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Showing posts from January, 2004

i.m. Janet Frame

When the sun shines more years than fear

When the sun shines more years than fear
when birds fly more miles than anger
when sky holds more bird
sails more cloud
shines more sun
than the palm of love carries hate,
even then shall I in this weary
seventy-year banquet say, Sunwaiter
Birdwaiter, Skywaiter,
I have no hunger,
remove my plate.

by Janet Frame 1924-2004
from The Pocket Mirror, published 1967



working where we are - a quote

"It makes sense to say that Australian poetry is different from the work of many (it not all) modern American and British writers because a disproportionately large number of Australian poets intuit that the theme of local feeling, place and placement is important to them and their readers. More, what such poetry deals with is not just a feeling about landscape or land in a romantic or nostalgic way. One thing indeed that sets Australian work apart is a prevalent sense of that 'country' (definitely not 'countryside' but nearly yet not quite what Americans and Europeans call 'land' and 'landscape') is something you are a part of, something that changes your sense of self and placement and that requires a change in envisioning if you are able to see it and understand it. Land, in other words, is active and mallaeable; it can also be oneiric and ancestral; while, as if in contradiction of those symbolic and poetic facets of a sense of place, many of t…
The Midsumma Festival literary program in Melbourne looks exciting. Check the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art which is hosting a series of three free public Word is Out talkfests, starting Thursday 29 January with American sound poet John Giorno and partner Ugo Rondinone.

Giorno, of course, was a friend and contemporary of Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs and has created more than 20 recorded albums and ten books during a career spanning four decades. He will perform with Melbourne writers Michael Farrell, Margaret Vandeleur, Will Day, George Taleporos, Moira Finucane, Steven Dawson and Spiro Panagirakos.

Other events include Fine & Dandy: The Rise and Practice of a Queer Aesthetic on 30 January which will question the nature of 'queer' and how it governs the principles of art with Nikki Sullivan, the author of An Introduction to Queer Theory; Robert Reynolds, author of From Camp to Queer: Remaking the Australian Homosexual and History on the Couch…
Australia Day full of sport and awards
A cricketer is made Australian of The Year.
The Australia Day honours are released but how many writers? So very few.
A third of those on the lists are women. I recall our population is pretty much 50/50.
We say Australia is the land of the fair go.
Advance Australia Fair, yeah?
Fair go where?

It was a fair day, of fair winds
cleared sky, clearing head.
A. went to survival day with Aboriginal friends.
I needed space, inside, time for working.

Breeze works around me.
A radio in late afternoon plays something that sounds like sport.
I listen to 1960s Bollywood, Asha Bohsle and co. 'Seekhlo ...' 'Learn to ...'
I'm learning, trying a layout, wishing I had a decent DTP app.
No Australians left in the Open.
No Australians get Golden Globes for film (OK, a couple for TV).
As if this matters or measures.

It was a good day.
A bad weekend with bad news.
The real thing, not celebrity hype.
So much wrong.
But a good day.
Learn to ...




Survival day

"...
no new moon
can ever replace
never replace"

- Lisa Bellear, 'Colonisation'



walking

We walk bent into the wind's rip
scuffing the turf cut to the bone
by the scalpel of sunlight

- John Bennett, from 'Wessex Archaeology - White Horse'
Hey, I'm on special this month at the new Salt shop. Other special goodies also available, including Kate Lilley's book.

walking the UK

"Opera singer David Pisaro has set off on a 200-mile musical odyssey across England. The American tenor is walking the coast-to-coast path from St Bees, in Cumbria, to Robin Hood's Bay, in North Yorkshire. He will stop each evening to perform Franz Schubert's Die Winterreise in 13 venues along the route including village halls, shops and churches with pianist Quentin Thomas."

Read more at BBC news
... density, articulation, effect (and some ornament)
... aleatory operations within certain parameters

- thinking away from theme and narrative

Poetry is impossible. Is it this pressure that makes me write it?




"We can't mask the anxiety for long,
but we can produce good and cherishable deeds
to be ransacked by those who come after us.
True, nobody visits anymore. ..."

- John Ashbery, from 'Lost Footage', TLS, 9 January 2004
phones don't take you
anywhere of course
but the kid stares into
the future
a vending machine
he'll get there
quicker than me
he's got all the gear
I have a tunnel to go
as this is not
a message to you



summer is an umbrella and trails a shadow as well as blinding light
standing around under stars is easy to do, flick into the same old tune
somewhere between the sentimental and the cynical, that's where you'll find me

- notes towards ... something

Another wee trumpet blast. Some work of mine in FUSEBOX 3, on the rattapallax site. The issues also contains Fusebox3 poems edited by Rosemary Dun; poetry in audio by Nathan Filer, Bucky & Khadijah Ibrahiim; an article: The Age of MC Solaar; some football poetry (there's a concept); poetry by young Pilipino Americans; Nigerian poetry, and much more.

Hey, listening to Kronos Quartet- Nuevo. Crazy, fantastic!!

Saw them last night at the Sydney Opera House. Brilliant. As an encore, their version of Hendrix's version of the Star Spangled Banner. Yes, political but also mind blowing.

OK, I lied, it's our second Sydney Festival event. So, because we notified the Festival (nicely) about our terrible experience with bad sightlines at Hashirigaki, we got free tickets to Kronos - and a refund (because we were very nice and didn't carry on like a pork chop). Which means we'll invest the refund into tickets for Strindberg's Dance of Death with Sir Ian McKellan, another Festival show. Everyone's a winner!
"A good deal of bad reviewing is more concerned with inflating the self-worth of the reviewer, rather than raising the standards of the published word. Authors can and do learn from professional, critical reviewing. But neither they nor their readers gain anything from the sort of self-indulgent hyperbole that is the mark of most reflexively negative reviews."
- John Birmingham, 'Fighting Words', The Weekend Australian, 17-18 January, 2004.

Mr Birmingham must be expecting bad reviews for his next book. Then, haven't we all had those kinds of sad and scabrous reviews from time-to-time? Birmingham is urging a fightback. He says give the author a right of reply. I'm in two minds. Most bad negative reviews, as opposed to good negative reviews, are so obviously self-indulgent and gratuitous that Blind Freddy could see them for what they are (ie, unadulterated bile and envy). Why give these sad literary cowboys any further publicity?

But there is another sad fact. …

Some walking

David Herkt
from 'Daypoems' in The Body of Man (Hazard Press)

iv

Dark morning, the barefoot
departure
on cold gravel
to return to
white distances
of still warm sheets
which never would be
creased beneath
& always lie between

On walking

Zhai Yongming
from Jing'an Village: The First Month

"As though it had long existed, as though pre-arranged
I walk here, the sound quite beyond my control
It installs me in a side-room facing south

Even the first time I come across a pitch-black day
Everywhere there are paths that look much the same
The brisk wind leaves me cold and lonely
The maize-fields are exhilarated at such moments
I have come here, I hear the roar of Pisces
And the ceaseless trembling of the sensitive night. ...."

- translated by Tony Prince and Tao Naikan



Blowing my own little trumpet. Three poems of mine in the January 2004 Poetry section of Nthposition. Also featuring REN Allen, Gary Glazner, Louis Armand, Alison Trower, Jayne Fenton Keane, Stephanie Bolster, Giles Goodland, David McKelvie and Adeena Karasick.

Have just been to possibly my one and only Sydney Festival performance event. This was called Hashirigaki. Conception, music and direction is by German Heiner Goebells and it was inspired by Stein's The Making of Americans. Apparently hashirigaki is Japanese for: 1. n. flowing text; 2. adj. forward motion; 3. vb. rushing.

Well, 'we were pleased' apart from the fact that our seats had shocking sight lines so we had to stand for most of the performance. (We were up the back and no-one was behind us.) This is in, supposedly, one of Sydney's newest state of the art theatres, the new Parade Theatre at NIDA. I sometimes wonder if Australians have any understanding of how to produce theatre but that's another discussion. NIDA, by the way, is the National Institute of Drama and has produced some well-known actors, at least to Australians. Maybe you've heard of Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Mel Gibson, Barry Otto, the vastly overlooked Kerry Walker, but, then, maybe no…
Norman Talbot
(1936-2004)


Sad news for Australian poetry. Norman Talbot died last Thursday 8 January 2004. He was an important and larger-than-life figure in Australian poetry and will be much missed.

Norman Talbot was born in Suffolk, and educated in England, getting his BA from Durham and Ph.D. from Leeds. He came to Australia in 1963 with his wife Jean (also a fine poet) to take up a university lectureship in English at the University of Newcastle. He remained in the Hunter area of NSW ever since. After teaching at University of Newcastle for 30 years he retired in 1993 to write full time, poetry, fantasy, science fiction, among other things.

He was always active in writers’ circles and in publishing. In 1964 he and a group of friends founded Nimrod Publications, which he took over in 1965. This small firm published over four hundred writers from the Hunter Valley, in nearly forty books. He was president of Catchfire Press, another Hunter-based press, when he died.

He published hund…
Speaking of walking:

walking
the hot roads
running

- Andrew Burke

Andrew thought I might like his haiku (which he told me he's just used as a hokku) and here it is. So he's made it to blogland. Andrew's from Perth, as you may know, which is hot. So is Sydney.


Thinking about walking and the line. Is the line the walk (a lot of walks in a poem), or the stanza (a few turns), or the poem (many blocks or paths)?

I'm wondering about the line at the moment (a) because I'm always writing and (b) there's been some discussion on it by Ron Silliman and William Watkin. I'll wonder some more and get back about it.

Also wondering about 'the moment'. If the poem stretches beyond 'the moment'. And what moment is that? Moments mean nothing - one moment any more than another, that is - except for meaning invested in them. This is connected to the emotions too, the body and its history. Felt intelligence.

Poems are also about process. How to talk the continuous…
What is c-side?

I posted a listing of the next c-side event - c-side 1.1 - in the side bar to the right but, well you might ask, what is it? Well, c-side is a project giving space, both physical and virtual, to poets, photographers, visual artists, musicians, DJs, etc to broadcast their works, either as individuals or in collaboration. It's the brainchild of Sydney poet, James Stuart.

The fundamental philosophy behind the event is that collaboration both increases the audience for each art form involved and, importantly, encourages focussed, artistic dialogue. It's hoped this leads to an increased presence of the arts in the wider cultural field as well as new possibilities for the encounter of meaning. Anyway, that's the theory.

James is producing the project through his non-generic productions, which has been in the business of producing stuff like this since 1997.

So far, c-side has produced one event at the This Is Not Art Festival in Newcastle, Australia, held in Octo…
It's the fire season here. I can smell the smoke that's drifted in from the outskirts and can see a brown haze in the air.

We're hoping it won't be as bad as some years have been but there's some concern. Here's the latest from the Sydney Morning Herald. I was also listening to the state's fire chief, Phil Koperberg, saying on the radio that the current fires are bringing out all kinds of fauna, including funnel webs. These are aggressive and poisonous spiders, for those that don't know, and are best respected and kept clear of. I recall being in Taipei two years ago and reading the english language newspaper whose sole news of Australia consisted of reports of the bad bush fires and how they were badly burning a number of koala bears. All due respect to the iconic bears (which aren't 'bears' at all), but there were other effects.

I remember the year of the very bad fires, it was 1994, when smoke clouded the Harbour Bridge and I could stan…
Have just been in lift drift. The lift seemed to hover between floors two and four, drifting and dreaming as Jimi would have said. OK, it's Friday and I'm still in the holiday drift.

There were messages on the email saying one of the lifts wasn't working and, then, they were both working again. But I think this lift has ideas of its own.

On walking - a quote

"And I walked. I walked. Indeed if all the marks of my walking feet had been left inscribed on the paddocks and roads and playing fields of that suburb, you would have seen lines, arcs, ovals, rectangles, figures of eight, and any other shape you might care to name, all imposed and impinging on one another so thickly that it would have been impossible to trace a single journey."
- Jessica Anderson, Tirra Lirra by the River

I've used the figure of 'arcs' in my own work. I see those lines, the cross hatch and arcing of journeys all the time in the city I walk through.

laughter in the new year
night open
the last tinkling balcony

here I wonder
what am I doing?
the question seems to matter

but the night laughs
if it's all questions
it matters it doesn't


Movie preview tonight. 'In America'. Too sweet and kid-like. But it's good to laugh and cry, be sentimental Irish. I kinda liked it. Samantha Morton has an interesting face. And the irony is that most of the interiors were most likely filmed in Dublin. Best moment - when they played 'Do you believe in magic?' when the family drives into New York. Stock city night scenes, sure, but well-filmed, immediate, involving.

First, thanks to Cassie Lewis and Chris Murray for their warm welcomes to blogland. I also see that Ron Silliman has added me to his list pretty quick. Nice. Sort of like family.

By the way, I'm learning how to do all this stuff on the fly as Blogger's help wasn't working when I started this last week.

Just a pondering evening now I've had some relief in airconditioning land (formerly known as the office):

I'm questioning, the arrangements, what goes
in here or
here? - along
and I, well, the sun, hidden today
or whatever, romance myth-god
loves as it licks (my sunburn, oooh) or lays out
grey and blue cloudy layers
oh, all my breath, breathing
you, whoever
that wishes reading
"It has always been the fashion to talk about the moon."
W.C. Williams, Kora in Hell, XVIII.1


sea land sky here on my skin
something about sweat accentuates voices
I am out there I am in here
music rises a slammin' votive
cars are cheering in malleable night
I am looking for the next key
and the changes
the moon steamy night blossom

Blogger doing very strange things today. Repeating my posts. Etc etc.

I will retire gracefully and get back tomorrow.

All our windows open last night to welcome some cool breeze. There's a sense of waiting for the next onslaught of sun. Some people love this, by the way, but I fade into a sweat trickle.

The early morning parrots have just flown overhead. And I am up early to get ready for a visit from my brother and sister-in-law. Will be doing standard issue Sydney barbie. Well, not so standard, but the only place to be is outside alongside some moving air. I wish I could hide myself in a green shade but such a romantic notion is obliterated here.

Last night was Lolita Thai's. To explain. For many years there was a cafe on Glebe Point Road, Glebe (a suburb close to the city) called Lolita's. The food was cheap but good and they had an upstairs room with a couple of long tables. Ideal for a group to meet. For a couple of years an informal group of poets met there regularly to talk about everything under the sun, including a lot about poetry. But one night we turned up to Lolita's to f…
"Poetry is astonishment, admiration, as of a being fallen from the skies, taking full consciousness of his fall, astonished about things. As of one who knew [what] things [were] in their souls, striving to remember this knowledge, remembering that it was not thus he knew them, not under these forms and these conditions, but remembering nothing more."

Fernando Pessoa
Introduction to 'The Keeper of Sheep'




The day was blue
now it is grass
shaking and singing
everywhere
this heat

The poem snap below is just to quickly catch last night's festivities courtesy of an invitation to overlook the harbour and the fireworks (thanks Mel and Jos). OK, naff perhaps, but fun. Fun is good.

I'm eating ginger candy at the moment - Ingwer Bonbon - barely coping and wishing for a breeze from anywhere but the west.


Hot in night's layers, north easterlies
and acidic beverages
we climb over the city
the harbour's wide amphitheatre

The cliplock roof is safe but hard to traverse
as a world
the busy black lit sky
(Mel says an engineer has checked it out)

At count down end
(Jay, joking, begins calling the show
all on standby, pyros go)
fairy flash in hundreds & thousands
of useless cameras
flicker and miss the bursting drifts

Sky fills with cartoon stars
streaks, pompoms, blooming breasts
rose orchid galaxies
disturbing the night trip of flying foxes
ghost white against
the illuminated noise

Our awe is real
and ironic - we do that easily
under this boom crash opera…
Ruby Street's sweaty new year is ticking over. Planes doing their usual swoop. The weather isn't big, no wind, not much breeze. The to-fro doof doof from over the road has quietened down. Bird sound, sparrows likely.

On my desk a flyer - 'Colin McCahon A Question of Faith' advertising the exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW with his great 'I am' painting (real title, Victory Over Death 2). But the temperature doesn't suit this work. We are trying to keep out the heat by drawing down all blinds but the light slips in at corners.

I'd be better off lying on the lounge and watching dvds but I've plugged in the latest music favourite: Toufic Farroukh's Drab:zeen. Paris sessions and Beirut sessions. Middle eastern jazz and some beats. French and Arabic vocals.

Learning how to write my way into this. Some have said you can't write in Sydney during summer, heat drains the means from you. We'll see. Green tea is a good thing.