Monday, August 30, 2004

Mark Young of pelican dreaming has some nice words to say about the 'impermanent tenses' hay(na)ku I posted last week. Thanks, Mark. I like reading your hay(na)ku and other poems, long and short, which appear on the pelican dreaming site. Always worth a visit.

Hay(na)ku is a form that helps me focus, I've found. I've never been fussed on writing minimalist kinds of forms but this one works for me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

impermanent tenses 2

staggering stuff
in nested containers

looking back
while going forward

or sung
too little being

creaking rail
the hissing pneumos

sound lava
from old women

in their
mouths and lyrics

culture above
the minimalist abyss

dolcissimo marzipan
a little more

of original
bliss letting the

go 'way
out' signs past

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

impermanent tenses 1

ways to
talk through pulp

the skin
mistakes of language

within each
other in pursuit

own best
and holy season

singing in
the gloaming gut

hung beating
rivvim the reflection

give up
in the stroke

body fails
even its excuses

watch myself
lost inside myself

changing ratio
letterbox pan widescreen

little stings
from phones redundant

situation with
the real/ word

takes place
on planets sleek

we travel
our uncertain seats

corners render
moments of disappearance

Monday, August 23, 2004

more birds

Speaking of birds (see below), you might also want to check out Mark Weiss's new e-book. It's called 'Different Birds' and is based on his recent visit to Australia.

It was a great pleasure to meet Mark while he was here and a few of us Australian poets made some suggestions about his text, some of that along ornithological lines.

list for a visit

three crested pigeons
a butcher bird
a magpie
many noisy mynahs diving aggressively
two rosellas and their squabble tone
the hovering hawk's wing-tip twitch
a galah in the bird-bath
nine horses in the paddock under the trees
peewee on a horse's back
another twitch
crane and ducks on the dam
two cockatiels screeching
currawongs liquid song
three people and a little black dog crossing the paddock
buzz of a small plane
a rabbit running a gutter in the evening
possum blinking in the nightlight


the sad land song
they fly over the spike
grass and the muddied
snake, creek snake
death snake, money
everything but rain


Visiting my mother yesterday. She will now have to move. They will be building a new suburb in the paddocks next to where she lives. Goodbye birds, goodbye horses, goodbye sky. The drought has dried out everything.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Salt-lick launch in Melbourne

Volume 5 of SALT-LICK New Poetry will be launched, as part of the Melbourne Writers' Festival, by respected Australian poet Barry Hill.

Free wine and general conversation will follow readings by contributors Joel Deane, Jen Jewel Brown, Grant Caldwell and Jill Jones (bios below).

Saturday 28 August, 4.00 pm at The Tower, CUB Malthouse, South Melbourne.

A sample of the cover can be seen in the NEWS section of the new Salt-lick website.

Barry Hill is the Poetry Editor of the Australian. His long narrative poem, Ghosting William Buckley, won the NSW Premier’s Award for Poetry and his labour history, Sitting In, won the same award for Non-Fiction. His short fiction has been widely anthologised and translated. He appeared in the Best Essays and the Best Poems of 2003, and his first libretto, Love Strong as Death was performed at The Studio the Sydney Opera House in May this year. His most recent poetry is The Inland Sea (Salt Publishing). Broken Song, his biography of TGH Strehlow and an essay in Australian poetics, won Premier’s Awards in both Victoria and NSW, as well as the 2003 National Biography Award. He is working on a book of poems in response to the paintings of Lucian Freud. He lives in Queenscliff, Victoria.

Joel Deane's first novel, Another, will be published by Interactive Press in October.

Jen Jewel Brown, 2004 Poetry Cup Best Performer, enjoys dumping tomato sauce all over herself and the Australian flag. Author of Skyhooks' Million Dollar Riff, Marsupial Wrestling and Alleycat, she is currently completing her third poetry book, writing debut novel Wild Days and continuing to enjoy sullying what's left of her reputation.

Grant Caldwell writes verse and stories and novels. His latest book, a collection of poetry, Dreaming of Robert De Niro was published by Five Islands Press in 2003. He lives in Brunswick with a scatter of possums and a fleet of skulking blackbirds. He teaches writing part time at the School of Creative Arts, University of Melbourne.

Jill Jones - well, you all know about her.

Ruby Street-Party

There's a lovely picture of Ruby Street up on Chris Murray's blog (scroll down a ways). My Ruby Street is a little quieter than that one (though it's had its moments).

I wonder how many other Ruby Streets there are in the world.

Anyway, when it's party-time in the street, I'll put on my little ruby slippers and dance (dodging the traffic all the while).

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

light down-market interlude

Here, courtesy of Tom Payne of the London Daily Telegraph (as opposed to Sydney's own Daily Terror) is a list of literary reviewese. Oh dear, I do think I've used one or three of these phrases.

Note: These are Mr Payne's lists and comments, not my own unless signalled.

achingly beautiful

anything-fuelled – narratives of a new, edgy type of fiction sometimes called Britfic tend to be fuelled by a range of uppers – amphetamines, caffeine, cocaine, Robbie Williams

as good as any novel – why should writers of fact [or poetry - JJ] aspire to the standards of novelists? Cf the truth is often stranger than fiction, infra

at its core, **** is a deeply moral work – a handy way for a critic to say that those who don't like the shocking book under review simply don't understand it

breakneck speed – no successful thriller will go any slower

bursting to get out – of novellas in vast, sprawling epics

by this stage, I was ready to hurl the book across the room

cocktail – the result of stirring one author in with another: "a cocktail of Hergé and the Marquis de Sade"

coruscating – to be confused with "excoriating"

cracking pace – slower than breakneck speed; too slow

darkly comic (cf wickedly funny)

deadly earnest

deceptively simple – the simplicity of the phrase itself belies how complicated it is. Is the book/poem/style simple or isn't it? Or does it remind us that to mere readers, something might look simple, and that they need clever critics to undeceive them?

divided like the state of India itself – useful way of describing confused characters in post-colonial novels

dogged investigation


editor should be shot – wouldn't it be better to shoot those who write "the editor should be shot"? The phrase normally appears in connection with a list of minor quibbles. But to punish editors with this ultimate sanction would lead to a smaller number of editors, not only through their execution but also by discouraging people from becoming editors in the future. The grim consequence of this would be a major increase in minor quibbles

emotional rollercoaster

epic – as if synonymous with "long"


event – "a new epic by Homer is always an event"

exhaustive, not to say exhausting

feisty – of heroines, usually with mention of hair colour – "step forward, feisty redhead DI Dubrovnik"

fluent prose – cf Molière's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme: "Good heavens! I've been talking in prose for more than 40 years without realising."

has it all – as a rule, chicklit stories should feature a twentysomething heroine who has it all, with the customary exception of Mr Right

has **** written all over it

heady mix – cf cocktail, supra

high-octane – of the fuel needed to keep thrillers going at breakneck speed

hits the ground running – of stunning debuts

icon – as if synonymous with anything famous or even recognisable

in an iron grip (holds the reader's attention)

in his inimitable style – incidentally, inimitable people often turn out to be quite imitable: "the inimitable Sean Connery"

in true postmodernist fashion he/she constantly invents and reinvents him/herself

it reads like a Who's Who of contemporary poetry/fin-de-siècle Vienna

laughoutloud, as in laughoutloud funny. - Ohmygod. Come to think of it, reviewese could soon become a completely textable language, with:-) or:-( to indicate whether or not a book is good. At the time of writing, though, reviewese still uses laughoutloud as an adjective rather than an interjection

leafy - not strictly reviewese, but curious: I once saw Harlesden described as leafy

lightness of touch

like William S Burroughs on acid

magisterial (of non-fiction) – any two-volume biography or history can be called magisterial. For single-volume works to qualify, they must reach 700 pages not including notes, bibliographies and appendices

**** meets **** – the most quoted example of this construction was the work of Arrow's publicity department: they described Come Together by Emlyn Rees and Josie Lloyd as what could happen if "Bridget Jones met Nick Hornby at a party given by the housemates of This Life". For some, what happened when Emlyn Rees met Josie Lloyd was troubling enough

minor quibbles, as in, "But these are minor quibbles"

(the) name of that young German corporal was Adolf Hitler

overnight sensation – I do enjoy how slightly rude that sounds

panoramic sweep

penetrating insights

politically correct – an appealingly easy target, hence "political correctness gone mad" [a favourite in Australia - JJ]

pure/complete unadulterated bliss/codswallop

rattling good read/yarn

(the) rest, as they say, is history

searing indictment

searingly honest

shines through

should be set reading for David Blunkett and his advisers – the phrase shows a welcome faith in the power of literature to change the world. By now there are be a large number of books that should be required reading for George W Bush and his circle, although who knows what difference this reading would make. Compound phrase: this searing indictment of the British judicial system should be set reading etc

steeped in scholarship

stunning debut – in American reviewese, a young writer can debut stunningly

surreal - as if synonymous with odd, wacky

sympathetic portrait – cf warts-and-all, infra

take one ****, mix in some ****, add a dash of ****, leave to simmer, and what do you have?

that rare thing – perhaps it's worth quoting Edwin Muir on Thomas Mann's Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man: "Here is that unheard of, that supposedly impossible thing, a good German comic novel…"

things are not as they seem

tour de force (of literary scholarship) – the minimum length for a tour de force, not including notes, bibliographies and appendices, is 400 pages

(the) truth is often stranger than fiction – variants of this observation are that fact mingles strangely with fiction, and that life imitates art


uncanny resemblance


vast, sprawling epic – it is polite to congratulate short-story writers for being able to "compress into a few pages what lesser writers fail to achieve in vast, sprawling epics"

Viagra – coined by Charles Spencer in this paper's notice of The Blue Room, starring Nicole Kidman; he alone should be allowed to use it, but the conceit is now standard reviewese

vibrantly alive (poetic)

warts-and-all – just as American English can make verbs from other parts of speech, so reviewese can turn whole phrases into adjectives (qv laughoutloud, unputdownable)

was, in effect, the first conservationist/feminist/Communist/librarian

wears her erudition lightly

wickedly funny – less dark than darkly comic

will appeal to the serious scholar and general reader alike

will stay with you long after the last page is turned

woefully inadequate – of notes, bibliographies, appendices and most often indices

workmanlike biography

writes like a dream
The Tasmanian literary blog North of the latte line has just had a classy make-over. Much easier to read and full of good news and info about poetry, especially Australian and even more especially Tasmanian, but with universal appeal.

Anne Kellas looks after it along with a posse of Taswegians and ex-Taswegians including Ivy Alvarez and Ralph Wessman of the long-running and excellent mag, The Famous Reporter.

what people are reading

Here is an eclectic list, to say the least, at Third Factory of what folks mainly in the USofA are reading at the moment. Great food for thought for one's own reading list.

A nice crit for my work - thanks chris!

Chris Murray has given my new chapbook Struggle and Radiance a neat rap.

Jill Jones, Struggle and radiance: ten commentaries,
Wild Honey Press, 2004.

A beautifully made, hand sewn chapbook. Stunning artwork on cover, a rectangle of splashes, dashes, swirls of color, which might best be described with a fragment of the poetry as "beyond the difference/ trapped in vision" ("I. A Vision"). The poems fairly take off from there, each with Jones customary precision and care for word and deed in life experience. This is a poet with not only ear and eye fully committed to work together in/on the poem, but the entire body of being is ever present, fully an art, then, not only committing distinctly differing parts to the whole, but of engaged commitment to the larger social body of ideas, not least of which that of self-reflective questions of temporal presence, transcendence and influenced by cultural habituation:

But still a consumer
the constant capture
shelves my handy packets.
(Can we still talk?)
The boys, the queens
unhappy together.
Are these the years?

(I. "A Vision," 6)

Here is more of what I sense on these somewhat quiet, yet heady and so welcome matters of body, its perceptive partialities, its sensual intellect splashed into being:

II. Colours swim

What sort of eyes
I must have now
to see past these streaks
of eden.

Black outlines
in which vision
& nbsp; swims
a cotton that covers

Quick wings
pass branches
settle on air
tiny green-backed flies
and memory
is still a colour.

Cloud sky
yellow as an old summer.

The squealing yards
kids again.


So compelling, this poetry: it makes me want to be a "green-backed fly" or at least, a "memory"!

Congratulations, Jill, and Randolph of Wild Honey, for this wonder of a book.


Many thanks for the above, Chris. Appreciation is a wonderful thing.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Hmm, there's something in this remark from Janet Holmes:

She says: "Spurred on by Jordan's and John's blogs, I started reading Ben Friedlander's Simulcast, which feels like I'm reading the study guide to an in-joke, given all the name-dropping of Poetics List regulars. Not to say that it isn't great fun! (The fake Usenet group, based upon the messages, is coffee-snortingly funny.) But it just reinforces my belief that male poets are very often pack animals, carefully delineating their territories and eagerly pointing out the unforgiveable differences among their aesthetics (which activities Friedlander satirizes, but also participates in). Women poets exist only if they're solidly related to schools (in both senses of the word)--thus, Friedlander can say that nobody was writing poetry influenced by rock/rock criticism until Joshua Clover came along, when Denise Riley already was quite well established doing it, albeit in England. The fact that women poets rarely align themselves with poetic movements, and seem puzzlingly "unclassifiable" (recalling a discussion on the Women's Poetry List years ago when a male language poet just couldn't figure out what Ann Lauterbach was doing), means that they more frequently get ignored or dissed in such discussions. Not orthodox enough to be ordained, at least not until they're in their 60s or so and no longer threatening."

sometimes don't know where they come from

What you're doing with the flask
gives you morpheus
and a little sickness
that you've interviewed for
the lost world, the falling one.

You've marked your nerve
built a roof over it
left your heart on the kitchen table
and something high
has flown out the window.

Just like you, to unwrap the drug
an animal in foil
and loosed left of centre
packet strewn with all the other scripts
for pain in the side.

And when you wake
and beg, full of life still
even that's the tablets
inscribed with half-words
and formulas.

Off with the headphones
clap your hands
for the funk and blues
scrap the flack and forget
your heart can be stilled

Just in a second
in the beat-between silence
some old Gaelic cry in a valley
something northern

But talking and sickness
all to much spruiking
too much flack to handle.
Let rip - let sit
in some echt silence.

Then press the button.
It's not a roar
but a pattern you bear
waking and sleeping
turning around.

Just received a copy of Chris Murray’s wonderful and bright-covered chap, Meme Me Up Scotty. I'm loving its music, its sonic play, its fluidity. I read a lot of books where the poems don't sing to me, but Chris's sure do.

It’s funny and serious, it’s “shining as a satellite”.

fur in slow winter
turning the air
saying “now”

- from Jump Phasing 1

In fact, the words ‘yes’ and ‘now’ mean a lot in this book which turns the world’s noise into vibrations, sympathies and conversations. It’s mindful and full of wonder and play - and of the poetry in things, in all our ‘stuff’, the “pollen electricity”.

Chris has one of the best, jumpingest blogs I know and this book is both cool and jumping, thinking and loving sounds of poetry.

Thanks for sending it to me, Chris, even though it took its time making it down here.

fababylala ...
(La La Ism)

Thursday, August 05, 2004

call for submissions - foam:e two

Submissions are now being called for the next edition of the terrific on-line mag, foam:e. The details are here and the deadline is the end of August.

The first edition is available here.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Colin McCahon

I have just found an absolute treasure. A database of images by the great New Zealand artist, Colin McCahon.

I saw an exhibition of McCahon's work last year, A Question of Faith, and it was mindblowing. The way McCahon worked with text, the power of the painted word, so to speak.

Anyway, this discovery is thanks to Martin Edmond. Check out his blog, luca antara.


This day is clouds and earth
in our crisp bitter bodies
not our usual knowledge here

journeyed from mountains to city plain
snowish wind and rain virga
a torn drape from cumulus

moist and dry meeting
evanescing into the halfway
what we need is blown

we see this wispy precipitant
virgin thought of rain
not arriving any time soon


I learnt a new word today - virga which more or less means the light floaty kind of rain that evaporates before it reaches the ground (especially when the lower reaches of the air are low in humidity).

I do lots of 'weather' poems. I always recall, inaccurately probably, that John Ashbery once said there are three great themes in poetry: love, death and the weather. When I tell people this they often laugh but I don't really understand why. Seems pretty obvious to me.