Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Muse has Sprung

5th Australian Poetry Festival: Between!

September 1-10, 2006

The Australian Poetry Festival (APF) is a significant biennial program of stimulating readings, panel sessions, discussion and debate, organised by the Poets Union to engage poets and the public in poetry and poetics. The program has grown from a largely Sydney-based event to a national program of parallel events.

The Poets Union committee, members and supporters present a diversity of programs in their own states and regional areas. While the national and regional programs are growing steadily, the Sydney base remains as strong as ever with major festival presentations, one-off readings, and a vibrant mix of local, regional and interstate guests.

APF is also a time of celebration for the Poets Union with the announcement of major awards, the release of new publications, the finals of Poetry Slam competitions and more.

APF was first held in 1998. In some years there is a festival theme, for example, Burning Lines in 2001 and Ngara/Listening in 2004. APF was held during National Poetry Week (NPW) in 2004 and this year is presented as a joint Poets Union and NPW initiative, cementing the relationship between these two major events on Australia's poetry calendar.


September 1-10, 2006
Third-time APF Director, Martin Langford, announced in March that the theme of this year's 5th APF is Between! 'The 5th Australian Poetry Festival: Between!, will explore interactions, responses and collaborations.

'5th APF: Between! will build on the successful collaborations component in '4th APF: Ngara, which generated some exhilarating and original cross-art works. We expect the Between! theme to result in a bigger range of interactions and collaborations - between poets, between poets and arts practitioners, between poets and other fields, between communities and between states.'

Confirmed guests in the major Sydney program include:
John Batts, Judith Beveridge, Margaret Bradstock, Bravo, Colleen Burke, Joanne Burns, Michelle Cahill, John Carey, Jess Cook, Jenni Doherty (Ireland), Stephen Edgar (Tasmania), Dan Eggs (Ireland), Brook Emery, Carolyn Gerrish, Alan Gould (Canberra), Phillip Hammial (Blue Mountains), JS Harry, Gordon Hewitt (Ireland), Rosemary Huisman, Jill Jones, Gorica Jovanovic, Tom Keily, Nora Krouk, Dang Lan, Martin Langford, Kery Leves, Yve Louis (Armidale), Kathryn Lomer (Hobart), David McCooey (Melbourne), Chelley Mclear (Ireland), Chris Mansell (Berry), Gabriella Mehedinteanu, Miles Merrill, Lizz Murphy (Binalong), David Musgrave, Norm Neill, Jenni Nixon, Esther Ottaway (Tasmania), Sheryl Persson, Claire Potter (Perth), Craig Powell, Brendan Ryan, Jaya Savige (Queensland), Michael Sharkey (Armidale), Jutta Sieverding, John Sheppard, Jutta Sieverding, Peter Skrzynecki, George Szirtes (England), Maureen Ten, Tom Thorpe, Helen Turovic, Louise Wakeling, Simon West (Melbourne), Les Wicks, Libby Wong, Fay Zwicky (Perth).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Loft at 105

Celebrated poet and ethnographer
Nathaniel Tarn
reads from his poetry

Prizewinning novelist
Steven Lang
reads from his fiction

The Performance Space, Room 105
UTS, Bon Marche Building 3
Cnr Harris & Broadway

this Thursday 24th August

Nathaniel Tarn is well known both as a poet and as a translator (most particularly of the work of Pablo Neruda), and as an innovative publisher. He was the founding editor of Cape Editions in London in the 1960s and of Cape Goliard Press. He has taught at the Universities of Chicago, London, SUNY Buffalo and the New Mexico Institute of Amerindian Arts. Till the mid-80s he was Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Rutgers. He lives in New Mexico where he now writes, edits and researches full time. His main books are "The Beautiful Contradictions" (Random House); "A Nowhere for Vallejo" (Random House); "Lyrics for the Bride of God" (New Directions); "The House of Leaves" (Black Sparrow); "Atitlan/Alashka" (Brillig Works Press); "Seeing America First" (Coffee House Press); "Views from the Weaving Mountain: Selected Essays in Poetics & Anthropology" (University of New Mexico Press, 1991). "A Selected Poems 1950-2000" (Wesleyan University Press) came out in 2002. A new collection of poems, "Recollections of Being" (Salt Modern Poets) came out in London in 2004.

Steven Lang's first novel, "An Accidental Terrorist", was released by UQP in October 2005, and awarded the UTS Award for New Writing at the 2006 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards. It was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize (for best first book). As a manuscript the novel won the 2004 Queensland Premier's Literary Award for Best Emerging Author. Lang's other work includes a play, "A Strong Brown God", "The Mary River Diary", which was performed at the Metro Arts Theatre in Brisbane in 1996, and several short stories, published in anthologies and literary magazines.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Poetry by Megan Boyd

the elephant sits

the family hesitates

there's a large dent in the sofa

it's the place where




the young child knows its there

no-one seems to notice

- Megan Boyd 2004

Megan works as a freelancer autocue gal in Adelaide's film/video market and is about to start teaching sandstone sculpture at the WEA. She has also done two bookcovers for UniSA publications, one of which won the 2005 Chancellor's Award. Megan lives outside Adelaide CBD with her young daughter.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Goose Step

Even for the London Sunday Times (which for mine is little more than a tabloid in tights with its legs spread), the report on German poet/novelist/activist Gunter Grass' confession to being a member of the SS in the dying days of WW2 struck this blogger as a little shrill in both tone and take. I have managed to leave the article in question on a peace bus somewhere, but if memory serves me the word "hypocrite" cropped up a number of times. As did the phrase "bleeding heart" once or twice.

I, too, am disappointed to witness an ageing public figure turn on a penny like this, but then once I had clambered out of the spiritual mire otherwise known as the 1980's (and my 20's), I realised I was also greatly disappointed by one of Grass's last great testaments, The Rat. It is a polemic in the worst sense. I flicked through it recently and felt a blush of shame and wry nostalgia, a bit like flicking through an old stack of Playboy magazines.

I agree with the (anonymous) Sunday Times journalist that the crime here is not the renowned author's membership of what was by 1944 a mere shadow of the SS that held all of Europe in thrall for 44 long months, but that Gunter Grass saw fit to become the conscience of post-war Germany without coming clean about his part in the war until he had reached an age (octogenarian) and time (the world has moved on from the suffocating paradigm that drove his writing) where it seemed the only "senisble" thing to do. Once again I sniff book sales and a cynical manipulation of the media by people whose closest brush with a book was their last drink driving charge.

If you live long enough you will be shown up for the joke we all are. That was the central message I took from much of German post-war literature, Tin Drum included. The world was born yesterday, just a little older than our dreams. It is we who are old, because it is we who measure time, who sort the good from the bad, the dead from the dying. Perhaps we are too ready to forget what it must have been like for those born in the time just before us, or perhaps we are tired of hearing about it while the petty criminals of our own time are left to run riot. Whatever the case may be, it is certainly still the case that the noble often die unnoticed while the craven die with an audience.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Where do we go from here?

it is a strange bird
this world

whose habit is
to fight itself

whose left wing
and right wing

tear themselves
bitterly apart

both on the side
of justice and violence

and whose great beak
gobbles the poor

- Michael Dransfield 1972

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Boys will be boys

It seems Louise Adler down at MUP has raised the bar a few inches higher (who woulda thunk it after her stroke of editorial genius with Mark Latham's diaries?!!). She must also be visiting the august pages of Bluepepper, heeding comments in my "Light on the Hill" post about her aversion to all things poetic.

In a flash of brilliance, dear old Louise has decided to publish poet John Kinsella's memoirs "Loose beginnings: a memoir of intoxications" (I would have worked on that title a little more, Louise), an excerpt of which I read in the Weekend Australian a few weeks back and thought both twee and ill-advised. I was particularly struck by Kinsella's veiled, preppy innuendos about Dorothy Hewett,particularly as she is no longer here to defend herself. So you took drugs and felt a little put on by a 60 year old woman. Haven't we all? That pretty much sums up my eighties in Darlinghurst and Newtown. Now it looks like Kinsella is finding himself at the sharp end of the stick, being forced to cancel an appearance at the Byron bay Writers' Festival due to some nasty emails from a few of the poets he dissed. Am I the only one who finds this all a bit sad? Apparently down the road from where I live Kinsella once had a punch-up with Anthony Lawrence. Now, I have met both poets. The former has the build of a scarecrow, the latter that of the hill behind it. I fancy "punch-up" actually means a few choice words and a sharp nudge in the foyer,although I could be wrong. The emails themselves are really quite poetic (far moreso, in fact, than most of Kinsella's output). One reads "It is a death-clicking beetle/Can you hear it at work inside the fast-tracking of your emails/inside the cold enamel of your smile?/keep your enemies close at hand/the shroud has no pockets". I wonder what the local constabulary made of that when dear John applied for his AVO against Anthony Lawrence (the author of this email) and the other "offended" party, Robert Adamson?

All in all, I sense these memoirs are another feather in Louise Adler's crooked cap and nothing more. A wiser man would perhaps have kept well clear, the agenda here being quite obviously to feed the fathomless craving for titillation for which the boomer generation is so renowned.

Call for Submissions

I haven't forgotten my threat to start posting excerpts from my verse novel, so poets and poetry lovers consider yourselves on notice. Just click on the "email me" tag in the top right hand corner and submit anything up to five poems, a 1000 word comment or review in the body of the email. NO ATTACHMENTS PLEASE. I have a very good turnover time, and that applies to most things I do. Probably why I haven't got a girlfriend...Anyway, be that as it may I see no reason for not submitting something. The worse you will get is silence, as I won't comment on subs unless I can see some way of working with the author to make them more suitable for posting under the Bluepepper. There are no payments and thus no guidelines.