‘The glass table’- Mark Liston

“‘The Glass Table’ is a response to that first winter; fresh and joyous, and totally foreign to our previous, Newcastle home.”- Mark Liston

The glass table

We left the table outside.
It had started life as a desk
but being glass, and heavy
and rather large,
it didn’t fit in the study anymore.

So, it sits on the paved back deck
home to three spider webs,
collections of plant pots
and two empty paint tins.

But last winter it found a new job.
Each morning ice collects
in pools and sheets of frost
and fingers of haw fronds.

And from underneath
nascent sunlight
refracts as tiny spectrum murals.

If you time lapsed a video
the spiders and ice and seven
colours of it, the fronds of plant and frost,
the melt of light and rusting circles of tin
and the disappearing of day

would win you a doco prize
for best inverted use of a glass table
with added poem and voice over.

-Mark Liston

A hard winter and ‘The glass table’

Living in rural Tasmania, we struck a ‘hard’ winter, as the locals called it. A week of minus 6 plus degrees froze the river and water fountain in the town leaving frost in spots of shade all day. ‘The Glass Table’ is a response to that first winter; fresh and joyous, and totally foreign to our previous, Newcastle home.

Experiences as Café Poet and beyond

I was Café Poet at Sprockets Newcastle for 2 years (renewing every 6 months or so) from October 2011. During that time, I was Poetry Co-ordinator at Hunter Writers Centre. [I conducted] a monthly group and bi-monthly open mic readings at Sprockets with special guest poets, including, Montreal Prize winner, Mark Tredinnick. Picaro Press gifted many poetry books for prizes and handouts. [I organised] local musicians to play at several events. [I was] also Secretary of Poetry @ Pub. The three positions coalesced [and helped me build] a strong community of poets which still continues.

In 2013, I was invited to organise the poetry component on the inaugural Newcastle Writers’ Festival started by Rosemarie Milson- journalist with Newcastle Herald. I invited and successfully gathered together, numerous highly credentialed poets including, Anthony Lawrence, Phillip Salmon, Anna Kerdijk Nicholson, Judy Johnson and Jean Kent as guests to three open mic sessions, one at Sprockets. [The open mic sessions were important.] They gave local poets a chance to read their own work and to feel part of the whole Festival. In subsequent years, poetry has become embedded into the Festival even more.

Many of my poems have appeared in Anthologies and my poem ‘Her Cameo Face’ was Australian Poetry Poem of the year in 2013.

I met Les Murray at Sprockets. We discussed the Café Poet program and all matters poetry (a true highlight). I subsequently wrote a piece about the meeting for ABC Open.

Several short poems and haiku [of mine] were translated into five languages on online sites and in a Poetry Café in Toronto, Canada as a result of meeting overseas visitors at the café and at open mics.

I published a chapbook with Picaro Press in 2013, again because of exposure as a Café Poet.

In 2014, [My partner and I] semi-retired to Tasmania and have since joined two poetry groups in Launceston (Poetry Pedlars) and attended the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, and the Europa Poets in Burnie, reading at their yearly Poetry and Music Concert.

We are in Burnie now as foster parents for 6 sibling children, but I still find to write and read as much poetry as possible. I have enjoyed the last few years of involvement in poetry at various organisations and hope to continue to ‘spread the word’.

-Mark Liston



Mark Philip Liston’s poetry and short fiction has been widely published. He won the 2013 All Poetry Prize and 2014 Australian Poetry, Poem of the Year Award. Mark was Australian Poetry Newcastle Café Poet in Residence at Sprockets from 2011 to 2013. His first collection of poetry, Fragile Diamonds was published by Picaro Press in 2013. He now lives in Tasmania.

Read ‘Her Cameo Face’ by Mark Philip Liston, winner of the ‘Poem of the Year 2014’ Prize on Australian Poetry here

Featured Writers Part 2: Past Australian Café Poets- Curated by Zalehah Turner
Read about the Australian Poetry Café Poet Program (2009-2014)


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