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Friday, December 31, 2004

for the New Year

haiku

dove footprints on
lawn’s yellow topdressing
green shoots showing through

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Guest - Jill Jones on the Tsunami disaster

I am shocked into silence by the tsunami disaster which has taken so many lives, and wrecked so many others. I've tried to write about it but nothing of any value has come together. Jill Jones, Australian poet and friend who lives in Sydney, posted this compilation poem to a list we are both on. With her permission, I post it here. It is very powerful. (Jill has also posted it to her blog which is called Ruby Street and is on my blogroll.)

*

Water has taken away my family. - Mother, what's happened? I saw you
yesterday and now you're here. You're not dead, you've gone to another
village. Please come back. - We hope the funds allocated for the
people won't be lost to corruption. - It came just like a river.
People were running here and there. They couldn't decide where to go.
- My son is crying for his mother. I think this is her. I recognise
her hand, but I'm not sure. - There just aren't enough body bags.

We thought it was the end of the world. … The water was as high as a
coconut palm. … It was all over in 25 minutes. That's all. How can that
be ... such devastation. - Children in emergency wards were killed.
Soldier patients suffering from malaria helped to evacuate other
patients. - I need baby food as well ... no aid has come to us yet.
- No contact makes us fearful. We're trying to send helicopters there.
- Where is the military? They're just taking care of their families.
There is no war in Aceh now, why don't they help pick up the bodies in
the street?

This was the only thing we could do. It was a desperate solution. The
bodies were rotting. We gave them a decent burial. - Police told us
to come and have a look at this collection of ID cards. - We met in
university. Is this the fate that we hoped for? My darling, you were
the only hope for me.

Dead: they are dead, my cousins, their children, many of my husband's
family. There are too many funerals, he has to stay to help them. -
She went under a car, it just went over the top of her. I just got
picked up and chucked against a wall. I was a lucky one: we cheated
death. - Then all of a sudden we saw what looked like a wave surge
into the garden ... at one point I had to scramble up bamboo trees to
avoid the rising water.

I hope and pray that we can at least find their bodies so that we can
see them one last time and give them a decent burial. - Information
reaching here suggests facilities at Kalpakkam nuclear station may have
been affected by the tidal waves. - We don't have confirmed data … -
The TV, everything gone. - I've got calls from people down south who
need clothes to bury their dead. They have none.

- Wednesday 29 December 2004


Those quoted, in order:
- Anbalakhan, who lost her husband, son and two daughters in the
wrecked village of Karambambari, Tamil Nadu
- a woman at a grave site, Tamil Nadu
- Indonesian House Speaker, Agung Laksono
- Rajith Ekanayake, a security guard at the P&J City shopping centre,
Galle
- Bejkhajorn Saithong, searching for his wife on Khao Lak beach
- Lieutenant-Colonel Budi Santoso, Banda Aceh

- Sofyan Halim, Banda Aceh
- Citra Nurhayat, a nurse in a Banda Aceh hospital
- Nurhayati, who has only had bananas to feed her 3-month-old baby
since Sunday, Banda Aceh
- Djoko Sumaryono, Indonesian government official, says of Simeulue
- Indra Utama, community leader in Banda Aceh

- Venerable Baddegama Samitha, a Buddhist monk and former
parliamentarian, at funeral of Queen of the Sea train wreck victims
near Galle
- Premasiri Jayasinghe, Colombo
- a young man at the site of the Queen of the Sea train wreck near Galle

- Mrs Seeli Packianathan, returning from Sri Lanka, at Sydney Airport
- Les Boardman, returning from Phuket, at Sydney Airport
- Joyce Evans, of Melbourne, in Sri Lanka

- Kolanda Velu, from Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu
- spokesman, Indian Prime Minister's office
- Indonesian Vice-President Yusuf Kalla, in Medan city
- Roshan Perera, at the Catholic church in Mattakkuliya, Colombo
- Kusum Athukorala, local aid worker, Mattakkuliya, Colombo

_______________________________________________________
Jill Jones

Sunday, December 26, 2004


THYLAZINE #10/04 ISSN-1444-1594
Australian Arts and Literature on Landscape and Animals
Cover: Earth, Wind & Water by Kerry Reed-Gilbert, 2001.
 Posted by Hello

More poems to see at Thylazine!

One of my best Christmas presents was the news that some of my poems are posted at Thylazine, the online magazine edited by Coral Hull ... Go to
http://www.thylazine.org/
http://www.thylazine.org/thyla10/thyla10k.html
http://www.thylazine.org/thyla10/ab.html

Hope you go and check out my poems, and all the mag. It's always a far reaching and spirited read.




Sunday, December 19, 2004

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Postcard from Toodyay

The mouse, the nest. Tiny things in a big landscape. I focus on these, some emotional scaling going. I am peering out of myself like a snail tentatively coming out of its shell. The trees rise high beside me, the valley lies low before me. I puzzle at the nest, its position here on the verandah, clinging to a creeper. The little birds that flit between the verandah shrubs have gone. It is the beginning of summer yet not hot enough to have quieted them.

In the middle of the kitchen floor, a tiny mouse looks up at me. My eyes at first think it is the shadow of a dropped utensil. Then I see it, a little brown mouse, very clean. He turns, looks at me and doesn’t scare. He stands his ground, the kitchen floor. After all, where else would a hungry mouse like to go? The TV is of little interest, and the bed would be nice – but after dinner. Perhaps he has tried the laundry before – bad memories hang on his tongue. The study could be a last resort – a page or two if all else is lost. But his ground is now at the heart of things – biscuits and a jug of cream, crumbs on the counter with raspberry jam. So sweet. He looks at me as I am philosophizing about his existence. He watches. I don’t move. Then he walks, unhurriedly, to the foot of the row of cupboards built into the wall and disappears.

… and this, the morning after, I am still carrying him. He has eaten and rested, and now looks to eat and rest again. I take my to-be-eaten-before-breakfast-standing-up pill and philosophize.



Sunday, December 12, 2004


This is Hispirits Christmas tree. I'll be coming and going from a bush 'hideaway' for the next couple of weeks, so Merry Christmas to you all. Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Red Poppies renga - complete!

Red Poppies
A summer kasen renga written by Andrew Burke, Jen Crawford, Louise Waller, Lawrence Upton, Kristin Hannaford, Jennifer Compton, Heather Matthew, Jill Jones and Anie Locke. From 24 November to 11 December, 2004.


red poppies
lean into steam
off the wet path
ab

in the fernery
fingers press sweating glass
jcr

fierce heat fades
evening twilight glows
a pink line
lw

a fly stumbles
at a water glob
lu

folding clothes
she drinks dark coffee
moon observes
kh

the grasses seeding
green fruit swells above
jco

midnight light
on watered garden
goat dung smells
hm

four pink peonies a gift
sheets need washing
jj

remembering
love - a red petal
her tattoo
al

forked over
the compost steams
ab

a worm
the uneaten meat
a grey hair
jcr

the peopled world spins
cars stall in traffic
lw

moon bright as frost
field of white goat skulls
intruder light
lu

postcards from annapurna
clouds of breath hover
kh

before dawn
we dread the heat
promised to us
jco

a darkening sky
rain splatters fresh hay
hm

green light
on the cherry blossom
a morning squabble
jj

a fat bud cracks open
rising rivers roar
al

‘present for you, Gran!’
red eucalypt from
council tree butchers
ab

colour wrinkles through clean wood
beneath the peeling bark
jcr

compose lists
to gather sparrows
seeds on lawn
lw

so much to organise
too much to say
lu

starfish legs
synchronised swimming
summer ladies' lunch
kh

salt water in the harbour
obeys the distant moon
jco

fishermen
stand off shore to sniff
wet weather
hm

the station wagon starts slowly
its old dry cough
jj

ancestral
tyres bald from travel
home, a bed
al

fluttering wings of
a blind white moth
ab

faint crescent
between the hospital
and heavy clouds
jcr

in Carlton leaves blow
a red and gold dawn
lw

hope? dust.
accumulating soil
green augmentation
lju

girl running fingers through hair
a tongue over teeth, lipstick
kh

shaking with fatigue
she searches for her glasses
she can't see them
jco

empties out her bag feeling
a fathomless sea rising
hm

a breeze spills
into the valley
jacaranda carpet
jj

equinoctial petals fall
onto the bloomin' pages
al

Friday, December 10, 2004


Jill Jones, Sydney poet, to be heard on Poetica - Radio National, 3 pm, Saturday 18 December 2004 Posted by Hello

Jill Jones on Poetica

Screens, Jets, Heaven - The Poetry of Jill Jones on ABC Radio National's Poetica, 3pm Saturday 18 December 2004

“Jill Jones' poetry is both juicy and intimate. But underneath its lovely Sydney tang of sun and harbour is a dark destabilising smell of trouble.” Dorothy Porter

Jill Jones is a Sydney poet and writer. Her work has been published extensively in Australia and in journals in New Zealand, Canada, the USA and the UK as well as on-line. Some of her poems have been translated into Mandarin, Cantonese and Polish.

In the program she talks about her influences and her work and reads from the collection.

Sound engineer: Roi Huberman
Produced and directed by Libby Douglas

Saturday, December 04, 2004


I have fallen in love with this typist from Ron Silliman's blog. Today he is talking about typing and writing poems ... and such. The machine is such a big influence on how we write now! Read about Ron's thoughts at http://ronsilliman.blogspot.com/  Posted by Hello

I've been playing with the 'fun effects' button in Kodak Easy Share - and this is a cartoon version of my 'author' shot. Thought it might make an interesting cover for a Selected Poems. Whaddya think?  Posted by Hello

Minimalist Christmas tree at Cino To Go! Posted by Hello

Saturday morning cafe stop at Cino To Go in Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley. Posted by Hello

Friday, December 03, 2004

Three Poets at Minase

In the first moon of 1488 three of the greatest masters of linked-verse, Sogi (1421-1502), Shohaku (1443-1527), and Socho (1448-1532) met at Minase, a village between Kyoto and Osaka. As part of an observance at the shrine, which stood on the site of the Minase Palace of the Emperor Gotoba, they composed one hundred verses, of which 50 are here translated.
The art of linked-verse was an extremely demanding one. Generally three or more poets took part, composing alternate verses of 5,7,5 syllables and 7,7 syllables. Many rules had to be observed exactly: for example, if spring or autumn were mentioned in one verse, the following two to four verses also had to mention it. However, it was not necessary that the actual words ‘spring’ or ‘autumn’ be used; many natural phenomena, such as mist, blossoms, or singing birds, stood for spring, while others, such as fog, the moon, or chirping crickets, stood for autumn.
Beyond the technical difficulties imposed by the rules of linked-verse were the major consideration of keeping the level so high that it would not run the risk of resembling a mere game, and the problem of making each ‘link’ fit smoothly into the chain. Any three links taken from a sequence should produce two complete poems. Thus:

Except for you
Whom could I ever love,
Never surfeiting?

Nothing remotely suggests
The charms of her appearance.

Even plants and trees
Share in the bitter grief
Of the ancient capital.


a)
Except for you
Whom could I ever love,
Never surfeiting?
Nothing remotely suggests
The charms of her appearance.

b)
Nothing remotely suggests
The charms of her appearance.
Even plants and trees
Share in the bitter grief
Of the ancient capital.


Here we have two poems of entirely different meaning linked together: the first concerns a lover’s delight in his mistress, the second the grief of the poet over the destruction of the capital.
This kind of multiple stream of consciousness is a uniquely Japanese literary development, and was fostered in part by the ambiguity of the Japanese language, which permits many varieties of word play and is extremely free in the use of pronouns.


The above text from pp. 300-301 ‘Anthology of Japanese Literature’, introduced and compiled by Donald Keene, Penguin Classics, 1968.

I give you this as further information. However, it does not all apply to our renga because ours is a summer kasen renga and has a different pattern.

The text is then shown, with a commentary on each stanza as it goes. It is a very useful piece to read if you are trying to understand the traditional aims of renga.

Andrew

Thursday, December 02, 2004

something I read

Moonlight
is sculpture,
sunlight
is painting.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Snapshot for December 1

Today started at Trigg's Island
having coffee by the sea. A welcome break
from one too many deaths, a love
that can't become. We walked the sands
and climbed the rocks, my white
bare feet feeling every serrated edge,
massaging back-up through the body
that remembered being sixteen
and climbing this reef after
singing "Sloop John B" or somesuch
to a slavish guitar by bonfire-light
beneath the moon.
Today
she brought red rose petals
for us to throw onto the waves,
a farewell and welcome for
our souls and the dearly departed.
I told a distinctly Catholic joke,
then a Marxist one to balance
the ledger. Her mobile rang
and a child needed his Mum.
We put our shoes back on,
my holey socks, and kissed.
Life distracts us from death.
I hit the road and went to
the Monastery for sustenance,
prayed another rosary of sorts
and crapped in the monk's crapper.
Two Asian cooks without English
prepared lunch. Outside
in the sun of the first day of summer
I taught two youngsters how to sms,
then drove home smugly,
messaging them at the lights.
Life, death - we are often on amber.

Renga information

Just reading my own blog today, (that's like talking to yourself, I suppose), I noticed that people may not know what the following poem is all about. It is a linked form of poetry from Japan, called either a renga or a renku, depending on how formal you are. There is a wonderful website by William Higgenson http://renku.home.att.net/ where all is explained in lots of articles and some examples. But this renga is from members of an email list I am on, called poneme and run by Jennifer Crawford. We started it recently and it will go 36 stanzas by the end, so we're a little over half way at 19 stanzas. The idea is to make a poem out of five lines, and for the next poet to use the last stanza and make a different poem out of it as a part of five lines. Some work better than others, and some will work best when the whole renga is finished, but it is a delight to participate in as it grows.

The names of the participants, in order of appearance, are: Andrew Burke, Jen Crawford, Louise Waller, Lawrence Upton, Kristin Hannaford, Jennifer Compton, Heather Matthew, Jill Jones and Anie Locke.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Red Poppies still growing

red poppies
lean into steam
off the wet path
ab

in the fernery
fingers press sweating glass
jcr

fierce heat fades
evening twilight glows
a pink line
lw

a fly stumbles
at a water glob
lu

folding clothes
she drinks dark coffee
moon observes
kh

the grasses seeding
green fruit swells above
jco

midnight light
on watered garden
goat dung smells
hm

four pink peonies a gift
sheets need washing
jj

remembering
love - a red petal
her tattoo
al

forked over
the compost steams
ab

a worm
the uneaten meat
a grey hair
jcr

the peopled world spins
cars stall in traffic
lw

moon bright as frost
field of white goat skulls
intruder light
lu

postcards from annapurna
clouds of breath hover
kh

before dawn
we dread the heat
promised to us
jco

a darkening sky
rain splatters fresh hay
hm

green light
on the cherry blossom
a morning squabble
jj

a fat bud cracks open
rising rivers roar
al

present for you, Gran!
red eucalypt from
council tree butchers
ab

Monday, November 29, 2004


Claremont-Nedlands vs Willeton A Grade one dayer at Cresswell Park, Swanbourne 28 November 2004. Charlie Burke bowling. (Click on all photos on this blog to see a bigger and clearer pic.) Posted by Hello

A homely photo of a FAW Sunday reading at Tom Collins House Writers Centre, Swanbourne, WA. From left: Dillys, Fran Sbrocchi (reading), Jim Cornish (obscured), Pauline Matthews and Kay Cairns. Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Red Poppies Progress Publication

The names of the participants, in order of appearance, are: Andrew Burke, Jen Crawford, Louise Waller, Lawrence Upton, Kristin Hannaford, Jennifer Compton, Heather Matthew, Jill Jones and Anie Locke.

red poppies

lean into steam

off the wet path

ab


in the fernery

fingers press sweating glass

jcr


fierce heat fades

evening twilight glows

a pink line

lw


a fly stumbles

at a water glob

lu


folding clothes

she drinks dark coffee

moon observes

kh


the grasses seeding

green fruit swells above

jco


midnight light

on watered garden

goat dung smells

hm


four pink peonies a gift

sheets need washing

jj


remembering

love - a red petal

her tattoo

al


forked over

the compost steams

ab

Friday, November 26, 2004

Vote Jennings 1

To hear the entrants in The Deep End's Poetry Slam competition go to http://www.abc.net.au/rn/slam then follow the 'further info' arrow...and you'll see all the contestants' mugshots and there's audio, so you can hear them all, too.
We have until Wednesday next week to vote ... So, Vote for WA's Murray Jennings.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Red poppies are the remembrance flower on November 11th - and there were a blooming lot of them then! Posted by Hello

The red poppies have been there, in abundance, all week. & now that I've written about them, I wanted to shoot them - but the weather and the maniacal truckdriver have damaged them. These are the last remaining ones for this spring. Posted by Hello

Peter Cowan's typewriter, on display at Peter Cowan Writers Centre, Joondalup.  Posted by Hello

Poppies snapshot

----- callous bin truck
flattened the poppies
with intent .

but - a little rain
an hour of sun -
poppies popped up again!

all the yard laughed
to see such fun
and the washing flapped away
like a clown .

Red Poppies Renku

On a poetry list called 'poneme' (owned and operated by Jennifer Crawford) we have started a renku. I had the honour of writing the hokku and setting it up as a summer kasen renku, and setting some boundaries. If you truly get into renga/renku, there are a million and one rules, so we're being light on control here. The main aim is to create - and to have fun. The participants are (in order of linking) Andrew Burke, Jen Crawford, Louise, Lawrence Upton, Kristin Hannaford, Jennifer Compton, Heather Matthew and Jill Jones. What a diverse bunch of talented people, so the renku is bound to be a firecracker. I have their permission to send you updates as it grows. It will be 36 stanzas at the finish, by the way. Here it is so far ...

Red Poppies

red poppies
lean into steam
off the wet path
ab

in the fernery
fingers press sweating glass
jcr


fierce heat fades
evening twilight glows
a pink line
lw


a fly stumbles
at a water glob
lu

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Hear ye! Hear ye!

My friend Susan Murphy, over there in Sydney, sent this info:

Friends,


I hope you'll be interested to listen to my radio program, Feel Free to Look Around, which is on Radio National (AM576) from 2-3pm this coming Saturday 27th November, and I'd love people to hear it. It is about redeeming the ordinary things of the city street with close attention and imagination, and has a very 'worked' sound and music world built up to convey the richness of the places being explored. WOnderful stories and conversations, and music by Ross Bolleter.


Please tell your friends, and post this notice on your networks!


Many thanks
Susan

Susan Murphy is the author of Upside Down Zen, published by Lothian Books.


My favourite part of ECU's Joondalup campus. A strange overcast mid-afternoon ... but many ducks were wading in the shallows. Posted by Hello

John Harman, writer in residence (novelist and scriptwriter), going toward the 'new' buildings at ECU's Joondalup campus. 'Two long blacks, please!' Posted by Hello

Peter Cowan Writers Centre is situated in Edith Cowan House, set on the campus of Edith Cowan University, Joondalup. Posted by Hello

Monday, November 22, 2004

Interblog! Anny, Stephen and Sappho

When I first starting blogging, Jill Jones of http://rubystreet.blogspot.com/ told me that there was a good feeling among the community of bloggers. I really didn't believe it, thinking all bloggers were self-absorbed loners, willing to whistle their own tune into the dark. But I've since learnt a new kind of interblog sharing, which is really satisfying. Here's another little incidence of it - poet Stephen Vincent is on a poetry list with Anny Ballardini and other poets around the world, including myself. He recently mentioned a work of his was up on the web, and Anny asked him what he meant by 'translation' in this case. His answer is now on Anny's blog (available on my blogroll as NarcissusWorks) so I urge you to go there and read it. Around about and around about and around about we go ...

Then, when you've read that, or even before - whatever your fancy - go to the site below.
Faux, an e-book publisher, has now published Stephen Vincent's Sleeping with Sappho on its site:
http://www.fauxpress.com/e/vincent/

Saturday, November 20, 2004


The daylight moon high above Stephens Reserve, Fremantle. Click on it to make it bigger. To me it is like a painting ... Posted by Hello

Friday, November 19, 2004

Hear 'William of Winesbury'

Poet Dominic Fox has put down a sample of the old ballad, William of Winesbury, as per our conversation recently re: ballads. Listen to it at - http://www.codepoetics.com/music/william_of_winesbury.mp3

Thanks, Dominic. It makes a lot more sense to talk about a song when you've heard it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Sonnet Today

for Pat



I could tell you my life

But you've got your own.

No need for duplication.

Today the computer opens

On a magnificent scene

From far far away: snow,

Icicles and an old shack.

How much of your life

Comes in a box? I stake

The tomato bush as I

Transplant it, getting

My hands dirty, a little

Piece of the world

Under each nail.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Arni returns

Our poet friend in Iceland, Arni Ibsen, is conscious again. He has pneumonia and many health troubles, but he is conscious - which is a great leap forward from where he has been! Great news for his family and friends, including the whole network of poets around the globe who were lighting candles and praying for him, each in their own way. Way to go, Arni!

Here's the cover of Margaret Walter's terrific CD, Power In A Song - available from mwalters@mail.usyd.edu.au  Posted by Hello

The Ballad of Many Crows

When I got off the plane to Wagga Wagga (after first flying Perth to Sydney) a friendly woman met me and drove me to the flat I was to use during my residency. On the way there, she told me a strange story - strange because of her spin on it. The way she told it, the farmers were killing themselves because the crows had come back to Wagga. (In Wagga Wagga, you're allowed to call it simply Wagga if you're a local: outsiders must call it the full name.) The truth was the farmers were killing themselves because the draught had wrecked their livelihoods. I guess the crows had come for the easy pickings of dying sheep and stock in the fields.

Anyway, when I walked into the flat, the Oxford Book of Ballads was open on the table at a traditional ballad. I think it was Twa Corbies, but couldn't be sure - memory lane has many twists. So, I wrote a ballad about the crows, the farmers and Wagga Wagga.

Very soon thereafter I met John Waters and Margaret Walters, and showed them - balladeers that they are - my ballad. Instead of sitting silently and reading it (like you would a poem) John started singing it ... and Margaret chimed in. Brilliant. Some time later - you gotta have patience to be a poet in Australia - Margaret contacted me by email and asked if she could use it on her new CD, Power In A Song (Feathers and Wedge, 2001). The website is http://www.folkalpoint.org.uk/ww/ Here are the lyrics of that ballad. (I was reminded of this by a great discussion of ancient ballads on poetryetc - thanks, Domenic, Rebecca et al.)


THE BALLAD OF MANY CROWS


Words Andrew Burke (1996)
Music Margaret Walters and John Warner (1996)

The town of Wagga Wagga (trans: place of many crows) is in the southern NSW district called the Riverina. The Murray River Irrigation System for a time brought prosperity to the region, but recent decades have seen a decline in the economic viability of farming and a high suicide rate among the farmers.
Western Australian poet, Andrew Burke, was serving a time as Poet-in-Residence at the Booranga Writers' Centre at the Charles Sturt University and shared his new poem with John Warner and me at a gathering in the house of Pat and Barry Emmett in Wombat, NSW. (This note written by Margaret Walters.)


As I sat out upon a hill
Upon a hill, upon a hill
I looked up at the crows that fill
The leafy trees of Wagga

I saw their eyes like marbles black
Like marbles black, like marbles black
And felt a chill run down my back
Beneath the trees of Wagga

A woman there had told a tale
She told a tale, she told a tale
How the town had felt five years' betrayal
Since crows returned to Wagga

"Our men have heard the crows' sad song
The crows' sad song, the crows' sad song
Until by their own hand they've gone
I curse the crows of Wagga

Farmers are a steady lot, not given much to fancy
Born to heed the call to be as iron tough as Clancy

Now they hang themselves in their dark loss
In their dark loss, in their dark loss
When the crows' stark song becomes their cross
Among the trees of Wagga

Black-eyed and beaky with a mourning cry
A mourning cry, a mourning cry
Riverina crows trespass and fly
To cast their eye on Wagga.

Now's the time to break the spell
To break the spell, to break the spell
To greet the future and fare well
Among the trees of Wagga

I go inside to write my song
To write my song, to write my song
The crows know naught of right and wrong
In the leafy trees of Wagga

Poetry Slam! Vote, Jennings 1

From the ABC's website:
Radio National's daily arts and music program, the Deep End, has been seeking submissions from writers who want to perform their work in Australia's first national poetry slam.

The finalists have now been announced. They are:
Murray Jennings (WA)
Joe Mitchell (ACT)
Jayne Fenton Keane (Qld)
Benny Walter (Tas)
Pru Gell (NT)
James Dennison (SA)
John James Bayly (Vic)
Jess Cook (NSW)
Klare Lanson (Wildcard)


On Wednesday November 24 the slam will come to radio audiences across Australia, when one writer from each state and territory will perform a two-minute poem live on the Deep End.

Their details will also be published on this website and listeners will then have one week to decide the winner by lodging an online vote for their favourite performance.
The winner will have their work professionally recorded by the ABC and profiled on the Deep End.

Monday, November 15, 2004


Murray Jennings, ready to 'rumble in the jungle'! in the great Poetry Slam Grand Final - see below. Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 13, 2004

ABC's The Deep End Poetry Slam

From the ABC's Radio National site, I gleamed this info:

'On Wednesday November 24, one writer from each state and territory will perform a two-minute poem live on the Deep End. Their details will also be published on this website and listeners will then have one week to decide the winner by lodging an online vote for their favourite performance.'

And the WA winner is ... my poetic pal, Murray (no photos, please) Jennings! Slamming should be right up his street. He's got the wit, the voice, the projection and the theatrics ... So, VOTE JENNINGS in The Deep End's Poetry Slam - going to air the evening of Wednesday Nov 24 on Radio National. More details as they come to hand!

Dream: Strange Scenes in Plain Language

I had volunteered to look after the plumber’s dog that a girl was looking after because it had been left out of his house (her neighbour). She was in a new relationship with the plumber and was nervous about me looking after the dog, especially with my casual approach – ‘He’ll be okay, sure, I’ll look after him, don’t worry’ … But when we left a dam we had all visited, just a small distance away, the dog was nowhere to be seen.

A small Indian pilot offered to search for the dog from the sky, so I got in his plane. I’d used him before to film a TV commercial and at that time I had stopped him ‘dropping in’ on his brother’s property to show it to me. He was proud of his brother’s property and wanted to show it to me to boost his own image, and I kept telling him it didn’t matter, it wouldn’t impress me, what would impress me would be getting the job done. He sulked all day on that shoot, and now once up in the sky he took off flying very low over houses and telling me we were going to see his brother’s property now, he wasn’t searching for the dog, the dog was not his worry, I had to see his brother’s property …

I kept trying to argue on behalf of the dog, and I petulantly wouldn’t wear any of the headgear or safety harness or any of the other gear … ‘If you’re going to crash and kill us, it won’t make any difference’ I said – somehow thinking it paid him back for absconding with me …

At some stage we stopped, landed, at a settlement of normal houses, with palm trees and pebbly drives, etc., where either a woman, young, or an aspect of himself (he was rather androgenous) showed me how she peeled off two lines of poetry from herself each day like worn fading scales, peeled them off in one piece, an opaque couplet, to always let the new growth through … it was presented as part of being female … I held two lines on a piece of paper on my hand and watched as they faded away, including the jelly-like substance they were on. At one stage, they were like a translucent fish, dead, and yet by the end they were simply liquid running off the page in the glittering sunshine.

When we were in the sky again, I noticed the Indian pilot’s hands: they were absolutely double jointed at the wrist. He saw nothing unusual in this and showed me other parts of his body were double jointed too – elbows knees ankles … I was freaking out and he was laughing at my reaction, and never paying attention to where he was flying …

Then I woke up, damn it. I still don’t know what happened to the dog. That was my big worry when I woke up. Now I keep trying to keep the dream together to type it out and somehow apply to my life.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Poets To Hear courtesy BBC

Here is a site to visit when you have time to listen to the great poets of recent times - from Famous Seamus to Tennyson! There is a video site too, which you can find through this site, and interviews too. A show bag of poetry pleasures. Check it out at http://poetry.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/poetry/outloud/

White roses in the wind  Posted by Hello

Standard Rose Snapshot 10/11/04

1

it's a pers-
pective class

2

rose bush
standard white
one metre high
white rose
standard
white right
outside my
door is
losing it
s petals

w i e r s
i r

h t
o e

3

it's how
you see
things

ie, now
you see
things




Unfortunately, the blogger system doesn't let us space letters out the way we wish so my flutter-clutter of petals at the end of '2' doesn't work here. Ah, well, you'll have to imagine them sprinkled like wind-blown petals.

See Snapshot poem ... Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Cole Swensen's Poetry City

Posted: October 26, 2004 to Identity Theory website -
I’m going to talk about not poetry of the city, but poetry as a city. Poetry is a city of words, a complex heterogeneity that functions both as its parts and as a whole. It’s full of systems—metaphoric, symbolic, sonic—analogous to the sewage, electrical, and transportation systems that animate a city. You look at a jagged skyline, and see the ragged right margin; you read through the quick shifts of much contemporary poetry, and think of a busy intersection in which your view is cut off by a bus one moment, then opened up the next, and then filled with a crowd crossing the street the next.

The poetic forms most common in the Western world today emerged with modernism, itself a product of the shift in consciousness that accompanied the urban explosion of the mid–nineteenth century. Modernist poetry and cities mirror each other, shed light on each other, and remain together in important works, such as Baudelaire’s, that predict and theorize the city as much as they record it.

The whole essay is available at http://www.identitytheory.com/nonfiction/swensen_poetry.php

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Paddler

for Andrew Taylor

memories mark time
peppered with days and nights
loves, houses and children
a train ticket, a photo in Europe

peppered with days and nights
dawn's long shadow -
a train ticket, a photo in Europe
tail feathers of a kite

dawn's long shadow
ripples over rocks -
tail feathers of a kite,
a mountain stream

ripples over rocks,
yesterday's rain runs
a mountain stream
to the river, to the coast;

yesterday's rain runs
down leaves, off dry sands
to the river, to the coast.
rafts of sunlight flash

down leaves, off dry sands
to a paddler in midstream.
rafts of sunlight flash,
drop from the blade

of a paddler in midstream -
echoes of great rivers
drop from the blade,
generation upon generation

echoes of great rivers,
loves, houses and children,
generation upon generation,
memories mark time.




Published in JAS (Journal of Australian Studies) 81, 2004
http://www.api-network.com

Monday, November 08, 2004

Manchurian Candidate

When friends had earlier told me that they had got the old version of this film out on video and watched it before seeing the latest version, I was bemused. But now I think that would be a good idea. I can't see how The Manchurian Candidate is so highly rated. The plotline was obvious, the characters were pretty well stock figures, and visually it relied on the large screen to carry it. (Just imagine watching that on your telly at home, complete with commercials. It would be dull and slight.) Maybe the earlier version was more believable, had more credibility. The version I saw last night employed stock Hollywood tricks and techniques - trouble was, none of them were new or put in another order so as to jar us into paying attention ... There's a sheet of paper somewhere in my files which has the Twelve Commandments of the Screenwriter on it: I bet this film answered them all. It's a formula, a well-worn cliched formula.

I'd liked to have seen the money put into this film put to better use.

Where is Fellini when we need him? How about if Spike Lee had directed this lot? :-)

And of course they used those wooden figures as star attractions. The only one who had any impact on me was Meryl Streep. Oh, and the manic guy who had lost his marbles (but, had he? Sinister music here ...). For me, the actors are the least important aspect of judging a film - the characters they portray are the main game. And here they were predictable and dull.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


A teenage band at Darlington Arts Festival ... once an arts and craft fair, now too commercialised. But these kids drew a crowd of fans - all eager to chat 'em up after the gig. Is it Australian Idol next :-) Posted by Hello

The Quick Dark

I've been tidying up lately - trying to calm the tidal wave of paper and magazines and books which has built up over my life. & I've found a few poems published in magazines and out of the way places that I'd forgotten I had written. It is a strange feeling ... I don't like all of them, of course, and can see why I have neglected some of them - but a couple struck me as at least 'fun'. Here's one such poem. It is dedicated to a little lady with a huge amount of energy - she worked her own path through outback towns and farming communities, running writing workshops and literary readings, charging her own fees as she went before such things were funded by the powers that be (or sometimes are). When the local arts department got involved and taxpayer money was officially attached to the projects (about three trips a year, north, south, east - west of here is all ocean), I won a couple of trips with her. This poem came from one of those.

The Quick Dark
for Ethel Webb

Seven poems in as many hours
evening comes in so quickly

children want to eat so I
feed the cat first poems

still humming I can’t sit I
gibber and sing the moon is

rising full I fill with
kinship the ecstasy of

writing all afternoon and I
remember Ethel saying to

schoolchildren in red dusty
outback towns ‘It gets dark

so quickly when the writing
comes on you’ their faces

open as paddock gates


published in Fremantle Arts Review Vol 6 No 11 November 1991

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Get well, Arni

Days ago I posted a poem translated into Icelandic by Arni Ibsen who had devised a quick contest for all us 'snapshot' poets on the poetryetc email list. Over the last couple of years, I've got to know Arni through his regular posts to the list, his poems in English and his discussions about things literary, often with an understandable Icelandic angle. Sadly we have heard Arni has suffered a brain haemorrhage and is in a coma. The prognosis is not good.

We are so far away here in Australia, and I've never met the man or heard his voice -yet I am very upset for him, and for those around him - his family and friends. I consider him and the other poets on that list to be my friends, too, and am baffled about what to do with these emotions I feel. Write a poem would be the obvious route, but poems are rarely obvious - they often come from left of field. All I can see are the lights and stark features of an ICU and an indefinable person lying on a hospital bed with tubes and wires. I've seen it before and wish I had a face to put to him - for Arni.

I'll light a candle, as has been suggested by Alison Croggon, the list's owner and coordinator these days. Perhaps the warmth of all our candles will help Arni recover - little glowing flames of love around the world for one warm Icelandic poet.

The Blues and The Cup

Monday night I saw a double at the Luna Cinema in Leederville, two films in the Blues Project series – one by Martin Scorcese, second by Wim Winders. I liked ‘em both, but thought the Scorcese one actually let the marterial have its own say where Winders seemed to impose an outside aesthetic on the material – interviews, stock footage, contemporary concert footage, etc.
Tuesday, while babysitting my granddaughter, I switched on TV to watch the Melbourne Cup … ‘the race that stops the nation’.
And now I’m listening to Cassandra Wilson’s Blue Light Til Dawn CD, with her remarkable interpretation of Robert Johnson’s Come On In My kitchen and Hellhound On My Trail.
So, horse racing, blues and film culture, blues revamped … My head is an alphabet soup of these thoughts and responses, peppered by my other writing. How to express it to you? A quote may do the trick – This did appear in one of the movies – From Son House:

Well, I’m
going to the racetrack to see my
pony run
He ain’t the best in the world, but he’s a running
son of a gun
I’m going to the racetrack
to see my
pony run
He ain’t the best in the world,
but he’s a running
son of a gun


From My Black Moma by Son House, as transcribed in The Blues Line, compiled by Eric Sackheim with illustrations by Jonathon Shahn (Grossman Publishers 1969)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

In My Father's Den

I would never put myself up as a movie critic, so take what I say about In My Father's Den as an amateur's enthusiasm. It's nothing short of brilliant. If I'd left a third of the way into it I would have said it's an 'okay' flick, nothing startling. It takes a while to get truly underway - maybe they spent too long setting up the background story, etc. But I was absolutely captured and transfixed for the last two-thirds ... I use these mathematical divisions lightly ... In My Father's Den stars Matthew MacFadyen, Miranda Otto and Emily Barclay - these are the only names in the press ad, but there is a strong cast - much more than simply these three. The young Emily is very very good. And New Zealand's south island supplies just the right setting - you can almost feel the chill in the air. And the rain looks very 'wet' in NZ! Flippancy aside, if it comes to a cinema near you, see it.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

A Quick Single

On another poetry list, tatjanalukic (from Canberra) asked -
> andrew, is there any way to explain very briefly, in two lines,
and in the best tradition of your clear and to the point poems:

what are all these man in fact doing when they play cricket?
my basketball-soccer-volleyball-handball mind just can't get it.
what is this all about? <

So I wrote 'a quick single'. (Chris Mansell picked up on it being a six-ball over.)


Cricket

1
I like a dark mystery
in the sun for five days

2
there is a book of rules
and lots of people have read it

3
my friends and I
don't talk about each other
but about the men out in the centre
who we attribute various character faults to

4
it has the wonder of chess
with a touch more athleticism

5
australia is good at it
and we beat the poms and kiwis
on a regular basis

what more could you ask?

6
once upon a time
i could hurtle down balls
at boys who were bullies
in the playground but
were hopeless batsmen

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Yannis Ritsos

Days ago I mentioned Yannis Ritsos and his Monochords. Well, now I have stumbled across a magazine The Salt River Review with some new translations of the Monochords by Paul Merchant, and a sonnet by my friend Hal Johnson ... http://www.poetserv.org/SRR19/ritsos.html Here's some biographical info from that mag about Ritsos:


Yannis Ritsos - "...the stars quietly sawing through that raised bronze arm." (May 16, 1968) - Plagued for years by the same strain of tuberculosis that killed his mother and elder brother, unable to finish law school, and disturbed by his father's mental illness, Yannis Ritsos (1909-1990) became a writer and a communist, not necessarily in that order. He wrote enough poetry to fill a hundred books, and this popularity with readers, critics and translators was matched only by his unpopularity with the right-wing governments that came into power in post-war Greece. One of his books was symbolically torched with other banished works at the foot of the Acropolis, and for several years of house arrest on a remote Greek island he was forced to write poetry on scraps of paper small enough to fit into bottles, which then had to be buried to ensure survival. Resilient, resourceful and prolific, like his Chilean peer, Neruda, Ritsos wrote many political poems and outlived several tin-pot dictators. Of more lasting value, perhaps, to those of us who shared the vagaries of the 20th Century with Ritsos, is his deeply resonant exploration of exile and persecution, of the assault on the integrity of the self.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Warmth In the Cold Again

for Roy


Standing out in the cold again
Like spies that never came in
Under streetlight lit gum trees
Running the voodoo down
Running the voodoo down to ground

We could be whistling against the wind
We could be in the ambulance again
But we’re standing out in the cold
Running the voodoo down
Running the voodoo down to ground

The meeting’s closed, the others gone
But we’re banging our jaws together
Like superannuated talkback hosts
Running the voodoo down
Running the voodoo down to ground

History books don’t mention all
The campaigns and pains we’ve done,
Been through, dished out and won –
Running the voodoo down
Running the voodoo down to ground

It’s the way it is ‘cause we made it so
Altered attitudes from altared starts
The main change the will to change
Running the voodoo down
Running the voodoo down to ground

Icelandic Snap

Arni Ibsen, a writer and poet from Iceland, has translated my Snapshot poem 'Editing' into Icelandic as part of an inhouse competition on PoetryEtc. He has broken the line breaks into prose:

brauðristin smellur upp en ég heyri það ekki með
höfuðið ofan í blaðsíðunum flyt 16 til 21 á milli
5 og 6 og þurrka út stöðugt að snyrta eins og
brjálaður garðyrkjumaður um vor með hausinn
fullann af hugmyndum hendurnar hamast með
klippurnar lífin þeytast um allt undan hnífnum
(hver er eiginlega fréttastjóri veruleikans?) ...
ó og dagurinn virðist sólríkur úti (kannski getur
það farið á blaðsíðu 13 þetta sem áður var
blaðsíða 7 ...

Fascinating! Arni has translated all the snapshots from this week and left it up to us to guess who is who. I know this is mine simply by the numbers in it - and there are like clues in some of the others - words like Chicago, etc. What a strange little competition.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

JAS Publication

Here's a site to go to announcing the publication of some of my poems, plus the site has a great variety of information on other sites and journals: http://www.api-network.com/cgi-bin/page?journals/jas

Poetry Review by guest Miriam Wei Wei Lo

Review of smoke encrypted whispers by Sam Wagan Watson (St Lucia: UQP, 2004).

I first heard Sam Wagan Watson read at the Subverse Poetry Festival in Brisbane in the late 1990s. I thought his work was interesting but didn’t manage to get hold of it in print. I chanced upon him this year at a poetry reading in Wagga Wagga, while I was on the road with Five Islands Press. I was really pleased to be able to get hold of a copy of his collected work, smoke encrypted whispers put out by the University of Queensland Press.

smoke encrypted whispers includes of muse, meandering and midnight (2000), which won the David Unaipon award, boondall wetlands (2000) (which I assume is excerpted from Sam’s website), hotel bone (2001), itinerant blues(2002), and smoke encrypted whispers (2004), which showcases some of his most recent work.

Sam’s work can best be described as poetry that takes an urban aboriginal perspective on the world. It’s a young perspective as well — it’s poetry that has the energy and sense of adventure that belongs to a young man. The one thing missing from that formula is the in-your-face anger. This really surprised me at first, but it becomes one of the real strengths of Sam’s work: anger is there, but it is not the dominant emotion, and when it appears, it is tempered. This ability to temper anger and other emotions (love, regret, lust, fear), to hold these things back, to examine these emotions, and to place them in their context is what produces Sam’s art, his poetry.

One of the things I enjoy most about a chronologically arranged collection is the opportunity one gets to trace a poet’s development over time. of muse, meandering and midnight is typical of a poet’s first collection — it’s readable with flashes of talent (I say this with my own first collection in mind!). Brisbane is there, so is love, loss, irony, and sarcasm. The poetry materializes as free verse, with considerable experimentation with line-length, but no other forays into formality. The poetry is strained in places where Sam is trying too hard to be A POET, and there is a sense of two voices in struggle (a voice attempting some form of poetic diction, and a more laconic, casual voice), but when Sam relaxes, the poetry comes, in poems like “waiting for the good man” and “cheap white-goods at the dreamtime sale”.

boondall wetlands continues in the same register, but something starts happening with hotel bone: “the street resembles a neck / from a wayward guitar / with Hotel Bone sitting idle on a vein, / wedged between two frets / where the bad tunes can reach her”, but the tunes are good, something’s starting to sing. That voice keeps emerging through itinerant blues, there are some really good poems here, I particularly liked “jaded olympic moments” and “last exit to brisbane … ”. The last poem, “hollow squall” comes like an epiphany: Sam moves out of free verse into the prose poem and it’s as if his voice finally finds its perfect form: “Twilight is for the communion of soil and water. For a brief moment the haemorraghing skin of the bay shares no separation with the failing land.” This poem about love and loss ends in a one line haiku, a coda: “My heavy heart beats for you; a black rock at the bottom of the sea.”
It is to Sam’s credit as a poet that he recognises this moment of epiphany in his own work. The last series in the book, smoke encrypted whispers, takes the prose-poem-with-haiku-coda and runs with it. The poetry is really good. I can’t fault it at all, it is strong poem after strong poem, and suddenly it’s all there, the things that matter to this poet: Brisbane – cityscape and landscape; the ghosts of memory – growing up black in Bjelke-Pertersen land; the ghosts of history – ancestral spirits, the history of Boundary St; being a poet; family – Mum, Dad, Grandpop, the ex-wife, the son; these things have been there before, but they crystallize in this series of poems. An excerpt to end on:

“I was born in Tigerland, on the south-side of Brisbane. Saturday morning smelt of hardware compost and the static of horse racing. … Under the orange and black stripes of sunset, bouncing off Mt Gravatt, were the colours on the jersey of Easts Leagues Club. That growling big-cat patch that really meant something to us all. … Those colours paved our streets. And from those streets, I was inspired by my first ghosts as they rose from the bitumen like O-rings of smoke.” (“tigerland”)

(PS. If you’ve ever rehearsed the not-ready-to-publish argument in your head and have wondered why we should publish emerging poets, read this book, it will tell you why itself).

Miriam Wei Wei Lo

current title Against Certain Capture, New Poets 10
Five Islands Press, ISBN 1 74128 055 9

Monochords

Here's the address of a new poem published: http://139.230.167.13/scapes/journal/volumes/vol2_3.html
It's a form originally from Yannis Ritsos. I read his Monochords in a past issue of Salt magazine and loved the form. So I tried it, with this result. I've tried it since with mixed success. I'll post a couple of those in coming days.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Editing / snapshot poem

toast pops up
but i don't hear it
head stuck in pages
moving 16 to 21
between 5 and 6
and deleting

always cutting back
like a manic gardener
in spring
head full of ideas
hands pumping secateurs

lives thrown around
under the knife
(just who is
the news editor
of reality?)

... oh, and
the day outside
looks sunny
(maybe that can go
on page 13
which was
the old page 7 ...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


There are still some places for our Melbourne Cup Luncheon ... Leia's Hichair Cafe Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Drama Hints

For an entirely different audience, I have just devised a list of hints toward dramatic scriptwriting. It has been thirty odd years since a play of mine has been on the stage, but I'm still being an expert. In the mean time, many teledocumentaries and similar scripts have been written for that lovely money stuff, so I suppose I have some credibility. Here they are what use they are to anyone out there:

HINTS TOWARD DRAMATIC SCRIPT WRITING


Here are some basic hints for developing a good dramatic script. As with any basic rules in the arts, it is the creative artist’s duty to break them only when it improves the resultant piece.

1) Always remember it is a dramatic art. It needs to create an emotional impact. (In comedy, this is called vitality.) Very early on in the script, a dramatic question should be set: eg, whom are they waiting for? Is the stranger a threat? Why do they hate each other?

2) Drama is a visual art. The characters must DO something – action is the core of the production. The old ‘show, don’t tell’ dictum for creative writing was never truer. The visual art encompasses the scenery, costumes and lighting as well.

3) Drama is an auditory art. Here words are primarily speech. From chanting to musical comedy, from verse plays to the eloquent silences of a Pinter play, the playwright/scriptwriter must write with his/her ears, hearing the sound of the scenes.

4) Drama is a physical art. It is a false world made to look real or to symbolise aspects of a reality. Actors and audience are in a physical relationship with each other, projecting and accepting this illusion, this make-believe reality, for two and half, maybe three, hours

5) Drama is a continuous art. The audience cannot ‘read’ it at their own pace; they cannot go back and forth to check facts or characters. The playwright determines the pace of the story – he or she can make a scene move slowly or quickly. He or she can drop hints and move on, relying on the audience to keep up. It is a continuous art in the present tense.

6) Drama is a spectator art. A playwright is concerned with the audience’s reactions: did they laugh in the wrong place? Did they miss vital clues or facts? Were they bored at any point, and ‘let off the hook’? Nowadays, many plays are workshopped and then presented in front of a ‘charity’ audience to gauge just such responses. The reaction is often completely different on the stage from on the page. It is a writing skill which experience teaches.

When looking at the storyline of a script, make the central character(s) want something straight away (desire), then put obstacles in their path. Let the audience in on ‘secrets’ before the characters know – this bestows a privilege upon them which they enjoy and brings them emotionally into closer intimacy with the drama. Use humour to create light in the shadows of your characters’ interplay. (Shakespeare often used a clown or a ‘fool’ to say the wisest things early on in a play - the audience listened and were the wiser but the other dramatic or comedic characters were deaf to the wisdom behind the words.)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Poetry note

Floating around on my desk for days has been this quote from Robert Duncan via Ron Silliman:

Poetry fails when it seeks only to include the rational.

There is also another side to this: I really respect poems that cannot be paraphrased in prose. Ezra Pound said something along the lines of, 'If it can be expressed in good prose, then write it in prose'. It is a bit stringent, but a height to aim at.

(Garth) McKenzie Pavilion at Cresswell Park, Swanbourne - home ground of Claremont Nedlands Cricket Club Posted by Hello