Sunday, February 29, 2004

Waiting, waiting, waiting ... blogger can be a real blooper sometimes. All these posts into thin air and then they'll arrive on the screen in a gush, days later maybe, as though I'd been pouring out the words continuously. But I'm doing other stuff. Sleeping, eating, working, coughing a lot (that's tedious).

I've collected my bodies as they sleep
all of them given to a little man
and he will presume to speak

because I am not
… a goddess? …

his horn indignant, the passages simmer
I stoke the hot walls
everybody knows better than me

Hope is the violin they play at my death rout
but I’m still clicking
and this body that ...

Keep moving!
The dog out the back, Zaa, keeps howling. He's just lost his mate (ie buddy), an older dog called Ashka, who had to be put down (I'd been watching her for years from our back window and felt close to her - what, through all that glass and distance? yes, I guess so). He's a younger dog, who would naturally have been top dog (he being he) though he never was, as it turned out, and now he only dog.

Warm, lazy and slow today. I have to get to a book launch (a big double one) but my sickness keeps me fuzzy and strange.

Had I been faceless
I would not have felt
the colder rain

flocks seek me like air

if I had risen once
ongoing after
the quiet

Having some blogger problems ... again! What you see is not what you should see. A sudden change to italics all over the place is not anywhere I could find in my coding. The refusal to publish my latest posts (including this one, frustratingly) seems to take hours and days, not instants.

Does anyone else have these constant issues? I'd be interested to know.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Hey, check out Chris Murray's excellent texfiles this week as she's featuring some various works by me as the texfiles Poet of the Week. I am much honoured by this and just love the thought of my poems emanating from Texas, USA.
I've been busy the last few days helping my partner, Annette Willis, with her photography exhibition. The opening night went very well - a bit too well for some of us. So I haven't had time for much else. Also dogged by a persistent flu which antibiotics can't seem to chase away.

Annette and I did go for a walk this evening after closing up 'shop'. The gallery is in Clovelly and a short walk to the sea. High seas this week in Sydney. Monster surf. All spray, spume and splash. There's a haze all along the coast and the air has that joyful, scary cool boil of sea cloud and wave boom.


"Coming around the curve of the avenue
My thoughts are happy.
Yet simply thinking this makes me glum,
For if they weren't happy, there'd be more variety:
Instead of being happy and glum
They'd be joyful and happy. What the heck.

Thinking bugs me, like walking in the rain
When the bus goes by, a huge wind splattering greasy water.

Ambitions and desires? My head's wet.
Being a poet isn't an ambition,
it's a version of being alone."

- Erin Moure, from 'What, me, guard sheep?' in Sheep's Vigil By A Fervent Person, a 'transcreation' of Pessoa/Caeiro's O Guardador de Rebanhos (The Keeper of the Sheep).

Thursday, February 26, 2004


Two Views of Withens

Above whorled, spindling gorse,
Sheepfoot-flattened grasses,
Stone wall and ridgepole rise
Prow-like through blurs
Of fog in that hinterland few
Hikers get to:

Home of uncatchable
Sage hen and spry rabbit,
Where second wind, hip boot
Help over hill
And hill, and through peaty water.
I found bare moor,

A colorless weather,
And the House of Eros
Low-lintelled, no palace;
You, luckier,
Report white pillars, a blue sky,
The ghosts, kindly.

- Sylvia Plath, Collected Poems

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Aah, the full blog is back. Thanks to quick response from blogger, or the angel of blog was kind.

Someone has stolen my links and archives! I've emailed blogger. Fingers crossed. It feels kinda naked here at the moment.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

on being seen (not)

"It's kind of true, you do disappear off the planet if you are a middle-aged woman," says Keaton. "But that has some advantages as well. Because too much of my life was spent waiting to be seen. Hoping to be seen, hoping to be picked. Once you realise that you aren't looked at that way any more, other things start to happen, and you have to depend on other things to get by."

- interview with Diane Keaton, The Weekend Australian, 21-22 Feb 2004, Review, p. 4-5

"The dream of being invisible ... When I find myself in an environment where I can enjoy the illusion of being invisible, I am really happy.

The exact opposite of how I feel when I have to talk on the television, and I feel the camera pointing at me, nailing me to my visibility, to my face. I believe that writers lose a lot when they are seen in the flesh. In the old days the really popular writers were totally anonymous, just a name on the book cover, and this gave them an extraordinary mystique ... I believe this is the ideal condition for a writer, close to anonymity: that is when his maximum authority develops, when the writer does not have a face, a presence, but the world he portrays takes up the whole picture. ... Today, ... the more the author's figure invades the field, the more the world he portrays empties; then the author himelf fades, and one is left with a void on all sides."

- Italo Calvino, Hermit in Paris (trans Martin McLaughlin)

Of course, there is a gender difference. Some women writers of the past, famously, had to take male pseudonyms so they could be read, ie 'seen' - because written texts are seen. And the writer cannot escape being 'the author', out of which an 'image' (in the general publicity sense) is made.

But that this either inevitable (in Keaton's case) or wished for (in Calvino's) is interesting. OK, it's comparing actors with writers - and actors, until certain CGI techniques get a whole lot better, need to be seen (in some sense).

What would happen if we all published anonymously? Like the very famous 'anon'. Or wouldn't it ever happen?

notes on my next book

People ask me what my book
is about
I say 'nothing' as

I call it 'broken/open'
that seemed to be
words for

the nothing I know
which goes out into
and is patterned in language

It will become a book
you can hold
and turn like a poem

a place to mark
something that can be
opened? Dissolved in doing?

I'm going with perception
which may be
'going on your nerve'

jumping in the midst
of the flow, experience
in language underway

But I have found I need
more tenderness
to pick up the pieces

everything is broken -
systems, gods, engines
now it's more fun

perhaps against method/perhaps no project
and going without
some 'reader' that's been made-up

feeling my way again
and the importance of wings
the lake, rock and sand

it all runs on the pink sexed skin
a landscape like sound
drips from my edges

asking questions
about how the pieces don’t fit
shards alter meanings

these shards are the parts

'poetry is too important to be left
to its own devices' (Charles Bernstein)

Are we at the end of
'the body' and 'nature'?
Is time disappearing into speed?

Awe is an engine
the particular
'a glitch in the system'?

Where are the new senses?

It is broken - it is open.

- based on some notes I used at a reading of poems from my next book, 10 July 2003, The Loft, UTS, Sydney. The proposed title is Broken Open. I interspersed some poems between these comments. Someone suggested the title was a bit hard. I think it's positive but everyone sees these things differently.
"Writing has nothing to do with signifying. It has to do with surveying, mapping, even realms that are yet to come."

- Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans Brian Massumi)

Something to argue with but I tend to agree - about the surveying, mapping. (Just redipping into this one today before the temperature climbs and thought and reading become impossible again.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

i.m. Bruce Beaver 1928-2004

Sad news. One of Australia's finest poets, Bruce Beaver, passed away in his sleep on 16 February 2004. His works are discursive and rich, meditative and welcoming, tough, honest and visionary.

- from IX, in Letters to Live Poets, 1969

"No. I've not joined the bird-watchers
though I understand their interest -
their spring smeared and blurred with a sweat of death,
distillate of the times. There is always death
but not such a waste of living as now.
And the birds themselves? They have
nothing to learn from watching us.
Do you want to acquaint the larks with the fatuous music of war?
September and I send you a dove,
a berry cluster, and these words."
- Bruce Beaver

- from XIII, in Letters to Live Poets, 1969

"I beg you to remember me as truthful."
- Bruce Beaver

on the beach - landscape and language

OK, I did the presenting of Sea Shadow Land Light, the multimedia presentation that Annette Willis and I did for the On the Beach conference in Fremantle, run by the International Centre for Landscape and Language, Edith Cowan University.

No technical hitches, phew! SSLL was put together using Power Point on a Mac but it worked as well using the PC over west. Images and text, plus a little music. I also did an introductory paper which spoke of Annette's interest as a photographer in texture in the built and natural environment and our wish for the 'show' to work at different levels of scale and context.

All the images were of environmental textures at La Perouse, a bay-side suburb of Sydney, on Botany Bay. The traditional custodians of the land were the Goorawal people. It was the major point of first contact of white expeditions (Captain James Cook 1770 and then Governor Arthur Philip 1788) and Indigenous nations on Australia's east coast. The name La Perouse comes from Captain Jean-Francois de Galaup, Comte de Laperouse, who arrived there about a week after the First Fleet, sent by the French king Louis XVI to emulate the explorations of Cook in the Pacific. There is, of course, a lot more Sydney history there. Nowadays, LaPa is a favourite spot for Sydneysiders to dive, swim or relax. It is next to the huge port facility of Botany Bay as well. I won't go on, you get the drift.

Sea Shadow Land Light pulls between the abstract and the intimate, the close-up and a wider view. It isn't intended as representational but hints at haptic space, of touch as well as visual. The photographs were part of a colour series taken by Annette. She is also having an exhibition in late February of black and white prints featuring some examples of Sydney's old and fast-disappearing civic and industrial architecture, including Cockatoo Island Dockyard, North Head Quarantine Station, the Edwardian Male Public Toilet in Macquarie Place and the Sydney Brick Pits at St Peters.

The exhibition, Remnants, runs from Thursday 26 Feb until Sunday 7 March, Thurs-Sundays only @ Gallery East, 21 Burnie Street, Clovelly. At the close on 7 March at 3pm we'll have a poetry reading featuring my good self and Sydney poet Martin Langford. Keeping the image/text thing running.

some field notes

I work out of what is around me - ground, voice, thinking
these words - from my surroundings, my days

then find their way in disparate sentences
weather reports slipped with news headlines

or arcane paragraphs, they are letters from the past
a few minutes, days, months, many years

sometimes stacked, decks of an ocean liner
sometimes as scraps or hoardings

once they were approaches, ways of introduction
now less familiar - hints, glances, ricochets

or little dances with verbs


each place is a trail, a change
an existence that is named

looking closely changes a place
out of context, within another context


expecting openings and closures to be heralded
a woosh, an electronic handle

drug with a dangerous name
grievous monkey out of control

treasures do the talking
they report the crime
trespass and knowledge

Monday, February 16, 2004

poetry and film - an opportunity

I've been busy over west in Perth, hence the streets of ruby haven't echoed with the sound of walking or poetry in the last week. More about the west soon, but in the meatime, here's a snippet related to my recent post about poetry and film. It's for film-makers who want to use a poem/s in their next film.

2nd ZEBRA Poetry Film Award
July 1- 4, 2004

The literaturWERKstatt berlin invites all who have produced a short film relating to one or more poems to participate in the competition for the 2nd international ZEBRA Poetry Film Award endowed with total cash prizes of 10,000 EURO! The deadline for registration is March 31, 2004.

The award is a joint project of the literaturWERKstatt berlin, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH (German Technical Cooperation) and interfilm berlin assisted by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds and the Goethe-Institut. It is the largest international viewing forum for short films relating to poetry.

Films and videos should be up to 10 minutes long and must be produced after January 1, 2000. They must display an evident connection to one or more poems. The registration form as well as in-detail information can be obtained at the zebra award web site

Further inquiries to:
literaturWERKstatt berlin, ZEBRA Poetry Film Award, Knaackstr. 97 (Kulturbrauerei), D-10435 Berlin,
Germany, Phone: ++49 (0)30 48 52 45 34, Fax: ++49 (0)30 48 52 45 30,

Monday, February 09, 2004


walking is a habit to turn around
laughing into this
historical here, now
can't help it, even the sadness
count-off in used and material
queues banks gear
it's all drag, dressed
a magnificent flounce of leaves
over the slight avenue
a tremendous rush in evening
air cruising
it's faded, make-do, streaky
if not jumpy at times
with carbon and crap blowing
laughing, switching lights, sides
it's a scuffle, a treadmill
sexy, crumbling, unsafe

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Well, the PERVERSE VERSE reading yesterday (7 Feb) went well. It seemed like a full house at the Writers' Centre, albeit very hot. But most people stayed till the end, 2pm until almost 5pm with just the one break. That's pretty dedicated. In the end there were 12 poets: Tricia Dearborn, Gary Dunne, Tim Denoon, Dash Grey, Jill Jones, Kerry Leves, Kerrie McGrath, Jenni Nixon, Andy Quan, John Rule, Neale Stewart and Helena Wong. The Feminist Bookshop set up a small book stall which seemed to do some business. Well, I sold a book or two.

A great variety of readings and poetries but all were well worth listening to, otherwise folks wouldn't have stayed, they'd have headed for the nearest cool place. 'Community' poetry readings have the potential to be average or less than (I'm being kind), but this was tops. Some poets were more performance focused or flamboyant, could we say? I had to go last. I was supposed to have 'nerves of steel' and be able to wait until the end. I don't think so! But we got there.

I often get myself in a tangle when I contemplate such 'branded' readings (remember, it was an official New Mardi Gras event). I don't want to be caught up in the identity bind. I write because I write, but to say that sometimes seems evasive, unsatisfactory. My writing is part of my life and to pretend it has nothing to do with my history and what I do every day is just silly as well as a kind of bad faith. In introducing the event, Gail emphasised its 'queer' nature. There's a lot of history there regarding Sydney's feminist, lesbian gay bi transgender communities (Sydney loves a stoush, and then gets over it), and there's absolutely nothing new in queer. But, recently, I've got to like the idea when it comes to how I write, taking it through and beyond questions of sexuality. Poetry is queer.

I wish I had more time and head space. I've over-committed myself as the moment and am trying to do the usual juggling act but watch this space. I will try and develop this more over the coming ... weeks? months?

Off to Perth early this week.

Friday, February 06, 2004

day in its habit
night in disguise
chanting wheels

- from a train poem

I'm doing a lot of travelling but not enough walking.

Days of busy and things get left, like poor old Ruby Street. Trying to get back on track.

Monday, February 02, 2004

I've taken part in the 'poetry and film' discussion more than once, both on-line and in person. The gist, on my part, is that you'd be surprised at how many films have a connection to poets and poetry.

With the release in Sydney of Christine Jeff's film, Sylvia, much is being made of this all over again. Caroline Baum has written an article in the Sydney Morning Herald which covers some of the territory. I have a list of films which make connections to poetry culled from many discussions with friends as well as print and on-line sources. I haven't updated it in some time, however. I'll do so and, when I've done it, anyone interested is welcome to a copy and to make further suggestions.

I liked Sylvia, by the way, with a couple of reservations, and gave it four stars in a recent review. I'll post the review in the next couple of days.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

I love the particulars
taken as ordinary

it seems to me
what world is made of

rain as sticky or shivery
cold beaten fine

each day walks

or salt crust
tasted on the rock

the grit I get down to

Been occupied with family business last few days.