Monday, April 14, 2014

I.M. KEN TAYLOR, 1930-2014


[Kris Hemensley :
Facebook post, April 3, 2014

Sad tho' not unexpected news told me by Loretta who had heard from Robert Kenny : our friend & colleague from the Sixties, fellow poet Ken Taylor, died last night at the Epworth Hospital in Richmond, Melbourne, where he'd been rushed some days ago. He's been in & out of hospitals & emergencies latterly. His friends from the poetry world in recent years have been, in addition to Robert, Ron Pretty, Michael Sharkey, Jennifer Harrison, the late Alan Murphy amongst others... Ken was 83 or 84 years of age, and a boy at heart. Will write more later. A sad day.
Last Saturday, Terry Gillmore came by, out of the blue, no better way as the decades pass, with the words from imagined conversations the main sharing, --the constant turning over in mind & imagination of the time(s) of our lives, in lieu of the social. A wonderful hour it was, recalling our dead & living friends, setting me off on another spin in & through time! As Ken had it, "the brothers & sisters of La Mama", --reconvened, actors & augurs. ]



Kris Hemensley :

Sad news Terry, and on a continuum with our good talk on Saturday last : I'm sorry to have tell you that Ken Taylor died at the Epworth Hospital on Wednesday night, 2 April, '14. Ive posted abt it on F/book but just now copied it all to my blog : see,

Look after yrself, dear poet/gardener who reads Olson & Williams [your biog in Mike Dugan's Crosscurrents where i delightedly found you in 1968]!

best wishes, Kris


Terry Gillmore :

Dear Kris

I feel many things with this sad news and one of them is shame. Shame that in 1984 or thereabouts I voluntarily entered the prison of the Commonwealth public service leaving so many behind, and particularly Ken who offered me his life-home at Macedon (I was homeless) and I had moved a few things in and then the fires came, and came again.
When we were at Aragunui for a night long poetry reading under the full moon on the rock: there was a momentous storm and that is when his burning begun. Inarticulate speech of the heart. What a loss of a truly beautiful man, for he was that even though it shames me and is a failure of language. What a heart he had,  what generosity accompanied it. Death surrounds me tonight, tomorrow I will visit with a friend who lost a loved one this week. I foolishly thought I could console her. I have lost a long lost brother. 
Take care dear Kris



K H :
Death surrounds" as you say, but the depth of life it arouses, thank God for that too...
You too Terry, look after yrself, good thoughts, very best, kris

T G :
 Dear Kris
As you say ""Death surrounds" as you say, but the depth of life it arouses, thank God for that too..." Thanks for reminding me that what we are in is the precious, momentary, only game in town.
Solomon said, something about a wise man hiding his shame but use what I have written as you will, if you are to speak you can be the editor of death and use whatever you like from it.


Kris Hemensley :
[April 3, '14)
Hi John, 
Youve probably heard? from Robert K? Sad news that Ken died last night, at the Epworth... Ive posted something on F/book, can copy & paste for you if you like?
Commiserations to share.

John Jenkins :

Hi Kris
Yes, I did hear from Robert. And it's very sad to hear of Ken's death.
Oddly, as I mentioned to Robert, I was reading 'At Valentines' again, just a few days ago, and thinking of KT.
It is such a strong poem in its own right, purely in its own poetic terms, but also a wonderfully specific audit of aspects of Australian cultural history.
Ken and I had our ups and downs over the years, but the last few times I saw him we were on very good terms indeed, like the old days after La Mama. (It's nice to recall that, at this moment. ) And we had a vague idea of me seeing him at Mt Macedon, but that final meeting never eventuated.
I can access Facebook, and will read what you have posted after sending this email.
Yes, commiserations...!
Best wishes, John


Laurie  Duggan :
[April 4, '14]

thanks for sending this. I didn't know about Ken T. I'll post something soon on the blog. I have a couple of his books, At Valentines and Africa but I missed the middle one (through being in the wrong place at the right time or whatever). I didn't ever meet Ken or hear him read for similar reasons. But I've always liked what I've seen of the work.

It's strange to think back to the La Mama years. In one sense us Monash types were your adversaries, yet a lot of the separation simply had to do with the fact that La Mama was twelve miles away. It seems ridiculous now (esp. given my own peregrinations) but twelve miles seemed a long way - once. When I started coming in to Carlton on my own it seemed an adventure. So I never met Ken (and I didn't meet Charles Buckmaster either though he may well have sold me books at Whole Earth [Bookshop]). My loss.


K H :

Hi Laurie, good to have yours... By the way ive been reading yr edition of LEAVES [Monash University magazine, ed Philip Chubb & Laurie Duggan, 1970] wch has my play [Stephany, directed & performed by Malcolm Robertson at La Mama] in it but also fascinating document gathered by Dennis Douglas &/or you of the La Mama poets... Certainly brings it back... Could/should be republished as part of the documentation/recapitulation of the period... wch never ended!!!

L D :

LEAVES was a strange publication. It was only half laid out, so there are a handful of pages that look ok then the rest is terrible. My co-editor added some not very good poems and in our innocence we used a press that then filled most of the mag with adverts. But I was pleased to have gotten Dennis to do the La Mama piece. I don't know that I'd want to republish it but I certainly wouldn't have any objections to pieces within being republished somewhere.
(April 5)


Kris Hemensley :
[April 5th, '14]

Hi Barry, thanks for ringing, good to hear you, you spoke wonderfully clearly incisively perceptively abt Ken & especially "Africa" tonight.... Therell be a service followed by public memorial on the Thursday... will manage the Church not sure abt the Yacht club, but maybe too...


Barry Hill :
[April 5th]

Well done Kris, for I squibbed the sea today, can’t say why, just did not feel like the cold wind beforehand.
And I have been caught up in words again today: a poem partly arising from Ken, and more fiddles with PEACEMONGER as Tess Morris Suzuki, Prof of Japanese History at ANU is going to read the straight history bits, and now you and blog.


It was good to get yr feedback to our chat about Ken. I needed the chat because I had my sorrow to myself, hardly knowing any other poet who knew him. On hearing the sad but inevitable news I had to pour at least one whiskey in his honour. Not that I ever really drank with him: we met only ten years ago, and we had both started to slow up. Still, in the grog shop before he came to dinner at our place in Queenscliff, he had his credit card out wanting to stock our top shelf, the debit sheet notwithstanding. Same, on that day, his wanting to pit into the hat I had began to pass around to cover some of the costs of your moving shop. The point is he had his eye and mind on what he thought mattered most: conviviality and art, money be dammed. I met him through the family: he went to school with my wife’s father, a skilled farmer, and a man who was more patient with arty self-indulgences than you might think. He stuck with Ken, sensing his unique talent, which I was struck by as soon as he put Africa into my hands. I told him it would win a prize, and it did, of course. His pleasure at that remained understated, as if he knew it would happen. I had dipped into At Valentines a long time ago and was most struck by its cultural ambience: the period here that I had missed while living in London. But there was the ease you write about in yr blog, where you start out on other poets (who I don’t know): the graphic precision, the naturalness of the unfolding, a flow like the water up there at Erskine Falls, below which it all happened in those day, evidently, garlic and wine and dope on everyone’s breath. But the lines were better than culturally expressive. They struck the bell of a clear inner self, one clarified by self interest and a kind of aristocratic sense of entitlement. Of course, he was, in a way, simulating Ammons, that was clear. Yankee ease. But much more than that, as I was also trying to get to say when we were on the phone.

Africa lay in the palm of my hand like a lover’s hand. It was a book that kind of fell out into the hand, from one hand to the other, Ken was so grateful to be gifted with the love of a beautiful and younger woman at that stage in his life. Her about 30 him about 70. Picasso could eat his heart out. When I met her, and found myself in their bedroom because he insisted I go in and look at his drawings of her, leaning against the wall not far from the underwear she had scatted near the unmade bed, I felt almost as transgressional as when a guide to Frieda and Lawrence’s house at Taormina said I should go upstairs to their bedroom. This I did, because I could not not but I did it with a silent plea that Lawrence would understand my lack of prurience. The thing about Africa, with its body heat and candor, is that Ken is more Matisse than Picasso: his aesthetic is as cool as it is hot, his designs are created standing back, their colours are perfect detachments. His lines, ravishing though they can be, hold themselves just a little away from the swoon. And I am saying lines here with his wonderful paintings and drawings in mind, thinking mainly of the Xmas cards some of us were lucky to get. Collectors items in their own right, of course. Perfect lines, and a colour spectrum as perfect as the patterns on a bird. After a few years of getting these beauties in the post it struck me that they were the direct counterpart of his most skillfully joyous poems.

After our talk you wrote back to me saying you enjoyed my remarks (words to the effect that I'd spoken "wonderfully clearly incisively perceptively abt Ken & especially Africa tonight…."). That's good, as I have never spoken them before, as I say: had no need to. And I think I added that he was, really, a classicist. Oh his stream gushed forth as romantically as anything, that was what you seem be calling the urgency of his lines and reading. But their control, to me, was the thing, the balances of their form, their measure, their grace, I suppose we might say. It was with a pure grace, it seemed to me, that he saw his lover off into her next and necessary relationship with a younger man, one she would marry. I know that various people have their stories about Ken’s excesses, but this part of his story, its expression of respect and tact, struck me as a wonderful poem in life. As selfless as his perfectly pitched lyrics.

Ken was the first poet I have met who made me feel, on first reading him, that he was the most natural of poets. Back home, in some shed of his on that mountain, he may have toiled for such a natural perfection. We know the poets who do. I don’t know if he did or he didn’t. And don’t much care, really, such was his success so often on the page. Africa made me want to set off to Africa even though Africa was never mentioned, if you know what I mean.

This poem I have come to dedicate to him began as a rough draft to a cat. It was its grace of movement in and out of sunlight which triggered it. Then, after our conversation about line and movement through spaces in Ken’s work, I found myself wondering if he would like what I was doing with the cat’s presence. If I was trying to do a Xmas card like his, I would want the cat to be in it as he did flowers, or the sea in their limpid movements.

Anyway, have a look at the poem and see what you think. Not that I need to talk about the poem. Its just good to put something down that I would have been happy to read to Ken as we drank whiskey.

All best in life and art!


Under the Wisteria

I.M.  Ken Taylor

    our cat with the Chinese markings
        sniffs the morning
        all nostrils and twitch—
a whiskered breath-quiver of ears.

The Chinese character for listening
    has two ears
        one above the other
        beside dish over heart.

Then he’s stalking, slow-mo
    in and out
        of sunlight:
willowy patches, pond-shadows.

He crosses the lawn.
He pads, like some rich kid, on bare earth
beneath the Loess-coloured wisteria.

Not a sound on the way
to the door of the room
with the rosewood floor.

He regards the sheen that becomes him.
He senses the unwelcome table
laden with dictionaries.

No sign, as yet
    of his plans to vanish
        for the night.

(Autumn, 2014)


K H :

 "The most natural of poets" --yes. From the first (& I heard him Winter 67 before we met, and he had that same breathless, short-of-breath), his poems sounded like him! And because I was fascinated by the physical poetics of Olson & Creeley, I heard Ken as doing precisely what they asked for, even tho he wdnt have studied them. (I suppose another way to that wld be to investigate whether any of it is in Ammons? I mean formally but also, with Ammons, innately --ie his own & not out of the big O's thigh!)
And I like your poem, touched by the dedication of course. Its title almost sounds like a Ken Taylor title! And love your cat! That graphic first stanza description! And the easy crossing into the Chinese. Yep. Very good. 
So, all in all, you deserve a drink now! The writing's great reward for a deep & heavy week --the shock, the sadness, the thought, the talk, the poem... Well done that man!
All best,


B H :

yes, his forms were different to Ammons, he was more open than A I suppose, less affected in his openness also, somehow.
He did not need to create a lower case world, hey.
And I realised today why the Orientalism of the poem felt right. Ken had an important connection to Kyoto; he had clearly peered long and hard at those brilliantly inked Japanese woodcut prints.


Ian Robertson :
[6 April '14]

Hello Kris
it is sad news and thanks for letting me know... we never did catch up, though came close some years ago when Robert used to have his birthday gatherings at Redesdale.
Thinking of Ken immediately transports me back to the house in Parkville, the way Ken & Margaret welcomed everyone in. I see the living room and the steps down into the kitchen where food and drink and conversation flowed in an atmosphere of living intelligence, warmth, acceptance and conviviality such as I had never experienced... serious and searching conversation was mixed with stories and hearty laughter, a great humanity at a warmly human scale... to a 19/20 year-old, Ken seemed an almost giant figure but there was no distance, no separation about him at all... he was immediate, disarming, inclusive and engaging... it was surprising and so encouraging to be not just accepted into this atmosphere, but also, amazingly/apparently, to be appreciated... I remember thinking, so this is how life could be...


Susan Fealy :
[April 13th, '14]

Dear Kris,

I cobbled this from my original notes.

 Visit to Ken Taylor with Ron Pretty. Monday, October 20, 2008.
(Ken, Ron and I had attended the Glenfern Salon on Sunday, 19th : feature poets Kris Hemensley and Peter Porter.)

 His home rides over an ocean of forget-me-nots and bluebells. Huge trees on the ridges, low stonewalls and paths lead to secret ponds, closer to home,  a rustic tower, a garden shed.
Ron and I sat in his kitchen after a walk around about (he’d left the door open) and began to wonder if we had mixed up the arrangements. Then we saw his black beret and figured he would be back to get his hat and he was! He arrived with his mate Steve and brought some supplies for lunch. He wore a thin black jumper over white, white trousers .White beard, grey face. He’d laughed and said he could not believe that he had travelled around France and the only man to be found wearing a beret was his own reflection in a shop window.
From the window, in the middle of the courtyard a snow drop neighboured the rusted brazier. It tossed out its green leaves like a fountain, they shone in the afternoon sun, infant grass sprinkled the bricks.
Outside the window: bright blue-green, delicate, almost feathery leaves and old old wood, shining in the afternoon sun, outside his kitchen. What kind of tree is that? It’s a Yew Tree he said. There are more on the hill. Steeply above the house, but not far away.. a row of yew trees above a stone wall.
Ken said that his own paintings on the walls were reference points for him.Crab, sea, octopus..seals, I said border dwellers? Then he said sharks. I said sharks are not border dwellers and then we decided that maybe they are. That pure aggression ( jn us), Ken said, you see it when you arise from the sea after a swim in Brittany And it is disturbing because you see the gun slits in the wall where the guns would have killed you. We chatted about the Kris Hemensley and Peter Porter event that had happened the day prior. Ken had disliked violence used as a trope in some of Peter’s poems, said Kris’s work spoke to him more.
As he discussed the prose he was developing into a book, he said some sentences are waiting for him to turn them into drawings. We looked at his water colours, some set on the large tables, often of marine creatures. He said when I draw it is almost always from a photograph as there is so much information. We agreed that you have to find the line.
We talked about proportion, and his friend Steve suddenly formed Leonardo’s proportion of man with his outstretched arms and legs and it felt like  all four of us found a magic proportion in that moment inside his large studio. I asked Ken about the sculpture scattered around his property : he said some had been left there by sculptors, and had yet to be collected by them. Ken said sculptors are on different time , maybe they will come back in seven years… they have to listen to nature.
He let me run up the hill to collect some Lily of the Valley. He said, get as near to the earth as you can and pull straight up : it unmoors itself. I found it under the bright red Camellia tree. Tiny flames of green, green fire on the hill, tiny pearls. I said, it smells like frangipani a bit but it is not. No, he said , (somewhat sternly) it is Lily of the Valley. 



Terry Gillmore's reference to Araganui [near Bega, NSW; Mimosa Beach National Park] returns me to the correspondence from Alexandra Seddon, published in the HEART issue of H/EAR magazine, #5, Summer 1983/4.


so in this place I must write to you. Terry Gillmore here, John Anderson, Geoff Eggleston, Ken Taylor, Leigh Stokes, & Dorothy Swoope (near Wollongong), Simon Macdonald, Cornelis Vleeskens & Jenny Mitchell, Frank (?), plus many others. A lot of my students. Trish from the Mornya Womens House with her lover, Kathy, my friends Angela Koch, Venie Holmgren. Lots of people on the rock last night, reading by hurricane lamp & fire. We (Angela & I & 2 German girls who are staying at farm) had arrived a bit late. Terry & others helped us across to the island -- the tide having risen quite high. The climb up the rock was not easy. It was amazing that so many people managed to reach that remote place. The reading did go on for most of the night, then we came back to camp & sleep for 2 hours till dawn.

What can I tell you? The atmosphere of the reading was sea, fire, wind, night -- wonderful. At about 1 o'clock when I read for the first part, I felt impelled to read Owen's Mantra -- just the first part. Although I knew it to be unwise, it seemed necessary. Terry & Ken felt it went over well. I had no way of judging. It was like switching back to a time when one lacked any confidence in the writing. Geoff's reading was alright, a bit turgid. Ken read clearly, laying things out to be seen. Cornelis read some family portraits -- excellent, precise gestures, colours, framed. Very good for reading aloud. And also some pieces where he & Jenny Mitchell read alternately, sometimes whole poems, sometimes lines. She chanting "Manna Gum" between his lines at one point. She is a painter. John Anderson's reading was wonderful -- like seeing the movie after reading the book, & being totally satisfied by it. Leigh Stokes did some strange operatic chanting in the midst of a poem for which he had made peculiarly arrogant apologies. Dorothy Swoope reminded me of Marilyn Kitchell [ex Rhode Island poet & publisher of Salt Works Press with Tom Bridwell, last heard of late '80s when she was in Mississippi]-- that fabric of things was very apparent -- clear deliberate reading. I remembered her from Wollongong. Terry read with warmth -- a sort of gentle communication. Tonight we will read again, this time not on the rock but in the tamer camping ground. There is an old thin wallaby close by. Simon Macdonald is feeding him. Terry is talking of reading your 'Being Here'. And I feel that you should be made present more obviously, perhaps in that way.

And I am trying so hard to be here. I am not planted yet, flittering at the edges, trying to grasp or enter the being here. I cannot find the words to frame anything. I am struggling with the words more than ever. I want to give you the feel, the flavour of being here but I cannot find it clearly.

There are tents set up more or less in a circle -- a table in the middle. Modest food, tea, coffee. The talk surging, going around, people wandering off to the bush or to swim. A lot of cigarettes, fires. John standing loosely by the table. He has come now to sit beside me & tell me dreams of Candelo & a radiant face in a tree -- an Aboriginal face & he is reading now from the note book which Retta gave me. He says he would like to come to the farm. I feel chastened by his gentleness & careful words. I feel chastened too by Ken Taylor's silence & speech -- both -- his economy of words...


[According to Mr Google, ca 2013 :

Alexandra Seddon, the founder and patron of Potoroo Palace, has a background of community, conservation, education, farming and the arts.

She came to the Bega Valley in 1975 from Papua New Guinea, where she had been working with PNG teachers, mostly in drama and creative writing. She began farming with her brother in Candelo, and so Cowsnest Community Farm came into being, with a kibbutz type structure: to each according to his/her need, from each according to his/her ability.
The idea of Cowsnest was to set up a community farm where anyone could come and contribute their skill and labour even if they had no money to buy land.
Out of Cowsnest, in 1985, grew the Candelo Arts Society, which continues to flourish.
There is also a 57 acre feral-animal-proof Sanctuary at Cowsnest, a half-way house for injured and orphaned native animals who are on their way to soft release.
In 1996 Alexandra initiated the Waterbird Sanctuary in Pambula, which has become Panboola, Pambula Wetlands and Heritage Project (over 200 acres right in Pambula).
In 2000 she began the Pambula Flying Fox Hospital and Conservation Area (34 acres protected by Voluntary Conservation Agreement).
And on September 25th, 2006, a senescent Yellow Pinch Wildlife Park was bought, and slowly rejuvenated to become Potoroo Palace, Native Animal Educational Sanctuary.]


Re- Laurie Duggan's LEAVES magazine... The La Mama poets' segment gathered by Dennis Douglas, who was teaching at Monash then & editing poetry at The Age, quotes as its title K H's line, to be a poet amongst poets / not to be THE poet.
The segment begins with my letter (of October 25th '68) to Dennis, reproduced in the original typewriter script, from which the following paragraphs :

"(......) andy jack [correct spelling jach] another local poet wrote me the other day saying do you have to write american to make poetry today?? no. but the american influence is undeniable & one can only be enriched by it - the american [poetry] experience takes in every important writer of the postwar world - the british poets macdiarmid & bunting / the younguns pickard/liverpool/nottingham/london poets/ are all following the open way of poetry....tho this is not the only way for me and for many others...obscurity [obscurantism?] is the the thing that has been demolished!
How about doing an article on the new [La Mama, Melbourne] poets? we cd help you with the field work! wed have a ball!! [Ken] taylor/[John] romeril/[Bill] beard/[Charles] buckmaster/ [Mal] morgan/ [Geoff] eggleston /[Elaine] rushbrooke/ [Andy] jack [Jach]/[Michael] dugan/[Ian] robertson/ and i bet there's a score & more!!! interstate a free mag has started emanating from terry gillmore in sydney "free grass" [actually not! --Free Grass was John Tranter's superb hoax; Free Poetry was the real magazine, edited by Gillmore, Nigel Roberts & Johnny Goodall --I'd enthusiastically conflated fact & fiction!] - gillmore/thomson/heaslop/ from nsw - this is a sizable number [of new poets] - at la mama ive had 26 different poets read /invited &/or from the audience!.... for me its the culmination of an ambition to have a poetry workshop - there has to be a new basis for [ poetry &] society - it has to "among" instead of "sole" :-- to be a poet amongst poets/not to be THE poet.

The letter is followed by Denis Douglas's description of the new poets.


Who were in the park [Exhibition Gardens opposite Queensbury Street, Carlton, where the Hemensleys, invited by the actor Frank Bren, lived in the terrace house at number 21] that day? Kris Hemensley, stocky, bearded, expatriate Englishman in his early twenties, Loretta, his wife, who helped produce the magazine Our Glass, which was printed on a fordigraph duplicator purchased by Kris in the expectation that with Our Glass and other poetry jobs it would pay for itself, Bill Beard, a small, wiry, smiling fugitive from the RAAF - he had conducted a one-man non violent campaign of protest against its involvement in the Vietnam war from within the Air Force and eventually been discharged - studying philosophy at the University of Melbourne, Charles Buckmaster, who had been sent home from an upcountry high school to get his hair cut and instead of getting it cut had come to Melbourne to work as laboratory assistant and produce a poetry magazine The Great Auk, Michael Dugan, former member of a fruit picking commune, former book salesman, former publishing editor, former children's writer, former rocker, who was to do it all again (except for returning to the commune).

Who was not in the park that day? Geoffrey Eggleston, burly, aggressive artist-designer much given to the poetic exploitation of obscenity, Ken Taylor, ABC producer, who had used some of the new poetry on radio programs and written well himself in a style influenced by Whitman, Williams, and Charles Olson, Nigel Roberts and Terry Gillmore, who were living in Sydney and producing a magazine called Free Poetry, Richard Tipping and Rob Tillett, who were producing a magazine in Adelaide called Mok, Sweeney Reed, who regarded himself as the manager of a poet called Russell Deeble, and was at that time regarded by the "free magazine" editors as a trendy dilettante, although they later settled their differences (It was Sweeney who had first suggested that I get in touch with the group, remarking that no poet under thirty regarded the established literary magazines as anything but a self-enclosed and self-perpetuating middle-aged clique, utterly indifferent to anything written overseas since 1960 - Terry Gillmore was later to tell me that the mini-mags broke down the resistance to the newer verse forms within two years, suggesting almost that they were instruments used in a campaign to establish communication with an older generation, or to be able to compete with them on even terms).

Dennis Douglas's survey/celebration continues with quotations from the editorials of the little mags, & culminates with the segment, WHERE HAVE ALL THE POETS GONE?

Although the law of diminishing returns turned their minds to other things, Mike's to a rock-poetry combination, Ian's to India, Charles's to becoming the nth replacement editor for a Penguin anthology of the new poetry [for which Ken Taylor & K H  had initially been solicited by John Hooker but after much debate declined because of the political & philosophical compromises anticipated] which never appeared, Sweeney's to the Tolarno Galleries - and the amount of bread and energy that was lavished on the broadsheets should not be underestimated - although Tom Shapcott's Sun Books anthology and Poetry Magazine led the shift in critical forms that encouraged their acceptance, so that "establishment" outlets became available - although a new generation of poetry readers altered the atmosphere of the readings now held at the Arts Co-operative - although some people got busted and others got careers - although the "new thing" was no longer new - although Kris returned to England and Ken started making TV films about birds and Bill went beach-combing, there are still readings and a newer crop of magazines, and rumours of a great new well-produced publication are circulating [Dark Ages Journal, which didnt proceed beyond the manuscript], connected with rumours of Kris Hemensley's return.

What happened was not greatly different from the forging of other poetry schools in the forties and fifties - the attempts the new poets made to gain acceptance for their poetic were no more outrageous or ill-mannered than the tactics of other literary pressure groups - they generated no more antagonism - they excited no more sympathy - which is to say, they were outrageous, ill-mannered, generated much antagonism, excited much sympathy. The differences stemmed from the differences in the world the new poets inhabited, a dangerous, competitive, and hence more communally-minded world. Like other vital schools, they produced much that was ephemeral as well as much that was forceful and effective, and they made themselves known at an earlier age than most Australian groups of poets.

The main point they made was that creative forces can be channeled into the communal life of a large group of people and function there as a positive, enlightening, life-generating impulse. Perhaps the poetry of the future will be made by a by-product of the inner life of societies and less a simulacrum of some kind of collective public address system than the poetry of the past.


[edited & typed by Kris Hemensley,
April 12th/14th, 2014
Westgarth, Oz]

Saturday, April 5, 2014



Launch-speech for GIRLERY by Melinda Bufton (Inken Publisch, 2014), at Collected Works Bookshop, March 1st, 2014

First, some thanks. I’m not even sure who I owe thanks to, but definitely to Ann Vickery for feedback, and to Melbourne poetry editors Gig Ryan, Jessica Wilkinson and Pete Spence for publishing some of the poems, and of course Greg Taylor the book. And maybe Duncan Hose as an example of Boyery. But mostly I – we – have to thank Melinda Bufton for being the person who can write poems like this. Free verse isn’t a waste of time. I already knew that really, but Girlery’s a reminder. It’s a fresh book: 2 parts Tyra Banks and 3 parts country girl. The first poem ‘Goddesses, the Bomb’ is a declaration that the poems will be as literary as fuck, but they won’t groan about their own weight. Hooray! [Optional signing of punctuation with your finger.] Bufton’s lines are like planks that shift about a treehouse, like you’re playing an electronic xylophone with your feet-eyes. You can tell why she’s had so many office jobs too: she makes it sexy. ‘Lessons learned’ manages to be light-hearted and feminist while integrating an under-emphasised activity of country life: a lot of TV. Pop stars seem to already have everything, but ‘Lapel’ shows us the work involved, the subversive-sounding complexities of online shopping, perhaps suggesting that the Marc Jacobs dress was rescued from the store. Clothing is a medium for Bufton, the way feminism or cricket is for other poets: it is its own romance. The voices can be something like a fairy godmother entering with her lines of advice but who then starts talking about her own life while nudging the princess bassinet away with her foot. And really, princesses have had enough attention. There’s something like Frank O’Hara in Melinda’s vignettes of a Girl-about-town – like Colette out of bed – and the way she can get out of a poem like the narrator getting out of the lift in ‘Like a fingerprint’, part good-humoured don’t-need-a-man-today, part Warholian blank intrigue. The variably light tone allows for throwaway brilliance in verb and adjective, such as alice (a verb) and carethrift (an adjective) in ‘Pincushion’. Girlery abjures earnest diction, while showing how deft the playful can be: ‘Bunnies of yore my gate to the wallop’, from the church of WTF, or the devastating ‘Sonnety’, for example, which not only does the sonnet but puts it in its place, both by giving it a one-word volte (‘divot’), and concluding with a summary that’s a meta-psychological-ethical complex. A question for reviewers is how a daggy version of punk comes off as stylish? The answer’s here as plain as Paris, however: study and practice (and did I mention ‘tuneliness’?) Letter cases go up and down like heels or collars coming off, just to check your attention. Bufton knows that work can be dreary and tiring, but – and perhaps there’s a fallacy that names this – the poems don’t have to be. You can call it Romanticism, putting a nice edging on your view of the world and its working dairy, or you can call it synecdoche, citing the sweetspot that makes life worth living. A quote from ‘Bumper book for girls’:

     Never mind whose territory. We had all reason to
     shudder when seeing texts flung about, aimed by the
     lipless to pelt us on fishnet hip, or worse,
     in the soul. Look here my satin-doubters

     I have never looked better than this costume
     allows, there is no evidence it kills my healthy sponge
     brain cells. I read theory faster in heels.

Australian poetry can risk being a bit more chick literate, ie Girlery is for boys too: a unique book in the Victorian Grain, I give you Melinda Bufton and Girlery, the bomb. [Exit as you will]

[Michael Farrell sent his text from Rome; it was read for him in Melbourne by Fiona Hile.]



[uploaded from the Alive and Well and Living in Dorset blog,‎]


Saturday, 10 March 2012


Written IN Weymouth & environs - ON buses or ON coffee-house tables - ON my laptop, IN a notebook, or ON my lap - here, there & in various PREMISES - but essentially @ home @ Golden GOJI Hermitage, drinking IN & out of poetry - ingesting this or that - and THAT  is what drew me to Paul Blackburn many moons ago = ALE HOUSE POEMS, BAKERY POEMS, THE PROVENCAL TROUBADOUR POETS.....earthiness & classicism. BUT what does this Great Fool, w/out a passport to his name, know of such a wor(l)d ? Albeit that his mother came from Alexandria, and gestated sons who loved books and great libraries !

#1) My brother in Oz, prodded me to write about P.B., following my quirky, previous blog-post on here, which referred to Paul Blackburn. i dismissed the idea w/out even considering that i write anything = just not up to such things (?)....less than 24 hours later, i found myself working, as if on benzedrine, on this essay/blog-post. And it is work. And it is a practice...s'thing i had never accepted 100%, as i had the practice of zazen. Just sitting, was all that mattered = SHIKANTAZA = the practice of DOGEN. Katagiri Roshi's remark to Nathalie Goldberg, that WRITING should be her LIFE-PRACTICE, never quite accorded. After-all, for Dogen, ZAZEN WAS BUDDHISM. Likewise, when Franco Beltrametti told me in the 80's, that he practiced WALKING MEDITATION, i thought - not the real thing. i had not matured by a mile. Slowly, more teachings percolated into the mind of this great fool. THICH NHAT HANH talked of WASHING-UP itself is the great practice, life and death, THE GREAT MATTER.

#2) Could not, for the life-of-me, find Paul Blackburn's books when i wanted'em. Searched the library in vain. Then, sidetracked by rearranging some BLACK SPARROWs in studio/conservatory, i find "THE JOURNALS" under my hand & gaze. i flick thru, happy to have found s'thing. i knew Blackburn had died "young" - but OH! - only 45! (1926-1971) and realised, in that moment, that when i first read him, he was already dead. Robert Kelly writes, as editor of this book - "The last writing in it comes up to six weeks of his death in September, 1971."
What i "liked" about Paul Blackburn was the "open form" and his ease with contemporary NEW YORK city & translating from the Spanish eg. LORCA. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship...etc...To quote Robert Kelly, once more - "In New York which was most his home and center, he could find the sunlight on a wall not different from Barcelona."

#3) It has been so long now, since my readings of the 70's that, as i sit in "COSTA COFFEE",(decaff.espresso & soya milk), with "THE CITIES" before me & to hand, it strikes me, that these poems are "new"/still fresh. @ 45, Blackburn was still "young enough" to have gone on and worked & practiced, for many, many years. i think of Bob Dylan's refrain = "may we be forever young"...but not in this way, to not have gone on...And there are many...THE POETS OF THE GREAT WAR, JIM MORRISON, HEATH LEDGER...and in "our" family, TIM HEMENSLEY (of the POWDER MONKEYS) - i blub into my coffee. No one notices.

#4) "THE CITIES", (Blackburn's "first, extensive collection of verse" -(Grove Press - 1967)) the Author's Note reads - "Every man's stand be his own. Finally, it is a construct, out of my own isolations, eyes, ears, nose and breath.."  ....i hear an echo of CHARLES OLSON in that ="No such thing as mass, as much as, many people, each with eyes in their heads, to be looked out of." Do i misquote ? That is what i have as my memory of it. i do not want to rise from my place and search it not even really know where to look...Human Universe essay ? Do not wish to interrupt this flowing of "mountains  walking"...?....? BUT, maybe i will...SUDDENLY,  i feel i have written enough in this first draft/ this blog-post...appropriately, it is young/ still fresh...ready to be played with in this warm and early spring of ours in Weymouth, where the cherry blossom, out front, has passed full-bloom, and is falling to the ground,  even as i write.....i will wait, stay my hand, and WAIT and see if it PROVES, like the bread-dough in tins, waiting for the heat of the oven.....i will soon make my way into the world - to find some fresh, young heirs (pun intended)...."The air sweeps out the odor of love from rooms / the air we love, we weep, we read, sing.."(from "The First Round", Paul Blackburn - AGAINST THE SILENCES - Permanent Press - 1980).

#5) I'm going to THE KING'S ARMS on the harbour. Not a drinker as such - i like a good taste - a good taste of real ale, home-baked bread and poetry....a half-pint will do me. & a packet of s'thing salty....just a half-pint to keep me hand in!!....How else to encounter the world ?/ this world. It is the friction / our continually rubbing-up against / this buffering away, that will reveal the new in which we are moment by moment, breath by breath, being reborn...and it is in this, that those who are no longer visible are held in our hearts. This is all we have and it is the whole created world. It is enough....

[finished @ 17.30 hours,10 / march / 2012.]

Kris Hemensley's COMMENT

(collectedworks10 March 2012 18:06)

Evidently youll be continuing from yr favourite spot in the Kings Arms, perhaps the higher bar, looking out onto the Old Harbour... So,you have your Blackburn in place, you have him as poet of 'being-in-place' rather than the distinctions of any particular place? Or it seems i might, which is ironic given the inventory, the wardrobe he sits up in, peers out of! Similar search as you (where are my Blackburns?!) find first of all his poem in Allen de Loach's INTREPID magazine, #18/19 , '71, one poem's kind of ho-hum (Windsound), mere sketch, the other's HUMMM-HO, justifying the triumphant claim "All of it sung." Last line, is psycho-topography, genealogical geography, the roll-call of his place that whiskey'd moment, glass in hand saluting Olson, Julio (is that Cortazar?), Ginsberg, Snyder, and most of all Pound --memorable snapshot, "Ez's eye fixes the machine from under his neat / Alpine hat, the clean raincoat . fierce & friendly to / the mustache bristle, beard-jut, but the eye questions / the other end of this gondola, where do the steps lead? / The oarsman ferries him across to / wrap a death with windows...." etc.
 Second thing i find is Pierre Joris's excellent Blackburn issue of Sixpack, (Spring/Summer, '74), indispensable really, i bet you have it under a mountain of health mags! --wch has in it this contra note, from Barry Alpert (edited the splendid Vort in that era, and who popped up on F/book recently!), whose comment puts in a nutshell not only Blackburn's situation but a larger gauging of poems/poetry... For, despite PB's obvious relish in Lorca's idea of duende, 'the straight fight with the creator on the edge of the well' (Alpert's source dramatically clearer than P's paraphrase) --& despite one knows that's the whole point of the daily witness poem, --yet in Blackburn acc. to Alpert, "most of his published poems uphold his self-abnegating conception of himself as street poet, bar room poet, occasional poet..."
 That is to say, the huge risk of so-what/ery in that type of stance (i joked in my classes 40+ years ago, "I came, i saw, i wrote a poem!"), the loss of distinction or the memorable in the apparently ancient Chinese humble happenstance. 
Very good to read you here!
 Cheers bro!
 As Blackburn has it in that instructive poem for (& against?) Ed Dorn, Pre-Lenten Gestures,"Thank God one tone or / one set of decibels is / not all there is."



INTRODUCING JOHN MATEER; Notes, March 25th, 2014

Welcome to Collected Works Bookshop for this reading by John Mateer.
I have a few copies of Emptiness : Asian poems, 1998-2012, just published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press, and some of the previously published but still recent Unbelievers or 'The Moor', from Giramondo. So, although this isnt a formal launch, it is a celebration of John & his practically concurrent new books.


Yesterday was the Seminar at the university ["LIFE IN THE SECOND LANGUAGE : Taking his own work as example, poet John Mateer present an argument about the origins and strategies of his last four books – Ex-White: South African Poems, The West: Australian Poems 1989-2009, Southern Barbarians and Unbelievers, or ‘The Moor’ – and will read and reflect on his relationship between history, poesis, translation and self-hood. He will discuss the circumstances of Afrikaans as national language in South Africa, the problem caused by Aboriginal language or its absense for a grounded poetics in Australia, and the possibilities presented by reconsidering the cultural formations of East and West through imagining the colonial effects of Portugal and Spain in this part of the world. "]-- Today, here at the bookshop, it's the Reading. Not having participated in a seminar for a very long time, I'm not sure how different a poet is in the one situation from the other. I guess this evening the poetry is expected to stand up by & for itself --which I'm sure it will have every opportunity to do!


For introduction to the well published & travelled John Mateer, perhaps an anecdote instead of interminable CV --I don't mean John's CV is interminable but CV per se!

I remember the judging of the Victorian Premiers Prize back --when? --late '90s, early 2000s? --in the company of Doris Brett & Kevin Hart. Our deliberations had come down to a debate about the merits of collections by Bob Adamson & John Mateer amongst others --I cant remember --Tranter, Gray, Rowland, Ryan?-- all good names anyway. We'd read the books, discussed, ticked & crossed, totted up our little columns of scores on pieces of paper --crass & brutal but there it is! A competition with only one winner! The decision was made easier by the technical requirement for the majority of a collection to be "new". And so Kevin regretfully let his man, or men, slip. Adamson, Gray… At least I think so, I think that's who & what it was! I'm sure it's in my diary of the time but confess I don't quite know where that is!

In retrospect --in this possible/ retrospect --it's fair to say we found the young Mateer's poetry quite unlike anyone & anything else in that particular Premier's Prize season-- And I wonder now whether the matter of 'location' came up-- If, for instance, we were attracted by Adamson's (if it was him) --his Hawkesbury River (and perhaps the book was Juno Gemes' beautiful photo anthology, the Language of Oysters and not the Mulberry Leaves as I've been thinking? --late '90s & not early 2000s then?) --Adamson's Hawkesbury & Mateer's --what? --what & where would it have been? W A salt & wheat? A South African elsewhere? The Non-White African's elsewhere? (Tutuola's My life in the Bush of Ghosts?) Already then the awareness of John's neither here nor there --the no place or no where (which sounds like Paul Celan) --and the possible Japanese pun, the Noh where!--

Ah well --

Absence & presence
as though each other's

And so, John, to quote & misquote you from a poem in your latest book, --"dear poet, close your eyes, this brothel is the only world, and we are the bhodisattvas!" -- Please welcome John Mateer...

[April 5th, 2014, Westgarth by the Sea]

Thursday, April 3, 2014

KEN TAYLOR, 1930-April 2nd, 2014

[These posts retrieved from Facebook.]


Sad tho' not unexpected news told me by Loretta who had heard from Robert Kenny : our friend & colleague from the Sixties, fellow poet Ken Taylor, died last night at the Epworth Hospital in Richmond, Melbourne, where he'd been rushed some days ago. He's been in & out of hospitals & emergencies latterly. His friends from the poetry world in recent years have been, in addition to Robert, Ron Pretty, Michael Sharkey, Jennifer Harrison, the late Alan Murphy amongst others... Ken was 83 or 84 years of age, and a boy at heart. Will write more later. A sad day.


I want to mention John Bartlett's blog, which has republished his interview with Ken which appeared in Meanjin in 2003. The address is :

Thanks for contacting me John.

Last Saturday, Terry Gillmore came by, out of the blue, no better way as the decades pass, with the words from imagined conversations the main sharing, --the constant turning over in mind & imagination of the time(s) of our lives, in lieu of the social. A wonderful hour it was, recalling our dead & living friends, setting me off on another spin in & through time! As Ken had it, "the brothers & sisters of La Mama", --reconvened, actors & augurs.

I should have mentioned John Jenkins in my first post of course --& have an idea he went up to Macedon with James Hamilton when James was getting into his Charles Buckmaster & 60s-poetry research, a couple of years ago? I'm sure there are many others who've seen Ken in recent times. Sad & ruminative, I should also have added : in fact the consolation for us who survive the death of friends (& I'm particularly thinking about fellow poets) is the work (to the extent it's intact) --the poems themselves-- & the large estate of memories. We're all in that circle of living/dying in any case (as per John Donne). And for us literary lot, history & biography's our version of immortality. Dear Ken... a life which included poetry, never an academic or a pro... A life lived large & in his own way... I wont be alone in thinking & writing on Ken in the reflective & celebratory period beginning now...

Ive been reading Ken's letter to me, published in The Ear In a Wheatfield, #16, 1975, and the piece I sent from England in June, '75, to Robert Kenny, For the Launching of Ken Taylor's Book, "At Valentines" (published by Contempa). In his letter, Ken writes that working on the book with Robert he "begin[s] to feel another chance -- the second go." And also, "I agree with you completely about writing being a dictation, however before that comes an exercise or two. This is where I must begin again, still in the landscape, but "once more at the cutting edge", the counting again and saddled with the need to change..."

And this paragraph from the piece I sent to the '75 launching, which, interestingly, reflects the mood I'm in right now : "I am as moved to write about Ken Taylor for this event as I am to dwell in the house of poetry itself. For it is all particular, & personal, all of the heart's notation when you know it as a sweetheart, realizing it at the swell of its condition, grasping it as doers of any thorough thing, say, as lovers do, as here we do as writers & readers, & thus consigned we take it on."

[April 3rd, 2014]

Saturday, January 11, 2014

THE BEACH REPORT : Posts Retrieved from Facebook, Late 2013, early 2014

The Beach Report : 11/1/14, from the Elwood Beach kiosk

We're done, mid-morning, as the colour of the day (cloud-grey & white) begins to change. There's the feel of blue sky & sun --skin registers warmth, obviously, but i'm tempted to invoke the 'intelligence of the day' as though environment actually is innate. And even an hour after the dip there arent any other swimmers, only a temporarily capsized sailboard in the water.


Thank Heavens for Betty Ryan & the bottle of white wine she shared for our Henry's getting to Greece --her evocations, notwithstanding Henry's saying she wasnt a storyteller, in addition to the correspondence from "my friend Lawrence Durrell, who had practically made Corfu his home." I thank Henry for the Greek experience too, never having gone though many I've known did & do. But reading The Colossus of Maroussi (the 1950 white blocked purple covered--'Travel', 'Complete Unabridged'-- paperback issue) in Australia, winter through to summer '66/'67, performed the transmogrification whereby my Elwood exile (--oh yes, there's an awful & heavy tale attached but not for telling here), living in Thackaray Street, one of the poets' roads (exact mirror of Thornhill/Southampton's topography, Down Under's not so secret meaning), became my Greece, -- swimming off the rocks (industrial detritus), recovering breath spent battling the riffs & unexpected depths, propped between stone & concrete in a nest of sand, driftwood, dried seaweed, with best friend satchel containing biro & notebook, novel, poetry, tobacco/papers/matches, supporting me forever...


You see, it happens every time I'm here, between Elwood & Point Ormond --every summer as first the elements & then the literary & cultural memories work me over. Remembering as I re-live it, the Beat life of sun, sand & sea...


[via David Caddy / Tears in the Fence]

Posted on January 10, 2014 by tearsinthefence

Amiri Baraka (Le Roi Jones) 1934-2014

When Le Roi Jones’s volume of poems, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, appeared from Totem / Corinth in 1961 it had a Basil King drawing on the cover and it had a poem titled ‘Way Out West’ half way through it.

As simple an act

as opening the eyes. Merely

coming into things by degrees.

Basil King was over here in England at the end of last year and he talked and read, along with his wife Martha, at Kent University amongst many other places. Basil had also worked alongside Le Roi Jones in the late 1950s when he provided the covers for the magazine which Le Roi edited along with Hettie Cohen, Yugen. Yugen closed down in 1962 after number 8 but not before the starting up of The Floating Bear, a newsletter, edited by Jones and Diane di Prima. The Addenda to that issue number 8 of Yugen gives its readers the following information:

The newsletter, The Floating Bear, and its editors, Le Roi Jones and Diane di Prima, were cleared in April of obscenity charges stemming from their publication of a section of Jones’ System of Dante’s Hell and William Burroughs’ satire, The Routine.

That little note at the end also gives an update on what Le Roi Jones was upto, including editing Corinth’s fiction anthology, Avant Garde American Fiction, ‘which will include such prose writers as Fielding Dawson, Burroughs, Kerouac, Rumaker, Selby, Creeley, Douglas Woolf, Irving Rosenthal, Herbert Huncke, Paul Metcalfe, Diane Di Prima, and others’.

Had he had lived Amiri Baraka was due to come over to London this year to attend the University of Canterbury’s one-day conference, Baraka at 80, to be held at the ICA on 12th April.

The very last sentence in that last Yugen issue is:

‘At all other places they cremate them; Here we bury them alive’.

 Farewell to a most important poet, dramatist, short-story writer, editor and major figure throughout the past fifty years.


(c) Ian Brinton ;


Kris Hemensley

Mourn both Le Roi Jones & Amiri Baraka. Complex within itself/himself, impossible for one such as I, to neatly unravel after 50 years of development. Poetry, politics... May as well throw this in even if a poignant contemplation more appropriate than a thesis at this sad time. So : The change of his name from Le Roi Jones to Amiri Baraka emblematic (paradigmatic?) of this time of changes (1960s to date). Well recall seeing the shocking pic in Village Voice in '68 of Jones/Baraka : bloodied head coshed in middle of Newark riot. Remember thinking this is the beginning of something else, --a something else agglomeration of all the radical ideologies any one of which one might have sat & mulled or stood toe to toe & argued, but tossed up now with race relations, black revolution, --and where was poet in that calamity out of which insurrection was suddenly spun? --reversal of the judgement of skin colour in the urgency of solidarity --educational indeed for white boy to experience the boot on the other foot even if thousands of miles away in Melbourne/Oz from Newark --psychically & imaginatively empathizing, responding --the Vietnam War already the actual ground of could-be would-be refuse-to-be conscripted the daily '60s life --suddenly absent when landing back in England, late '69 --a whole other &, notwithstanding the Irish troubles, relaxed English vibe. It's been my American friends, Duncan McNaughton particularly in my head now, who've articulated the necessary hybridization/cosmopolitanism in name of the Real, --American as African & Spanish. Poetry, politics... And you know what Ive said about the warts & all as the truth of my situation, that is against perfection (as if politics could ever be pure)... And how revolted ive been by ahistorical that is hysterical conspiratorial leftist politics, in wch this or that erstwhile minority is no more than ideological canon fodder... in this minute i'm putting it back together, the Humpty Dumpty of me, of poet amongst poets, --hailing here Leroi/Baraka, the poet, the playwright, the editor publisher anthologist, Hettie's other half --and RIP...


[January 7, 2014]

[via Monique Chester, Weymouth/UK]


The following SEVERE Flood Warnings will remain in force from 19:00 on 06.01.2014 until 02:00 on 07/01/2014 including the times of high tide. Peak water levels and waves are expected between 21:00 and midnight. Flooding may already be affecting properties, low lying areas and roads. The Causeway between Portland and Wyke Regis may be impassable and may be closed as a precaution. Dangerous wave overtopping including shingle is possible. The time and date of the forecast high waters for which this Flood Warning is in force are 21:45 (Local time) on 06/01/2014 (21:45 GMT) Please listen for the sound of the Flood Warning sirens which will be sounded IF wave overtopping occurs at Chiswell. The forecast wind direction is South West The forecast wind strengths is Force 7


B H : A river passed by my door during the night...
K H : how dyou mean B? A river on Goldcroft Road? But youre on a rise or coming off a rise? Used to be rivers down Flinders Street and when I was a sailor on shore leave in Singapore once upon a time the monsoon broke around me as I sheltered and the road became a river. Only thing was, before the inundation occurred it was an ordinary road with open sewers/gutters but after the rain there was only water to be waded through to the slightly higher part in the middle of the road. With my whites rolled up, my shoes in my hands above my head, I stepped into the torrent (had to get back to the boat y'see) and down I went, into the sewer!!! The locals laughed at me then helped me up. But I'd gashed my toe on the way down. Back at the Fairstar I stuck a plaster on the wound. A day & night of increasing throbbing pain later the ship doctor operated on my toe. Local anaesthetic. Cut off half the nail then scooped out the flesh. You could have lost the toe he said, another day the leg!!!! Did this flood come out of the blue for you or has it been developing last day or so? And watch out for your toes old boy!

Jo Harris : didn't know you were a sailor...did you run away to sea?

K H : regarding sailor boy --yes, I guess I did run away to sea Jo! Went down to the Labour exchange with brother B, asked for unusual job, and hey presto! 1965...

J H : those sailors pants...bell bottoms with a flap...sooo sexy..maybe that helped you decide

K H : Blue uniform for the northern part of the voyage, whites for the tropics... I just had to get-a get-a get-a get away! I couldnt wait another day ay ay!!! And yes, Jo, always liked the look, the whites not the blues... With my post-op foot I could wear a sandal instead of white shoe, but the good foot had the shoe still!  I worked in the Ship Shop with the photographers (German) and the hairdressers (English, Scottish, Italian). I also had hold duties. I cannot tie knots so my tying & hauling of packages was a nightly ordeal for me and a huge laugh for the others. Shared cabin at first with the photographers but they complained that I snored --I think they said I snorkled. They were believed. I was moved to an Italian purser's cabin. He slept during the day when I was at work, & v-versa. One or two funny if not scandalous incidents. In retrospect of course e/thing is hilarious, vast comedy of life. Even at the time I was watching over my own shoulder so to speak --being a writer you see and my Nobel prize not too far away...


January 7, '14

 The more I think about KILL YOUR DARLINGS the more I like it... truth is you have to check things out yrself however persuasive friends & critics!

I've been thinking about the historical settings & references : The World at WAR, so the film is its gigantic footnote? thus 'existentialism'... The War crucial threshold of change... not necessarily refusing the call to arms but simultaneously accepting the call to LIFE, and of one's own order... the wackier the better! that is, backing yr own call...


January 6, '14

Well, whaddayaknow! Saw Kill Your Darlings at the Nova in Carlton this afternoon and was captivated. Intriguing story. Contrary to what Ive heard around the traps, mostly re- the inadequacy of Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, found the film psychologically coherent, soundly based in the literature. For my money, Kerouac's The Sea Is My Brother corroborates the merchant marine signing-up scene, tho Lucian [Carr] is the extra dimension contributed by the film. Still thinking it through. Yep, excellent.
 I accepted the characterizations, the actors melded with originals... Dane DeHaan's Lucian Carr as beautiful memerising boy, pent with desire & imagining, recalls for me people I met along our young way (let's say younger way since it's not done with yet --and not just the tearing, waring manuscripts of up to fifty years ago but the impulses, the heart & soul within) --which is the mark of --what? --the memorable --the mythic --template or archetype of life/of lives understood that way...
I saw Charles Buckmaster in Radcliffe's Ginsberg --imagine 17 years old --up to the big city --nervous, expectant, sensitive to all & everything --dear Charles in good suit, jacket, partly for employment, partly because he was poet embarking at last on adult career... Et cetera... A heartbreaking film from several vantages : Ginsberg & mother, Jennifer Jason Leigh's pathetically superb Naomi, "don't ever leave me"; even Michael Hall's David Kammerer, not at all one dimensional villain, but knew him in my own once-upon-a-time, the contradictory authoritarian & libertarian behaviour (to be the author, the director of the freedom : recipe for disaster if not to oneself then to others)... Much much more!


 Ralph Hadden's 2013 Bests prompts me again towards my own. Flicking through my journals for books, music, films, events. Just as it comes then, not distinguishing between first & re- reads.

Melvin Bragg's Francis Bacon interview/doco.
Diane Burrell & Chris Dench discs.
Incredible String Band movie (c/o Dave Ellison)
On the Road movie.
Ben Sidran discs.
Ian Hamilton Finlay selections (U of California press) introd Alec Finlay.
Lisa Gorton's Hotel Hyperion.
Sun Ra & His Arkestra.
The Rodriguez movie (c/o Cathy O').
David Caddy's Cycling after [Edward] Thomas and England.
Paul Blackburn's Pierre Vidal translations (c/o B H's library).
Ted And I : A Brother's Memoir by Gerald Hughes.
Ernest Hemingway By-Line : selected articles & dispatches.
Fiona Hile's Novelties.
Claire Potter's Swallow.
Lou Reed.
Shirley Clarke's Robert Frost documentary.
The African Queen.
Marion Taylor's Colmer's Hill [Dorset] : One Artist's Obsession (c/o B H gift).
Simon Warner's Text, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll (Bloomsbury).
Pete Spence's Kynetonbury Tales.
Valli Poole's A Box of Humming Birds.
Glenn Cooper's The Proportions of a Man.
Robert Kenny's Gardens of Fire (UWA press).
Simon Armitage's Walking Home : Travels with a Troubadoor On the Pennine Way.
John Kinsella's The Vision of Error (FIP).
Paul Summers' Primitive Cartography (Walleah Press).
Pine Torch by Ainslee Meredith.
Claire Gaskin's Paperweight.
David Morley's The Gypsy and the Poet (Carcanet).
Ken Trimble's Barking Mad Poems.
John Ashbery's Quick Sentences.
Jordie Albiston's Book of Ethel.
Christopher Heathcote's splendid articles on art & artists in Quadrant magazine.
I Thank You : Celebrating Tim Hemensley & the Powder Monkeys, at the Tote, Yarra Music Festival (21/7/13), cast of thousands including the Spazzies, Joel Silbersher, TJ, John Nolan, Adalita, Power Line Sneakers, Roman Tucker...
The Cherry Fest in AC/DC Lane (24/11/14) Powder Monkeys & guests, Hoss, The BellRays, Chris Wilson et al

and that's [not] all folks.....!


December 23, 2013

Watched concluding episode of Scorsese's Living In The Material World doco on George Harrison this evening. Quite a journey and reflective of many of our own generation's I suspect. Spiritual/metaphysical teasers like GH's concern as to how one "left this body". His (double?) sadness therefore at John Lennon's murder. Very interesting to me was the commentary from racing driver Jackie Stewart. Ditto, Eric Idle. The epitome of the "material world" --racing cars, films, music industry --intersecting with otherness --that old conceit of materiality exceeding itself, not that spiritual life doesnt have its own forms... GH on the mantra effect of My Sweet Lord, as though hypnotic repetitions... Great to see Shankar & the other Indian musicians... GH's commitment to almost everything, whatever the ostensible contradictions. I think we must all have drunk the same water!!! We'll play some Harrison & Shankar et al tomorrow... Anyone else catch this?


December 9, 2013

Great dream the other night : Sitting in train carriage with Tom Clark, couple of his friends, & Robert Kenny. He still looks very young ("still looks"? how would I know! --we ALL look very young whilst being who we are as of now!)-- I'm telling him how wonderful AND maddening it was to see his pic in Paris Review, his & Tom Pickard's, when we were teenagers, 20, inspiring for a 20 year old in gob-smacking way! We're having marvellous rave together when Robert says that he's aware the two people at other end of shared carriage-table arent saying anything, are excluded from the conversation. Theyre ok, man, says Tom, and I tend to agree-- Robert asks if anyone has a copy of Kant (any Kant? the Complete? Pure Reason?) --wants to open up the conversation so that others can join in! Tom says, this is getting heavy man --I say, putting a hand on Robert's arm & on Tom Clark's, look, we're serious people, Robert's the Australian PM's History prize winner & poet, and Tom as we know is past poetry editor of Paris Review and poet & biographer of Charles Olson etc, --of course we can be serious, but let's not get heavy, and Tom's right, I say to Robert, let's not get uptight --Which seems to help! That's right Tom says, let's loosen up! And we do!


December 5, 2013

A great pleasure to host Venie Holmgren this afternoon at the Collected Works Bookshop. The early (5pm) start, the unsettled weather, clash with other events (eg, Jenny Harrison at the Dax Centre), & the old out-of-towner hoodoo combined to restrict attendance. But bless Ricky Tanaka for transporting Venie down from Hepburn Springs & chaperoning her across town, and Ken Smeaton for enthusiastically introducing the poet & launching her book, The Tea House Poems. Ken recalled 1970s street poetry in Melbourne with Poor Thom & Venie, the living & literary importance of both of these to him. Venie corrected the SMH's attribution of 93 years to herself --she's only 91! I remember F T Prince telling me in the early '90s that he was probably England's oldest publishing poet --he was around 80 something at the time. He also said it got physically harder to write a poem let alone a book. Venie suggested this was her last book & last launching. One never knows though... She would have been welcome to read her entire little book; she probably did half. Lovely things, Japanese (haiku / tanka) style. We have a few copies now in stock. THANK YOU everyone who came for supporting a unique event.


November 5, 2013

Beautiful day for the Melbourne Cup. Yday Collected Works Bookshop & Mary's Maria's Beads and Trims (Formerly Maria George Pty Ltd) set up a table at top end of the hallway, overlooking Swanston Street. Champagne, cheese + biscuits, tzatziki dip, cup cakes. Watched the Cup Eve parade of champions (& their connections as they're fond of saying) in between popping back into respective shops for phone calls, customers. Today I think I'm heading down Abbotsford way, to the Yarra Hotel to imbibe the excitement amongst the rock'n'rollers. Place a bet en route. Nice chat with Ali Alizadeh , during y'day's toing & froing, in wch my champagne lubricated tongue wound its way around the tale of young Kris H's migrant's 1966 dinkum aussie Melbourne, via all the non-Anglo exiles of Europe needless to say, introduced to Moonee Valley & Olympic Park (dogs) in that Bohemian open house I'd landed up in, that surreal fearful amazing first season Down Under! Ali doesnt share my horse racing or indeed any other sporting delight but we did agree abt the magnificence of the horses! Hurrah & huzzah to all!


[typed up & published, 11th January, 2014]

Sunday, December 29, 2013


4th Day, Sunday January 29th, 2013, at the MCG

I was listening to the crackly radio commentary at the Shop when I clearly heard Aggers announce there'd be free entry at the MCG after the lunch interval. Nothing doing at the Shop so come 1-15 I decided to close up and hurry to the ground!
I'd enjoyed the stimulating morning session : breakfasting outdoors at cafe on Fed Square with perfect view of the Big Screen. Amusing pre-match (featuring Bret Lee's chart-busting Indian music clip) and then half an hour of the match. Two great dropped catches by Alistair Cook at first slip says it all. First faux pas was diving across the wickie (as he did in Perth), second was a dolly in & out of what the commentator called hard hands. Both drops off Broad's bowling who looked pissed off & when next ball Rogers lifted him for a boundary, defeated. Couldn't happen to a nicer chap.
Jumped onto MCG special on Flinders Street which took me to the Tennis Centre end quick smart. Up the stairs & over the bridge, walking fast so as not to miss anything of the precious little time left. Found a seat slightly to the left of the Southern Stand end though at first difficult to see exactly where I was. I used to watch my cricket from the Northern Stand, uncovered in those days, to the left  of the Members. It's a total make-over!
Enough for me to sit down & absorb the atmosphere. Streams of cricket(ing) memories upon me. Realized I was sat next to four English gents, northern accents, subdued as they came to grips with their inevitable defeat.
The scene unfroze with crashing boundaries from Chris Rogers for his ton followed by Shane Watson for his fifty! Got to my feet to applaud with 35,000 others (40 thousand with the free entrants)… Barmy Army to the right of me, quiet all of a sudden. Forty-odd to win, not too much to shout about for the English now. Taciturn English follower's voice : "hope that'll shut them up for good now!"
Mexican wave surges around the ground, and --like the old days --the Members stand is booed for non-participation though a few of them had joined in!
Ben Stokes to Rogers --effortless cut for 4. Wayward heave by Rogers, makes no contact. It's as if he wouldn't mind going out right then to give Clarke a knock. And why not? Clarke's been the little general throughout.
Monty Panesar on from the Members End. As he prepares I recall sitting in the Southern Stand watching Steve Waugh batting against the West Indies --his wonderful steadying innings, so strong & straight.
Panesar bowls a gentle over, just turning his arm. And then it happens as I predicted --Rogers snicks to the wickie and Clarke's in! Rogers clapped all the way off. Wonderful innings, ironically an English innings...
Clarke & Watson approach one another as they do a little gardening, prodding bats into the wicket, basically sharing the joy of their triumphant situation…
Clarke is simply keeping the ball out, content to be there in the middle. (And how weird is the spider-cam, crazy sci-fi interjection in this ultimately traditional sport.)
Clarke demonstrates the most delicate of glances for a single. Watson repeats the
shot but with
power. A boundary, followed with full flowing straight heave. And then a great straight drive which Pietersen (looks like) fails to stop. As though he didn't really try (the story of his game)?
At the drinks break Australia have 16 runs to win. Opportunity to survey the ground --only by being here does one actually appreciate the colosseum it's become, which doesn't for one second diminish the electrifying atmospheres of Tests in the '70s when I was a regular at the MCG (Sheffield Shield & Tests)…
Stokes bowling to Clarke. A flashing cut for 4 which one applauds for its artistry, and then the big screen announces his 8000th Test run. Standing ovation only slightly less than those for Rogers' century & Watson's fifty. Something about the moment's excellence as compared to the greater statistics.
Twelve runs to win! Panesar to bowl what could be the final over!
After lusty hit by Watson, Clarke defends. He hasn't been in long enough to get away with anything. Clarke thinks : leave it to Watson…
Bresnan replaces Stokes at the Southern stand end. Watson hooks it high but two Englishmen contrive to mess up the catch. The cricket gods are smiling : it would have been an inglorious end to a good innings. Now Watson repeats the hit but straight this time. 4. Then a silly shot with 5 to win as though a 6 were desired! No need, no need! Another silly shot for a single.
Clarke requires a 4. He defends. Over!
Watson wants the big boundary --cant help himself!
Panesar fields badly off his own bowling --it's the story of the match. A single stolen. Another single through the fielder's hands.
Two runs to win.
Watson's hefty sweep for 4 and it's done.
All stand again, including the four elderly Englishmen inside of my row. Win lose or draw it's the way it's done. Around us the stands erupt. A chant of "4 Nil" starts up. When the Sydney Test starts the chant will be "5 Nil".
Walked around from the Southern to the Northern stand soaking it up.
Outside in the sunshine, welcome after the cool of the covered sections of the MCG, stop before the evocative bowling Shane Warne statue. Visitors posing for photos. Then join the crowds streaming out of the Park, --to Jolimont Station and, standing-room-only, home...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

JOHN KINSELLA'S "THE VISION OF ERROR : A Sextet of Activist Poems"

LAUNCH SPEECH for John Kinsella's THE VISION OF ERROR : A Sextet of Activist Poems (Five Islands Press, Melbourne), given November 20th, 2013, Visual Cultures Resources Centre, John Medley Building, University of Melbourne

[The italicised section below was conceived &/or drafted but omitted from the speech


The words & thoughts in my head, when I began this take on John Kinsella's new collection, The Vision of Error : A Sextet of Activist Poems (Five Islands Press),  included such things as a line by Jack Clarke (one of Olson's students & friends, from the Institute of Further Studies in upstate New York) : "I want all my learning to go into this one" --a classic temptation!
[And I thought of Kinsella as similar to Richard Grossinger, introduced as prodigy to the yet kicking New American Poetry by Robert Duncan ca 1970, and whose one man band attracted & awed 40 years ago as he virtually created his own curriculum…
And thinking of JK as an international poet/figure, I serendipitously came upon the references to him from Harold Bloom & Paul Kane in Cassandra Atherton's In So Many Words : Interviews with Writers, Scholars and Intellectuals (ASP, '13); one of only a handful of Australian writers recognised overseas…
The Political Imagination issue of Southerly magazine (Vol 73, #1, '13), which had already fired me up, seemed a relevant context for JK; paradoxically, given my objections to the former how explain my accepting the brief to usher into the world his new collection? Incidentally, despite appearing to be a prime candidate for such a context, Kinsella's not included in that symposium...
Shirley Clarke's portrait of Robert Frost, made in 1962, seen during the Shirley Clarke season of documentaries at ACMI in Melbourne, October '13, was also strongly in mind regarding the discussion of the public if not political role of the poet in, more or less, our time…]
And from a first flick through the book in hand, p114, in the Hero section,

Our four-year-old, in the delirium
of fever, said: 'Dad, write a poem
to make them stop, to stop
them tearing down the tree'.
He has more faith in poetry

and people than I have,
though I'd like to honour his wish.

Finally, regarding his version of Milton's Comus, JK offered that this work is "tormented by its own celebration --the tension is in the need for constraint, a fear that the darkness of humanity will overwhelm the telling of the tale." --ditto, this collection too (perhaps). ]

So I started doodling, noodling, reading here & there--for example, Harsh Hakea (p9) --

This morning, to fire the day, a large golden fox
sprinted the fenceline along the reserve. Watched
by me, perched on the largest granites. Left be.

Instead of the natural or conventional observational authority, whereby "I" would have watched the fox --how would it go? -- : "This morning, to fire the day, a large golden fox / sprinted the fenceline along the reserve. Perched / on the largest granites, I watched it. Left it be." --And nothing wrong with that at all as poem. But instead of that, Kinsella has it : "Watched / by me, perched on the largest granites. Left be." --which maintains fox as arbiter --after all it is the golden fox that 'fires the day' --even though one understands the human watcher mediates it, --but so gently --sublimates normal authority to the fox's activity, as though fox & day is the superior relationship. The syntax facilitates the lovely rhyme (as rhyme can be lovely) --"by me" at the beginning of the line & "left be" at the end. Given Kinsella's philosophy, this begs the question as to whether "watching" isn't of the same terrible order of things an anarchist (& poet as natural anarchist) could also indict. And this is a book of many indictments.

Change tack.

I recall a conversation with Tasmanian poet James Charlton at Collected Works Bookshop, in the '90s. We were discussing other poets, as poets always do. It transpired neither of us were, or were any longer, ruffled by the supposed sins attributed to our more newsworthy friends & colleagues, and didn't particularly care for the kind of mischievous commentary that does the rounds --knocking off the 'tall poppies', older figures like Murray, Tranter, Gray, Adamson & younger ones --John Kinsella criticised for prolific writing & publishing --too young, too much, that sort of thing --And Anthony Lawrence for something or other --swank & swagger? --I cant remember. And after we'd shared memories of meetings &/or dealings with either of them, James said : Well, you look after John & I'll look after Anthony! Heaven forbid gross patronage & egotism be attributed since we only meant that we, who'd come of age in the '60s & '70s, could hold & critically embrace those young tyros only born around that time. (Such 'looking after' relates to one's sense of nurturing in the literary culture; a nurturing which of course includes resistance…)

Now it is true that John Kinsella has published forty-odd books --indeed it would have been perfect if this collection from Five islands Press, The Vision of Error : A Sextet of Activist Poems were his fiftieth --his fiftieth book in his fiftieth year! Even greater symmetry : Englishman in Australia launches Australian in England's fiftieth book in the poet's fiftieth year! But further to the 'writing too much' problem : I remember how screamingly funny we found Gilbert Sorrentino's  description, in his novel The Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, of the  rampantly fecund Robert Kelly writing a novel in his bath before breakfast! --funny because without wanting to side with Blake's 'destroyers' one's beholden to the restrained if not repressed psychology &, therefore, culture, which many of us were schooled in, thus the occurrence of over-careful & even timid attitude & style. Yet most creative practitioners would love to have the publishers queuing up, as indeed they seem to do for JK's writings. If it was a single & simply defined audience, there'd be more point to the criticism Kinsella receives. But that's not, or is no longer, the case. John Kinsella's publishers & publications are literally all over the place --different types of writing, different kinds of publication.

Five Islands Press's author's bio notes Armour (published by Picador) & Jam Tree Gully (Norton) as recent publications. But as or more recent is his collaboration with Niall Lucy (the co-dedicatee, with Tracy Ryan, of this book) in The Ballad of Moon Dyne Joe (FACP), & the collaboration with Forest Gander, Redstart : An Ecological Poetics (published by University of Iowa Press). Now, Redstart is particularly apropos for both essayistic style & content & for its caveats, for example from Kinsella's Note on Ecopoetics (which might yet characterise The Vision of Error) : "I have grave doubts that an 'ecopoetics' can be anything but personal. And a luxury that few have…" / "In reaching a desire to record one's own coordinates in a damaged ecology, an ecology trying to cope, I realise how much of the data of background is contrary to any idea of 'nature'. There's some grim stuff in there. Most of our own biographies have grim stuff. Place is about event as much as location. place is interstice. Place is also a reckoning of intrusion and damage and the labeling of forces (greed, security, self and communal empowerment, spiritual materialism) that seem adverse to the health of a biodiversity…" Redstart in its register might be the reflective half of the project which bursts into the rattier, testier, aktion of The Vision of Error ("activist poems" after all)!

Thinking all this or about this, I was suddenly reminded of Olson's Projective Verse essay, which one read in the '60s, in Melbourne, before the super highway to Buffalo or San Francisco or Cambridge,UK for that matter --and not the typewriter as stave or the head, ear, syllable / heart, breath, line passages but this from the essay's second part, how the human "conceives his relation to nature, that force to which he owes his somewhat small existence. If he sprawl he shall find little to sing but himself [we understand : nudge, nudge Walt Whitman]… But if he stays within himself, if he is contained within his nature as he is participant in the larger force, he will be able to listen, and his hearing through himself will give him secrets objects share [this is predicated upon Olson's understanding of objectivism, "the getting rid of the lyrical interference of the individual as ego, of the 'subject' and his 'soul'" etc] --Olson continues, "For a man's problem the moment he takes speech up in all its fullness is to give his work his seriousness, a seriousness sufficient to cause the thing he makes to try to take its place alongside the things of nature…"

An aside : that the basic difference between the Olson poetic & Kinsella, or between Kinsella & any number of others, is political, philosophical, and might all reduce to the fact that War is not his father (after Heraclitus) --he doesn't seem to politically accept the life & death cycle he's caught in for he suffers for want of equanimity but will not, like Robinson Jeffers, "go down the dinosaurs' way" before trying all possible alternatives…

Addressing The Vision of Error one cant help but address the poet as per his accumulated production, his massive & multivalent project, and his international reputation current as he is in Australia, the British Isles & the USA. Do we read it or read John Kinsella in it? --tracking him, as apparently one can do with a wrist-banded felon, a micro-chipped dolphin or Tasmanian devil or an English badger?

The Vision of Error may have begun its adventure as the inversion, The Error of Vision --second-guessing the common assumption that 'seeing' is most of the poet's calling --from Whitmanesque journalism to anything from the portmanteau of soothsaying, that which'll always 'walk beside you'… And 'seeing' might be named the apparent --the 'apparent' only ever what seems to be so --and the real, the harder quality which coagulates as quantity… Poet in this space (this head-space &/or physical environment) committed to a speaking which flies in the face of the assumptions. But The Vision of Error it is, and poet here will call the shots --will catalogue crime & calumny --weave it into a hair-shirt, knot it into a cat o'nine tails…

On p19, state-of-the-world diatribe, "Try living / here, you collaborating wankers / who vox populi niche markets, / stereotypical beatings of prisoners, / the bullies who make / semi-useful foot soldiers." is juxtaposed (grand simile) with esoteric lit-crit cum biog : "Please place on my grave, "he resisted , / and wasn't hoodwinked by the lyric or its digressions, remouthings / or retextings. Not by epics, / nor damned elegies." --Kinsella here, the postmodernist hussar whose juxtaposition clearly elides all human acts within the pessimistic register of the Fall. Poet therefore (& there's poetry aplenty in these poems --beautiful alliterative & onomatopoeic runs, wild & wacky imagery) --whose ability to articulate outrage cannot for a second earn favour or furlough. Po-mo mix & match : bellicose pamphleteering and exquisite permutating of sound & sense --same difference within world's valedictory. No wonder James Joyce is inscribed very early in the piece : (p11) "HARSH hake // what blossom coveted by spikes / whose calling? Flower/blossoms, / I know no Anna nor fallings into line / cause precedent matters sublime river pocks / bonding drain and gutter, though round rain sounds / anna anna anna falling into a bright new tank, we / will drink a river, we will gurgle our puns, / giraffe;…"  Again on p61, "And so, I turn to St Augustine's Confessions / and the isles of the I declaimed through ontology / and a singular perfection manifest as core / of Western self-narrative, as Baby Tuckoo / or the resplendent self-damnation of Rousseau…"

What we read in The Vision of Error is the eternal if not infernal battle of the citizen, advocate, political-activist and the witness, artist, poet --and their ameliorations understood; the eternal battle between the urges of graffiti and the surges of literature --and their ameliorations understood; the eternal battle of action & reflection, of mortal living & immortal art, of infinite imagination & limited body-world --and their ameliorations understood…

I declare The Vison of Error : A Sextet of Activist Poems hereby launched!



*The mesostic, a la John Cage, on p31, spelling SOLVENCY IS MUTE, probably not the poet's/poem's secret habitat or even the secret to habitat, though it could be!
I recently heard 'solvent' mentioned on a news report about a variety of the drug GBH, and also know it as a term in the world of corporate finance. But the book does carry secrets if one accepts FIP's promo that "John Kinsella lays down his vision of an urgent and uncompromising poetics and politics of land…" 

For instance, let's follow his God trail :

(p17) "maybe it's only the shape, choreography / of praying we're interested in;"
(pp35) "I need to participate, / I need the risk of being struck, / burnt to a crisp / by lightning, this devotion that forgets God / in the rush…"
(p36) "I pray compulsively, / always just before sleep and again if I wake during the night / in case I forgot before sleep"
(p65) "God is fable is duty"
(p75) "Religion is a technology"

And family :

several invocations of his son Tim;
wife (p37) "it's not order I look for in Tracy's eyes"
brother Stephen (p54);
(pp55/56) "Tracy locates the vanquished house's ache / by the fruit tree stubs, introduced like water towers, / tarred seams opening - Gleneagle, alongside / Kinsella Road, where sixty-year-old pines / were recently harvested and new plantings inculcated"

And language :

(p9) Jumping from died-and-reborn York gums to "The dead have been gathering. / And, to be frank, accruing. / They are phenomenally heavy, / like self-doubt or self-belief "
(p14) another grand simile : "Mispronunciation is a joy as great as fog / and fog lifting in tears…"
(p19) "You see, there's no getting away from sentences / all places visited, been, occupied, / even / passed /thru. // Says something about reading. / Maps and diaries not kept. / / Artifacts are not something / I need to create."
(p22) "Psychedelia is my trap. I watched wooden / finches fly and hid from spiders in a nun's / closet --that's my biography told by the / outside myself self."

--diaristic, solipsistic (not that there's anything wrong with that), poet talking to himself…

(p89) "Maybe you need to know [Paul] Goodman precedes with 'Language /
is behaviour' …


Regarding headspace & physical environment : Imagine Husserl ("perception is environment") & Jung ("mind is matter"), tapping their white canes around the poet's tripping feet…


(p17) "I will learn to block out my shifts in body chemistry and reception theory / that undo the way I see" : as if natural seeing & telling were his standpoint rather than political shirt-fronting finessed with science --'objectivity' sufficient to render the lyrical porous if not specious. But I'm not convinced --undoing seeing, a la John Berger, is the blinder Kinsella seeks to play here, despite categorical anxieties, --politics & philosophy's tectonic plates squeezing, squashing, ructioning poetry…


I had thought Jack Clarke's line [quoted in launch speech above] was "I want all my knowledge to go into this one" and that it occurred in one of the sonnets, The End of This Side (Black Book, Ohio, 1979). However, I've found it isnt one of the sonnets at all but the poem The Stance We Inhabit Predisposes Our Dimension, published in the John Clarke issue of Duncan McNaughton's Fathar magazine (Buffalo, NY, June '71). And the key word is 'learning' not 'knowledge', notwithstanding a certain convergence of the reader & doer, library & world within that practice. And so it all comes back --the era of poetry & research on the wing of Olson, --and Olson dying in 1970, then George Butterick in '88, five months after Robert Duncan, & then Jack Clarke himself (1992) --of which I heard with a shock, ditto Butterick --poets I'd corresponded with, published --felt all over again as I googled for information… And what then of John Thorpe & Duncan McNaughton? Where are they now? Too many years spent in other circles, I'm embarrassed by my absence but, because of the focus upon John Kinsella, am serendipitously returned!
I quote Jack's poem here :


as the sun coincides with the heart
I want all my learning to go into
this one & leaps across the Pacific
at a known spot just North of the
Solomons I am reminded it was I who
refused to believe you would join
me in the Rose garden & was wanting
proof of that Future which never
thus comes being thrust deeper into
the past which is its burden to
overcome the moment I saw that I'd
never be a True Scientist until
I believed absolutely you had not gone over
to the King of Death but had stayed
to feed me raisons and grains and
black strap molasses for iron for
energy to combat Depression so that
the only cold I had all winter was
this one from Friday to Sunday the
Day of the Equinox



[Typed up 21/27 November, '13
Kris Hemensley]