like a flightless bird of stone

This year, for my thirty-fourth birthday, a friend gifted me with a numbered page notebook, one page for each day of the year, asking that I “do something” every day. She didn’t mind what it was that I did each day, as long as I “did something” and then documented it.

I’m sure it sounds as cool as cool can be, but I’ve taken to opening the dictionary each day at a randomly selected page and then finding a suitable word to both learn and learn from. Sometimes I read the word as sincerely as a tarot card, hoping for illumination in “cupel”, “Snellen”, penanggalan; sometimes I just remember that the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary I received for my twenty-fifth birthday has very rarely moved off the shelf, because most of the pages are still stuck together with a faint filament of paper edging.

On day ten of this year’s diary challenge, I opened to a page containing the word “gibber”.

I drank my cup of morning tea, sat steamy in my lounge room, felt the weight of my dictionaries, considered the Aboriginal word for stone, the stone left after the sand and dust are blown away by the desert, the garbled nonsense of meaningless speak, and remembered that a.rawlings’ stunning project from the Queensland Poetry Festival had gone live recently and that I’d also gone a little bit dead.

So I gave myself a mouth to mouth, eye to eye, stone to stone, wing to wing. And spent some time thinking hearting hearing learning gibberese.

The riches on the Gibber site are many and hard to summarise in blog-ttention-span and my lunch break. Depending on your interests you can take several criss-crossing flight paths through this intellectual and synesthetic bird-song-poem-dream of a website.

The site features a poetry suite, digital and sound poems, collaborative links, texts and essays, and photographic, audio, ecological, intellectual and sensual challenges abound. Supported by Arts Queensland, the State Library of Queensland, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, and the Queensland Poetry Festival, the project is multi-layered, deeply conceptual and sensitively realised, and yet pleasurably difficult to explain.

Selecting what is “my favourite” part of the site/project, seems a very strange concept, as if the various elements of the project were somehow asking to compete with each other, when in fact the project feels more like snapshotting the ripples of water after a stone is thrown, or delicately unravelling a great and multi-coloured quilt. There is an expansive, deliberative feeling to the work, more experiential than anything else. Like eavesdropping on a child telling stories to themselves, the interesting thing is not to “make sense” of what is going on in gibber, to adjudge and therefore stand above the poetry/works, but to wonder where the story goes and to immerse in the playful nonsensical places, knowing in fact that sometimes inside that seeming “nonsense” is sense. Liminality and limerence in equal measure.

Like they say, when a two-year old hands you a toy telephone saying to you, “brrrring brrrring brrring”, I don’t care who you are, you answer it.

Today, however, the things I am coming back to in gibber are bark, the sclerotic confusion of #gibberese, the ecosystem of sound, and the heartbeat of the water, and the mimicry of all birds. Tomorrow I may search for something else, some other sub-un/conscious place of feeling language, knowing sense, or experiencing place. My land stories are grindingly urban, there is a deluxe escape in gibber, transportable hush, I suppose.


Correction – in the original post of this me-review, I indicated that I had some trouble with the old browsers! not so – it was an error entirely between the keyboard, the chair, and my work’s security settings. Apologies!

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

1 comment

  1. Reblogged this on eleanor j jackson and commented:

    Never be afraid to say you’re wrong – @arawlings, all is beautiful and well-working on the gibber site! I had originally thought there was something amiss, but no – all about me and my out of date browsers.

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