Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Come in! The River’s Mighty Fine!

The first of December will see the dam gates open for The River Road Poetry Series. This innovative venture into sound publishing creates an audio collection of Australian poets reading their work, available in digital format, delivered by CDs and MP3 downloads. E-savvy punters can listen into a free podcast hosted at to get a sample of the River Roadies state of flow. Off to a great start with dedicated collections by Judith Beveridge, Stephen Edgar, joanne burns, Michael Sharkey, Brook Emery, David Musgrave, Susan Hampton and many other vibrant new and established poets presented in three anthology CDs - New Felons, the Philosophy of Clothes and Fire, Scissors, Paper, Water, the 2007 series will be launched in Sydney on 1st December at Gleebooks. The National Library of Australia will host a national launch in February 2008.

While the River Road Series will be available on CD from bookshops including Gleebooks, Collected Works, Pages and Pages and the National Library of Australia Bookshop, you will also be able to download individual tracks or albums from MartianMusic, iTunes, Amazon or buy online through CDBaby.

The Series is designed to be delivered as an e-resource, with the CD sleeve notes, commentary, biographical notes, album artwork and track information included in the MP3 data set. One of the goals of the series is to provide an audio resource for secondary schools with particular coverage of poets on the state English text list such as the HSC and VCE lists.

For more information on The River Road Series or advance orders email


The above blurb is all from their website, but sources tell me that the originator of the River Road Series is Sydney poet Carol Jenkins - so, congratulations, Carol. You've accomplished a mighty feat!

Monday, November 26, 2007

More Broome School Camp Images

Due to venomous stingers in the ocean waters, the swimming pool was a daily necessity just to keep cool - and the kids loved it. Safer than the ocean but thrilling none the less was the crocodile farm. The crocs were frisky because it was the start of their mating season and they were hungry, so we saw lots of snarling leaping-out-of-the-water crocs, and the kids got to hold a really young one from the nursery. Little Ben-ben was the bravest of them all! The kids loved it.

Writing on a Brown Bag in Freo

i.m. John Forbes

I write on a brown paper bag,
The Collected Poems of John Forbes inside.

See, over there,
a young man in everything black
waves his guitar, present tense,
at the traffic in Freo's High Street.
He crosses to New Edition. Perhaps
I bought the book he wanted
to spend his busking money on.

How our days are The Collected,
our faces in the street, poems
pinned to each page
reverently. I want to put
coffee rings on each one, a little
weed here and there, sprinkle
a proprietary pharmaceutical line
over all …

Our busker doesn't have
a guitar case, his strings open
to the weather, face grimacing
at the exhaust of buses before
a night playing in human exhaust.

In our exhausts of life we had
furniture removal in common -
mattresses, beds, wardrobes,
jarrah drawers, even old Frigidaires
with their round shoulders and weird handle,
too heavy for the wages.
Already the myths need regassing.

So now I write on a brown paper bag,
John Forbes inside. I shake him
like a rattle: echoes spill, click-clack rhythms
of the heart. I take The Collected out, put
the bag to my lips, fill it with air
and burst it on my knee.

~ ~ ~

This poem, in an earlier draft, appeared in 'foam:e', an ezine which arose from the works on poetry esresso a couple of years back.

From the site: We invite submissions for the next edition of foam:e to be published in March 2008. Please use the word foam:e in the subject line and send your poems as text in the body of an email to the editor.

Submissions will be accepted between March and November 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wanalirri Catholic School Camp in Broome

We took twelve children, Principal Tim Clear, teacher (my wife)Jeanette Burke, myself as tutor and two teaching aides, Rachel and Francella, to Broome School Camp for 5 days and 4 nights. Activities ranged from learning work on the low ropes, swimming in the pool, a visit to Malcom Douglas's Crocodile Park, a camel ride, fishing in Roebuck Bay, painting pottery for firing ... and shopping. Shops don't exist out here at Gibb River Station where we all live in community. These photos are just a start. I'll post a few more in the near future.

Review of Candice Ward's new book The Moon Sees The One

Goodonya, Jacket & John Tranter for this great platform for international poetry news.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Urban Elegies by David Brooks, scribble from my notebook, and 2007 Tom Collins Poetry Prize

Maybe a poetry chat today ... because I've been away at school camp and came back to my books and my mail, all highlighting poetry.
In the mail - wehich comes in a big dirty dusty canvas bag with security belt and special green 'unbreakable' string tied to avoid any entrance by unofficial hands, flown in each Thursday and swapped for our school mail going out - David Brooks has generously sent me Urban Elegies, his new book from Island Press, that long-surviving independent poetry press with Phillip Hammial behind the scenes supplying energy and persistance. I'm only half way through but I have gained the impression that this poet and novelist who used to write sparse tight-fisted (in language terms) poems is still writing sparsely but in a more relaxed syntax - generous sentences that casually evolve down the page. A quote to show you what I mean:


When I look back
over the past few years
and think that almost every day
has had its own new worry
or some unexpected version of the old
I'd like to think
that the years ahead will be different
and that we will not sit at the end of the next
or of some year after that
thinking how every day still has
its worry, little or great,
but I know that this is hardly likely
while you are who you are, and I am myself
and the world around us continues
the way the past has shown us that it will,
and I know too
that knowing this
will do nothing to still the stubborn voice
that will always come within me to the world's defense:

The poem sustains this gentle yet enquiring cadence for another page.

In another thoughtful poem, a memory poem, Horses, Brooks looks back at a childhood moment an hour before the adults awake, and ends with this effective image, applicable to his skill as poet:

The world
is as big
as my eyes.

Check out more at

I've been scribbling myself, a little, and in 'permanent pen' on a cheap marbig notebook (not my moleskin notebooks bought as luxury pleasures for 'special words' - ha!)...

white birds cover rock-islands
in Roebuck Bay
like unironed tablecloths

three big-belly pelicans
the rest scrounged up seagulls
sunning in the late light of day

why should I know how to
fish and hunt?
I'm a suburban supermarket gourmet
riding the tides and currents
of international commerce
adrift out here
where they use fish to catch fish
frozen mullet today
to catch white-tailed llareggub

Ah, pages of scribble more, but perhaps I should work on it, shape it a little, remembering to sing with the gentle cadence of everyday speech.

Maybe a poem will evolve worth entering into the 2007 Tom Collins Poetry Prize, run by the Fellowship of Australian Writers, WA with prizes kindly donated by J.Furphy & Sons Pty Ltd.

Prizes: First $1000, Second $400, 4 x Highly Commended $150, 4 x Commended a Certificate.

For more information go to or email

... but be quick! Competition closes December 31st 2007 (entries postmarked by this date accepted).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

silk shorts tall sports by Sheila E Murphy

Lorraine, you know Lorraine,
she dives onto the woodsmooth platter of a floor
and makes it hers. She is the one
whom the announcers shore up
into monologic plaintext
when the simmer of the shortlist dims
and skeins of nothing happen.
Shadowy, endowed, imported,
and a minced invasion all her own
of everything she has and is and will be
in our eyes. Our eyes are fastened on Lorraine,
even rain will not be dulled beneath
the glimmer of Lorraine.
She makes the sport worth watching, hatching mid-syllabic.
If I were to have invented music
I would have done it with the blessing of
Lorraine. I would have turned tunetables
up to snuff. I would have watched her paint invisibly
that hoped-for floor.
I would have divaned out of mood I'm in right now
to watch and listen to her squeak percussion,
do its magic on the skittery longwide floor.
The crowd would be a squealing spree for her,
and I would document the score. The score,
the warbling mint noise of the core
of what plays into this,
the shoreline of the sport,
the whole palatial spree of inner court

Sheila's latest book is The Case of the Lost Objective (Case) from Otoliths Press (2007).

Unusual selection in the Poetry section ... but worth checking out, even if it is for the Vintage Sleaze category >g<

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Call for Writing & Art. Theme: Auto/Biography.

Deadline 31 March 2008

You are invited to send writing or art appropriate to this theme for possible inclusion in the 2008 Auto/Biography edition for the Asia and Pacific Writers Network. Visit the 2007 edition to sample a selection of writing and artwork on this theme:

apwn accepts previously published work and will acknowledge first publication. We will consider poetry, fiction, non-fiction, diary excerpts, comics, photo-texts, photos and visual art. Please send between 3 to 6 pieces of writing or art, either in the body of the email [preferred] or in any of the following formats: .doc, .txt, .rtf and .pdf. If you would like to include images, please send JPEGS, 300 x 400 pixels, at 72 dpi. Email:

apwn encourages multilingual editions. The site is multi-scripted. Works can be translated or not. Translations can be into any language, although apwn has suggested a focus on Japanese, Chinese, Indo-Malay and English. Writers retain copyright.

Please provide a bio which, with your permission, will be uploaded to the website. The bio can include your name, brief bio, list of publications, country and website (if applicable).

We are unfunded and unable to pay people for their contribution. Working on a voluntary basis, we rely on people’s goodwill and desire for the regions’ literatures to have a wider audience.

Friday, November 16, 2007


My friend is screwing Matusow's babysitter,
so we all get invited to his Christmas party.

Lily Tomlin, a few years from fame,
does living-room standup.

Everyone gets totally wasted on
some of the best pot you've ever smoked.

The catered food is probably stupendous
but we're all so stoned that owl shit would taste
like bring-in from The Four Seasons.

Late at night, I go into the bedroom to
retrieve my coat, and there on the bed sits
Matusow sharing a joint with Norman Mailer.

Mailer glances up at me and glares:
looks but doesn't have to say
"Knock before you walk in, schmuck."
Excuse me, gentlemen, I say,
grab my coat, I think I almost bow like
some Austrian majo-domo, and leave.
Mailer's pot-fueled stare has burned a hole
in my back.
Now, which way is the IRT Express
back to the Bronx and the usual oblivion?


For Norman Mailer, d. 11/07

PS: I am endeavouring to post some poems by poets I like in the coming months as part of an attempt to expand this blog's focus. Kenneth and I are on a poetry list together and he graciously allowed me to post this poem. Thanks. Ken.

Masochists without Borders - a Charity? Yes!

This is a genuine good cause, without any scam or deviousness. Check out their website if you don't have time to read the whole letter:

Andre is an ex-ECU student, so he is a real living person and not a cyber construct >g<

Greetings to all!

I have been very busy over the past few months and am now writing to you with a purpose. I and couple of old mates have been in training for the Western Australian Ironman competition in Bussleton on December 2nd.

The reason for entering this race is we have set up a small charity organisation called Masochists Without Borders. What? Masochists you say? Pain and humiliation? That's right. The aim of Masochists Without Borders is simple. Each year we plan to complete some form of physical challenge to which we are entirely unsuited, and in the process raise funds for children and education based projects. You can visit our website at:

This year we are raising money for two schools that offer free education to street kids in Jakarta. And we are doing this by competing in an Ironman competition in Bussleton on December 2nd. An Ironman is an ultra triathlon of insane proportions - 3.5km swim, 180km bike ride and 42.5km run.We are competing in it as a team with three of us taking a leg each. I will be completing the cycling leg which is a real pain in the bum. Six hours of it actually!

We are supporting these two schools that offer free education to slum kids in Jakarta, kids who have absolutely nothing. I know you have seen street kids in your own city but let me assure you that the poverty here is on another level altogether. These kids sleep on the street or under bridges, they survive earning a couple of dollars a day begging or collecting plastic bottles which they sell. The schools aim to give these kids a basic education and also to equip them with some sort of trade that they can practice. So instead of spending their whole lives begging at traffic lights they have the opportunity to be a hairdresser, a tailor, a musician, a typist... very simple things but it puts them on the first step of the economic ladder and gives them the chance to climb. These schools run on next to nothing and get no assistance from the government. Most teachers earn $12.50 per month.

We aim to raise $10,000 to buy the schools educational supplies like books, chairs, sewing machines and hair clippers. My friends and I are not athletes. We are not professional charity workers. We have simply decided we wanted to give people a chance. A big point for us is that we wanted all money raised to go through to the kids, and that means that we are covering all our own expenses (this includes all our time, training costs and the $690entry fee for the Ironman). All our accounts will be transparent and every single dollar will go through to the schools and the children. No other charity or organisation does this. Importantly the schools are also completely trustworthy – one of our competitors has visited them a number of times and spoken to people who have monitored their accounts for the last couple of years.

We are asking people for donations and sponsorship. Our big drive at the moment is for everyone to donate what they earn for their first hours work on Monday November 19. (that's next Monday). This makes donations relative to everyone's income but the total will certainly add up to a significant amount. Everyone can afford to give one hour.

Or! some people are giving up drinking or smoking or coffee for a week and donating the money they would normally have wasted. How about it?

Yes, I know people ask you for money all the time, no one has cash to burn and there are a lot of worthy causes out there. I also know that everyone realises that it's important to give to those who are less fortunate. Now here is an opportunity to give to something that you know is worthy and you personally know that every cent of the money will have a real impact.

To donate follow the link on the website. Easy peasy.

Just wait till I email you in December with a video of the kids receiving the supplies that you donated money for. Then you will feel what it's all about.

Super Duper


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Clean-up day at Wanalirri Catholic School

It's a beautiful day in Gibb River Station, so the whole school community got to cleaning up the yard and the windows, etc. (You don't want to know about the etcetera.) I avoided too much hard labour by taking photos ...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hamilton Stone Review, Issue 13, Fall 2007, Now Online!

Featuring poetry by Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, Suzanne
Ryan, Stephen Baraban, Hugh Fox, Holly Iglesias, Skip Fox,
Sheila Murphy, Mark Weiss, Roger Mitchell, Gary Beck,
Gianina Opris and James Grabill; and fiction by Helen Duberstein,
Anne Earney, Joan Newburger, and Niama Leslie Williams.

Submissions to the Hamilton Stone Review

Hamilton Stone Review invites submissions of poetry for Issue #14,
which will be out in Feb. 2008. Poetry submissions should go, only
by email, directly to Halvard Johnson at

Please include "HSR14 submission" and your name in your subject line,
and also include a brief bio note with your submission. All poems in
a single attachment, please, and/or in body of email message.

Fiction submissions closed until further notice.

Hamilton Stone Review is produced by Hamilton Stone Editions.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A judge's definition of poetry ...

In a six years long case about the uncollected works of Dorothy Porter, the judge gave a ruling on what was and wasn't poetry. Read all about it at:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Poetry Fundraiser for FAWWA

If you haven't heard, the Fellowship of Australian Writers in Western Australia was dealt a cruel and low blow recently by the arts department of WA. Their funding for 2008 was rejected entirely - they were awarded absolutely zero to run on. This rich and prosperous State of a blossoming country can't afford to pay for the upkeep of its longest established writers' organisation and historic writer's centre - Tom Collins House. Shame! Shame! Shame!

So, some of the illustrious and industrious people down at TCH have got together to stage a bit of a fundraiser. Will it raise the $20,000 necessary? No, perhaps not. But it will be a start. And if you care to attend, maybe you could see your way clear to pay more than the entrance fee, AND bring along a couple of friends.

Here are the details. Please support this worthy cause and these up-and-coming poets.

F AWWA Fundraiser

Master Class Poetry Readings

Sunday 25 th November

3:00 pm- 6:00 pm

at Tom Collins House
Wood Street, Swanbourne

Readers from the 2007 Master Class Series :
Anna Weldon, Flora Smith,
Carol Milner, Shevaun Cooley,
Christopher Conrad, Desmonda Kearney,
Sally Clarke, Jaya Penelope
and Vivienne Glance.

Refreshments will be served.

Cost: $10 Please bring your friends!


Phone: (08) 9384 4771

Fax: (08)9384 4854



Snap: This Land In Time

'How quietly time collapses in a poem.'
Yannis Ritsos

the land lies silent
under foot under hoof
under wheel

this land scarred
by English terms
of management

barbed-wire fences
open-cut mines

its people lost
in a culture so

to brighten up a dull day

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

For your edification and enjoyment ...

Claustrophobic alphabet

Images - Peter Ciccariello
Music - Alan Sondheim

Thank you, Peter, for a calming alphabetical ...

Coal's Other Victim: China's History

By MICHAEL CASEY – 1 day ago

LESHAN, China (AP) — A few years back, the Leshan Giant Buddha started to weep.

Or so some locals imagined when black streaks appeared on the rose-colored cheeks of the towering 7th-century figure, hewn from sandstone cliffs in the forests of southern China. They worried they had angered the religious icon.

The culprit, it turned out, was the region's growing number of coal-fired power plants. Their smokestacks spew toxic gases into the air, which return to earth as acid rain. Over time, the Buddha's nose turned black and curls of hair began to fall from its head.

"If this continues, the Buddha will lose its nose and even its ears," said Li Xiao Dong, a researcher who has studied the impact of air pollution in Sichuan Province, the statue's home. "It will become just a piece of rock."

China's ancient buildings, tombs and stone carvings have weathered storms, invading armies and thieves. Now, they face a new threat, a by-product of the rapid economic development that has lifted so many Chinese out of poverty.

More than 80 percent of China's 33 U.N.-designated World Heritage sites, including the Leshan Buddha, have been damaged by air pollution and acid rain, mostly from the burning of coal, according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.

"The level of pollution that China is creating will be devastating to these monuments," said Melinda Herrold-Menzies, a professor of environmental studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif.

Chinese officials are starting to acknowledge the downside of unbridled development. Qiu Baoxing, the vice minister of construction, blamed the devastation of historic sites on "senseless actions" by local officials in pursuit of modernization, the government-run China Daily newspaper reported in June.

"They are totally unaware of the value of cultural heritage," he said, likening the destruction to that of cultural relics during the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976.

The 19-story-high Leshan Buddha, with a head that appears lost in the trees, stares down on the confluence of three rivers. Authorities gave it a multimillion-dollar facelift in 2001. Six years later, the seated figure is stained black again, mostly because of acid rain, Li said.

About 750 miles to the north, clouds of black dust coming off coal trucks have damaged the Yungang Grottoes, a World Heritage site in the heart of China's coal belt.

Herrold-Menzies expressed surprise that caves with such historical and archaeological importance would lie so close to "coal mines and an industrial nightmare of a city."

The 250 caves hold more than 50,000 statues of Buddha dating to the 5th century, their heights ranging from less than an inch to 56 feet.

Authorities relocated nearby factories and rerouted truck traffic in 1998. But much of the coal dust has been left on the statues, for fear that the sandstone might not survive a cleaning.

As visitors weave in and out of the caves, the damaged statues are easy to pick out. Their red, blue and yellow paint is faded, and they look as if they are wearing a black trench coat or skirt.

"As you can see, the statues are dirty and it's from coal of course," said Ren Yun Xia, a 21-year-old student from nearby Linfen. "It upsets me. But the whole world is developing and you can't avoid this kind of pollution."

UNESCO's World Heritage site:

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Drought town people make a crackerjack job of restoring cinema

Ouyen residents admire the restored Roxy Theatre, circa 1936, which is due to reopen on Friday.
Photo: Justin Mcmanus

Carolyn Webb
November 3, 2007

IN OUYEN in high summer, the mercury can pass 45 degrees. Working in the Roxy Theatre projectionist box in the 1950s and '60s, brothers Jim and Don Dundee used to almost combust.

Down in the auditorium, Barry Bell would smooch in the back row with his sweetheart, Elaine Richardson, and 12-year-old Colleen Weuffen would sneak out during films such as Elvis' Kissin' Cousins to smoke a ciggie behind the toilets.

The Roxy Theatre in Oke Street, Ouyen, will reopen this Friday after being closed for 36 years. Jim's wife, Betty Dundee, once an usherette, reckons rowdy youths caused its closure in 1971. "There was too much noise and the kids would come up and down the aisle, in and out of the place when the film was running," Mrs Dundee says.

Others blame television. Elaine Bell (nee Richardson) says: "We got married, then you did things at home and had friends around. It changed, we'd moved on."

The Roxy was used as a plumbing warehouse for 30 years, hidden behind an abandoned shop.

Its saviour is Jenny Heaslip, the Mallee campus co-ordinator of the Sunraysia Institute of TAFE.

The cinema has become her antidote to the drought. "The last decent rain was in March," she says. "And there's not a lot of employment opportunities for anybody because there's no extra money from farmers spending money in town and employing people.

"There's the drain of people going to the city. At the end of last year only two young people from Ouyen Secondary College's year 12 were left in town."

More than 250 Ouyenites have worked voluntarily to restore the Roxy. The college's woodwork students replaced hundreds of wooden slats that form the cinema's upper walls.

Barry Bell, 58, now an Ouyen hardware salesman, varnished the floorboards and erected the new Roxy sign. Electrician Rohan Gregg rewired the place.

Karen van Wyngaarden and her children Gretel, 18, Heidi, 16, and Jack, 10, lovingly sanded and oiled an antique wooden counter that stands in the cinema foyer.

A local businessman, Hugo Ingwersen, opened the movie house as the Victory Theatre on September 9, 1936, next to the Fairy Dell cafe that he owned.

It was renamed the Roxy after a 1953 renovation. It is thought to be the only tropical-style cinema in southern Australia. Mr Ingwersen had visited north Queensland and built the cinema with high canite ceilings, fans and wall slats to let in cool breezes. The seats were deckchairs.

The great perk for film projectionists Jim and Don Dundee was getting paid 25 bob apiece to see movies, but there were downsides.

Don says: "It was shockingly hot in the summer time. We used to have to wear these grey dustcoats. The smoke and the ash from the carbon arcs (lights) was not very nice.

"Kids could be a little bit unruly at times. We couldn't get out of the theatre one night, the louts were going to get us. Wouldn't let us out of the theatre, because we'd thrown a few of them out for misbehaving. We had to get the policeman to come down the street to get us out."

"The film used to come by rail in a trunk. There were four spools per box; the boxes were made of galvanised iron, heavy as hell," Jim Dundee says.

The invitation-only gala opening on Friday night will feature a red carpet screening of the Australian film Crackerjack (it's about a community banding together to save a bowls club), and appearances by actors Bill Hunter and Geoff Paine.

Friday, November 02, 2007

south/north (snap)

last week, the city –
barrista beauty in a black beret
berry-red lips long black eyelashes
deep dark clear eyes

at Planet Books
faux-Left Bank bohemians
man black beret goatee
girl brim turned-up all around black hat
brilliant red lips long black eyelashes

this week, up North
steamy air before The Wet
a single white cockatoo squaw-
king on a leafless gum
high as a cloud

black crow surfing
a dark bark bough
limegreen leaves waving as wind
blows moist and heavy

blackfella children
hatless shoeless shirtless
eating meat raw

lightning backlights the trees
thunder rumbles on the horizon
pressure-cooker sky

we sit on camp chairs
discussing war and mental health