Thursday, December 21, 2006

first time encounter with spam

Since 10th of this month I have been checking and clearing a friend's professional contact point, and surprise for me, the extent of spam, filling the inbox. Messages from the provider shouting about box overload. Sick spam and post-avant spam and beggars belief and joke spam, and can I say it, ham spam...

Went in to read and clear today, only a day since I last checked, and there were 79 in the inbox. Only 1 email that wasn't spam.

I have noticed that for a few days now (leading up to Christmans) the amount of this stuff has increased. I'm wondering why? Are penis enlargements and bank loan acceptances and the strangely cut-up excercises, which sell nothing, and mention all sorts of off topic disjunctions somehow more desired around this time of year? not by me that's for sure

Fortunately for me, (sorry A) I'll be off on a holiday without internet for two weeks. I am so looking forward to this, but figure that the spam overload will cause the provider to bounce all mail until either I or A get back. I don't get spam on my contacts, because they are not in public domain and I'm truly thankful for that.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

from nothing: speak again

travel dirt roads with the
urgent closed on itself and the
effortless moving around of dust
blurs cunning acts, that counterfeit
you recognise this part, know that
nothing happens that isn't more than
one part / each reality / dream
props, the lumbering oafs, the fake
scenery that fools nobody (and each
part plays it out) the moments
proceed, act to act to act

from five a.m. until seven

an ashtray reminds what not to do late at night
when paintings on the wall comfort
when they are read with a light on


a shift of eye vision at just
the moment one leaf drops


clouds growing up and out from the hill top
in pace with the sun, trees
seem luminous, giant


changing light on the surface of paper
something happens if a pen is found


audible hum of a laptop uploading
sound of tinnitus and above it
wood pigeon, crow


street noise on Lamberton and Ward
is slow to start, just one car, a wheelie bin
the rumble of Kochie & Mel through the wall


violent rush of the printer disrupts, at the
front of the house, the mantle clock chimes

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

you are multitudes

stay in the light

you suck clouds from a room
message the medulla
vacuum space is lighter
when you blow clouds back


retina shine, eyeing the painting
find you present and the painting's claim
(in silence) colours you four-fifths
the pulse of white walls


my blue-eyed man, saw your
hands first, gesticulate
they caught my peripheral
a series of small pulsing lights

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A poem by Barron Field


(On visiting the spot where Capt. Cook and Sir Joseph Banks first
landed in Botany Bay.)

Here fix the tablet. This must be the place
Where our Columbus of the South did land.
He saw the Indian village on that sand,
And on this rock first met the simple race
Of Austral Indians, who presumed to face
With lance and spear his musket. Close at hand
Is the clear stream, from which his vent'rous band
Refreshed their ship; and thence a little space
Lies Sutherland, their shipmate: for the sound
Of Christian burial better did proclaim
Possession, than the flag, in England's name.
These were the commelinae Banks first found;
But where's the tree, with the ship's wood-carved fame?
Fix then the Ephesian brass - 'tis classic ground.

- Barron Field (1825)

Kabita Down Under

'Kabita Down Under' is the name of the anthology of Australian poetry being published by Patralekha for the International Book Fair in Kolkata India during January 2007. The trio of editors; Ankur Saha, Subrata Augustine Gomes, and Shoumyo Dasgupta have selected more than 200 poems by 70 Australian poets for translation into (Bangla) for this Anthology, starting from Barron Field and ending in Jaya Savige.

Barron Field was Charles Lamb's and Wordsworth's friend. He was a judge of the Supreme Court in Sydney when he self published 'First Fruits of Australian Poetry' in 1819 containing two poems - the long poem Botany Bay Flowers and The Kangaroo.

In 1825 Field's New South Wales was published and included the poem Sonnet. In 1888 the anthology A Century of Australian Song appeared, containing the three poems, one in the text and two in an appendix at the end of the collection.

I'm really impressed that the editors for the Kabita Down Under Anthology have included poetry and poets from our early history. I am also a little intrigued about the arrangement of work and how it might suggest a journey through Australian poetry from its 'first fruits' up to the present day. My own work will appear on pages 30 and 31.

It seems a bit of a shame that an Australian publisher couldn't pick up on this anthology and publish an English language version, or an expanded and more sprawling version, or a dual English/Bangla version. There is certainly room for Australian poetry anthologies to engage with our early poets, our poetic history by including well-known and lesser known poets from that period forward and I wonder that this isn't a priority. In fact, after reading the Weekend Australian review on Saturday, Peter Rose (editor of the Australian Book Review) might agree with me, or I might agree with him.

Discussing his reading selections, he mentions The Oxford Book of American Poetry (OUP) edited by David Lehman and including more than 200 poets in 1200 pages. Quoting his comments in full, 'There are weighty selections from giants such as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens and John Ashbery. Any young reader with an imagination should receive a copy this Christmans. If Australian poetry is to have a life beyond the internet and the cognoscenti, we urgently need an anthology of this kind: vast, catholic, inexpensive and widely available.'

He won't get any arguments from me on that, although if someone with his obvious connections can't push that idea forward, one wonders who could.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

reading and reviewing

Between now and April next year I will read seven new books of poetry with an aim to review at least five of them. I have five to hand and another two will arrive next week. Reviewing is a complex pleasure and at times, a difficult pleasure. During this year I've completed six poetry reviews, published in three different journals, print and online. In a roundabout way, I fell into reviewing poetry quite recently, although a few too many years back, for a short moment in time, I did have a byline with a local newspaper and reviewed fiction, non-fiction and poetry - but the space was limited and I had to select from boxes of books, some that looked to have been hanging around a while, and others that I wouldn't select or purchase for myself. A very different type of reviewing to what I find myself engaging with now.

I read a few poetry reviews, (always seek them out when a favourite poet has a new release or a new anthology is published) and the review is always a point of contact for me, prior to reading the work, but it often happens, that I've read the book myself. Sometimes it feels like the reviewer and me have read two different books (though not too often), sometimes we're on the same page, sometimes I find an insight the reviewer has discovered and it takes me back to the book of poems for another look. A bad review (is there really one?) can damage the ego for a short while. I've had a bad review myself, and it can pierce if the reviewer is spot-on. Just a learning curve then and a quick lick of the wound. And I guess, that reviewers don't always get it right, I hope though, that they always read the work and in a considered way, so that the work is allowed a little space to make a claim. Reading is an act of attention as much as it is an act of pleasure (or displeasure) as the case may be.

So, I've been thinking about how I approach reading poetry for review and wondering if it is different to how I approach reading poetry without the intention to review. I think that to begin, it occurs in the same way. What is different with the book which I intend to review, what I do differently, is to have some stick-its or note paper handy. When I'm skimming the book for the first time, if something in the content or language use or general pulse of the poem grabs my attention, I keep reading and mark the page. Later, I go back through the book, only looking at the marked pages, making some notes. Then I read the book again from start to finish. If the book is going to be reviewed the note taking segues into my own writing, my own writing based on my reading of another writer's work. So the poet is the subject, the poet's poetry is the subject. It can be difficult to stay in focus on that point - that the creative act I'm engaging with is based on an act of attention to another writer's work and about another writer's work. It is important for me to keep that path, to offer to represent the reader in that way, by following the claim the author makes on my attention and discovering, as a reader (who is representing the reader), what comes my way. Wearing the reviewer hat, creates an expectation, both in the author of the work, and the future readers of that work. I am expected to talk about the work and give examples of what I find, and possibly do some research to provide interesting background if that is required and will inform the 'review'.

A review should do what it is meant to do. There have been discussions about reviewing for almost as long as there have been discussions about writing. Reviewing is not easy. Reviewing is easy. There should be more reviewers, more books of poetry should get reviewed. There are so few reviewers and so few venues willing to publish the reviews. Not enough space, or not enough money or not enough interest? I don't have any answer, save this one, which is not an answer, rather it is a question. Would you like to get a review for your next book? Tick Yes or Tick No...and anyone who ticks no - hats off to ya. Reviewing poetry for publication has increased my pleasure threshold, increased my knowledge and awareness, and I think it is nuturing my own writing. You can't beat the 'paying attention principle' it works every time.

Friday, December 01, 2006

you are multitudes

tired of the sun

it's too easy to wax on
blue liquid light,
white sand
but the only season
I'll miss here
is autumn

I'll miss the way
the sky competes
with the ocean
for clarity
and everyday
both win

will it be snowing?

you said I wouldn't last
more than one winter
said it was too cold
for a Queenslander
you told me that your mother
couldn't wait to move to Brisbane
maybe you forgot that
back then, the logging and the apples
fucked the working man
and Queensland was the place to go

you've got it wrong
about me, I'll watch aurora borealis
rug up inside a firelit house
and you'll keep me warm

why I'm not in bed

there are so many places
and I've looked at hundreds
(different I guess
viewed on the net)
better to look in person

my enthusiasm
won't be put off
desirous I am
for one perfect spot
(and there's the end
of my life for sleep)

did the moon dance?

heat haze shimmered
when the wind came
whipped at the kids
on the beach

you held my hand
as the wildest waves
blew in over my waist

great big moon, white
on the day's blueness

a crazy convergence
of wave motion, tricks
of distance and light

our eyes
witness the moon
bouncing around
in the sky