Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Three Sonnets

I don't know why it is but thoughts of the past and home always come to me in stark relief when I travel away. In this instance, the theme of water connected dry Toodyay where a friend and I existed on rainwater for awhile to Perth where water restrictions are now year-round and Linfen which is having an unusually wet time of it lately, and which simply gets muddier and messier with the rain. Why the sonnet form - possibly because it was a consciously planned project from the start, and also because Tom Shapcott has used the form with such success in writing of the five senses and his hands, etc.

Here are the poems, still in draft form:

Late Summer, Outside Toodyay
(Western Australia)

He walks down their block to dump the litter.
White quartz glistens in the sunshine
Like luxurious jewellery strewn among
Dry sticks and curling leaves. Black bush ants
Climb in raggedy line, driven by desire.
He pisses on a struggling eucalypt, thinking,
My body of water is the most moisture
From here to the Kalgoorlie pipeline.

Before the rain arrives—‘If it bloody comes,’
As she says—he climbed the ladder to clean out
The gutters where the rain will flow
To fill the water-tank which today echoes.
In late summer, they shower with buckets
Beneath them to save water for the carrots.


Water Restrictions, Suburban Perth
(Western Australia)

He puts The West inside, comes outside and uncoils
the hose. It’s not their day to use the retic.
6.30 and already it’s a scorcher. First, he waters
The roses. She loves the roses and he smiles
At twin buds atop the pink one. Then,
The grass. All the way to the curb because
They claim the verge as part of their lawn.
More water, though, and more mowing.
The grass struggles in patches and he waters them
Extra. That bloke behind often misses
the drive and flattens it to death. Bastard.
He’s off in his dream-world again when he
Hears his name and sees her at the door.
She raises her nightie slowly and smiles.


More Rain Today
Late Summer, Linfen

More rain today than fell last year. Pollution
coats the buildings as rain falls perpendicular.
Linfen’s drainage system overflows
and baby-faced police huddle in muddy vans
but the townsfolk welcome the wash:
a little soap in the alleys’ armpits,
sunny deodorant with dawn perhaps.
Inside, street vendors huddle, stretching
yesterday’s Yuans like old inner tube.
The gatekeeper pulls a grey sheet over
his knobbly knees on his roadside cot.
Beyond Linfen city, farmers wave as
roads run with mud and crops drink deep.
Tomorrow shines like sunflowers in their eyes.

28/8/2006 & 30/8/2006

Jill Jones Translation blog

Sitting here in China, I'm contemplating some 'translations' with the help of an American young bloke who is studying Mandarin here. In my quest for some grounding, some starting point, I found Jill Jones was already doing much the same thing at

Take a look. And wish me luck :-)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wanted: Women Visual Poets

I post this on from Sheila Murphy:

Good morning, all! K.S. (Kathy) Ernst and I have conferred about upcoming projects regarding the presentation of female visual poets. We are looking to build a database of contact information for women on several continents, so that we may look at what is possible relative to exhibitions (likely, a traveling exhibition initially) and books that would go with same.

Specific calls for work will follow, but for now we want to accumulate a "who's who" compendium.

I would appreciate your circulating widely a call for the following information and sending the information to me backchannel at:

sheila dot murphy at gmail dot com

We mainly want:

Mailing Address
Email Address

Any further information about media in which the visual poet works, great, too.

If everyone can respond with known individuals, including yourselves, it will be appreciated.

The goal is to obtain as comprehensive a list of (1) living women visual poets who have done visual poetry in the latter half of hte 20th Century and (2) women who are actively working in visual poetry now. Definition of visual poetry is deliberately open.

Thanks! Sheila Murphy

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chinese Folk Music

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I was watching CCNTV9, the English channel on Chinese television, this morning over breakfast. They had a delightful cultural program on, showcasing folk music from various minority groups. A charming young girl, in small pigtails and what I took to be a school uniform, sang a lyrical tune, and the English translation appeared at screen's base:

See the bright moon
shining on Grandpa's manure basket

Everyday has its little joys, and that was one of mine.

Friday, August 25, 2006

'Death on All Fronts' Anthology

from Big Bridge & Halvard Johnson of the NewPoetry list:

“Friends and neighbors--
“For a mini-anthology of poems inspired by/responding to/related to Allen Ginsberg’s poem ‘Death on All Fronts’ and/or the various wars/insurgencies/etc. going on in the world today, please send 1-6 poems to me at with the words ‘Big Bridge’ followed by your own name in the subject line. Unidentified submissions may be lost or discarded--advertently or inadvertently. The poems submitted may be either previously published or unpublished and brand-new. We cannot, though, seek or pay for reprint permissions from publishers. This mini-anthology (approximately 30 poems) will appear in the January issue of Big Bridge, and submissions of work will be accepted until the end of November.”


“The Planet is Finished”
A new moon looks down on our sick sweet planet
Orion’s chased the Immovable Bear halfway across the sky
from winter to winter. I wake, earlier in bed, fly corpses
cover gas lit sheets, my head aches, left temple
brain fibre throbbing for Death I created on all Fronts.
Poisoned rats in the Chickenhouse and myriad lice
Sprayed with white arsenics filtering to the brook, City Cockroaches
stomped on Country kitchen floors. No babies for me.
Cut earth boy & girl hordes by half & breathe free
say Revolutionary expert Computers:
Half the blue globe’s germ population’s more than enough
keep the cloudy lung from stinking pneumonia.
I called in the Exterminator Who soaked the Wall floor
with bed-bug death-oil. Who’ll soak my brain with death-oil?
I wake before dawn dreading my wooden possessions,
my gnostic books, my loud mouth, old loves silent, charms
turned to image money, my body sexless fat, Father dying,
Earth Cities poisoned at war, my art hopeless --
Mind fragmented--and still abstract--Pain in
left temple living death

-- Sept. 26, 1969

--Allen Ginsberg
(from The Fall of America: poems of these states, 1965-1971,
[San Francisco: City Lights, 1972])

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bad Boys make Good Copy

When poets fall out, in our times, only lawyers could profit. And maybe publishers ... Go see the reaction of one Queensland academic to John Kinsella's latest prose book at

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lunchtime Recital in Linfen

bill evans
plays angular chords
to a background
of fireworks

years after death
his knuckles and sent
his bones
to chalk

no matter -
all matter
‘all things must pass’
his hammers
still lyric

Notes from a Diary

When I posted the haiku the other day, it was the result of this entry in my continuing diary. I'll post more as I can, conditions permitting:

6.30am. The overture to daylife in Linfen is played with household hammers on major building projects. Cicadas sing gently in madrigal phrases. The irregular rhythm of the builders’ hammers gradually joins the first honking vehicles of the morning, various toots on a full range of flutes. The street vendors put out their vegetables and fruits and squat beside. A few have weighing machines for basic conversion of goods to cash. There seems no hurry here, no anger, no overt competition, no conflict between the workers and the bosses. The town grows daily, and the shops change hands overnight. One man is gone from the streetscape. I heard tell that he wrote an anti-government message in his shop window and was not there the next day. A new shop has opened there now, selling fashion for young ladies.
By 8am the town is a bustle, going about its business. A pale grey smog hangs in the air which a light morning breeze seems incapable of shifting. Three mature citizens sweep away the remnants of last night’s fireworks with straw brooms. They dye the gutter waters pink.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


at night, fireworks.
at dawn, torn red paper shells
dye the gutters pink.

Fireworks Night

It’s another cause for celebration:
The surrender of the Japanese
At the end of World War II.

Fireworks light the sky above Linfen
And Chinese singers sing proudly
Amplified down Gulou Road East.

It’s as bright as a battlefield, loud as a war.
The old people can’t hear a thing
And are in bed early.

Linfen, Shanxi Province - City of contrasts

Shanxi Normal University

'Normal' in this context simply means it was once a teachers' college. This building is where I shall be teaching ... Semester starts in September.

Linfen flat

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Beijing Gallery

Here is an address to see some pics of my time so far in Beijing - not all are interesting to everybody, but hopefully some will be interesting to some.

Copy and paste this link:

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Robert Hass Article

Just something to keep you entertained from Robert Hass, a great American poet.

'One of the poets central to the history of lyric poetry in the European tradition is Quintus Horatius Flaccus, whom we know as Horace. He was born when Rome was emerging as a world power. He fought, as a young man in those turbulent years, in the wars that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar, and wrote most of his poems in the age of Augustus.

With Catullus and Virgil and Ovid, he's one of the four great lyric poets of ancient Rome. For English poets from Shakespeare's time to the end of the 19th century, he was the man. Horace spent most of his life in retirement on a modest farm in the country outside Rome. He wrote immensely civilized, poised, exquisitely polished, and apparently casual poems about the countryside and the Roman seasons, about not living in the Augustan equivalents of the corridors of power and the feeding frenzies of the media and the fevers of the deal. His values were the gentleman farmer's ideals. Balance was what he admired, independence, privacy, friendship, a sensible prosperity, good wine, the fruits of the season.

These are reasons to read him, but the deepest reason is pleasure.'

Read the rest at

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In Beiijing

Hot and humid, but exciting ... The traffic is crazier than at home, but I'll just have to get used to that - as a pedestrian even. Trying to sort through money, phones, transport, etc. - New country, new processes.

Susiedriving this morning spoke of the 'language of driving' - the car in front is communicating one thing while we are communicating another thing to the vehicle behind us. Etcetera. Just like a paragraph where sentence is constructed on clauses and phrases, punctauted by stops and starts ... We drive with Burroughs cut-up method in Beiijing :-)

Next week, Linfen.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lee Marvin Readings in Adelaide

Readers & writers: the August readings!


Mondays: at Gallery de la Catessen

9 Anster St., Adelaide
(off Waymouth at the King William end, near FAD nightclub)

7.30 for 8 PM start

Price $5

6th Reading August 7th

Cath Kenneally
Rachel Manning
Kate Deller-Evans
Ros Prosser

# # #

7th Reading August 14

Stephen Lawrence
Jason Sweeney
Linda Marie Walker

# # #

8th Reading August 21

Moya Costello
Simon Robb
Gail Walker
John Cage's Overpopulation & Art (1992)

# # #

9th Reading August 28

Pru La Motte
Cath Kenneally
Francesca Da Rimini

Dress to Express

Great range of t-shirts with literary and other heroes at

Choosing is the hard part.