Author Archives: Grapple Publishing

October 31

 by Nick Marland


(Image credit: Steven Depolo. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License)

That annual time of mysteries and horror. How do we find ourselves here time and again? The railings of the houses are veiled with synthetic gossamers and plastic ghouls glower from the windows. Strings of plastic pumpkins bob on the breeze. The night of dread, clocks lurching toward midnight, doom impending and punishments stark. Shit, the clock. It’s an office clock. Is that deductible? Do I even still have the receipt?

Arrayed around me on the dining table, the chairs, the floor are forms and receipts scattered like bodies exhumed from assorted drawers and folders and hiding spaces where they were buried by a psychopath, forgotten when the time came for confessions. So first comes the gathering-together and the deductive reasoning: Why is a 2008 receipt in here? Why did I put a power bill in here? I can’t claim that. Piles of the chosen and the passed-over take shape, and even these categories are uncertain. The guilt accretes around each decision: can I deduct this? Should this be in a low-value pool? What exactly is a low-value pool? I wonder what I can get away with. I know of friends who have claimed deductions on fruit. Damn it all. It is all the stuff of nightmares, except that you wake up from nightmares without significant financial penalty.

. . .

To read the rest of He was close, you can buy a copy of The Grapple Annual No. 1.

Over the 2014 Halloween weekend, we shared Nick Marland’s October 31 and D A Shorr’s He was close in their entiretyKeep an eye out for more free pieces online as their date approaches.

Nick Marland is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Going Down Swinging, Seizure, The Lifted Brow, The Sydney Morning Herald, the UTS Writers’ Anthology, and The Drum. He has been an illegal alien in Belarus and once tripped up Woody Allen while trying to shake his hand.


The Grapple Annual No. 1: launching at The National Young Writers Festival

It’s here!

That’s right, after a good year of learning how to make an Annual for the first time, including a final few frantic weeks of finalising, proofreading and printing, we’re ready to launch The Grapple Annual No. 1! And we’re doing just that at the National Young Writers Festival, part of the annual This Is Not Art mega-festival in Newcastle.

We’ll be launching at the Launch Orgy (tonight! it’s gonna be wild),  spruiking during the the Zine Fair (along with a few Canberran zine and publisher buddies) and we’ll have copies for sale throughout the whole long weekend at the festival bookstore at Staple Manor!

That’s not all! Our editor Duncan Felton is part of a few events. Our designer Finbah Neill is part of a few more. One of our contributors, Alexandra Neill, is one of the festival coordinators and another, Sian Campbell is heading up the Press Room, which you should keep an eye on, whether or not you can be at the festival. It’s a big festival, there’s a lot to see and do, so let them share the load.

We’d also recommend checking out the free workshops and signing up immediately for what interests you. Grapple Publishing may not be here if it hadn’t been for an NYWF 2012 Small Press Workshop. Get involved!

Plus there’s another Grapple contributor, Eleanor Malbon,  in an excellently-named show Eucapocalypts Now at Crack Theatre Festival. And don’t forget all the other good stuff at Critical Animals. These two other festivals are the other two thirds of what make TINA excellent.

If you can’t make it along to Newcastle, don’t fret. We’ll be organising a Canberra launch for mid to late October, with the potential for another or two in other capital cities. Then there are ebooks and the opening of submissions for No. 2. It’s all happening!

We’re excited and we hope you are too.

More details after the TINA weekend. Hope to see you there.


The Sun Eater, Catalonia, 17 July 1936 to 17 July 2013, Miró and Picasso

– a poem by by Andrew Galan

As this date has passed, you’ll now have to seek out Andrew’s poem by buying a copy of The Grapple Annual No. 1. But keep an eye out (and watch our Facebook and Twitter pages) as we’ll soon have more featured works online  on their given dates.


Andrew Galan’s first poetry book, That place of infested roads, is with Knives Forks and Spoons Press (2013). His poetry appears in print and online in Australia and internationally. With Hadley, Joel and Amanda, Andrew co-founded and runs Canberra’s poetry slam BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT!, and he writes and performs alongside The Tragic Troubadours. This is his website: Huitzilihuitl’s Reign of Death



– a poem by Ben Adams for the 2nd of July (on this date in 1961, in the early hours of the morning, Ernest Hemingway committed suicide).


As this date has passed, you’ll now have to seek out Ben’s poem by buying a copy of The Grapple Annual No. 1. But keep an eye out (and watch our Facebook and Twitter pages) as we’ll soon have more featured works online  on their given dates.


Ben Adams is a writer and political ranter from Adelaide, currently studying for his PhD on the poetry of Charles Bukowski. Ben has worked as state ambassador for Express Media’s National Young Writers’ Month, a Buzzcuts arts reviewer and coordinator, and had several poems appear in the online small press. More at

individual tax return instructions

– a poem by Monica Carroll for the 30th of June (the end of the financial year).


As this date has passed, you’ll now have to buy a copy of The Grapple Annual No. 1. But keep an eye out (and watch our Facebook and Twitter pages) as we’ll soon have more featured works online  on their given dates.


Writer, Monica Carroll, is published in a variety of journals and anthologies such as Meniscus, Burley, DecomP, Cordite and Idiom. She has won many writing and poetry awards and performs, occasionally, in Canberra. In addition to writing Monica likes smooth round pebbles and morning bird-song.


Four Days

 by Yolande Norris



Monday morning
I buy towels and tiny clothes,
feel good about the world,
under the hum of chainstore lights

Maybe that’s the first thing I notice.


That night with an aching back
I break open a pomegranate in my hands for our dinner
The flesh stains everything,
red under my nails.

I’m slow to eat
Slow to sleep

The moon is full.





affairs in order
Readying for the unknowable.
Everything around
becomes rapidly irrelevant
Preparing for life
as if preparing for death





The day before the 7th of June,
A blue sky fast cloud winter’s day
through the passenger window of our little car
focussing on bare trees, on beautiful details before
I suppose,
everything is different.
At lights
long lights
meeting the glance of drivers alongside
going about their day with no idea
In the next lane
lives are changing.
It would be funny any other time.
Every bump and halt mocks my exhausted bones.
Stuck seated
wanting to stand
breathe furiously
walk furiously
as if as long as my feet touch earth I’ll be okay.
Second day without sleep.


Sometime that night
drugs flash cold in my veins.
I rest

My body works on.
The clock pulls slow hands through thick air till sunrise
I feel numb and stupid
But I am determined
you will be born
and not cut free
So that this has counted for something.





there you are
and bigger than I could have known
a displaced weight upon my chest.

the only one crying is me
so they hurry you away
there’s still
to be done.

I remember to ask ‘what is it?’
like you’re supposed to.
A boy.



It’s just me, after a time
finally, emptily, I sleep
before, empty and aching, I awake.



From June 4 to 7, we shared Yolande’s poem Four Days, in advance of the release of The Grapple Annual No. 1. You can now buy a copy online.


Yolande Norris is a writer and producer based in Canberra. She studied painting at the ANU School of Art and wrote on her canvases. Her long-suffering lecturer said ‘it’s not really painting is it?’ This year is the first time she’s told anyone about her poetry.


Annual a-comin’

Yes, it’s been a while, but we’re still here and The Grapple Annual No. 1 is indeed a-comin’. Though we haven’t been very visually present online, we’ve not at all been shirking.  Behind the scenes, we’ve read through all the submissions, we’ve made our selection and we’ve emailed out the verdicts. Commiserations, exhortations and celebrations a-plenty! Most recently though, we’ve been grappling away with a variety of edits: agonising over poem commas, sharing the heavy-shifting of paragraphs within longform behemoths, and everything in between. On that note, an assurance to those last few contributors who haven’t heard from us in a while: we’re getting to you super soon. You’re definitely not forgotten. Thank you for being wonderful and patient. We really do have the best contributors an inaugural Annual could hope for.

So yes, our initial endeavour has taken longer than anticipated (by us at least), but now’s the time, speaking of contributors, to get down to the buzz and the business. Specifics! Allow us to reverse striptease, if you will, by putting things on. On this page. Yes, over the coming days, we’ll gradually update the list below (along with our Twitter and Facebook pages) with our impressive roster of contributors to The Grapple Annual No. 1.

Flabbergastingly exciting? Correctamundo.

We’ll also gradually start sharing things like excerpts, interviews, an entire piece or two, and a surprise or three, all in advance of (and beyond) the launch of the Annual in both bound and ebook form. Pretty much every work in the Annual relates to a date, so each contributor gets their very own featured online anniversary shindig, and you’re invited.

But first, here’s that growing list of contributors. Watch this space over the coming days and by the time the list is fully announced, we’ll have launch details, release details and details on how you can get all of this into your mitts, eyes and minds. Yes!




The Grapple Annual No. 1 (2014)


Mount Olympos, a short story by Jane Downing (January 1)

Notes from Shanghai, a short story by Ella Jeffery (January 17)

Event, Tour, Shutter, a short story triptych by Kate Hall (February 1)

The First of April, memoir by Alexandra Neill (April 1)

Red Eyes, a short story by Raphael Kabo (April 8)

– The Emergent Story of the Australian Frontier, an essay by Paul W Newbury (April 25)

– Travelling left, a short story by Irma Gold (May 4)

Petrel Migration, art by Paul Heppell (May 10)

– We Are All Flesha poem by Andy Jackson (June 2)

Four Days, poetry by Yolande Norris (June 7)

– The Day She Wed, a short story by Tadhg Muller (June 24)

individual tax return instructions, a poem by Monica Carroll (June 30)


– The Penultimate Report of Sergeant Burns, a short story by David Stevens (July 16)

The Sun Eater, Catalonia, 17 July 1936 to 17 July 2013, Miró and Picasso, a poem by Andrew Galan (July 17)

– Moonlandinga short story by David Spitzkowsky (July 20)

Strange Creatures, two short fictions by Alyson Miller (July 26)

Unconditional, a poem by Charlotte Clutterbuck (August 9)

Paper Sky, memoir by Annette Ong (August 23)

Hunting Season, 4350, a poem by Vanessa Page (September 21)

The Death of Narcissus, a short story by Georgia Kartas (October 18)

– Glut, a comic by Ben Rosenthal and Mike Perry (October 21)

Sequence #1, Sequence #3 and Sequence #8, poetry by Greg Gould (October 27)

October 31, a short story by Nick Marland (October 31)

He was close, a short story by D A Shorr (November 1)

– Grim X-pectations, non-fiction by Sonya Deanna Terry (November 20)

Ants, a comic by Finbah Neill (November 21)

Reef Knot, a poem by Les Wicks (November 30)

– The Misunderstood Prophet, non-fiction by Steven Gepp (Dec 14)

– We Three, a short story by Sian Campbell (December 24)

– This one is true., a poem by Eleanor Malbon (December 25)

with additional artworks throughout by Issi Bailetti, Grace Blake, Sarah McCauley, Kayla Piris and Shu Shu Zheng.


…and more a-comin’!

What’s all this then?

Hi! This is the first of many missives from Grapple Publishing. We’re here, we’re a new independent publisher and we’re keen to publish all sorts of utterly excellent things. My name’s Duncan Felton and I’m the founding editor/publisher. I’ll tell you what we’re planning and then it’s over to you.

Most importantly: submissions are now open for the pilot issue of The Grapple Annual.

We want The Grapple Annual to be a wide-ranging collection, year after year. We’re open to pretty much anything: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, art, and combinations thereof and otherwise. If it can go in a book, we’re interested. And while it will be in bound book form first, we’re eager for work that can also reside in or interact with the digital and/or ‘meatspace’ realms (more on this later).

We accept submissions from people from all over the world, Australia and Canberra (not necessarily in that order), because that’s where we’re from. We’re especially keen to publish the underrepresented and the emerging, but not exclusively. We don’t mind whether the work fits into, traverses or dodges genres or forms. We welcome the experimental and the just plain original. We want quality work, really. That’s the thing.

So in terms of guidelines then, we’re ridiculously open. All we ask is that you only make one submission, and it must relate in some way to one date on the calendar. This could be a significant historical date, this could be your birthday, this could be two Tuesdays away. What’s with that date? You tell us!

The book will be released in early 2014. Digital iterations of, around and relating to each individual piece will then be published here online near each of their chosen dates. Some expansions into the outernet/meatspace are also highly likely. General submissions close November 24th, and you’d be wise to pitch anything you want to pitch well before then.

That’s just about it. For more (and more verbose) details, check out our Submissions page, and our evolving list of #grappleideas. Anything else, get in touch or comment down thataways.

We’re excited.

Okay, for now, it’s over to you.