Showing posts from January, 2007

needs to be said

Very good post from Ernesto . about that film Apocalypto . The consensus of reviewers here in Sydney seems to be that it is a very violent and rather silly but well-filmed action pic, if that's what you want, but it's sense of 'history' is off-beam. Ernesto analyses it much more deeply. I haven't mentioned the director's name. I once wrote film reviews for a gay and lesbian weekly paper. The previous film reviewer whom I took over from, Simon Hunt (aka Pauline Pantsdown , for those who remember) told me, when handing over, that he had never reviewed or mentioned this certain person due to his well-publicised rants about gay men. I continued that tradition. But sometimes things need to be said.


I came across this good idea, Tom Beckett riffing on an idea from Jim McCrary - that a sonnet could be fourteen words, though Jim's poem is a fourteen line poem, each line of fourteen words. I wrote a number of sonnets this year and last year, but thought I might just try this idea. Not sure how it goes, but no harm in trying. Material quivers even something away underneath dark clangs down patterns breeze place unravels moving The mallet squeaks against its material echo and hovering crack around the wind blows Constructs nails chocks the circular alarm quivers then stilled heart pulse and hot wind The image is in the language but you cannot find it there even looking Wind hustles along fortunes opinions always something said done nothing blanks road you’re on Letters fall away into pages into paper all layers and pulp scratchings birds eat Carry away grass to nest a parcel of lies the lies are again underneath Always lived by seeing how love proceeds the thin path from

on the jukebox today

Ain't That Peculiar , Marvin Gaye; Tell Mama , Etta James; Dancing in the Street , Martha and the Vandellas; Papa Was A Rolling Stone , The Temptations; Get Up ... Sex Machine ; James Brown; Walking the Dog , Rufus Thomas; Green Onions , Booker T. and the M.G.s; Born Under a Bad Sign , Albert King; Move On Up , Curtis Mayfield; Rescue Me , Fontella Bass, etc, etc.

roun' & about

the poem written with experience, not about experience but there is the 'about', as the words go all about experience

listenlight - new

A new issue of listenlight has just been published. "Fire on the water" --- listenlight 06 contains poetry by Frank Lima, Antonia Cima, William Allegrezza, Tom W. Lewis, Maurice Oliver, Jill Jones, Jordan Stempleman, Hugh Behm-Steinberg plus Letters to Poets by Dana Teen Lomax and Clair Braz-Valentine. Editors: Jesse Crockett, Guillermo Parra Good poetry, good design. Have a read.

new(ish) site

Many good things to be found at this site: the International Exchange for Poetic Invention .

the smell of rain

I went out for a brief walk this afternoon. It was raining, but not so hard you needed an umbrella (I hate umbrellas anyway). And so very strong, the smell of rain. I remember once reading out a poem of mine and having someone come up after the reading and note that I'd used the phrase 'the smell of rain'. I couldn't tell if he liked it or was simply taking the mickey (the latter, I suspect, as he was a very 'cool' poet and I am, manifestly, not). I wondered about the smell. To me it's always been obvious. But today I decided to go and find, and here , via the ABC and CSIRO, is some hard data. The common rain smell comes from a gas called petrichor. Apparently, volatiles evaporate from plants and are absorbed by rocks, concrete etc. When the rain hits the rock, the volatiles are released into the atmosphere. That's why I can particularly smell it wandering along concrete paths and past sandstone walls. If it's good enough for CSIRO, it's good eno

the state of australian birds

If you're interested in the state of Australian bird life there are a number of reports available from Birds Australia, including the latest one on the effects of invasive species. The report (a large download by the way and in a format that's a bit hard to read on a small screen) suggests that some native species are doing quite well, possibly too well (eg Australian white ibis) in some areas and others not so in other areas, for a number of complex reasons. But suffice to say that introduced plant species, as well as ferals (cats, foxes, etc) and many other invasive human factors, have upset the balance. This is no surprise in general but the details are worth reading. The most common birds I see around my home include the noisy miner (introduced), spotted turtle dove/pigeon (introduced), blackbirds (introduced), pied currawongs, magpies, lorrikeets and Australian ravens (or crows as most people call them) plus silver-eyes and New Holland honeyeaters. The point is, are the n
and, yep, I'm just wasting time now ...

ok, an occasional - for the sake of it

Stray elements How do you deal with strangeness? Make religions of it? Elements, strays and appearances What flies up into a place you cannot tread? It’s also a quality of waiting “please listen to the announcements” Every day requests mounting your shoulders in a list There’s the smoke between us and upon us it comes from the mountains it’s a truth of forests, burning eucalyptus that saves itself without definitions Flames take up meaning and shut it out lungs lose their syllables Once you were breathless laughing round the table gossipy and as real as ashy litters Extremities seem to have origins They can become so within the slur space of the tongue That rivers have causes? Written late last year whilst the bush fires were happening in too many places in the nation. If that makes it 'occasional'.


I've been trying for some time - months, it seems - to write something. Not just the occasional, but something . I get a run on, then realise that ain't working, put it away, start somewhere else, have 'grand' ideas for 'projects', and, by jingoes, it just doesn't work, none of it. It's nothing to do with 'writer's block' - by crikey, I'm writin' and the thumbnail dipped in tar is wearin' out. It doesn't help that I've been reading these rather dispiriting posts, starting with Ron Silliman's reference to a US poet called Bill Knott who wants most poets of a 'certain age' to go and off themselves . Now, I don't know this bloke's work (tho' all the US comment-box responders seem to) and I wondered if he was bunging it on (hey, just saying what it seems to me, no assumptions - the cove could be making a serious suggestion - as I said, I don't know him from a bar of ... but wish him all the best wi


86 South Winds jostle them- Bumblebees come- Hover- hesitate- Drink, and are gone- Butterflies pause On their passage Cashmere- I- softly plucking, Present them here! - Emily Dickinson Just a way of saying that there have been a number of butterflies in the garden recently. And also, amongst all the birds, the silvereyes again. Annette found half of one of their eggs on the ground. We want to assume that the little one hatched and that is why they are flitting round, teaching the child/ren well.

note to self - on assumptions

I think, after all, what really gets me is that we think we know. So we pontificate, even lightly, over 'what is happening in poetry', or 'what the poets are thinking this week, what the poets are writing this year'. And we have no idea. I include myself. I am reading a literary magazine which has a 'theme'. (I'm not a fan of themes, but I understand why it's done.) And I can envisage what comes from that. The poets represented in that issue will get picked up as being those interested in the 'theme', as if those not in it are not, to some extent. This gets replicated in lazy critiquing (usually via journalism, reviews, essays, the like - we all see some pretty lazy stuff these days, not much above a cut-and-paste of a press release or regurgitation of a much-rehearsed pontification). This is a weakness of anthologies, best-ofs, omnibus-style reviews, themed publications and the like. It's a form of 'representation' that becomes viral

clog dancing

Marjorie Perloff puts her finger on something that one knows, but perhaps it needs to be said from time-to-time. Writing in the TLS Dec 1 2006, on p. 11, she is discussing Terry Eagleton’s How to read a Poem , and begins by quoting Eagleton: -- ' “Like thatching or clog dancing … literary criticism seems to be something of a dying art”. The villain, he [Eagleton] believes, is not, as is often supposed, theory: some of our best readers of poetry – for example, William Empson and Roman Jakobson [and one could add Perloff] – were, after all, theorists. No “what threatens to scupper verbal sensitivity is the depthless, commodified, instantly legible world of advanced capitalism, with its unscrupulous ways with signs, computerized communication and glossy packaging of experience”. In my view, a more powerful enemy of literary criticism has been the new Cultural Studies, with its insistence that poetry must do “cultural work” – must, for example, expose racism or imperialism – if it is


There's some good stuff available here from the archives of The Chicago Review.

feeling slightly dislimned

In the Times Literary Supplement of November 3 2006, our favourite curmudgeon J.C., wishes to ban the use of the word 'limn' from reviewing pages, which is fair enough, and points out that the only two users of its opposite, dislimn, so far as he knows, have been John Buchan (eg from The Thirty-nine Steps - "The plump men's features seemed to dislimn, and form again") and Shakespeare. Well, it seems De Quincy also used the word, rather appropriately one would think, at least according to Speller's Diary which says that: -- 'Dislimn has nothing to do with removing arms or legs. It reverses "limn"-- which means to paint, delineate or describe. [Yikes, I can see a mini-essay on THAT word someday...]. Thus, "dislimn" means to obscure or efface. A secondary meaning is to vanish. The Bard has pride of place in using it. From Antony & Cleopatra , "Sometime we see a clowd that's Dragonish, A vapour sometime, like a Bear, or Lyo

these times

in a landscape not abundant .......... in love we were lowered .......... to the edge like torsos .......... of the days on the road .......... systems assembled into sections: newspaper, autumn, a tonne of energy - pleasure of childhood the cat, the black one - were no longer .......... the goal we went interior (to joy before death of red) Beloved ............... of rain yes, the interior ..... breathe! ...... of summer tore me out of it