Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NARRATIVE: Six-Word Story Competition Guidelines NARRATIVE's Six-Word Story contest

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stars and their Starters

In 1971, the likes of Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa, Elton John and the Jackson Five were some of the most famous celebrities in their world. 
But for their parents, these ultra-famous rock stars were still only grown-up children, whom they doted on and fussed over.
LIFE Magazine photographer John Olson followed some of these big name stars home to see their parents to tell the inside story of the private lives of famous musicians and show their person histories.

Read more:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Poems Li Bai and Du Fu Wrote to Each Other

Classical Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty: an interpretive translation by Lan Hua

One very revealing part of the Tang legacy is the handful of poems that Li Bai and Du Fu wrote to each other. Poems about friendship or those exchanged between friends were a standard element of the Tang poetic canon. But the poems between Li Bai and Du Fu have an incredible poignancy as they say so much about how these two great poets saw themselves and each other. Just imagine, for example, how meaningful it would be if Shakespeare and John Donne happened to exchange a few personal sonnets.  So in a way, we have been permitted a much more intimate glimpse into the hearts and minds of these Tang poets even at such great temporal and cultural remove than we have of the most renowned poets in our own tradition.
Let me start first with one of Li Bai’s poems About Du Fu.  As far as I know, Li Bai wrote a total of three poems about his younger colleague whereas Du Fu (ever the eager younger brother) wrote eight or nine such poems in return. 

Read more at The Epoch Times

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Story - a poem by Barbara Moore Vincent

Everything in life
Has a purpose.
The backyard is not as big
As it used to be.
The water running down the tree
Tells a story.
I have been watching it
All afternoon.

This sensitive and reverberating poem has been midwifed by US poet and artist Stephen Vincent from a phone conversation with his aged mother, Barbara Moore Vincent. He is now working on a project with the working label of Mother/Dementia/Poetry. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's on at Perth Poetry Club this week: ALAN HANCOCK

Alan Hancock is a professional scriptwriter whose work has been produced by the ABC, BBC, and theatre companies in Australia and the UK. He is a theatre director and teacher, and has been performing his unique mix of stand-up comedy, story-telling and solo theatre for several years. It’s comedy with heart and soul, a witty and often provoca tive take on life in the 21st century. You can see and hear a preview of the material on Youtube:

What's coming up at Perth Poetry Club

25 Mar: the poetic with of ALAN HANCOCK
3 Mar: Ray Unit + Peter Bibby
10 Mar: Meg McKinlay + Annie Otness
17 Mar: Paul Sutherland + TBA
24 Mar: Praveen Elango + Kevin Gillam
31 Mar: Jake Dennis + Sunny-Belle Roberts-Floyd

Other poetry events coming up in Perth:
Fri 2 March: SASA Youth Poetry Slam. 6-8:30pm, Herb Graham Rec Centre, Chesterfield Rd, Mirrabooka. Info: Abdulrahim 0408 297 949. Organised by SASA Youth Mentorship Scheme. WORTH SUPPORTING!

Fri 9 March: Poetry Pantree - Fortnightly, sharing poetry, stories, music, starting on Friday 9 MARCH 6pm at Soul Tree Cafe, 5/3 Railway Parade Glen Forrest. $5 entry; or $20 for entry plus organic dinner & dessert.
Every Thursday: ‘RawHyde’ variety night at Hyde Park Hotel, cnr Bulwer & Fitzgerald Sts, West Perth. MC Tom├ís Ford. Music, comedy & spoken word features, plus open mike. Show starts around 9, arrive before that to sign up for open mike. Presented by JumpClimb.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In the Mountains on a Summer Day - by Li Po

Gently I stir a white feather fan,
With open shirt sitting in a green wood.
I take off my cap and hang it on a jutting stone;
A wind from the pine-trees trickles on my bare head.

translated by Arthur Waley

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Poets Cafe Thursday Night in Narrogin

Windfall: Australian Haiku annual

Windfall: Australian Haiku is a small annual print publication which seeks to publish fine examples of contemporary Australian haiku. Beverley George is editor of Windfall, which is published by Peter Macrow’s Blue Giraffe Press. Submissions are welcome in July each year.
Editor: Beverley George.
Published by Blue Giraffe Press. ISSN 1839-5449. Hobart, Blue Giraffe Press issue 1, 2012 -
Designed and printed for Blue Giraffe Press by Picaro Press.
Guidelines for submissions:
1. Please head all submissions with your name, postal address and the date of submission, together with a statement that your submitted haiku are, “original, unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere”.
2. In order to extend the publishing opportunities for haiku poets in this country, and as Windfall will showcase only 50-60 selected haiku per issue, contribution is restricted to Australian poets.
3. Submission period is June 30th – July 31st each year.
4. You may submit up to ten of your best haiku per issue but a maximum of 2-3 poems by an individual poet will be selected for any given issue.
5. Acceptances will be advised by August 31st after which date you are free to send any unaccepted poems elsewhere.
6. We are seeking haiku which are relevant to the experience of urban and rural life in Australia. Observations that celebrate landform, seasons, and our unique flora and fauna, are welcomed.
7. Please submit your unpublished haiku to Beverley George PO Box 37 Pearl Beach 2256 or email to with ‘Windfall’ and your surname in the subject line.
Windfall Subscriptions:
Subscriptions Manager is Peter Macrow
$10 for two issues, including postage within Australia.
Stamps or cash are also welcome. Cheques must be made out to Peter Macrow
Overseas subscriptions are $15 in Australian cash only.
Contact details:
Peter Macrow
Manager, Blue Giraffe Press
6/16 Osborne Street
Sandy Bay TAS 7005
or email:
Apart from haiku submissions, all enquiries and other business should be directed to Peter Macrow, email as above.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Secret - by Charles Simic

Charles Simic, US poet, at the last para of a delightful blog post NYR Blog about where poets actually write. He writes in bed. Or the kitchen, as he says here:
"In New Hampshire, where I live, with five months of snow and foul weather, one has a choice of dying of boredom, watching television, or becoming a writer. If not in bed, my next writing-place  of choice is the kitchen, with its smells of cooking. Some hearty soup or a stew simmering on the stove is all I need to get inspired. At such moments, I‘m reminded how much writing poetry resembles the art of cooking. Out of the simplest and often the most seemingly incompatible ingredients and spices, using either tried-and-true recipes, or concocting something at the spur of the moment, one turns out forgettable or memorable dishes. All that’s left for the poet to do is garnish his poems with a little parsley and serve them to poetry gourmets.
February 10, 2012, 2 p.m."

SOUTHERLY 71 : 2 - A literature that refuses to go missing

Written by  on 15-02-2012
Southerly 71:2
A Handful of Sand: Words to the Frontline

Ali Cobby Eckermann & Lionel Fogarty (eds)
Aboriginal people are far more written about than heard, more often the subject of journalistic, medical, sociological, anthropological, and fictional narratives than the author. White society has a way of asking what role Indigenous people might play in ‘our’ narrative, even when that narrative purports to be inclusive and generous. When we look for an Indigenous narrative, all too often it is written by and for whites.
Nothing could situate us better in this history of absent voices than Bruce Pascoe’s acerbic, witty essay about the missing black characters in Australian novels, ‘Rearranging the Dead Cat’, an essay arising from passionate discussion at last year’s Aboriginal Writers and Educators Conference. Pascoe exposes the embarrassing silences at the heart of some of our most treasured stories, including Cloudstreet: ‘Winton’s great get out of jail card for Australia was that all of the black characters are dead. You don’t have to deal with them, it’s sufficient to re-invent their dreams!’
There is nothing dead about the voices in this special edition of Southerly, which contribute much to the ongoing conversations about Indigenous identity.
Identity is a slippery fish, and there is no one Aboriginal voice. Last year’s case against Andrew Bolt was a victory against vilification, but also a victory for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights to carve out, create and manipulate their own identities. That site of tension is represented here by short statements from Anita Heiss and Larissa Berendt.
It may come as a shock to realise that this is the first edition of an Australian literary journal composed entirely of Indigenous authors, edited by two of Australia’s finest. While there are increasing numbers of anthologies such as the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature, covering over 200 years of writing, and the NT anthology This country anytime anywhere (IAD Press) there is something in the journal format which is inherently conversational, less static; a good journal can be a subversive encounter.
Ali Cobby Eckermann, a Nunga author and rising star of Australian poetry, and Lionel Fogarty, a Murri man who has been writing and publishing for thirty years and been a long-time campaigner for social justice, are something of an editorial dream team. Given the near impossible task of representing contemporary Aboriginality, spread as it is over countries, generations, urban and regional cultures, and languages, they have erred on the side of diversity. Here we find people from twenty-five language groups, young and old, established and emerging. There are traditional stories, stories from the bush and the city. Most of the work is realist, and much of it deeply moving.
There are essays on history, culture, and trauma; Alex Bond’s reinstatement of Dali’pie the Statesman and Joy Makepeace’s reflective essay are highlights. There are narratives of loss, of mourning, and explorations of healing; Vicky Roach’s heartbreaking poem for her lost friend Jap was not the only piece which brought tears to my eyes. There are song lyrics and poetry, encounters with mental illness, prison, addiction, death and violence. There are also moments of humour and delight. An extract from Dylan Coleman’s Unaipon-award-winning book had me giggling with the Mission girls over their Christmas presents and the absurdity of belief. The representation of older writers’ voices is strong, and respect is also given to lost elders Ruby Langford Ginibi and Ruby Hunter.
What some of these voices lack in polish, they make up for in raw urgency. The overall effect is of immediacy and a diversity of language, reflecting a range of English usage from the street and the home to the university and boardroom. There are words and phrases of first or rediscovered languages too. I hope to read more work in the future translated from Indigenous languages, as those surviving languages across the country are revitalised. And there will be more Indigenous voices, here and elsewhere: Ali Cobby Eckermann and Lionel Fogarty have joined Southerly’s editorial board permanently and are continuing their work at the Aboriginal Writers Retreat, nurturing a literature that refuses to go missing.
Monday marked the fourth anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations. In considering where that apology has taken us, it is easy to be disappointed. The currency of the discriminatory policies of Federal control in the NT Intervention – currently under expansion through Compulsory Income Management and the School Enrolment and Attendance Measure (SEAM) – is reflected in several pieces, not least Cobby Eckermann’s own ‘Intervention Pay Day’, a punchy, unforgiving poem about the social impacts of the policies, which subtly draws out the ripple-on effect of such policies into families and communities. This journal should wake anyone who doubts that colonisation is a contemporary process.
The apology was a rare moment of optimism in a politics characterised by belittlement and cheap enticements, but it seems that it also made promises which Labor has failed to keep. In a political language corrupted by insincerity, bullshit consultation and media-managed squabbling, the voices in this edition of Southerly ring clear and true.

Homeless poet proud of newly printed copy of his works 

Mark Bell has a lot to say and has poured it into hundreds of handwritten pages of poetry, memoir and fictional anecdotes.

But he was nearly silent Saturday when he got his hands on a printed copy of his writings for the first time.
He turned it over in his hands and flipped through pages.
"I love it," he said quietly, appearing overcome.
Bell, who lives in a tent in an isolated part of the American River Parkway, was the subject of a Bee story in January.
Bell has been homeless since a roommate died about eight years ago.
He spent a lot of time with liquor before he took up writing and quit the bottle.
Bee readers responded to his poetry and his interest in publishing with the Sacramento Public Library's Espresso Book Machine.
Sande Parker, a Lincoln photographer, gave him a used laptop computer so he could type his poems when he wasn't working at Loaves & Fishes.
"She showed up Jan. 5 to give me the computer and nobody on the face of the Earth knew – that was my birthday," Bell said.
He still writes drafts with a pen, though.
"I just like the feel of having that paper under my hand," Bell said.
Another person offered to pay for printing. The library put up an upgrade in his printing package.
A group of local writers and artists volunteered to help him prepare his manuscript for printing.
He met with Larry Fox and Maryellen Burns-Dabaghian Friday to discuss formatting – size of the book, borders, order of material and size of type.
The pair work with other writers who think they have manuscripts ready for printing. Bell's work was unusually well-prepared, Burns-Dabaghian said.
She was committed to help when she first heard about Bell.
"But when I read the actual poems and essays, I was blown away," she said.
Bell, who began writing without any hopes of drawing notice, said he had no particular aims for getting the book anywhere.
"I just want to hold that first one in my hands and know it's real," he said.
Saturday morning, he did.
Burns-Dabaghian and Fox loaded Bell's files onto a flash drive.
Alison Givens, who runs the Espresso book machine for the library, loaded the text and cover design from the drive into the machine.
In minutes, Bell was holding a bound proof copy of "The Hobo Speaks."
The first proof sliced off portions of the poems, so Givens tinkered until the machine produced a proper proof.
Fox and Burns-Dabaghian will fine-tune it and hope to print a final version this week.
Bell's backers are funding an ISBN number and Library of Congress catalog number, which will make it more available.
Burns-Dabaghian also plans to help him connect with bookstores, online sales and possible funders for two additional books he has planned.
He already has a title for the follow-up to "The Hobo Speaks."
Title: "The Hobo Won't Shut Up."


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who are you? Who-who who-who?

These two wonderful writers have their own page now at PennSound - Check them out through

Adventure & Art: the fine press book from 1450 to 2011

Leigh Scott Gallery, Level 1, Baillieu Library, 1 March to 27 May 2012

Adventure & Art, curated by poet and fine press printer Alan Loney, is about the printer’s craft, evidenced from the first printed books in the 15th century, and given a hugely influential impetus by William Morris and the Arts & Craft movement at the end of the 19th. This exhibition will show how a number of technologies that are obsolete in commercial terms are still current in creative & craft terms in the 21st century. Exhibited will be books from the Baillieu Library’s Special Collections from Europe, North America, New Zealand and

A symposium discussing the nature and definition of fine press books will be held from 2-5pm on March 9th 2012 in the Leigh Scott Room in the Baillieu Library.

Each of the speakers at this symposium has arrived at the fine press book in different ways. It is hoped that the symposium will inform as much as interest and delight those who see the exhibition and attend the day's discussions.Speakers at the symposium are Alan Loney, Andrew Schuller, Peter Vangioni, 
Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Carolyn Fraser and Caren Florance.

Attendees at the symposium are invited to the exhibition opening following the symposium. To book, go to  

Friday, February 17, 2012

from Jacket2 :: Recipe for writing a New York School poem

THOM DONOVAN: The following exercise was generated for the course I am teaching this semester at School of Visual Arts, which concerns “composition through orality,” or if you prefer Creative Speaking.
It is a “recipe” or constraint of sorts for writing a New York School poem (my class read James Schuyler, Bernadette Mayer, Charles Bernstein, and Dorothea Lasky—a heterodox selection, I realize; and listened to Eileen Myles, Schuyler, Robert Creeley, and Ron Padgett via PennSound).
Students were encouraged to use as many of the following "ingredients" as possible: 
  1. at least one addressee (to which you may or may not wish to dedicate your poem)
  2. use of specific place names and dates (time, day, month, year)--especially the names of places in and around New York City
  3. prolific use of proper names
  4. at least one reminiscence, aside, digression, or anecdote
  5. one or more quotations, especially from things people have said in conversation or through the media
  6. a moment where you call into question at least one thing you have said or proposed throughout your poem so far
EDITOR:  Great magazine continues at 

The Compulsive Reader Talks 2 - AMANDA CURTIN

The author of Inherited, [Amanda Curtin] talks about her new book of short stories, about the notion of inheritance in all its forms, about the short story form, about writing on obsession, loss and love, the origins of some of her stories, and much more .

Click here to hear the podcast of this revealing interview.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Note to Readers

It's a strange medium, this blogging. I had three separate subjects lined up - ticked them all and pressed Publish, only to find them published back of the pack in the dates in which I had constructed them as likely posts. Mea culpa - If you'd like something 'new' to read, go beyond the next posting and read. I assumed they would be posted today top of the pile.

We live and learn.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Perception - an exposing real-life test


In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playin g incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . ..

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Take a look at the scene at

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

MOMENT: American Life in Poetry: Column 360

Carol L. Gloor is an attorney living in Chicago and Savanna, Illinois. I especially like this poem of hers for its powerful ending, which fittingly uses the legal language of trusts and estates.

At the moment of my mother’s death
I am rinsing frozen chicken.
No vision, no rending
of the temple curtain, only
the soft give of meat.
I had not seen her in four days.
I thought her better,
and the hospital did not call,
so I am fresh from
an office Christmas party,
scotch on my breath
as I answer the phone.
And in one moment all my past acts
become irrevocable.

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 Carol L. Gloor, whose chapbook is Giving Death the Raspberries, Thorntree Press, 1991. Poem reprinted from Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Vol. 25, no. 3, Winter 2010, by permission of Carol L. Gloor and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2012 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.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Larkin Manuscript page and Paris Review Interview

Interview on The Art of Poetry with Philip Larkin in Paris Review 1982 here.

The Journal of EPSIANS

The journal’s title EPSIANS derives from EPSI, i.e., English Poetry Studies Institute of Sun Yat-sen University (P. R. China). The journal is international in scope, open to Chinese and English-speaking scholars, and is mainly devoted to poetry studies with occasional contributions on other related topics. The first issue was published in September of 2011, and can be downloaded here.

Papers submitted to the journal should be sent to: 
Deadline for contribution to the third issue is June 1, 2012.

Gil-Scott Heron: Jazz poet's final attempt to break through isolation

The Last Holiday
A Memoir
By Gil Scott-Heron
Grove Press.
322 pp. $25

Reviewed by Dan DeLuca

This is a sad book. And not just because Gil Scott-Heron - syncopated jazz-poet and political agitator, astute and empathetic chronicler of the African American experience, and, whether he liked it or not, godfather of rap - died in May at 62 after sacrificing the last years of his life to crack cocaine addiction.
The griot best known for "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and "The Bottle" writes in his prologue that the book's "central focus . . . revolves around experiences orchestrated by Stevie Wonder, a true miracle of talent and concern for his fellow man."
That sentence turns out to be doubly troubling because it hints at the odd, almost starstruck and uncritical way musical movers and shakers will be depicted in the book - whether Wonder, music executive Clive Davis, or even Jackson Browne, who organized the 1979 Musicians United for Safe Energy "No Nukes" concerts where Scott-Heron performed.
And it also turns out to be untrue, because despite his intentions to write a book principally about the experiences with Wonder that so mightily impressed him, Scott-Heron never manages to do that. The book is really a conventional coming-of-age autobiography.

Read more: 

Opportunity for Nature Writers:Tidings from Watermark Literary Society

Exciting opportunities for nature writers: The Watermark Fellowship for an emerging nature writer is now open for applications for 2012. The prize includes a 3-week residency in  Camden Haven, NSW. Applications close on 2 April, 2012.
The Eric Rolls Prize for a piece of prose fiction or nonfiction in the genre of nature writing offers $1,000 plus participation in the next Watermark Literary Muster, which will be held between 18 - 20 October 2013. Closing date: 29th June, 2012. To get the full details on both these competitions, and to learn of upcoming events go to the Watermark site to download the Tidings newsletter.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

To His Mistress Going to Bed by John Donne

Come, madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tired with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glistering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th'eyes of busy fools may be stopped there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th'hills shadow steals.
Off with your wiry coronet and show
The hairy diadem which on you doth grow:
Now off with those shoes: and then safely tread
In this love's hallowed temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes heaven's angels used to be
Received by men; thou, Angel, bring'st with thee
A heaven like Mahomet's Paradise; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
By this these Angels from an evil sprite:
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
 License my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned,
My mine of precious stones, my empery,
How blest am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
 Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be,
To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
Are as Atlanta's balls, cast in men's views,
That when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them:
Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made
For lay-men, are all women thus arrayed.
Themselves are mystic books, which only we
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)
Must see revealed. Then, since that I may know,
As liberally as to a midwife, show
Thyself: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,
There is no penance due to innocence:
 To teach thee, I am naked first; why than,
What need'st thou have more covering than a man?

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Thanks to Glen Phillips who took these photos at Peter Cowan Writers' Centre today at the L(a)unch of the anthology Sunlight of Ordinary Days: Twelve Poets of the PCWC.

 Poets included:
Liana Joy Christensen (pic)
Gary Colombo De Piazzi
Matthew Hall
Nicola-Jane le Breton
Scott-Patrick Mitchell
Rashida Murphy
John Charles Ryan
Flora Smith
Julie Watts
Mags Webster
Josephine Wilson

The book was launched by myself with a burst of Party Poppers. 
Only a limited number were produced and are distributed personally
by each of the twelve poets and selected bookshops.


~ Posted by James Hopkin, February 10th 2012

At midday yesterday an unexpected tune could be heard in the main square of the Polish city of Krakow. Instead of the traditional "hejnal" from the tower of St. Mary’s, the trumpeter played a melody that had been written to accompany“Nothing Twice”, a poem by the Nobel laureate, Wislawa Szymborska, who died last week, aged 88.

A mile and a half away, President Komorowski and Prime Minister Tusk joined other Polish dignitaries in the heavy snowfall for a service at the Rakowicki cemetery. Szymborska’s ashes were interred to the sound of a favourite song of hers, Ella Fitzgerald’s “Black Coffee”.

It was fitting. Szymborska had produced a body of work that combined a deep understanding of melancholy with an unerring appreciation of the lighter side of life. Schoolchildren across Poland had learned poems such as “Cat in an Empty Apartment", “Love at First Sight”, and "Nothing Twice", all striking for their deceptive simplicity and verve. Quietly, her poems urge assertiveness, whisper advice and offer resilient wit and a consummate sense of form. Though she published only a dozen volumes, she kept writing until shortly before her death.

Famously private, Szymborska seldom gave interviews, but she agreed in 2000to talk to me for the Guardian. “Don’t ask me about the poems,’’ she said, playfully brushing aside my academic questions, “Ask me about the mountains.’’ When I told her it was my birthday, she clapped her hands, went to the kitchen and brought back cakes in frilly wrappers, a bottle of brandy and two packets of cigarettes. She was dismayed that I didn’t smoke. “Are you sure you don’t smoke?”

Then in her mid-70s, Szymborska was alert and attentive, and ever so slightly flirtatious. I listened to the hour-long tape again this week. Her voice, like her work, is melodic, teeming with notes that run from sadness to glee, the latter accompanied by laughter and clapping. "I'll remind you in infinite detail," she writes in "Archaeology", "Of what you expected from life besides death."

James Hopkin, a novelist and short story writer, has written for Intelligent Life about fishing in Dalmatia and living in Krakow


Friday, February 10, 2012

Saturday 12 Noon - Sunlight of Ordinary Days Launch

You are invited to the launch of the 2011 Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre Advanced Poetry Workshops anthology
Sunlight of Ordinary Days
Twelve Poets of the Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre
To be launched by Andrew Burke
12 pm (noon)
Saturday 11 February 2012
Liana Joy Christensen
Gary Colombo De Piazzi
Matthew Hall
Nicola-Jane le Breton
Scott-Patrick Mitchell
Rashida Murphy
John Charles Ryan
Flora Smith
Julie Watts
Mags Webster
Josephine Wilson

This amazing record of their responses over a whole year-long masterclass in Sunlight of Ordinary Days is testimony to the wealth of poetic talent that Western Australia has produced for more than a century. -Professor Glen Phillips
Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre, Inc.
Edith Cowan House, Building 20
Edith Cowan University
270 Joondalup Drive
Joondalup WA 6027
Visitor parking is available in 
Car Park No. 8. - enter via Lakeside Drive

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Top 40 of all time - Here's the Top Five

These are the Top Five 'pop' Songs, as listed in the Top 40 at

But I have purposely put them in random order. Now, guess which order they come in and you'll win ... the congratulations of those around you. (Prizes are too complicated here!)

There are certainly some surprises in the list and the order in which they're placed! I think Heartbreak Hotel is the only Elvis song here - and it doesn't rank highly. Louis Armstrong doesn't crack a mention (whereas Bobby Darren's version of Mack the Knife does)- neither does Take Five by Brubeck. Huh, we'll all disagree on some points, won't we - Take a look - if you're under 40 you may not know some of them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Poetry events for everyone. Jan Napier & Nadine Browne on 11 Feb. What's on at Perth Poetry Club and elsewhere

Perth Poetry Club is Perth's first weekly poetry and spoken word event. Saturdays 2-4pm at The Moon Cafe, 323 William Street, Northbridge. Supported entirely by donations, organised by unpaid volunteers, since March 2009. Featured guests, open mike (up to 3 minutes: that's about 60 lines), professional sound. Everyone is welcome.

What's on at Perth Poetry Club this week
11 Feb: Jan Napier + Nadine Browne
Jan Napier has been bitten good and hard by the poetry bug. She intends to remain infected for life. Her writing has been showcased in Famous Reporter, Poetry NZ, Unusual Work, Dotdotdash, The Mozzie, Speed Poets, plus other journals and anthologies. She also writes book reviews for the on line zine Antipodean SF.
Nadine Browne writes poetry and short fiction when her novel writing isn't going that well. Hence she is quite prolific. She has been published in literary journals, including Antipodes and Page Seventeen, has won the Maj Monologues 2009, does stories with Barefaced Storytelling and came runner up in the Australian Poetry Slam in November last year.

What's coming up at Perth Poetry Club

18 Feb: Jeremy Balius + Craig Rogers
25 Feb: Alan Hancock
3 Mar: Ray Unit + Peter Bibby
10 Mar: Meg McKinlay + Annie Otness
17 Mar: Paul Sutherland + TBA
24 Mar: Praveen Elango + TBA
31 Mar: Jake Dennis + Sunny-Belle Roberts-Floyd

Other poetry events coming up in Perth:
12 noon on Saturday 11 Feb: Launch of 'Sunlight of Ordinary Days' at Peter Cowan Writers Centre, Joondalup. Julie Watts, Scott-Patrick Mitchell, Gary Colombo De Piazzi, Flora Smith, John Charles Ryan, Liana Joy Christensen and more.

Sunday afternoon (12 Feb): OCCUPY ART LAB Poetry, hip-hop and music with lots of performers including Janet J and the first ever hearing of Spoken Zeks featuring ParkBear, Splodge and Raymond Grenfell with Katie on drums, as part of the OCCUPY ART LAB weekend. 1pm at Treasury Building on Barrack St between Hay St & St Georges Tce

Monday night (13 Feb): Voicebox features Zan Ross and Chris Arnold. 7:45pm at Clancy's Fishpub, 51 Cantonment Street, Fremantle.

Tuesday night (14 Feb): Love Poetry 2012 with a menagerie of poets (Dennis Haskell, Lucy Dougan, Andrew Burke, Kevin Gillam, Vivienne Glance, Amanda Joy, Danny Gunzburg, Jaya Penelope, Scott-Patrick Mitchell, Veronica Lake and Chris Arnold) 7pm in the Japanese Garden at the Zoo. Tickets are available at the gate or at $20 for WAPI members $25 otherwise.

Thursday nights: RawHyde music & word open mike with MC Tomas Ford. From 9pm at the Hyde Park Hotel, cnr Bulwer & Fitzgerald Sts, arrive early to sign up.

Next Sunday afternoon 19 Feb: Kevin Gillam talks about Music & the Muse, 3:30pm @ Love2Read temporary cafe out front of the State Library.

Advance notice (details to come)

Starting 9 March: new poetry night fortnightly Fridays at Soul Tree Cafe in Glen Forrest. Remember Jazmin? It's her cafe.

Sun 25 March: A System of Linked Sounds. Janet Jackson presents a whole day of poetic pleasure at FAWWA in Swanbourne. Something for everyone: workshop, performance, discussion, open mike.

Sun 31 March: Fashionable Clash: our own MC Naked Blind aka Neil J Pattinson is putting on a gig at Fringe Gallery.