Friday, January 30, 2009

green water

........ leads me
to long dark places
.....where …

and the fronds
.....uncurl

.....… green …
water falling

.....my thoughts
and million-year
.....limestone

update

... err, uncontrolled blackouts as well. We lost power suddenly last night. Literally we and the neighbours were struggling around in the dark. Sure, the street lights were still on but, as it was still well in the 30s, no-one was going to stand around outside in their jim-jams and shoot the breeze.

Any poetry in heat? Not sure.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

still burny

We are now having 'controlled blackouts' due to the heat. And the train lines are buckling. Still days of this to go.

“a prodigious melancholy”

Here’s to an art of costume!
We should be out partying
Forget the barrel of failure
Spleen overcomes despair

Whether you’re inauthentic, an imposter
If you’re neither inside
nor outside

Seizing the hyperbolic mode
Here’s to
“fanatical faith in exaggeration”
Or here’s to provincial mendacity

Don’t be sad
It’s un-Australian
Do not worry about the truth
It’s un-Australian
Do not use your voice

[quotes from Soren Kirkegaard and Thomas Bernhardt]


virtual steam radio

Another catch up. I did a broadcast later last year of some new poems, for Writers Radio, which has been run for years by poet Cath Kenneally in Adelaide. The studio is just across the road from where I work. You can hear the broadcast here, with me first up.

what is difficult

On the difficulty thing, there's some good comments over at jen crawford's blue acres blog about this. That poems aren't for 'understanding', in the sense that they have to be 'solved', but can be read for what they are, combinations of words, combinations of sounds.

here and now



There’s a new anthology of Australian poetry just hit the decks. I think the official publication date was early January, but there were plenty copies in bookshops before Christmas. I bought one in one of my favourite bookshops, Kinokuniya, in Sydney, in December.

There’s some discussion about it going on Laurie Duggan’s blog, especially about the cover. I’m not so keen on the cover but others I know think that it’s fine.

And there is always going to be the usual argument about who is in and who is out, and why. I've been left out of enough anthologies and been in a few (I'm in this one, for instance), and have said my piece on that a few times too many in the past, so perhaps it's not the place to join that discussion for the moment.

I’m more interested in John Kinsella’s comment in one of his introductory essays (you can read all of this essay on the Penguin website):

“The publication or presentation of innovative verse-novels, prose poetry, hypertextual poetry, multimedia and performance poetry, installation poetry, concrete poetry and many other cross-generic forms is standard in Australia now. Experimentation is the expectation rather than the departure, but this surely leads us to question what actually constitutes the experimental, and to begin looking elsewhere for what is truly working against the status quo.”

I would question that experimentation is the expectation within the mainstream of Australian poetry. I still mainly see the free verse attachment to anecdotal ‘sincerity’ wrapped up in the unified ‘I’, a lot of overworked and over-romanticised metaphor, not a lot of formal experimentation, a fear of difficulty (rather than obscurity), and a real avoidance of anything to do with digital writing and the internet in general. Sure, there’s plenty of people doing the ‘experimental’ things, including a number of the poets I hang around with, but it isn’t the norm, and why would you expect it to be so? (I, like Kinsella, do question what ‘experimental’ now means.) And, of course, you can prove anything with examples so I can be proved wrong. It’s not my core point.

I’m really interested in the ‘elsewhere’ that Kinsella is positing, wondering where that is. And in my mind it's not a one ‘elsewhere’, but the many ‘wheres’, that are here and now. That's the beginning of a discussion it would be good to have in Australia.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

burny burny burny

By the way, it's just tipped 45 degrees in Adelaide here today (that's Celsius, which is about 113 Fahrenheit).

My eyes melted when I went out to lunch. Actually I began to resemble something from a Dali painting. But it is a dry dry melt. The air smells as though it is burning. In Sydney, I'd be a humid little puddle in such heat, here it's like being blasted with fire.

Just thought it worth a mention. Tomorrow will be a positively balmy 41, as will the day after (update: tomorrow is predicted to be the same as today - urrgh). Still, it's 2 degrees in Paris France and -11 in Paris, Illinois. I'm not sure who's having more fun.

closely reading

First bit of catch up. Late last year, Steve Tills over at Black Spring did a close reading of my poem ’Cowboys’ which was published in Shampoo. You can read Steve’s reading and our discussion on his blog (and many thanks, Steve, for the close reading).

In my comment, I pointed out that the poem was based around something I saw just before Easter in Oxford Street, Sydney some years ago. I suppose I wanted to add that, to me, it's a ‘gay’ poem (if you can say that) but in a very broad sense. However, and obviously, it may not be read as that by others.

All of that commentary from me, however, makes me contemplate how much being from one place and/or culture affects how you read work made in another place/culture. It sounds very obvious, sure, but still you get surprised. I had the same feeling last year when someone mentioned, with regard to a poem of mine which makes reference to (fruit) bats published in The Australian, that when she’d shown it to another friend (in Adelaide, where I live now), that person didn’t really get it. This city doesn’t, apparently, have bats whereas on Australia’s east coast they are ever-present in the city. By the way, I don’t think my poem depends having the experience of the bats, but I wonder about what I don’t get, by poets in this country let alone from elsewhere. Of course, does it matter? Steve’s reading gets to something, in ‘Cowboys’, about empty hearts. That was a feeling I reckon I did put there, so it’s cool with me. Let the close readings continue.

catch up

I feel I've been behind everything for a while. I don't have continuous access to the internet as I once did (long story), so blogging has not been so easy to keep in the 'now'. I will be playing a little bit of 'catch up' as I press on into the newish year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

my tour down under



OK, I don't ride a bike. Tried. Failed. But I do like to watch the Tour de France on the telly each year, and not just for the scenery. And, because I'm currently living in Adelaide why wouldn't I go and watch the last stage of the recently completed Tour Down Under last weekend, which was 18 circuits of North Adelaide's parklands?

What I was not prepared for, as I stood on the side of the road with no barrier between me and the cyclists, was the extremity of the pull of the peleton as it passed. It was almost as if I would be sucked into the ongoing stream of energy produced by the swooping mass of men and wheels.



I only had my happy-snappy with me so, as you can see, my photographs are crap. In the one below you can see Lance Armstrong - I only know this as he always wears black socks and he was wearing a black and yellow helmet. I met a woman who was standing next me as the race whooshed past who had met Armstrong at the Women and Childrens Hospital which he was visiting due to his advocacy for cancer patients and treatments. She was impressed by him.



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

swinging forth

And so swings the sun
the wing tip
the car on the gravel
the day, forth, forth
to shadow, in each
mass, the thinnest of leaves
the invisible plot
Forth, forth, even
when it moves back
behind itself
the light
runs into the sea
as if depth contained
its meaning
in the stormy pelagic
otherland
grey upwelling flow
wandering




Wednesday, January 07, 2009

koru

thinking about
green liquidity, comfort
scarcity, one foot
following the others
into the common
and ancient pool
ferny footholds
the kids slide
leaf lichen yellow light
splashing on signs of life



- Ohau Falls






a break in the weather


The air is full of salt and souvenirs,
mountains disappear in the rain,
recycled books, caravans, and shells
are the barter, traffic is heavy
at lunch-time turn-offs.
It’s the old-fashioned pressure drop,
even cars drift into the oncoming lane,
‘honest, officer, I didn’t realise’ …
The beer garden is a natural
smelling of wedges and a light hoppy taste,
the hits of the 70s, hey, the 60s,
the sun ain’t gonna shine anymore
until tomorrow’s front, northerlies
over the seaward alps.
You can vouch for the rain,
it’s authentic, cold, not as sticky
as beer, and here’s to the long grey cloud
hiding the sun today, the hole
in the ozone layer that makes the light
clear and slightly lethal
like blue cod in batter and grainy salt
on the chips you’re unwrapping
idling into new year.