Saturday, March 31, 2007

Last Evening together in Linfen

The reason we came to Linfen was to let Jeanette's grand-daughter Sophie know her grandparents. Now we have spent eight months together: from left, Tania Jain, Sophie at 18 months, myself and Jeanette, posing among the new growth of Spring at Shanxi Normal University. Tomorrow they leave for Hangzhou, and I remain here to work until the end of semester in June.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Lion in Winter

Prime Prynne

'To write and eat at the same table' is harder than it sounds.
- J H Prynne

(Thank you, Christopher Walker)

I have never found Prynne clearer.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Every now and then, a good poem comes along ...

... a poem by
the Irish comedian Denis Leary, which he claims was
written by his dog:

You gonna eat that?
You gonna eat that?
You gonna eat that?
I'll eat that.

(Thanks for drawing my attention to that one, Candice Ward.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Poem in memoriam Peter W.

it's a lyrical day
i saw a sparrow in the sky
a toddler blowing soap-bubbles

on the fruitstand
all the banana bruises
have healed

at the courts
basketball players let little ones
shoot hoops

my friend is dead now
but a rainbow
is not out of the question

spring in china -
washing dries on
every balcony and window

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Philip Whalen's Selected Poems Out Now

Hymnus Ad Patrem Sinensis

I praise those ancient Chinamen
Who left me a few words,
Usually a pointless joke or a silly question
A line of poetry drunkenly scrawled on the margin of a quick
splashed picture--bug, leaf,
caricature of Teacher
on paper held together now by little more than ink
& their own strength brushed momentarily over it
Their world & several others since
Gone to hell in a handbasket, they knew it--
Cheered as it whizzed by--
& conked out among the busted spring rain cherryblossom winejars
Happy to have saved us all

One of my alltime favourite poets - a true individual

Overtime: Selected Poems
Penguin Poets
Philip Whalen - Author

Book: Paperback | 6.06 x 8.97in | 304 pages | ISBN 9780140589184 | Penguin

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dragon Dreaming

Thank you to Suzie and Hazem for this wonderful gift. The calligraphy reads Dragon in various ways, and I fell in love with it when I saw it in Beijing. Now it will hang in Western Australia, part of my Dragon Dreaming.

Quote of the Day

Howard Nemerov - "I would talk in iambic pentameter if it were easier."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Henry Thoreau journal

One of my favourite books of all time is Walden by Henry Thoreau. Now I have discovered a blog which quotes from the journals on a daily basis. Check it out at or

Here are the opening words of Walden:
"When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again."

Illustrations: Henry Thoreau; his cabin in the woods; front page of the original edition

Friday, March 16, 2007

The old impulse to write ...

Lyn Hejinian at wrote about writing some time back. I enjoyed her quotes from other creative people and I'd like to share them with you:

(Quote) Thus Roland Barthes writes: "The word transports me because of the notion that I am going to do something with it: it is the thrill of a future praxis, something like an appetite. This desire makes the entire motionless chart of language vibrate." Eugène Delacroix: "The very sight of my palette, freshly set out with the colours in their contrasts is enough to fire my enthusiasm." Paul Valéry: "I go into an office on some business or other. As this includes writing I am handed a pen, ink, paper all perfectly assorted, and I scribble some quite trivial phrase. I enjoy the act of writing to the point of wishing to go on writing. I go out, walk down the street, taking with me an urge to write, to hit on something to write about." (Unquote)

The Haiku poets of the Japanese tradition always counted their calligraphy as part of their art, and in China to this day, calligraphy is a highly praised art in itself. In fact, calligraphy is one among the many disciplines young Chinese art students learn. And handwriting here is of a standard that would shame 99% of Australian students.

My tools for writing are a Benq laptop and Windows XP. I can't sit down to sharpen twelve of them before I start, or dip my nib in the inkwell to refresh my mind ... Sometimes I walk out and scribble a note in a notebook (my sister has never followed behind me and taken notes ) but it is a rare thing, and most times the jotted words are edited out early in the piece. I do often sleep with pad and pen beside me, but it has only worked once to give birth to a new poem, a nightmare at that. Occasional class notes have appeared, however, through this method - and teaching does pay the bills. I enjoy the act of writing, as Lyn H says ... but must sleep now or tomorrow the words will all be sleeping in little divans at the base of my cerebral cortex.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The 4th Kokako Haiku and Senryu Competition is now International!

Closing date: 31st October, 2007
First Prize

2 Runners-up prizes NZ$50 each

Catherine Mair

Send entries to:

The Kokako Haiku Competition
Patricia Prime, co-editor
42 Flanshaw Road
Te Atatu South
Auckland 8
New Zealand

Please make cheques out to Kokako
Overseas entrants may send cash at their own risk

Conditions of entry:

1.Haiku must be previously unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere.
2.Entry fee is NZ$5 for every 3 haiku; for overseas entries, US$1 per haiku.
3.Send two copies of each haiku, or group of haiku, with your name and address on one copy only.
4.Winning haiku and commended entries will be published in Kokako 8 (April, 2008).
5.Winners will be notified by mail.
6.Any theme is acceptable.

Any queries, email:

Daydream (snap poem)

the washing machine whirls to a close
Linfen buildings buffed and dried
bicycles beautifully spoken
sparkling ladies glide by
on the back of
proudly polished pedalodiums
ridden by bright-faced gentlemen
with Colgate-white teeth
gleaming in shining sunlight
down promenades lined
by leafy elms past
milkpond lakes skirted
by weeping willows ...

from a Hills Hoist hangs
those stubborn Chinese stains
- corruption and pride

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wise man says ...

A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man's life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.

Henry David Thoreau

Poetry and The New Yorker

David Orr writes an interesting essay in The New York Times about the 'Annals of Poetry'. In it he discusses a recent long article in The New Yorker by Dana Goodyear, a 30 year-old staffer at the magazine. See the entire article at

Here's just one interesting paragraph:

'And then there’s the question of the poems the magazine chooses to run. Granted, picking poems for a national publication is nearly impossible, and The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Alice Quinn, probably does it as well as anyone could. (Quinn is also liked personally, and rightly so, by many poets.) But there are two ways in which The New Yorker’s poem selection indicates the tension between reinforcing the “literariness” of the magazine’s brand and actually saying something interesting about poetry. First, The New Yorker tends to run bad poems by excellent poets. This occurs in part because the magazine has to take Big Names, but many Big Names don’t work in ways that are palatable to The New Yorker’s vast audience (in addition, many well-known poets don’t write what’s known in the poetry world as “the New Yorker poem” — basically an epiphany-centered lyric heavy on words like “water” and “light”). As a result, you get fine writers trying on a style that doesn’t suit them. The Irish poet Michael Longley writes powerful, earthy yet cerebral lines, but you wouldn’t know it from his New Yorker poem “For My Grandson”: “Did you hear the wind in the fluffy chimney?” Yes, the fluffy chimney.'

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The meme machine

My friend, poet and fellow blogger, Jill Jones, over at , tagged me to respond to a meme which read as follows:

Tom Beckett tagged me (Jill Jones) with this meme:

"I now propose a new tag: Things which one has read and has been influenced by which are not confined to those paper-bound vessels of the printed word we refer to as books. Let's call these Non-Books. Or maybe Impossible Books. Or Limen Books? It's up to you."

My list (tonight - any other time it may be different):

1. sitting by the radio with my parents and brothers and sisters, listening to the rhythms of speech and the zany sound effects of The Goon Show in the Fifties
2. coloured patterns of stained glass light falling on pious faces as the parishioners knelt
3. the sound of scuttling claws as rock crabs ran away exposed to sunlight
4. river water dripping off oars
5. stoned to the bones in an emergency ward with an attack of renal colic
6. the intimate feeling of a dental nurse leaning against my elbow on the arm of the chair when I was twelve, and I in my summer school shorts and nowhere to hide
7. the taste of stolen mulberries off a neighbourhood tree

My blog list has disappeared into the ether, so I can only issue the broadest of tags - to all you bloggers, particularly the poets, who would care to participate.

Burke's Frontyard

As they renovate, nobody works harder than the donkeys carting the materials.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Small Press Month

What would poets do without small presses? The major presses may occasionally publish poetry collections but only from the safest of poets and from the mainstream. Poets who kick over the traces and map out new territories need the small presses. So, please take a moment to follow this up at

Another great site to support is Small Press Distribution. It is easy to publish a book but it is extremely difficult when it comes to distribution, so take a journey of discovery to

Burke's Backyard at 9.30am Today

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


TAG (Tom) Hungerford with Alice Nelson

The Board of writingWA is pleased to extend congratulations to Alice Nelson, winner of the 2006 TAG Hungerford Award for her work of fiction entitled In Arcadia.

The Award was announced by Alastair Bryant, Director General of the Department of Culture and the Arts, on Sunday 25 February, at a presentation dinner held at Lamont’s East Perth restaurant.

The TAG Hungerford Award carries a cash prize of $6000 provided by New Edition Bookshop, and a publishing contract with Fremantle Arts Centre Press.

An extract from In Arcadia will be published in The West Australian on Saturday 10 March.

Also shortlisted for the 2006 TAG Hungerford Award were Deb Fitzpatrick and Varnya Bromilow who each received additional cash prizes of $500 contributed by Tom Hungerford in a gesture of appreciation for the quality of their writing.

The 2006 TAG Hungerford Award is sponsored by New Edition Bookshop, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, The West Australian Newspaper, and writingWA.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Tom Collins Poetry Prize 2007 goes to ...

The judge was Fay Zwicky, Highly Commended went to Glen Phillips, and the First Prize went to Murray Jennings. They are pictured on the front verandah of Tom Collins House Writers Centre, by the sea in Swanbourne, Western Australia, just yesterday, 4 March 2007.
It was a very special day for Murray all around because it was his wife Ros's birthday, and their 40th Wedding Anniversary - and he won the prestigious Tom Collins Poetry Prize. Congratulations, Murray and Glen - and Fay, if it comes to that.
The prize is offered by the Fellowship of Australian Writers, WA branch, annually, and is sponsored by the Furphy family in Shepparton, Victoria. The original 'Tom Collins' was the narrator of 'Such Is Life' by Joseph Furthy who built the house in its former location of Servetus Street, before the government put a (necessary) highway through. The house was moved up the hill and around the corner to a picturesque spot among the trees near Alan Park.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lantern Festival

(photo Reuters)

People walk under lanterns hung to celebrate the Lantern Festival in Tianjin municipality. The Lantern Festival falls on March 4 this year, the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

Shanghai Literary Festival


Saturday, March 03, 2007



Anchorite Press is pleased to announce the release of a new collection of poems, MEDITATIONS ON THE STATIONS OF MANSOUR AL-HALLAJ, by Pierre Joris.

Each handmade chapbook is 5.25 x 8.625 and features a Rives deckled cover and cotton wove endpaper. 21 special editions, signed and numbered by the author, are also available. Each stitched special edition features handmade endpaper.

To peruse our archive of previous publications, or for ordering info, please visit our site: You can also contact us via email directly:

Christopher Rizzo, ed.
Anchorite Press

Why we (Australians) are a nation of Poets

Peter Craven in The Australian newspaper had a lot to say about Oz poetry. It is good to see it getting some attention - and positive attention at that.

Read it at,20867,21296782-5001986,00.html

Friday, March 02, 2007

Hamilton Stone Review No 11 online

Featuring nonfiction by Jim Murphy; fiction by Julie Compton, Marilyn
Coffey,Suzanne McConnell, Harold Klapper, and Sybil Kollar; and poetry by
Maxianne Berger, Roger Day, Andrew Burke, Sally Van Doren, James Davies, Simon Perchik,Mary Rising Higgins, Rodney Nelson, Elizabeth Kate Switaj, Jason Wilkinson,Michael Young, R. L. Swihart, Maurice Oliver, and Chanming Yuan.