Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Old Year by John Clare

The Old Year's gone away
     To nothingness and night:
We cannot find him all the day
     Nor hear him in the night:
He left no footstep, mark or place
     In either shade or sun:
The last year he'd a neighbour's face,
     In this he's known by none.

All nothing everywhere:
     Mists we on mornings see
Have more of substance when they're here
     And more of form than he.
He was a friend by every fire,
     In every cot and hall--
A guest to every heart's desire,
     And now he's nought at all.

Old papers thrown away,
     Old garments cast aside,
The talk of yesterday,
     Are things identified;
But time once torn away
     No voices can recall:
The eve of New Year's Day
     Left the Old Year lost to all.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Aime Cesaire's 'Solar Throat Slashed'

beautiful musician
unclothed at the foot of a tree
amidst the lost harmonies
close to our defeated memories
amidst our hands of defeat
and peoples of a strength strange
we let our eyes hang
and native
loosing the leading-rein of a sorrow
we wept.

                   - Aime Cesaire

Solar Throat Slashed

The Unexpurgated 1948 Edition

Aimé Césaire; A. James Arnold, 
ed.; Clayton Eshleman, ed.; 
A. James Arnold, trans.; 
Clayton Eshleman, trans.

Wesleyan University Press

2011 • 172 pp. 6 x 9"

Poetry / Literary Criticism -
French / Colonialism; Post-Colonialism

$26.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7070-3

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Take-off for 2012

2011 saw the end of an era: the space shuttle program is now history. Universe Today photographer Alan Walters captured this stunning view of the last shuttle launch ever.

See a gallery of great shots at

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where e-books began ...

e-Shorts ...

In 1971, Michael S. Hart created the first eBook by typing the US Declaration of Independence into a computer. He launched Project Gutenberg to create electronic copies of more books.

In 1992 Sony launched the world's first electronic bookreader.

In 1995 Amazon started to sell physical books on the Internet.

In 2007 Amazon launched the Kindle and its eBooks in US.

In January 2011 eText Press Publishing was established in Perth, WA.

In May 2011 Amazon announced that its e-book sales exceeded all of its printed book sales.

~ ~ ~

From the Newsletter of eText Press at 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Poetry in Paint :: Exhibition of Elizabeth Bishop's Art

'HAD Elizabeth Bishop got her way, she may never have become one of North America’s finest modern poets. “How I wish I’d been a painter,” she once wrote, “that must really be the best profession—none of this fiddling with words.” 

“Objects and Apparitions”, an exhibition of Bishop's artwork at the Tibor de Nagy gallery in New York, lends a glimpse of her private life as a painter. The show gathers together a selection of the relatively unknown pieces she produced in her lifetime—for friends, lovers or as gifts, never intended for public display—along with some of the objects she adorned her homes with in Brazil and America.  '

Read more here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

DALAI LAMA says ...

"We are all, by nature, clearly oriented toward the basic human values of love and compassion. We all prefer the love of others to their hatred. We all prefer others’ generosity to meanness. And who is there among us who does not prefer tolerance, respect and forgiveness of our failings to bigotry, disrespect, and resentment?"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

'Wants' by Philip Larkin

Beyond all this, the wish to be alone:
However the sky grows dark with invitation cards
However we follow the printed directions of sex
However the family is photographed under the flagstaff -
Beyond all this, the wish to be alone.

Beneath it all, desire of oblivion runs:
Despite the artful tensions of the calendar,
The life insurance, the tabled fertility rites,
The costly aversion of the eyes from death -
Beneath it all, desire of oblivion runs.

Philip Larkin

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Evangeline calling!

I dig the cartoon/raptune, but there's so much more! Australian writer and poet Helen Hagemann presents much more on her very attractive and professional blog at Take a look at the great site and click on any 'square' that takes your fancy. But make sure you leave yourself a decent slab of time! I was there for a loooooong time.

Merry happy and Jolly holly to you all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Announcing 'Everything In It' by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein is one of my all-time favourite writers, both for children and for adults. Back in my late adolescence, I played his LP Freaking at the Freakers' Ball to death. The neighbours hated it Now that I've had grandchildren for over a decade, I've investigated and loved his children's literature. 

Now they have worked on a posthumous book of his unpublished works, Everything In It - voluminous by all accounts. You can check it all out here


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Translating in the Dark by Tim Parks at NYRB Blog

It is a complicated subject when we address the qualities of literary translation.

The language experts seem to make wooden versions while the poets and creative writers who translate are often challenged for their 'loose' approach to the original.

Me, I'm for creating the essence, not necessarily the word-for-word version. But there again I worry about my own preference because without the right words, where does the tone of the original go? So many shades and gradations of language shift from one language to another, any 100% translation seems impossible to me.

So, an interesting article for sure by TIM PARKS here.

Issa Haiku

geese landing--
the farmer's field too
a famous resort


Larfs from Eureka Street ...

A cartoonist I respect - not always howls of laughter but always pertinent: take a look at a gallery of her cartoons at

Fiona KatauskasFiona Katauskas' work has also appeared in ABC's The DrumNew Matilda, The Sydney Morning HeraldThe AgeThe AustralianThe Financial Review and Scribe's Best Australian political cartoon anthologies.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Letter to my Chooks - by Barbara Temperton

When Barbara Temperton and I read at The Gods in Canberra, as mentioned here December 14, I read A Letter to My Chooks as a challenge to the audience to 'pick' which poem was by Barbara and not by myself. You with me so far? I promised to display it, so here it is - a crackerjack poem, one of a series of chook poems at her blog. 

Please don’t poop on the doormat.
When you wake at 4am –
and the moon floats
on a luminous cloud –
please don’t practise the lyrics
of your favourite songs.
My aspidistra was placed outside
for sunshine – not for you.
Your menu consists of laying pellets,
kitchen scraps and wheat.
The seat, my seat, situated outside
the front door, catches the first
of the morning’s rays. I enjoy
coffee and newspaper in that chair.
Please inform the rooster, the cocky one
with the crooked spur, not to perch there –
evidence is difficult to discover in the dark.
Yours faithfully seems a token gesture
when my fine new boots, and Levi’s , are wet
and pegged on the clothes line
in the moonlight.
I’ll mail this letter in the morning –
nail it, in fact – with recipes for à la King
and cacciatore, to the handle of the blunted,
rusted axe leaning against the woodshed door.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

POETRY ENDS WITH ME by Nicanor Parra

I'm not putting an end to anything
I don't have any illusions about that
I wanted to keep on writing poems
But the inspiration stopped.
Poetry has acquitted itself well
I have conducted myself horribly.

What do I gain by saying
I have acquitted myself well
And poetry has conducted itself badly
When everybody knows I'm to blame?

This is what an imbecile deserves!

Poetry has acquitted itself well
I have conducted myself horribly
Poetry ends with me.

- Nicanor Parra
translated by Miller Williams

Just part of a great anthology of Parra's poetry available for you in English at

Introducing Rochford Street Review - New Australian Writing

About Rochford Street Review

Rochford Street Review is an occasional free on-line review of new Australian writing – with an emphasis on poetry and small press publications. We will aim to publish around three or four new reviews each month and will attempt to cover as many publications (both traditional and on-line) as we can.

If you are a publisher, no matter how small, we would appreciate being added to your mailing list and/or receiving a review copy (either hard copy or electronic – please email us for our postal address).

We are also looking for reviewers – unfortunately we are not in a position to pay for contributions – but we can provide you with a great platform to share your passion for Australian writing. If you are interested in reviewing for us please email us in the first instance.

Rochford Street Review is edited by Mark Roberts and can be contacted at

Follow us on Twitter: Follow @RochfordSReview

You may also be interested in Mark’s other website– a collection of his reviews, articles and interviews over the past 30 years.

Friday, December 16, 2011

To a Locomotive in Winter

by Walt Whitman 

Thee for my recitative!
Thee in the driving storm even as now, the snow, the winter-day declining,
Thee in thy panoply, thy measur'd dual throbbing and thy beat convulsive,
Thy black cylindric body, golden brass, and silvery steel,
Thy ponderous side-bars, parallel and connecting rods, gyrating, shuttling at thy sides,
Thy metrical, now swelling pant and roar, now tapering in the distance,
Thy great protruding head-light fix’d in front,
Thy long, pale, floating vapor-pennants, tinged with delicate purple,
The dense and murky clouds out-belching from thy smoke-stack,
Thy knitted frame, thy springs and valves, the tremulous twinkle of thy wheels,
Thy train of cars behind, obedient, merrily following,
Through gale or calm, now swift, now slack, yet steadily careering;
Type of the modern—emblem of motion and power—pulse of the continent,
For once come serve the Muse and merge in verse, even as here I see thee,
With storm and buffeting gusts of wind and falling snow,
By day thy warning ringing bell to sound its notes, By night thy silent signal lamps to swing.

Fierce-throated beauty!
Roll through my chant with all thy lawless music, thy swinging lamps at night,
Thy madly-whistled laughter, echoing, rumbling like an earthquake, rousing all,
Law of thyself complete, thine own track firmly holding,
(No sweetness debonair of tearful harp or glib piano thine,)
Thy trills of shrieks by rocks and hills return’d,
Launch’d o’er the prairies wide,across the lakes, To the free skies unpent and glad and strong.

Fiona's cartoon from Eureka Street

'Lame Labor', by Fiona Katauskas

Fiona KatauskasFiona Katauskas' work has also appeared in ABC's The DrumNew Matilda, The Sydney Morning HeraldThe AgeThe AustralianThe Financial Review and Scribe's Best Australian political cartoon anthologies.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Day After The Gods

Andrew @ The Gods

Barbara Temperton @ The Gods

Geoff Page, compering

Last night, Barbara Temperton and I were guests at The Gods, a cafe/bar on the grounds of ANU, Canberra. The reading has been going for many years and is run and compered by its founder, Geoff Page (poet and musician).

With half an hour each to read, Barbara and I had time to stretch out and talk to the audience. Going first, Barbara read from her early book, Going Feral (FACP 2002) and then for the majority of the reading, took the ample audience through the three narratives of Southern Edge (Fremantle Press, 2009).

Skillfully she kept track of the narrative(s) as she quoted from various sections. Then, Barbara finished with a few more recent poems. This was a quiet audience, different from the noisy mob we're both used to The Moon for the Perth Poetry Club!! But at the end of this reading, the audience showed their enthusiasm for Barbara's poetry with loud and sustained applause. Not only that, but many rose and bought her books - that's the best applause a poet can receive.

After a short interval, in which I caught up with Alan Gould, Mark O'Connor and Chris Mooney, Geoff Page introduced me with a rather flattering description of my career so far. I then read and joked for my half hour. As usual, I didn't read all the poems I'd chosen, but I did receive a healthy round of applause and even a few laughs during my reading.

In fact the biggest response of the evening came when I read a poem - by Barbara! The poem, 'A Letter to My Chooks', is a beauty. and I shall post it here tomorrow when I get home.

This reading was signicant in another respect too - it was the night of my wife Jeanette's 70th birthday. In fact the evening began with a rousing version of Happy Birthday To You sung loudly and proudly from the poets and poetry-lovers of Canberra. Thanks all!! It was a memorable night.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Poetry at The Gods - Tuesday Night

From 8pm Tuesday 13th December,
Poetry at The Gods, ANU, Canberra
with Guests
compered by

From the light tower, the kero drums
performing their daily cycle
of expansion and contraction,
toll dully.
She knows the smell of kerosene
as well as she knows
her own distilled essence,
the scent of her daughter’s hair,
the keeper’s salty presence.
Kerosene smudges everything
with its hazy-blue skin,
is the lighthouse’s other tenant,
always present, never seen,
a bitter layer on the lips
after she’s kissed her husband’s hand.
Remembering the children’s dog
barking until its voice was gone,
she wonders how long she could scream
before she would not make another sound.

- Barbara Temperton, The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

at Tom Collins House

Today you won’t see one
but back in the Sixties
the historic house I lived in had
a timber and wire clothesline,
propped up in mid string
by the long sapling of a eucalypt tree
which forked at the top and held up
the sagging line. Urban Aborigines,
out of work and down on their lunch,
walked door to door selling these props,
cut down on bush walks out of town.
With over six metres of sheets and nappies
flapping in an easterly off the desert, strong wires
hung loose between two crucifixes
with movable arms. On the night of a full moon
a small feathered woman would arrive
and sit on top of the post near
the gnarled and knotted mulberry tree,
her wisdom silent in her,
two deep eyes focused on me
as I wrote by moonlight,
sitting on the back steps,
pad resting on sunburnt knees.

- Andrew Burke 

Friday, December 09, 2011

American Life in Poetry: Column 350


The persons we are when we are young are probably buried somewhere within us when we’ve grown old. Denise Low, who was the Kansas poet laureate, takes a look at a younger version of herself in this telling poem.

Two Gates

I look through glass and see a young woman

of twenty, washing dishes, and the window

turns into a painting. She is myself thirty years ago.

She holds the same blue bowls and brass teapot

I still own. I see her outline against lamplight;

she knows only her side of the pane. The porch

where I stand is empty. Sunlight fades. I hear

water run in the sink as she lowers her head,

blind to the future. She does not imagine I exist.

I step forward for a better look and she dissolves

into lumber and paint. A gate I passed through

to the next life loses shape. Once more I stand

squared into the present, among maple trees

and scissor-tailed birds, in a garden, almost

a mother to that faint, distant woman.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Denise Low, from her most recent book of poetry, Ghost Stories of the New West, Woodley Memorial Press, 2010. Poem reprinted by permission of Denise Low and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2011 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Kinsella puts Ethics before Cash in TS Eliot Prize withdrawal

"John Kinsella joins Alice Oswald in pulling out of shortlist to oppose award's funding by investment firm Aurum Funds"

Read John's reasons at


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

TS Eliot Prize shortened Short List

After the withdrawal of Alice Oswald, the remaining nine poets on the shortlist for the TS Eliot Prize 2012 are:
John Burnside for Black Cat BoneCarol Ann Duffy for The BeesLeontia Flynn for Profit and Loss
David Harsent for Night
John Kinsella for Armour
Esther Morgan for GraceDaljit Nagra for Tippoo Sultan's Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!!Sean O'Brien for Novemberand Bernard O'Donoghue for Farmers Cros

Read all about it at
The winner will be chosen by judges Gillian Clarke, Stephen Knight and Dennis O'Driscoll, and announced on 15 January.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

“Bitter Heritage” or New Birth? Two Novels by Randolph Stow

Articles 23.11.2011 By Andrew Taylor

Randolph Stow’s two novels, To the Islands and Tourmaline, are set in the remote and arid north of Western Australia. Its hostile environment is depicted as a site of spiritual purgation and desolation. But today iron and gas deposits of enormous value have been discovered in this area and the adjacent ocean, and some of the world’s largest industrial developments threaten both its fragile ecology and its storehouse of priceless indigenous rock art. Stow’s novels are read as warnings of how easily success can disintegrate into hopelessness, and how tenuous our grip on spiritual fulfillment can be.

Read it all and many more articles of great interest at Le Simplegadi

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Anon: Poem-A-Day Poem

Earth Took of Earth
by Anonymous

Earth took of earth earth with ill;
Earth other earth gave earth with a will.
Earth laid earth in the earth stock-still:
Then earth in earth had of earth its fill.

Erthe Toc of Erthe

Erthe toc of erthe erthe wyth woh,
erthe other erthe to the earthe droh,
erthe leyde erthe in erthene throh,
tho hevede erthe of erthe erthe ynoh.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

A poem I've been fiddling with forever... Draft for comment

One-Act Day

My play today is dialogue
at the deli’s open door
with an old woman who sits
on the padded seat
of her walking frame.

As we talk, back
and forth, tradesmen bounce
out of utilities and trucks
to buy choc-flavoured milk
and Mrs Mac’s pies.
Stained with years,
the old lady sips her coffee
and meditates in
their exhaust. Dress
faded, hair grey,
she likes to watch
tradesmen come and go.

Local low-lifes own
the shopkeeper’s son who
now pushes his daughter—
thin, bespectacled, thirty—
toward a law degree.

This family’s history
is written in skin:
Gran’s Auschwitz number,
his bikie gang symbols,
daughter’s rosebud and wren.

- Andrew Burke 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Book(s) Launch Monday at UWA

two books to be launched next Monday

Wombats of Bundanon - Twenty Australian Poets

and Kit Kelen's China Years -- Selected and New Poems (translated by Iris Fan)

... both are bilingual parallel text English-Chinese volumes

next Monday afternoon (5th) at 5 pm in the Arts Courtyard (with the peacocks) at UWA, 

Crawley - by the banks of the Swan.

All are welcome!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Poet Kit Kelen and Gang visiting from Macau

Photo: yesterday at UWA with Iris, Professor Kit Kelen, and Jo.
We were enjoying a translation workshop, serenaded
by the resident peacock and peahen strutting the stage 
at the New Fortune Theatre.

The following poems all by Kit Kelen.

everyone has their orders to follow 

one of the guards is in charge of the lock
another keeps the key
one sharpens the instruments of torture
one measures up for the simple box
and one will spade the earth in

none of these men has a name
and in the morning
each of them shaves
with a similar razor
and until
his face is gone

work of the everyday

every day of my life
I’ve built
block upon block
I added to meaning
I added things up
seemed as if
from nothing once
but that was never the way
all that I needed must have been there
I’ve puzzled it out of the ruins
yes – the materials were there
where I stood
were with me from day 1
it was just a matter of
opening my eyes

now I’ve four walls
and the roof’s almost done
where once I had
a sky 

he decides to start a religion

I have perfected the art of falling up
it’s taken me till now
and of course there’s still some proof
left to the pudding
the kind of thing angels applaud

and so it is with no little suspense
I step up on the window sill
I won’t tell you how many floors up
I hold out a finger
to test the wind
and so I lead the way

damage control

those who
make weapons
buy weapons
sell weapons
those who
tell us
we must have weapons –
these people should have weapons
tested on them


Christopher (KitKelen (客遠文) is a well known Australian scholar, poet and artist whose literary works have been widely published and broadcast since the mid seventies. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature describesKelen’s work as ‘typically innovative and intellectually sharp’. Kelen holds degrees in literature and linguistics from the University of Sydney and two doctorates from the University of Western Sydney – a PhD in the area of poetics and an EdD in Critical Pedagogy of Creative Writing.
In 1988 Kelen was winner of two major poetry prizes conducted for the Australian Bicentennial. His poem ‘Views from Pinchgut’ won the ABC’s competition for a poem of eighty lines or less. Kelen’s first volume of poetry 
The Naming of the Harbour and the Trees won an Anne Elder Award in 1992. In 1996 Kelen was Writer-in-Residence for the Australia Council at the B.R.Whiting Library in Rome. In 1999 he won the Blundstone National Essay Contest, conducted byIsland journal. He also won second prize in the Gwen Harwood Poetry Award that year. 

Kelen’s fourth book of poems 
Republics – dealing with the ethics of identity in millennial Australia – was published by Five Islands Press in Australia in 2000. A fifth volume New Territories – a pilgrimage through Hong Kong, structured after Danté’s Divine Comedy – was published with the aid of the Hong Kong Arts Development Board in 2003. In 2004 Kelen’s chapbook Wyoming Suite – a North American sojurn – was released by VAC Publishing in Chicago. In 2005Kelen’s long poem ‘Macao’ was shortlisted for the prestigious Newcastle Poetry Prize and a re-edited version of Tai Mo Shan appeared in Southerly.  2006 saw the publication by ASM in Macao of a book of Macao stories and poems titled A Map of the Seasons, and a short sci-fi historical novel, A Wager with the Gods. In 2007, Kelen edited a feature entitled ‘Poetry of Response’ which appears in Jacket magazine. 2007 saw the publication by Cinnamon Press in the UK of a volume of Macao poems titled Dredging the Delta. A bilingual English/Chinese volume Ke Yuan Wen Kan Aomen (Kit Kelen’s Macao) also appeared that year. And in 2007 Kelen was winner of Westerly’s Patricia Hackett Prize.

In 2008 VAC published Kelen’s eighth volume, 
After Meng Jiao: Responses to the Tang Poet. The most recent of Kelen’s ten volumes of poetry are God preserve me from those who want what’s best for me, published in 2009 by Picaro Press, (N.S.W, Australia) and In Conversation with the River (VAC 2010)In 2009 Kelen was shortlisted for the PressPress Poetry Chapbook Award and his volume of poems the whole forest dancing was published by PressPress in 2010 in English, Chinese, Portuguese and Italian editions. In 2010, Kelen’s poem ‘time with the sky’ (inspired by a 2009 Bundanon residency) placed second in the Newcastle Poetry Prize. 

Apart from poetry, Kelen publishes in a range of theoretical areas including writing pedagogy, ethics, rhetoric, cultural and literary studies and various intersections of these. In 2010 Kelen coordinated a poetry translation retreat at Bundanon in NSW, part of an ongoing project translating Australian poets into Chinese. A first volume in that series, 
Fires Rumoured about the City – Fourteen Australian Poets was published in 2009Kelen has also been co-editor of two important Macao poetry anthologies – I Roll the Dice – Contemporary Macao Poetry (2008) and Portuguese Poets of Macao (2009), both bilingual editions published by ASM. In 2009 Kelen published two theoretical volumes concerning poetry; with Rodopi in Amsterdam: Poetry, Consciousness and Community; and with ASM in Macao: a first book length English-language study of Macao poetry: City of Poets. 

With regard to his own visual arts practice, in December of 2006 Kelen had an ink and water colour exhibition at Creative Macau (Macau Cultural Centre) titled: 
Bridges and Boats. The catalogue for this exhibition was CCI’s 2007 calendar. In 2008-9 Kelen’s exhibition palimps-ink was held at the Macao’s Albergue Gallery. Kelen’s most recent solo exhibition, held at the Fantasia Galleries, was to the single man’s hut, a homage to the Australian painter, Arthur Boyd. 

Kelen is an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Macau, where he has taught Literature and Creative Writing since 2000. During this time he has mentored many local writers, seeing through to publication numerous first novels and volumes of stories and poetry. Kelen is the editor of the on-line journal Poetry Macao and poetry editor for the monthly lifestyle/current affairs journal Macao Closer.