Sunday, November 9, 2014



Ive signed & inscribed it "from Retta, Myer's sale, Feb. 68" --amazement & glee when she presented Gary Snyder's little book, Myths & Texts, to me. Avant-garde hunter gatherers in them thar days. The shining lights of the New Writing ever in our sights. Golden season of Franklin's bookshop in Russell Street throughout '66, first year of my emigration, when every visit turned up something --a paperback Kerouac, Holmes or Brossard, Broyard, Cassil, Mandel (a hardback), Salinger, Mailer et al… And continued after I met Loretta, --through '67, '68, all & any of the many Melbourne bookshops --Gaston Renard, the Russian Bookshop, Cheshires, the Anchorage, --but Franklin's by far the best 2nd hander…

In February '68 I'm in the lap of luxury having been let go by the Education Department (Technical Division), advised before end of term, December '67, that I wouldn't be re-employed at Williamstown Tech after the summer holiday, yet fully paid for the entire period! Friends told me to go to the Teachers Union and fight it. The Union said it was a strange case since a sacking before end of school year normally meant no holiday wages at all. Unless I seriously wanted a teaching career they advised me to take the money & run!  I'd known from the moment I set foot at Williamstown Tech that the Principal couldn't handle my looks or my books --long hair in a pony tail, poetry anthologies & anarchist tracts --and the Teachers Union anti-conscription petition I pinned up on the staff notice-board the last straw --unless it was the cricket match I unilaterally abandoned (defacto sports master & umpire in addition to my English & Social Studies brief) when one team's Anglo-Australian boys and the Greeks & others of the opposition attacked each other with bats & stumps --'race riot' as I declared it, occasioned by the Greeks belting the Aussies around the park, wielding cricket bats as though baseball clubs, not guarding their wicket, no technique, solely eye & instinct… Next day at the staff meeting, a more liberal minded teacher than most, a literary man, Tennessee Williams enthusiast, interceded in my castigation. If Mr H agreed, he said, he'd gladly cane the perpetrators, beat some respect into them! Culture & race had nothing to do with it, discipline was the key, he said!

Another teacher I occasionally spoke to, Mrs Brass, sympathised with me about the incident. Over the years I've thought her husband was the journalist Douglas Brass because of their shared name and memory of her reading & discussing articles in The Australian for which he was a columnist, but it isn't so.  Additionally Ive found her on the Web described as teaching at Williamstown High, so perhaps she was only temporarily at the Tech school. Like me she wasn't trained but hired on interview in that uncredentialed era. Ruth Brass was from Germany and if we spoke in the staff-room I'm sure my friendship with Inge Timm & visiting her in Soest, Westphalia in '65 would have cropped up. She was connected with the Goethe Institute in Melbourne and the thought begins to percolate that late '70s, when Walter Billeter introduced me to its splendid library, I may have talked to her there and perhaps brought up our earlier Williamstown connection!

Peter Norman was my head of humanities, an athlete, to whom I told the story of visiting the great Percy Cerutty at his famous Portsea training camp, under the wing of my friend Kelvin Bowers, British middle-distance junior champion, whom I'd met on the migrant boat in '66, & who'd been invited to train there. I remember Peter as often around the corridor in track suit as in shirt & tie. I probably thought he was quicker on his feet than tongue. I'd picked up he was Christian and though he generally agreed with my anti-war politics, didn't sign the anti-conscription petition. I was appalled. Only a year later imagine the surprise when I saw my regular-guy colleague in the Black Power protest on the hundred metres medal podium at the Mexico City Olympics?  A la Spike Milligan, had I played a part in the Aussie sprinter's radicalisation? Nah!  That was the era and zeitgeist impossible to buck, or what?

I'd've been home in my tiny rented terrace cottage in Canning Street, Carlton, next to the all-night thumping of the bakery and its permanent bread-dough aroma, almost suffocating in mid-summer, the bread smells trapped in the airless heat. I'm typing poems or letters, being paid by the Education Department essentially to sit on my arse, read, study, be a poet, when Loretta came in with her prize! Perhaps I'm psyching myself up to fulfil the curtain-raiser for Michael Hudson's production of Peter Schumann's Bread & Puppet Theatre at the La Mama cafe-theatre around the corner in Faraday Street, Betty Burstall's good idea to justify the night's billing of such a short play, and redeemed she was when our poetry began pulling an audience in its own right. It  grew another leg when Bill Beard joined me, so that Mike's Bread & Puppet appeared to be supporting us!  But here it is, my God, Gary Snyder's Myths & Texts, published by Corinth Books, "in conjunction with Totem Press/Le Roi Jones" --wow-ee! What on earth was it doing, engulfed by bad popular fiction, romance, thrillers, on a sale table in the book department of Melbourne's flagship department store? The only copy, the only poetry book! What were the odds that Retta should find it? Incredible!



On misty, damp, after-rain morning, writing as I stand in doorway section of smooth-running stop-all-stations train from the 'Garth & Creek's quasi rurality into the Big Smoke, surrounded by pleasant hum of commuter small-talk --like I'm Walt & not Gary Snyder, subject of the memorandum I'm heading to, --Walt & not Gary, definitively, because in Gary's poetry the daily milieu is foil or natural context but its candour never so grown & substantially remarked as in Walt's inexhaustible ledger, small glint of which is mine here --and plainly isn't the point of it, isn't his ideology,  like Walt's Song of this and Song of that, determined to include everyone & everything within the call's special ring, like an auctioneer in Kentucky or, nodding back through the years to my sister Monique who sent me its postcard, the Appleby Horse Fair, long long ways as these may be from Camden, New Jersey --hoo! Gary, hoo!


And chatting with Chris Wallace-Crabbe one morning in the Shop, on his way over the river to the William Blake exhibition at the NGV, --bright as a button, dapper as Barry Humphries --in response to his polite question about reading &/or writing, --Snyder I said, and searched for the right word to describe him --irony? no, --separateness? exclusivity?  --And though we're all carried by Walt's democratic ebullience, this civic ecstasy not expected in Snyder contrary to an image perhaps preceding him? --because Snyder is found in singleness, singularity, singing also but to distinguish not occlude --each natural jewel of rain sun forest (--this is some conversation! ) --I just happen to be supervising a student in Snyder at the moment he says --laugh : let's tutor him/her together, I say! -- What I like, I say, is the simultaneity of American & Japanese --Chinese, Californian, Chris adds laughing --

But stay with the double outline, the casual slippage of ancient & modern, registered as here & now --no more arcane than acorns are --seamless  collage --logger, Marxist, Wobbly, hitch-hiker. folklorist, Native-American, Chinese, Japanese, Buddhist, lover, shaman --

"Bodhidharma sailing the Yangtze on a reed
Lenin in a sealed train through Germany
Hsuan Tsang, crossing the Pamires
Joseph, Crazy Horse, living the last free
starving high-country winter of their tribes.
Surrender into freedom, revolt into slavery--
Confucius no better--
(with Lao-tzu to keep him in check)
"Walking about the countryside
all one fall
To a heart's content beating on stumps
." [from part 6, Burning; Myths & Texts, 1952-56]---

Snyder, --like at Collingwood Farm I told Chris, drawing the cabbage with two pencils in my hand, the blurs outlining instant contradiction, adding dimension, so is our subject all-over, all-around, always, expressed as the simultaneity of alternating here & now -- 


1968 reading Myths & Texts same age as when Snyder began writing it. What accomplishment, teens & twenties! --especially as the post WW2 generations become younger, suspended by personal prosperity/social welfare in new norm cotton wool adolescence. Reading Snyder, there's no discount for youth -- realise Snyder is as Snyder does, was ever who he is --which is how one appreciates all notable & memorable writing in the retrospect one never thought twice about at the start of it. Not that '60s reading was at the beginning of anything other than that season of English & Australian youth's education. But if only for Myths & Texts, Snyder could uncontroversially have qualified for Robert Duncan's class-roll, The Lasting Contribution of Ezra Pound (Agenda vol 4, no 2, 1965), wonderful to read in Melbourne in '68 --describing the importance in the late '40s, early '50s, of Pound & Williams in opening "the way for a group of younger writers --Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Larry Eigner, Paul Blackburn, Gael Turnbull, Theodore Enslin, Cid Corman and myself --who were concerned with immediacy and process in the development of their poetics." Pound & Williams are unambiguously sounded by Snyder --and the only magpie would be seen & heard along what's become his very own way, killing the Buddha at every bend.


Walking/working backwards from his influence --on Franco Beltrametti's Nadamas for instance --I cant put my hand on the chapter he published (his own & Judith Danciger's translation) in the Grosseteste Review, '72, so refer to the section I published in Earth Ship #10/11 (Southampton, August, '72, just prior to returning to Melbourne), summed up in this sentence : "Here we are again in the  swing of the events following each other always more rapidly so that you don't have to be interested if they overlap or ride over one another." As Beltrametti so Snyder --the absolute presence of the narrative, no progression only what's current, and time passing's subsumed within the concurrence or simultaneity. Beltrametti's 'additional handwritten poem' in the signed edition of Face to Face (Grosseteste Review Books, 1973) makes the same call :

"reckonings don't come even
roughly on the same latitude as
Seville / Richmond / Wichita / Nigata /
Seoul / Askhabad
from one carob tree
to the next"


And though Snyder's Myths & Texts does 'contain history' after Pound, Williams' grafting (for example the young feller Ginsberg's correspondence included in  Paterson, which serves to bless the incidental with the historical) is a propos --real bits of world, documents, quotation, letters as they come, as world comes, observed, overheard, perceived. (No reason to be peeved, if he really was, when his own stuff landed up in Kerouac's Dharma Bums. Material is material and the private subordinate to a larger literary good?) All of which suggests the fluidity or openness of the poem as the measure of experience yet the Snyder poem is also composed --much more of a made poem, confirmed by standard capitalisation & lineation, than the rangy field-work of the first poems of Mountains & Rivers Without End which chronologically follow Myths & Texts.


What to say of his Jewish joke not quite lost in the anti-Christian jibe :

"Them Xtians out to save souls and grab land
'They'd steal Christ off the cross
if he wasn't nailed on'
The last decent carpentry
Ever done by Jews."
[from Logging, section 10, Myths & Texts]?

Sure, Snyder's target is both bible-bashing colonialism and the theologically guaranteed human dominion over nature, the bete noire of the ecological philosophy & politics he champions. An example of casual anti-semitism maybe, and only funny within it.  Sure, hearsay, quoted speech, but seamless in Snyder's drawl-scrawl, his droll-scroll…


P. S. : Rip Rap

Permit mind blown in the fatal collision of wilderness & industrial civilisation --"I cannot remember things I once read / A few friends, but they are in cities." Consider the few days between worlds, and all gone that other one --and what another one "Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup / Looking down for miles / Through high still air."  --what room for anything else when this other imposes such permanence that the very notion of contrast shrivels, no register except "caught on a snow peak / between heaven and earth" --except the lad is a scientist, can unsentimentally state "in ten thousand years the Sierras / will be dry and dead, home of the scorpion." And the Milton he's pulled out of his ruck-sack's (as last of August light extended by camp-fire's) "Too dark to read". Hah! --pun into blackguard Milton aka Western dramaturgy, --but as though autobiography, Cold Mountain's just the place to slough off "Damn me a fool last night in port drunk on the floor & damn / this cheap trash we read. Hawaiian workers shared us / beer in the long wood dredgemen's steel-men's girl-less / night drunk and gambling hall, called us strange sea- / men blala and clasped our arms and sang real Hawaiian songs " ---Ah, right royal navvy's days & nights…


In Rip Rap's 50th Anniversary edition there's long footnote apology for a phrase in the poem, For A Far-Out Friend. He confesses it's earned him flack over the years but now it's time to clarify. "Because once I beat you up / Drunk, stung with weeks of torment / And saw you no more", was an untruth right from the start he explains. She was the violent one, not he. "She started beating on me in some anger and I let her whack me (protesting) till I got her into the car. (….) I thought that saying I'd hit her was the more manly, or even gentlemanly, thing to say, an idea that comes from chivalry, perhaps. I never laid an ungentle hand on her. My critics, especially my colleague Sandra Gilbert, have said that there is no excuse for treating violence against women casually, and they are absolutely right. This note seems the best way to deal with the problem rather eliminate the poem or change the line in silence." Hmmm. Didn't want to change the original poem he says but bows now to feminist pressure and seeks to 'explain'…There you go. But surely, what's good for the goose is good for the gander? Snyder evidently doesn't blush for the "kulak" reference describing farmers & landowners in one of his much admired Han Shan translations, Cold Mountain poem # 16.

"Cold Mountain is a house / Without beams or walls. / The six doors left and right are open / The hall is blue sky. / The rooms are all vacant and vague / The east wall beats on the west wall / At the centre nothing. // Borrowers don't bother me / In the cold I build a little fire / When I'm hungry I boil up some greens. / I've got not use for the kulak / With his big barn and pasture - / He just sets up a prison for himself. / Once in he cant get out. / Think it over -- / You know it might happen to you."

'Kulak's traditional meaning is "a tight-fisted person"; "a peasant wealthy enough to own farm and hire labour" (Concise Oxford). But it's inextricable from the vicious Soviet connotation. This term from the Stalinist lexicon refers to as wicked a pogrom as any in the USSR, its horror & madness if anything magnified when the attitude was inherited by Maoist China. What did Snyder intend? "You know it might  happen to you" a little more sinister than a comment on personal salvation? Simplest & kindest to say that in the '50s, as a young man of the left, revolting against the American way, he's amenable & acquiescent to leftist gloat and a say-what-I-like macho glib… Fiftieth anniversary or not, time's ripe, methinks, for more clarification of such hot & cold war attitudes & language… The Right is unfailingly called to proper account for its reflections of Fascism & Naziism, but the Left hardly at all for its toeing the line of iron fist Communism, Stalinism, Maoism and whatever flows on through contemporary Socialist reflexes & assumptions…

The older & younger survivors of the ideological storms are we, especially as the poets we're able to be… Time to be poets & not suckers & saps… hoo! hoo! hoo!

[7/10-10-14 (4-11-14)]


P-P. S

The issue of what is or isn't 'politically correct' is prickly enough in the present day. And there's a greater problem with the retrospective judgement of previous generations, earlier societies & epochs, according to contemporary attitude & belief, and not least because the legitimation of such attribution implies a standard set, unchanging through time. This installs the progressivist depiction of human affairs as the only one, coacervate, indeed, with history itself. On the other hand, reform & repudiation of atrocious acts is generally laudable & necessary. I guess expression, whether or not literary or artistic, being what is held, spoken, depicted, is rightly personal --eccentrically formed, not legislative whatever its aspiration. So the  question I ask of Garry Snyder is as reader-writer of a colleague poet, though he be exemplary, & one who hasn't confined his work to the literary domain. If you like, when reader-writer addresses another it's poetry & literature of which the question is asked, asked whatismore within & behalf of poetry & literature.


Friday, October 31, 2014



'In the midst of' though not quite, for instance walk to Clifton Hill station to catch train to the City, quick smart through waiting-room, past groups of Cats supporters, bedecked in blue & white scarves & bonnets, onto train to sit a few seats behind black & yellow swathed Tigers fans, and reminded instantly of growing up in England, die hard follower of the Saints in football & speedway, qualified thus as a local, at last graduating from a kind of emigre family's uninvolvement, yet no more connected than that… All the fans alight at Jolimont-MCG for their big game. Saw the huge flood-lights from a station or two before the famous destination, as ever outside looking in…

Similarly in England, first years of home visits after the Exile which twelve continuous years in Oz created… Vicarious for want of belonging, the experience defined as "Ghost" --an invisible man in the middle of jumpin' seaside town. Tried on Dorset accent once as I intersected transaction between gypsy posy vendor & holiday-maker, yet remained unremarked as though unheard, unseen… But it's the writing which delivers me from the nebulous arrangement. In Melbourne I become poet of the Delphi cafe or the Elwood Beach kiosk, in Weymouth poet of the Old Harbour or Radipole Lake --poet of the place the writing makes. Become person --feet on solid ground, head rocking through a very particular air --why wouldn't it riffle reeds, bobble viscous water, prick hot cheeks emerging from The Boot's close atmosphere --loaded with one or another of Ringwood Brewery's traditional beers, primarily Old Thumper but nothing wrong with Fortyniner, even the Best Bitter or, for a complete change of taste, the Guinness…

[4th May,'14 (July, '14)]


Take your chances in Young & Jackson's main bar since this time the side bar's too cramped & Twilight Zone-ish, if you know what I mean, like the one arm bandits bar at the Clocks on Princes Bridge, last section of which overlooks the river, not only society's flotsam & jetsam but Time's. In the main bar, plenty of room by the taps to order & peaceably wait. It's Guinness so that's hardly loose talk. Young Gurkha who serves me is yet to acclimatise. It won't be long he says. But at Y & J' s you pays your money & happily wait.

NRL on the big screen, Rugby League's halftime rap, which then reverts to Aussie Rules, Gold Coast Suns vs Sydney Swans. The camera only has eyes for Ablett, class act of the competition, picked out for merely breathing, gold dusted, shimmering in the winter sunshine, like the woman suddenly alongside me, not drinking but studying the screen, in her own space, and truth is I'd noticed her when I bought my Guinness, sitting high on a stool she was, at the long table at the top of the bar, distinctive blond hair escaping brown cowboy hat. Then I'm aware of brown coat long to her ankle boots & her unflinching self-containedness. And at last the Guinness has risen, the beautiful long drop, full bodied, cream on top.

In a way this fraction of a session is compensation for not finding either Michael Hartnett's or Peter Fallon's poems on the Irish shelves at the Shop, urged on me by Libby Hart one Thursday afternoon which was confirmation of the feeling growing in me for Irish writing but also Scottish, anything not English, which comes upon me from time to time, the marvellous resource it is, like Guinness. I'd come in, extra-mural, for the Gary Snyder I'd forgotten there & needed at home to work with. Found the Snyder at once but wandered over to the Irish section like a kid in a  candy store, alone among the books. No individual collection, as I say, but some Hartnett translation of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, yet enough of an eyeful to boost the image of the impending drink at Y & J's! Hurried down the stairs of the Nicholas building, onto the chocka Swanston Street, through the blue sky chill which may as well be the same cut piercing t-shirt & jumper as accosts you in the England I remember or the Ireland Libby had talked about.

Entered the bar with the Hartnett translations from the Gaelic in my shoulder bag and straight into the pint thought of all the way into town. And suddenly popping into my head the actual comment I wanted to make to the man requesting the new Gerald Murnane back in the Shop recently, instead of the small talk, though accurate, around a flicked upon upon sentence which grew into several pages, a section I could have followed forever, with which I entertained the both of us. And now I realise it was the first paragraph of the promotional sheet accompanying A Million Windows, "Gerald Murnane, from a letter to Teju Cole, April 2013", as follows : "I hardly needed to remind you that I think of mind as space. I long ago rejected the popular theories of the mind advanced in the Twentieth century. For me, mind is extent and, quite possibly, endless, that is to say, infinite. This would entail, I suppose, the belief that all minds are one or even that everything is mind, but that sort of speculation is not for me. I have enough to do during my lifetime with uncovering the patterns of imagery in my corner of mind without seeking further." All of which is to say that whatever's in mind, or what's in place or in train, in or as mind, enjoys coalescence, seamless adhesion, of time & space, known as the incidents & objects thereof.

All of that, all of this, the public bar's voluminous etcetera --and why not stand on ceremony --of Melbourne itself, ancestor felons, free or freed settlers (though no one like me can talk credibly of 'ancestors' --our account's dribbled out in & as generations on no parchment but the black ink entries of births, deaths & marriages in cased municipal Domesday registers)-- I am johnny-come-lately in what pundits of every complexion call the end of time. And all of this the only Australia I stand up in, leaning on an Ireland, so it seems, compacted in poetry & stout, for as long as fate's deemed I'm removed from fatherland, compromised as that may be for the both of us, Dad & I, our mothers protractored either pole of the immense & pink blushed continent of Africa…

[8-19/6/14 (October, '14)]


July 3 / 14

re Bonny Cassidy's  FINAL THEORY (Giramondo) launch by Lisa Gorton

Thank you, Lisa, for your (important) part in Bonny's great launch last night at Collected Works Bookshop. Wld love to read your speech, but came away (wrongly perhaps) with the question about lyrical frame-of-mind's encounter with a something-else --along lines of a discussion I saw on F/book some months ago re- 'non fiction poem', to wch Kate Middleton responded contra a kind of knee-jerk rejection by several others (like, huh? 'facts' more 'truthful' than fiction?). Closer perhaps wld be preferring 'world' to person (Yeats, Pound) wch Ive been thinking abt again after nibbling at Robin Blaser as it happens, wch is beside the point of course! The second thought growing in me as I write this is that Bonny mixes it up, poetically (or poetistically) neither [not] this or [not] that!

Further to the above : The poem is very much a narrative and therefore what might be 'flat' as per lyrical persona is actually delightfully all over the place as 'fiction'! (All these terms begged, naturally.) Yday & today began seriously reading, exchanging some thoughts this morning abt it with ‪Sam Moginie‬...


July 5 / 14
[after correspondence with Natalle Irene Wood]

Ive been reading a bunch of contemporary Irish poets, published by the fabulous Gallery Press (County Meath), leant to me by Libby Hart, and including Dermot Healy's A FOOL'S ERRAND (2010). The loan came out of an enthusiastic Irish poetry conversation plied with Guinness! But the other day I heard from Libby herself just phoned up by friends from Ireland that Dermot Healy had died suddenly. Ive been enjoying A Fool's Errand --if it's not the barnacle geese then it's funerals & music... The book's a sonnet variation, 2x2, 3x2, 2x2 --I'd been wondering abt the composition and suddenly that jumped out of me from the page...

Anticipating a little Melbourne wake here is a  posting from Ireland.
From Terry McDonagh : "Dermot was unique and his star will rise and rise. I'd like to say a few words about his legacy as a person...his books can be read by one and all...
It was strange to see such a vibrant person lying in the coffin. I didn't know him all that well, but I met him many times...he read at a festival in Kiltimagh that I directed and, as always, he made a huge impression on the audience. At his wake on Wednesday, his wife, Helen, reminded me that he'd enjoyed himself at our little festival to such an extent that when he'd left the town to return home, he suddenly asked her to turn the car and come back again for no particular reason other than the fact that he'd enjoyed himself.
His support for budding writers was special. He is remembered fondly by many he'd published in Force 12...a magazine he'd edited. His years as Director (and escapades) of Force 12...later Force 10 festival in Belmullet County Mayo are legendary.
Last autumn he read at Westport festival with the poet, Ger Reidy...I felt he looked a bit tired and not quite himself, but his reading from his novel, Long Time No See, gave me special insight into his message and style."


July 21 / 14

In case anyone's in the vicinity of the Yarra Hotel in Johnston Street between 6 & 8,  The Family will be raising a glass or two and remembering Tim [Hemensley]...
Last night's cold brings back that terrible event. How interesting, though, his corpse was warmer than I was kneeling on the backyard path with him. Poor Loretta crazy crying in the house, me crazy talking to him in the cold night. And as the ambulance took him away, Cathy [O'Brien] arrived in her car to be with us.
Jamesons then for days & days!
Wish I could find the poem I wrote afterwards. Typically I cant find any of my stuff when I want it!
The catastrophe alleviated by friends' love. Thus The Family.
Ive been playing Time Wounds All Heels at Collected Works Bookshop all morning and now Loretta's arrived with the whiskey!
Marvelling at the sound of that band. And the voice. And the words. And the colour of the music. And the drive.
"...was i scared? no not at all..."
Tim H, a continuing tragedy and, simultaneously, an inspiration.
Thanks for the messages. Love from us to all Tim's rock n roll friends & followers, including of course those others who've perished along the way.


[Via Robert Lloyd]

. . . I’ve come in the past few months at least––whether from fatigue or from a kind
of ultimately necessary conservatism––to feel that there can be at least one kind of primary measure for the activity of poetry; and perhaps this statement will seem oblique, but in any case what really sticks in my head through the years as a measure of literature is a pair of statements made by Pound––years ago, I would think. One is, simply, "Only emotion endures." And the other is, "Nothing matters save the quality of affection." Now these offer to me two precise terms of measure for the possibility of a poem. I feel that what the poem says in a didactic or a semantic sense––although this fact may be very important indeed––is not what a poem is about primarily; I think this is not its primary fact. I believe, rather, that it is that complex of emotion evident by means of the poem, or by the response offered in that emotion so experienced, that is the most signal characteristic that a poem possesses. So, the measure of poetry is that emotion which it offers, and further, the quality of the articulation of that emotion––how it felt, the fineness of its articulation. . . . Last fall Basil Bunting told me that his own grasp of what poetry might be for him was first gained when he recognized that the sounds occurring in a poem could carry the emotional content of the poem as ably as anything "said." That is, the modifications of sounds––and the modulations––could carry this emotional content. He said, further, that, while the lyric gives an inclusive and intense singularity, usually, to each word that is used . . . there’s an accumulation that can occur much more gradually so that sounds are built up in sustaining passages and do not, say, receive an individual presence but accumulate that presence as a totality. So that one is not aware, let us say, that the word the is carrying its particular content; but as that e sound or the sound accumulates, it begins to exert an emotional effect that is gained not by any insistence on itself as singular word but as accumulation. To quote Pound again, "Prosody consists of the total articulation of the sound in a poem"––that’s what I’m really talking about.
[Robert Creeley. "Linda Wagner: An Interview with Robert Creeley," originally in Minnesota Review, copyright © 1965, and Contents of Poetry: Interviews 1961-1971, copyright © 1973 by Robert Creeley and the Four Seasons Foundation.]

One used to teach 'sound & sense', and 'emotional rhythm'.... my poor old Adult Education classes (1975 to '87)! Some areas of poetry wouldnt at all agree with Creeley as speaking for them though... Of course it speaks for him, helps explicate his practice but not theirs... I remember listening to a radio piece by Robert Ashley, perhaps it was called The Park, not sure, late 70s, early 80s --in wch the author's/actor's/speaker's accent & intonation produced for me a totally & explicitly emotional text & experience... but the semantic content wasnt especially 'emotional' at all, rather the opposite, --lets not say banal but entirely normal, undramatic, occasional particulars... It was the accumulation of propositions wch delivered a narrative, and the accent of the telling wch endowed it with emotional colour... Creeley Ive liked very much though not much thought about for some years... I imagine youre reading this, Robert, from perspective of songster (poet with guitar in hand) or art-music composer...?


August 21 / 14

Thank you everyone for last night's reading : and it was a great room as they say! David Morley was wonderful to MY ear, because all of a sudden that hurdy gurdy spin of particular English country (imagination & evocation of country) within the argument John Clare & Wisdom Smith [The Poet & the Gypsy, Carcanet/UK] are made to carry, thus as I offered DM, possession & dispossession... the rich dialectic of the romantic trope... politics & sensibility etc... suddenly it was there in our room! 'and desert was paradise enow', words' world... Perfect foils for David in Will Eaves & Gig Ryan.... each one demanded an ear... Gig Ryan's classical Greek readings, and what appeared to be a new mss of poems, and her offering of a Martin Johnston sonnet... Will's larrikin Larkin (did he say?)!... Waking up to this morning after, still brimfull of delight in the poetry of the event let alone first class wine & company... Cdnt help myself interjecting Beowulf (after Will's translation)/Hopkins/Bunting/Thomas to hold David M's performance...
Oh me o my, much much much more to 'unpack' as they say!


August 23 / 14

Stephen Burt : "We're all going to die --and poems can help us live with that."

Ive read Stephen Burt but not seen or heard him before... Re- "we're all going to die... poems can help..." : Round age of 32 it was writing a story abt visitation of angel of death (who promised to spare me the dread of death --consciousness of time passing/G Stein --if I pledged to receive the angel (& the anxiety) twice more, at each doubling of my age... I situated the first encounter at age 16, so the second at 32, the third at 64... The story was a cure or coincided with the lifting of that anxiety... My education was completed when I lay on ground with Tim's body July 2003, --the image of death as edifice entirely dissolved, and via Tim appreciated it as the achievement of a moment, a passing away (Tim's passing)... no big deal, one dies... I'm probably in more than two minds abt Stephen Burt's lecture, which I enjoyed listening to by the way... Thanks Paula [Caine], my dear, for sending it...


August 24 / 14

Thanks Bernard Hemensley. for telling me about the Berlin family exhibition. Envy your visit to the Bridport Art Gallery to see the show. Important to me because, although Billy Fisher doesnt remember me (according to email exchange couple of years or more ago, and he something of an hero for me, a dream figure for my poetry), meeting his stepfather Sven Berlin at Emery Down in the New Forest (Hampshire) that Whitsun long weekend in 1964, when Billy invited some fellow students up to help bring in the hay, was momentous! Forever etched in mind & heart! Wonderful, too, exchanging email messages with Greta Berlin same time as Billy's no-go.


August 28 / 14

As Peter Robinson writes on his F/b page, "Carol Rumens has chosen 'The Book' by F. T. Prince as her Guardian Poem of the Week. Reading it with the argument of John Donne's 'The Sun Rising' in mind helps, I think, with any of the trickier bits ..."
I hadnt thought of FTP as undervalued these days but that's a consequence of living in my head and in Oz! But I'm delighted to read further that Peter R & Will May are "editing a couple of chapbooks of uncollected FTP poems for Perdika Press..." , including Keats Country...
Great news! It was Lee Harwood suggested I contact FTP back in 1970 when I'd returned to Southampton after three years in Melbourne. How can you live in Southampton and not see Frank Prince? he said. We saw each other regularly, and corresponded after I returned to Melbourne late '72. Most visits to England until a few years before he died I'd visit. I describe some of this in the piece I wrote for Geraldine Monk's CUSP anthology a few years ago. And that Keats poem he published himself after missing deadline for the official Keats anniversary collection he told me. I wonder if his translations of St John of the Cross are available? Maybe they've been collected? Dont have my Prince volume to hand. He sent me a copy but stressed it was not for republication! But your news makes my day --for FTP legacy but also the FTP that's part of me, if you know what I mean! All the lives which possess & animate one... Thanks for your good work here...


September 3 / 14

Thank you Juan, Ive heard of the Turnrow anthology but not stocked here yet. Our social-political situations are so different, impacting so differently upon our roles as poet and the poems we might write. Here are some lines from my Midnight Interrogation series, ca 73/4, from A Mile From Poetry (Island Press, 1979) : "The Poem is the barricade which ought to be realized by the people who take the poems, even their poems, to the barricades. // The Poem is a halo. It is the endowment of sovereignty. It gives voice its independence. The Poem is voice's reward. The Poem is the voice abroad, But abroad is no poem of yours, boy. // The Poem is an expression of the dignity of each voice's difference. Blood tends to confuse, stain & clog. Neither poem nor blood clarify the issues. Each is the issue of itself. Red is not always the colour of the equation." and so on. I must reread Nicanor Parra and bring his books back to the shelf! Best wishes, K

Juan Garrido :

Talking with Nicanor Parra in Santiago in 1981

Young poets/say whatever you want.
 Pick your own style/  much blood has gone under the bridge
 To still believe-I believe/ that there’s only one way to cross the road:
 You can do anything in poetry. Nicanor Parra

I remember
 When we arrived at your home in la Reina.
 The dogs barking at us..
 After a few minutes you appeared 
Like a ghost in the afternoon.
 Mr Anti-poeta
 I was born in the Barros Lucos’ 
 I never went to the University.
However, I swing between two oceans. 
I translate poetry in English into Spanish,
 As a creative pathway (Puente) 
Between two different cultures and lands.
 Here I am
 Listening to a Chinese-Australian poet 
Listening to an Iraq poet 
Listening to Aboriginal poets 
Reading with my mind Australian poetry.
I agree with you
 The style doesn’t come from a creative writing course.
 My style comes from reading other poets, from passion 
and learning the rhythm of the bird in a tree. 
Learning how to plant seeds; preparing the plot, watering,

Looking after them everyday.
 I agree again with you
 Mr. when you say
 Much blood has gone under the bridge.
 Most of my poets are dead.  Some of them 
Have been killed or have suicide.
 Essenin, Roque Dalton, Neruda, Vallejo..
 Only Huidobro was a poet of the bourgeois-revolution.
 Ernesto Cardenal survived the Pope’s sin against the Revolution 
as well as the collapse of the Sandinista revolution.
 So they killed the poets amongst the struggling people.
 I have been on the path of the struggle, in prison,
 Being tortured by the Chilean secret police.
When I went to your home
 You welcomed us.
 In this time I was an invisible poet with a few poems in my heart.
 Victor Hugo Romo talked to you.
 You showed us yours rooms, 
frames on the walls with newspaper headlines,
 as great paintings.
Your cat was like a prince in the poet’s palace.
You were happy to read your poems at the concert 
That we organized in tribute to Violeta Parra.
After more than twenty years 
I am sure you remember me very well
 If I say my name to you:
I am Juan
 My nickname was el Negro.
 I worked in Nuestro Canto’s office 1980
 With Miguel Dagvanino and John Smith.
 I wrote a book
 Variantes de la Libertad Definitiva
 By Samuel Lafferte,
 Published by Hondero Entusiasta Press.
Yes I remember you very well.
Your house 
With pictures from newspapers on the walls 
Replacing the painting of Picasso, Miro or Dali.
 By the way 
Could you tell me how to find the way out of this conversation?
Nicanor Parra say:
You can do anything in poetry.
You can do anything in poetry.
You can 
do anything 

by Juan Garrido-Salgado

Happy Birthday Anti poeta!!!!!
[This poem appears at "The Turnrow Anthology of Contemporary Australian Poetry"
editor John Kinsella &Jack Heflin and William Ryan Series Editors (US)]

September 12 / 14

Home from excellent evening i/f Daniel White's book-launch at Collected Works Bookshop. Impassioned & informed younger generation 21C Labor visions, Republic Earth quoting Buckminster Fuller! Hey, thats OUR language baby! Very interesting. "Democracy our greatest achievement" : yes, wch means no gun at head whatever politics faith colour of citizens. The global ambition stops me but lots to consider. Wdnt it be fun to be around to see how it all pans out! Lovely chatting to David & Mary White. Congratulations the White bros for their project!

"Republic Earth is an educational, social, political, economic and technological ideology that aims at the establishment of a full global democracy that values all aspects of humanity around the world. Republic Earth primarily aims to build a global online democracy using the technology of the digital revolution, as soon everyone on Earth will be connected if they wish to be...." from Daniel's book. Web address is, ‪‬

My feeling is that the 'digital revolution' aspect is the goer and even there asserting only the most positive assumptions of the technology... RE- 'democracy', I realize from Daniel's definition (wherein republic is its only legit. manifestation) that I, like most others, have a common usage appreciation of the concept, so the greatest diversity of types coexist. Re- the monarch, there've been several occasions during the past decades when the neutral authority has prevented coup or civil war (Spain, Thailand...)... Additionally ours is a constitutional monarchy.... How Oz Labor can re-present the Republic debate with any chance of success is the question. Of course it's an Australian decision. Once again I'm the visitor... And not at all sure how I'd respond in the English context.


September 20 , 14

[to Grant Macracken, re- the Scottish Referendum]

I'd love to see demographic analysis of the vote : I wdnt be surprised if young people (how define that? let's say 30 and under) were a majority for Yes... The safest position to stay with the status quo, and admittedly there wld have been a great deal of political economic readjustment between Scotland & the UK, but independence is a worthy emotion & project... Imagine what a referendum for Britain to exit the EEC would be be like? I remember twentyfive years ago big discussion around the table at Charnwood with Cathy & Des & Jurate, maybe also Robert Kenny, about the Baltic states and their dire struggle with the Soviet Union. Jurate argued passionately for independence there & then, whatever the cost. I thought independence was eventually inevitable but didnt realize how fast the wheels were turning.... Incredible courage of the Lithuanians... This has been in my mind with the Scots... At the same time I'm no longer a unilateralist nuclear disarmer, especially when the Yes position would have maintained the umbrella but pushed the missiles out of its domain... But all v interesting... And, Grant, the campaign in Scotland has drawn propositions for a rather different UK in the near future... Slainte!

Around 70/71, Andrew Crozier sent to me packet of materials he'd received from Allen Van Newkirk (in Nova Scotia?). As far as I recall he was part of the Olson network. Intriguing man. (And what happened to him?) One paper he enclosed concerned the 'break up nations', and Cornwall & Brittany were among these. And it felt convincing to me, almost like a contrary energy to the 3rd World defined as the rise of new nations, --this 4th World, the break up of old nations especially when equally old cultures had been absorbed/subjugated. Thus the age old Basque struggle, the Irish, et al. I suppose the outsider's fear (mine) at time of the Baltic states uprising against the Soviets was that the small communities would be destroyed. Nothing like that in the UK of course. Nor will be.


September 25 / 14

Emerging from the Delphi [Continental Cakes] in N/cote with Ken Trimble after accidental meeting, we pass a sign in window of one of the Northcote second handers, "20% discount for Teachers". Decide to put sign up at Collected Works Bookshop, "30% discount for gurus". For some reason Ken & I think this is enormously funny, and that's before we get to the Peacock for a pot! I'll be hitting the road soon enough to set up the evening's gig for Libby Hart's WILD (Pitt Street Poetry) book launching we're presenting with John & Linsay Knight. In fact better go now! See you all later...


October 8 / 14

Ian Brinton's notification re- Lee Harwood, not to mention his review of his book, tugs heartstrings... on which theme, email from Edward Mycue similarly affecting : thus,
"Writers here on Saturday Oct 11 at lpm --come with your scraps and scrolls that are diamonds pulled from your minds' caves
we have been doing this monthly a small round-robin for a couple of hours 
many can't come but i ask anyway for ald ang syne (SP?) -- jerry flemming's in paris, jules mann in london years now, kris is in melbourne and has never been here except in my heart, jeanne bryan in Sacramento, Helen Sventitsky-Rother near Munich, Carl Ginsburg nr Vienna I think, Carla Bertola and Alberto Vitacchio in Turin, Anny Ballardini in Bozen on the east side of those Italian northern mountains, Bryan Monte in Zeisst, The Netherlands, Ruth Fainlight/ London who has never been here except in spirit (she has a beautiful poem about her mother's purse and the smell of the coty powder) & so it goes. I usually forget somebodies & usually those closest (!) because i just punch in the names and know that someday i will have to make some sort of "list" in the computer (but where is the fun in that!) -- and if I ever do that will be the end of the 45 years of person to person (remembering now that on one of those person to person 'connections' in the group many many years ago there was a BIG fight between harold norse and jack gilbert -- and then after that we changes locations and so now it is and has been on my little turf for tufts of years all gone patchy now (as myhair once became before it emerged as a pate smooth as a baby's bottom some have concluded)

To wch I reply,
"Hi Ed, What a surprise to be included because of course "never been" nor could ever except, as you remind me, in your heart, and mine too -- so many as I could also call their names as you do warmly here...
Thank you... Hope it goes well..

Kris in Melbourne, Spring morning, minutes away from hurrying up to Clifton Hill station for the train into the City and another day at my lovely bookshop!

Hope youre very well... saw pic of you & Richard I'm assuming on holiday..."

Ed Mycue : "Thanks, Kris. What a lone history we have since I think it was the early 1970's and of the time when you were the poetry editor of the iconic Meanjin [Quarterly]  and you published all the new gals and guys that made it so exciting to read -- you kickstarted that venerable institution back to life when you were hellming (yeah helming w 2 'L's) and ever since then have remained a force from 'down under' with your bookstore and your magazines and publishing and writing(s) of all kinds. I doubt you will ever be a grand old man to yourself, but you seem from this distance to me to be a world force in poetry in the English language(s). What once seemed experimental and wild even have earned emeralds in value."


October 8 / 14

[Re- Morris Lurie]

Colin Tad Talbot :
i was sitting with David N [Pepperell], making his day much brighter as usual over a caffe late, when he took a phonecall which stopped him...a dear friend had disappeared into the blessed state of non-being. It's not my place to give the details but I imagine Dr Pepper will, when he feels okay to post. All I'll say is that his good friend (also a friend of mine) was a great man and will be remembered well.

K H : Sorry to hear of this Colin... Met him [Morris Lurie] several times over the years via the Shop or literary events... Commiserations to David Pepperell and all his friends here... On several occasions he almost bought a book from us, but always found a reason (the cover, the size, the price, the first sentences, his opinion of a previous title by the author etc etc) for returning it to the shelf... The architect at the Nicholas Building, Ken Edelstein, was a great friend of Morris... No doubt he'll come by some time and tell me some more stories... RIP, M Lurie


October 8 / 14
[Re- aniversary of the Gallery 6 Reading in San Francisco, 1955]

Thanks for the memories, Brian! Wonderful date memorial! Ive been reading Rip Rap again (50th anniv ed) last few days... Also the Snyder/W Berry correspondence, Distant Friends... good pun... Also, working something out abt G S, looked him up in Peter Cayote's memoir... My philosophy or attitude is 'warts & all' so it's all good as they say! That is, points of difference are what they are, --i do my best to contextualise o/wise carps they'll remain, somehow mean... However... On with the Show! Best wishes, Kris

Oh and Allen Ginsberg and all & all... But what about Rexroth? Ive never really u/stood his omission from The New American Poetry anthology, unless he himself declined? I'm not talking abt fights & spites but from the point of view of the poetry... First read him in an old Perspectives magazine, his poem Starting out from San Francisco (I think it was)... 1965, Isle of Wight holiday at my g/mothers, I was back in the South West after working a few months on British Rail, shortly before going to Europe again and then early '66 it was Australia! But, the question's still in my head...


October 12 / 14

Just happened, last Thursday, to be cutting through Block Arcade en route Bourke, when I saw the display of portraits, the Lord Mayor's [small business] Commendations for 2014... took a closer look in case i recognized anyone and up they popped! SAFF! that is, Saverio Fazio of Saff's Hairdressing in the Pt Phillip Arcade, where I get shorn every couple of months or so! A silver gong! Good stuff! And then PAUL CAINE our cousins, Caine Real Estate, a bronze! And then FIONA SWEETMAN fellow tenant at the Nicholas Building whose Hidden Secret Tours was the first to steer visitors Collected Works Bookshop's way! Great little booklet available from City of Melbourne with all the pics & captions. Our Town ay?!


October 19 /14

At the the Heidelberg garden centre sitting on bench opposite myrtle in bed of Snow Maiden (raphiolepis) & Heuchera Berry Smoothie in the one arc of shadow of otherwise full sun courtyard, turning around in my mind funny old term "smashing", long gone from the common vocab, as in smashing day and most of all the mural along & around farthest extent of enclosed display sheds, so large & detailed one's literally The Man Who Entered Pictures as of Opal L Nations' surreal prose pieces, published in the English little poetry magazines of the early '70s ("I like these without reservations," Andrew Crozier remarked; "What have you got against Indians?" Opal responded) --Walk around wonderful domestic perimeter of original colonial horticulture prospect, beginning at the house & garden, espaliered grape-vine, down gradient to the laid out plots beneath the purview of the hills, this romantic perspective including tromp l'oeil shadows of ghost gums angling across the painted tree trunk of same, or falling away from the leafy crowns --A stage set, the whole thing, first-rung experience where potential fuses with imagination, for a moment what the garden at home could be --Back in my room what I actually dig up is the Postscript from The Poem of the Clear Eye, and transplant it here, weeding as I type the errata & silly mistakes from 40 years ago :

"The mural on the walls of the fried-fish & chips shop is idyllic. the brothers over the gas-rings with scoops & mesh-buckets occasionally glance at the bay painted around the L of the walls. both brothers cannot be the isolate island fishermen. one must be elsewhere. or drowned. the fisherman hauls in his baubled line. a basket of fish beside his thigh. seagulls hang in the sky over the tallest palm-tree. the island's air is the same as the shop's of course. which explains why the fisherman has his back to the counter & the fryer brothers glance out often to the mural sea. i queue for coconuts though i order scallops & chips. the brothers merge in the imagination of the island fisherman. he has his back against it all right --what with turbulent winds & man-eating sharks. he dreams his escape. along the same passage of delivery the three men pause as they pass the unsung fourth. he resembles me apart from age & girth. a slender twenty year-old. ambitious for the gold of the future. they shudder & slide on in their various directions. i pay the bill --pennies flung into the blue swell. the fryer brothers pull in the coins adept as fishermen. they glance at the seagull on the wind's meander over the heads of their customers. the queue maintains its claim on their conscious attention. they miss nothing however of the mural's intentions. we know what we know.
[1972-3, 1974; Melbourne.]"

We know what we know.


October 19 / 14

Good to catch up yday, Denis, at the Fed Square for Robert Lloyd's Dylan Thomas celebration... BUT, thanks for the clip of Freddie & the Dreamers! As I was telling you the other day, Freddie & the Dreamers shot a promo film or advert at Bricket Wood station, on the St Albans to Watford Junction loop, in 1965, c/o of myself, Kris Hemensley, grade 4 booking offfice clerk but temporarily Acting Station Master of Bricket Wood, owing to the Station Master being transferred to Watford Junction (my home station) as Inspector of Platforms, --I'd given Freddie's manager permission to shoot film! Couldnt think of anything better! Freddie & the Dreamers! Never occurred to me seek permission from British Rail! Bloody anarchist! Anyway, I met everyone, and very soon they were cavorting all over the station & the track and on the little bridge into the estate. And they ate at the pub on the village side of the station, as I did, --i probably told them they cld get fantastic bread & cheese & corned-beef rolls & pork pies & etc! End of first day of filming the Station Master returned from Watford Junction, asked me what the trucks were parked outside and who were these people milling around. Were they passengers etc? Theyre Freddie & the Dreamers, I began to explain. He was a bit like Blakey in On the Buses! He almost exploded! I told him theyd be gone by the end of the following day. I think they were. This & other unorthodox behaviour didnt endear me to British Rail, yet it was I who eventually resigned and not BR sacking me! A wonderful few months. As for Freddie Garrity, I still have soft spot for his hits, You Were Made for Me, I'm Telling You Now, If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody, etc But have to confess I dont remember Do The Freddie!!!


October 26 / 14

This is for Dave & Ricky Rogers, our Southampton near neighbors late '69 to late '72, our very first new English friends after returning there from Melbourne. Loretta & I make their acquaintance at La Sainte Union one night where we're all attending performance by Bob Cobbing, concrete & sound poet down from London. Incredible! This is what I'd call music I say, recognising the layering & polyphony from the ISCM concerts attended in Melbourne couple of years before, organised by Keith Humble, back in Oz from Paris & musique concrete. Wonderful serendipity : La Sainte Union is also where the father of my tech College friend from '62-'64, Nick Buck, is the English prof. Catching up with Nick comes later, nowt to do wi' this tale! So, thick as thieves with Dave & Ricky. It's summertime 1970. We're all interested in dropping acid for the first time. One of Dave's friends can help us. Dave describes the guy to us. Nero, friend from Art College or on the scene made by the Art College students. Nero... And Dave imitates his way of talking:  How fantastic this or that batch or crop was. His hand gestures : part drumming, part slashing : thaaaat good! Nero's wanted Dave to come & see how he's redecorated his place, Dave being a painter, with eye & technique, graduate from the Art College where one of his teachers is Amanda Wade, close friend of Lee Harwood, a poet I'd love to meet, encountered in the little mags I've read at Mike Dugan's place in Melbourne '68-'69. And she arranges a meeting one Sunday afternoon at her place. Lee puts me on to F T Prince, another Southampton neighbor, and that is definitely another story! Dave & I walk around the block. Nero has a brother. They look & talk the same. Artists, musicians? At any rate, heads. One or other of them lets us in. We step into the house and immediately into the freshly painted living room. It's white, all over. Gleaming white. And Nero is wearing white. White pants and loose top. This is my WHITE ROOM, he says, and giggles in that give-away head's way. Spells it out, W- H- I- T- E.  R- O- O- M. And giggle-cackles again. Can I please have Cream playing full blast in Nero's house in this reminiscence? Full blast. "In the white room with black curtains near the station / Blackroof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings / Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes / Dawnlight smiles on you leaving, my contentment / I'll wait in this place where the sun never shines". Jack Bruce & pop poet Pete Brown. "In the white room…" "In the white room…" "In the white room…"

Sunday, July 6, 2014


June 28, '14

Great to read this blog, Bernard [B. Hemensley's blog]... Life of books, important relationships through such books... The synchronicity of the Blackburn-owned Eigner in the copy of Clouding... My feeling always to make the most of these conjunctions... Rereading your Birds [Towards a Classification of Birds, Stingy Artist, '14]book ive been thinking again of the nado / (Beltrametti) nadamas connection, luxuriating in the 'field' thus opening up to the reading... Each week Denis Smith selects a card from the box of Nat Portrait Gallery cards on the desk, as he says his 'occult method', ie, blind, and i'm sure it's another sign of his openness to the whole world appreciated as gift! But, returning to yr posting, enjoyed looking at your snaps of those Eigner covers, priceless in every sense!

Your snaps of the Eigner & the Blackburn from those 60s70s times are a reminder of the extent to which the little mags defined poetry's parameters for many of us --the production of the books & mags, the ambition for the poem itself, the world that such involvement in the 'new' & 'experimental' writing enabled... And it is an important question to ask of oneself as well as of the succeeding times, "what happened?" How did we change? How did the poetry scene change? How did life change? It does depend on ourselves, enthusiasts, to advocate for our poets, especially after their time. Life as a continuing im memorium, poetry as a continuous rereading (riff, elegy, celebration)... In which regard, i copy this passage from ‪David Caddy‬ 's recent review of the latest issue of the Long Poem Magazine (#11, 2014), --"Issue 11 is no exception to the usual high standard. Robert Vas Dias’ essay on Paul Blackburn’s The Journals (1975) is a wonderfully written personal and critical introduction to the subject. It is highly informative, providing a contextualised reading of a neglected, major American poet. By the way, Simon Smith is editing a Paul Blackburn Reader for publication by Shearsman in 2015, which will include hitherto unpublished material from the Blackburn archive at San Diego." --We've recently, indeed often, spoken about the dropping out of the conversation of so many poets we've regarded as major --fashion as instrument of oblivion --Paul Blackburn for one. So it's great to be given the opportunity to think about P B again via yr lovely note and to anticipate both Vas Dias' & Simon Smith's re-views! (I still have Robert V-D issue of Sixpack devoted to Blackburn, when was it, London '75? --just after the Cambridge Fest, his party for Jackson MacLow in Hampstead wch John Robinson & i attended... another great story!)


May 17th, '14

How's this for a synchronous series : from K H 's Journal, 13-5-14

Does anyone remark a connection between Howard Skempton's piano pieces and Herbert Howells' clavichord compositions (played by John McCabe, Helios, '93)[present from Alan Pose]? Or is it simply the English miniature tradition?
Shared this question with Paul (Georgie Fame, Mose Allison etc fan)-- he's brought in for me a 2011 disc of Robert Wyatt… Coincidentally, the other Paul (Harper) has 'burnt' me a copy of Zoot Sims' Baden Baden concert (June 23, 1958) --Paul first heard ZS playing in the Shop… and because of affinity i felt between his poems (PH's) & what i remember of Kenward Elmslie, and after John Tranter had spoken to me about Elmslie this morning (for instance, wonderful reading he gave in Sydney a few years ago), i suggested Elmslie to Paul who's looking for new reading matter --He bought City Junket & also Clark Coolidge on Kerouac & jazz, Now It's Jazz --Paul's poems & methods do also remind me of Coolidge….


April 20th, '14

Thank you Denis... ASYMPTOTE [on-line ;] always interesting. Permit me to sidetrack on its theme of diaspora. When i began regular home trips back to England in '87 it occurred to me one morning at the Dorset Brewers in Hope Square, Weymouth, as i looked at the postcards & photos behind the bar, that a fundamental dynamic of that little seaside town cld be summarized 'those who stay and those who go away'. Those who stay remember those who went away, and the latter think of home & intermittently return. It's the foundational equation. 'Diaspora' has become a loose ascription due to overuse. Many people & peoples in the world have had to leave their homes. As an expat ive experienced all emotions from anguish to nostalgia, and i'm a voluntary exile. Diaspora = post-colonialism's looking glass. When i was responding to Geraldine Monk's commission for her CUSP anthology, it was a shock to realize how long i'd lived in Melbourne and how warmly i felt towards it. In a way i was part of it, yet only accidentally... Darzet isnt my Darzet no matter what the song says! Southampton was more so because i grew up there. But Melbourne isnt mine either. And postmodernism's 'no home' isnt a salve at all. Circa 1972, I accepted totally Bolinas poet John Thorpe's proposition that Romanticism's Stranger was not the figure for our time & condition. Yet i struggle to be 'here' unconditionally, privileging particular (other) place(s) in the world... And so it goes, on & on!


April 6th, '14

Regarding :
Thank you Geraldine Monk... Brilliant! When i was growing up in Thornhill/Southampton there was definitely a Southampton accent wch itself differed from the County accent (both posh & broad). Years passed and then the great population 'spill' out of London enveloped Southampton, so much so that the 'original' local sound was more or less lost to it. I'm very happy (aappy i mean) that the family moved to Darzet in the mid '80s, and though that accent is probably being affected by looser Londonese it's West Country, innit? sufficiently, at least for my arrs to feel returned to childhood's home. We probably have an Aussie Andrew Jack to perform similar trick here, to demonstrate the differences between the various Australian states. But that doesnt account for the non-Anglo speakers whose English language is affected by their own original or family influenced accents. Nor indigenous people's distinctive English speaking. Thanks for ringing my ears!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


[April 17/'14]

Off the top of my head about Ikkyu on or about 600th anniversary of the death of his master, Keno

for Bernard H & Robert L

A few days after a conversation about Ikkyu, Robert Lloyd leant me a copy of John Stevens' translations, Wild Ways : Zen Poems of Ikkyu (Shambhala, 1995). We stocked it years ago, perhaps in a different format? Also Stephen Berg's versions of Ikkyu, Crow With No Mouth (1989). I'm enjoying this re-immersion in Ikkyu. Ever tickled by dates I realize this is the 620th anniversary of the year of Ikkyu's birth, and, importantly, the year of the 600th anniversary of the death of Ikkyu's first great influence, Keno, "the Modest Old Man, abbot of Saikinj. Temple of Western Gold." Via Google I found very interesting extract from Perle Besserman & Manfred Steger's book, Zen Radicals, Rebels, and Reformers (Wisdom, 2011). Nothing wrong at all with John Stevens' potted biography, there's just more in the Besserman & Steger.

"Keno's example, and Rinzai's beforehand, exerted such a powerful influence on Ikkyu's mind that he never accepted or gave inka throughout his life as a Zen student or teacher. For the legitimate heir to Rinzai, true Zen meant transmission beyond words, scriptures, or written certificates of enlightenment. And Keno was just such a master --unconventional, uncompromising, strict in his dedication to meditation, with no worldly ambitions whatsoever. Ikkyu spent four years training in the lonely temple of Western Gold [Ikkyu was his only student], until Kano's sudden death put an end to his Zen idyll."

Suicide attempt, the search for a teacher, from Keno to Kaso, & eventual enlightenment --awoken from meditation by "the cawing of a crow in early evening, Ikkyu achieved his great satori. the entire universe became the cawing of the crow..." John Stevens translates the enlightenment verse : "For twenty years I was in turmoil / Seething and angry, but now my time has come! / The crow laughs /, an arhat emerges from the filth, / And in the sunlight a jade beauty sings!"

Writing this as crows are popping up again hereabouts, bringing in Autumn & Winter in Melbourne, reminding me of my feeling for crows. Here are two from The Millennium Poems (1997-2000), contributed to Raffaella Torresan's anthology, Literary Creatures (Hybrid, 2009) :


milkcloud-sky canvas
leafless branches red tin roofs -
artist-crow due now


raven on favourite branch
confides to the tree
that as far as friends go
ravens' loyalty outdoes

trees' imperturbable
where raven's merely proud -
a bunch of people scuttle past -walking trees! scoffs raven -
leaves! exhales the tree


Amours, sex, & philosophy in Stevens's Ikkyu but no crows! Lots like this though :


One short pause between
The leaky road here and
The never-leaking Way there:
If it rains, let it rain!
If it storms, let it storm!


Sexual love can be so painful when it is deep,
Making you forget even the best prose and poetry.
Yet now I experience a heretofore unknown natural joy,
The delightful sound of the wind soothing my thoughts.





Amazin', as Tommy Hafey might say... Sitting yesterday, late afternoon, at the Kiosk on the beach, writing abt Dimitris Tsaloumas who swam right here for years, --thinking about that sentiment he expressed in a poem, that the mermaid doesnt swim here anymore, --pollution on his mind but also the degradation or loss of meaning, the loss of significance of classical myth, and probably his own sense of meaning as he turned back to Greece again, --writing about this when I saw dark shapes, fin, disturbance in the sea, and thought 'whale' but then 'dolphins'... And so it was! DOLPHINS, at least three, maybe half a dozen. WONDERFUL! Man with family sitting under brolly beside us leapt to his feet, shouting for people to LOOK! Everyone peering at the dolphins swimming from right (Point Ormond) to left, and then the sunbathers along the beach, standing, looking... I say swimming : the dolphins were jumping, up & under again, --and of course then Ezra Pound in my head, "Came Neptunus, dolphins leaping" --and I felt it was a 'reply' to Tsaloumas... You had to have been there!



Bernard Hemensley's message : "Jack Shoemaker : Alive and Well!...You'll be pleased to know, our telephone conversation. Ah! How we enjoyed those yellow-paged paper catalogs from Sand Dollar some 40 years ago!!!"

Yes indeed... very relieved & happy for this news! (For some reason I'd suddenly thought otherwise...)
Hugely deserved award! Another bookseller, publisher. poet! I'll drop him a line! 



[copied from B H's page] Rereading : So the award was made in 2013. Missed it or have forgotten, but thinking of the news today all the sweeter! As you remark about his catalogues, they were like a curriculum; for example, and at random. I've picked out Sand Dollar Books new titles list #23, dated 26 April 1978, --his categories were poetry & fiction; literary magazines; Japanese fiction; Sources & texts. It was the 'sources & texts' wch indicated poetry's reach, if you like, an expansion of the possibility not a single track. For example, from this 'yellow-paged paper' marvel : J Blumenthal's The Printed Book in America (Godine); Alfred Brendel's Musical Thoughts & Afterthoughts (Princeton); Haslam, The Real World of the Surrealists (Rizzoli); Mitchell, Blake's Composite Art (Princeton); A Rich, Of Woman Born (mass p/b); E Weston, Nudes (Aperture).... The most expensive book Jack listed in that catalogue was the Bibliography of the Grabhorn Press 1957-66 & Grabhorn-Hoyen 1966-73, ed R Harlan, printed by Andrew Hoyen, ed of 225 copies; "this supply is already exhausted and we have only one copy left", $250... worth what today? I published a poem sequence by Jack --Magical Mayan Survival Techniques : A Gathering for Michael Palmer-- in my mag The Ear in a Wheatfield, #17, Autumn 1976. My contributor's bio for him goes : "Jack Shoemaker is better known as a bookseller (1205 Solano Avenue, Albany, Cal. 94706) & as a publisher (the excellent Sand Dollar programme). His identification of Australia as the stop beyond Fresno on the American poetry circuit is an indication of his rare perceptions." For 'American', understand 'new poetry' tho I do recall Michael Wilding at the time suggesting that Oz become the next state of the Union & thereby qualify for its subsidies & literary recognitions! Of course, political teasing but a smidgin of the truth of the feeling of the time!

[B H on his own page] : "Yes, wonderful catalogs to complement what came thru via Nick Kimberley at Compendium and then his Duck Soup etc. What i obtained from Jack were lots of rare books (now) = titles by Bukowski, Enslin, Eigner, Creeley and Dawson. i would receive special lists of the titles available and order = Well-paid social-worker at the time! Of course, it was Jack Shoemaker's MAYA QUARTO chapbooks which caught the imagination for me when i started Stingy Artist publications in 1978....and the first one was!!! = Montale's Typos by KH!!!"‬


[March 26/'14] 

‪Thanks for the link, Kent MacCarter...[‬‪] I remember all of this from when it occurred... the controversy surrounding John Mateer's poem for and about the Noongar warrior Yagen... Reading the 'Nativism..' essay I'm struck by John's split or double characterizations as also last night at his excellent reading at Collected Works Bookshop... I'm moved by John's investment in the Poet which is both the simple & the imaginative figure, sincerely bearing the existential burden... Seemed very strongly to me that Mateer's poetry is the act which precedes politics (even its own). Felt, thought, expressed, and as I would say, warts & all. The alternatives are of diplomacy & politics; decorums which are not essentially poetry, that is Poetry, the parallel dimension where The Poet might exist... Part of that parallel dimension is Storyteller, --contemporary lyric poet become or returned as storyteller. Different subtleties, different transparencies... Asking me about the 'few words' of my introduction to John's reading last night, Fiona Hile wondered if it was 'off the top of my head'. Yes, sort of! Off the top of my head, but I wrote the words down, I joked! Like I do here --which always feels like someone else thinking through me (however straightforward); off the top of my head, thinking with my pen... No obfuscation in John Mateer's dreams of the world; to reiterate, he is bearing the existential burden --dreams of the parallel worlds... 'next life' always this life, which is where I meet him...


[March 23/'14]


Quoting from what might be the last of the series, several not yet posted, --in this piece I'm discussing Fielding Dawson :

(......) I abjure saying 'one dimensionality' --he was a collagist damn it! --not only the frisson of the cut & paste but the curious images & strange feelings emerging between the rough cut edges, flickering like revelations but for the understandings thereof, & like shadows, Jung & all, --because the whole truth of the matter's what's at stake, otherwise odious conformity, dissembling that negates the particular in favour of at all times politically correct cypher --which Fielding Dawson never was. His greatest value surely candour about personal relations, its powerful resonance founded on fine ear & fluent speaking style... And he wrote this --first words of his I ever read, published by the late, lamented Andrew Crozier as a beguiling, black-covered Ferry Press booklet, THREAD, which begins, "I have green eyes, I sit at the table nervously listening to them I am watching myself listening and looking I am telling myself to pay attention, see and listen and not see and listen, my hair is a little grey, a woman walks in me, she pays no heed, I sit there and listen and look, I am myself(....)" --I was hooked, riveted -- "a woman walks in me" spoke to me of floating gender, a poetic life's polymorphous potential... I set it as an exercise in the Adult Education classes I taught in Melbourne, mid '70s, the phrase as is for the men, the reverse for the women ("a man walks in me"). It seemed always to open things up --themselves, the class, their writing...

Apropos here a reference to Fielding Dawson in letter from Larry Eigner, written Sunday, Feb 16, '75, included in the pamphlet AH ! published as # 15 of my mag, The Ear in a Wheatfield (August, '75). In the letter Larry describes what he's read of issue #9 of The Ear : "(....) AE Coppard stories on Masterpiece Theatre these last two Sundays [and Dawson's story is after Coppard]. I never got to a Dawson story much, following it and taking it in (a lot here for years unlooked at) til last night when I read "The Man Who Changed Overnight" before watching "Boy", 6th in a series of Japanese films with Ed O Reischauer (et al) commenting. Eye-openers, quite a lot. That Dawson hits very substantially (H James, G Stein, Creeley, Dawson...) --the vivid mix of experience. (.....)"


[January 23/'14]

Thank you for this, Nick Dryenfurth [Norman Geras: an obituary;
... The obituary went through to the keeper, as they say, so it's opportune to reconnect here...
N D : "It's now 4 months since the great Norm Geras was taken from us all too early. I miss his blog everyday. Reading over his many obits I was struck by the ungenerous offering of Overland. In this fantasy Trotskyite world of the Sparrow-ites Norm's ethical and morally-grounded politics is utterly disconnected from his Jewishness. Indeed, the author cannot bear to call him a Jew at all. In a word: shameful."
Re- 'ungenerous' : relates for me to what Ive thought about for many years as 'humility before the fact' versus a variety of 'vanity'... I understand Philip Mendes' reading of Geras (above) within that perspective... Best wishes to you & all who sail with you!


‪From the Guardian [UK]'s obit last October, this summary does for me : "From his perspective, the response to the events of 11 September 2001 was appalling. He found the readiness of many to blame the US for bringing the terrorist attack down on its own head to be intellectually feeble and morally contemptible. He argued that this section of the left was betraying its own values by offering warm understanding to terrorists and cold neglect to their victims. He detested the drawing of an unsupported and insupportable moral equivalence between western democracies and real or proposed theocratic tyrannies in which liberty of thought and speech, and the protection of human rights, would play no part. Norm wanted to engage in this debate and not just with academics. So he went online, to provide himself with a space in which he could express these and other views, and Normblog was born."


The name 'Normblog' rings a bell now but I'd never followed it... These notes & comments, conversations, encounters, are all occasions within a journey; opportunities for clarity, knowing oneself better, as clean & bare as one can be... Romantic anarchist & communist beginnings, mixed with art & literature & poetry's education, mixing DHL & Miller & Durrell & all & the cavalcade of existentialists, surrealists, dadaists, Beats, --and that's just into my 20s!!! ---45 + years since then --and the examination continues as it must vis a vis individuals, communities, society in which one lives... Here, via Nick D's interjection, accept serendipity's invitation to reflect upon it again. Much dismay there has been (since, for example, the party sec in 1962 equivocated & lied about Hungary --Ive written that story, must resurrect from moth-eaten mss!) -- but these days 'warts & all' is the sometimes rueful but oftentimes best of smiles I visit upon the world!


Olson & that curriculum from '67; cant underestimate the political influence, elicited, imagined, as much as taught-- '67 to '75 contradictory paths, and all the way through to the early '80s when my 'turn' began! Rereading, rethinking the whole shebang... EP Thompson pamphlet re- implications of independent  East European Peace Movements, yes I remember that --and the East European & Soviet dissident literature & criticism... A return to the Zen which sits in with the existentialism & etc of early '60s... Incredible to think of such journey or spirals...Haha! impossible encapsulation! So must insert that comment of Lawrence's wch fired me very early on, For God's sake let us be men & not monkeys minding machines! The main dynamic ['crucial contradiction' the axiom as I taught it at CAE many years] is libertarian/individualist alongside social/communitarian... Kerouac's Dean (in On the Road) who excuses himself from the partying discussions for a few hours to go do his job then returns to the real life! That was something of a lifesaver for me, not to be defined by the necessary rent/food job... Ginsberg's 'be kind to yourself' mantra at Dialectics of Liberation conference London 1960s I heard on tape... Nat Tarn turning me on to Nishitani Keiji early '80s (I published his review in my H/EAR mag) was my opening to the Kyoto philosophers & their ancient & modern practice & theory wholly contemporary & present spin! And --this'll get up someone's nose-- G Gentile's remark abt the awful utopian error of 'sugaring the pill' (of the facts of life) --And and and...


[January 23 /'14]

via Ken Edwards' posting on Alan Burns' death 

Takes me back... Mid '60s in Melbourne began following the Calder & Boyars 'stable' of authors with Alan Burns very much at the heart of this new &/or 'experimental' prose --Carol Burns, Anne Quinn, --I'll have to think who else. Back in Southampton '69+ , publishing my own mag Earth Ship (mimeographed of course, '70-'72) wrote to him, solicited a piece, very proud to publish... Sad to hear of his passing... must reread the work... Uppermost in my mind is AFTER THE RAIN...

Philip Salom : He taught for one year at Curtin Uni - 1975? A great shock to that otherwise earnestly conventional system (then). His cut-ups and experiments in class were exciting highlights that long ago. His Europe After the Rain was read with wonder/doubt but read all the same. He also contributed to the 'dark' side in two agreeably interesting ways. ‪He was popular even among the students who wouldn't go along with his provocations. Sad to see (assume) his career didn't grow as I'd imagined it might. UK lit just too conservative.‬

K H : ‪Calder & Boyars was a life-line for this strand of prose... Of course, British literature not French whose authors we read avidly in the same breath so to speak, C & B publishing Beckett & the nouveau-roman at the same time... 'Just too conservative' like Oz I guess? Though my grumbles of the '60s & '70s have their best place there... Good experiences, grist to the mill happily still turning, grinding!‬
P S :Yes, like Oz. Or the publishers... At least poetry gets it done - in shakes and shebangs!‬

K H : And ‪how interesting to have been in his class, Philip...

P S :‪ Aye, it was. He talked about Max Ernst in one class, those rubbings and palimpsests etc, and asked us to take print and images from mags and make collages. One bloke who hated this resisted by ripping up paper and gluing it into a rough-edged ski-slope of cheap print. Burns loved it and praised him over all the rest of us!‬

K H : ‪Brilliant! Can imagine it! As writer as teacher! Superb!‬

P S : ‪I liked him a lot, was sad to see him leave. When he left, he did what most teachers at least fantasise when faced with weeks of marking - he gave out marks but took all assignments to the dump and burned them!‬

K H :  ‪Re C&B, as with Editions Minuit, this 'new novel' reflected the publisher the writers had in common as much as a poetics or practice... As a young reader one probably attributed a commonality, and some of that adheres to this day... Your last comment about A B 's penchant for the bonfire is most amusing! Also strikes me as very Zen! Am reminded of an account I read of Bukowski's stint as poetry editor of a mag... you can imagine the time passing and the pile of mss growing... he realizes he has to act and finally, months (years?) down the track he separates the SAEs from the submissions, sets fire to the pile of poems, pisses on it, & places a black deposit in each envelope to return! Zen bastardry!‬

P S : ‪This tale of burning arrived via a staff member who drove our Burner and our ms to the tip! I thought it was a bloody hoot. Zen, yes, but also Freud - anxiety over the children rising above. I had only written two stories (if that) when I entered his class, knew nothing at all, and only broke into poetry (with Bill Hart-Smith). Alan (giving me high but not v high mark) said I don't know what H-S means (with your extraordinary mark!) but I accept HE knows what he's doing. The nicest back-handed praise. I've thought of him often.‬


Friday, April 18, 2014


Reading poems by Gu Cheng --a prior vague memory of his short life, killing his wife, his own suicide, but didn't know of his high reputation in China. Ouyang Yu would probably dispute it? He's certainly not one of the hundred contemporaries in Ouyang's anthology, In Your Face (Otherworld, Melbourne, 2002) --but he is a reference, an image, in the poem of one who is --Xu Jiang's The xiao jie at Dongdan (translator's note : xio jie = little sister, prostitutes).  I liked those poets, poems, when I first read the anthology, and right now Xu Jiang's impresses me as the kind of poetry I'm thinking my way into as the feeling of writing poems stirs inside me again.

Preamble : On the inordinately long bus ride into the City this day (the trains at Clifton Hill bizarrely unable to proceed down the line in either direction --imagine scores of passengers suddenly having to seek other transport, running across the freeway to the Queens Parade bus & tram hub) I read the poems of Dimitris Tsaloumas, --Helen Nickas's selection for the French edition (in which I'm astonished to find myself quoted in her introduction, in French so I cant really read it) --Un chant du soiree, published 2014, Orphee / La Difference, Paris. It's the book Petr Herel mentioned to me a few weeks ago when he popped in to the Shop and said it was a good translation as far as he could make out. I, of course, read only the original English, though Dimitris's earliest poems would have been translated from the Greek, followed then by the poems he wrote directly into English --the couple of decades he seemed to have accepted English language & life in Australia, in Elwood, alternating six months in Australia & six months on his beloved Leros in Greece. But not at the last --one day he dramatically claimed English wasn't the language nor this the place he wanted to be poet of or in. I read his poems on the stop start crawl from Clifton Hill through North Fitzroy & then Carlton & finally the City, and liked again the local settings, appreciating, again, how his classical poems, mythological & historical, have a similar purchase, --the parochial elevated to the Elysian & the Elysian made accessible, colloquialised --a switch of reference but the same tone of voice, --his tongue in one cheek & then in the other --chasing the same morsel around his mouth, doggedly. I quote here, Of Trees and Birds :

Three are the hardy trees that haunt
the space of my obsessions;

the cypress, pointed sharp in starlight
gathering shadows of friends long gone,

piercing the song of nightingales,
the break-of-day exuberance of larks;

the poplar, tremulous of yellowing leaf
in a far island's marshy cove

where September cranes land on their flight
from the oncoming snows of desolation;

the gum, its vastness of land and horizons
and sun-struck screeching birds that mock

the stubborn traveller who staggers on
trusting the certainties of maps.

I remembered some of the poems I wrote in The Red Book (1981-83) --naturally, another unpublished collection, still in handwritten exercise book, though at one time I began typing it, airmail-thin paper easily punctured by heavy handed typing, long lost now I think. The Red Book wasn't so much a parody of social, even socialist, realism but a redeeming of a bad idea by the lyrical & anecdotal of the higher literature. One poem imagined my own mum as its reader, the poem written for her to understand, intended to explain itself while holding a tone & shape which seemed true to poetry when it was done :

the rooster is bigger than the tree it's perched upon
the rooster is the rooster as the tree is the tree
nothing more a name could give to me

sky is blue
ground is white
houses village this terrain
snow pillages what spring'll regain

rooster is whatever rooster seems to be
ordinarily rooster's on its farm
out of harm's way
where's the farm you say
surely rooster's lost
and where is village come to that
& why's there snow on the longest day of summer?

sun's refraction above the hills
rooster's beak cued for crowing
metaphor & allegory might not at all
be blowing through
what breeze there is doesn't ruffle vermillion-red
yellow brown black & blue

you see through eyes which know what to see
does rooster see through our dreaming?
we groom our dreams & leave rooster to its crowing
what is is what it is & also what it's seeming
tree dreams its rooster whatever its human
coming & going

So now there is Gu Cheng (collections published by Copper Canyon & New Directions) & Xu Jiang --Xu Jiang's poem about working girls jumps with topicality yet is elegiac-- "it's knock-off time for them / the morning breeze in beijing was so gentle, blowing / across the faces of the harvesters / another night of labour / as gratified as gu cheng or hai zai [another suicided poet] / having just finished writing their immortal poems". I feel it's my kind of poem! --the language, the sound. As for Gu Cheng --five years of exile, predominately in Aukland --imagine that little house on a little island, the Chinese poet in New Zealand? --five years a lifetime and New Zealand another universe. At the last, October 1993, in the letter he wrote to his parents, this philosophy : "We have now returned from America, via Tahiti, to our small island in the sea. With that sudden change of winds, I have a better understanding of people now; I bear no hatred or resentment. To be separated, in the furthest corner of the world, is not easy; that people can be born and be together is the fortunate thing. Whether life is good or bad is really only a state of mind." (translated by Joseph Allen, Sea of Dreams : The Selected Writings; New Directions, 2005) --what equanimity! --but immediately followed by his atrocious act.

What is Xu Jiang's poem but a homecoming? --"at dongdan, i knew my life was light  / in that instant, waking up from all my wasted and tormenting / hours" --the "xiao jie, (in fact just women)" --that is the fact of the xiao jie, --thunderclap half-hidden in the bracket as Ouyang Yu translates it, --the otherwise diminutive or qualification 'just' is here the crucial foundation of the poem, the poem-of-perception --and not surprising 'so dazzling that i was shocked' --because 'grrrrls' aside, it is the way of seeing that's conclusively justified --the humility (as I'd say) of it, open sesame to golden treasury of world given up to poetry --the fact of the world, --& 'humility before the fact' first principal in my book, the which becomes 'The Book' through the years I've used it. Xu Jiang's poem ends : "i was lucky to encounter you at dongdan / and in that instant / i experienced the long-forgotten call of poetry again"... Touche! We shall see...


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]