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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Joint Subscriptions with Westerly


Westerly is pleased and very excited to be launching a new range of joint subscriptions with journals all around the country. The first four to be offered are:
Westerly and Island
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Westerly and Overland
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Westerly and The Lifted Brow
Westerly and Southerly
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For more details and to subscribe, see here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ninth Honorary Doctorate for Acclaimed Australian Poet Les Murray

Les Murray's Fredy Neptune is regarded as one of the great masterpieces of the English language in the 20th century

The Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa awarded by the University of Notre Dame to Australia's pre-eminent poet, Les Murray at the University's Broadway campus Tuesday night is the ninth honorary doctorate the 77-year-old has received.

"To receive an award like this is a great compliment," the down- to-earth bush-born poet says, but adds that while he appreciates each of the doctorates he has received, there's "no need to make a big media event out of it."
Not only was the University of Notre Dame's Doctor of Letters presented to Les Murray by the UNDA Vice Chancellor, Professor Celia Hammond, the ninth honorary doctorate bestowed on him during his  40-year-long literary career, but is  the second awarded this year, and the first he has been able to accept in person.
"I was sick and couldn't go to the graduation ceremony at ACU where I was to give the keynote address and be made a Doctor of the University. I had a bad patch with various illnesses in the second quarter of this year. So ACU had to postpone the actual ceremony which I think is going to take place later this year," he says.
The period of ill-health now over, he insists he is doing "fine."
Although unable to attend the ACU ceremony in May this year, he says he has been looking forward to the ceremony at Notre Dame where he also gave the keynote address.
"I did what I usually do in reply to the screed they read out about what a good fellow I am. This is say a few words and then read a few poems," says the man rated by the National Trust as one of Australia's 100 Living Treasures.


PNBHS Haka for Mr. Dawson Tamatea's Funeral Service

Moving tribute to a teacher.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


                                               by Murray Jennings

A quote from Garrison Keillor as the entry point to a collection of poems is indication enough
that what follows is bound to take the reader out of body and into mystery, for a considerable
part of the time: ‘I wanted to live several lives, which meant abandoning some.’

The cover painting, ‘Man and Cow with Mask’, by Quint Buchholz, is quite startling and
bears some relationship to the Keillor quote. The man is concealing his face behind a coyote-
head mask as he encounters a black cow upon whose head someone has placed a white 
teatro mask of tragedy. Why?

To seek the answer I went straight to the collection’s title poem. And I confess, I was lost
from the outset.

To explain: The book is divided into six sections. Section III, ‘Coyote Barks Music at the
Moon’, contains a number of groups of poems, the first of which is ‘Trickster’, which in turn,
encompasses nine sub-poems (my term) that explore elements of Native American
mythology. And the first of these, ‘Identity’ has Coyote saying ‘I am contradiction /
somewhere on ladder from man to god...’ and closing with ‘I cannot help but give you / tease
you leaven you / with my greatest gift: / con- / fusion’

For which I am grateful, because I remain confused by much of the entire section, while
simultaneously marvelling at the richness of the language as Coyote, Wolf and Trickster
weave words around creation, fire, life, song, dance and death. However, I am comforted in
my confusion by the opening lines of ‘Shadow Play, one of the poems following ‘Trickster’.
‘Relax: it is only midnight. / You have centuries until daybreak / for the story to

I will persevere. As should anyone else who picks up this book.

Elsewhere in the collection, the poet explores mythologies in places as far apart as Japan and
Spain. He draws on art, music, travel, love, sex, relationships between people and their
relationships with certainties and the unknowable.

Shane McCauley is living his ‘several lives’, and letting us in on many aspects and
experiences. He is not afraid to go naked in our presence.

Like me, other readers will be seduced out of the present, to step through various framed
transparencies into other times, as in ‘Ostia Antica’, where the poet  urges us to ‘Leave your
21st century shoes at the gate / and stroll without a watch...’ You are down near the mouth of
the River Tiber, but you are no coach-trip tourist; you are an amateur scholar, a romantic,
drinking it all in from 2,000 years ago, head still spinning from your time in Rome.

Because I am not a serious scholar, this was not intended to be a book review. I have been
asked for what are, simply, one reader’s impressions. I will mention just a few of the many
poems which, for various reasons, leap out at me, calm me, delight me, and inform me. And
like me, I am certain that many other readers will be seduced out of the present and our
imposed clockwork lives, into the mind and heart of an exceptional poet. 

From the first section, ‘Wind-spooked’ will delight all cat-lovers, as a brilliant, observational
piece describing the actions of a cat retreating from the wind and rain. 

‘Hives in Winter’ is a tightly-constructed, highly-imaginative description of a community
(‘the village’) of bees. The opening line is surely an original, the reversal of an image:
‘Middle winter mist rises like dry ice’.

In ‘Serenity’, the poet talks of the high stranded moon at dawn, ‘as if made of gauze...beneath
it / all the weary tumult of the earth / fitful / and just about to wake.’ As a poet myself, I
would have had trouble coming up with something so new to say about the moon and its
effects on us. And what a line! ‘All the weary tumult of the earth’, encompassing so much of
what goes on down here, without even a hint of a specific. He leaves that up to us.

The moon and another cat make brief appearances in section II, ‘Pine Trees in the Rain’,
fifteen poems devoted to Japan. ‘Autumn Moon at Tama River’ has the moon described as
‘blatant / and full as a drunkard, resting on a tree top'. Yes! I’ve seen it like that. And I’ve
seen pollen on a cat’s fur, mentioned in ‘Spring is a Cat’, but then the poet takes flight into
the final couplet, ‘Spring’s emerald life leaps / and romps on a cat’s long whiskers.’ It’s in
such stretches of a poet’s imagination that we are gently transported into dimensions of sheer

In several of the sections there are love poems, of which several are at least faintly erotic,
sensual, even sexual; but never gratuitous in their references. ‘This is the Photo’ is such a
gentle poem, but even in one simple, three-line stanza, the physical sensuality is evoked
beautifully. ‘and your eyes / even when closed / how I swim under your lids...’
In ‘Three’s a Crowd’, there is comedy. And a tragedy of sorts, at the expense of the narrator.
The elephant in the bedroom is actually a parrot! The bird simply has to go! And once it’s
ejected, you’d expect the love-making to commence...

Eros is present also, in ‘Fig’, an extraordinarily clever, short, highly sensual, visual poem,
about which I’ll say no more, except that it could well evoke a heavy sigh from a hetero male.
I have mentioned earlier, being informed by many of the poems in this collection. Not as
overtly as a lesson might, but by names, references, paths from one idea to another, and so
on. For example, the poem, ‘Holderlin’s Room’ and the one on its facing page, ‘Pallaksch’,
stopped me in my tracks. Who is this Holderlin? (with an umlaut over the ‘o’).

I looked him up in my Dictionary of Writers. Briefly, Johann Holderlin (1770 – 1843) was a
German poet who studied philosophy and theology, suffered from schizophrenia, spent a year
of his mid-thirties in an asylum, and whose greatness was not recognised until 80 years after
his death, when Rainer Rilke and others alerted the German public to his worth. So here is
Shane McCauley in Frankfurt, visiting a room once occupied by Holderlin in isolation,
sketching in spare poetics, some aspects of the German’s life and thoughts and commenting
that ‘...madness / is something / only others see.’

 The other piece of information, gleaned from the poem opposite, is the meaning of its title,
‘Pallaksch’, revealed as a footnote. It is Holderlin’s invented word meaning: yes and no.
When I thought about that, it seemed logical that there should be such a word. I read the
poem only after pondering the footnote.

‘Pallaksch’ is deceptively simple in its presentation down the page. You can read it in
seconds. But to do that is to ignore what it is intended to unlock and free up in your mind.
Read it slowly, aloud, from the opening lines: ‘with this one word / all wrong answers / a
thing of the past / all mysteries solved...’ down through a list of unfinished questions such as
‘is there life after’ and ‘do you take this woman’ down to an open ending, whereupon you are
immediately drawn back to the beginning, to perhaps re-think your previous conclusions.

I could name many more of these poems which have gripped, surprised, or amused me. After
all, there are 125 to choose from. I could quote verbatim some haiku, or trace a route through
some of the poet’s places and experiences close to home, in Australia. I could point out some
of the many subtle, unforced rhymes. Perhaps a practised reviewer might do some of that, but
there is always the risk of saying too much and spoiling it for readers intent on discovering
the delights for themselves.

Instead, I will mention just two more:

‘Beside My Brother’s Grave’ is without doubt, one of the most moving poems I have read,
related to the death of someone close.
The final poem, ‘Larvatus Prodeo’, has the poet wearing a mask ‘...grafted so perfectly / I
forget I ever looked otherwise...’, advancing beneath a ‘harmless concealment’? Or
‘...otherwise / naked and failed’..’.running gibbering / from life’s heat / into mist / into
dissolving sleet.’   

Shane McCauley may have been speaking personally there, but I don’t think so. It seems to
me that this concealment behind the mask has been his way of advancing ‘naked and
successfully’ into the upper grouping of contemporary Australian poets.

tRickster is his 8th collection of poems and deserves recognition throughout this country and
far beyond, as a superb contribution to Australian literature.

Murray  Jennings
26 / 07 / 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Announcing the UWAP Dorothy Hewett Award


UWA Publishing launches the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript


The Dorothy Hewett Award

UWA Publishing is delighted to announce the establishment of a new literary award, the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.
The award responds to the damaging changes to the WA Premier's Book Awards, which were announced just after the 2015 Perth Writers Festival. The Premier's Book Awards will now be awarded biennially instead of annually, making it harder for writers to compete for an ever shrinking pool of funds.
The Dorothy Hewett Award, administered by UWA Publishing and supported by the Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund and 720 ABC Perth, goes some way to filling the gap. With a cash prize of $10,000 and a publishing contract with UWA Publishing, the award is a celebration of Western Australian literary culture and talent. 
To discuss the rationale behind the award and the state of the arts more broadly, 720 ABC Perth and UWA Publishing will be hosting a Writers Forum on 13 August at the East Perth ABC Studios, featuring Presenter Gillian O'Shaughnessy, UWAP Director Terri-ann White, and author Amanda Curtin. For more details, keep an eye on our Facebook page and website.  
Entries open on 1 August and close on 4 September. The shortlist will be released on 11 December, and the winner announced at a special event at the 2016 Perth Writers Festival. 
Click here to read the story on the ABC news website, and click the button below to read the award submission guidelines and entry requirements.

POEM - by Douglas Barbour

under the streetlights
     the acrid smell
           of insect corpses

before their single day
     is over    they gather
           hover around the glare

in the morning a carpet
     of carapaces laid out
            corrupting in the sun

Douglas Barbour

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bell Awards now open. Make yr vote count!

Hello musicians, engineers, music executives and friends of the Bell Awards. Make your voice count and join the Australian Jazz Award Academy today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

JULY 25th
Alex Skovron             



Alex Skovron is the author of six collections of poetry and a prose novella. The numerous public readings he has given include appearances in China, Serbia, India and Ireland, as well as Norfolk Island. A bilingual English/French selection of his poetry was published in 2013 under the title The Attic, a volume of Chinese translations is underway, and his novella The Poet has been translated into Czech. His most recent book is Towards the Equator: New & Selected Poems (2014), and a collection of his short stories is forthcoming from Puncher & Wattmann

Dan Poets, every Saturday, 2-5pm.
Free Entry
Includes open mic.

Rotating MCs Anne, Libby, Norman and Steve.

Dan O'Connell Hotel, 225 Canning St Carlton.

Licensed premises. Kids welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.