Category Archives: Uncategorized

19 ½ Spells Disguised as Poems is out now!

After years of performing at schools and helping kids wrote poems, I figured it was about time I brought out a book of poems (spells) for kids. It is very important to note that this is DEFINITELY, positively not a book of spells, because magic isn’t real, obviously. This is a book of poems (spells) about very important things like zombies and rapping grandmas and cephalopods.

It’s out now via Odyssey Books, and as always if you buy it direct through my website here I can sign it and write an inscription (spell) or whatever you like.

Holly Eastwood has provided some excellent illustrations and I feel very fortunate to have worked with her.




I also made this extremely important educational video about dinosaurs that features a cameo from my book.

Six Cold Feet Season 2

We’re very excited to be bringing you season 2 of Six Cold Feet at long last! I’ll be appearing at the ABC’s Ozpod conference in Melbourne on the 3rd of October, and we’re holding our launch party the following week at the Bearded Lady in Brisbane. The launch will feature the musicians who wrote the incredible songs for season 2 (which we’ll also be releasing as an EP), including a rare performance from reclusive rockstar and star of season 2, Juliet Knives. I’ll also do a short spoken word set and some general yelling at the crowd.

We’ll be recording the event and using the audio in future episodes, so meta! In the words of Juliet Knives: “Let’s get weird together.”

2017.

JANUARY 1st

You rise from your bed, shaking the embers of a hangover from your addled brain, look in the mirror and say “Well, this is it. This is going to be MY YEAR.”
“Fucking excuse me?” You turn around, 2017 looks very unimpressed.
“Oh! Hey there, I didn’t mean—“
“You don’t own me.” 
“No, of course not! It’s just that, 2016 was awful and I’m hoping for a big change. This is the year I better myself.” 2017 grimaces, takes a step closer.
“So you want to build a cathedral to yourself on the ruins of my dead sister, that it?”
“No, you’ve got me all wrong! Like, I want to IMPROVE myself. I’m going to do a juice cleanse!”

2017 snorts reproachfully and says, “A juice cleanse? I mean, to begin with, maybe don’t take your health advice from models unless you’re going to also take make-up advice from your GP, but you’ve got a whole world teetering on the verge of widespread destruction and you think downing some liquefied kale is going to shake things up? Get a grip.”

“Hey, listen! I care about The World! I even, like, remember last year I raised awareness for—“
2017 throws its head back and laughs. “FUCK raising awareness. Raise funds. Raise fists. Raise your consciousness. Raze the palaces of the institutions that perpetuate the cycles of poverty and suffering to the ground. It’s all this fucking half-stepping that got you here in the first place. What else is on your list?”

You steel yourself, stand up straight, clear your throat and say, “2017, you are the year I finally quit smoking.” It nods in approval and strokes its chin,
“Yeah, fair enough. That’s a good one. I should do that too. I’m only nine hours old and I’m already smoking like Dante’s Inferno. That it?”

“Well, okay, I think you’ll like this one. This year I aim to be More Present.” 2017 manifests the physical representation of the concept of a wall for the express purpose of smashing its face into. It turns to you, nose bloody, and says, “Well, yeah, fucking for sure spend less time on Facebook and be more present, but maybe it’s time to put your face in a book and read some history? You’re all bumbling around like Cause and Effect are completely new concepts. ‘Oh look, we bombed this country and they’re angry at us for some reason! I hope they don’t retaliate like every single country that’s ever been bombed!’ It’s pretty embarrassing frankly.”

You stare down at the ground, saying nothing. 2017 sighs and says, “Look, sorry if I was a little harsh. I’m only brand new. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of year I’m going to be.” 2017 reaches its hand out to you, a hand that you instinctively sense could either crush or caress you. 
“That’s okay. I forgive you. Hey! You wanna go get Fro-yo?” 2017 frowns and says,
“I can’t, I’m lactose intolerant.”

How to become a New York Limes Bestsmelling Author.

Over the last few years I’ve had many aspiring writers come to me for advice as they seek to make their way through the confusing labyrinth that is the publishing industry. Sometimes it’s simple queries like ‘should I get an agent?’, sometimes more bizarre requests like ‘for the love of God could you please stop talking about royalty payments and call an ambulance I think this man is having a heart attack!’

whiteboard list

Many of these young, hopeful writers have subsequently released novels which have not only outsold mine but also been far more critically acclaimed. This means that they end up being given headline slots at literary festivals while I’m shuffling around in one of the weird rooms on the top floor of a secondary venue for a panel that is attended by half a dozen octogenarians who were expecting a workshop on efficient calendar management (it was actually scheduled for the following evening).

I thought for this reason that it would be a good idea to give some advice to my future rivals peers. Follow these wise words and you too could become a New York Limes Bestsmelling Author!

 

STEP ONE

Make sure all of your submissions are written in size eight and covered in glitter.

tobias-glitter-arrested-development-1422021365

Here’s a little industry secret: submission editors actually want to read everything in size eight font. I know, I know, all the style guides say never hand in anything outside of 11-13, but this is actually an elaborate ruse to throw off the easily misled. There’s a saying in publishing: “If it ain’t size eight, it ain’t that great.” Remember to cover your submission in as much glitter as you can get your hands on, and spray it with the scent of old feet and mildew (submission editors have unusual olfactory senses owing to the fact that they spend a lot of time in tiny rooms reading size eight font manuscripts). This will give your submission the edge it needs to make it all the way to the publishing queue. 

STEP TWO

Industry etiquette and relevant blood-oaths and battlecries

When engaging important figureheads of the publishing industry in conversation remember that they are a bit like rare birds; they are easily scared off and they feed their children by regurgitating into their mouths. The key to making a good impression is to use the secret handshake: firm grip and two bone-crushing pumps as you conspiratorially whisper “The blood moon approaches!” while slowly pouring your drink on their shoes. Once this secret greeting is uttered, you will be invited into the hallowed halls of the Literary Industry’s Elite Sanctuary.

 

STEP THREE

Dress to depress!

tomselleck

So you’ve managed to arrange a meeting with your dream publisher. Wow, things are really looking upwardstyles!!!! Pay close attention to these dress tips and you could soon be a best-selling author like Stieg Larsson, Margaret Atwood or that girl who was on the Jersey Shore. Men: make sure you are showing as much chest hair as possible, preferably arranged in braids. If you are lacking in chest hair, you’ll want to shave a large jungle cat or Sumatran orangutang and glue its hair to your chest. Ladies: it’s a sad truth that women are always judged more on their appearance than men, but for job interviews you want to look serious, professional and intelligent. This is why you should wear whatever the hell you want AS LONG AS it is accompanied by a sign hung around your neck that says in large red letters I AM VERY SERIOUS, PROFESSIONAL AND INTELLIGENT.

STEP FOUR

Contract non-negotiables: Attack helicopters et al

If you’ve followed all these steps, then it must be time to sign that contract. Hot diggity Dogstoveksy, the dream is real! Your mum was right, you really are special! Maybe that weird old martial arts expert you met in the cave was also right about you being the Chosen One! Now, I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve signed some less than perfect contracts in the past, so let me help you avoid the same mistake by looking out for what pitfalls to avoid. Aside from minor details like royalties and film rights, you’ll want to focus on making sure that your contract includes both an attack helicopter with twin laser canons as well as one of the rings of power.

galadriel

“If you want it, PUT A RING UPON IT!”

Now, don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to ask for the ONE RING, because that is just a dick move. However, there are many rings of power and it is standard that each new author receive one as part of their contract with any respectable publisher. They may try and throw you off by saying ‘The rings of power aren’t actually real?’ or ‘Are you completely insane?’ or possibly even ‘Have you been listening to that idiot J. M. Donellan?!?’ But stand your ground and tell them: ‘Gimmie that ring, or this contract ain’t a thing.’ If your potential publisher is not willing to give into these perfectly reasonable demands then the only honourable thing to do is set that contract, and possibly their building, on fire and walk off into the sunset.

Next week: J. M. Donellan’s guide to INSTANT weight reduction!!!!! (STEP ONE: cut off your legs.)

 

 

 

Twelve

 

COVER -1 jpg

Well, I guess I ended up doing the thing I’ve specifically told numerous people you should never do; I’m releasing two books this month. One is the poetry collection Stendhal Syndrome, the other is a collaboration with a world renowned and highly talented artist who also happens to be my mother, Wendy Donellan. She sent me twelve of her paintings and I’ve written a dozen stories to accompany them. We are presenting this collaboration in a variety of formats including an exhibition at Woolloongabba art gallery, audio recordings (available to purchase and download on bandcamp or stream for free via soundcloud) and a limited edition book.


The book is going to have a print run of just 100 copies, 20 of which have already been sold. The mathematically gifted among you will of course realise this means you should get busy if you want to get your grubby mitts on one of these beautiful books.

Burn

You can purchase them at the gallery during the exhibition or click on the button below and we will send one to you via a postperson (that’s a person who delivers mail, not someone who is no longer a  person, although sometimes the two overlap).

Love etc.

JD

COVER -1 jpg


Love letters to corporations: Vodafone

My dearest Vodafone,

You have wounded me, right in the very centre of my coal-black heart. We’ve been together for six years now, ever since way back when Rudd was PM (the first time round). Back in those youthful halcyon days I always swore I’d never go on a contract. All my friends were settling down, signing their lives away while I was living free and easy. I casually switched month to month from Optus to Virgin to Telstra. It was a beautiful, debt-free era and a part of me thought it would be like that forever.

sad face      Broken-heart-icon   Vodafone

But then you came along, and I committed to two years. And another two. And another. Before I knew it we’d changed PMs four times and you and I were looking at our 6 year anniversary. I’ve never even rented the same house longer than 3 years, so you should know this is a pretty serious commitment for me.

I thought that meant something. You always there for me when I called, unless I wanted to call anywhere outside the CBD and then your coverage would be as absent as dignity at a frat party, but I accepted that you just weren’t the outdoors type. I also accepted that you didn’t even know how to spell ‘phone’, despite the fact that the primary purpose of your existence is to provide telephonic services. I forgave these faults and plenty more besides, because I thought you cared.

Lately, however, things have taken an ugly turn. First, I find out that despite earning 3.6 billion dollars in13/14 you paid no tax whatsoever. Sure, the tax evasion hurts, but you know what really twists the knife? The fact that you kept it from me. 

Finally, you decided to check in with me, to see how I’m feeling about you. I respect that you care about my feelings, but I wanted clarification on the nature of our relationship. Here’s what happened:

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2016-01-21 15.23.19  2016-01-21 15.25.36

2016-01-21 15.27.30

I’m hurt Vodafone, I’d call one of my friends and cry into the phone at them if not for the fact that I just KNOW you’d listen in. We’ve had some good times, but I’ll be keeping our relationship strictly business from now on. You can assume my reply to all future surveys is ZERO, unless of course the question is ‘how much tax should Vodafone pay after earning 3.6 billion in profits?’

Swarm Re:guards

JM Donellan

Poetry is Dead at Wonderland Festival hooray hurrah *fireworks and guitar solos*!!!

 

Dearest humans,

It is with great pride and an appropriately stupendous array of confetti canon explosions that we announce that Poetry is Dead will be performing at this year’s Wonderland festival at the Brisbane Powerhouse! This year I’ve performed solo at Sydney Writers’ Festival, Brisbane Writers’ Festival, Noted Literary Festival, Ruckus Slam, The Australian Poetry Slam Finals at the Sydney Opera House and a ton of other places but this is the one and only time this year I’ll be doing shows with the supernaturally brilliant Mike Willmett as Poetry is Dead.

Mike and I are tremendously excited about this show, we are currently the only spoken word/electronic/live VJing/poetry  band in Australia, possibly the world. If another such act exists, please let us know so we can either sue them or do a gig with them, depending on how good they are.

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This is our mascot, Edgar Allan Flow.

We are performing in the stupendously cool Graffiti room, which is a beautiful, intimate space and we’ll only be able to fit around 30 people a night in there. This means it’ll be close and cosy and delicious but also that tickets are very limited. We’ve written a ton of new stuff and we are as excited as a small child with a shiny jetpack and a metric ton of magic jellybeans to share it with you.

Our show will run from December 10 -13, but the whole Wonderland program is incredible and there’s lots of great multi-ticket discount packages. My personal recommendations are The Cindy Twitch, Best in Show, The Architects of Sound and Long Story Short (I’ll be performing at that one too, telling a story about the time I accidentally went to Singapore and got really angry at John Travolta right before there was an explosion on my plane.)

OKAY GREAT I’LL SEE YOU THERE Q: WON’T IT BE GREAT? A: YES IT WILL!

LYNX:

BUY TICKETS

FACEBOOK EVENT

POETRY IS DEAD FACEBOOK PAGE

VIDEO OF MANATEE SQUISHING ITS FACE INTO GLASS

 

HBO: why don’t you want my money?

Dearest HBO,

Why don’t you want my money? Is it a moral thing, are you worried that my income is derived from heinously unethical sources like contract killing, drug dealing or writing for Newscorp? Because I can assure you, all of my income is legitimately earned (well, assuming you can call art ‘legitimate’…)

Would you like me to pay you in bitcoin? Dogecoin? Maybe fucking DRACHMAS? And yes, I do know that Greece hasn’t used Drachmas in many years it’s just that 1) ‘drachmas’ is a funny word that sounds as though it might describe a Grandma Dracula and 2) Paying with an obsolete currency makes infinitely more sense than going to great lengths to prevent people from paying you.

“But silly Australian consumer!” you might say. “It’s easy to watch HBO in your weird, kangaroo filled country! Why don’t you just pay for Foxtel?” Let me answer your question in the form of opening a second window in my browser and searching ‘mercenaries located within walking distance of HBO headquarters.’ Screenshot 2015-10-13 20.33.42

To sign up for the Foxtel package that includes ‘high quality’ content (why is there any other type being offered on a premium paid service?) including installation fees is $665 – a number so tantalisingly almost satanic that it suggests a bunch of board members sat around and said “Can we make it less than $666 because we don’t want to give away the fact that Satan is our lord and master but only very SLIGHTLY less because, I mean, you know…we love money.” This pricing is bullshit on a cosmic scale. For that kind of money, according to Ebay, I could buy the skull of an extinct Merycoidodon. I don’t even know what that is, but I know I’d rather pay for that than a bunch of crappy reality shows where they put models fresh out of rehab in charge of the economy of a small island nation or whatever dross comes packaged with the handful of decent shows on offer.

Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and had a conversation like this:

barista

“Hi there, what can I get for you today?”

businessman

“Cappuccino to go thanks, I’ve got a busy day of not letting people buy my company’s services ahead of me!

barista

“Sure thing! That’ll be $3.00 for the coffee and $662 for the piles of bagels, donuts, muffins, ylang ylang smoothies, vegan cheese souffle, kale flavoured paleo cronut and gluten free cheese puffs.”

businessman

“But I don’t want any of those other things, just coffee!”

barista

“Well you don’t have to eat them, but you DO have to pay for them and take them with you.”

Do you know WHY you’ve probably never had this interaction? Because it is a batshit crazy business model that would only be cooked up by an obscenely wealthy oligarch at the nasty end of a six day coke binge. Last year, some of us were hopeful that the streaming service HBO GO would offer up some assistance, but instead you had served up a big old digital middle finger to the world and had everyone outside of the US screaming HBO GO FUCK YOURSELVES when they read this:

Screenshot 2015-10-13 20.38.25

It’s well documented that piracy rates are extremely high in Australia. And look, I understand why you might be annoyed about that. I currently lose money to piracy even though you can literally get my books for free from the goddamn library, and that stings. Especially because my landlord refuses to let me pay in dramatic monologues or haiku for some stupid reason. It would probably break my heart, if not for the fact that I just have a fat black lump of coal where it used to be. But one of the reasons the piracy is so prevalent in this country is because Australians are sick of being constantly and consistently screwed on both the pricing and the availability of digital media. You might as well let Pirate Bay put up banner advertising on your homepage, given how much traffic you drive their way.

I want to like you HBO, really, I do. I even want to give you money. But you just make it SO. DAMN. HARD. I shouldn’t need to use a quasi-illegal ‘greymarket’ workaround to achieve this. Netflix finally figured this out last year, surely you can do the same. Or you can keep rolling along using your heinously outdated business model and people will keep stealing your stuff forever. Why don’t you ask your buddies in the record industry how that’s working out for them?

In conclusion:

arya-stark