Friday, January 27, 2012

RIP Peter Spencer Lowe (1926-2012)

My father and my friend, soft and contrary as a Sydney autumn.

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Poetry by William Wright Harris

Ode on an Egg

Jungian theory of
Universal Archetypes;
an egg symbolizing
fertility for a
small tribe in
Africa, for Sioux
Nation. Every culture
has a flood myth
and vampire lore-
dragons, serpents, worms.
The blonde hair of
Freya and Aphrodite-
The beards of Tyr
and Ares, pointing
towards war-
Symbolism of all
creation, frying in a
pan, on my stove.

- William Wright Harris 2012

 Ode on a Chicken Pot Pie

Reading Bukowski
is like
eating a Chicken Pot Pie.
American lamentations,
the sore muscles from
working fourteen hours a day
six days a week
the hot California sun
are the chicken.
The sauce is race track poems-
gambling in their
loneliness again.
Peas, carrots, and
other vegetables
spices are the
references to Tchaikovsky,
Pound, Van Gogh.
Those honest chinaski
poems the cooked flour and egg
baked into a crust

Word by word
page for page
bite by bite
on the end of a fork.

- William Wright Harris 2012

William's poetry has appeared in seven countries in such literary journals as The Cannon’s Mouth, Ascent Aspirations, and Write On!!! He is a student at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville, where I have been lucky enough to study poetry in workshop settings with such poets as Jesse Janeshek, Marilyn Kallet, Arthur Smith, and Marcel Brouwers.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Come Celebrate

On Sunday 5th February, 2:30 PM you are invited to a gathering with the
launch of five titles:
AU/UA Contemporary Poetry of Ukraine & Australia
Les Wicks - Shadows of the Read
Paul Cliff – Vanuatu Moon: prose poems –Books 1 & 2
Les Wicks - Barking Wings
the Friend in Hand Hotel
58 Cowper St, Glebe
upstairs bar
AU/UA Contemporary Poetry of
Ukraine & Australia
This e-book is the first collection of contemporary poetry from both countries in both languages accompanied by rich photography. Exchanges between our two dynamic cultures are yet to fully develop & this work is an important step in that process. Work includes some of both nations’ leading writers plus some younger voices.
The title can be downloaded freely at:
ISBN 978-966-2362-84-8
Published by Krok Books in association with Meuse Press.
The anthology will be launched by Prof. Marko Pavlyshyn. Bilingual reading of poems on the day. Unique opportunity to hear a great old language from a young country.
Yummy Ukrainian snacks will be provided.
Event generously sponsored by Ukrainian Studies Foundation in Australia
and Ukrainian Council of NSW.
Also available is Les Wicks’ Shadows of the Read – a chapbook of poetry in Ukrainian & English by Krok Books.
Paul Cliff – Vanuatu Moon: prose poems Books 1 and 2.

Cliff's wry and observant take on Vanuatu, in two booklets (chapbooks). His fourth (and fifth) published volumes of poetry.
Another great title from PressPress. $9.90 each
Les Wicks - Barking Wings
Wicks’ 10th book is full of feathers, life, shadow & laughter. Beguiling language, a bam-bam-bam of image is all underpinned by a core accessibility that invites you in...”
$9.90 published by PressPress
Should you be unable to attend copies of the books can be purchased.
Les Wicks' Barking Wings is available from:
or from the poet's homepage . Shadows of the Read can also be ordered here

New Poetry by E.F. Schraeder

How to Retire with a Million Dollars

Start ten years ago
invest in everything you
believe against.
Pray for redemption, luck.
Move to a country that believes
in health for all people,
or just in people.
Exploit advantages.
Stake your claim in the shrinking pie.

--E. F. Schraeder

E.F. Schraeder's work has appeared in Haz Mat Review, Blue Collar Review, Hiram Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a new manuscript of poems.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Battin' for Sachin

 One of cricket’s myriad sins (in the eyes of some but perhaps when all is said and done not so many in poetry's equally arcane fraternity) is that the gentle game is a lingering ghost of British Imperialism played almost exclusively in and between former colonies such as my own, and whose passionate embrace of this "chess on grass" appears to outsiders to have blinded one quarter of the world to an endless trespass of former masters.

I have watched a horse beaten as a child and thus can do no more than to remind those who may have forgotten that 1975 is in the past, not the future. 

In Australia (least set-upon because most seasonally prized of Britain's former colonies), cricket, most mellifluous of ball games, has been for some time now inextricably linked to a peculiar form of nostalgia rooted in the early decades of last century - that apparent “Golden Age” of ANZACS, Phar Lap, the “fair go” and, of course, the “Don” whose almost perfect batting average of 99.94 has served as the Post Office Box number of our national broadcaster ever since. The bastard son done good.

In India, home of the greatest batsman since Don Bradman and subject of this piece, cricket evokes little if any such cloying nostalgia, but on the contrary appears to serve as a conduit for the future hopes and aspirations of 1.2 billion people. I don’t believe for a second that every single one of those 1.2 billion has a passionate love of the game, but if the current reaction to the Indian team’s dramatic form slump is any indication, cricket carries a weight of expectation in that country that at times threatens to break it. 

Until the relatively recent advent of 20-over cricket (the game is now played in three official formats, perhaps a unique situation in ball sports), world cricket was often (and with some justification) labelled the most “state-centric” of sports, for it is only at the international level that the game has attracted more than peripheral attention. 

To passionate participants and followers of the game in regions as diverse as Afghanistan and Denmark,  such breezy summations of their part in this strange little community of world cricket may seem a little unjust, but the fact remains that until 2005 the greatest draw card in world cricket was the hard-fought contest between national teams, only ten of which have achieved Test-playing status to the present day. That the 20-over format has shifted this focus back to the club level (albeit at this stage moneyed franchises) has been a priceless innovation in this blogger’s opinion.

The career of Sachin Tendulkar, remarkable in merely statistical terms alone, is equally remarkable in that it has spanned a dramatic era of change in what many still regard as a static game, from 1988 until the present day. There can be few other elite athletes in any sport of any era who have performed at such a consistently high level for so long. But more than this, there can be few who have shouldered the weight of expectation of so many people at a pivotal moment in their history with such dignity, forthrightness, intelligence, and humility. Indeed, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama chuckled characteristically after watching Sachin caress the ball around a tiny ground in the Himalayan foothills: “I think if the Buddha ever played a game it would probably be cricket”.

A well-worn argument against cricket is that it encapsulates a certain stultified “Englishness”, in other words that it eschews physical confrontation and speedy resolution for the maintenance of a code of conduct that lays emphasis on how the game is played rather than the result. That it benefits no-one but those who can participate or who can afford the time to watch. A fruitless, vaguely sinister leisure.

Sounds like poetry.

Doubtless such values were the prevailing ethos for a certain period in the late 19th century (when European Imperialism and rules of engagement were at their height and the first Test Match was being nutted out in Melbourne), but the reality is, as always, a little more grubby. For most of its long long history, cricket has been played in a rather more mercantile spirit. In fact, the strict demarcation between “Gentleman” and “Professional” players right up until the 1950’s (in English cricket at least) suggests that the Test cricket innovation of 1877 may have been a last vain attempt to purge the game of some of its more nefarious elements. 

However, it didn’t take long for people (nefarious or otherwise) to realise that a game that can last 5 days (or at times in its long history as many as 10!), and still offer no result, must be serving up the inveterate gambler even more opportunities to stake a wager.

Bookies, both then and now, have almost brought the game to its knees, drawn by the explosive nature of the game, albeit toward the bottom end. How many runs will be scored in the first over? How many times will the wind blow off the umpire’s hat before tea? How many times will that brilliant young Pakistani bowler with his whole (now ruined) life ahead of him bowl a no-ball in a session at Lords?

Sachin Tendulkar, “The Little Master”, despite the pressure placed on him by the Mumbai bookies early in his career, has not only risen above such viscera, but seems to dwell in a completely different universe ruled by the admittedly complex yet insuperably fair laws of cricket. To see him interviewed is to see cricket light up his face. He is cricket both as it has been and as it is becoming. What the game will be, what India will be, without him is beyond even this humble blogger to foresee. Other than to say that we are all the richer, whether a follower of the odd little arcane game or not, for having had him pass through this increasingly crowded, frenetic world with us.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Poetry by Phillip Ellis

"15th of January, 2012"

An epiphany is not reached:
the sun sets in cloud, and is hidden,
and the midden of evening is cool.
It will rain later, heavily.

A currawong shuttles its name
into the late summer silence. Air
of the times, it is repeated twice;
no-one else speaks, not man, not bird.

If I were a boor, I would shout
insolence to the silence around
me; but I do not. I am not child
enough to break silence with noise.

The verandah is cool and dim
enough. My large cup of tea is still
warm. I drink some of it. And I cross
my ankles, lean back in my chair.

An epiphany is not reached:
the sun sets in cloud, and is hidden,
and the midden of evening is cool.
It will rain later, heavily.

- Phillip Ellis 2012

Calling all Poets of Oz

As much as I am sure we have all enjoyed the flood of submissions from our cousins north of the line, Bluepepper is keen to see more work from less troubled regions, so I am calling on all poets from across this sodden isle to read the guidelines and submit. Payment is a pat on the back, but I doubt that will serve as much of a deterrent to my fellow scribes, for as Dransfield once penned in the cabin of an outback rig, "to be a poet in Australia is the ultimate commitment". 

And while we're veering towards the parochial, I would be particularly interested in seeing some work from poets working within cooee of the Bluepepper headquarters in the upper Blue Mountains. Nothing thrust at me in the Station Bar, mind, but submitted electronically and without threats to let down my balding tyres.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Poetry by Benjamin Dodds

Our Lady of Yanco

rendered in concrete
stands serenely in a block of the same stuff
inside the sheltering niche of an upended bathtub.
She was built to last ­­– her salmon drapery applied
over two consecutive weekends
to ensure the undercoat dried completely
before the laying on of her blue mantel
in All Weather Exterior.
She’s only faded slightly since then
mostly in the face.
Who could be blamed
for closing their eyes
to the rippling convection
of such Summer sun?

- Benjamin Dodds 2012

New Poetry by B.Z. Niditch


So long as the rain
in late August steps
between watery walks
midday in Manhattan
with grey clouds overhead,
and clubbing tourists
sparkle with champagne,
your own mouth rests
near green bottles
of the lemony room
hearing jazz piano
for four hands,
your red lazy eye
staring at the overcast
resembling the argentite
of a showery sky,
Auden from across
an ocean of time
fills up twice
alive as animated angels
whom he enlightens
until daylight disappears.

- B.Z. Niditch 2012

B.Z. NIDITCH is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher.

His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including: Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and ArtThe Literary ReviewDenver QuarterlyHawaii Review,; Le Guepard (France); Kadmos (France);Prism InternationalJejune (Czech Republic); Leopold Bloom (Budapest); Antioch Review; and Prairie Schooner, among others.

He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

New Poetry by Stuart Barnes


on reading 'One Art', 'Mad Girl's Love Song',
and 'Do not go gentle into that good night'

So, how to start? Like Bishop, Plath, or Thomas,
arguing the colon, fidgeting with parentheses,
shadowing decasyllabics? This is a song

(of neither loss, nor madness, nor death)
of the bird returning to whit the song itself. So,
so, how to start? Like Bishop, Plath, or Thomas,

summoning that wonderland, projecting megalo-
mania, blowing unstoppable bottles of whisky,
shadowing decasyllabics? This is a song

of the bird returning to whit the song itself,
of repudiating cities, moon and anger.
So, how to start? Like Bishop? Plath? Or Thomas?

Hell no! Discard the cells’ nostalgia! Constrict
the GOD-delusions! Clarify the Scotch and the
shadowing decasyllabics! This is a song

of the bird returning to whit the song itself. Oh!
but the white-eyed bird’s forgotten what to whit!
so, how to start? Like Bishop? Plath? Or Thomas,

shadowing decasyllabics? This is a song  

- Stuart Barnes 2012

Stuart Barnes is slowly arranging the manuscript for his first book of poetry, and writing his first novel. He lives in Melbourne.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

New Poetry by Robert H. Demaree Jr.


The gym is empty now--
Graduation was last night.
The polished floor is lightly scuffed
By the shoes of girls in long white dresses:
The rented chairs are stacked against the wall,
And beside them yesterday’s magnolias and
My orange extension cord
And the discarded programs,
Where you said they’d be.

Last night I shared my daughter’s joy
With the calmness of a minister at a wedding,
Or a funeral:
A school man on a working day.

But something has come to me today,
Walking the halls,
Picking up after graduation:
Here is where she stood last night to give her speech,
And here is where she sat laying out the newspaper,
And here her desk for calculus or English,
Or where she tried out for cheerleader:
And here are all the places of the part of her life
We thought was ours
But is no more.

An empty school, the day after graduation,
In the cool and eerie light of the sun’s eclipse--
They say this will not happen again
For thirty years or so:
I wonder if I shall see it.
The men are moving the rented organ now,
And I suppose that if I leave the flowers where they are today
They will still be there in September,
Dried, brittle, incongruous against the opening of school.
It has dawned on me thorough this day’s strange, dream-like light
That I have indeed lived to see her coming forth:
My tears belong to ritual,
As you said they would.

It has dawned on me through this day’s strange, dream-like light
That Virginia doesn’t go to school here anymore.
The men carrying away the rented chairs
Disrupt the practice of the cheerleaders:
My younger daughter squints in the now-bright sun of noontime
And plans with friends for other days.

- Robert H. Demaree Jr., 2012

Robert retired in 2001 after 42 years as a teacher and administrator in schools in the Southeastern U.S. He has family ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire; thus he hopes that his interest in what Donald Hall calls “a pleasure of place” does not preclude a look at a larger landscape.