Tuesday, April 17, 2012

West End

According to a report just released by the Australian Treasury, two centuries of Western global  fratricide and hegemony came to an inevitable, if somewhat abrupt, statistical end on March 28, 2012. Statistics are like that; underwriters of the binary world we all but a special few inhabit. 

For according to the most credible and exacting our Commonwealth has to offer (other than yours truly), it was on the 88th day of this year of the Mayan apocalypse (and 88 being a propitious number for the Chinese, by the way) that the wealth of the planet shifted from west to east, returning Asia to the prime place in Old World economics to which it (by which I mean China) had grown accustomed for some 1500 years until about 1840.

Could be in years to come March 28, 2012 will go down with those other landmarks of the slow eclipse of Western hegemony, but I doubt it. Like the birth of the internet, it is a slow, painful, yet ultimately fruitful thing for which no-one will openly declare patrimony.

In the short-term, of course, nothing much will change. Hollywood will continue to leach this country of its best and shiniest to no good purpose. India will continue to insist it is a stand-alone while shoring up its borders east and west, and the likes of Melbourne critic Peter Craven, or our very own Sydney-institutionalised Gerard Henderson, will continue to bend an ear to their ghosts, blinkered to the new possibilities.

Nevertheless, this seismic change variously and often vaguely trumpeted since the 1960’s has now passed across the desks of the bean-counters, and from there, as we all know, there is no going back.

I can’t help wondering, though, what this epoch-defining moment will mean to those dedicated to the destruction of the Western hegemony? And I am not just talking about the Taliban. Will they turn their attentions further east to patterns of life at least outwardly at odds with their medieval obfuscation? Not that such a thing as "Western hegemony" has ever really existed, of course, but even if it had, its time has passed now, or is at least well on its way to passing. The subjunctive “legacy” will start to rise on the word-count, matching the flow of the smartest and brightest north to Shanghai where managers (even now) have begun to nod their heads when they are actually awake. 

The next two decades will no doubt sort the creative, malleable minds from the more doctrinaire and regimented, particularly in resource-rich and increasingly skills-poor countries such as Australia. I owe a doubt here, of course, to the late Donald Horne. But doubts and misquotes aside, the next twenty years will either sort those prone to incessant hyperbole from those less inured to extremes of behaviour (predictive or otherwise), or bring them closer together. Student of 1914 as I am, I hope it is the former, not the latter.

So, at the risk of falling into my own trap, I predict a kind of digitalised belle epoque being the new political divide for the foreseeable. Not the tired old left-right polemic of so much of the “urban” poetry peppering my inbox, but the malleable and empathic against the so-called agents of “change“ who are anything but.

And while we are on the subject of those apparently unable or unwilling to understand the forces and historical trends against which they so publicly rail, what in the world was Julian Assange thinking when he signed on with Russia Today for his show The World Tomorrow? The title's bald assumptions aside, was Assange not aware of the track record of this Putin-backed outfit? In fact, if any media organisation could be regarded as the living embodiment of everything Wikileaks purportedly aims to take down, it is Russia Today. His maiden performance was wooden and obviously heavily-scripted, and his reference to Hassain Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, as a "freedom fighter" was as trite as it was inaccurate. I appreciate the Aussie ex-pat and hopeful Senator has some serious legal bills, but this latest chapter in the Assange saga confirms a complete lack of judgement which can only lead any thinking person to question both his and his team's essential motives.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Poetry by E.F. Schraeder

Ramona from Assisted Living

Tells us, the visitors, about yesterday’s emergency
outside work, where the ringing bells
remind us of death with every tone;
how a small girl wandered, an archetype
through a corn field. Text messages alert
hundreds who gather, hand in hand
for three hours walking the cold rows
long past sunset to find her.
Lost, like these ones we look over to talk,
while they slumber in wheelchairs,
tilt toward perpetual dusk
until a waiting hand finds them.

- E. F. Schraeder 2012

For the Birds

Every visit past the glass cage where
bright canaries and gray lovebirds nest,
their orange beaks pecking at straw and string,
I worry for them, watch the mindful cat on the cushion.
My concerns fall from the glass, collapse to the floor
like heaps of empty husks and seed shells.
They wait out their lives, pecking and sleeping,
chirping their stories to residents, visitors, nurses,
anyone who pauses long enough for hello.
Most pass them on the way to mothers and fathers,
grandmas and grandpas. They behave
like the framed prints on the wall,
unassuming and decorative,
overcrowded and sad,
small eyes looking for something not found.

- E. F. Schraeder

E. F. Schraeder's creative work has appeared in Haz Mat Review, Corvus Magazine, Bluepepper, Kicked Out, Whitechapel 13, and elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Poetry by Ryan Stewart


I thanked my doctors once
And then I went away -
I'd sooner not annoy them twice
(I had some catch-up play)

 But little did I think
How much I grew inside
What pleases doctors most -
Old patients swinging by

- Ryan Stewart 2012

Ryan is a professional dog trainer and aspiring writer. He has been shuttling back and forth to LA to peddle scripts for the last couple years but most enjoys writing poems, essays, and children's stories. This is his inaugural publication.

Monday, April 09, 2012

New Poetry by Phillip Ellis

A Credo in Metre

I dream of the world and sleep, and, when waking,
I find I am caught, a fly, and in amber
so solid. I dream the world as I slumber
and find, when I waken, something so dreamlike.

The world is a dream no God could imagine:
so complex the world, so flawed that it's likely
all creatures evolved, and were bidden
to rise from one cell through time and by nothing.

The beauty of magpies carolling mornings,
the currawongs chiming evenings have given
a shape to my day, and beauty of singing
no God could imagine, being so petty.

So turn I my back on gods, as a mortal
and limited man, and peace is my trophy;
afraid of no Gods, I live, and I know this:
I'm saddened I'll miss this world with its beauty.

- Phillip Ellis 2012

Late Swim (After David Brooks)

The coping strategies of the wind
that echo around my head, like roof-iron
and rust torn into the air, seem as though rock
is forever cold to the palm, and then are gone.

The thought's disappearing, as storm-clouds
are after an infodump of rain on islands
haloed by the light of the newborn moon.

The only true light I can think is 'star',
not as in celebrity, those who walk amongst them,
or those whose cuddled dolphin in the bay
is in reality rapist without arms,
weighing choices as though choices were a bird.

I would speak of this one star, speak of her
that dreams of me in Aotearoa, but no tear,
the fading sea that carries no tree
or foam forwards, will fall again:
the wind has not yet torn away that roof.

But to speak of her with adulterous
and adulterated thoughts, is it not like bones
and cartilage, and nothing more as man, as being enough?

I will not speak of that star then, that is down
in the low skies, as if it were in bed
and toasty warm, over the dawn sea.

it will not fade in the dawn, be
too wan to shine when the day is late.

Perhaps this is the only poem that I could make

- Phillip Ellis 2012

Phillip's new web page is www.phillipaellis.com/

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

While you were sleeping

The recent announcement that the newly elected LNP government in Queensland will soon be scrapping the prestigious Queensland Premier’s Literary Award should come as no surprise to anyone but those guileless few still trying to sell us the Bronte girls as serious literature. 

The LNP (the Liberal-National Coalition of laissez-faire urbanites and socialist - no sorry, I mean heavily-subsidised primary producers) is, after all, the new coalition of the people (according to the degraded line run like old Telstra broadband), and the Australian Labor Party that of the political elites so practiced in the arts of demagoguery that they cannot see past their bellies (or arses) to the corn supply. That is the new paradigm. No prizes for guessing who are the Gracchi brothers and who the new little Caesars.

Forget for a minute that it was John Gorton, arch conservative and advocate of the “all the way with LBJ” approach to matters on or around the 17th parallel, who way back in 1972 founded the Australian Film Commission, from which such flowers as “Rusty” Russell Crowe, Mel “Mad Eyes” Gibson and “Bouncing” Baz Luhrmann were later to bloom. Not to mention “Our Kate” Blanchett, but then she does not fall into any of these categories; she floats…..

Or, on the obverse, that it was the pronounced lefty in anything but what mattered most, Bob Hawke, who set in motion the corporatisation of “aunty” ABC. 

Last year (2011) the Queensland Premier’s Award allotted almost $250,000 in state and federal revenue to 14 no doubt well-deserving and hard-working writers in as many fields of endeavour. It took just one change of government with no pronounced mandate regarding the arts (other than the usual grainy Photostat) to reverse 15 years of what some would call a job well done, others a waste of time.

And in a parliament with only one chamber since 1922, and the most overwhelming majority in that lone chamber's history (Labor managed to hold onto 7 seats in an 80-odd seat chamber). 

Some would call that stultifying, others just a smoky room. 

What it tells me, social democrat though I am and anarchist though I am about to sound, is to trust no patron, however large or small, whether of the people or (apparently) against them. You will soon enough find yourself dancing for drinks in dog-leg bars.

Writers should not live on stipend, inoculated to fate, the menial, the hard landing.  

Work the long shift, the long haul, free the lobes, cure yourselves of sinecure.

New Poetry by William Wright Harris


russian beauty

painted in
winter hues

bubbles of

form her gown
& crown of beads

her hair a veil
falling in

capable of rendering


- William Wright Harris 2012

William's poetry has appeared in ten countries in such literary journals as The Cannon’s Mouth, Ascent Aspirations, generations and Write On!!! A student at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville, he has studied poetry in workshop settings with such poets as Jesse Janeshek, Marilyn Kallet, Arthur Smith, and Marcel Brouwers. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Poetry workshop with Les Wicks

AP’s online workshops provide poets nationally and internationally with the opportunity to connect with Australian poets and poetry.

Online workshops run for four weeks and operate by participants emailing the tutor their poetry a few days prior to the first scheduled day of the workshop. The tutor will respond with feedback and direction. Participants will then continue to submit their work, improving their piece based on feedback offered weekly, for the duration of the course. Please enroll by clicking the register button below each workshop. You will then receive confirmation that you’re in the course and be contacted a few days before the workshop begins by the relevant tutor.

$75 AP members, non members $95

Monday, April 02, 2012

New Poetry by Rachel Barenblat


You're on fire beneath my lips,
hot as the coal that Moshe grabbed
when the angel forced his hand.
As we rock in the dark
I want to pray for healing
but I'm muddled with sleep.
I sing to you in two holy tongues.
You whimper. My eyes are closed
but I have known your face
since it first appeared, blurred
and grainy, on the ultrasound screen.
When I replace you on cool sheets
you cry out once and then curl
clutching yellow bunny in one hot hand.
The white noise machine croons.
What do your fever dreams show you?
How long will you remain a furnace,
incandescent in my arms
and exhausted from the burning?

- Rabbi Rachel Barenblat 2012


you wake in your crib's embrace
from the dream of a distant heartbeat

a voice says cry out!
and you cry out

bewailing the tragedy of separation
until I gather you to my breast

glowing numbers shift silently
and your desperation eases

someday you'll learn to fumble soft stars
into their places

to nuzzle your giraffe
and count adinkra like talismans

but for now I am consolation
I make the rough places plain

- Rabbi Rachel Barenblat 2012

Rachel's first book-length collection of poems, 70 faces, was published by Phoenicia Publishing in January of last year. 70 faces is a collection of poems written in response to Torah. Rachel is also author of four chapbooks of poetry, and her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, among them Phoebe, The Jewish Women's Literary Annual, and The New Orleans Review. Rachel holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and was ordained as a rabbi by ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Today she lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and son.

New words and pictures by Wayne H. W Wolfson

"Last Call" (Paper & Marker)

Last Call

A clown in a baggy brown and yellow checkered suit bends down to pick up a balloon, with every step forward to get it, the tip of his foot moves it ahead a little. The band had gotten off the stage to take a break but the trumpeter who had been lingering as he waited for his girlfriend, one of the dancers, plays a slow lament from his stage-side table. Nearly falling over in the process, finally the clown gets the balloon. He cradles it in his arm like a baby and tenderly presses his cheek up to it. The waitress asks me if I would like anything else before settling my tab, a girl with a round ass from Rome plumps down onto my lap and there is the sound like a shot ringing out of something popping. 

- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2012

"Marina Has The Blues" (Watercolor & Paper)