Category: Poetry

Day 4

Friday, 4th November 2016

Day 4:

306 words today. I’m tired, overwhelmed with work. There’s so much I need to get done before heading to SF next week. Writing, on top of everything, feels like a challenge. A rich, rich challenge. Went to bed at 8pm today, and slept for 9 hours.

Day 3 – Work Journals

Thursday 3rd November 2016

Day 3:

Reflection as of 11am. I’m nervous that this day will run away from me, and I won’t write anything more than this meta-reflection in our NaNoWriMo document. I have a cocktail event after work tonight, and then a trivia night this evening with friends. I’m going to aim to write a few thoughts down at lunch, and leave my phone as the late-evening commute-home last-minute solution.

As of 3pm: I wrote 747 words over lunch. Sat outside in the sunshine, reflected on a conversation I had with my brother-in-law yesterday about why we like working with/for certain kinds of people. Started loosely discussing workplace strengths. I’m realising how many insights live in these casual conversations, just waiting to be mined, reflected on, and expanded upon. Jumping-off points, for sure.

By later in the evening, I ended up writing 1626 words in total! I think I’m getting the hang of this getting-reflections-down-wherever-and-whenever-they-happen thing.

Day 2 – Work Journals

Wednesday, 2nd November 2016

Day 2:

I wrote 250 words responding to a Prince Ea video about “Do you live to work, or work to live?” Made me think: if I can articulate the premise of my book concisely and clearly enough, maybe I should write to Prince Ea via his business site and ask if I can interview him.

(One of my writing partners responded: I’m all for getting it articulated well, but if it’s not, don’t let that stop you from contacting him!”)

Debut poetry collection: What Slight Gaps Remain

What Slight Gaps Remain by Emma Sedlak

What Slight Gaps Remain by Emma Sedlak


Monday, 24th October 2016

I’m excited to announce that my poetry collection What Slight Gaps Remain has been published by Blue Hour Press!

The collection is a combination of poems selected from my PhD portfolio (titled The Origin Stories), poems from my Masters’ degree collection (titled Of Water and Light), and new writing.

What Slight Gaps Remain by Emma Sedlak

This is a real book. How crazy is that?

I haven’t gotten my hands on a physical copy yet, but my editor sent me photos. I’m taking them as real-life evidence that my words tangibly exist, sewn together and bound, in the world. I’ll pick up a bulk-order during my upcoming trip to San Francisco to bring back to Sydney. Until then, the book is still only present on my computer screen.

It’s a strange feeling to know this can exist on bookshelves. I’m not unfamiliar with my words being read (30 poems from this collection have been previously published online and in literary magazines). But I send them off into the world, they get adopted (or returned, returned, returned, and eventually adopted), and when they’ve found their new forever home, I let them be. I don’t really return to them, unless to refer someone to a line or snippet that might help to describe an experience they’re going through.

This is a collection. Here, things are collected and kept. That feels so different.

I was very lucky to have three wonderful early reviewers, consisting of Alan Gillis, Jane McKie, and Kirsten Kaschock. Enjoy their reviews below, and pick up a copy. (Expert tip: reading poetry in public is making a comeback. I’m sure of it.)


Reviews of What Slight Gaps Remain:

Alan Gillis, author of “Scapegoat” and “Here Comes the Night”:

“These are poems that address the heart of the matter – what it means to live, to love, to want to do good; and which also probe beyond the periphery of things and of thoughts. With wit, intelligence and dazzling linguistic prowess, this book examines what we hold before us, and what slips between the gaps. Scrutinizing places and relationships, memories and happenings, fictions and myths, the collection is marked by its copiousness and range. From high lyricism to chatty intimacy, objective imagism to fluid yet surreal streams of consciousness, Sedlak’s curiosity and talent recognise few limits. This is a trailblazing first collection.”



Kirsten Kaschock, author of “Sleight” and “The Dottery”:

“Emma Sedlak’s debut book of poetry is a hymnal to the impossible work in front of us—to be open to this world and to one another while reaching for something beyond it. Throughout this remarkable collection, she moves in and out of a broken story—Icarus’—and rewrites the wound, stitching with words a path towards wholeness. Sea and stars always unmoor us, but in Sedlak’s poems, they also provide the expanse that, as Rilke writes, allows us “each to see the other whole against the sky.” The poet trusts readers to lay their lives upon this map in palimpsest, to seek, among strands of love and pain, the golden thread—a middle way. This book vibrates. Its resonance thrums deep because Sedlak moves forward “… [as] though any of these difficulties could be told.” This is the good work, the core work, the necessary work. Enter into it alongside of her. As you dip in and out of its depths—note how the sun warms your shoulder-blades, how the wind sustains you.”



Jane McKie, author of “When the Sun Turns Green”:

“What Slight Gaps Remain, Emma Sedlak’s debut collection feels imbued with earth and air: it skillfully marries a humane concern with the fabric of our lives with a questing and philosophical acuity. Icarus is here, testing the elements, but work is here too in a pervasive lyric attention to community and ordinary labour that feels suffused with love. Like the foetus visible through the skin of a mother’s stomach that she describes, delightfully, as a ‘lima bean’ steadily taking form, the light in this collection unfolds in the mind long after setting it down.”



Shipping costs within the US will be $5, and international shipping is $12. For orders within Australia, please email

Where You Are: Everywhere



Tuesday, 14th June 2016

There are some things we just shouldn’t have words for. Language is inadequate. Touch, love, and empathy is better.

But where there can be words, Mark Doty is better.


I thought I’d lost you. But you said I’m imbued

in the fabric of things, the way
that wax lost from batik shapes
the pattern where the dye won’t take.
I make the space around you,

and so allow you shape. And always
you’ll feel the traces of that wax
soaked far into the weave:
the air around your gestures,

the silence after you speak. 
That’s me, that slight wind between
your hand and what you’re reaching for;
chair and paper, book or cup:

that close, where I am: between
where breath ends, air starts.


by Mark Doty, from Where You Are

The Menteur – Flux Issue

Blue Mountains -- photo by Emma Sedlak, 2015

Blue Mountains — photo by Emma Sedlak, 2015

Monday, 30th May 2016

I received an email yesterday from The Menteur Magazine, letting me know that they’ve published my poems in their Flux themed current edition. The Menteur is an arts and literary magazine written, edited, and produced by the University of Kent’s Humanities MA students.

The theme of the Spring 2016 edition is ‘flux’, which has inspired a multitude of poetry, prose, non-fiction, art and photography submissions that explore ideas of change, transition and flow.

The magazine is out now and currently available in print at the University of Kent’s campuses in Canterbury and Paris. Soon, it will also be available online here:

(Meanwhile, feel free to check out some back-issues. It looks like a great magazine!)

The editors haven’t yet confirmed which of my poems made it into the magazine, but all four of the pieces I submitted are included in Where We Find Ourselves, my forthcoming poetry collection from Blue Hours Press.

In the wake of Godspell’s closing weekend, I’m currently in a small window of liminal space. It isn’t a huge amount of flux, compared with other snapshots from my life — but it is a space between creative endings and beginnings.

Whether you’re also in a moment of flux, or just letting the current carry you along: come along for the ride.

Lothian Road¹


An end to this seems too tidy,
too complete for someone rooted
in the ground of waiting.

But finally, it happens.
The traffic opens
in a widening silence.

Step out into this emptied river.
Wade through the spaces
between things.

Consider this carefully:
now is the chance
to change course.

The current washes past,
compels you nowhere,
but carries you here.


Life Map²


Four directions: This (now), That (then), There (ahead), and Here (always).

1. Now-Then

Between This and That, the streets seem orderly, pre-planned. Few shifts have happened yet. These streets would be where you expect them, with childhood, Britain, tri-state area, their story, my story, these stories. Distinct roads, sometimes crossing. The difference between family, friends, self. Some dead-ends: dancing, law, chemistry. The renamed streets: Ex-Close, Left Street.

2. Now-Ahead

Between This and There, the streets follow a river. The river is Change. The river changes its name, and is later Being. A path cuts through the park called No Path. The buildings are where you want them to be.

A few things repeat: Music, books, laughter, voice. A graveyard for what has been given up: greed, judgment, immunity, obsession. There are smaller trees in the the park, young, new to the light: wait, watch, learn, unlearn. The current house is consistent.

3. Ahead-Always.

Between There and Here, things align. But less than half is mapped so far.

4. Then-Always.

Between That and Here, a few things are firmly rooted: what I want more than life is to see love in these hands. A garden with small plants. A knowingness. Of how and what to tend.

Letter To My Husband³


Walk down to the stream sometime as if it were the ocean: small waves at your feet, a constant traveler. Sit and rest while the tide hurries on — hand it your shoes, socks, build a dam of rocks and know the next eyes to see them will not be your eyes. Apologise: to your feet if you’ve misused them, to your heart and lungs if you’ve bruised them, to your energy for excusing everything that drained it. Displace your stress. Don’t reclaim it.

Let it float downstream.

In the office, no one knows where you have been — don’t make up stories. Words aren’t enough for most people, and they still think time is boring, or something to rush through until the friction strips years off them. Tell them you think you’ve had a dream of how monotony grows into meaning.

Pour a glass of water. But treat it like the stream.



Time is the opposite of an anchor 4


time is an illusive marker
along the route
an unreliable scale
at the bottom of the map

time is the opposite of an anchor

a waterfall recycling
down Escher’s stairs
an eternal return
and departure

time is when my father drowned me
for a brief moment in a deluge
of memory I never
wanted to own

time the moment in the nightmare
plummeting to what seems like death
when you are snapped back
by your waking body

time is running out of the door
and into the ocean
and into the sky

¹ Traffic in Edinburgh is so dependent on major arteries. Living in the West End between 2012 and 2015, we had tramworks right outside our door. The major arteries were always interrupted. As a pedestrian, it’s easy to get around road-blocks, new one-way systems that crop up with the frequency and ferocity of weeds. It’s also phenomenologically easier to lose yourself to thought and ponderings.

Suggested reading: Wunderlust: On How Walking Vitalizes the Meanderings of the Mind by Rebecca Solnit.

“Walking is how the body measures itself against the earth.” – Rebecca Solnit


² The Bookmaker shared an article with me once about how we map our own experience. (She’s shared many articles and art commentaries about maps with me over the years — this was one such specific instance). It sparked this poem: a desire to map a life in language, but using visual cartographic markers. It made me curious about how we map through time, as well as through space. In order to map my life, I need to pull out themes, I need to look at how certain things grow and others erode. I have to have some idea of which horizon I’m heading toward, even if it’s shrouded in the distance.

This, That, There, and Here are physical indicators. I paired them with the temporal indicators now, then, ahead, and always — because even a short map of a life should capture dimensional cross-sections.


³ All of this in one sentence: I’m sorry work has been hard, and I wish there was something more I could give you to remind you of what life should really feel like outside of the office.

This poem was later retitled “Letter To Susie Kim” because I re-gifted it as a going-away present to a friend moving from Sydney to Byron Bay.


4 Time is a fickle thing. It’s relative. It’s cyclical. And yet we still think it is a unique, omnipotent dictator.

It holds memories. It has a powerful tide. It freezes and continues. Sometimes, it keeps you.