Friday, August 31, 2012

Guardian review of 'On Poetry' - by Glyn Maxwell

Glyn Maxwell
Glyn Maxwell … refreshingly clear. Photograph: David Levene
"This," Glyn Maxwell writes on the first page of his new book, "is a book for anyone." This is, to say the least, a dubious claim. Given that the market for poetry in Britain is vanishingly small, the market for books about poetry is ... well, suffice to say that Oberon Books are to be congratulated on putting this out, because it really is a tremendously good book, and should be read by anyone who writes poetry and anyone who's interested in how and why poetry is written.
  1. On Poetry
  2. by Glyn Maxwell

    Or anyone who's interested in what poetry is. What is it about this form with its short, jagged-edged lines, its patterning of words and sounds? What makes it different from chopped-up prose? On this, as on much else, Maxwell is brisk and forthright: if you're going to write poetry, "line-break is all you've got, and if you don't master line-break – the border between poetry and prose – then you don't know there is a border. And there is a border. (A prose poem is prose done by a poet.)"

    'Reading poetry on facebook' by Rae Desmond Jones

    reading poetry on facebook
    is like wearing a condom on my eyeballs–

    something slippery & nylon
    between the cornea & the lens,

    so it’s my eyes
    that are the problem 
    & the brain that squats behind them

    plus the 65 years of reading 
    they’ve done mostly
    on paper

    but it wasn’t always on paper -

    Homer was this blind old fart
    who wandered about 
    singing & banging 
    a garbage tin lid

    & if he was cooling it
    with a few bottles of vino
    on Mount Olympus with his mates

    what would he have made 
    of Wordsworth & Coleridge – 
    where’s the blood in them …

    so I look across at my old yellow
    Waste Land & I want to crawl
    in between its Faber cardboard

    all fusty & dusty & modernist
    but it’s with Allen Ginsberg now
    the shakiest brains of our generation

    are not destroyed by madness or
    marijuana or sodomy –

    all it takes, my dear, is time
    & that glow leaking through a screen.

    posted with permission of Rae Desmond Jones

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Review THE RUTTING SEASON by Scott-Patrick Mitchell

    From THE WEST AUSTRALIAN by William Yeoman (I presume)

    Poetica's sampling of contemporary Australian poetry publications


    Saturday 1 September 2012 3:05PM (view full episode)
    To celebrate National Poetry Week, Poetica producer Mike Ladd takes us on a round-the-nation sampling of contemporary Australian poetry publications from every state and territory. Some are by poets debuting their first collections, like Carmel Williams, Michelle Dicinoski, Eileen Chong, Fiona Wright and Anthony Lynch, and some are by veterans like Bruce Dawe and the late Rosemary Dobson.
    Readers: Katherine Fyffe and Cameron Goodall.
    Sound engineer: Andrea Hensing.
    Producer: Mike Ladd

    Supporting Information

    List of poems:
    Anzac Hill at Night, by Carmel Williams, from The Butcher’s Window, Picaro Press, 2012
    The Opthalmic Prosthetist, by Andrew Burke, from Qwerty, Mulla Mulla Press, 2011
    Divining Colander, by Rosemary Dobson, from Collected, UQP, 2012.
    Rehearsal, by Peter Steele, from Braiding the Voices, John Leonard Press, 2012.
    Night Train, by Anthony Lynch, from Night Train, Clouds of Magellan, 2011
    Bellbirds, by Peter Rose, from Crimson Crop, UWA Publishing, 2012
    Requiem for Je Reviens by Worth, by Lyn Reeves, from Designs on the Body, Interactive Press, 2010
    Falling, by Aidan Coleman, from Asymmetry, Brandl and Schlesinger, 2012
    His Collarbone, by Ioana Petrescu, from Persuading Plato, Ginninderra Press, 2012
    We drove to Auburn, by Fiona Wright, from Knuckled, Giramondo, 2011
    Bathhouse Ritual, by Eileen Chong, from burning rice, Australian Poetry New Voices Series 2012
    Wet Season, by David Musgrave, from Concrete Tuesday, Island Press, 2012
    Pet, by Kate Lilley, from Ladylike, UWA Publishing, 2012
    At the Seventies Revival Party, by Duncan Richardson, from Ultra Soundings, Interactive Press, 2012
    Intimate not monumental, by Michelle Dicinoski, from Electricity for Beginners, Clouds of Magellan, 2011 
    Slo-Mo Tsunami, by Bruce Dawe, from Slo-Mo Tsunami and Other Poems, Puncher and Wattmann, 2011

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    A Triple Treat at Perth Poetry Club SATURDAY

    At the Moon Saturday 1st September, 2012: Perth Poetry Club presents Stephen Cole+ Derek Fenton + mini feature from Alicia Bee (Melbourne)

    2pm, 323 William St, Northbridge.

    Read our blog to get some background on our magnificent guests.

    Poets coming up at Perth Poetry Club:

    08 Sep: Johnny White + Kay Cairns
    15 Sep: Dennis Haskell + Terry Farrell

    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    The Top 10 Most Difficult Books

    By Emily Colette Wilkinson & Garth Risk Hallberg 
    from the blog The Hairpin
    Back in 2009, The Millions started its "Difficult Books" series--devoted to identifying the hardest and most frustrating books ever written, as well as what made them so hard and frustrating. The two curators, Emily Colette Wilkinson and Garth Risk Hallberg, have selected the most difficult of the most difficult, telling us about the 10 literary Mt. Everests waiting out there for you to climb, should you be so bold. If you can somehow read all 10, you probably ascend to the being immediately above Homo sapiens. How many have you read? What books would you add? Let us know in the comments!

    Emily's Picks

    Nightwood by Djuna Barnes - Dylan Thomas called Nightwood "one of the three greatest prose books ever written by a woman,” but in order to behold this greatness you must master Barnes' tortuous, gothic prose style. In his introduction to the novel, T.S Eliot describedNightwood’s prose as “altogether alive” but also “demanding something of a reader that the ordinary novel-reader is not prepared to give.”Nightwood is a novel of ideas, a loose collection of monologues and descriptions. What will keep you going: The cross-dressing Irish-American "Dr. Matthew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante O'Connor," who, when not wandering Paris, drinking heavily, or dressing in nighties, rouge, and wigs of cascading golden curls, is expounding great rambling sermons that fill most of the book. These are funny, dirty, absurd, despairing, resigned—even hopeful in a Becketty I-can't-go-on-I'll-go-on kind of way.

    A Tale of A Tub by Jonathan Swift - The first difficulty: The superabundant references to obsolete cultural squabbles (some obscure even in Swift’s eighteenth-century England) and then there’s the narratorial persona: an impoverished, syphilitic madman who cuts pieces out of his manuscript and his fellow citizens remorselessly. His compulsive digressiveness is deliberately baffling, but more baffling still is that this satire, aimed at “the Abuses and Corruptions in Learning and Religion” and written by a conservative, Anglican clergyman, ends finding nothing sacred. If you can bear it (and the 100s of footnotes you’ll need to understand its historical context), it’s the ultimate expression of cultural alienation and despair.
    The Phenomenology of the Spirit by G.F. Hegel - Do you enjoy a good intellectual gobsmack every now and again? If so, Hegel’s your man and this book, a classic of German idealism and unquestionably one of the most important works of modern philosophy, is a fine place to start. Hegel’s refutation of Kantian idealism, history of consciousness, and quintessential explanation of the process of the dialectic is hard to understand and harder still to retain (“goes through you like lentils,” as one Stanford professor described it to me), due first and foremost to the breadth of its subject and its terminology. The book’s nearly impenetrable without a good edition and guide or two: The Oxford UP edition is widely considered the best (and don’t skip the notes and foreward) and the Routledge Philosophy Guidebook’s commentary by Robert Stern makes good warm-up reading; also good (and free) are J.M. Bernstein’s lecture notes for his UC Berkeley graduate course on the Phenomenology, available at
    To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf - In its intermingling of separate consciousnesses, Virginia Woolf’s fiction is both intellectually and psychically difficult. Not only is it hard to tell who’s who and who’s saying or thinking what, it is also disconcerting—even queasy-making—to be set adrift in other minds, with their private rhythms and associative patterns. It feels, at times, like being occupied by an alien consciousness. Some readers don’t ever find their sea-legs with Woolf.  The trick is to surrender yourself (true with other high modernists too), to let the prose wash over you and take you where it will—not to worry too much about understanding a dogmatic way.

    Clarissa, Or the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson - Richardson’s Clarissa is a heavyweight in more ways than one. The novel’s physical heft is part of its difficulty (she weighs in at just under three pounds in Penguin’s oversized edition), especially as her 1500 pages are light on plot (Samuel Johnson said you’d hang yourself if you read Clarissa for the plot). But what the novel lacks in plot it makes up for in psychological depth. Richardson was the first master of the psychological novel and he hasn’t been bested since. These depths are also dark and psychically wrenching: Clarissa's rejection and dehumanization by her monstrous family and the sadistic torments she undergoes at the hands of her rescuer turned torturer, the "charming sociopath" Robert Lovelace, offer some of the most emotionally harrowing reading experiences available in English.

    Garth's Picks

    Finnegans Wake by James Joyce -Finnegans Wake is long, dense, and linguistically knotty, yet hugely rewarding, if you're willing to learn how to read it. By this, I don't mean wallowing in the froth of scholarly exegesis the Wake churned up in its wake. Not the first time out, at least. (I take Joyce's talk about setting traps for his readers as an expression of hostility born out of years of frustration.) Rather, I mean surrendering to Joyce's music. Meaning here is more a question of effect than of decoding; in this way, this Difficult Book is paradigmatic of great literature more generally. Try reading 25 pages a day, out loud, in your best bad Irish accent. (Seriously - some of what seems like idiolectic obscurity is just a question of how you pronounce your vowels.) You'll be maddened, you'll be moved, and you'll be done in about four weeks.

    Being & Time by Martin Heidegger - Being & Time is probably the hardest book I've ever read. To contradict what I said vis-a-vis Joyce, I don't feel comfortable as a reader of Heidegger letting things wash over me. Literary meaning and philosophical meaning are different beasts, and Being & Time, with its intentionally obtrusive neologisms, isn't meant to be dreamlike. It aims instead to be, among other things, a new kind of science, or a new foundation on which to build the sciences - an understanding of what it means "to be." Heiddeger gets a lot of things shockingly right, and yet the book's abstractness and rigor mean that most of his discoveries remain well-kept secrets. Even reading the first half in a graduate-level seminar, it took me over a year to get through this one. Was persevering worth it? Well, it changed my life. I don't know how much more a reader can ask for.
    The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser - The difficulty and the pleasure of reading Spenser's masterpiece arise from a common source: its semiotic promiscuity. The Faerie Queene is allegory to the power of allegory. Or it is allegory drunk out of its mind on sugary wine, dressed up in layers of costumery, made to run singing through the garden of Eden at four o' clock in the morning before falling down in a heap at sunrise to make silver love to itself. Or it's the product of that lovemaking, tenor and vehicle copulating so variously and complexly that each becomes the other. There is much madness here, not least in the sheer hubris of Spenser's plan. (Like Heidegger, he only finished half of his magnum opus.) The Faerie Queene is also, bizarrely, a work of exquisite poetic control, hundreds upon hundreds of perfectly turned stanzas. I read it in college. It was hard as hell, and I forgot the plot even while I was reading, but many of its images remain burned into my brain ten years later.
    The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein - I've been working my way through The Making of Americans for many summers now. I keep getting several hundred pages in, switching to something else, and then, as with Heidegger, returning to find I've lost the thread. But what Heidegger describes, Stein evokes; to read even a page of The Making of Americans is to be thrown into a unique state of attunement. The fineness of attention its exquisite narrative tedium promotes is like an antidote to the shallows of the internet. Beyond the page, birds sing louder, sunlight grows thicker, car horns bare their souls. "The first stunningly original disaster of Modernism," someone wrote about this book, and while I'm not sure it was intended as a compliment, it makes me wish there were more disasters like this.
    Women & Men by Joseph McElroy - In this space I could put any number of postmodern meganovels - a subgenre I've been smitten with for many years now. There's William Gaddis' JR, which is easier than people make it out to be, and Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, which is harder. There's The Recognitions and Mason & Dixon. There's William H. Gass' The Tunnel - verbally lucid, but morally arduous. Of the lot, though, I'd like to shine the spotlight again on Joseph McElroy's Women & Men. It is longer than any of the foregoing, and, in the idiosyncracies of its prose, on par with the hardest. Parts of it, anyway. Its temperament, though, is completely sui generis - warm, humanist, synthetic rather than analytic. As I wrote for the L.A. Times a few years back, it's like an entirely different version of what comes after Modernism. It's a weird and wonderful book, and I can't wait to dive into it again.

    Emily Colette Wilkinson is a critic living in Washington, DC. Her reviews have received commendations from The Society of Professional Journalists and The Virginia Quarterly Review.
    Garth Risk Hallberg is the author of A Field Guide to the North American Family and is a contributing editor at The Millions

    The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest - Takes talent to win it!

    The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC) is a tongue-in-cheek contest that takes place annually and is sponsored by the English Department of San Jose State University in San Jose, California. Entrants are invited "to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels" – that is, deliberately bad. According to the official rules, the prize for winning the contest is "a pittance", or $250.

    The contest was started in 1982 by Professor Scott E. Rice of the English Department at San Jose State University and is named for English novelist and playwright Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, author of the much-quoted first line "It was a dark and stormy night". This opening, from the 1830 novel Paul Clifford, continues floridly:
    "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
    The first year of the competition attracted just three entries, but it went public the next year, received media attention, and attracted 10,000 entries. There are now several subcategories, such as detective fictionromance novelsWestern novels, and purple prose. Sentences that are notable but not quite bad enough to merit the Grand Prize or a category prize are awarded Dishonourable Mentions.

    Winner 2012

    • As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.— Cathy Bryant, Manchester, England
    Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award
    • As an ornithologist, George was fascinated by the fact that urine and feces mix in birds’ rectums to form a unified, homogeneous slurry that is expelled through defecation, although eying Greta's face, and sensing the reaction of the congregation, he immediately realized he should have used a different analogy to describe their relationship in his wedding vows. — David Pepper, Hermosa Beach, CA

    Have a read of ...

    I've been reading my emails this Sunday morning as my wife mentions the gardening repeatedly in the background. Sigh. Anyway, the point of telling you this is to prompt you to check out a new and interesting site I have found for readers and writers: The ... As the gardening apparently can't waigt, I shall pass it over to you to read on - there's a great section in it which I shall happily copy for Australian poets, The Last Poem I Loved, written by various guests. The piece on Galway Kinnell is great - have a read.


    The is an online magazine focused on culture, as opposed to "pop culture." Pop culture can be hard to define and the term means different things to different people. Basically, we're not opposed to things that are popular, but we have no interest in "art" created by marketing executives. And we have no interest in derivative art, like images of famous people made from shoelaces or Star Wars characters in funny wigs. (More on what we're about herehere, and here.)
    The Rumpus is not worried about being the first to break the news. We care about good writing, and we'll publish essays just because the writing is good. And we won't run a well crafted meditation alongside an actor's opinion of the war in Iraq. (more)
    © 2012 THE RUMPUS

    Saturday, August 25, 2012

    Melbourne Writers Festival - FREE Poetry at Cafes



    Your regular coffee now comes with an added legal stimulant - poetry. During the festival, inside sugar sachets at cafés across Melbourne, you'll find a poetry scroll from one of Melbourne's finest wordsmiths, including the late Dorothy Porter, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Jessica Raschke, Angela Costi, Ali Alizadeh, Lisa Gorton, Cameron Lowe, Jeltje, David McCooey, Emilie Zoey Baker and Kevin Brophy.  Proudly supported by Arts Victoria

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Regime 01 >> Get It Now!

    But first the launch: As you know, Regime 01, the first edition of the magazine of new writing published by the Regime Books collective, will be launched at The Bird on Monday 27 August 2012, 6pm. We look forward to seeing you there. In case you missed it, here's an Know that you are more than welcome!

    What if you can't get there? Don't worry, because Regime 01 is now available to buy from our brand new website:

    Click here to go right to Regime 01.

    If you find paying by credit card inconvenient, please email us ( and we can send you some other options; we are more than happy to handle cheques and direct deposits.

    Don't forget Man and Beast: Also online is the book of short stories by Nathan Hondros & Damon Lockwood, called Man and Beast. If you're dying to find out who's the man and who's the beast, you'll have to pick up a copy: Order Man and Beast.

    Submission open for Regime 02: Please pass the word around far and wide, submissions are now open for Regime 02. We are trialling a new system to accept submissions that you can find

    You'll see that we have opened two new categories of submissions. First, we were disappointed that we couldn't offer a proper critique of submissions for Regime 01, so we are offering an in-depth page of our thoughts on your work for $20 (even if it is accepted for publication). Of course, we will still accept submissions without charge, but we won't be able to offer the feedback you might expect. Second, we are accepting the submission of full length manuscripts. If you have a book you'd like the world to own, please submit.

    Thank you again for your kind support. We're looking forward to hitting the streets with Regime Magazine.

    Yours sincerely,

    The Editors.

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    Larf - but ain't it the truth

    This Saturday at Perth Poetry Club

    This Saturday 25 August, Perth Poetry Club features Gary de Piazzi, Jackson (Janet Jackson) and Laura Jan Shore
    Perth Poetry Club is Perth's first weekly poetry and spoken word event. 
    Saturdays 2-4pm at The Moon Cafe, 323 William Street, Northbridge. 
    Featured guests, open mike (up to 3 minutes: that's about 60 lines), 
    professional sound. Everyone welcome. 

    For more information on current and forthcoming guests, click here.

    The Shadow vs The Goons

    There’s no leaving the room when the radio ties us to father’s bedside table. The Goons and The Shadow fill the room with laughter and dread. I will laugh in my nightmares tonight, I will laugh as the Big Black Wheel chases me down the hill, gaining until I am wrapped in black shadows like priests’ wings, until ‘he fell in the water’. Laughter bubbles rise and my brother shakes me awake, Wake up! Wake up, you idiot! It’s all in the mind … Under the mantel radio on my father’s bedside table is a drawer, and in the drawer is a National Geographic, and in that National Geographic is a native woman in a forest setting, topless, shameless, well-thumbed. This is the BBC on the ABC Radio Network. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man? On the commercial station is the Craven ‘A’ Hit Parade – the cigarette tins with the black cat on the lid. Kitty, we have called her, Kitty smoke from Mother as she smokes, red lips laughing at the Goons’ gags. Laugh bubbles rise in the scotch’n’soda night as wings flap in my bed and the Big Wheel throws shadows.

    Every day,
    Every day,
    Tell the hours
    By their shadows,
    By their shadows.

    -          Arthur Crapsey

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    A Poem Without a Single Bird in It by Jack Spicer : The Poetry Foundation

    Do you sometimes go through a jag on one poet? I'm in a Spicer jag tonight and possibly tomorrow morning. It won't last forever, but in the meantime read and hear a poem or two at The Poetry Foundation's archives.

    Sardinian siblings credit minestrone soup for world record age

    Melis siblings
    The Melis siblings, from front left: Maria (97), Vitalia (80), Concetta (91), Mafalda (78), Claudina (99), Consolata (105), Adolfo (89), Antonino (93), Vitalio (86). Photograph: Ansa/EPA
    Doctors, dietitians and divines have long sought to identify the secret of a long life. The answer minestrone soup, according to nine siblings from Sardinia who were on Tuesday recognised as the world's oldest in terms of combined age.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    The Rake's Progress - Brisbane Festival

    An idle mind is the devil's playground

    For the first time Queensland Conservatorium in association with QPAC teams up with Brisbane Festival 2012 to bring you a contemporary retelling of Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress.

    In this modern morality tale originally based on Hogarth's famous drawings of corruption and debauchery in 18th Century London, Stravinsky and his librettist W.H. Auden trace the decline of their anti-hero Tom Rakewell who, having sold his soul to the devil, descends into madness and despair.
    Featuring the Queensland Conservatorium Orchestra conducted by Alexander Ingram, directed by Anna Sweeny with designs by Christopher Smith and Andrew Meadows, this English language opera will delight opera enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
    Dates: September 1, 4, 7 & 9
    Venue: Conservatorium Theatre, Southbank
    Tickets: Adults $38/$26.50/$21.50.
    Bookings: qtix 136 246 or


    Monday, August 20, 2012

    CALLING NOTE - Poem by Glen PHillips

    A bird’s calling note
    reached through branch
    after twig after bough
    of more than sixty passing
    years to jerk me back
    into simple colour and space,
    pendulous olive of jarrah
    green, against cerulean blue.

    Looking back, the days of single
    acts stretch wide as an old
    squeeze-box with only a dozen
    notes to play. Then days arc
    like old tunes heard again.

    Walking out in the yard
    in the sun after breakfast
    filling the hours of invitation
    from a friendly orb, I listen
    again to each bird’s calling note.

    Glen Phillips
    Ó August, 2012.

    A new Regime begins ... Party!

    This is a friendly reminder that 
    Regime Magazine Launch Party 
    will be in full flight on 
    Monday, August 27th 
    from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM 
    at The Bird, 
    181 William Street, Perth. 

    See you there!

    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Why are male writers so bad at sex scenes?

    The nominations for the Literary Review Bad Sex awards 

    are always dominated by men, says Rowan Pelling. 

    Why are women so much better at writing about sex?

    QUOTE: When I was editor of the Erotic Review there was a distinct difference between the genders when I was beseeching authors to write something sexy for the magazine. If women acquiesced they would generally apply themselves to the task with determination and sincerity, mining their own experience and desires in pursuit of genuinely erotic prose. Men, on the other hand, often trembled at the thought of applying themselves with that degree of naked sincerity. One well known author and broadcaster was fairly representative when he told me: "I can write about sex, but only if it's bad, comedic, absurd, embarrassing or downright disgusting. I can't begin to write about 'making love' because the very thought makes my toes curl."
    He protested that Anglo-Saxon men just don't feel comfortable with that degree of exposure – which is exactly why the late Auberon Waugh instigated the Literary Review Bad Sex in Literature Awards, to punish those who don't show such reticence.
    Perhaps this helps explain why, year after year, the number of male nominations for the Bad Sex awards far outstrips those by female authors. This year's list is no exception. There are only two women on the provisional long list of 12 – Jean Auel and Dori Ostermiller – while there are plenty of well-known male offenders, such as Stephen King, Lee Child, Sebastian Barry and David Guterson.
    I read Guterson's book Ed King and I have to say the sex scenes (and every part of the book, come to that) were so mortifyingly awful that I wiped them from my memory and chucked the volume in the bin. Just as I thought my mind and soul were purged, here comes the Literary Review to remind me of the horror: "In the shower, Ed stood with his hands at the back of his head, like someone just arrested, while she abused him with a bar of soap." All I can say is that this is the lightest and most tasteful of the excerpts.
    Read on HERE

    Saturday, August 18, 2012

    philadelphia poetry hotel 2013 - CA Conrad

    Poets around the world suffer from low incomes and high rents, agreed?
    CA Conrad is trying to do something about that 
    in Philadelphia. Maybe it can be a role model for other
    big cities around the world. 

    Poets in need need poets who care.

    Bookaholics Anonymous Test Card

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    Weekend Cartoon

    Extracts from the Guardian's 'Bad Sex Awards'