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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Genius! Gilchrist at the Bat









CricInfo is my direct line to the World Cup from here. Let me quote their opening pars after Gilly blasted Australia to 2007 World Cup champions:

> What can you say of a man that makes 149 in a World Cup final? That he illuminated a game that ended in darkness? That he's a once-in-a-lifetime player? That he made a difficult art appear ludicrously simple? That we shall never see his like again? Words alone could never do justice to the incandescence of Adam Gilchrist's strokeplay, or capture the spirit of a man who batted almost ethereally on a pitch where other gifted players had to work hard for runs.

Even if he'd gone for a first-ball duck, Gilchrist would still be one of the first names on the team-sheet when someone sits down to pick an all-time XI. There have been great batsmen, and great wicketkeepers, but few have coalesced the two skills together quite like the man who moved across the Nullarbor Plain to Western Australia because he wasn't getting a game for his native New South Wales. <

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Found Poem

Google Home Page, 28/04/2007

Americans never quit.
- General Douglas Macarthur

To do just the opposite
is also a form of imitation.
- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

There are painters who
transform the sun to a yellow spot,
but there are others who
with the help of their art and their intelligence,
transform a yellow spot into the sun.
- Pablo Picasso

On the Road again ...

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust said that, and it applies directly to me and this forthcoming trip to Xi'an. I've been there, but with different people and in a different frame of mind. So, this time - from Sunday to Wednesday - I'll be 'off the air' here but, hopefully, fully tuned in there.

Friday, April 27, 2007

2007 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize

In Australia, we have a major poetry prize: Kenneth Slessor Prize for poetry ($15,000). Here are this year's nominations:


Robert Adamson, The Goldfinches of Baghdad (Flood Editions)

This is one of the strongest collections ever from an extremely fine poet.
Three sections – one mainly derived from the Orpheus and Eurydice myth,
one built around Australian birds in the form of meditations and
contemporary fables, the last built mainly around letters, friendships and
the work of other artists – are composed together to offer a poetry which
is mythic in tendency and at the same time highly intimate and lyrical.
The Goldfinches of Baghdad reflects the work of a poet engaged in a
profound work of Australian lyricism and able to look firmly at the
complexities of the contemporary world.



Laurie Duggan, The Passenger ( University of Queensland Press)

The Passenger offers the companionable pleasure of Laurie Duggan as deft
poetic guide through a series of minimalist yet richly detailed vignettes.
His characteristically casual and elegant ‘field notes' explore the
‘disposition of things' with throw-away mastery. As he transits from one
scene to another we are his willing passengers, experiencing with him the
unassuming insouciance and comic lightness of an uncommon poetic
intelligence even as he practises the art of almost disappearing into ‘a
gap between radiances'. These poems are spare but never cramped, giving
the reader ‘a shaped and worked landscape/where colour is no accident'.



Les Murray, The Biplane Houses (Black Inc.)

The Biplane Houses demonstrates how well Les Murray has sustained his work
as a poet over many volumes and many years. The Biplane Houses has all of
Murray 's extraordinary verbal energy, his great range of local insight
and his daring flashes of wit and inventiveness. This book is classic
Murray distilled into the short poem. It is a collection of the finest
late pickings from a poet whose work is justly recognized as a major
contribution to contemporary poetry in English.



John Tranter, Urban Myths: 210 Poems ( University of Queensland Press)

This generous collection of 210 poems takes in the whole of John Tranter's
dazzling career including fifty new and uncollected poems as virtuosic as
anything that precedes them. Combining technical mastery with a restless,
experimental drive, Tranter deals in ‘popular mysteries' and iconic
characters; the irony of the everyday and ‘the vernacular of the shopping
channel'. His love affair with poetic forms and the resources of speech
energizes his work and stimulates his readers, counterbalancing ‘grief, in
small allotments' with the ‘gift factory' of poetic invention and the
sheer exuberance of language.



Simon West, First Names (Puncher and Wattmann)

In a year dominated by major new collections from well established poets
with long publishing histories, Simon West's First Names stood out as an
extremely accomplished first book. The judges particularly admired the
precision and melos of the language, and the sense of an emerging poet
possessed of very mature technical skill. West's book explores a
relationship with both contemporary Italian and Renaissance Italian
poetry, a relationship which inflects his work with influences rarely felt
so clearly in Australian poetry. The book is a sustained, finely designed
performance as a whole collection: there is not a missing beat or weak
poem.



Fay Zwicky, Picnic (Giramondo Publishing Company)

The title poem places the poet at ‘a picnic with Afghani refugees' in
Perth 's Kings Park . Seated with the women while their men brood ‘under a
far-off tree', Fay Zwicky deftly establishes the fraught continuities and
discontinuities between the familial and the political, the private and
the public, the small and large scale. The collection is grounded in
experience and animated by a concern with ethical life and her own
responsibilities as a poet, a teacher, a lover, a mother. In their
stylized musical and narrative architecture, the poems of Picnic create a
resonant assemblage.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Poetry at the Gods!

Hear ye, O ye Audience in waiting!

The next reading of
Poetry At The Gods
will be on
May 8th at the Gods Restaurant
in the ANU* Arts Centre.

It will start at
8pm.


This month the two readers are Kate Llewellyn and Adrian Caesar.

Kate is the author of many books, poetry, journals, collections of letters. And
these include her best selling, Waterlily.

The most recent of Adrian's poetry collections is High Wire (Pandanus 2005) and he is the author of the prize-winning White, an account of Scott and Mawson in the Antarctic.

Light meals may be ordered at The Gods after 6pm, bookings made on
62485538.


*ANU = Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

Aussies march toward World Cup Final










Another McGrath wicket sends the Aussies celebrating. I'm sitting up late here in China, reading the game on my computer as it happens in West Indies. Australia (153/3) walked all over South Africa (149/10) to win a place in the Final of the ICC World Cup on Saturday. Their opponent will be Sri Lanka in a replay of the 1996 Final. Glenn McGrath collected early wickets - three of 'em - in his final series for Australia. & the new gun, Shaun Tait gained four, with an improvement in his 'scattergun' technique. Michael Clarke starred for Australia with the bat, so even though the old guard has retired recently, the new blades seem to be showing similar style.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

'snap' poem

Snap for today was inspired by the news that the Pope is about to banish Limbo to the history books. I thought they had done it decades ago! The little poem begins with a quote from a press release (only from the Vatican!):

'Grace has priority over sin' ...
With a cough, the Word has changed.
'Time and the bell have buried the day,'
old Possum said. A sunflower
turns above the infant's grave
and reflects the light
from a kingfisher's wing.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

We Are Virginia Tech, by Nikki Giovanni

Here is the text of Nikki Giovanni's moving tribute to Virginia Tech, read during the special convocation held this week honoring the fallen students and faculty of VT.

We Are Virginia Tech

We are Virginia Tech
We are sad today
And we will be sad for quite a while
We are not moving on
We are embracing our mourning
We are Virginia Tech
We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly
We are brave enough to bend to cry ...
And sad enough to know we must laugh again
We are Virginia Tech
We do not understand this tragedy
We know we did nothing to deserve it
But neither does a child in Africa dying of aids
Neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by a rogue army
Neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory
Neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water
Neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of night in his crib in the home its father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destablized
No one deserves a tragedy
We are Virginia Tech
The Hokie nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds
We are strong and brave and innocent and unafraid
We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be
We are alive to the imagination and the possibility
We will continue to invent the future
Through our blood and tears
Through all this sadness
We are the Hokies
We will prevail
We will prevail
We will prevail
We are Virginia Tech

-- Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor of English, VPI&SU

View the reading on CNN's video archives of her masterful reading.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Missus gone bush ...











... which is just to say me sheila packed her swag and went to Gibb River Station. If you see her, say 'hello'... Quite a contrast to the crowded polluted streets of Linfen.

poem

we could say whether
every hour different

could we say either
to flower or to wither

we may say neither
one whispers one sniggers

it’s either never or now
neither would say ‘should’

New Origin plus Cid Corman works, etc.










The poetry world would have been a smaller place without the tireless work of Cid Corman, poet, translator, editor, publisher, promoter, adviser ... A wealth of material is yours now at http://www.longhousepoetry.com/origin.html

Don't waste any more time. Go to it! Brilliant. (and Free ...)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

From SFGate.com ...

Ornette Coleman won the Pulitzer Prize for music on Monday for his 2006 album, "Sound Grammar," the first jazz work to be bestowed with the honor.


The alto saxophonist and visionary who led the free jazz movement in the 1950s and 1960s, won the Pulitzer at age 77 for his first live recording in 20 years. The only other jazz artist to win a Pulitzer is Wynton Marsalis, who won in 1997 for "Blood on the Fields," a three-hour oratorio on slavery.


The Pulitzer Prize for music, an award founded in 1943, has always focused on classical music. Legendary jazz composers Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk were honored only with posthumous citations in 1999 and 2006, respectively. In 1965, a Pulitizer jury had recommended Ellington for a competitive music prize, only to be overruled by the board. Ellington, then in his 60s, joked in response, "Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young."


In 2004, Pulitzer administrators decided to expand the criteria for the music prize, encouraging a broader range of music that included jazz, musical theater and movies.


Coleman, who grew up poor in a largely segregated Fort Worth, Texas, didn't first believe his cousin when he told Coleman that he had won the Pulitzer. He spoke by phone to The Associated Press from his New York City home minutes after hearing the news, and reflected on his long, unlikely journey.


"I'm grateful to know that America is really a fantastic country," said the jazz legend, recalling when he first asked his mother for a saxophone. "And here I am."


What began for Coleman as a fascination for the bebop of Charlie Parker, led him on a path to discover — through music — what he calls "the culture of life and intelligence."


On "Sound Grammar," which was recorded at a 2005 concert in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Coleman also plays trumpet and violin. He was awarded a Grammy lifetime achievement award in February.


"Of all the languages that human beings are speaking on the planet, it's some form of grammar," Coleman said of his album. "For me, playing music is analyzing grammar."


Though Coleman can speak of large, heady ideas in a way not dissimilar from his often conceptual music, he said he has never wanted to be inaccessible.


"I've been doing what I think I'm trying to achieve ever since I was teenager and I was only doing it because of the quality of human beings," Coleman said. "I've never really thought about being smart; I've only really thought about being good."


Some members of the Pulitzer board such as Jay Harris, a professor at the University of Southern California, have said the Pulitzers have "effectively excluded some of the best of American music" by concentrating fully on classical works. Coleman's win suggests that may be changing.


When asked whether he hopes more jazz musicians will follow him in winning Pulitzers, Coleman replied, "I would like to help them if I could."

Pullitzer Prize to Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane



Wonderful! Two of my all-time favourite creative artists on this planet have been recognised by the Pulitzer Prize people. Orenette Coleman's tailor should also win an award - That's an avant-garde jacket right there! Full details no doubt elsewhere, but I am blown away.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Snow West

Funny Quote of the Day -
Mae West -

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

If I were a younger man ...

...I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922 - 2007

Thank you to Jon Corelis for the quote. Kurt Vonnegut was 84 years old, so a good innings - and very fruitful. He will live on in his works.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Poems Retrieved - from a lost corner of the Computer ...

I'm not sure of their age, but here are some poems I found whilst fossicking around the back reaches of my 'puter.

Tip Haiku


driving to the tip
prickly pear and pine breakdance
in the rear vision mirror

*

car slews sideways
on black muddy tracks
grey sky streaked with gulls

*

backing the trailer
I jack-knife, straighten, back again
slam the door, unload

*

proud prickly pear and pine buried beside car bodies

*

leaving, all gulls gone,
black crows circle in the grey –
a yin-yang day


Man of the Match

It didn’t make the TV news
or the backpage of The West
but the news spread fast enough –
his mother told everyone:
You should’ve seen him!
I was so proud …

The TV news showed
a boy with his eye damaged,
a fatal road crash down south,
and a Royal shaking a commoner’s hand.
What a pity you missed it!
Of course, he bowled well,
did something good, not sure what,
but then he went out to bat,
number eleven or twelve …
I’m so proud of him!

Now she’s phoning distant cousins,
showing his backlift to butchers,
stopping shopkeepers with her tale.
He would’ve won the match only
they ran out of time or balls
or something. You should’ve seen him –
Whack! And away it’d go!
Yes? Oh. Just this lettuce thanks.

Cricket? Last week she said
it was a boring, dangerous game.
This week: You should’ve seen him!
I was so excited I spilt my coffee.
Now they break till mid-January –
I can’t wait! He was man-of-the-match –
Did I tell you?



Hot Days

in this town
summer days are songless
brute sun in a silent sky

banksias stand like stringless cellos
warbler whistles his choked phrase
from a melaleuca’s dry neck

in the cracked silence
a string player buries his fingers
in the soil

feeling for song

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday


Thank you, Jayne, I have found my eggs.

Nostalgia: Remember typewriters?


















Way back in the dim dark past, I wrote on a 1913 portable. It had a wooden case held together with black vinyl covering. It was a museum piece and I took great delight in formulating typewriter poems on it - a sub-genre of concrete poems (Dom Sylvester Houedard was the star at the time). I hit the keys so hard that you could see through the eyelet of the 'o's . I was hitting the booze hard at the time also, so the typewriter was midwife to a lot of self-centred crap. My first wife put it on a council pick-up one day when I had advanced to an IBM golfball. It's a sad memory I will never forget ...

Read about Houedard here: http://www.ubu.com/historical/houedard/index.html

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ya dig?

The Lesser Wall of China


















Through my kitchen window at Shanxi Normal University - they put a hole in the Lesser Wall yesterday. Will Japanese tourists have a yen to view it?

WrongWrite blog

The Living Tongue cleansed

My eldest son, Miles, has inherited a few things from me, and he has put them to good use :-) Just take a look at http://wrongwrite.com/ He would have a field day here in the People's Republic! Even the textbooks in English about how to Write English have screamers. Sometimes it is funny ... like a student - a Freshman to use Americano lingo which they favo(u)r here - said the other day in a writing class:

'Cohesion is very important in English testes.'

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Life Explained

Who needs William Burroughs/Brion Gysin? Who needs a pair of scissors? Off the Net and off an email, I took the words for this poem: from Keith Richards, sexagenarian rocker and an interview with a today star called Infinito 02017. This is the dance mix. I call it Life Explained, ya dig?


My voice is kind of this wild style
so it kind of brings it back together
in there. All right.
"He was cremated and I
couldn't resist grinding him up
with a little bit of blow." Keith said.
You got Infinito 2017 equals
nine two times, because
it's 99, then you got 99 inside of,
you know, tomorrow.
Message body repressed.
It all cohesive.
"My dad wouldn't have cared,"
Keith said. So it's like 720 degrees,
there you go. Glad you
explained that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Taxi!






Today was Monday so I rose early and went out to second campus by the uni bus at 7.20am. I taught freshmen oral English until 10am and then caught a taxi back home. It is not expensive to catch a taxi here, but it is often exciting, if sometimes dangerous. Today the driver was an anachronism in physical appearance. He looked exactly like a cartoon version of a 1950s/early 1960s American hipster: about 30 years old, in a wide-lapelled, double breasted jacket with a dark shirt underneath, ‘cool’ sunglasses, a prickly black goatee beard with matching moustache, and a crazy haircut not unlike an old flat-top Kramer cut from those decades. When I sat down, he said ‘Hell oh’, gunned the tincan taxi out into the traffic, then grinned and said, all as one phrase, ‘Hell oh sit down pleeze’. I immediately liked his way of driving - fearless, fast and lyrical. He drove like I imagine Dean Moriarty of On the Road fame would have driven – or maybe the real man behind the wheel of Keroauc’s novel, Neal Cassidy. My driver knew where every inch of outside skin on his tincan was, and he ducked and dived through the slenderest alleyways of traffic like some kind of animal … In fact. that was it!, the tincan was an extension of himself and he was ducking and jiving like an Aboriginal Aussie rules football player. And when the opposition defence got too obstructive – four lanes of raggedy parked traffic at the red light, with bicycles and pedestrians all taking up any inch of space - he took off the road and went around that corner on a broad footpath! Hah! He did it all so effortlessly and with such clear-eyed athleticism that I just sat there and marvelled. I don’t know how he didn’t hit anybody or cause an accident, but he did it languorously, driving me home quicker and smoother than any other taxi-driving maniac in this crazy city.

He REAL cool
He no need no driving school
He a crazy Zen-driving fool
Playing the road like he’s shooting pool …




(... with suitable apologies to Gwendolyn Brooks)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Chalk one up for China! Goal! Goal!














Passions run hot here over a few sports: ping-pong, basketball and soccer. Well, they call the last one football - but to a true-blue Australian like me that means Aussie Rules.

Anyway, in my meanderings around the Net, I came across the origins of soccer - and China cracks a mention, so I thought I'd share it here, just in case my curious students read my blog ...

> Many believe the English invented the sport, but from what we can gather, the Chinese deserve the bulk of the credit. Canada's CTV quotes FIFA president Sepp Blatter as saying there is evidence the Chinese played the game "a thousand years ago." It may go even further back. According to that same article, historians have discovered proof the game originated about 2,000 years ago.

FIFA.com goes into considerably more depth. An early soccer-like game called "cuju" bore many similarities to modern soccer with teams, rules, competitions, and stadiums. The game "gained favour among the rulers and the people," and over time, evolved into a worldwide phenomenon.

One question remains, though -- who came up with the word "soccer"? The always reliable Mavens' Word of the Day explains that Britain is the unlikely culprit. "The formal designation for the game we know as soccer is Association football." Mavens' explains that the word "soccer" is a kind of slangy contraction of "(As)soc(iation football)" and an "er" suffix. <

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fool's Day


Today I was wished Happy Fools Day by a Chinese friend. It was a strange text message to get and at first I had no idea what it referred to - until I realised the date. But when did this crazy April Fool's Day idea begin? I went looking, and thanks to About.com, today I am an educated fool:



The First April Fool's Day

Then in 1562, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year fell on January first. There were some people, however, who hadn't heard or didn't believe the change in the date, so they continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April first. Others played tricks on them and called them "April fools." They sent them on a "fool's errand" or tried to make them believe that something false was true.

Poisson d'Avril

In France today, April first is called "Poisson d'Avril." French children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends' backs. When the "young fool" discovers this trick, the prankster yells "Poisson d’Avril!" (April Fish!)