Ian Gibbins

Ian Gibbins small3

Ian Gibbins trained originally in zoology and pharmacology on the way to becoming an internationally recognised neuroscientist and Professor of Anatomy at Flinders University. In addition to more than 100 peer-reviewed publications on the microscopic structure of the nerves that control and monitor the activity of the internal organs, he is a widely published poet in print and on line, including Cordite, Southerly, Overland, Best Australian Poems, Best Australian Science Writing, and many FSP Anthologies. His poems have been shortlisted for several national prizes, including the Peter Porter Prize, the Newcastle Prize, the Ron Pretty Prize and the Max Harris Award. He won the 2014 FSP Satura Prize.

Since retiring in 2014, Ian has been integrating his poems more with electronic music and video, several of which have been published recently. Ian regularly works in collaboration with artists, with exhibition including Not AbsoluteThe Microscope ProjectSensurious, and Floribunda.  His first full collection of poetry was the FSP Single Poet edition, Urban Biology (2012) which has an accompanying CD. Since then he has published The Microscope Project  How Things Work (with Catherine Truman and Deb Jones, 2014), with an accompanying CD, Microscope Music, and Floribunda (with Judy Morris, 2015). He also has collaborated with Australian Dance Theatre, contributing text to their productions, Be Your Self and Proximity.

To see more visit www.iangibbins.com.au. Listen to his CDs at iangibbins.bandcamp.com and see his video-poems at vimeo.com/iangibbins


Starlight Grey

At last, we strip off our wall-paper skins,

don brocade wedding gowns in readiness

for our year’s end resolution of untested hypotheses.


With tiger sharks looming in murky shallows,

viable financial propositions have failed to materialise:

no wonder we developed a case of cold feet,


no surprise that long-lost relatives clash again over

certain rather tricky matters, wedge-tailed eagles circle

anti-clockwise, goannas salivate in the undergrowth.


Hour by hour, some kind of narrative unfolds:

“Independence is a virtue,” they tell us. Arm in arm,

we move as one, speak with a single voice.


Faced with a chance of unpowered flight,

an opportunity to achieve previously unheralded

altitude, we make the momentous decision to refute


offers of help, deny any attempt to divert our course.

From the sidelines, they call out, “We told you so!”

and, in almost equal parts, “You’ll be glad you did!”


While hyenas smirk, harangue late-comers to the party,

we look confidently through each other’s eyes,

toss high a ceremonial coin, call either heads or tails.


Contains samples of phrases from the TV program guide for “Grey’s Anatomy” and Sagittarian star signs in “The Advertiser” for 18th December 2012.

From FSP Anthology 38: The Infinite Dirt (Poem of the Month April, 2013).


Sometimes it hurts


When you come to me

I feel your heat before your touch,

I feel the wind, hot, from a mid-summer

night, prickling with dried leaves,

endlessly irritable crickets, incipient thirst,

with the inevitable sunrise that follows,

that, in this climate of ill-defined seasons,

threatens fire before our first morning breath.


When you come to me,

I shiver like a violin string;

in cold sweat, my lip glistens with

dew-drops, my skin draws tight, tighter,

constricts my arteries and veins, a thunderbolt

blinds my shadows, ghostly spectres haunt

my path, sing storm-wracked sirens’ songs,

disguise ancient fog-bound shipping hazards.


When you come to me,

I count all the stars across the sky,

the sandgrains on the beach, in the desert,

the heartbeats I always lose, the pangs

I fear as your caresses slip unguided

into the voids of boundless space, as each

and nearly every one of your kisses falls

into unacknowledged whispers around me.


Most women experience genital pain at some time in their lives, but for surprisingly many, it is always there…

From FSP Anthology 36: Flying Kites


Dead Dog (subtitled)


No, not yet,

not as long as we are counting dog years

(or blue moons, faded, desaturated, pale

almost to transparency, almost to the sky’s limit,

calling us to howl at the very end of space).


When spring tides peak

high at two metres, two point five, two point six

(it’s that kind of day when land’s edge slides

away from footfall, folded back through wavelets,

abating sea breezes, unfurled sailcloth echoes).


Until ten

in the morning, dogs may run on the beach

(off the leash, should we so desire, should we

be overtaken by the urge to race, to hunt, to dig

and scratch and roll, to dive, or jump up and fly).


As long as we

are counting dog years, there still might be time

(to learn one more new trick, to continue to breathe

ozone sunrises in old and familiar company, still time

to glimpse another blue moon, just before she scuttles).


From FSP Anthology 35: Sorcerers and Soothsayers