(after Jack Spicer)
the river is lost
the flowers dry
shards of cold glass in the bed
for which you are now too tall
the brown bird in the tree
is made of paper
the tree is made of paper
and green glass
another insufficient song
slips under the earth
here where you are sleeping
Monday, December 21, 2009
___red sun___pinks the hills
_-out the passenger window__winery country
____-signposted gourmet tours
columns of vapour_-rising_-over pools
_-& the Swan too_-as we bridge over it
this early_-only airport traffic
___rows of dormant yellow earthmovers
___________bobcats for hire
these lives we will never lead
____-laid out dead before us
Below: NASA satellite image of the Swan River, Western Australia (click on image to enlarge)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
"She [Gertrude Stein] says it is a good thing to have no sense of how it is done in the things that amuse you. You should have one absorbing occupation and as for the other things in life for full enjoyment you should only contemplate results. In this way you are bound to feel more about it than those who know a little of how it is done.
"She is passionately addicted to what the french call métier and contends that one can only have one métier as one can only have one language. Her métier is writing and her language is english."
Below: Picasso's portrait of Stein.
Monday, December 07, 2009
(for Kat / props to Laurent Garnier)
techno is a virus throbbing
______munt-fodder glob stacker
_____tractions bluffer venom jugger
____null compressor den richter
___scales disturbor bots nicer
__loosed repeater stunblaster iris
_airlocks flooded spectrum gridshifts
glasstooth grinder misfitter stealth
_exhibit unexpected spectre pulse-flare
__omicron-wasp fluid accelerator blissed-on
___spitter madcap courtships culted brink
____cursives the roid belt unelected void
_____shapers strewn planetfall peak icebreak
______nano-roboscopic lifter phantasma
_______grabby bloater carbonate blunted
________mined dark-end quicksilver bloodline
_________spewer cloned samsara salad flak
Sunday, November 29, 2009
"Thought, which science has expelled from its place at the top of the spiral of evolution, reappears at the bottom of it: the physical structure of atoms and their particles is a mathematical structure, a relation. What is equally extraordinary is that this structure can be reduced to a system of signs - and is therefore a language. The power of speech is a particular manifestation of natural communication; human language is one more dialect in the linguistic system of the universe. We might add: the cosmos is a language of languages."
On Saturday the 21st I took part in heat 2 of the Melbourne Believer Slam at Westgate Baptist Centre in Yarraville.
A welcoming ceremony was performed by Aboriginal elder Reg Blow. His didge playing was awe-inspiring, and the ceremony created an atmosphere of solidarity amongst the participants, rather than competitiveness.
I'd never read poems in a church before. I'm not too fond of having to follow a bunch of rules when performing (it can throw me off in terms of focus), but the poems I read ('For Edwin' and 'Vipassana') were well-received, I thought. And I could understand why the rules had to be in place, given the context and audience.
Aside from religious/spiritual poetry, there were some great protest poems performed on the night, including the most powerful Hurricane Katrina poem I've heard. There were plenty of laughs to be had too though, which is pretty much guaranteed when you have the likes of Ezra Bix, Amanda le Bas de Plumentot and Cameron Semmons gracing the stage.
Thanks to Geoff Fox for inviting me along - I had a great night.
On Friday the 27th I was at the launch of Unusual Work #8. As ever, there was a bit of everything... poetry was the driving force, but UW launches are unpredictable, mixed-media affairs. I read 'free of the fear of freedom' (extended performance remix) and 'Found Poem #3' - the latter is featured in UW #8. Anna Fern & co were terrific... loved her haiku double act with Maurice Mcnamara... and Sean O'Callaghan's videopoems (with live delivery) just keep getting more and more mindblowing.
Track down a copy of UW if you haven't already - it's available from Polyester, Readings Carlton, and other non-shit bookstores.
Thanks to TTO for organising another off-the-wall launch, and for allowing me to be part of it.
___meditation w/ hangover
___smoking the dead
___melted in wine
(it lands as
now look yourself up:
words asleep, time-
___waste / narrowcast
a woman knocks, her
___body a shop
you’re eating &
___sleeping off cellburst
Thursday, November 26, 2009
(Kristen Bissaillon's remix of 'scratches', as part of our remix exchange.)
‘Burb a vicious experiment. Tentative tenements in the crossword. Garage and grocery doors snub birdsong, as if a separate species of closure.
One politic line bleeds into the next. Nobody arrives in the narrative, receives the inevitable, takes endearment right in the kisser.
One monkish audience bleeds into the next (shy collectors, sniped upskirt). The anonymous branch turns to speak.
Vaseline version of self. Airbrush a vacuum; nature has an opinion. Bitten cheek desires to drink.
Congeal, collide, pass in the night. Some structure has been imposed. Flies backward out of sight, out of sightedness. Lapse retired, retried. A twisted wire restraint.
Everything omen bears repeating. Flourishing collections incarnate again, it may yet prove interesting.
Desire authors the uncertain dear. Pill dies becoming.
(I previously posted a remix of Kristen's 'Cartouche'.)
stuck open a
softer way to
die the shrink-
pearly under sun
packed in slip-
as to seek more
than who you’d love
to scalp sunburnt
from treading vice-
like circles hatless
stripped of skillset
neither the blood
hat nor the funny
one keeping no
has to be another
high says who
Friday, November 20, 2009
Frequent the small places. Boycott of giants. Armadas of battleships unable to turn. How many m3 of grey? Crime scene cluster: bank, supermarket, exchange. Do not buy my child a gun.
Go bush. Firetraps on the fringes. Generalised iffiness. Loose network cables the cause? Distraction industries. The simian cornered. Optimal yield. Hoard apps, plugins. Planned waste, inbuilt obsolescence. Planet E: renovator’s dream. Foreclosure vultures. Revolving door policies.
Unplug these futures. Are we ‘headed’? Facer, tone up your voice. Read the insane. Artist seeks larger mirror. Caffeine for possibilities. Adjusting the gain. Eating whatever falls from the sky. Insects fly through rain, never struck by a drop.
Below: Simian 40 virus (image by Phoebus87).
day's dawning, skin's crawling
- Placebo, 'Pure Morning'
who is ever still,
__here in the live feed?
(could go every way)
peering at decisions,
she pierces the yolk-bubble,
everyone loves to be ignored,
__nonchalant or chalant,
____swooping on ignorance
days when you don’t want your name
the future’s correct,
__be so sure
____(teleprompter ≠ teleporter)
night opens to speed
__farms out fragments
____raided by addicts
placebo’s pure morning
__a tweaker anthem,
____meth’s power ballad
__a naked eraser
Monday, November 16, 2009
A remix of Kristen Bissaillon's poem 'Cartouche'
Hard to get off the roads. Abdicate, bypass. Hyper-
naming homeworld. Even Voyager I ferries
hieroglyphs. Turntables link sun
and sun. Departing the heliosphere. Lose
your face for days: an antidote. Words no longer
family. Become aerial, chaos-bait. Palpate
frequencies, patterns heard in pattern-
less. What sun scries. Return to nothing
but the impossible. Heat
travelled. Desert compass an
encumbrance, tarnished silver reflector.
Here the tomb-wastes, ground and sky of
once-flowing city. Remnants of
Ozymandias’s amusement. Shadow-
found. Drifts of laughter coiling sands.
Below: Cartouches for Ramesses II (aka Ozymandias) at Luxor Temple, Egypt.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I was at the launch of The Words We Found last night. This anthology presents the best writing and artwork from 21 years of Voiceworks magazine. Happy 21st, Voiceworks!
Lisa Dempster has excelled herself as editor, putting together an eclectic mix of raw, vibrant stuff.
Here's the list of contributors: Christos Tsiolkas (foreword), Lisa Dempster, Johannes Jakob, Bel Schenk, John Marsden, Bryce Wolfgang Joiner, Ella Holcombe, Justin Lim, Paul Hardacre, Justin Woolley, Christopher Jacobin, Mandy Ord, Jessica Au, Chloe Walker, alicia sometimes, Arlene TextaQueen, Mel Campbell, David Blumenstein, Christopher Currie, Albee Ontop, Stu Hatton, Jack Heath, Jade O'Donohue, Alice Swing, Vanessa Berry, Romy Ash, Lili Wilkinson, Andre Dao, Tai Snaith, Geoff Lemon, Cameron T, Mel Stringer, Lisa Pham, Liam Pieper, Lahmann B. Smith, Alison Hall, Greg Foyster, Steve Smart, Ula Majewski, Briohny Doyle, Anna Krien, Ronnie Scott, Thuy On, David Mence, Peter Savieri, Mia Timpano, Sofia Stefanovic, Tallace Bisset, Justin Heazlewood, Zoe Barron, Eirian Chapman and Simon Cox.
The poem of mine that's in there, A Billboard Said 'Yes', was first published in 1998(!), when Adam Ford was editor. I got to meet Adam last night, so it was as if circles were completing themselves. I remember writing the poem while 'working' in a video store. Those were the days, haha!
Kudos to everyone who's been involved in making Voiceworks what it is, i.e. essential.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Recursions. Glitching stars tap out the spectrum.
Trees bend fractal. Ventriloquist froglife. Dub-
pond & thicket. Spiralling through. Halt at the
fire to be its student.
Fire lifts, farewells. Night masquerade: some
of the women stand winged; men wear their
animal. Plant ingesters. Shamanic bass. En-
theogen shaving story-layers.
Cosmologies, soteriologies. The death
side. n, n dimethyltryptamine hyper-
space. Discarnate remedy. Pharma-
An audience with. Far space, upper
time. House of the elders. Inter-
section. Coming to. Drums
so cut off narrowed
in amsterdam bent
in ambers of bicycle
hotel together drink-
ing music through
or in the fountain-
park watching tall
freestyle soccer as
on canal floats djs
mix genders fleshy
grins streamers the
pink drink for free at
pride parade: ‘prik
power’ little self-
the can could be
the weed thinking
feel thinking’s such
a feeling van gogh
such a seer galleries
as headshops smart-
shoppers did you
ever see the night
watch the night
stoned to the point
of not escaping
red light district
which took so long
to find my mother
bites the ’dam off as
dirty though questions
of transparency who
wants to be seen to
be free via vondel-
park caught the
last wave of shrooms
back to the trees
where we fell back
and back the reign
of the bicycle cult
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
There is a 40 minute film version of the stage production of the poem, which featured Shaw as a solo performer. To the best of my knowledge the film is not available online, or for purchase. It was once screened on SBS. I taped it but later lent the tape to someone and never got it back. If anyone knows where I can get hold of a copy, I'd love to hear from you.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Ian Seed takes the scissors to Jeremy Over and Rupert M Loydell.
Thanks to editor Ian Seed for letting my poems travel without a ticket...
Friday, October 23, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Reader of the Emerging Writers' Festival is now out in the world. Congrats to everyone involved in putting it together, especially Dion Kagan, who's done an excellent job as editor.
Here's the blurb:
The Reader is a new collection that combines highlights of the 2009 festival with general writing information and new creative works across various writing forms.
The Reader is about the craft, the approaches, the techniques and processes; the discipline(s), the forms, the experiments; the inner life, the social life, the lifestyle; the ups and downs, the tricks and the tribulations, the fun and the failure…
The Reader is Steven Amsterdam on writers’ workshops, Clem Bastow on freelancing, Jen Breach on writing comics, Mel Campbell on pitching to editors, Kathy Charles on shameless self-promotion, Stephanie Convery on writing Black Saturday, Olivia Davis on fear and writing practices, Lisa Dempster on how much writers earn, Koraly Dimitriadis talks to Christos Tsoilkas, Caroline Hamilton compares writers’ festivals and music festivals, Stu Hatton on his mentorship with Dorothy Porter, Jane Hawtin discusses publishing academic research for a general audience, Andrew Hutchinson recalls the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Tiggy Johnson on parenthood and writing, Krissy Kneen on not writing about sex, Benjamin Law on failure, Angela Meyer reviews books for writers, Jennifer Mills on the politics of publishing and engaging with readers, Anthony Noack on good grammar, John Pace on re-drafting your screenplay, Ryan Paine on the role of the critic, Ben Pobjie on writing comedy, Robert Reid on the role of the contemporary playwright, Aden Rolfe on the emergentsia, Jenny Sinclair on the landscape of her book research, Chris Summers talks to Lally Katz about theatre writing, Mia Timpano on how to cultivate the ultimate author profile photo, Estelle Tang on Christopher Currie and blogging fiction, Simmone Michelle-Wells pens a letter to her younger self, Cameron White reviews alternatives to Microsoft Word.
And new creative works by Maxine Clarke, Chris Currie, Chris Downes, Claire Henderson, Kirk Marshall, Scott-Patrick Mitchell, Alice Mrongovius, Meg Mundell, Warwick Sprawson and Cameron T.
Monday, October 12, 2009
The three-hour group reading of Gertrude Stein's Stanzas in Meditation began in the park and was still going strong when I got there, about an hour before it was supposed to finish. Later we moved indoors, out of the rain. There was no chance of getting through Stein's work in its entirety within the allotted time, so having got maybe a little past half-way, we opted to read the last two stanzas to round things off. I'm fascinated by Stein - for me she represents a pivotal moment in experimental writing. Stanzas wards off any attempt at cursory reading (or extended reading for that matter) through Stein's characteristic use of repetition, ludic syntax and pronoun-play. An intensive group reading of such a text was, for me, perhaps the best way to approach it, especially given the opportunity to discuss it afterwards. It was an honour to be able to play a small part in this event. Pictured (l-r): Tim Wright (sitting), Michael Farrell, Aden Rolfe, Ella O'Keefe, Jal Nicholl, Penny Duff (sitting).
Landscaping Aesthetics: an experiment which involved artists working more or less independently within the same space, responding to the environment and each other. Maybe it was a loose concept, but it definitely raised possibilities (at least in my mind, and in the chat I had with Derek Motion about it). Derek was incorporating whatever was going on and being said into the poem he was writing on his laptop. Dion Kagan was working on an editing project - perhaps something to be approached differently within such an 'arty' atmosphere? Also 'working the room' were a photographer, a sound artist and a cello player. Creative vibes, creative rushes. What makes a space (potentially) 'creative'? Interesting, interesting...
Tom Cho's reading from Look Who's Morphing at 'Bless Me Reader, For I Have Sinned'. Go Tom!
The Contemporary Poetics (Looking In) panel on Saturday morning, which I blogged about here.
Frame Up, on the place of the arts, was probably the most spirited discussion I witnessed the whole time I was in Newcastle. Hats off to Scott Brewer for facilitating such a fired-up panel. One of the thorns was the place of creative writing in universities, a topic which I'd like to discuss further here at some point.
Breakfast Poetry Collage Reading with Michael Farrell, Jill Jones, Stuart Cooke, Tim Wright, Jal Nicholl, Duncan Hose and Ern Malley: "I have split the infinitive. / Beyond is anything."
The Contemporary Poetics (Looking Out) panel featured Michael Farrell on 'pre-collage and cut-up in Christopher Brennan and Mallarme', Joel Scott on 'translation as exemplary writing practice' and Stuart Cooke on Neruda, Lienlaf and poetic ecology. Three excellent papers, all providing directions for the future which I'm still processing.
I didn't catch all of Constellations: Weather, UFOs, Telepathy and the Cosmos, but enjoyed Jennifer Hamilton's paper on meteorology, its history and representations in literature. Astrid Lorange's paper 'Paronymous Attraction' is available on her blog. It's a must-read: an exemplary, exploratory piece of creative research.
The Launch Pad for Lisa Dempster's Neon Pilgrim and Michaela McGuire's Apply Within turned out to be the 'Giraffe Room' (pictured). I'm not sure the giraffes appreciated the interruption, but they (and we) were treated to excellent teaser readings. Was great to be at the Melbourne launch of Neon Pilgrim on Wednesday. Go Lisa!
The brainchild of Emma Konnaris, Diversity Dinners was an opportunity to share food, ideas and a bit of booze with fellow Critical Animals. I prepared a vegan avocado and lima bean salad under Spartan conditions, which in itself was an exercise in improv and working within constraints. I met some cool people, sampled their signature dishes, and I reckon this event should become an annual fixture.
At the Lock-up Gallery (which itself was a highlight) The Artist as Family (Patrick Jones, Meg Ulman and Zephyr Jones) gave a wake-up call re: waste, permaculture and Future Scenarios in a post-climate change and peak oil world. The talk took place alongside their ten-days'-worth collection of waste from Newcastle's beach and streets (pictured). For me this was another push in the direction of eco-consciousness and eco-poetics. What other direction is there?
Finally, the Newcastle Mattara Art Prize 2009 in St Andrew's Church Hall. This wasn't part of TiNA; I'm only mentioning it here because it came as something of a reality check. I decided to take a look because I had half an hour to kill before heading to the airport to catch my plane home. The paintings on display were predominantly realist or (post-)impressionist. Landscapes, portraits... lots of paintings of flowers, animals, boats and bushland. Amongst the awardees, the emphasis seemed to be on precision of rendering and technical mastery. This was also the emphasis of the one-sided conversation I had with one of the organisers, who was pointing out the use of light and colour in a couple of works from the miniatures section. Maybe I can draw a facetious (and long-bowed?) analogy with what Pam Brown has called the 'new Aussie lyric'. But there were a few leftfielders and oddities in the mix too. I voted for one of the these in the People's Choice Award. Hmmm... This is Art vs. This is Not Art...
I'm sure there's stuff I've forgotten, so I may expand on these or add others later. This blog knows no stasis. (Well duh, it's a web page.)
Thanks again to Aden & Britt for making everything run so smoothly at CA. And shoutouts to all the mad (and not so mad) folk I met up there. You know who you are...
? are you a numbered neighbour not a joiner [? need walk of air to pique] avid junkmail reader trad tradie ad such vertising material conditioned greenery crunched debate who’s first hitter on the team let’s care at least once [? that a glass isn’t waterproof] whose good look sticks washed our time with don’t trouble the radar ask us about lightweight a silken jigsaw done at the day spa [? seduced by precision] the dogbowl filled with toner a sun-enhancer
1% of men are afraid of dogs
2% of men say that they have been stalked at some point in their lives
3% of men disagree with the statement ‘real men cry’
4% of men fear dating a woman with a higher income
5% of men consider themselves bisexual
6% of men say looking at pornography is cheating
7% of men make it to heaven
8% of men are deceived about the paternity of the child they’re raising
9% of men are left-handed
10% of men in the Kinsey data were more or less exclusively homosexual
11% of men report general dissatisfaction with their looks
12% of men had inadequate intakes of the nutrients studied
13% of men think they have it easier
14% of men admit they exceed the speed limit most of the time
15% of men reported expressing love
16% of men describe themselves as being on diets
17% of men relied primarily on self-support
18% of men said they were motivated by the law
19% of men did housework on an average day
20% of men are afraid of spiders
21% of men refuse to listen
22% of men die from natural causes
23% of men experience impotence
24% of men go through andropause
25% of men are circumcised
26% of men work in professional specialty or executive, administrative and managerial jobs
27% of men said that violence against domestic partners was unacceptable
28% of men are commonly affected by premature ejaculation
29% of men say they look at pornography on occasion
30% of men stated their income had increased
31% of men are high scorers on religious engagement
32% of men smoke
33% of men say they trust average-looking women
34% of men had an affair with a co-worker
35% of men admit they received an unwanted Father’s Day gift
36% of men suffer from erectile dysfunction
37% of men are overweight
38% of men pay more attention to online ads
39% of men reported incorporating a vibrator into sexual activities
40% of men were dissatisfied with their physiques
41% of men are single
42% of men think talking to one’s ex on a regular basis is cheating
43% of men reported feeling work-life conflict
44% of men replied they would buy flowers to make women happy
45% of men said having meals and spending time together as a family made them happiest
46% of men have faked an orgasm
47% of men report having a gun at home
48% of men have suboptimal erections
49% of men fall into the personality temperament known as ‘guardians’
50% of men snore
51% of men were either overweight or obese
52% of men are nostalgic for the days when a handshake in business meant something
53% of men would take the male birth control pill
54% of men will have an affair at some point in some marriage
55% of men voted to re-elect Bush
56% of men consider themselves knowledgeable football fans
57% of men say they enjoy shopping for their wives
58% of men who access the internet from work admitted to accessing non work-related websites during work hours
59% of men drink coffee daily
60% of men have two or more chronic illnesses
61% of men said they have "more money than they expected"
62% of men say they would consider staying home
63% of men would not cheat
64% of men accepted that "men should participate more actively in housework so that women are able to work"
65% of men play games
66% of men had participated in oral sex
67% of men reported high satisfaction with their emotional relationship
68% of men would like to get flowers
69% of men are confident they could train another person to drive
70% of men were back to normal sexual activity
71% of men do not rape
72% of men were faithful to their spouses
73% of men believe in heaven
74% of men said “my brain is more important than my body”
75% of men observed did wash their hands
76% of men were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall living conditions
77% of men want home improvement related gifts
78% of men saw military service
79% of men admit they sometimes interrupt others in conversation
80% of men use the internet
81% of men were successful
82% of men report that they have not been involved in any consultation
83% of men believe that they should pay for the majority of dates at least until a relationship is established
84% of men who die of heart attacks during intercourse are found to have been cheating on their wives
85% of men achieved significantly improved erections
86% of men reported money as a significant stressor
87% of men having sex with men
88% of men consider themselves happy people
89% of men reported knowledge
90% of men describe themselves as "shy"
91% of men would have sex with a robot
92% of men were likely to marry
93% of men washed their hands with soap and water and then used paper towels to dry off
94% of men showed a preference for thin partners
95% of men reported having masturbated
96% of men indicated that they had heard of AIDS
97% of men originally had iron intakes above 100 percent RDA
98% of men don't really want to answer
99% of men reported working at some point
100% of men could meet
Process notes: This is something I put together a few weeks ago. You could call it flarf. I Googled "[x]% of men" for numbers between 1-100, and used phrases from the first page of results only. The most interesting aspect of this for me was the recurrence of themes, and what these recurring themes might say about men, masculinity, sexuality, the internet, surveys, statistics, sampling and context.
Friday, October 09, 2009
I have plenty to say about my weekend at TINA, but in this post I’ll talk about the Saturday morning panel on the place of the experimental in contemporary Australian poetry. The panelists were Jill Jones, Derek Motion, Michael Farrell and myself. Aden Rolfe was facilitator.
The night before the panel, I’d only managed 3 hours sleep in my tent (which, funnily enough, wasn't soundproof... nor entirely waterproof), so found myself mildly delirious, scattered, running on adrenalin.
Having contested the claims John Kinsella makes about experimentation having become ‘the expectation rather than the departure’ in his introduction to the Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry (2009), Jill Jones contacted Kinsella to elicit a response from him. Jill read excerpts from his response. He more or less stuck to the arguments he makes in the introduction, which can be read here.
There was some agreement amongst the panelists that the ‘dominant mode’ of contemporary Australian poetry is a mode dependent upon the sincerity of a lyric ‘I’. A recent blog post by Pam Brown on the resurgence/prominence of the 'Aussie lyric' is very relevant to this discussion. After further reflection on this, I’d say that the lyric mode is definitely prevalent, though to call it dominant ... well, it depends on the territory. It’s dominant in certain publications (both print and e-journals) and venues, and in certain circles and organisations with a stake in poetry in this country. I think it's fair to say that it dominates prizes and awards. This mode has also tended to dominate the ‘Best’ anthologies (i.e. Black Inc’s Best Australian Poems and UQP’s Best Australian Poetry), although I look forward to reading Robert Adamson’s selection for the Best Australian Poems 2009 – which, if the list of poets is anything to go by, appears to provide a balanced and diverse cross-section of current work.
The ‘dominant mode’ I’m referring to is certainly represented in Kinsella’s anthology, although Kinsella urges the reader to reconsider the work of particular poets who might be labelled mainstream or conservative (e.g. Peter Porter) and reflect on the transgressive impulses that inform the poetry he's chosen to anthologise.
The panel included readings by all four poets. I read ‘post-rock’ and ‘reproduction infinitum’. I spoke about the composition of the unpunctuated collage-poem ‘post-rock’, where I sampled words/phrases from music journalism and other sources. My rule of thumb: it’s not theft if the appropriated material is not recognisable. Which entails the manipulation of samples (e.g. logical and word-order reversals, transliterations, swapping prefixes and suffixes, etc, etc.). ‘Post-rock’ is a term and music genre ‘invented’ by music journalists and critics to pigeonhole bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky. So-called post-rock music tends to be instrumental, dynamic, emotive (but not ‘emo’!). My poem was an attempt to put words to that music, but also to brainstorm around the term ‘post-rock’ and to mine the ‘poetics’ of existing writing on this form of music. The poem is a case of ‘dancing about architecture’, as Elvis Costello put it.
‘reproduction infinitum’ was introduced in the context of failure, which happens to be the subject of Derek’s PhD thesis. As Derek has indicated, when it comes to experimentation of any kind, failure is still a legitimate result, and potentially a very useful one. If all poems are experiments, then all poems admit failure. All poems fail to a certain degree (by which I don't mean to imply that failure in poems can be quantitatively measured). I spoke of how ‘reproduction infinitum’ fails from my point of view, because if anything it’s too comprehensible. Or maybe parts of it are too ‘instinctive’? Michael Farrell has spoken about using chance procedures to ‘escape a reliance on instinct (which often means convention)’. During composition I sometimes find myself seduced by narrative flow, or the urge to ‘tidy up’ the meaning of the poem – seduced by precision, you might say. I’m sure some poets would see precision (and perhaps also narrative flow) as necessary in the construction of a ‘successful’ poem. In the early stages of composition, the possibilities may seem endless. When working with collage, a phrase may glow with potential, with multifarious referentiality. It may seem to magnetise with certain other phrases in the ‘pot’, and to repel others. I usually find there’s an instinctive urge to ‘match’ phrase with phrase along narrative or thematic lines, but often the more interesting links are forged via a certain amount of randomness.
Aden asked whether we consider ourselves experimental poets, and whether others had described our work in this way. At the time I said I couldn’t recall my work being described in this way, although on reflection it probably has been. Not that there’s a voluminous body of criticism on my work (in fact, this ‘body’ is pretty much limited to the comments on this blog)! I added that I don’t introduce myself as ‘Stu Hatton, experimental poet’ (and like Derek, at times I hesitate to even refer to myself as a poet – depends on the context). But when the conversation goes along the lines of ‘Oh, you’re a poet, what kind of poetry do you write?’ I’d probably use the e word in there somewhere, although I’d probably add that my work is fairly eclectic (another 'loaded' e-word). And I should note that I’ve certainly flirted (at length?) with the lyric I / the sincere subjective mode. All of this may become clearer if/when my book surfaces. Having said all that, people are more likely to ask, ‘What do you write about?’ to which I’ve been known to half-jokingly reply, ‘sex, drugs, rock & roll’. But if there’s a one-word answer it may be ‘desire’ – that’s the theme of How to be Hungry, at least.
I went on to say that I found the concept/metaphor of experimentation useful in terms of understanding my poetic practice. I gave a provisional definition of ‘experimental’ within this context: poetry where anything/everything is permitted/admitted – or better: poetry where any form of constraint is permitted. (Cf. OuLiPo). This is a broad and somewhat unsatisfactory definition, but I think it serves a modest purpose in terms of understanding the range of poetic practice, and the openness of outlook which I see as critical to an experimental approach. That hinge of unrestricted/restrictive poetics is important to me. Such a definition isn’t really helpful when looking at individual poems, though. More needs to be said regarding intent.
Jill’s ‘notes for a talk’ come in here. The quote from Gertrude Stein and Jill’s emphasis of certain words within it lead me to the one of the 'lessons'/reminders I've taken from the panel: the convergence of the experimental and experiential. At some point the question of the etymology of ‘experimental’ was raised. A member of the audience responded that it was from the Latin experientia. The history of the word ‘experiment’ aligns it closely with experience. I noted that it may be interesting to substitute the word ‘experiential’ for ‘experimental’ in our discussion, and see where that led/left us. I believe that Jill’s, Michael’s and Derek’s work could be profitably read through this tension (if indeed it is a tension) between experiential and experimental.
Talk of the experiential/experimental immediately led me to mindfulness and awareness, and the admission of the environment, noise and ‘the random’ into the poem at the time of composition. Also admission of the ‘meta’ – the poet’s thoughts during and about compositon, for example, but this covers reflexivity in general.
So far in this post I’ve talked about composition as if it were a discrete time, a cordoned-off period or activity, as if composition doesn’t occur at all times. But the poet is always composing, in so far as the poet is always being composed. Composed by and of. How does composure relate to composition? Back again to mindfulness...
The question of audience came up, namely: who makes up the audience for experimental poetry in Australia? I listed the obvious: other poets, creative writers, artists (particularly those with an experimental bent), literary critics. Beyond that I’d say the audience is largely unknown – but the audience can (and does) exist beyond these confines. Off the top of my head, there are readers of my blog who don’t fit into any of the aforementioned categories. And when we consider experimental poetry beyond the private reader and the public reading, in realms noted by Kinsella, such as installations, multimedia and performance, I believe the potential audience becomes wider. I see multimedia, visual and video poetry as ways forward – by engaging audiences on a audio/visual level that goes beyond perceived ‘limitations’ of poetry as language-art. I’m thinking media and performances which incorporate but are not delimited by the written word, the voiced word, the performative body of the poet.
Thanks to facilitator Aden Rolfe and my fellow panelists for an engaging discussion. At the end, asked to sum up, I said that I still didn't know what 'experimental' meant. I guess I was being flippant. If I were to arrive at a settled definition, maybe my own experimentation would cease at that point. Provisionality is important.
saved from that
the guesswork’s sure
unsheer give them 3
kilos of ghost that
should be sufficient
how much they’ve
spent on their eyes
losing like they’re told
the dead body grazed
on the billboard
directed at drivers
overloaded with i
don’t knows lost
mission control those
Monday, September 28, 2009
On Friday I'll be heading up to This Is Not Art (TINA) in Newcastle. In the afternoon, as part of Critical Animals, I'll be taking part in a group reading of Gertrude Stein's Stanzas in Meditation in Civic Park. Other readers will include Penny Duff, Derek Motion, Michael Farrell, Ella O'Keefe and Jal Nicholl - and members of the audience are also invited to read. The reading runs from 2:30-5:30pm. I expect to arrive fashionably late, probably about halfway through.
On Saturday morning I'll be involved in a panel discussion with Derek Motion, Jill Jones and Michael Farrell (plus facilitator Aden Rolfe), talking about the place of the experimental in contemporary Australian poetry. From the program:
Contemporary Poetics (Looking In): the place of the experimental in contemporary Australian poetry.
Sat 3 Oct: 9.30am – 11.00am
Banquet Room, City Hall
Is experimental poetry now the norm in Australia and what does experimental mean in 2009? Who makes up the audience for experimental poetry? Does the diversity in Australian poetic practice entail a progressive, permissive playing-field? This engaging and exploratory panel discussion includes readings by the panellists.
The impulse for the panel came from John Kinsella's comments in his introduction to The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry (2009):
"The publication or presentation of innovative verse-novels, prose poetry, hypertextual poetry, multimedia and performance poetry, installation poetry, concrete poetry and many other cross-generic forms is standard in Australia now. Experimentation is the expectation rather than the departure, but this surely leads us to question what actually constitutes the experimental, and to begin looking elsewhere for what is truly working against the status quo."
Jill Jones has blogged in response to this here. I'm really looking forward to continuing this discussion, and to meeting the other panelists.
Once the panel's done there are a million panels/performances/happenings I want to check out, but there'll also be time to kick back and hang out with the other (critical) animals and festival peeps. I'll be staying in the tent city if anyone's looking for me...
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
who's impersonating who
here / who's mindblowing who
she too is edgy / &
drip / crack
half-pout / making
eyes at no-one
/ he's so hard
back turned / to
what a couple / part
business part unfinished
i.e. there's no word / for this
& that buys you
/ future ammunition
(it rides within / your system)
Monday, September 21, 2009
The latest Wordsalad podcast features poetry and spoken word from Alex Hamburger, Andrea Gibson, Aaminah Hernandez, Corbet Dean, Janet Kuypers, Joan Retallack, Jorie Graham, Maria Fama, Naomi Shihab, Pierre Joris, Richard Huelsenbeck, Sekou (tha misfit), Stu Hatton and Wyndham Lewis. All interspersed with music from Morton Feldman.
Thanks to Paul Baker for putting together another inspiring show, and to Chris Andrews for helping out with the recording of 'faulty'.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
What a festival that was! Wish I could've caught more of it, but what I did catch was inspiring. My faith in the Melbourne poetry and spoken word scene has been renewed.
First up there was the launch at the Fitzroy Town Hall. Myron Lysenko MCed and read excerpts from Blake and Auden to get our minds in the frame. Or out of the frame - isn't that what poetry's about? Great selections, Myron! Mayor of Yarra Amanda Stone (who was my Year 8 English teacher!) gave a fitting speech. Jennifer Harrison gave the perfect tribute to the late, great and dearly missed Dorothy Porter. Then the Heart Chamber (Matt Hetherington, Lia Hills, Tom Joyce, Michelle Leber and Marian Spires) performed love poetry which ranged from the flippant to the full-flight ecstatic. It was almost like seeing a group of poet-friends performing as if they were the only ones in the room: it seemed they were freely bouncing poems/fragments off one another. The segues were natural/unexpected rather than contrived. Cool idea... didn't see anything else quite like it for the rest of the festival. Unfortunately I couldn't stick around for the infamous pub crawl (thereby bringing infamy upon myself!).
On Saturday the 5th I went along to the (non-Overload-related) Frame Lines party at Loop. Was great to see photography/artwork from the magazine up on the projector screen, and to meet the staff and artists involved. I read 'chapel st'. Thanks to Sarah and Jeremy for opening up the stage.
Then there was Tripping the Light Ekphrastic at Glitch on Tuesday the 8th. What can I say... great gig, great poets, great performances, great crowd, great souvenir chapbooks (thanks Fee!). As promised, I read 'Sharps' by Nathan Moore and 'Suite' by Dana Guthrie Martin, along with my remixes of those poems: 'Sharps' (Warding Remix) and 'Suite' (Sour Remix). Thanks to everyone who came along. It was an honour to share the stage with Anna Fern, Ahmed Hashim, Fee Sievers, Maurice McNamara and Kristin Henry. All the poets blew me away on the night, and everyone I spoke to said they really enjoyed the performances and concept. Something I should've mentioned earlier is the pre-gig interview I did for the Overland blog. Thanks to Maxine Clarke for organising that.
The following Thursday saw the launch of the first edition of [untitled] at Watsonia library. Kalinda Ashton gave a fantastic launch speech, reminding everyone of the importance of magazines and journals that publish stories and poems by new and emerging writers. Then we were treated to readings by some of the featured writers (I gave a reading of 'hands/office'). Thanks and congrats to Blaise, Les and the rest of the [untitled] crew. A well-attended and memorable launch, for sure. All bodes well for the future of this publication.
On Saturday night I went along to Poetry in Motion at ACMI Studio. David Rozetsky's short films based on poems by Elizabeth Campbell, Philip Salom and Luis Gonzalez Serrano were alluring examples of videopoetry, marrying the short film aesthetic with poem-as-voiceover and music. There was also a series of video poems curated by Sydney's Wordjammin' collective, which were more experimental/avant-garde, in some cases unashamedly lo-fi, but all fascinating in their own way. Sjaak de Jong curated a brilliant selection of vispo and audio-visual pieces from Australia and around the world, including the likes of Warren Burt, Eddy Burger and Richard Tipping. All things considered, with the possible exception of the Surprise Showcase (see below), Poetry in Motion was probably my favourite part of the festival - because it pointed to the future. It promised to be 'a truly innovative session', and for me it definitely delivered.
I stuck around for the Skype Slam, which has been discussed at length on the Overland blog. Despite the technical hitches, it was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed all the performances. Although maybe I would've been more disappointed if I'd just come along for the slam and hadn't already been blown away by Poetry in Motion? Still, I figure the Skype Slam concept was a risk worth taking.
Sunday night's Surprise Showcase at Dante's closed the festival in style, with some captivating performances. Josephine Rowe, Maxine Clarke, Lewis Scott and Felix Nobis were magical. Congrats to all the award winners, who were definitely deserving - especially Michael Reynolds. Again it was great to see such a large, up-for-it crowd... mainly made up of poets, but this was a night for the poets to celebrate what we have.
Thanks to everyone who made Overload what it was: from the festival committee and staff (James Waller, Jon Garrett, Luis Gonzalez Serrano, Sjaak de Jong, Tim Hamilton et al), to the venues, the audiences, and of course the poets.
If there's one thing I'll take from the festival it's that I should get out to at least one gig every week, because the scene is so rich, and should be supported. And because Melbourne's poets are worth hanging out with. Cheers to you guys!
Ok, now I need to lie down.
Below: Tripping the Light Ekphrastic at Glitch Bar. Group shot (L-R): Maurice McNamara, Brett Ditchfield, Kristin Henry, Fee Sievers, Ahmed Hashim, moi, Anna Fern.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
My poem 'stock' is making an appearance over at Thirteen Myna Birds, brushing wingtips with poems by Walter Conley, Adam Fieled, Asmara Malik, Alishya Almeida, Dana Guthrie Martin, John Rocco, James Brush and Kyle Hemmings. Thanks to editor Juliet Cook for letting my poem join the flight formation.
'stock' will only be up there for a limited time. Thirteen Myna Birds features 13 poems at any given time, and each time a new poem is published, the oldest poem gets 'etherised'. Archives? Pffft.
* Wrap-up of Overload and other gigs coming soon...
Sunday, September 13, 2009
low on content / snack
27 yrs on a food-
later found munching on
a chocolate Buddha
graffiti on the cistern
said religion should be flushed
gods do demand a great deal
not down with what
has so far been said /
fielding questions from
night / emptying its emptiness
TV left ghosting
as background buffer
cashew overdose / more
football than ever before
‘keep to the news’ –
earnings territorialise / mind
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
As my wife Monica (aka the human calendar) kindly pointed out, today marks the 5th anniversary of this blog.
To mark the occasion, I've dug deep into the vaults and selected a poem from each year of the blog's existence. Not necessarily my favourites, but pieces which I thought deserved a second look for whatever reason.
Year 1: the great singing voices of the dead
(I don't write 'em like this any more!)
Year 2: Portrait of Ledong Qui
(I still see Ledong at poetry gigs occasionally - hopefully I'll see you at Overload, Ledong!)
Year 3: digitalia
(Think I can see a family resemblance with more recent experiments in this one.)
Year 4: rain
Year 5: stoppages
(Sentences on a theme?)
Thanks to you, the readers of the blog, for your feedback and encouragement. I wonder what this blog, my (writing) life, and the world will look like 5 years from now... Any predictions?
Saturday, August 29, 2009
though who uses anything
for its intended purpose?
a poem may be fluked?
graffiti on t-shirt / speed
of its questions
‘i like this intrusion’
(quips the milquetoast / lost
in customer service country)
‘killing with kindness’: the phrase
becomes a regular
those still bossing bones
the old way
of q & a, detail / i.d. burial
how to ‘decouple’ mind, shut
off audio / dissolve?
think a shut eye = sleep?
detector vans roam
&/or wrappers rustle
in abandoned cinema
Friday, August 28, 2009
The start of Overload is only a week away. The festival proper kicks off on Friday the 4th of September, and runs through to Sunday the 13th.
To celebrate the highpoint of the Melbourne poetry calendar, short poems will be scrolling across the text tickers of the west-facing wall at Fed Square (pictured) for the duration of the festival.
My poem 'free of the fear of freedom' will be one of the poems featured on the wall. Check them out if you're in the city during the festival.
Also, the Overland blog will be devoted to all things Overload and poetry-related during the festival - so have a read and don't be afraid to chime in with a comment.
I heard a reading of this poem the other day, and thought I should post it here, considering it also ties in the with the ekphrasis theme at Overload. It never fails to send shivers.
John Keats : 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' (1820)
Thou still unravished bride of quietness!
_Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
_A flow'ry tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
_Of deities or mortals, or of both,
__In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
_What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
__What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
_Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
_Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
_Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
__Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
_Though winning near the goal -yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
__For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
_Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
_For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
_For ever warm and still to be enjoyed,
__For ever panting and for ever young;
_All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloyed,
__A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
_To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
_And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
_Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
__Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
_And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
__Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
_Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
_Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold pastoral!
_When old age shall this generation waste,
__Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
_Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou sayst,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," -that is all
__Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
Below: Tracing of an engraving of the Sosibios vase by John Keats.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
It's happenings and gigs a-go-go for the next couple of months.
Before I get to the upcoming stuff, I want to mention how great it was to be there for the launch of Nathan Curnow's Ghost Poetry Project at the Old Melbourne Gaol just over a week ago. Loved Nathan's performances on the night (haunting stuff, seriously). I'd definitely recommend grabbing a copy of zee boke.
On Sunday the 30th of August at BMW Edge, Fed Square, the Melbourne Writers Festival plays host to the final of Poetry Idol. Tickets are still available. I'll be somewhere in the audience, having been involved in judging a couple of heats along the way, and also judging (along with Gig Ryan) two poems submitted by each of the finalists. The scores for the 'page' poems will be tallied up with results from each poet's performance on the night. Good luck to all the poets! I was going to throw in some clever punning based on the fact that Gig Ryan is yet another gig... but I think I'll leave it. The title of this post is probably enough for one day.
As I've mentioned previously, I'll be performing at Overload in Tripping the Light Ekphrastic on Tuesday the 8th of September at Glitch Bar. I'll also be getting to as many other Overload gigs as I can.
Then on Thursday the 10th of September I'll be at the launch of [untitled] magazine's debut issue at Watsonia Library. I'll be performing one of my poems, which is featured in the mag. The launch kicks off at 6:30pm.
Looking further ahead, in early October I'll be heading up to This Is Not Art (TINA) in Newcastle. I'll be involved in a panel discussion with Derek Motion, Jill Jones and Michael Farrell as part of Critical Animals, talking about the place of the experimental in contemporary Australian poetry. I've also put my hand up for a group performance of Gertrude Stein's Stanzas in Meditation. But more on TINA later. The official program will be online in the coming week.
There may be one or two other happenings coming up in the next few weeks - I'll keep you posted.
"Poems begin for me somewhere in the middle of the middle (the poet is perpetually assigned the 'it' role in a kind of aesthetic monkey-in-the-middle game, trying to catch things from competing and irreconcilable interests and desires)."
- Charles Bernstein, from '12 of 20 questions' on Rob McLennan's blog.
Below: a still from Neil Plenge's video The Answer (2003), featuring Charles Bernstein.
ignore what was said while high
esp. w/ regard to moneys
we half-met at the party / so
rude of me (gushy, italicised?)
<----reverse thrust (er ...) re-entry anx / sedation damn suspect eyes / the parents not so naive a total lack / while peaking ... so much nothing to notate
Sunday, August 16, 2009
‘Nevertheless, we’ll be gone from here before it begins.’
A city disappearing under festival posters.
That will be the memory.
I bought all my pronunciation could carry.
Le Bar Américain holding Wimbledon on an outdoor Bravia.
Table service ought to be sporadic, selective.
Show of authenticity.
Churches’ convenient distances (how many within bell-shot?).
‘Only of so much interest to non-Catholics, perhaps.’
The phrasebook covers us to the laundromat.
Tourist argues with the girl behind the desk: surely a gallery that only takes an hour should advertise as such(!)
Striding, intent on the next photo... only to gatecrash a raincoat group shot.
A grey sky needs a garden.
I don’t know a word.
Rae Armantrout : 'The Subject'
It's as if we've just been turned human
in order to learn
that the beetle we've caught
and are now devouring
is our elder brother
and that we
are a young prince.
I was just going to click
on "Phoebe is changed
into a mermaid
tomorrow!" when suddenly
it all changed
into the image
of a Citizen watch.
If each moment is in love
with its image
in the mirror of
(as if matter stuttered)
then, of course, we're restless!
"What is a surface?"
trying to change the subject.
From Rae Armantrout, 7 Poems (2004), freely available as a pdf via Beard of Bees.
"It [poetry] has to become almost like a first language."
"When I listen to public discourse, it often seems to me that people don't really hear what they're saying. Poetry should cause people to think twice about the words in their mouths. Listen longer."
- two quotes from Rae Armantrout via Here Comes Everybody.
Friday, August 07, 2009
my adopted suburb
their arrogant houses
such prettified much
minding of one’s
own business here i
soundtrack to distort
cropped beats over
picket fencing music
selected to alienate
surroundings vs. self
to alienise gardening
executive salaried or
my word how rude
as a poet codenamed
wordy to scrawl upon
such spongy scenery
with my bum graffiti
Note: Autechre for the uninitiated.
"... the theory-of-no-theory ... is the most rigid and confining of theories, as well as the most prevalent. In every generation the theory-of-no-theory shouts loudest in the third-rate - for whom, always, 'the way to make poems is known'."
- Donald Hall, from 'Theory x Theory' in Poetry & Ambition
Monday, August 03, 2009
Bird’s call a greeting / warning / reminder.
Live a little less filtered?
Who has time for these experiments?
Crossword clue = ‘experimental’; answer = ‘tentative’.
Automatic door won’t acknowledge.
As if you don’t have a million things to steer.
Mouthing around for endearment, closure.
Scratch eczema till bleeding.
As if narrative were inevitable.
Fallen into the hands of Buddhists.
‘Bit too life-affirming for me.’
No audience for preachers here.
Step foot in these political premises.
Reach of the difference engine.
What is the quality of the search?
Futures sought, posited.
Fear the flashforward.
Make no attempt.
Nothing to talk to.
Learning how to be uncomfortable.
Suffocating new scenery.
Who doesn’t attract weirdos?
Must go, before we become friends.
Do not thank the owner when leaving.
What benefit of hindsight?
Tendril of half-bitten mouthflesh at the jawline.
‘No pukers’ (a sign).
Of uncertain authorship.
Pump omens into.
You may yet prove interesting.
‘We are happy to inform you.’
You are a collection.
Pill wears off.
Nothing learned once that doesn’t need learning again.
Once desire is overcome, writing flourishes?
Below: Brion Gysin, 'Calligraffiti of Fire' (click image to enlarge)