Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Thankyou Brian Lara. Not just for accepting some questionable umpiring decisions with all the style and grace the cricketing public has come to expect of you, not just for your magnificent, near-flawless double century in the Adelaide Test brought to a (rare) fifth day conclusion today, but for your even-tempered, wise, magnanimous speech during the closing ceremonies. Why do I love cricket so much? Well.....To watch a man left alone out there against perhaps the greatest bowling attack in history looking for all the world like a child picking flowers for his mother is one thing. But then to hear him speak with such incidental ease of the generosity of Australians, of their boundless mirth and ease with strangers, their fishwife banter in the slips, well, it almost made this blogger feel like the member of some tribe worth knowing. Pure poetry, courage, poise, and dignity. You will be sorely missed on these shores, Brian Lara. I hope the Carribean respects you as much for the man as for the cricketer.


BLUEPEPPER is currently seeking submissions of poetry, reviews and essays on a wide range of literary and cultural topics. Previously published work is acceptable as long as due acknowledgments are made. 3-4 poems per submission and articles no longer than 1500 words. To submit click on the email me icon to the right of this page and paste work in the body of the email. Attachments will not be opened. Payment is a little bluepepper beside your name. Copyright remains with the author.

Closing Time

Being the avid barfly that I am (no, that is not an oxymoron), I find it interesting that just as the "Howard mandate" presses in on civil society from all sides, the licencing hours in NSW have been drastically relaxed. An Aussie version of bread and circuses? Surely you would have to be a little addled to believe the Howard Ministry has really thought through its "beige revolution". The sedition clause in the new anti-terrorism bill is a truly reckless piece of legislation, handing power to the same mindless drones responsible for the ordeals of Ms Rau, Alvarez et al. And from where I sit (on a pay cheque that barely covers the fuel bill down the mountain), the new IR laws place far too much emphasis on qualities not exactly surfeit in the corporate world. I'm talking about empathy, largesse, dignity, honour, all words that clang like Victorian pot-boilers in this shiny happy world willed into existence (ironically enough) by a bunch of men and women probably more at home in Northanger Abbey than the hushed and bristling streets of Howard's End.

All I can urge myself and others to do is to test the new laws, poke and prod at these weasel words transparency flexibility and see whether or not they bite. I figure it's like Pascal's gambit. Either way this government has shown its true colours and who it really represents. All it will take then is for the country to do the same. Poets and writers should all feel revitalised rather than frightened or dispirited. I know I do, and hey, the pubs are open 24/7!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Light on the Hill

David Musgrave gets our vote this week for his launch of Puncher & Wattman, a new poetry publisher. Funded with prize money, savings and income from his day job, Musgrave starts off on the front foot with a new title by Nick Riemer "James Stinks (and so does Chuck)". This will be closely followed by titles from Peter Kirkpatrick, John Watson and Simon West. Musgrave says he felt the need for a publisher that "appealed unapologetically to readers of poetry rather than a wider market." Musgrave wisely expects to make most of his sales via the internet (seeing how all the bookshop shelves are choked with political memoir). For more info, just click on the "Light on the Hill" post heading. You get our vote, David.

Meanwhile Louise "what's-poetry-got-to-do-with-it? Adler is continuing to tell us all how clever she is for signing up a clapped out pollie to pen a lot of turgid, narcissistic bile and shamelessly manipulating the media to fill the shelves of every bookshop in the country. I am old enough to remember the days when Melbourne University Press published poetry, but then we poets are something of a liability in the shiny new world envisaged by those seduced by weasel words and the relentless shift of capital from a living culture and community to this faceless, heedless thing called economy.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Benito di Fonzo's "Her, leaving, as the Acid hits"

In this world of short attention spans the need to move through a narrative at a fast pace has delivered us the Verse Novel. Note - Dorothy Porter's success with books such as The Monkey's Mask. Now comes performance poet and playwright Benito Di Fonzo's "story in the form of a free verse novel in four movements and two tennuously linked appendices."

This free-flowing fear and loathing in Newtown circa 1990s is ostensibly the story
of being dumped for a drug dealing dwarf barman whilst tripping off your nut in the
early hours of a Sunday morning.

However, Di Fonzo's history as a performance writer (he used to co-host Bardflys at The
Friend In Hand) gives his style a Spalding Gray like 'oral' quality that lends the
book an intimate conversational immediacy, keeping the reader hooked, and
allowing Di Fonzo to use the primary plot as a springboard for a series of sub-plots
into everything from junkie flatmates, how to score Rohypnol in Surry Hills,
defeating the 'pissed spins,' and other sordid tales of Bacchanal, without ever
losing the main thread.

The use of a free verse form keeps the story flowing quickly, yet poetry also gives
it that broken scattered sense of the holiday in the psychotropics that our anti-
hero is attempting to survive.

Small Sydney publisher, Independence Jones Guerilla Press, delivers a story for
anyone who's ever taken the wrong drugs at the wrong time in the wrong place,
and been able to do bugger all about it but ride it out. So turn the page, tune on,
and drop in to this Newtownian fable of sex, drugs and poetry.

- Hilton Freebourne 2005

Hilton Freebourne is a published author, poet and a man of the arts.

Poetry by Wayne H.W. Wolfson


What little is left of the candle before it births only smoke. The rooftop across the street, the Cutty Sark billboard, like the stage of a bankrupt theater, now only lit by its only two un-smashed flood lights.

A lone car horn plays the blues.

The room viewed in this blurred miasma, right before sleep. Blurred still. At this point why bother to look?

To catch a glimpse of grace. The obscure origin of want.

All these years, the dead weight of an empty bed, but only on occasion.

Next to me the sideways shadow of her, or her.

None are better.

- Wayne H.W. Wolfson 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Review of Peninsula, Selected Poems by Trevor Hewett

These are poems about the magic of nature, or more specifically about places. In fact just about every poem is subtitled with a setting, mostly rivers or locations in and around Cornwall. And Hewitt does well to get across not only the look of these places but the feel of them.

The natural world is a source of solace, of contentment and enlightenment for us, maybe even salvation, but we have to go looking for it. In Valley (Bodmin Moor) the experience of nature almost converts the writer into a believer. He is saying that these are some of the places where we can find an escape from the unsatisfying rat-race. We have lost touch with our roots and need to get back to the garden, and in Light Years (River Camel), Hewett despairs that we might never get back.

…and you wonder how

we got this way

and whether any notion of content

we may have had

is now as distant and receding

as the galaxies above.

These are not original ideas or themes by any means. However there is a surprising depth in these seemingly common images of nature. I found Gulls (Widemouth Bay, Cornwall) quite moving, although it is a short poem about the way these birds face into the storm.

Most of the poems reflect the magic of nature, but together the images build a detailed picture with nuances. There is also the powerful, indifferent, cruel side of the natural world, but Hewett finds the life-sustaining aspect even of this. I particularly enjoyed the way throughout the book he made an entity out of nothing, of turning silence into a magical force. One poem ends with the line ‘The silence swells.’

A book purely about landscapes would be dull, and Hewett breaks it up with a few pieces about people or events. Miro (Padstow) tells of a refugee from war, who finds a fairly bleak suburban life to be paradise compared to the horrors from whence he fled.

Hewett makes good use of alliteration in some poems, using that very English way of filling lines with contrasting consonants. In Swannery (Abbotsbury, Dorset) he reminded me of Gerard Manley Hopkins. And this poem is written to a strict meter and rhyme structure, although the book is mainly free verse.

The poem Fisherman (Looe River, Cornwall), sums up the themes that run throughout the book. Nature is profound and beautiful, it is the source of our wisdom. But the last line ‘its unbearable beauty’ unsettles us while we’re enjoying the comforting idea that nature has all the answers. It implies that the communing experience is not all easy.

This is Trevor Hewett’s third collection of poems. On the basis of this one I think the others would be well worth a read.

Clark Gormley

Trevor Hewett’s book is available from www.independencejones.com

[Clark Gormley is a writer/ poet/ singer. He has been performing his work at Poetry at the Pub in Newcastle for several years. His poems have been published in the Poetry at the Pub Annual Anthologies and a selection of his work in the book, 'Turn of Phrase'. He has also been published in the University of Newcastle magazine Opus, Heist magazine and SKiVE magazine online].

Friday, November 11, 2005

Reductio ad absurdum

In another piece of utterly irresponsible journalism, the Sydney Morning Herald did its best to whip the populace into a frenzy yesterday after the dramatic shooting and arrests of scores of suspected terrorists in Sydney's west. References to 'global conflict' were a constant refrain, but as always in these types of stories in these types of times, we only got one half of one side of the story. I am not poking a bony finger here at the new anti-terrorism legislation, because but for a few obvious concerns (and the nature of its passage through parliament along with the startling acquiesence of the states) it strikes me as a fairly sound piece of legislation. My gripe here is with the media, with their complete lack of vigilance, especially when we were perhaps never more in need of a sceptical, partisan, vigilant media. This is becoming an addendum to my "if this war goes on....." post, but perhaps that's as it should be. I have, however, for no reason other than that I love his work, been reading a book about the death of Christopher Marlowe,in which the mind and motivations of the spy is picked over a great deal (Marlowe was spy in the service of Queen Elizabeth I and appears to have been murdered by Elizabeth's spies). I have been struck by many parallels between the Reformation struggles and our own times all through the book, particularly the mindless hysteria, and the utter vitriol spouted daily in government circles, but this comment particularly struck me (probably because I read it last night): "This is the reductio ad absurdum of the intelligence world: self-perpetuating, self-referring. They live in and by the confusion they create. That is really their only allegiance." (Charles Nicholl from "The Reckoning") LEST WE FORGET.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Poetry by Danny Gentile

Matters of State





give strange

adapted words

& raise a glass

You demand

an upstanding

audience that

race through

the vestibule of

a 5 star hotel

chasing another

Pick me! Pick Me!

from childhood

You offer a toast

words like dice

words of focus

runes in ash

& an exotic


from a case

neither ornate

nor austere

Your appearance

Raison Detre for

a special event

The acclaimed

Cause Celebre

of the moment

Ice sculpture

smoking under

a chandelier


You there!

You there!

Coining a phrase.

Your there?

How about

one for the


One for

the ladies??

How about

I ask you

for a change?

The moment

was never

self evident

with you

far too busy

arranging poise

Let’s not

get ahead

of ourselves

means: don’t

complain you

have no choice

the thinker delivers

the clown destroys


Through days of sorrow

& iron-cast brow, nights

of water unsettle dreams

to sweat the day open

& drag its furrow over

faces that languor there.

Every face is anguishing

staunch expressions of

appraisal & approximate;

all very well in waiting

for night & its further

hinged apprehension.

Light opens onto you in

fish-tanks from it’s bulb.

You are not the same under

every differing filament.

The city carries pages that

drink from the overflow

as if it were a stream,

not slopping stagnation

jarred in this. You swallow

fish; an irksome action

offers them as coins that

only flounder against all

that is real & rational.

You plead waters to abate,

but little ever comes of it.

Night & day are relentless

& the pavement a fist that

hardens you down. Scales

have flaked to nothing

but dreams that carry you

uncertainly & carry you

in arms of automation

to where the field still

cries in echo for the rain.

Danny Gentile 2005

Friday, November 04, 2005

Dead Poets

On the subject of war, terror and the death of literacy, today marks the 87th anniversary of the death of the English poet Wilfred Owen. If you have been living on another planet for the past century and have not read any Wilfred Owen, I suggest you begin with "Strange Meeting". For the rest of us, vale company commander Wilfred Owen, gunned down trying to capture a railway junction a week before the armistice. A sorry loss. Essential reading.

If this war goes on.....

Was a short, plaintive work written by Hermann Hesse during the darkest days of the First World War. It echoed many other writers and thinkers of the time, including Sigmund Freud and Bertrand Russell, who believed they were witnessing the values they held dear being subsumed by the dreadful expediencies of world war. People who see the same thing happening now, and who blame this "slide" on the war on terror may be conveniently forgetting the slow capitulation that was already occuring long before September 11th 2001. That we rely on our leaders to protect us now is unfortunate, because our complacency and self-absorption over many years has produced a venal and heartless ruling class who hold the citizens in as much contempt as we hold them. That this slide has been mirrored by a decline in literacy and of any meaningful public discourse should be a surprise to no-one. For us to have been brought to this place we must have been at least partly willing. Everywhere I go I encounter somnambulists utterly devoid of humour, with only a scant repertoire of what were once regarded as normal human responses. A large chunk of life is simply not present in them, or perhaps more to the point, their first instinct is to recoil when touched by the visceral and the idiosyncratic. I intend doing everything I can to reverse this trend. I believe good writing will encourage good reading, which may in some small way induce good living. If I have scared anyone I apologise, but it is all too easy to blame the politicians for whom we voted for a situation we could have very easily avoided had we been more alive to the world around us. Read read read, good people! Here endeth the lesson for today.

Poetry by Andrew Jackson


Since the door was locked, I’ve learnt so much.
A face can feel the sun yet forget what it's for.

Bars obscure the world, the room
to stand up, take a few steps. Legs buckle

even under the weight of a body with no soul.
At intervals I'm fed, given medication. The walls

absorb the smell of the dead who arrived earlier.
Battery is a system of power that pulls everything in.

I have no desire to lash out. The voices are calm
and impersonal. If I can be stomached, if

the risk to the population is low enough, a detached
voice might announce my release. These wings

are withered and pecked to the bone,
and see the future, like the sky, is an open

lie. Everything is a weapon.
Bleeding, refusing food, speechless, I speak

the only dialect left. Outside are people
who say they wouldn't treat an animal like this,

their faces averted like statues, ideal humans.
My life depends on you becoming something else.


You know no lens could expand wide
enough to take in the entire globe of
the tear that slides now down her face.
She’s not thinking of the sea, but still
these waves come, in them reflections
of family members, adrift, motionless.
The button’s pressed. For an instant
all you see’s a blank black screen, then
she’s back. You’ll move on, clutching
a hope you’ve not cut out too much.
But four knives make up each frame,
even though they’ll print the caption
you’ve written that speaks her name.

Andrew Jackson 2005

Andy Jackson was born in 1971, is physically extraordinary and a writer of poetry, fiction and reviews. His latest poetry collection is Aperture, which includes a CD of collaborations with musicians. He is currently working on another with an Australia Council grant, and can be virtually contacted at captainoverload@yahoo.com.au.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Poetry by Kevin Gillam

Three degrees


bleakness leaks from my
shut eyelids, sun splashing its
rhymes in orange and

blood, aimless verse of
vein, astrology and loss.
patient as silence

the question waits, won't
inflect, horizon pursing
lips on inbetweens


counts them best,
keeps me
on its empty pages,
as hyphen,
flabby vernacular
of now

afternoon sun leaks
through pickets.
folded over,
chasing it,
of wet print


bleakness works each piece
of shade in 4B, prefers
a smudged, matt finish

press leak: 'templates for raven'-
title of exhibition

- Kevin Gillam 2005