Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Snap: Gumnuts

'from little things / big things grow'
Paul Kelly sang

today the gumnuts are falling
on Wanalirri's tin hat -

little brown ones green ones
local kids whistle with em

like gumleaf players
from Tom Roberts' day

'wadja say? wadja say?'
gumnuts random rhythm away

'Small opportunities are often
the beginning of great enterprises,'
wise old Demosthenes said that.

When nuts are falling,
wear a hat. (I said that.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

MtvU's First Poet Laureate

John Tranter brought our attention to this item in the New York Times:

MtvU, the subsidiary of MTV Networks that is broadcast only on college campuses, will announce today that it has selected its first poet laureate. No, he doesn’t rap. And it’s not Bob Dylan, or even Justin Timberlake.

It is John Ashbery, the prolific 80-year-old poet and frequent award winner known for his dense, postmodern style and playful language.

One of the most celebrated living poets, Mr. Ashbery has won MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim fellowships and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.”

What an intelligent choice. I am surprised but also very pleased at this great exposure to poetry as something 'cool'. It always has been for me!

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Writing Life - Ana Castillo

In an irregular column in The Washington Post called The Writing Life, writer Ana Castillo wrote:

I am haunted. I am haunted by my ancestors. I am haunted by a paternal grandfather who was brought to the United States in the '20s to work on the railroads. And I am haunted, too, by the knowledge that in 1929, when my Nebraska-born mother was 2 years old, my grandparents and two infant U.S.-born children were deported in a cattle car along with other Mexicans who were no longer welcome to work here after the Crash.

Those ghost stories rose up one morning as I gazed out my kitchen window at the Franklin Mountains in southern New Mexico. The other side of that range is Mexican territory. It was January, winter in the desert, and had rained quite a bit the night before. The treacherous peaks were draped with mist. As I looked out at that surreal vision, a ghost spoke to me. It said, "Someone is on the other side even now, trying to get across. He is hungry, cold and afraid. His family is waiting for him on this side. They are worried to death."

"Who are you?" I asked, sipping my morning espresso, staring at the fog on the horizon. Behind the gray were the mountains, the desert and someone's beloved, trying to cross.

"I am his sister," the ghost said, "waiting."

With that, I went to my desk and began to write. It might have started as an essay or a poem -- the muse comes in many guises. But what I ended up writing that day was a short story. When I was done, I had some idea of who the ghost was, but I wondered whether my story told all she wanted to say. What if what I had was only a beginning? Where would I go from there?

In fiction, we have to let our ghosts speak. The story I started that morning by merely listening has become a book. It is the way all my novels begin.

Copyright 2007 Washington Post Writers Group

Assignment: Write a Poem about Voles

Even voles love rock'n'roll.


He offered her
the mink. She threw it
back in his face, hissing:
Keep your coat!
It has voles in it …


Even though there's
a vole in every novel,
there are no novels
about voles. They
only have short tales.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Spring Poetry Festival poster

Hope you can enlarge it somehow !


The WAPI committee proundly announces that the Spring Poetry Festival is locked in! Every member is invited to part in what will be a vibrant, dynamic, pumping-good poetry festival.

The third annual

WA Spring Poetry Festival

State Library of WA & The Glasshouse


Saturday 13th – Sunday 21st October

This year the festival features two weekends of readings, workshops, panel discussions & book launches in the State Library. Seven nights of poetry/music & launch of magazine #3 in The Glasshouse, Brass Monkey Hotel, Northbridge. Festival includes Regional WA Events.

Already the word is out! The festival boasts of some of Australia’s well-known poets, including Patron Fay Zwicky, winner of the Patrick White Award 2005.

Dorothy Porter, noted for her crime thrillers such as The Monkey’s Mask (film), and El Dorado (2007) will present a talk, reading & book signing in the State Library Theatre.

There is a stellar line-up of poets from afar such as Alvin Pang (Singapore) and Samuel Wagan Watson (Queensland). Local

Oz-Sudanese poet, Afeif Abdelrazig will read at a special Multicultural Night at The Glasshouse. The festival is about
difference, inclusive of all peoples, no matter what race, religion or sex.

Come along this Spring and meet West Australian poets such as Glen Phillips, Andrew Burke, Barbara Temperton (Geraldton), Shane McCauley, Zan Ross, newly published poet Sarah French and more….

New & seasoned wordsmiths can join in the fun of the festival in open mic readings. National Poetry Slam WA organizer, alan boyd (aka/anti-poet) says he is making this year’s festival “radical”. The final heat of the state slam will take place at PICA on Friday, 19th October. Back by popular demand are all forms of poetry for everyone to enjoy, from the lyric to bush poetry, rap/hip hop, music, indigenous story & song, multicultural poetry & performance poetry.

Poems will hang on trees in the Murray St. Mall. City of Perth Poetrees readers will entertain lunch time crowds in the city with the spoken word. Event starts at midday on Monday 15th – Thursday 18th October.

Full program details now available on the WA Poets Inc. website by following the festival links

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Allen Ginsberg Movie by Jerry Aronson

As the site says:

Academy Award nominated Director Jerry Aronson
spent 25 years accumulating more than
120 hours of film on Allen Ginsberg,
resulting in this comprehensive portrait of one of
America's greatest poets.

This deluxe 2-disc DVD set contains
the Director's cut of the award-winning documentary
updated and re-mastered.
This DVD set includes never-before-seen
material and historical interviews
with friends, family and contemporaries
and the latest generation
of artists influenced by Ginsberg.
This 6 hour compilation illuminates
the last 60 years of American culture
and the uncertainties and possibilities of current times.

Snap: Wanalirri Starshine

_Wanalirri story good for learning_

Tonight's totem
star dreaming
Saucepan holding
Ngarinyin dreams

_Wanalirri story from the Dreamtime_

way out from
the Big Smoke
stars gain power
shine on silvery shine

_Wanalirri story good for learning_

cattle silent
dogs asleep
dust settles
down into dirt

_Wanalirri school he good for me_

beneath a blazing
Southern Cross
kangaroos travelling
songlines drum'n'bass
thump thump thump

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

George Bowering on jazz, poetry and the spirit

The following was published in Weekend Edition of NPR on Sunday, August 19, 2007 ·

I believe that the human intellect is the closest thing we have to the divine. It is the way we can join one another in spirit.

Sometimes when you are listening to a great jazz musician performing a long solo, you are experiencing his mind, moment by moment, as it shifts and decides, as it adds and reminds. This happens whether the player is a saxophone player or a bass player or a pianist. You are in there, where that other mind is. His mind is coming through your ears and inside your mind.

The first time I heard Charlie Parker playing "Ornithology," I was delighted. I was about 11 years old. You are so much alone with your mind as a kid, so when you hear someone else's mind improvising, you feel an excitement you will never get from some music that just wants to keep a steady beat.

I got that delight again when I first heard great improvisatory poetry. When I read "The Desert Music" by William Carlos Williams, the book fell out of my hands and made a loud splat on the library's concrete floor. Later I would hear the poet Philip Whalen call this kind of poetry "a graph of the mind moving." Yes, it is.

It can happen with prose, too — sentences you hear in your head and know how they felt inside another's. I believe that if there is a god, this is what he wanted us to do. It is the holy life of the intellect.

If we can experience another's mind in our own, we know that love is possible. We understand why the great poet Shelley wrote a poem to what he called "Intellectual Beauty," and called it an invisible power that moves among the things and people of this Earth.

It descended on him when he was a youth looking for wisdom from the words of the dead. Intelligence literally means "choosing among." Shelley called it the spirit of delight. It is the gift of wit, which literally means the kind of seeing that makes you smile and clap your hands together. I believe that this provokes what the Greeks called agape, the Romans called caritas, and what we settled for as love. It's greater than hope and faith, according to St. Paul of Tarsus in an otherwise questionable letter to the Corinthians.

If you want to hear it happen rather than suffer any more of my apostolic prose, listen to the improvisation by John Coltrane in his immortal album called "A Love Supreme." There we are: A fine intellect, a tenor saxophone and a reach for perfect prayer.

George Bowering, Canada's first Poet Laureate (and once a visitor to Perth for Writer's Week at the Festival of Perth)

Kim Scott Reading

Please join Miles Franklin winner Kim Scott for a rare chance to hear him read from his work and discuss the influences he has collected as a reader and then writer across his life.

Proudly presented by UWA Press and the Institute of Advanced Studies

At 6pm, Wednesday 5 September 2007

Please join us for a drink after the talking

Kurrajong Theatre
Ground Floor, UWA Claremont
Corner of Princess and Goldsworthy Roads, Claremont


If attending, please call (08) 6488 6827 or email
(with ‘Kim Scott’ in the subject header) by Monday 3 September 2007

This event is free and presented as part of a national day of activities and fundraising initiatives to raise urgently needed funds for remote Indigenous communities. The Indigenous Literacy Project has been arranged by Australian publishers and booksellers. The goal is to raise $100,000, and publishers and booksellers are committing 5% of their sales on 5 September to help achieve this.

Poetry Invitation from WINGS

WINGS Organisation for Cross-Cultural Development Inc. invites the Irish poet, Gordon Hewitt; from the Belfast Poet’s Touring Group; to be our guest.

We also are pleased to invite Peter Jeffery, O. A. M., our local poet of distinction, to charm us with his poetry.

When: Wednesday 29th of August, 2007 - 7:30 –9:30 pm.
Where: Ethnic Community Council Hall 20, View St, NorthPerth.

For more information call : Sheila Jessop on: 0438 927 281
Afeif Ismail on: 0423 675 479
Please come along, bring your poems and friends.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Jazz Musician Max Roach Dies at 83

Max Roach, the dazzling drummer who helped create the rhythmic language of modern jazz while expanding the expressive possibilities of the drums, died Aug. 15 in New York. He was 83 and had been ill for several years.
Mr. Roach was a founding architect of bebop, the high-speed, harmonically advanced music of the 1940s that helped elevate jazz from dance-hall entertainment to concert-stage art. In dozens of landmark recordings with such musical giants as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk -- including a 1953 performance that has entered legend as “the greatest jazz concert ever” -- he pioneered a new approach to jazz drumming that remains the standard to this day.

An influential force in music for 60 years, Mr. Roach expanded the borders of improvised music by incorporating elements of other artistic traditions, including African and Asian music, dance, poetry and hip-hop. He led performances with as many as 100 percussion instruments on stage, but he also played minimalist solos using only the high-hat, a pair of cymbals mounted on a metal stand and worked with a pedal.

“Nobody else ever had the nerve to come out on stage with a cymbal under his arm and say, 'This is art,' “ jazz critic Gary Giddins told the Los Angeles Times in 1991. “Max Roach's whole bearing says he is a musician to be treated like any great virtuoso. No drummer before him had ever achieved that.”

He later became a strong voice for racial equality through his compositions and his recordings with singer Abbey Lincoln, to whom he was married for several years.In 1988, he was among the first jazz musicians to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, or so-called “genius grant.”

Mr. Roach's most significant innovations came in the 1940s, when he and another jazz drummer, Kenny Clarke, devised a new concept of musical time. By playing the beat-by-beat pulse of standard 4/4 time on the “ride” cymbal instead of on the thudding bass drum, Roach and Clarke developed a flexible, flowing rhythmic pattern that allowed soloists to play freely. The new approach also left space for the drummer to insert dramatic accents on the snare drum, “crash” cymbal and other components of the trap set.

This all from All About Jazz ... and there's more at

Thursday, August 16, 2007


In the shrill sound of cicadas
I move the sprinkler
pulling the hose over
red rocky ground.

Who drinks here
beneath the evening sky
with the lace silhouette
of tall gums before
the pink sky's edge?
A straw-necked ibis
wings away and quacks
like a duck. Beneath
ochre-red clay, amongst
a complex syntax of roots,
strongest of earth's creatures
push and pull a way
through thickest breath.
Webbed eggs fill a dark cavity,
a thick-bellied vein worms
by a deep chamber.

I turn my ear to
a chortle, a choking sound
below the cicadas -
once, then nothing.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Blue sails in the backyard
the fitted sheet billows
like a spinnaker
and the clothesline turns
on its centreplate

I daydream of
an afternoon sailing
on the Swan River
and the cool of
a yacht club bar

Like shags off pylons
two ibis fly off fence posts
as a thirsty cow in
the sun-dried paddock
complains plaintively

Black crows all tell her
there's no barman here
to serve a cold one
this mob all gone
to Derby Rodeo

… as I shake my head
and unpeg the washing
my wife's black knickers
start another line of thought

Friday, August 10, 2007

Island Press - still going strong!

Please note that Island Press now has a webpage. It is interesting looking back at the poets Island has hosted over the decades. We will be successively adding to the links on this page.


Les Wicks

Illustrated: SWAMP RIDDLES a 1973 collection by Robert Adamson, hand-set and printed by P.Roberts

Island Press was founded in 1970 by Canadian poet, musician and Sydney University lecturer Philip Roberts. He lived on Scotland Island at that time, hence the name. In 1973 Philip moved to Bundeena. The first ten Island Press books were printed on expensive paper on a an old hand-operated press, with hand-set lead type. In the mid seventies this press was sold to Sydney University where it was used to print diplomas for a few years. In 1979 Philip Roberts returned to Canada and gave Island Press to Philip Hammial. PH moved to Woodford in the Blue Mountains in late 1994. In 1993 Island Press became a co-operative with nine members, now eleven. Over its long career Island has published over 50 titles.


each day - sunny
and warm as toast -
crows needle us

they say all is doomed
Christ hangs on his cross
in the staff room

the priest tells the kids
that's the good news -
'eternal light shine upon us'

high in the trees
crows caw and cackle
'farrk, farrk, farrk ...'

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Good Advice ...

Thought for the day
Handle every situation like a dog.

If you can't Eat it or Screw it.
Piss on it and Walk Away.

Thanks, Del. That is valuable advice ...

Snap: This morning

black fumes in
a gentle morning breeze
among white gums

smoke rises from
an old forty-four gallon drum
in the schoolyard

monochromatic mutt
sniffs the veranda
looking for tucker
hopping on three

one paw off the poor thing

this community
a million miles from
land mines and war

(Wanalirri Catholic School, Gibb River Road, The Kimberley, Western Australia)

Friday, August 03, 2007

New USA Poet Laureate, Charles Simic

Charles Simic, Surrealist With Dark View, New Poet Laureate

By Motoko Rich , New York Times News Service

Charles Simic, a writer who juxtaposes dark imagery with ironic humor, is to be named the country's 15th poet laureate by the Librarian of Congress today.

Simic, 69, was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and immigrated to the United States at 16. He started writing poetry in English only a few years after learning the language and has published more than 20 volumes of poetry, as well as essay collections, translations and a memoir.

A retired professor of American literature and creative writing at the University of New Hampshire, he won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1990 and held a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant from 1984 to 1989.

He succeeds Donald Hall, a fellow New Englander, who has been poet laureate for the past year.

James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, will announce Simic's appointment. Billington said he chose Simic from a short list of 15 poets because of “the rather stunning and original quality of his poetry,” adding: “He's very hard to describe, and that's a great tribute to him. His poems have a sequence that you encounter in dreams, and therefore they have a reality that does not correspond to the reality that we perceive with our eyes and ears.”

Simic, speaking by telephone from his home in Strafford, N.H., described himself as a “city poet” because he has “lived in cities all of my life, except for the last 35 years.” Before settling into academia, he held a number of jobs in New York, including bookkeeping, bookselling and shirt sales. He originally wanted to be a painter, he said, until “I realized that I had no talent.”

He started writing poems while in high school in Chicago, in part, he said, to impress girls. He published his first poems in The Chicago Review when he was 21.

The post of poet laureate has existed since 1987, although there were 27 consultants in poetry to the Library of Congress before that. Laureates receive a $35,000 award.