Wednesday, February 28, 2007

influences, a little list (or two)

OK, again no top tens from me, but Mark Young has tagged me for a list of poetry books that have influenced me.

I really have to divide it into phases, but I will only do two phases, however. First, the books I read, indeed, bought, when I was a teenager when I thought that I could write poetry. These are still books I have, and most of them are anthologies or selecteds. This is due pretty much to the limited literary landscape of a suburban kid during the Australian dark ages. I still consult the Montale.

The Poets World (Aust edition), ed by James Reeves - was actually a school text. The copy I have before me as I type is Annette's.

The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse, ed Bownas and Thwaite

The Penguin Book of Contemporary Verse, ed Allott

Voices - the third book, edited by Geoffrey Summerfield

Collected Poems, T.S. Eliot

Selected Poems, Montale (Penguin Modern European Poets)

Then, there's a second round of books which influenced me from a later period when I got serious about poetry and the influences, some which can be traced right up till now.

The Dream of a Common Language, Adrienne Rich

Power Politics, Margaret Atwood

Emily Dickinson (selected by Ted Hughes, would you believe)

The Colossus, Sylvia Plath

Selected Poems Transtromer (Penguin Modern European Poets)

Illuminations and A Season in Hell, Rimbaud, trans Louise Varese

Flowers of Evil, Baudelaire trans Richard Howard (and Parisian Prowler trans Edward Kaplan),

Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein

Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, trans Stephen Mitchell

The Random House Book of Twentieth Century French Poetry, ed Paul Auster

The Vision Tree - Selected Poems, Phyllis Webb

Damaged Glamour, John Forbes (and later Collected)

Mexico City Blues, Jack Kerouac

The Granite Pail, Lorine Neidecker

Collected Poems, George Oppen

There are many, many, many other books and poets I love or like, and some of the above I may not like, but they influenced me.

In tagging me, Mark listed other non-poetry books that influenced him. I'm not sure I have the energy to list all those that have influenced me, but they would include all this way-back stuff:

The Bible, various authors/editors - KJV and RSV versions
The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-winkle, Beatrice Potter
The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne
Now We are Six, A.A. Milne
Labyrinths, Borges
The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Italo Calvino
Frances Yates, The Occult Philosophy
Collected Stories, Katherine Mansfield
To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
The Passion, Jeanette Winterson
Lord of the Rings, Tolkien
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
Against Method, Paul Feyerabend
The Technological Society, Jacques Ellul
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paolo Friere
Social Amnesia, Russell Jacoby
Working, Studs Terkel
Silences, Tillie Olsen
Damned Whores and God's Police, Anne Summers
Drug Traffic, Alfred McCoy
Gyn/Ecology, Mary Daly
Understanding Media, Marshal McLuhan

The caveat of influence rather than love or like would also apply here but I do still have all of them, so far as I can determine. There are various sci-fi and fantasy books (loosely so-called) which ought to be listed here but I couldn't unearth them from my mind or shelves. And some childhood books which have escaped.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

owls, rain, cold

The owl has moved on, by the way. We wish it well and hope it's not been separated from its group too soon in its life. But what do I know about the southern boobook.

I hope that Annette's pix of it will turn out better than my own.

A southerly came through today with a welcome change and a bit of rain, even a touch of thunder.

But also, the change may have caused some nasties to grab a hold of my throat and sinuses. I shall now crawl off to bed and hope for the best. But I feel a cold or worse coming on. Boring.

movies - oh dear

And in all of this I forgot such thing as 'In the Mood For Love', or 'Down By Law' (and 'Night on Earth') or 'Dead Man Walking'.

Let alone my own oddities such as 'Two Girls and a Sailor' (oh June Allyson!), or 'The Last Emperor', or 'A Fish Called Wanda', 'Die Hard', 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', 'Dr Zhivago', 'Now Voyager', 'Reds', or that movie with one of the Bridges boys, 'Starman' was it?

I should stop or I will go on.

more movies - good, bad and urgly

I have also been tagged by Richard Lopez to do a top ten film list. Again, I just can't do the 'ten' thing. But what I thought I'd do is list some further movies that, for me, come from a certain era and had an effect on me, sometimes because of who I was with when I saw them as much as the movie itself. Occasions are important.

And because I'm doing this in response to Richard's tag, he of "really bad movies", I've tried to keep more or less to popular(ish) and, mostly, English language films that, at some time or another (not necessarily at their first release by any means), I saw on screen, not in my lounge room.

O Lucky Man
Don't Look Back
Romeo and Juliet
My Fair Lady
The Swiss Family Robinson
Whistle Down the Wind
Dr Strangelove
A Hard Days Night
The Endless Summer
A Man and a Woman
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Fantastic Voyage
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming
Five Easy Pieces
The Passenger
Close Encounters of a Third Kind
The Sting
Harold and Maude
Carnal Knowledge
The Homecoming
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Women in Love

I could easily prepare another list - of very old movies I grew up watching on TV, or a later group of movies that were important to me for different reasons. But let the above stand. I think it's enough for the moment.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Owl sighting

It's something quite uncommon
amongst the wings of our small sun.
We adjust our measures to what’s found
strain to see, wings are white and dun.
Green gaze sizes up an omen
a regard that’s direct, precise, profound.
My eyes are all tears and flaw
my head bears its tipsy vertigo roll

cursing the limits of my prospect where
vision construes a fully other soul
appreciates the danger claw
that it’s not feather green up there.
Though sunshine makes the scene turn gay
I feel the mark, of being prey.

congratulations to jean vengua

Meritage Press announces the recipient of "The Filamore Tabios, Sr. Memorial Poetry Prize" - and the winner is Jean Vengua for her manuscript, Prau. Many cheers and congrats.


A wonderful discovery this morning. Annette called me out into the garden, saying 'get your glasses on, there's an owl in the backyard'. Quiet as we could, despite morning traffic, landing jets, neighbourhood noise, despite the fact that other birds were squawking at it and around it, we edged out under one of the jacaranda trees. And looking up, there it was. An owl! There's something about being steadily regarded by an owl, almost as though the other is looking right through you, slightly chilling. An anthropomorphism, I know, but that was the feeling.

We fluffed around with binoculars, my ditzy digi camera, the field guides to Australian birds (we have two). So far as we can determine, it's a southern boobook, probably a young one in what they call the pale phase. It looked big to us but it's probably within the 30 cm measure, which isn't a small bird. It also appeared tired. It yawned, if birds yawn, and looked as though it was trying to rest.

I then recalled having heard some kind of bird commotion last night in the general direction of where this bird is sitting. Our neighbour confirmed this. So maybe that's when it arrived.

My pics aren't the best as the owl was very high up (and I, then Annette, very quickly photoshopped) but they're all we got until Annette gets hers developed (she's still an analog gal).

Friday, February 23, 2007

i don't do '10'

I've been tagged by Ivy to list my favourite 10 movies. I can't do 'favourite' (I'm too flighty) and I don't do 'top 10' anything. But I just sat down for five and came up with a list of movies I would watch again and, indeed, some of these I have watched again recently.

Nothing out of the bag here, pretty predictable, but maybe that's what you'd expect. There's plenty more where these came from, especially a lot of films I saw in the 1970s which seem to have been forgotten (anyone recall Private Vices Public Virtues, or Abundance - err, I meant Providence - remember when Alan Bates was in every movie going?)

CĂ©line et Julie vont en bateau
The Conversation
LOTR 123 (esp 2)
Rear Window
House of Flying Daggers
Hiroshima Mon Amour
North By Northwest
In the Heat of the Night
Smiles of a Summer's Night
Scenes From a Marriage
Les Enfants du Paradis
The Big Lebowski
The Maltese Falcon
Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back
Princess Mononoke
My Neighbour Totoro
Terminator 2
Donnie Darko
Demon Pond
Life of Brian
Truly Madly Deeply
The Big Sleep
Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie
It's a Wonderful Life
Requiem for a Dream
To Be or Not to Be (w Carole Lombard)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the company to poetry

We were slightly upstaged at the poetry reading last night, mainly by the two big queens in the harbour (but it is Mardi Gras month, let's be reminded), but also by a gaggle of kookaburras, cockatoos and currawongs. As well as that, we had musician Michael Atherton on various instruments including the crackle box, the double flute, the waterphone and the kythera.

And Sydney roads turned into a carpark as everyone was out till very late gawking at the boats. Still, some came and listened to poetry.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

harbouring poetry

... and don't forget, Sydney bods, Poets Pickernick this evening, down by the harbour: 6pm—8pm, Blackburn Gardens, 548 New South Head Road, Double Bay. On the 324 bus and away to Double Bay Double Pay with your picnic rug and portable food.

Simon Marnie is hosting the Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra and readers Michael Atherton, Peter Coleman, Stephen Edgar, Kate Fagan, Jamie Grant, Catherine Jinks, Jill Jones, Adrian Robinson, and students from Cranbrook, Moriah, Scot's and Rose Bay Secondary College.

I'm trying to decide what to put in the picnic hamper (ie, my eco-friendly calico bag). I think a quick trip to the supermarket at Edgecliff will yield last minute supplies.

And while we listen to poems, maybe we'll get a squizz at the QE2 and Queen Mary 2, which both sail into the harbour today.

poems on poeming

The ars poetica project has been going for a little while, and promises to build up over at least a year.

It features what lots of people tell you never to do: poems about poetry. All the more reason to do it, of course.

Poems appeared last week by: Mary Maher, Vernon Frazer, and Sandra Alland.

Poems will appear this week by: Sandra Alland, Maxianne Berger, and Jesse Glass.

I am hoping that some Australian names will feature further down the track as the project spreads out.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

photographer at work

copyright, Annette Willis, 2007

Annette's pics

You might be interested in seeing a portfolio of Annette's photographs (and more here) featured on the London Photographic Association website.

She has chosen a mixture of black and white and colour shots and at least two of them were taken in our local Marrickville area. There may be further additions but this is already a wide selection of her work.

backyard poem

A poem is muddy

The children sing

It’s a hard act to follow

Saturday, February 10, 2007

everything rises

a flower
opens out morning

no cloud still
along earth roads

poets on a summer's night

If you live in Sydney you've probably heard of the annual Poets' Picnic presented by Woollahra Library.

Here are details of this year's event.

Poets’ Picnic 2007
Tuesday 20 February 2007
Blackburn Gardens
548 New South Head Road, Double Bay

Compered by Simon Marnie (ABC Radio 702)
Live music by players from the Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra from 5.30pm

Readers: Michael Atherton, Peter Coleman, Stephen Edgar, Kate Fagan, Jamie Grant, Catherine Jinks, Jill Jones, Adrian Robinson, and students from Cranbrook, Moriah, Scot's and Rose Bay Secondary College.

Enquiries on 9391 7100
Free—bring a picnic and a rug
In case of rain, performance in Woollahra Council

Ron Silliman's blog features a pic of the last Picnic.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

elsewhere with poetry

OK, there's been a brief hiatus here.

I had things on my mind and things to do - family stuff, all in train but taking up time 'n energy.

And just the last few days bouncing around two conferences. I spoke at one and read at another. And took lots of notes. And, more importantly, caught up with friends and colleagues, many of whom I see rarely.

But it gets me thinking a coupla of things.

-- That it's mainly at an, for want of a better word, 'academic' conference that there's any discussion of Australian poetry - though there have been some practitioner conferences in the last few years that have been very honorable exceptions. The mainstream media and events seem only to be able to deal with discussion about the usual suspects (poems and poets), if they approach poetry at all.

-- That poetry by many of us is still resistant to discussion, let alone analysis - or is certainly effaced from any debate or discussion because ... because why? ... it doesn't fit current academic theorising let alone journalistic categories, it is ... well, resistant. And is that a good thing? To be, effectively, absent, or to be somewhere else, somewhere where it's happening (if it's happening). Maybe I am writing Elsewhere Poetry.

And I'm talking about 'poetry in Australia' (as opposed to 'Australian poetry'). There seems to be plenty of talk of poetry and poets somewhere else, just as it is true that somewhere else (you know where I mean) isn't interested in the poetry of anyotherwhere.

Just raving. Mi scusi.