Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Kenneth Goldsmith on 'Uncreative Writing'

'However, if John Cage theoretically claimed that any sound can be music, then we logically must conclude that, properly framed, any language can be poetry.

When I reach 40, I hope to have cleansed myself of all creativity.'

Read the whole text at http://drunkenboat.com/db5/goldsmith/uncreativity.html

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Jacket magazine publishes Court Transcripts of Ern Malley case


Court Transcript of the Trial of Max Harris
in the Adelaide Police Court, 1944

“I have found that people who go into parks at night go there for immoral purposes. My exper as police officer might under certn circs., tinge my apprecn of literature.”

Edited by John Tranter in October and November 2005

Five pages of that photocopy can be viewed here.

The original document is court typist’s transcript of the trial of Max Harris, an editor of Angry Penguins magazine, for the offence of publishing indecent advertisements. He was 23 years old at the time. The trial was held in the Adelaide Police Court in September 1944. Mr Harris was convicted of the offence and fined.

Further documentary material and commentary on the 1944 Ern Malley hoax which led to this trial can be found in this issue (17) of Jacket magazine on the Internet at http://jacketmagazine.com/17/, a special issue devoted to hoax poetry.

Friday, February 24, 2006

In Sight of Raftery Poetry Competition 2006

In conjunction with In Sight Of Raftery Poetry Festival, which is taking place in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo on the June bank holiday weekend (June 2-4, 2006), the organisers are running an International poetry competition for new and original work. The competition is open to all budding and established national and international writers and the adjudicator for the competition is the popular Mayo poet Ger Reidy. An entry form and further details are available from www.mayowriters.org/poetry_competition.htm and the closing date for receipt of entries is Friday, April 28th 2006. Details of the festival are also available from the website.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Pointing the Bone at Myself

It’s a dried out bone from last night’s dinner, mortal to the touch. I hold it and stand still to daydream before throwing it in the bin. The cat is not allowed chicken bones. She also is mortal and may choke on a bone fragment. Whereas I point the bone at myself, then the bin, and think of its journey – from chookyard to Refuse Disposal Centre. The simple things in life are all complicated … From father’s trip home from war in New Guinea to my final trip to Karrakatta Cemetery, who knows when. My bones will write a scribbled note, broken here and there like an old man’s handwriting, and saying, But once he stood and walked upon the earth. And fell. Off his bike, down a cliff, a night club’s steep stairs, Australia’s backyard behind a shearer’s shed outside of Mount Magnet. And stood again each time to finally fall down and stay down here, cat sleeping in his chair at home.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Modern Colours by Curnow, W

This from Ron Silliman's blog at www.ronsilliman.blogspot.com/ -

'My favorite poet named Wystan has a new book out. Actually, my favorite poet named Wystan, Wystan Curnow, known also as editor & critic, known inevitably further as the son of Allen Curnow, the late great late-modernist poet of New Zealand. But Wystan always has been a fine poet all on his own, at least so long as I’ve known him (and those years have begun piling up).
It’s a simple enough book in a short run, just 500 copies, not very much for somebody whose writing is known & appreciated on three continents. And just 46 pages, although it feels like more because each page consists of a sheet of paper folded over, a so-called French fold – at first I thought the pages were still uncut until I realized there was nothing printed on the interiors. The poems inside are quite different from one another, albeit all in a post-New American aesthetic mode that may remind some new readers of William Carlos Williams, Jimmy Schuyler or Michael Palmer, an intriguing trio I never would have thought to triangulate I had not read these poems. Indeed, different poems are printed in type sizes as small as eight points & as large as ten.'

... and more, with generous quotes. Worth reading, I assure you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Poem for Jen

Valentine’s Day 2006

Before your door
I leave a stone

a tourmaline
as unique as you

and I stand back
to see if
you’ll come forward


Each day
fine rings ripple out
on the lake

fish rising
for air or food

like my mouth open to you
and your mouth
opening for me

Saturday, February 11, 2006



Ancient Greek bust of Sappho the Eresian.
Sappho (Attic Greek Σαπφώ Sapphô, Aeolic Greek Ψάπφα Psappha) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from the city of Eressos on the island of Lesbos, which was a cultural centre in the 7th century BC. She was born sometime between 630 BC and 612 BC. The bulk of her poetry is now lost, but her reputation in her time was immense, and she was reputedly considered by Plato as the tenth Muse.


Sapho by Gustav Klimt
Sappho, daughter of Scamander and Cleïs, was married (Attic comedy says to a wealthy merchant, but that is apocryphal) and had a daughter also named Cleïs. She became very famous in her day for her poetry – so much so that the city of Syracuse built a statue to honor her when she visited. Her family was politically active, which caused Sappho to travel a great deal. She was also noted during her life as the headmistress of a sort of Greek finishing school for girls. Most likely the objects of her poetry were her students. Sappho had three brothers, married and had at least one daughter, was exiled to Syracuse for political reasons, returned in 581 BC, and died of old age.
She was one of the canonical nine lyric poets of archaic Greece. Older critics sometimes alleged that she led an aesthetic movement away from typical themes of gods, to the themes of individual human experiences and emotions, but it is now considered more likely that her work belongs in a long tradition of Lesbian poetry, and is simply among the first to have been recorded in writing.
Some of her love poems were addressed to women. The word lesbian itself is derived from the name of the island of Lesbos from which she came. (Her name is also the origin of its much rarer synonym sapphic).
Because of its eroticism and of the difficulties posed by its dialect, her work was not included in the Byzantine school curriculum. The manuscript tradition therefore broke off, but copies of her work have been discovered in Egyptian papyri of an earlier period. [1]

Romantic representation of Sappho
In ancient and medieval times she was famous for (according to legend) throwing herself off a cliff due to unrequited love for a male sailor named Phaon. This legend dates to Ovid and Lucian in Ancient Rome and certainly is not a Christian overlay.
The 3rd Century philosopher Maximus of Tyre wrote that Sappho was "small and dark" and that her relationships to her female friends were similar to those of Socrates:
What else was the love of the Lesbian woman except Socrates' art of love? For they seem to me to have practiced love each in their own way, she that of women, he that of men. For they say that both loved many and were captivated by all things beautiful. What Alcibiades and Charmides and Phaedrus were to him, Gyrinna and Atthis and Anactoria were to the Lesbian.
A major new literary discovery, the Milan Papyrus,[2] recovered from a dismantled mummy casing and published in 2001, has revealed the high esteem in which the poet Posidippus of Pella, an important composer of epigrams (3rd century BC), held Sappho's 'divine songs'. An English translation of the new epigrams, with notes, is available [3], as is the original Greek text. [4]
An epigram in the Anthologia Palatina ascribed to Plato states:
Some say of nine Muses, how neglected!
Behold, Sappho, from Lesbos, is the tenth
Aelianus Claudius wrote in Assorted History (Ποικίλη ιστορία) that Plato called Sappho wise.
Horace writes in his Odes that Sappho's lyrics are worthy of sacred admiration.
One of Sappho's poems was famously translated by the 1st century BC Roman poet Catullus in his "Ille mi par esse deo videtur" (Catullus 51).

We have a single complete poem, Fragment 1, Hymn to Aphrodite, and three more virtually complete, besides many shorter fragments.

Fragment 16
These — cavalry, others — infantry
others yet, navies, upon the black earth
hold most beautiful. But I, whatever
you desire.
To make this clear to anyone
is most easy.
Helen, surpassing all men
in beauty, forsaking
the best of men
left and sailed away to Troy.
not thinking of her child or her dear parents
led away
[three missing lines]
now I think of Anaktoria, who is far away
I desire to see her lovely gait
the shining sparkle of her face
more than the Lydian chariots, and armoured
foot soldiers.

Sappho remnant ...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Silence is Golden

Hello, folks. My internet connection has been down for sometime, so I have been silent here. But now it is time to speak up ... when I have something to say. Good ol' Uncle Ezra remained silent for many years before his death. I still enjoy the best of the Pisan Cantos ...