Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Turn the Page
I fell asleep in the arms of my god,
and woke in those of a burnt-out body
by the banks of a roiling river.
I keep dreaming I’m happy, sane again,
but the path veered away
and the fords fell away
as scales from both eyes
in an ugly miracle,
and I’m sick of ugliness and silence
whilst, within, cacophony.
And the worst thing is, I can’t remember
what it’s like asleep in the arms of a god,
free from the dregs of fear, and drugspun static.
Turn the page,
and forget me:
I dare you to....
- Phillip A Ellis 2007
Phillip A. Ellis is a poet and scholar living on the eastern coast of Australia. His first concordance, of the poetry of Donald Wandrei, is due for publication by Hippocampus Press, and he has a free e-chapbook of poetry, Morning Light downloadable from http://www.geocities.com/phillipellis01/broadsheets.html and he has another chapbook, Bitter Honey, available for purchase from ebooksonthe.net as well. He will be studying English at Honours level through the University of New England, Armidale, over 2008 and 2009.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Intimacy is one of the great human paradoxes, an elemental whisper that seems to possess both body and soul; colour, light shadow, smell, touch, taste. And yet it is really no more than a suspicion that the external world may not be quite so hostile after all. That we have brushed against Other and that perhaps (forgive me, Ezra Pound) there may be commerce between us.
There is simply no way of arguing intimacy with anyone. Colours range, intimacy doesn't. Poets consider it theirs now, all others having left the field. The tender trail of a finger down a lover's forearm, the muffled plea of that lone sock in the corridor. The milky spill of the stars over your sagging wind-blown camp. The clutch of events in the ears of the resolute.
We bury intimacy along with our names, to paraphrase Cicero.
Poetry is, of course, eternally charged by intimacy much as the asteroid is eternally charged and dismayed by the vacuum of space. It is the poet impatient of the intimate who will tutor you on form in the small hours and yet will not hear a word read in its defence or anyone else's. I may lack a certain homely charm, but hours spent in a small room with such people are short on the cosy and long on the intimate.
So what, then, do I mean by "the intimate"?
I will spare you the John Donne bedroom conceits, fleas, etc. This post is neither about the frail edges of life or its long, nagging shadows. It is about the happenstance, the life discovered as it is lived, the union of time and space that is the miracle of all sentient beings. The nooks and crannies. The life we surrender from ourselves everyday for the good of all of us. A habit formed over millenia that those millenia seem designed to shatter every day for the last 3650000 days, or so. And yet here we are, just.
As I write this I am watching a cricket match. She of the indelible nooks and crannies. That should be a surprise to no-one. I am an Australian and that is what we do here - quaff wine and agonise over a game that is about as divorced from our sunny, fervent nature as any game could possibly be. So why the enduring fascination across centuries and tribes of this most ponderous and challenging of contact sports?
It is intimacy, of course. In all the most celebrated portraits of the game in this country (with the stark exception of Drysdale, whose iconic painting had more to do with how this country had been bled dry to the point of serial ghost towns, ie with the cricketer's themselves than with the cricket), the players stand focused, mirroring some point between time passed and the world at hand, florid with potential.
I had the great fortune to be privy to two fascinating Test matches recently, one in Kolkata where more than 300,000 witnessed the match, the other in Kandy smack bang in the highlands of Sri Lanka, where less than a tenth as many cheered their team to victory on the fifth day from what seemed an impossible position on the second day, especially after the dog crossed the field for the first time. To the uninitiated, a Test match is so-called because it extends over 5 days, ie 30 hours of playing time, which is often not enough to get a result at that level. Dogs do not usually factor in the equation. But Kandy is that sort of ground.
I have only recently got cable. Cable TV was never a matter of great concern to me and I still can't quite explain why I have it now except that I am older and more settled with my leases, and well, let's face it, free-to-air is getting a little light weight.
I am not, I promise you, a conduit for pay TV. I have a point here. Intimacy. The happenstance of us. Cricket. The smiling old dog who stopped a match between two proud nations every day at 3.05 pm on her way home from somewhere to somewhere. No-one cared or dared to stop her and ask - not the cricketers, not the managers, not the groundsmen, not the police, not the cameramen, not the producers. They all just stood and waited while she waddled and grinned wide through their moment. Not once. Not twice, but every day of that Test (5 days) there she came smiling and strutting from one end of the ground to the other.
I cannot think of another sport played at this level where such quirks of fate would be tolerated, but then we are talking about a sport with its own mad aunt vocabulary - "silly mid-on", "googly", etc - and its own mad aunt obsession with food and drink (there are two meal breaks - the first at 1pm, the second at 3.40pm, as well as a brief drinks break every hour). Ian Botham, England's greatest cricketer and now a wise and personable commentator, tipped the dog would be back at the same time the next day "it just has that look about it, going about her(?) business", by which time the English were batting and the Sri Lankans were hugging the boundary rope in a vain attempt to staunch the early flow of runs. A gentle murmur around the ground and there she was picked up by the cameras trotting diagonally through the game from third man to the long off rope. It was obvious one or two of the Sri Lankan players were more than a little discomfited by this grinning quadraped making free with their bread and butter, but then the camera panned back to Muttiah Muralitharan, the champion spinner, grinning from ear to ear, and suddenly the dog was swallowed up by the crowd.
I switched to the Kolkata Test between India and Pakistan, the roar of the 70,000-strong crowd in that enormous stadium so deafening I had to turn down the volume in order to make out what the commentators were saying. No dogs crossing here, the perimeter ringed with barbed wire and truncheon-yielding police. And yet the crowd were happy, vibrant, attentive. They seemed to be clustered into precincts - the face-painting crowd, the flag-waving crowd, the mullah-crowd, the shy, pretty girls and the young couples seeming to savour every moment together before marriage and children. Indian crowds, it doesn't take a genius to realise, are there with one eye on the camera, erupting like a field of wheat at the slightest shift in focus. They spend all night on their quirky placards and all day waving them around upside down for the cameras. "Sachan is such a one" and so on. But as a crowd the Kolkata mob is second to none for intelligence and good breeding. They cheered the roof off, of course, when a Pakistani wicket fell, but they also offered generous applause in recognition of opposition feats.
The match, after all, did end in a draw, even after five days, and with no trotting dogs or wasp clouds. I am working up to the wasps, patient reader. It was a tense contest, one of those engaging Test matches where even from 8,000kms away I felt as though I were eavesdropping on someone's difficult first dinner date. At times in cricket the action turns inward away from the spectator, and you either make that leap to become a participant as one would at the theatre or you give up and go home. It can be an exasperating experience for the uninitiated, or it can be the window to understanding a most profound and intimate game.
So, while one umpire fainted and another was summoned, I switched back to Kandy, where Sri Lanka were supposed to be batting their way out of trouble and into the cool highland evening. What I found was fifteen grown men (11 fielders, 2 batsmen and 2 umpires) lying face down where they had stood only a moment before. For a moment I assumed the worst, but then one or two players raised their heads and squinted as though into a very strong wind, and it was only then I noticed the white occlusion between camera and game. A swarm of wasps had, like the grinning dog, decided this was the quickest route home.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Fog is a cloud that has lost the will to fly.
After the downpour - a peasouper.
Fog so thick it is like glaucoma. The spirits
are said to be let loose in such a fog as this.
I wanted to go to the centre of the oval
where even the dark silhouette
of the treeline disappears and you
can imagine the world evaporated.
Out there I found a bunch
of cricketers camouflaged in the mist
waiting for their blindness to lift
and the contest to resume. It felt distinctly odd
meeting them like steamed ghosts,
part cloud, part will’o’th’wisp standing
with the drowned worms in the grass.
- Mark O'Flynn 2007
Mark O'Flynn is a widely-acclaimed poet, novelist and playright who has just returned from a three month writing residency in Ireland. He has had seven plays produced, published a novella and three books of poetry. His novel "Grassdogs" was released last year through HarperCollins and his third book of poetry "What Can Be Proven" was released last week through Interactive Press. He also has the dubious of honour of being my neighbour.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I remember ceasing to exist.
Not a near-death experience, no extra-corporality,
I simply lost my definition, went out of focus.
I could look in a mirror to see no one I knew.
I understood it would be useless to try to talk.
The words would not emerge or, if they did,
the hard syllables would crack and fall,
broken pieces of a dialect no one ever spoke.
I could still see. People moved around me
like square dancers treading the pattern,
smiling, laughing. They did not realise they, we
were about to lose our grip, release our toes,
demagnetise and drift off into nothingness.
I don't remember how I came back.
Did the Martians unload me, did I find God,
did I love someone or they me? I'd like to know.
I'm afraid that last encounter was only the first.
- Jo McInerney 2007
Jo McInerney spent the first twenty years of her life in Melbourne. She
has lived in Gippsland for the last thirty years and has been writing
obsessively for the last two.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
The Monthly is now available online.
'The Online Monthly' will be published simultaneously with the print edition. It will contain the full text of the current issue, plus every article ever published in the magazine.
We have decided to publish this online edition so that we reach the local 'internet generation' and give Australian expatriates easy access to the magazine.
Believe it or not, there are currently an estimated 860,000 Australians living and working overseas. If you know any of them, and think that they might enjoy The Monthly, please forward this email to them. They can consider subscribing via the link below.
This is a logical step for The Monthly following the incredible success of the printed edition, which is here to stay.
For more information see www.themonthly.com.au
Thursday, September 13, 2007
It was afternoon, but you had to stay behind with all the people
Who grew tired of the sun caked windows that inspired sleepwalking.
The grey circuitry boxes tucked inside of the white concrete
Exploded. He knew, yes he knew and he warned of it,
And he sent everyone out the door, following fumes from an electrical fire.
Night was beginning to flood the gymnasium anyways.
Fire consumed and burned and spread to every last classroom.
Now you wonder how he knew the wiring was flawed and self destructive,
Or how he knew rats were gnawing at the motherboard, the system board,
The system. The system was feeding generations of rats by the time the
Roof gave way to the stars, and he only looked oblivious.
Now you wonder this.
As you stand with your best friend
In the slicing sun,
With a school in ashes behind you.
- Steven Balters 2007
Steven Balters is an 18 year old first year student at Seattle University. He was born and raised in Omaha on the plains of Nebraska.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
I will begin and end with the cover story of The Monthly September 2007 because I believe it encapsulates all that is wrong with the current editorial approach of what promised not so long ago to be a clean break from the beigists. I know very well why it is the cover story, because it promises to appeal to the most general readership, part human-interest, part political commentary, and because its subject is the universally respected retired ABC journalist Maxine Mckew and her tilt at John Howard's seat of Bennelong (where I am currently jotting down these notes in my boss' carpark after a 90 minute drive to a low-paid job, but more of that later). My problem is not with Maxine Mckew, whom I greatly admire, nor with the intentions of both writer and editor. Maxine will probably fail in her challenge, but she doesn't need me to tell her that. I think what she is doing is bringing the values of the Australian Labor Party to an area of Sydney that has not had much direct exposure to them since the decades between the wars, a thoughtful, charming and beguilingly self-effacing advocate for what, after all, aren't a bad set of core values for what still touts itself as an egalitarian society. My problem is with the tone of the piece. It is one of almost breathless adulation that repeatedly renders the journalist, Judith Brett, immobile when a chance beckons to dig a little deeper. For instance, early in the piece she accuses McKew of a slightly bloodless consensual brand of politics so beloved of marketing types, then all but claps her hands when caught in the trap.
And when I ask her (McKew) about the ALP's position on old-growth logging, and Rudd's, in my view, disgraceful courting of the Tasmanian logging industry, she simply smiles.
Really? And what do you expect her to do, Judith, a journalist of her experience hearing a reporter from The Monthly couch her own opinions within a question? Is this the Big Issue? I can imagine the ever-graceful Maxine feeling for a 2-dollar coin in her pocket.
The journalist then spends two paragraphs on a rather breezy analysis of recent Federal parliamentary history, highlighting a cycle of sorts between consensus (the Hawke years) and the head-butting of Keating and beyond. I'm told it all rates very well on New York cable. She confuses history with short-term trends, however, a chronic distemper among journalists who refuse to read books thicker than a tabloid. Bob Hawke's consensus was a successful ploy to placate Moody's and win back the triple A rating, but it was also a successful attempt to bury the hatchet of the old class war that had been picked up by middle-class students in the 60's and poked and prodded until it was almost unrecognisable. By which I mean Whitlam.
Of course Rudd is very different from Bob Hawke, he doesn't have Whitlam and a faux class-war to bury. He just has Paul Keating and his volumes of visceral bon-mots to bury ("conga line of arseholes" has become the national favourite, I think). History never really repeats itself, not really, that's just a stick our imaginations hold over us whenever the winds of change blow the map clean out of our hands. But saints do not good politicians make, and Kevin Rudd is a very good politician. The likes of Judith Brett would do well to remember that the next time they consider committing twaddle such as this to paper
So if Rudd were to win, the times would suit McKew's style of politics and her gift for listening to people. All the courtesy and charm that made her such a persuasive interviewer are being brought to her new role as a candidate, as are her skills in intelligent listening. When she's talking to you, you have her whole attention: her wide eyes are attentive, she smiles and nods, she reaches out and touches you.....
And so on.....
In fact, while I was typing out this dire excerpt I was thinking to myself I should inspect more closely the funding streams for The Monthly, because this piece is beginning to feel more and more like paid advertising. But then I considered the subject, a truly sincere and honourable woman....But then I thought of the party she is representing, one of the oldest and toughest political outfits in the Westminster system, and then I thought, slow down Justin, one step at a time, and anyway, these are your knees.
At street level, right under McKew's office, the Liberals have rented a shopfront which is plastered, inside and out, with posters of a smiling John Howard, Australian flags and the Liberal insignia. The door is open and inside a man is sitting at a desk. I'll go in and talk to him later, I think.........
This is good thinking, Judith, you are a journalist, and the man you have set in so sinister a setting is, for better or worse, a small part of the other side of the story.
One of the posters of Howard had been graffitied...."One of your lot did this, I suppose." He (from across the street) is about 70, trim and fit, with a buzzed head and a muscle bound walk. Our embarrassed protestations that we know nothing about it....are met with scornful insults. I don't feel like going to talk with him after that.....
Great journo's instinct there, Judith! Just what this country needs, another half-told tale!
This is palliative journalism for an ageing generation whose habitual posturing sounds increasingly creaky.
To Judith Brett's eventual credit, she does feel out the opinions of the older Chinese community in Benelong who have not forgotten John Howard's infamous anti-Asian rant in the late 1980's. But once again she fails to ask them the question even your humble poet-blogger has managed to ask them here in this very car park - why only now has the local Asian community turned against John Howard? Instead we get a self-proclaimed "eureka moment"
My eureka moment came when she was talking about the Liberals' attack on the unions. "When Howard is attacking unionists, he is attacking all the essential-service workers, the nurses, the police, the transport workers. And the teachers. I am sick of teachers being insulted and beaten up on. I am appalled. I want to be a champion for teachers."
You're not alone there, Maxine. But all these are state issues. The TWU aside, the Federal government has no say over the fate of any of them, and the last time I checked Benelong was a Federal seat. At least one woman at the interview knew that.
So what is my point after this heartless harangue? Well, I would have hoped many of you could by now sing along at least half the chorus with me.
Firstly, I abhor the fossilisation of Australian written culture in the bitter aspic of 1975. The banks got to Jack Lang in NSW in 1933, and they got to Whitlam in Canberra in 1975, as they have got to so many others more and less worthy than these two. Forget it, move on. Both sides had very good reasons for what they did and anyway all are history now.
Secondly, I am tired of lazy journalism fobbed off under some Wolfeian banner taking up precious real estate along the ever-diminishing print highway of this island. These are cramped, complex, terrifying times that no amount of courtesy and charm are going to see us through (as anyone who walked the police gauntlet out of Hyde Park on APEC Saturday will shakily attest). This is no longer a world populated by ideals, international jihad aside. We all have to look squarely at things as they are, at the world we have inherited, try to steady that roller coaster that has been going wild for the best part of a hundred years. It is, after all, the credo Maxine McKew has never stopped living by.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
a pillar of cloud rests
above your room of one
bulb on a string, breaths in
their many, thoughts stunted,
too few, where you lie, curled
and clammy, hands and arms
splayed as if on a clock
at a quarter to ache
you've done this before, half
gone and left this constell-
ation, half gift and stayed,
as moon for one bulb. floor-
boards won't whisper, stars blink,
don't see. you kiss cirrus
- Kevin Gillam 2007
for him, numbers were his plug, as
sometimes (and he'd read this, man of
reason that he was),
he felt the bath-water spiral
(didn't everyone?) towards madness,
inviting the sweet collapse, gifts of
meander, violent shake, up/down
in/out of jigsaw box
some numbers looped, spun in this man of
reason, and, fully given over, he
didn't fight, didn't kick, couldn't, just
invited, in from the cold, hot
meal, fire and time, in,
in from the cold came his numbers
- Kevin Gillam 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
at the University of Western Sydney presents
James Ley (essayist, critic, and UWS postgrad)
on "A degree of insanity: Samuel Johnson's moral criticism and the
Friday 31 August
University of Western Sydney, Bankstown campus
Building 23, conference room 2
(via the Henry Lawson Drive exit of the M5)
James Ley is an essayist and critic whose work has appeared in numerous
publications, including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian
Book Review, HEAT, The Australian Literary Review and the Times Literary
Saturday, August 11, 2007
'… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself –
nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses…'
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
'I would like to see an Australian nation that feels comfortable and relaxed...'
- Prime Minister John Howard, 1996
rob's latest chapbook phobiaphobia is a collection on the theme of fear and anxiety. As well as favourites from his previous books sparrow in an airport (from Friendly Street's New Poets Ten) and micromacro, there are new poems on the fear of glass, knees, long words, the figure 8, death, the USA and all the other anxieties that go hand-in-hand with life in the 21st Century...
For a personally signed copy to anywhere in Australia within 7 days, send A$6.50 cheque or money order to
RMB 481 Cherry Gardens Rd
Sorry- personally signed copies not available to overseas readers. Ask Rob Riel for postage rates outside of Australia. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, August 09, 2007
All you happy bloggers out there should try the same thing. As I say, it's always good to know who your neighbours are, and it may help give you some idea what the decade's grand pariah, Andrew Keen, is really on about (beyond sour grapes and that odd English petulance borne of the class system and the weather masking itself with intellectual airs and graces).
He really is an antsy little so and so, but does he have a point about this blogger world of ours with its lack of checks and balances, of editorial protocol and the self-censorship of the market? Before answering, I refer you to my previous post headed "The Chains Tighten".
As a writer with a small but loyal following, I can attest to the great spirit that abounds out there among independent booksellers. Over the years stores such as Better Read than Dead and Gleebooks, not to mention the saintly Kris Hemmensley of Collected Works in Melbourne, have been tireless in their support of writers such as myself. I feel for them right now as they continue to battle against the enormous cut-price chains and can only suggest to all you book lovers out there to walk into your local independent bookstore today and not only voice your disgust for the corporate bullies but maybe even BUY A BOOK! Without the independents, publishers like Black Inc. and Giramondo will probably be faced with extinction, and that would be a tragedy of collosal proportions for not only Australian letters but for any prospect of an informed and reasoning polis. But please, something else besides Harry Potter. Contrary to popular belief, Potter-mania is actually driving up the corporate obsession with margins, not filtering the money down to the grass roots.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
National Poetry Week Event
Sunday 2 September
Be part of a poetry reading with Chris Wallace Crabbe, Ouyang Yu, Judith Beveridge and Boey Kim Cheng
Poetry Without Borders reading celebrates our cultural diversity during
National Poetry Week. The proposed date will be 2/9/07 at 1.30 for 2pm and the venue will be Customs House Library.
If you feel inspired by this theme send us your expressions of interest.
We are looking for another 5 poets or so to complete the line-up.
Submit 3-5 poems with a short bio to the Poets Union, PO Box 91 Balmain NSW 2041 or email to email@example.com by August 10
Please include all contact details including your email address.
This event is sponsored by
Poets Union Inc. Mascara Poetry Zine
A new monthly poetry gig in Sydney!!!!
Jack Peck has started up WordinHand at The Friend in Hand.
Should be a fun night so bring your friends along and nibble some new words...
WordinHand at The Friend in Hand
58 Cowper St Glebe 9960 2326 $5 Donation
Tuesday August 7 - 7:30 for 8:00 pm
This month WordinHand is delighted to feature two of Sydney's foremost Spoken Word performers...
Tom Jack of Hearts and Bravo Child
Thomas and Bravo have an international reputation for lyrical, rhythmic and wincingly beautiful performance poetry and storytelling.
Working in a tandem set, Tom and Bravo combine their creative strengths to deliver new delights! Plus, a Mystery Guest!
Have you written something and want it out there?
This month and most months from now on, WordinHand has several opportunities for new work to be presented.
Signup at the door.
Supportive environment for new as well as experienced poets.
The evening closes with a high-energy SLAM, led by Tom Jack of Hearts.
Audience participation (and how!)
Signup at the door.
First Prize: Bottle of wine PLUS a 5 minute set of your own next month! Second Prize: $20.
You are cordially invited to the launch of
By Brook Emery
To be launched by Martin Langford
Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Saturday 11 August, 2.30 for 3 pm
All Welcome Refreshments provided
Island Press PO Box 1015 Carlton 3053 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03 8344 8713
PLAN TO BE PUBLISHED — POETRY WORKSHOP WITH LES WICKS
Saturdays 18 and 25 August, 10am - 4pm NSW Writers’ Centre, Rozelle
NSWWC Members $132, Members' Concession $110, Non-Members $198. GST inclusive. Bring multiple copies of three poems, writing materials and lunch. Morning and afternoon tea are provided.
Of past such workshops given by Poets Union member Les Wicks, participants have commented:
Exceptional, supporting yet challenging, showing (and earning) respect, a privilege to attend this leader’s workshop;
As advertised now threatening, now encouraging but with a great deal of experience and insight which he shared generously; There was also a really good mix of participants
serendipity but fabulous; contributed very generously great value for money;
I got more from two days with Les’ workshop than I did over a postgraduate year at university
LES WICKS is widely published both in Australia and overseas, an accessible poet with seven collections to his name. He's been involved in dozens of editing projects over his 30 years as a writer and has done his popular workshops from Hobart to Byron Bay to Broken Hill.
Enquiries ring 9555 9757
Monday, July 30, 2007
For a start, these kids read, voraciously. But not the right stuff, of course. Ring any bells, ye of the '68 putsch? Poetry is a matter of life or death for them, as is history, music, in fact pretty much everything but post-war politics. Ring any bells dropouts, draft-dodgers, groupies? I love listening to the Anne Summers of this world harp on about how dyslexic and sub-literate are the youth (Y for youth, get it now?) of today. But like I say, I sit on the fence. I still remember listening to those posturing manifestos drawled from campuses all over the world, the same empty slogans borrowed from previous generations who actually lived and died by them, the icy assumptions of children in thrall to power ("all men are rapists" has to be my lasting favourite). Where would the Anne Summers, Ray Martins, Robert Mannes, John Pilgers et al be now without the latitude of post-war youth? It was a unique experiment in child-rearing they have yet to appreciate because that kind of latitude will never be repeated. They ate the whole cookie.
But I am concerned here with Mark Davis, what brings him back ten years on to rake over the still hot coals of Ganglands. It wouldn't happen to be a publishing deal would it? I speculate. As I say I sit on the fence. I am working my way to an interview I heard on ABC radio a few weeks back, prompted by Mark Davis' article in Overland magazine, and reproduced in concise form in the Melbourne Age. It began
Somewhere deep in the fabric of Australian cultural life it is forever 1974. The Whitlam government is still in office. THIS DAY TONIGHT is still on television. Patrick White has recently won the Nobel Prize. The last fading bars of Eagle Rock echo from the Sunbury stage.
Sonorous, peripatetic syntax in a Pilgeresque kind of way. Pressing all the right buttons, hints of an underlying message, the promise of a cut away.
Instantly Mark Davis has fallen into the trap he accused the Boomers of in Ganglands - of stereotyping an entire generation. He writes like a Boomer, he is a Boomer, so what exactly is his point in this whole line-drawing exercise.
He is selling a line, selling a book, himself.
Every word Mark Davis has ever written was addressed to his Boomer market, not to the issues, and for that he betrays himself as a boomer. Child of the golden age, occluded from staring into the sun too long, eating that campus food, listening to the echo of his own priviliged feet down the corridors of one of the plushest campuses on the planet.
I get ahead of myself, once again, because my point was a talk I heard on ABC radio recently between our Mark, the ubiquitous Richard Neville and a rather shrill Sally Warhaft, editor of the excellent fledgling Australian journal The Monthly. I was tooling down the M4 at the time between my Blue Mountain exile and my weekend job in North Ryde, so I thought I'd check in on what the Boomers were doing. I mean I switched to Radio National.
And there was Mark Davis employing his best bed-time manner on a rather wistful, dilatory Suzanne Donisthorpe as she pretended to chair a debate between these parties. Sally Warhaft was supposed to represent the "benighted" (Suzanne's words), but it very soon became apparent she was neither happy with our Mark or the moniker. Ms Donisthorpe, I have to say, seemed to have already made up her mind about the whole debate sometime in 1998 or thereabouts, and I see why she is more producer than presenter. She sounded tired. Sally Warhaft sounded anything but. Richard Neville sounded reasonable with all the wisdom of his colourful and privileged years.
The round table sound became something of a triangle with very pointy ends as Sally W vented her daddy's girl spleen at the perennial nerd that is Mark Davis. A more courageous man I have rarely heard on ABC radio unless you count that Steve Waugh innings in 199-, but that betrays one weakness of mine too many.
Mark Davis, for those of you who have the misfortune to live beyond the realms of this fascinating if rather hide-bound debate, has been arguing since 1997 that the reins of cultural, economic and political life in Australia are in the hands of a kind of club who all fucked and fought each other on campus in the 60's and 70's and now shrug off any suggestion they are THEM, THE MAN, THE HEAT, THE ESTABLISHMENT, another creak in an already creaky door. They simply don't have it in them to grow up that much (that, at least, is the kernel of his argument that got stuck in my teeth).
Sally Warhaft is, on her own admission, in her mid-thirties, however a little prickly around matters of chronoglogy in this particular performance like one with something to hide. In the midst of defending her demographic call as editor at The Monthly, she slipped once or twice, but you could forgive her, you HAD to, she was that shrill.
"If there was anyone that HOT out there, they'd be found."
This from the apparent spokesperson for the benighted on the pointy table of aunty's reason. This millenial aphorism following up some rather scintillating attacks on Generation Y's ability to express themselves ("I get fifty to a hundred UNSOLICITED manuscripts a week!!!" poor dear. "They are largely unpublishable.") This, on top of some isolated case of a happy student oblivious to the fact there weren't one but two world wars, seemed to be her case for a defence of the infedensible.
That talent is not self-evident is one of the tragedies of the boomer generation, I'm afraid. Their lense is geared to the spectacle, the next big thing, their expectations heightened (whether they want to admit it or not) by the technical, sociological and economic fireworks of 1914-18, 1939-45. Unfortunately for the rest of us, culture doesn't work that way.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
ON THE BEACH
I watch the kids of a new nation
washing the sins of old crimes
in the surf of an old land
reaching into the waves of the endless water
of a world of myths and spirit
under the watchful eye
of Julian Rocks
The mountains lie on the round horizon.
- Oscar Vallazza Byron Bay, 9 July, 1995
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
People in Glass Houses is the first insider’s account of what it’s really like growing up inside the country’s most ambitious, entrepreneurial and influential religious corporation. Opening up the world of Christian fundamentalism, this is a powerful, personal and at times very funny exploration of an all-singing, all-swaying mega church.
Stanton Library Event
Venue: Stanton Library, 234 Miller Street, North Sydney
Date: Tuesday 7 August
Bookings: No bookings required.
Tanya Levin in conversation with Steve Cannane from JTV
Venue: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
Date: Thursday 16 August
Time: 6.30 for 7pm
Cost: $10/$7 conc. gleeclub welcome
Bookings: Ph: 02 9660 2333 or visit www.gleebooks.com.au to request a place.
For further information on Black Inc. books, please visit www.blackincbooks.com.
did lester young charlie parker dizzy gillespie and buddy rich at the philharmonic
in 1953 know that they would be the sound track to turbulence and three
layers of clouds of three different shades of white travelling at
three different speeds modal merging with melodic to
this diorama somewhere between osaka and
singapore as i down brandy cointreau
white wine and beer and
slip into a fog of an
- rob walker 2007
rob walker is a poet and teacher from South Australia. His latest chapbook phobiaphobia (poetry of fear and anxiety) will be released by Picaro Press later in 2007.
The 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards were presented by the Minister for Arts and Sport, Senator George Brandis last night in Sydney.
Black Inc. is pleased to announce it has been awarded the Australian Small Publisher of the Year 2007.
Black Inc. would also like to congratulate Alice Pung, author of the bestselling memoir Unpolished Gem, who was awarded the Australian Newcomer of the Year 2007. Unpolished Gem was also shortlisted in the Australian Biography of the Year and Australian Book of the Year award categories.
2007 Books Alive Great Read Guide
Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung had been selected for 2007 Books Alive Great Read Guide. The Books Alive Great Read Guide is an Australian Government initiative that showcases 50 books so good everyone will want to read them.
For further information on the 2007 Books Alive Great Read Guide, please visit http://www.booksalive.com.au/
For further information on the Australian Book Industry Awards, please visit http://www.publishers.asn.au/index.cfm
For further information on Black Inc. books, please visit http://www.blackincbooks.com
Monday, July 23, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Now the deputy leader of the ALP, Julia Gillard, has stepped into the debate with her address last night to mark the 75th anniversary of the Australian Quarterly. She views the erosion of once vibrant cultural institutions in this country as a deliberate and sustained attack by some on the right of politics who feel compelled to fall into line with the nascent “global monoculture” of expediency and silence. “Their attempt to denigrate people like our philosophers, artists, writers and even climate scientists as out-of-touch, inner-city elites, and to claim that our egalitarian values are unsuited to new economic necessities, risks subsuming us into the blancmange of an emerging monoculture.”
Fighting words, Julia! But I would take issue with her on the origins of this attack. As far as the old right-left divide holds any relevance at all, there has been a steady erosion of values coming from both sides, often from within the very institutions themselves. I find it ironic that the culture of the individual has fostered a resistance to comprehensive education in much of the three post-war generations and that this has in turn peopled the world with semi-literate somnambulists barely cognisant of their rights and potential, let alone how to go about defending them.
In the world of international poetry, to bring this argument a little closer to home, there are already strong signs of this monoculture taking hold as the academies spit out armies of bright shiny things, their heads crammed with faux Ashberrian angst and the latest post-modern antitheses of eloquence and aesthetic. Anyone who doubts my take on things (and they are legion, I’m sure), please take some time from your busy schedule to surf the net and sample what’s on offer in all the major English-speaking cultures re all things poetic. Then track down some of the latest work being translated from the French, German, Romanian, Russian etc and much the same pattern emerges. Does this reflect the majority of what is being written and read and experienced by young poets, or simply what is being sought by their ageing, cloistered doyens? Some of it is very good, of course, but I am concerned here with the emerging global monoculture and what poets could and should be doing to arrest or even reverse it. The poetic, after all, is a duty not a right. Comments always welcome.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
presents an informal symposium with
poet in residence Ulrike Sandig
on trends in contemporary German poetry
and her German-English translation project
with Australian poet Jane Gibian
Friday 15 June
Fair Trade Coffee Company café
33 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe(www.fairtradecoffeecompany.com.au)
Ulrike Sandig was born in 1979 in Grossenhain Saxony, and lives in Leipzig. She has studied and worked in France and India, and has a Masters Degree in Religious Studies and Indology from the University of Leipzig. In 2001 she co-founded the literary group "augenpost". Her publications include a volume of poetry Zunder (2005), and der tag an dem alma kamillen kaufte (an audio book with Marlen Pelny, 2006). In May 2006 she was awarded the Meran Poetry Prize. She is currently a student at the Leipzig Institute of German Literature.
Ulrike Sandig's residency in Sydney is hosted by the UWS Writing & Society Research Group and the UTS Centre for New Writing, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut.
invites you to the launch
of the new poetry collection by
Not finding Wittgenstein:
Peter Henry Lepus Poems
to be launched by
and Kerry Leves
on Thursday 21 June
6 for 6.30 pm
upstairs at Gleebooks
49 Glebe Pt Rd
RSVP: 9660 2333
Giramondo Publishing from the
Writing & Society Research Group
University of Western Sydney
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
A ghost which looks like you in the fog, it is just a memory which has yet to be burned away by the dawn.
The mornings are now damp, a gossamer of fog wraps itself around everything.
I walk among the canals, there is a scent, anisette and spoiled milk, which makes me dizzy.
- Wayne HW Wolfson 2007
You are hurt, but not even sure why. Ah, where are you my autumn friend? Your name is now alien in my mouth. Heavy on my tongue, a piece of paper.
All the paper on the table, hanging off the edge of the table, flapping slowly. Sunday night coming down, a sheet at a time. Pages, swollen, pregnant with words.
My only friend, duty. My autumn friend. Fall. Somewhere is a place with no words, I will go too, when I have no choice, holding her ink stained hands.
- Wayne HW Wolfson 2007
Death is private, but eventually we are all there.
Tiny yellow flowers shot up from in-between the rocks. These little patches of color could hypnotize if you walked the whole shore.
Now she is on top.
Many rocks go without her flaxen hair.
There are some greens to be seen too.
Thin violent jags.
This morning, coming out of the shower, I thought I heard her laugh, but it was only yesterday.
- Wayne HW Wolfson 2007
Wayne is young poet from the States who has just returned from a yearly sabbatical in Paris.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
We'll have copies of the various journals for sale, as well as providing subscription information and submission guidelines.
Please come and visit the table in the Listowel Arms Hotel on Thursday, Friday or Saturday (May 31 - June 2).
Other magazines featured include Crannóg, Cyphers, The Dublin Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The Shop, Southword, Succour and The Yellow Nib.
Pubs and books, Sydney readers!! Remember when that was more than an idea to be sneered at by the seemingly relentless tide of makeover people, those inextricably smug, painfully inarticulate and dangerously thin-skinned creatures who poison our favourite drinking holes and then raise our rent as a thank you?
PS Yes, I am speaking from bountiful experience here. Shutup or I'll write a poem about it.
John Howard has the loudest voice in Australia. He has cowed his critics, muffled the press, intimidated the ABC, gagged scientists, silenced NGOs, censored the arts, prosecuted leakers, criminalised protest and curtailed parliamentary scrutiny. Though touted as a contest of values, this has been a party-political assault on Australia’s liberal culture. In the name of “balance” the Liberal Party has muscled its way into the intellectual life of the country.And this has happened because we let it happen. Once again, Howard has shown his superb grasp of Australia as it really is. In His Master’s Voice, David Marr investigates both a decade of suppression and the strange willingness of Australians to watch, with such little angst, their liberties drift away.
“More than any law, any failure of the Opposition or individual act of bastardry over the last decade, what’s done most to gag democracy in this country is the sense that debating John Howard gets us nowhere.”DAVID MARR, HIS MASTER’S VOICE
*David Marr will be touring Australia - see below for Quarterly Essay 26 events*
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
A hoar of antiquity in the toss of their manes
Prejevalsky Horses shave grasslands, this new age of life -
Thursday, March 29, 2007
In the meantime, however, you may be interested to know that The Great Big Show is about to hit the bookstores. I would post a link here, but I was hungover the day they handed out IT degrees.
Oh no, there it is. Now for the cover art......
Friday, March 09, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Friday, March 02, 2007
For several years now, Nicolas Rothwell has traveled the length and breadth of Northern and Central Australia. Another Country collects sketches and portraits written over this time and combines them into a book that reveals another Australia. Another Country is a portrait of people and places. It is also a literary achievement – a mesmerizing, many-faceted journey into the landscape, and beyond.
Nicolas Rothwell is the author of the award-winning Wings of the Kite-Hawk and the novel Heaven and Earth. He is the northern correspondent for The Australian. In 2006, he won the Walkley Award for coverage of Indigenous Affairs.
Venue: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe NSW
Date: Tuesday 6 March 2007
Time: 6.30 for 7 pm
Bookings: Tickets $10/$7 conc. (Gleeclub welcome) through Gleebooks
02 9660 2333 or email email@example.com
Quarterly Essay 25 – Bipolar Nation: How to Win the 2007 Election by Peter Hartcher
Peter Hartcher in conversation with Maxine McKew
Australians are more economically secure, yet existentially as anxious as ever. On the one hand we see a more prosperous, confident and "aspirational" society, and on the other the continuation of a well-cultivated sense of fear, xenophobia and insecurity.
This fascinating Quarterly Essay analyses today’s ‘bipolar nation’. It revisits Donald Horne’s Lucky Country, looks at the legacy of Paul Keating, and discusses how John Howard will set out to craft an election-winning strategy. It explains how the Lucky Country and the Frightened Country will be the two grand themes of the election, and in doing so lays out the political agenda for 2007’s election year.
Venue: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe NSW
Date: Monday 2 April 2007
Time: 6.30 for 7 pm
Bookings: Tickets $10/$7 conc. (Gleeclub welcome) through Gleebooks 02 9660 2333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information on Black Inc. books, please visit www.blackincbooks.com
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The Writing and Society Research Group is pleased to present the first in its 2007 seminar series -
Samar Habib On Female Homosexuality in the Middle East
Friday 9 March2.00-4.00pm
Bankstown campus Building 1, room 1.2.36
Samar Habib, author of the forthcoming book Female Homosexualityin the Middle East: Histories and Representations, discusses the writing and research for, as well as the cultural and political import of, this new work.
Subsequent seminars in the series include:
23 March Ivor Indyk, The awkwardness of Patrick White
20 April Ross Gibson, The idea of repletion in crime-scene photography
4 May Glen McGillivray, The Osama Show: theatrical metaphor resurgent
18 May Paul Sheehan, Thomas Bernhard's art of excess and renunciation.
All on Fridays, 2.00-4.00pm Bankstown, Building 1, room 1.2.36
Saturday, February 10, 2007
I have been used to adoration
Jason Monios lives in Edinburgh. His publications include Acumen, Poetry Scotland, New Writing Scotland, nthposition, Umbrella and The Guardian.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Should I find something more
than a number—
a name that might have been;
a word that might remain
once the name has left a scar—
I will whisper it
to a world that will not listen.
A world worn out by words.
I will repeat it for this brevity
the damned call eternity.
I will give it life.
If you encounter a man
wearing no shoes
- six dollars a piece
- ten dollars a pair
Something is falling.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
on medical advice
Begging the question
who worries over this woman
open for business
Monday, January 29, 2007
A storm, bad ideas and urges. Lightening, blinding silver-purple flashes.
On the line next to the forgotten laundry, a neighbor’s chimes buffeted by the wind. A novice playing a frantic song too fast.
I hate this too, but would be lost without its familiarity. Buildings sway, the sky darkens further, I join in singing the refrain.
Flashes of lightening, the final beating of a dying leviathan’s heart, lights up the sky. Blinding silver, burnt ozone offering. I sweat copper, it makes you happy.
Despite how jumpy the thunder makes you, I can not stay awake.
In my sleep I felt a bite. I know it is just chemical. We were holding hands as if, like Sunday.
The city is all decay and late night secrets. That is mine.
Desire, cash, gloom and retreat. A kingdom whose demise is announced in-between thunder claps.
- Wayne H.W. Wolfson 2007