Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prizes and Poets ... off writingWA

Poets at Nedlands Library
Perth Poetry Club presents Keren Gila Raiter, Danny Gunzburg, Tineke van der Eecken, Andrew Burke, plus limited open mike. 
MC Neil J Pattinson
2-4pm, Sunday 24 June. 

Nedlands Library, 60 Stirling Highway, Nedlands. Free event, refreshments provided.

The Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize

The Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize has been endowed by Bruce Dawe, one of Australia's most acclaimed contemporary poets, as an annual $1500 award to encourage poets throughout Australia. The Prize will be awarded to an original, unpublished poem not exceeding 50 lines. There are no generic or thematic constraints. Entries must not be under offer to any publication, or offered for publication, until the adjudication is finalized and the winner is notified. Entry fee of $6 per poem, to a maximum of 3 poems. Entries close 30 June. For details and entry forms, click here.

Doc Watson, Blind Guitar Wizard Who Influenced Generations, Dies at 89


ack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos
Doc Watson performing in New York in 2005.
By WILLIAM GRIMES  Published: May 29, 2012

Doc Watson, the guitarist and folk singer whose flat-picking style elevated the acoustic guitar to solo status in bluegrass and country music, and whose interpretations of traditional American music profoundly influenced generations of folk and rock guitarists, died on Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 89.

Mr. Watson, who had been blind since he was baby, died in a hospital after recently undergoing abdominal surgery, The Associated Press quoted a hospital spokesman as saying. On Thursday his daughter, Nancy Ellen Watson, said he had been hospitalized after falling at his home in Deep Gap, N.C., adding that he did not break any bones but was very ill.

Mr. Watson, who came to national attention during the folk music revival of the early 1960s, injected a note of authenticity into a movement awash in protest songs and bland renditions of traditional tunes. In a sweetly resonant, slightly husky baritone, he sang old hymns, ballads and country blues he had learned growing up in the northwestern corner of North Carolina, which has produced fiddlers, banjo pickers and folk singers for generations.

Griffin finalist poet Phil Hall poised for a hat trick ...

Phil Hall. KilldeerToronto: BookThug, 2011.
reviewed by Stevie Howell
Killdeer is poised for a hat trick: it’s won the Governor General’s Award for poetry and is a finalist for the Griffin Prize and the Ontario Trillium Book Award. That amount of acclaim shifts the lens of the review from standard to panoramic. It becomes somewhat of a given that a book with so much acclaim has many merits—and this one does. So the question expands: in the realm of so many great books, why has this one captured the imagination?
The publisher BookThug has established expectations of experimental writing. Phil Hall does play with language and form—his unique use of sentence fragments (what he calls “essay-poems”) and his use of dashes as the only punctuation shape the reader as a breathless confidant. Hall challenges the uses of language, too, by confronting the intersection of social class and the arts, admitting that “coming from a bookless home—I have never gotten over an innate suspicion of text—even my own.”
The title, Killdeer, makes use of a universal poetry trope—the bird as metaphor for the nature and style of poets and/or their poems. A killdeer’s most compelling trait is the way it feigns a broken wing to keep predators away from its eggs, startling the interloper and perhaps eliciting sympathy. Similarly, Phil Hall admits “there has always been a thin puppetry to my whining… I have—like the killdeer—made vaudeville of my pain—to distract my enemies—and this has distracted me too.”
What was less expected were the conventional and canonical elements. In a departure from BookThug’s edgy repertoire, and calling to mind dominant mid-century poetry, Killdeer is essentially confessional, speaking candidly about family issues, alcoholism, abuse, and marriage. Additionally, Hall describes a number of encounters with those course-adopted “Modern Library” Canadian writers, including Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Irving Layton, and others. Although I was surprised by this nostalgia for tradition, these poems were in equal turns moving, illuminating, and amusing.
Many pieces involve Hall’s youthful aspirations to “become” a writer, and his honesty is both uncomfortable and endearing. After Margaret Laurence encouraged him to send his poems to a journal, he did, with the note to the editor name-dropping the novelist’s endorsement. He received a jaded rejection letter that read, “Well, I want Trudeau to like them too.”
The portraits of Phil Hall’s close friends and family are the most intimate, such as “She Loved the Ocean,” “Praxia,” and “77 Florence.” These pieces are written with such honesty and empathy that it is impossible to read them and not tremble. They capture everything Hall is trying to reveal and protect.
It is this distinct mixture of experimentation and reverence for tradition, along with Hall’s self-aware growth as a writer, that resonates so deeply. Many of these pieces use the personal I in a balancing act with the lyric I, and the melodrama of the writer “limp[ing] across” the page is all-too-relatable. And it’s true: alongside Hall are “so many astounding readers—and forgotten writers—persisting.”
Regular Arc reviewer Stevie Howell is a Toronto-based poet whose work has appeared in Descant,MatrixThe New Quarterly and Prism International.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

from The Australian ... PM's literary awards shortlist

The 2012 Prime Minister's 

Literary Awards shortlists:

Fiction shortlist
All That I Am by Anna Funder
Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville
Foal's Bread by Gillian Mears
Autumn Laing by Alex Miller
Forecast: Turbulence by Janette Turner Hospital
Poetry shortlist
Ashes in the Air by Ali Alizadeh
Interferon Psalms by Luke Davies
Armour by John Kinsella
Southern Barbarians by John Mateer
New and Selected Poems by Gig Ryan
Non-fiction shortlist
A Short History of Christianity by Geoffrey Blainey
Michael Kirby Paradoxes and Principles by A J Brown
When Horse Became Saw: A Family's Journey Through Autism by Anthony Macris
Kinglake-350 by Adrian Hyland
An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark by Mark McKenna
Prize for Australian History shortlist
1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia by James Boyce
The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia by Bill Gammage
Breaking the Sheep's Back by Charles Massy
Indifferent Inclusion: Aboriginal people and the Australian Nation by Russell McGregor
Immigration Nation: The Secret History of Us by Renegade Films Australia Pty Ltd
Young adult fiction shortlist
A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon
Being Here by Barry Jonsberg
Pan's Whisper by Sue Lawson
When We Were Two by Robert Newton
Alaska by Sue Saliba
Children's fiction shortlist
Evangeline, The Wish Keeper's Helper by Maggie Alderson
The Jewel Fish of Karnak by Graeme Base
Father's Day by Anne Brooksbank
Come Down, Cat! by Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo
Goodnight, Mice! by Frances Watts, illustrated by Judy Watson

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poem Hunter travels to Australia

Check Ross Clark out at his page on Poemhunter -

Chapbook Prize - enter now!

Call for Manuscripts
May 1, 2012 through June 30, 2012
$1,000 for a book of poems
Final Judge: Cathy Park Hong
The winning volume will be published in April 2013 by Ahsahta Press.

The Ahsahta Chapbook Prize opens May 1, 2012.
Ahsahta Press, a member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses,
conforms to the CLMP Code of Ethics and participated in its drafting.
•     The Ahsahta Chapbook Prize honors a book of original poetry in English by a single author; translations are not eligible for this award. The winning poet receives a $1,000 honorarium upon publication plus 100 copies of the published book. In addition to announcements in national publications, the winning book and author will be featured on the Ahsahta website.

More - full details and rules for submission - HERE

Monday, May 28, 2012

American Ghazal - by Sheila Murphy

One Hundred Sixty-Second

Lilies, like yourself, live where they are known,
and tangibly, the elements upon them.

Racks of how-to books explain how to locate
one to love, then how to love and to possess.

Wind tonight means temperatures will not reach ninety-one.
People have left town, and dry heat offers quiet.

A one-year old is scheduled to arrive at our front door.
She climbs into cupboards and filing cabinets.

When my aunt died, among her possessions were multiple
wallets, purses, pairs of gloves, and watches she had won.

Sheila E. Murphy

Friend and US poet - Hyper-productive and experimental.

Much more about her and her work can be found at

ABC Radio National's BIG IDEA - TONIGHT 8.05pm (7pm WA)

MONDAY 28 MAY 2012

    Monday 28 May 2012 8:05PM (7.05pm WA)

    • Marc Lewis
      Marc Lewis took every drug imaginable over a 15 year period. He knows drugs can make you feel good, and he experienced the desperate lows of addiction. He's been drug free for 30 years and is now a neuroscientist. So what do the drugs he took actually do to your brain?  Why do they make you feel the way they do? And -crucially – how is the brain responsible for addiction? He speaks to Paul Barclay

    Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Poetry Foundation NEWSLETTER

    Healing Power of Poetry

    Finding Poetry in Illness

    A reader’s journey of self-transformation from disease to ease.
    Jay Wright

    The Healing Improvisation of Hair

    The Poetry Ward

    The Poetry Ward

    A doctor dispenses poems to patients and medical students.

    Get Well Soon Poems

    Get Well Soon Poems

    Poetry from the Poetry Foundation archive to send to a sick friend.


    The Mind’s Own Place



    Contemporary Best Sellers for the week of My 13, 2012
    1Pity the Beautiful
    by Dana Goia (Graywolf Press)
    2Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems
    by Billy Collins (Random House)
    3Life on Mars
    by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press )
    4New Collected Poems
    by Wendell Berry (Counterpoint)
    5Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
    by Mary Oliver (Random House)

    Friday, May 25, 2012

    Poem-A-Day: 'SILENCES' by John Montague

    for Elizabeth

    Poetry is a weapon, and should be used,
    though not in the crudity of violence.
    It is a prayer before an unknown altar,
    a spell to bless the silence.

    There is a music beyond all this,
    beyond all forms of grievance,
    where anger lays its muzzle down
    into the lap of silence.

    Or some butterfly script,
    fathomed only by the other,
    as supple fingers draw
    a silent message from the tangible.


    Today's poem is fromSpeech Lessons, published by Wake Forest University Press. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved, at

    Thursday, May 24, 2012

    Poetry In Film Festival - Enter Now!

    The Poetry in Film Festival (PIFF) is on the hunt for the feature poem to be interpreted into short films. This year’s theme is ‘The Future Imagined’ Submit your poem by June 30th 2012.

    Poetry in Film Festival (PIFF) is the initiative that aims to bring the Australian arts community together with a festival combining film and poetry.
    PIFF 2012, in its third year, is an exciting and innovative short film festival based in Melbourne, Australia. Although its home is Australia, the festival is accepting entries from around the world.
    Entrants in the festival are given a piece of modern poetry. From there they are free to interpret the poem in the form of a 4-7 min short film however they see fit.
    The films will be judged by a team of industry professionals and awards will be given for the following criteria:
    - Best Direction
    - Best Cinematography
    - Best Film (Best interpretation of the poem)
    - Audience choice (judged on the PIFF Showcase and Awards Night)
    - Best Performance
    The best films will be screened at the PIFF Awards Night at the Palace Cinema Como, November 18th, 2012, where the awards ceremony will take place. An after party will follow, where filmmakers have a chance to network with fellow filmmakers, PIFF organisers and industry professionals alike.
    The best films will also be shown as a part of the festival circuit in various other locations, after the awards ceremony, throughout Victoria and Australia.
    See it all HERE

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    'Undercover' at Bookshops now

    Now available at Planet Books, Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley, phone 9328 7464
    Crow Books, 900 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101, phone 9472 9737

    More as they are added.

    Or mail order from the publisher Walleah Press at  

    Oh, how beautiful the books of yore!

    See more HERE

    Are there any fine / arts book-crafts people in Western Australia? 
    We at CODEX Australia are looking to make a directory of such services to promote and link such crafts people across Australia and to USA and Mexican practitioners. .Please contact me at burkeandre(at)gmail(dot) com if you have any information.

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Jazz and Poetry inspiring each other


    Letting Jazz Have a Turn Interpreting the Poets

    Jazz at Lincoln Center did something really self-assured last week. It presented two major large-ensemble pieces by members of its orchestra, neither very well known as composers, for a three-night run at the Rose Theater: “God’s Trombones,” by the trombonist Chris Crenshaw, and “Inferno,” by the saxophonist Sherman Irby.
    Each was about the length of an LP and based on a book of poetry. “God’s Trombones” drew on the 1927 work of the same name by James Weldon Johnson, seven connected poems using the rhetoric of the black American church service; “Inferno” drew on Dante. As suites, and in some aspects of arrangement and harmony, they contained the spirit and substance of Duke Ellington. But in other ways they embodied what we can call the Jazz at Lincoln Center impulse: be ambitious, be noble, be narrative, be permanent.

    Read the rest of the article HERE.

    Sunday, May 20, 2012

    Woo hoo! Books launched splendidly ...

    Lucy Dougan's ON THE CIRCUMVESUVIANA and my UNDERCOVER OF LIGHTNESS: NEW AND SELECTED collections were both expertly launched today by Prof PHILLIP MEAD at Mattie Furphy House, Swanbourne. Thanks to our hosts, the FAWWA in the person of Trisha Kotai-Ewers.

    Thank you to 50 family and friends who celebrated the occasion with us - and bought a healthy amount of books.

    For those who couldn't get there, books are now available from Planet Books in Mt Lawley and Crow Books in East Victoria Park.  More bookshops will be stocked in the week ahead.

    Otherwise, contact Walleah Press at - my thanks to Ralph Wessman for being the easiest publisher to get along with.


    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Book Launch Tomorrow

    Sunday 20th - TOMORROW - at 2pm, book launch for Lucy Dougan and Andrew Burke at Mattie Furphy House, Kirkwood St, Swanbourne. Refreshments served (tap water and stale bickies).

    The full text of the blurbs for Andrew's book:

    Andrew Burke has made an indelible mark on our poetry over the years: his early work was filled with a sort of bravura energy and a willingness to take risks; later, he evolved a warm, compassionate style well suited to the personal pressures that he had to face. Always there has been an underlying delight in language itself - its power and its playfulness. 

    Here is a poet to hail and to treasure.

    -       Thomas Shapcott

    -                              Like William Carlos Williams, West Australian poet, Andrew Burke, is a master of the quotidian. Like Philip Larkin, he writes poems to “preserve things I have seen / thought / felt”.  Burke is also, however, a poet of memory. Like the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Burke’s poems tend to be carefully prepared for “decisive moments”, first from his own life — and then, by extension, for the lives of his readers.
    -                              Undercover of Lightness: New and Selected Poems collects forty rigorous pages from earlier work, preceded by a hundred pages of new work, much of it set in China and the Kimberley where Burke has recently lived and worked. Although the poet’s concerns have always ranged widely (as the quotidian tends to), many of his most poignant poems (such as “Mother Waits for Father Late” and “Walking to the Meeting”) look back at a somewhat desperate and alcoholic youth and early adulthood.
    -                   Geoff Page

    A master of the context clash, Burke's is most fundamentally a poetry of enthusiasm. And it's poetry as enthusiasm. It does what it wants to do, goes where it must. It's fun to be along for the ride. And we go everywhere. Tibet, the desert, great rivers, we hobnob with the ancients. The highs are exalting, the lows are gritty. Burke is the poet who reminds us that spiders are serial killers. To borrow a few of his words, Lightness is a freefall fiddlesticks down a hall of mirrors. Hold on to your hat! 

                Kit Kelen
    This book is full of illumination, clear intelligence, music and, most welcome, a sense of humour. Throughout, Andrew Burke’s poems talk and sing to us, and they talk to other poems and poets, as if to friends. This is because the poems are peopled, full of living and speaking. He is not afraid of either direct address, nor of formal experiment in a way that seems natural, and opens up the poem to both its making in language and the living it takes part in. In this, all the great themes of love and mortality are made fresh and real.

                Jill Jones

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    English used to have Gendered Nouns

    If you speak another language like Spanish or German, you are familiar with grammatical gender. In Romance languages (and many others), nouns have a gender. In French, a chair is la chaise, a feminine noun, and a hat is le chapeau, a masculine noun. But did you know that English used to have gendered nouns too? (We were recently inspired to write about grammatical gender because the hosts over at Lexicon Valley, Mike Volo and Bob Garfield, discussed why languages have gender on three excellent episodes.)

    Until the 1200s, English had grammatical gender. Instead of using the articles “the” or “a”, Old English had a masculine article “se” and a feminine article “seo”. The sun, for instance, was feminine, so it would be written “sēo sunne”. If you referred to the sun, you would even say “she”.

    However, in northern England in the 1100s, grammatical gender disappeared. Historical linguists aren’t entirely sure why this happened, but Professor Anne Curzan suggests that genders were lost because of the language mixing that went on in Northern England during that time. Between the 700s and the 1000s, there were Vikings invading northern England where peasants lived. The two groups spoke different languages: Old English and Old Norse. However, it is quite likely that many people were bilingual and fluent in both languages. Both Old English and Old Norse had gender, but sometimes their genders contradicted each other. In order to simplify communication, gendered nouns simply disappeared.

    Of course, gender did not disappear entirely. We still have gendered pronouns in English: he, she and it.

    Do you think English would be better with grammatical gender?


    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    Why I Still Write Poetry by Charles Simic | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

    Why I Still Write Poetry by Charles Simic | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

    Charles Simic: When my mother was very old and in a nursing home, she surprised me one day toward the end of her life by asking me if I still wrote poetry. When I blurted out that I still do, she stared at me with incomprehension. I had to repeat what I said, till she sighed and shook her head, probably thinking to herself this son of mine has always been a little nuts. Now that I’m in my seventies, I’m asked that question now and then by people who don’t know me well. Many of them, I suspect, hope to hear me say that I’ve come my senses and given up that foolish passion of my youth and are visibly surprised to hear me confess that I haven’t yet. They seem to think there is something downright unwholesome and even shocking about it, as if I were dating a high school girl, at my age, and going with her roller-skating that night.
    The kind of poems I write—mostly short and requiring endless tinkering—often recall for me games of chess. They depend for their success on word and image being placed in proper order and their endings must have the inevitability and surprise of an elegantly executed checkmate.

    See more about this poet, including many poems, at

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    'In a Single Gesture' by Alan Loney

    from the Nawakum Press site:

    In a Single Gesture
    by Alan Loney
    Alan Loney has developed an international reputation as a poet, writer of prose and criticism, publisher, and as a fine press printer. He is the 2011 recipient of the Janet Frame Award for Poetry in New Zealand for lifetime achievement, and previously won the 1976 New Zealand Book Award for poetry with his collection Dear Mondrian. Loney has printed over fifty books of his own work and the work of other poets. His Hawk Press (1974-83), Black Light Press (1987-91), and Holloway Press (1994-98) have given voice to the smallest nuances of his creative expressions and those of other poets.

    In A Single Gesture is a sequence of 24 poems manifesting as one, connected by a single calligraphic line drawn by Judy Detrick through the entire sixteen-foot length of the accordion style binding. Poetry of thoughtful feeling from the outset, as Loney himself describes it, the work draws inspiration from ancient Greek poets and philosophers. Each poem's first line has been selected from an original Greek text and translated by the poet. Expanding on the essence of these first lines, each poem then resonates with immediate personal relevance in a style both self reflective and circumspect, in a manner that is crisp, fragmented, erudite and uniquely Loney.
    30 copies, of which 24 are for sale. Letterpress printed on mould-made Somerset Book and handmade Cave Paper, the book is 32 pages which measure 61/2 by 12 inches. Jason Dewinetz of Greenboathouse Press designed the edition. 

    The text is Brioso Pro, designed by Robert Slimbach. California calligrapher Judy Detrick illustrated the text with a calligraphic line, printed letterpress, running throughout the entire length of the book. Patrick Reagh printed the text and covers from polymer plates.The accordion bindings and clamshell boxes were produced by John DeMerritt. Publication price: $700.00  Order >

     Andrew: Check the book out at the site - beautiful! 

    ON BARCELONA requests submissions

    From the desk of Halvard Johnson, poet and editor

    Always looking for new contributors, old contributors, readers. 
    Send work to No connection to 
    Barcelona required, as though there might be work 
    unconnected to Barcelona.

    Halvard Johnson

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    The Australian Haiku Society Update: Vancouver Haiku Invitational: closes 4 June 2012

        The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival invites you to submit two
        haiku celebrating the beauty of cherry blossoms. This year,
        internationally recognized poet from Australia, Beverley
        George, has been invited to be the Festival guest judge.
        Details on the competition and submission process are available


    Einstein praises the Imagination

    “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
    Albert Einstein