Monday, August 31, 2015

light at brighton

Yesterday, at Brighton Beach. One of the first continually sunny days for a while. Spring, almost. I don't really know Brighton, it's possibly only the third time in my life I've been there. Still, it's only a train journey away from home, so there I went, walking about, taking a photograph, writing a note or two:

afternoon sunlight turns silver on Holdfast Bay

clouds tack behind the hills
days are what tracksuit pants are for
another octopus pulled up onto the jetty
babies are simply babies, phones are
for taking pictures of the dog
pig face, beach reclamation, vanilla
or something more, he's yelling
instructions at the kids, 'head for the sandbank'
if you were here, or I was young in early spring
with stupid hats, dogs' bums, eternal prams
fishing tackle, without breaking like a wave
having the moment's recurrence
like a breeze through the gulf

Saturday, August 29, 2015

readings: sound and (sometimes) vision ...

This coming September I will be doing at least one, if not two, poetry readings here in Adelaide. The definite gig will be Tuesday, September 29th 2015, at the terrific on-going series of Lee Marvin readings curated by the indefatigable Ken Bolton at the Dark Horsey Bookshop, part of the AEAF in Adelaide's West End. I'll be sharing the stage with my colleague, Brian Castro, among others. As soon as I know details of the other reading, I'll post that. I'm also scheduled for a reading in Sydney in late November and I'll post details of that if and when they are firmed up.

I used to do more readings. I've always liked doing them, especially in the company of other poets. I believe poems and poets need to be heard as well as read. Presumably because (a) I live in Adelaide not big smoke, (b) I am (ahem) not as young as I used to be, and (c) I don't hang around in gangs or coteries, I rarely get interstate gigs (even if I pony up with cash/FF for flights and can conjure accomm). OK, it is what it is.

And, in general (ie, it's not just me), the so-called writers' festivals (meaning prose writers' festivals, by and large) that seem to spring up at will across the country, have little interest in featuring poets, unless they can do double duty as a prose writer and/or are some kind of 'celebrity'. If these festivals use poets at all, they segregate them on the poets-only panel and, maybe, have a poets-only reading, as if poetry wasn't anything to do with (umm) writing, 'but, hey, yes, we did poetry'. There used to be more poetry festivals but they seem to have died away with one or two exceptions, and are either a bit of a closed shop or seem to have more of a 'performancey' focus, which is as you'd expect. So far as I'm concerned, all readings are performances and the more diversity the better, but that's not the popular view. OK, I'm non-fashionable, my problem.

Yep, it is what it is, no matter how much ye grumble. From time-to-time, various ideas have been put forward to try to get more poets out and about (funding for national reading tours, for instance), but nothing substantial has ever come of it. Writers' festival directors/curators aren't going to change their focus either, so no point in knocking on those doors. And sometimes I think they're not the best platforms for poetry (indeed, writing) anyway.

Ideally, poetry readings should be live, but in lieu of that, ie, instead of waiting for 'the gift of sound and vision' (apols to D. Bowie), is the online thing. Not ideal, but better than the proverbial poke in the eye with a limp fish. So, as it's pretty unlikely you'll ever see me (or indeed a whole bunch of us) read poems in your city or town, here's a few links below that include sound recordings of me (yes, of course) reading - some include video. Even better, on some sites there's a whole bunch of poets reading, not just yours truly - a veritable salon. One of the links is actually a recent interview I did with Nathan Hondros and Robbie Coburn as part of their Australian Poetry Podcast series, but I do read a few poems at the end. Same with the Writer's Radio, Radio Adelaide interview (Writers Radio has, indeed, been a stalwart in broadcasting writers of all kinds for a long, long time). A couple of the recordings are me experimenting with soundscape and/or soundtrack, which you can take or leave as you will. My thanks to all the site curators and engineers/recorders, professional and amateur, doing this increasingly necessary work, here and elsewhere online.

Australian Poets at PennSound

NZEPC Home & Away: Sydney readings

Red Room Company

Radio Adelaide interview

The Australia Poetry Podcast

Friday, August 28, 2015

still rough

lists flutter in the social breeze
of course, all the tribunals, modern tribes
a coast dark blue with them, somewhere

I go down to the gulf one day
join the breeze
and I don't know anyone

tide has washed in pieces of broken brick
the gulls dive for fish
if that means I don't care

though I pick up a piece
almost circular, red, mineral-specked
I could skim it

I put it in my pocket
it's still rough
there seems no point in keeping it

it's in a bowl on a low table
today is a grey day
I felt it just now

Saturday, August 15, 2015

or merely blue

violins or guitars grip onto
a version of rain

it’s from another epoch
rather than a fool’s paradise
rather than now

even if it’s a lonely experience
do you think it’s exceptional
or merely blue, or

the way this day is
until it changes

what i've been doing ...

The 'what I've been doing' conversation could go on for a while, especially given that, in this space, it's been a long time between drinks. For the nonce, I'll narrow it down to one small corner of 'what I've been doing recently'. One version can be seen in a few poems that were published in March this year in John Tranter's new Journal of Poetics Research. Here they are:

Five poems in Journal of Poetics Research

The older poem is 'Free Hand: A Kind of Thinking'. As well as, obviously, being a kind of ars poetica, it's length and its syntactic energies are different to the other poems, especially the first three. These may, or may not, appear in print later this year. I presume you can tell they are more stripped back, obviously shorter, full of questions and even imperatives (not so much in these but in others I've been writing), less image-driven, impatient. Whether I'll continue in this vein much longer, I don't know. It's one of my current experiments.