them out to publishers, not something I look forward to as I struggle to write synopses and pitches and such. Nevertheless, I want to get this work out there. The stories I’ve been working on for years; the ‘mother poems’ are more recent.

If you’d like to read some of my recent Australian prize-winning/shortlisted work and poems, please visit:

Kyogle Writers Festival Poetry Award 2023:


Live Encounters - Special Edition, Australian and New Zealand Poets:

Eureka Street, March 2021:

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Gayelene Carbis is an award-winning Australian-Irish-Cornish-Chinese writer of poetry, prose and plays. Her first book of poetry, Anecdotal Evidence (Five Islands Press) was awarded Finalist – International Book Awards, 2019.

Gayelene has been shortlisted / awarded numerous poetry and short story prizes, including: Montreal Poetry Prize; Fish Poetry and Memoir Prizes (Ireland); and “The Age” and “Australian Book Review” Short Story Awards. Gayelene’s work has been published and performed in Australia and overseas, including India, Malaysia, Edinburgh, Oxford, New York, and in Canada, where she was awarded a Scholarship for a Banff Writing Studio Residency.

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