Monday, April 19, 2004


I haven't done much about walking lately but I've noticed that Stephen Vincent has been taking poetry out for a walk. Have a look at his site for the full ten poems called Walking Theory which are pieces supported by a commission from Slight Publications (Chris Sullivan, Publisher).

Here are a few excerpts:

from Walking Theory #4:

"Acknowledge juxtaposition, mourning dove mocking bird, shape sound,
alphabet character, melody blood:

Release ten-fold, the robin on the trolley track, the crow caw stuck in the throat, the here gone, the inside character, the old flame froze, defrost, walk harder, don't bend to break, the cloven stairwell, one level to the next, each side "interesting": ....."

from Walking Theory #5

"... Walking into structure, walking away, walking over the top, turn down the steep hill into theory, into reflection, into imagination, theory a,b, c, is cancelled by theory x,y,z, is keep moving, love is loving the felt body moving, is she at the intersection of Church & 21st., the red purse with vertical white straps, the dark top, the jeans about the thighs, the structure moving south, the walk going east and down, beauty envelopes the palette, one by one, love is a corner crossing.

from Walking Theory #10

"... The street stutters, step-by-step, who can account
The decorum of the poor, good-bye rhetoric, the desperate,
what can the poem do, walking, step by step,
witness, suffer, hope.

(To be continued)"

Sunday, April 18, 2004

So, I'm supposed to be packing and going away from my desk but, wandering around Newtown last night, what do I do but go into Elizabeth's Bookshop on King Street and buy not one, but three books:

Emil Staiger, Basic Concepts of Poetics (Grundbegriffe der Poetik), (trans Janette C. Hudson and Luanne T. Frank, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991.

Steven Clay and Rodney Phillips, A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960-1980, The New York Public Library and Granary Books, 1998.

Jerome Rothenberg and Steven Clay (eds), A Book of the Book, Granary Books, 2000.

I would suspect that the last two of the above belonged to the same owner. The covers are a bit hacked but the insides are fairly pristine. The Staiger looks brand new and there were two other copies of the same brand newness also there. Some kind of remaindereed stock, I presume. Pity I won't get to read them for a while.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

getting the brush off?

I read an interesting comment on Ron Silliman's blog recently. He says:

"Readers of this blog will know by now that while I am interested in most aspects of the post-avant writing landscape, one sector that I have tended to be less enthusiastic is that segment of retro-avant-gardism that tends to employ new technology in order to generate post-rational texts, ranging from tossing dice to the latest in flash technology. I often feel that such writing is too in love with techné & not with the text, sort of an avant-gardism at all costs strategy that can yield works as lumbering as anything the school of quietude could produce."

OK, different strokes, etc. Though, first of all, 'lumbering' poems occur everywhere, from the most conservative to the most post-avant, language and post-language venues. They're not just the preserve of 'official verse culture', or 'school of quietude', or 'retro-avant-gardism'. We've all seen them, and mostly likely written them ourselves (though if we were 100 per cent wise, never published them).

But I found his further reference to the venues he feels such writers gather rather puzzling. Or am I being picky? (Of course I am.) So, he goes on to say:

"The result is that I tend to approach certain venues – Augie Highland’s Muse Apprentice Guild, the email journal Poethia, Geoffrey Gazta’s BlazeVox, even UbuWeb – with some caution. As I do writers who primarily associate with such locales."

Caution? Are they so scary? I'm being picky because I've been published in a couple of those quarters Ron mentions and my work, though it has flirted with ideas of generating post-rational texts (as he admits his has), isn't primarily concerned with procedures like that. And when I look at the works I and others have had published in, say, Poethia, I see more of a mix of work. Have a look yourself, for instance, see one of my favourites, Mary Rising Higgins's single author issue or those by Susan Schultz or Sheila Murphy. Indeed, my good self - might as well give it a plug. Consider some of the poems there by these poets - Cassie Lewis, MTC Cronin, Harriet Zinnes, Andrew Burke, kari edwards, Catherine Daly, Lawrence Upton, Gerald Schwartz. I could name others as well.

Look, I've given up losing sleep about who likes what but I was a bit exercised by that particular brush off and wanted to say it, on the record, that you don't need to be cautious when looking at any of the above venues. They have a certain bent, which is as it should be, but do not need caveats of 'caution - only for certain poets' ringed around them.

meme thing

OK, I'll join in. I got this from Ivy.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

So, I happen to have right next to me the latest edition of Boxkite, #3/4, 2004. Here goes:

"The whole leg grew stiff in a week, with the thigh and calf wasted to nothing while the kneecap had grown to double its normal size."

That's from 'The True Life of Arthur Rimbaud' by Charles Olsen. Dated 1945 and part of an unpublished (until now) manuscript.

So, there you have it. Guess I'll go and have lunch.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Shortlist - 2004 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize

Here's the poetry books shortlisted for this year's Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize, part of the NSW Premier's Literary Awards. (This is the gong I got last year, if I'm allowed to skite.)

Jordie Albiston, The Fall (White Crane Press)
Pam Brown, Dear Deliria: New & Selected Poems (Salt Publishing)
M.T.C. Cronin, beautiful, unfinished -PARABLE/SONG/CANTO/POEM (Salt Publishing)
Brook Emery, Misplaced Heart (Five Islands Press Pty Ltd)
Philip Hammial, In the Year of Our Lord Slaughter's Children (Island Press Co-
operative Ltd)
John Tranter, Studio Moon (Salt Publishing)

There's more info on all the awards at the NSW Ministry for the Arts site.

I won't be able to go to the awards dinner this year as I will be away. It's become a bit of a tradition for me. I was a member of the judging panel in 1995, I organised the awards in 1996 when I worked for the NSW Ministry for the Arts and then I got lucky last year. A strange kind of hat-trick, I reckon, seeing the process from all sides.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Hmm, but Lucinda can still be doing stuff like this with her old poet dad. Humph and grumble. And thanks to Jilly at Poetry Hut for the reference.
And speaking of poetryetc projects, not to forget poems about Fathers which Anny Ballardini has graciously hosted on her great Poets' Corner site on this page. Poems by Douglas Barbour, Sharon Brogan, Deborah L. Humphreys, Jill Jones, SK Kelen, Liz Kirby, José Kozer (trans by Mark Weiss), Nessa O' Mahony, Max Richards, Rebecca Seiferle, Martin J. Walker, Mark Weiss, and Kenneth Wolman.

Check the site for many other goodies.

You'd think we'd all been busy, eh.

All over the shop. Thinking of packing. Thinking currencies, languages, maps, pairs of socks. All the unfinished work that will have to remain so. Urrgh!

So in that mood listening to The Wire Tapper 10 compilation. Four Tet, Colleen, Alias, Laibach, Polmo Polpo, David Sylvian, Satanicpornocultshop, Jah Wobble, Mice Parade and many more. Yep, feeling eclectic, woozy and a bit out of my body. Plus, I had to go to Wollongong today for a meeting and the trains, as usual, were running late, there and back. Do I need this? You know the answer to that one. But the meeting was fine, lively, a bit exhausting.

... plus, the big disappointment! Lucinda Williams cancelled her tour. Sad, because her mother died. But, hey, I wanted to see her, hear her, up there, on stage, in person like. A bit ordinary. It was going to be a big treat before we ran out the door, sort of plane wheels on a gravel skyway.

snapshots project

I've been involved in a great project as part of a list I belong to, poetryetc. It's called snapshots and entailed list members writing a 'snap' of where they are (physically, head-wise or whatever) at some time in the world each Wednesday. The greater part of the second iteration (sorry, I like that word) is archived, many thanks to Rebecca Seiferle of The Drunken Boat fame, on a special page on her site. Earlier snaps from this round are archived on Randolph Healy's Wild Honey Press site. The Wild Honey site also features an earlier iteration (yeah, OK) of the project which ran in 2001.

The current snaps project has been running nearly a year. Time will tell if it continues.

So, there's plenty there written from Australia, the UK, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, Italy, Iceland, Ireland and elsewhere. Enjoy!

Many thanks to Ivy Alvarez and Mark Young, who both replied to my plea for advice on how to use diacritical marks in Blogger. Basically, it's &# plus the unicode or ASCII code number for the accented letter (see, for example, under the 'Insert symbol' menu in Word). You can either compile as you go or there's a list here.

I've done this now for the most recent one's on this blog. I will correct some previous posts when I can. I'm way too busy at the moment to go searching through the archives.

poetry v. poetic

"There's an inexplicable reverence for the narcotic adjective 'poetic', whose arrival on the scene heralds the death of thought ... Perhaps this is because of poetry's status as prose's alibi, so that poetry can function as the unexplored but sanctified repository for whatever irrational elements prose may suspect it harbours within its own confines, and may wish to evacuate."

- Denise Riley, in The Words of Selves (or, as Riley alternatively proposes The Swords of Elves), p.18-19. [pub. Stanford University Press, 2000]

Monday, April 12, 2004

Cycling through Bill Evans Trio 'Waltz for Debby' and Miles Davis 'Round About Midnight'. Antidotes for I don't know what. And Evans' version of 'My foolish Heart' seems like the ultimate woozy, druggy track.

We were going to go to the Show but there seemed to be too much to do at home - sorting out what to pack, doing some gardening, a bit of cooking for a change. So no cute animals this year. And this was the first year they were having rats amongst the cats, dogs, sheep, pigs and horses. Ah well, next easter.

I have a shoebox of guidebooks I've been dipping into. Prague, Paris (as if I needed to) and Ireland. I worry about Czech pronounciation. I will get some pointers from a Czech friend at work. 'Pivo' is beer, which is a good start.

Which reminds me - anyone who knows how to do accentual marks using Blogger, I'd be glad to hear of any tips. Just contact me - jpjones at ihug dot com dot au. I'd be most grateful. And I'm sure it's dead simple.


And from some recent reading:

'Poetry convinces not by argument but by the form it creates to carry its content."
- Louis Zukofsky, in A Test of Poetry, p.52, II-3.

travel notes

A poem containing Melbourne weather

Faces in the street are coming for me
down the dusk grids of the city
under day's wandering light - ugly, lovely
depends on your own arc
how your skin attaches or repels
the raid on the eternal which is another
idea born of clouds and a whisk of stars.

Or here in the hum of a hotel room
in sight of spires and towers just above
what is now so apparent, readily available
but hard to distinguish where it belongs
on this table, in this work, through this radio.

The surprise is the blue above the squall
a shining through the other or the outer
patchworks like love or beauty unexpected
though not completely how it is you could
keep on pretending division belongs
not even in the sky an enhanced reality
besides which the grey gets grey

and makes sense to crowds floating
but also held to the way that keeps them
if they cannot know even the spires
that routinely mass above them.

The cycle is less massive than hum-drum
than desperate necessity somewhere
between blood and movement
some ante-vision as light cries down
and rain laughs its way past afternoon
wheels knocking out cloud echoes.

- Melbourne, April 2004

Interpreting taxis

streets are blacker here
they fall gracefully
past showers of waiting souls
aligned with venues
clouded by programs of laughter
as if there were too many of them
to count

there's something pitched in them
like need
but less certain
set with certain hours
before events before
numbers outside
where the real thing happens
without cause almost
perhaps this too is unfortunate

but there's no way to figure
how full a taxi might be
they display uncertain lights
the street trembles constantly
with tramways
then empties

- Melbourne, April 2004

1980s decor

there's smoke grain in the walls
wheels turning outside
showers and trickles on other floors
a solo piano, fusty, semi-idle
on the airwaves
a famous Wagnerian tenor
some residual pain in my knee

I'm surrounded by mirrors
lessons of light
that somehow there's a side
to me not seen
apart from the fox
at the bevelled edge

- Hobart, April 2004

Walking to water

It's a town of accelerations
and hills
like my town that falls
on its harbour
places where I've walked happy
kicking air and invisible mists
over water

so I walk out like myself
making do with days
that come out of nowhere
making this corner
this chance, this dash
of light that cuts up
stone shadow or
soft dark edges

people to sell you -
also making - something
sweet or heavy
in the hand - a bowl
a taste of rough paper

still a beginner here
I'm unknown and hardly
first fashion
at least let that
become me
dress me up like winter sun
that's a little lighter
down here nearer the pole
where something -
nearly, almost? -
essential is the river

and open-mouthed young
girls dressed for church
or meeting call out to
Billy who's shouting
testing sound at odds
with echoes, broader
fuller than Sunday's street
which has a lazy skim
even as the way
is made busy
in the longer gaps

- Hobart, April 3004

more walking

"Hold on to me and step
Over the world's thorns.

We shall soon be on
The yellow and emerald moss
Of the Penwith moor.
Are you all right beside me?
What's your name and age
As though I did not know.
Are we getting older
At different speeds differently?"

from 'A Walk to the Gulvas' by W.S. Graham


"Each day I take a different path
now to the river, now to the wood
or to the rocks where roses are

I climb the hills where I look out
but find you nowhere in the light

my beauty and my words are gone
into the air. Our words were right. ..."

- from 'Each day I take ...' by Denise Riley (after Friedrich Hölderlin's 'Wohl geh' ich täglich', written between 1798 and 1800)

"... Blind in the green afterglow of a crimson dress
Poised by a pale wall then gone on out of the light

But the girl at the inn will fade, however intently I stare.
And I go walking again all over the moors to sob

That she is a long way off, which is where we shall always keep her.
No having suffices the heart, which must keep integrally red."

- from 'Goethe on his holidays', by Denise Riley.
across us
senses of traffic

me off
that hook slow

in passages
pushing the wall

over willows
wherever we can

and cows
watch our hips

being born
turning with delicacy

tunnels into
loving calamitous world

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

away stuff

the aeroplane's welded tears
and the fat moon's goodbye
eye from sky-blacked north
twang with interrupted solos
a chorus gathered out of tarmacs
and linked diagrams
inflatable lifejackets
pointed out as necklaces
while the cabin manages
its own politesse

- that's coming back from Hobart, where you walk out to the plane across the tarmac. That seems old style and real instead of the twisting above-ground warrens they have at Sydney and Melbourne. All practice for The Big Trip on the 20th.

in interviews you're adding up
clauses, requirements
you must exclude
the setting in this autumn
an avenue of leaves
above voucher kiosks
veneered history, niches

the ice is coming no doubt
tho' every year it gets later
the letters after your name
recall the arcane
you need an inswing
to be plumb but light
trembles with resemblance

- the work I've been doing is helping individuals fill out applications (OK, it's a longer story than that but, for the sake of brevity ...) and this time I was sitting in a lovely warm room in an old stone building in the hub of Hobart's arts precinct overlooking the water. I chose to face away from the view.

Sunday, April 04, 2004


This is just a quick check-in as I've been a-travelling most of the week and am currently in Hobart at a cool internet cafe called Mouse on Mars (great band, too) in Salamanca Place as evening is almost here.

So I must say thanks to Eileen Tabios who liked some of my hay(na)ku and added me to her hay(na)ku links.

I've barely had time to collect up email messages let alone write anything for the blog being as this trip has been a high energy work trip. But I am enjoying the good clean Tasmanian air, the Hobartian hospitality (thanks Ralph, Jane, Pete, Anna and Stephen) and the clear golden Van Dieman's light.

I've made some 'travel' notes but they're back at the hotel room. I might post them later in the week if they become formed enough for an airing.