Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gary Snyder returns Home

Gary Snyder has long been a favourite poet of mine, so this article was a pleasure for me to read. I've seen a similar change in places of my youth, as no doubt most of us have who have lived some decades.

Here's just one quote from Poet Gary Snyder returns to Seattle at

"Long before he grew into one of America's most famous Beat poets and was immortalized as Japhy Ryder, the fictional hero in Jack Kerouac's "The Dharma Bums," before he put down roots in California and crisscrossed the Pacific, over and over, to study Buddhism in Japan, Snyder grew up here, living with his parents on a subsistence farm.

"He helped tend the chickens in a two-story barn and milk the family's cows. His father planted the apple tree that can still be seen out back, and some of the fir trees stand even taller than before. But mostly, the woods he remembers are long gone, and the animals with them replaced today by concrete garden statuary rabbits snugged into the closely clipped landscaping that surrounds the house today."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Saturday 2pm at the Court Hotel

On 30 May Perth Poetry Club presents SIMON COX and EMILY TAYLOR.

SIMON COX's poetry is lyrical and insightful. In 2008 he published 'Book Lung' during his residency at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre. He is one of the organisers of Cottonmouth... at which we were greatly impressed earlier this year by the moving poetry and confident performance of EMILY TAYLOR.

Emily says that she is 'inspired by the relationships between people and landscape, and how small details say so much about the broader picture'. Emily enjoys the challenge of finding those words that capture a moment. And does it rather well.

Come and listen. Your own poems are welcome too. Free entry. MCs Janet Jackson and Helen Child.

Every Saturday 2-4pm at The Court, 50 Beaufort Street, Perth: Flocked wallpaper. Chandeliers. Full bar service with meals, snacks, drinks, coffee, etc.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Turn it on ...

Think of an idea - original, concrete, surprising. Then, write it down. Continue.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Samsom and Delilah win at CANNES!

Warwick Thornton
's first movie makes it BIG.

"Aboriginal director Warwick Thornton's powerful Samson and Delilah, tale of troubled young love in Alice Springs, was today awarded the prize for best first feature at the Cannes Film Festival."

More at

And don't miss the fine print: "There were few naysayers, however, when 87-year-old Alain Resnais received a special award for a career that includes such masterpieces as Night and Fog, Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

From BOOKSELLER ... "Salt campaigns for survival"

22.05.09 Catherine Neilan

Poetry press Salt has launched a viral marketing campaign in a bid to stave off closure, in the wake of the publisher’s "financial difficulties". The publisher has asked for customers to "buy just one Salt book". Director Chris Hamilton-Emery said the first day of his company’s 'Just One Book’ campaign had "swept the web", leading to more than 400 orders within 24 hours.

He said: "The response has been astonishing and heart-warming. Since June last year our family business has faced severe financial difficulties - the recession hit us hard. We're almost at the end, it's terrifically sad. Nine years of our lives has gone into developing this literary business."

Salt's campaign began on Facebook and has now extended to include a "cheeky" video based on the WWF's 'Adopt a Polar Bear’ advertisements seen frequently on children's television. "We knew there was terrific support for Salt and our authors, but it's all been amazing," said Hamilton-Emery. "These new customers, hundreds of them around the world from Canada to Australia, Japan to the UK, are saving our business one book at a time."

The publisher, which was set up after Oxford University Press closed its poetry list 10 years ago, had been funded by the Arts Council England until the last financial year. During the last year of ACE support, the company had increased turnover by 70%.

But, in the wake of the recession, Salt experienced "a shortfall of £55,000". Hamilton-Emery said: "It's a very big hole, and the Arts Council, who have been terrifically supportive, can no longer help us. They've done everything they can. We're on our own now."

Article from

Other links of interest:

SALT Web site here:

SALT Facebook note here:

SALT spoof YouTube campaign

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Saving Salt Publishing: Buy One Book

From Chris Hamilton-Emery -

As many of you will know, Jen and I have been struggling to keep Salt moving since June last year when the economic downturn began to affect our press. Our three year funding ends this year: we've £4,000 due from Arts Council England in a final payment, but cannot apply through Grants for the Arts for further funding for Salt's operations. Spring sales were down nearly 80% on the previous year, and despite April's much improved trading, the past twelve months has left us with a budget deficit of over £55,000. It's proving to be a very big hole and we're having to take some drastic measures to save our business.

Here's how you can help us to save Salt and all our work with hundreds of authors around the world.


1. Please buy just one book, right now. We don't mind from where, you can buy it from us or from Amazon, your local shop or megastore, online or offline. If you buy just one book now, you'll help to save Salt. Timing is absolutely everything here. We need cash now to stay afloat. If you love literature, help keep it alive. All it takes is just one book sale. Go to our online store and help us keep going.

2. Share this note on your profile. [ED: Or blog or website or - noticeboard] Tell your friends. If we can spread the word about our cash crisis, we can hopefully find more sales and save our literary publishing.

Remember it's just one book, that's all it takes to save us. Please do it now.

With my best wishes to everyone
Salt Publishing

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Australia's Test Cricket Squad 2009

Ricky Ponting (c)
Michael Clarke (vc)
Stuart Clark
Brad Haddin (wk)
Nathan Hauritz
Ben Hilfenhaus
Phillip Hughes
Michael Hussey
Mitchell Johnson
Simon Katich
Brett Lee
Andrew McDonald
Graham Manou
Marcus North
Peter Siddle
Shane Watson

Buy more SALT

At SALT, they have a brilliant range of the best in books by English, US and Australian authors, plus work in translation from other countries, so go to right now and check it out. Find your way around - it is a small but enjoyable maze.
You can buy online in a safe and secure environment - and the more you buy, the less postage per item. But I didn't have to tell you that.

Speaking locally, they have major titles by Andrew Taylor, Dennis Haskell, Glen Phillips, John Kinsella and Rod Moran.

Fight off brain decay - read a book a day!

Monday, May 18, 2009

'The reader I really write for ...' John Tranter

'The reader I really write for is me, and I want to write a poem that will surprise myself. In that sense, I am writing to reproduce a reading experience. In a subjunctive way, my reading constitutes my writing. When looking through a poem or piece of prose by someone else, the phrase Were I to have written this ... yet each successful poem I write is already written when I read it, by me. No poem I ever write — after I’ve rewritten and rehearsed every possible alternative — can surprise me. Unlike my lucky readers, I am doomed to stumble over the obvious on every page.'

John Tranter, There so much more on Tranter's website. Take a couple of hours off and enjoy it ...


This very strange but successfull video-audio interpretation of a poem in Tigrinya is very intriguing. Don't stop it once you start - watch the whole thing before you judge it. (I pinched it off Ron Silliman's blog

"Voice is an audio-visual exploration of a contemporary poem composed in one of the dominant languages of Eritrea, Tigrinya. The Haile text explores notions of freedom, nationalism and the power of language, speech and thought. Collages, clutterings and complex mosaics of stylized hand figures juxtapose murmurings of spoken poetry in an augmentation of the subtext. The raw and sometime erroneous nature of our impassioned languages is stylized heavily in this work with a multitude of processing effects including noise, strobe and analog effects. Montages of protest footage and layerings of other complex still and moving images ascribe to the poets notion of the freedom attributed to speech and poetry. Supporting the more tangible recitation of the poem near to the conclusion of the work, the Tigrinya written script, Geez, is featured increasingly in the images throughout the work." Marky

from Wikipedia:
Tigrinya ( ትግርኛ, tigriññā), also spelled Tigrigna, Tigrina, Tigriña, less commonly Tigrinian, Tigrinyan, is a Semitic language spoken by the Tigray-Tigrinya people in Tigray [Northern Ethiopia] and in central Eritrea (there referred to as the "Tigrinya" people), where it is one of the two official languages of Eritrea, and in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia (whose speakers are called "Tigray"), where it also has official status, and among groups of emigrants from these regions, including some of the Beta Israel now living in Israel. Tigrinya is also spoken by the Jeberti (Muslim Tigrinya) in Eritrea. Tigrinya should not be confused with the related Tigre language, which is spoken in the lowland regions in Eritrea to the north and west of the region where Tigrinya is spoken.

Friday, May 15, 2009

To read a poem ...

'Learning to read a poem is not a matter of learning to pay attention to the repetition of linguistic forms, phonological, lexical, or syntactic. It is a matter of learning to hear what normally we must be deaf to; the inexhaustible ambiguity of utterances.' - James Thorne in The Taming of the Text (Routledge: London, 1991)

Saturday at Perth Poetry Club @ The Court Hotel

Don't miss Perth Poetry Club on 16 May featuring Aidan Coleman from South Australia and Kate Wilson from Bunbury.

AIDAN COLEMAN was recently mentioned as a hot new talent in 'Five Bells', the Poets Union's magazine. "Avenues and Runways", his first full-length poetry collection, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Award. In 2009 his poetry was featured on Radio National's Australian Poetry series, 'A Pod of Poets'.

KATE WILSON is the definitive female performance poet. She shocks your brain with sweetly illicit rhyme so you won't forget her serious social commentary. Audiences hold their breath for her next sound-echo and when she's finally got it all out they yell with delight and ask for more.

One invited guest will perform in each half of the afternoon, so come early (starts 2pm) and don't miss out.

Plus Open Stage. Put your name down on the list for your five minutes of fame!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Frederick Seidel: Laureate of the Louche

The New York Times

A very interesting review & essay on Frederick Seidel is at

Here is a quote from the very last paragraphs:

“It’s very much,” Seidel said, “to do with the sense you develop, in the writing of a poem, that at a certain moment it has its separate being from you to which you have your obligations. You’re you; it’s it; and eventually, it really will separate from you and be absolutely not yours anymore — even if you made it. It is, of course. But it isn’t. It’s a thing out there.”

Seidel gestured to the window, to Manhattan, to the lights that shone in the dark. I looked at them and saw, reflected in the glass, hovering over the city, Seidel. I turned back to look at him, the real Seidel.

“So this is where you write?”

“My boy,” he said, “this is where I live.”

Perth Poetry Club This Saturday

SATURDAY 16 MAY 2009 AT PERTH POETRY CLUB: Aidan Coleman (SA) and Kate Wilson (Bunbury)

was recently mentioned as a hot new talent in 'Five Bells', the Poets Union's magazine. "Avenues and Runways", his first full-length poetry collection, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Award. In 2009 his poetry was featured on Radio National's Australian Poetry series, 'A Pod of Poets'.

KATE WILSON is the definitive female performance poet. She shocks your brain with sweetly illicit rhyme so you won't forget her serious social commentary. Audiences hold their breath for her next sound-echo and when she's finally got it all out they yell with delight and ask for more.


23 MAY: Steve Smart (Melb)
30 MAY: Simon Cox and Emily Taylor
6 JUNE: Marcella Polain
13 JUNE: Flora Smith and Indigo (the performance poet, not the journal)

Plus open stage. EVERY SATURDAY 2-4pm at The Court hotel & restaurant,
50 Beaufort Street, Perth. Free entry. More info at Enquiries: or Janet
0406 624 578

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Snowflake which is Now and Hence Forever - by Archibald MacLeish

Will it last? he says.
Is it a masterpiece?
Will generation after generation
Turn with reverence to the page?

Birdseye scholar of the frozen fish,
What would he make of the sole, clean, clear
Leap of the salmon that has disappeared?

To be, yes! - whether they like it or not!
But not to last when leap and water are forgotten,
A plank of standard pinkness in the dish.

They also live
Who swerve and vanish in the river.

Archibald MacLeish,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

See 'Samson and Delilah' as soon as you can

It may not run for long on the commercial cinema outlets - it is a daunting yet necessary film. So, see it as soon as you can. I enjoyed it in as much as it spoke of contemporary social problems and humanity in the raw without preaching and without sensationalising. It also doesn't offer any of the usual pat answers. Samson and Delilah is realistic narrative understated and heartfelt - a strong mixture that brought tears of frustration to my eyes.

A review from ends with this true statement: Despite the flash of hope that Thornton [writer and director] gives you at the end, he isn't in the business of providing the kind of cathartic release you get from more conventional storytellers. He takes you into another world, but finds no obligation to make you comfortable there. He's made a tender film, and an honest one, but it's tough going. (ENDS)

We saw it at the Luna Cinema, Oxford Street, Leederville.

PS: There is a terrific review/essay on Samson and Delilah at

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The English Language WordClock: 999,544 ... - 456 words until the 1,000,000th Word

"At the current pace of a new English-language word created about every 98 minutes, English will cross the Million Word Mark on June 10th, 2009 at 10:22 am (Stratford-on Avon Time)"

There's a clock for the countdown to the Millionth English Word at Accurate? Probably not, but worth discussing.

There are also links to articles on 'When Does a Word become a Word?' and 'Neologisms'. Hours of fun for all the family!

Away down south ...

We are lucky enough to have friends 'down south' as we descriptively say in WA. This place is not too far outside of Busselton, about 260 kilometres door-to-door from our home. In the city you rarely think of where the water comes from out of the tap, or how convenient the electricity is. Each trip outside city and town limits reminds me not to take these things for granted.

We drove down there, with our Jack Russell cross, Zimmy in the back seat, just to get to know the place a little before we housesit for the month of June. We then have a housesitter in our house - it's the adult version of musical chairs, only in this case it is literary chairs.

They have two wonderful dogs: an aged German Shepherd and a crazy friendly frenetic Golden Retriever puppy, hardly a year old yet and full of beans and mischief.

Roll on June! (We hope they get some rain down there by then, or we'll be buying water in.)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

'Demerits points for Bad Poetry' by Brian Doyle

"It is entertaining, at least to grinning essayists, that the price for poetry's occasional unbelievable power is the incredible ocean of self-indulgent, self-absorbed, whinnying, mewling muck produced and published annually (though not in Eureka Street, of course) under the tattered banner of the Poem. "

A thoughtful article at

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Actors, Poets and Puncher & Wattman celebrate SYDNEY, the Harbour City

Thursday May 21st at 2.30pm - Bangarra Mezzanine, The Wharf

Book launch : Harbour City Poems published by Puncher & Wattmann, edited by Martin Langford, is an anthology of poems either about Sydney, or which have had their sources in the life of the city. It is an historical anthology, incorporating poems from the earliest convict days through to the present. This reading explores the way we have thought about Sydney, from the anxieties and puzzlement of Botany Bay through to the tensions and delights of the contemporary city. The historical poems - some famous, some not so well-known - will be read by actors, followed by a reading of contemporary poems by their authors John Tranter, Adam Aitken, Paul Dawson, Kate Lilley and Pam Brown

Jonathon Williams' Questionable Quiz

In Palm Sunday 2008, Jonathon Williams - poet, publisher, teacher - died. Recently on one of his hyperlink lists, Ron Silliman at posted a link to a site which republished Williams' April'Fool's Day list of questions for his students. Some are too esoteric, some are out of date, so I shall give you just a selection which I think may amuse you.

(1) In tracing the background of Ragtime, I stressed two composers with French backgrounds (one frog, one cajun), and one black pianist from Texarkana, Arkansas. Who are they? Please spell them correctly.

(2) Ezra Pound and Louis Zukofsky concur that the pleasures of poetry are three. I.e., they are the supreme qualities of what three faculties brought to bear upon the words?

(4) What Japanese haiku-master wrote a travel journal which can be considered indispensable to all poets, particularly those studying with Jonathan Williams this very month?

(5) What are your five favorite architectural structures, or landscapes, or wilderness areas?

(7) List 10 poems that stick in your head. From Homer on down. If you can’t remember the names of 10 favorite poems, then we are wasting our time...

(9) What spring flowers (or birds or flowering trees) have given you pleasure recently? Name at least ten. Use local names, not scientific ones, when you can.

(11) I have said on many occasions that a course in reading and writing could perhaps be better taught as manners or decorum. I.e., that craft, in large part, consists of being receptive, democratic, ecological and in not thinking that the world rises and sets in our own private anal orifice. Do you agree? More particularly, do you see that poetry can sometimes be the making of refined art objects, not simply forms of therapy, self-expression and gunning for people?

(12) Bucky Fuller says: “The possibility of the good life for any man depends on the possibility of realizing it for all men. And this is a function of society’s ability to turn the energies of the universe to human advantage.” Buck Johnson says: “Music is to make people happy!” Francis Bacon says he wants: “ make the mind of men, by the help of art, a match for the nature of things.” Comment, very briefly, on one of these three; or, give us your own basic definition of why poetry is worth writing and reading.

(13) Baker’s-Dozen Question: Just what does Mae West mean when she says: “Use what’s lyin’ around the house!”?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Griffen Poetry Prize 2009

TORONTO – April 7, 2009Scott Griffin, founder of The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry and David Young, trustee, today announced the Canadian and International shortlist for this year’s prize. The C$100,000 Griffin Poetry Prize is one of the most lucrative poetry prizes in the world, exemplifying the international spirit of the form. The prize is awarded annually for the two best books of poetry, including translations, published in English in the previous year.

Judges Saskia Hamilton, Dennis O'Driscoll and Michael Redhill each read 485 books of poetry, including 33 translations, received from 32 countries around the globe. The seven finalists – three Canadian and four International – will be invited to read in Toronto at the MacMillan Theatre on Tuesday, June 2, 2009. The winners, who each receive C$50,000, will be announced on Wednesday, June 3, 2009, at the ninth annual Griffin Poetry Prize Awards Evening.

Canadian Shortlist

RevolverKevin Connolly
House of Anansi Press

Crabwise to the Hounds
Jeramy Dodds
Coach House Books

The SentinelA. F. Moritz
House of Anansi Press

International Shortlist

The Lost LeaderMick Imlah
Faber and Faber

Life on EarthDerek Mahon (photo above)
The Gallery Press

Rising, Falling, HoveringC. D. Wright
Copper Canyon Press

Primitive Mentor
Dean Young
University of Pittsburgh Press

The judges for the 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize are the distinguished writers and poets Saskia Hamilton (United States), Dennis O'Driscoll (Ireland) and Michael Redhill (Canada). Each year, the Griffin Poetry Prize publishes an anthology, a selection of poems from the shortlisted books, published by House of Anansi Press. Royalties from The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology are donated to UNESCO's World Poetry Day.

Burke's Books - New, Used & Rare

I wonder if they stock any of my books?

936 South Cooper Street
Memphis, TN 38104
Phone 901-278-7484

Hours of Operation

Mon-Wed 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Thurs-Sat 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Sunday 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Online catalogue, etc, at

Saturday, May 02, 2009


More poems and all the other great poems from 1930s on, from the great Objectivist and Socialist poet, George Oppen. And it is for sale at $25 US dollars. Seems a good deal to me!

Read the review at

I went looking for a favourite poem in This In Which (1962), and gave up in the end. I read the book. So here's one from many fine poems, a poem with echoes for today's world -


The man is old and-
Out of scale

Sitting in the rank grass. The fact is
It is not his world. Tho it holds

The machine which has so long sustained him,
The plumbing, sidwalks, the roads

And the objects
He has owned and remembers.
He thinks of murders and torture

In the German cellars
And the resistance of heroes

Picturing the concrete walls.

George Oppen

Mary Karr of 'The Liar's Club' fame ...

"If you've been a poet for 20 years," she says, "you don't expect anybody to read anything you write."

From an interview at Salon

An interesting interview about memoir, a genre I am dabbling with myself more and more as the years tick by. To make my life interesting, I'd have to tell the truth, and that is frightening. Not about to do that today!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Buy more SALT

At SALT, they have a brilliant range of the best in books by English, US and Australian authors, plus work in translation from other countries, so go to right now and check it out. Find your way around - it is a small but enjoyable maze.
You can buy online in a safe and secure environment - and the more you buy, the less postage per item. But I didn't have to tell you that.

Fight off brain decay - read a book a day!

Pete Seeger with Bruce Springsteen and Obama - unlikely folksinging trio

Here's some uplifting paras from the newspaper this morning. Buy The Australian today for the full story, or go to

PETE Seeger is unlikely to have thought he'd find himself serenading a US president-elect. After all, whenever he found himself in the vicinity of the White House through the decades, it was invariably to picket or protest.

Yet on the day before Barack Obama's inauguration last January, just as the We Are One concert at the Lincoln Memorial was drawing to a close, Bruce Springsteen invited a white-bearded figure in a knitted woollen cap to step out from the shadows. "Lead us, Pete," he implored.

And lead Pete did, in a manner familiar to all who have seen or heard him perform, turning the celebration into an uplifting singalong of Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land, a song that became well known despite "never being played on radio or sold", Seeger says. It found its way into school repertoires, but without its most potent verses. "How wonderful to rhyme 'tried to stop me' with 'private property'," he says. "Only Woody could have thought of that." Anyhow, "nobody said you couldn't sing them" at the Lincoln Memorial, so he did.

Obama sang along. Later, while greeting the performers, he told Seeger he had been listening to his songs since he was four.

What were your thoughts while you were up there on stage, I ask Seeger. An official function of any nature, after all, must have been a novel experience for a perennial dissident. "I was thinking about remembering the next verse," he says.