Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Nov, '17
"Hi Stephen, In a message to him I'd described ex-Sydney poet Alan Jefferies' poem about the late John Forbes (in Spence's mag Oz Burp) as a play between transparency [plain speech] & syncopation [linear & spatial rhythms], and same idea came up reading yours --all youve been posting here, remarkably every day it seems -- that certain relation ('sort of', 'kind of') so not certain at all! --uncertain relation then --the double binds which move at the centre of the poem, as tho the gist, --the political, for example, "not to blame" --allied to history, grandparents as prophecy, immemorial time kept by every generation's ancients --and not to blame for ever further binds, for example smart's real limitation, re- your recent warning, so here "unaware // of the grain that the creative / advance of our / intelligent steps have crushed" --and, as you may intuit, i (holding against the debunking of imagery) simultaneously hear the complaint while rising on the music , for example, "I am my own grief" and, "walking / through wide grasslands / of paradise" ... Thanks for the good read. ‪Kris Hemensley‬"


A week ago I'd seen Robert Podgurski's wonderful mountain photo shared on Stephen Ellis's Timeline, & messaged him abt it and the accompanying Pound quotation, "Do not move / Let the wind speak / that is paradise" , noting the coincidence with the words of John Thorpe i'd sent to Stephen re- "what's possible is the wind…it's not wind, but the human sound of it" & etc… Robert graciously replied explaining his mountain experience, "Listening to the elements more carefully; they deserve a great amount of attention. But it takes time. Learning to just sit and be with them." I was reminded strongly of exchanges with the late John Anderson (d, 1997), recalling that "I offered once, after conversation, that if one was still enough, before the mountain, then the mountain would dance!"


Something always seems to happen on a Friday --late morning, midday --‪Denis Smith‬ on his way back from market or art shop, ‪Pete Spence‬ into town & delivering mags or his 'lending library' of very special books (eg the large Collom, a slim Heliczer), & then other people drop in too, thus the impromptu nature of these launches & celebrations! Nice to see ‪Alan Jefferies‬ today, discussing the performance scene vis a vis the writing-writers but more importantly how we maintain our own volition through a long life in poetry... But, CORNELIS VLEESKINS : wondrous example of a constant & voluminous practice! Celebrating today Pete's friendship/collaboration with him as much as anything else...


November 7th
Beaten by a bloody head!! Ray in my ear as we watched it on the overhead tv at the Great Yorkshire Stingo this a/noon, the race that stops a nation (a holiday for a horse race? nah! really!!! only in Oz) --how could we not put a few bob on Johannes Vermeer! I'm so happy i scored again, every year i seem to do it, me! who knows nothing abt the noble sport! Well, Loretta & i caught the train down the line to North Richmond, then walked back up Hoddle to the appointed rendezvous... Ray & Terri were there, and Ken, and not too long afterwards the Harleys. John & Heather... an hour & a half of bonhomie and then the RACE! I punted $3 win & $2 place for six horses, one of whom, Johannes Vermeer, was beaten oh so close, into 2nd place... I collected eight bucks! but keeping up my record of a win or a place every Melbourne Cup... Terri won the trifecta but that's another story! The Harleys friend Trish, whom i thought might have been Lou Risdale, won too! Poets around their little table, talking about? --: recent poetry gigs, mention of Tina G and so cheers Tina! --talking about Mike Castro, Bede Griffiths, social / gender attitudes in the late 60s eg- Betty Burstall saying to Loretta that she'd be supporting the poet husband wldnt she? while he concentrated on his art... Haha! was funny then, crazy now! Counter culture evidently only went so far, i mean we were 21 and Betty another decade older, but she was talking out of an older perspective, elitist (no problem with that..) wherein writer/artist was to be supported... (my axiom, that art/literature scene is hierarchical but supremely democratic at point of entry... meaning anyone (everyone) an artist, poet, but one enters history, and should, one encounters immense world of merit, poets (note "poets' not poetry), meritable veritable poets) --but was woman artist supported by man at that time? not sure, i bet not!... admired Betty but surprised her when we said that wasnt our situation, the both of us had to get the rent in! --ah Betty Burstall, what a great thing you did with your junk shop/cafe/theatre in Faraday Street, Carlton, inspired by New York's off off off little theatre (Ellen Terry?)... hmm, what else we talked about, Ken mentions Kazantzakis as buddhist? didnt know that! --buddhist to travel to Moscow i guess! --beginning of Zorba recalls Heart of Darkness, sitting around in a hut waiting for a boat, waiting for weather to settle...


Hilarious pre-Melbourne Cup day at Collected Works Bookshop y'day, the traditional standing at the large window end of the hall overlooking Swanston Street for the Cup Parade around midday, --no Beads & Trims Mary this year, interstate holiday but an hour or so before then Ken had visited, on the heels of Richard Murphet, tho Richard not here for Cup stuff, our chat about life after cessation of the 9 to 5 paradigm, my vision of the Uncollected Works bookshop in treetop in 2019! --but we open the Talisker and the day starts! --joined at the window by Jen & mum Claire, Retrostar friends, wave down at the famous horses, trainers, from the recent past, and the you-beauty Cup itself, the bagpipes, the open roofed cars, the kids on rocking horses, roller skates, the reps & flags of all the countries represented --Australia, England, Ireland, Hong Kong, France, UAE, and what's that one? Turkey? says Ken --no , Lebanon says Jen's mum (we share Middle eastern connections), --ah, Lebanon, they may have beaten France in the Rugby League World Cup the other day? Rugby? says Jen's mum, they dont win at rugby, they win at war!-- and Sophia from Brown & Bunting bookshop in Northcote visits, books not horse race conversation! --i think we're alternating the Glenlivit & the Talisker ("Made by the sea", great pun) --and a woman who's popped in says Talisker's her favourite and she's from near the Isle of Skye, and i say Mckelvie brought us this one and he's from Dundee! --she wont have one but will consider a flutter on Nakeeta the Scottish horse ive mentioned, she's going to Oaks Day on Thursday, well timed Melbourne holiday & doesn't mind this weather compared to Scotland right now, constant reminder it's all relative! -- So now it's today, THE day, we've actually had a spell of sun, but clouds are moving in again, we'll be inside anyway so doesn't really matter, coldest Cup day for a decade they say --horses on my mind, including the philosophical ethical political issue of humans & animals, my bottom line is everyone & everything is someone & something else's meat, a thought wch may have risen in a piece on Inst of Further Studies newsletter early 70s, early 80s, carumba! where does the time go except back into immense sea of mind, --all the more reason for compassion, that is the only reason for compassion, no other context for it but vale of pain, suffering, through wch no choice but to walk, gently as possible whatever the rest of 'em do --drink to that --huge wad of races' information in the newspaper, thank God for the Cup lift-out --my glory day in 2015 when my 100 to 1, Prince of Penzance with Michelle Payne in the saddle, and won me $238 for a few dollars each way! --i think ive won a little last few years -- best win would have been back in 1965 last time the Hemensleys holidayed en famille, on the Isle of Wight, ancestral Tangley Lodge grandmother's house --for me just back from British Railways booking clerk job in London, the younger sibs still at school, Bernard at the Tech or just leaving, --i'd got into the habit of having a bet with booking clerk friends at the Ladbrokes or whichever betting shop around the corner from the booking office at Watford Junction --never won, but i think my friend Nick Buck did, --he's 'Nick York' for obvious reason in my Peter Which Way novel (unpublished & somewhat scattered now) and Fred Clarke the chief clerk, in locus parentis, kind eye on all the younger staff benevolent even when i made a mess of my acting station master duties at Bricket Wood on the St Albans to Watford loop line, gave us overtime for weeks after you left Nick told me! --but one rainy afternoon of that summer holiday, last one before i hitch-hiked in Europe then went to sea and then April 66 emigrated to Melbourne! --so forgive the luminosity i attach to that Isle of Wight holiday --raining, as i say, and horse-racing on the tv, we're sitting Bernard & i and the younger brother & sister, --a great horse-woman herself, great lover of horses, as close to family as family she'd agree, --drinking beer Bernard has bought from nearest off license, and we're watching the races, and just for fun we made selections, and UNBELIEVABLY my first one wins, and then i go for a double, and that wins, and then the treble, and that wins too! --incredible-- and we'd been talking about going down to a betting shop but the rain and all the other cowardly teenager excuses! --that would have been a HUGE win! --
Sunshine again as i sit here --Melbourne Cup at Westgarth, years past, as Loretta says no one did it in those years, no one we knew anyway, --after her mother Stella's death, she'd invite her father, Jim Garvey from the typical Irish-Australian family --had horses in County Clare says Rett --grandfather, uncles --Great Uncle Michael the big punter --the 'Michael' of Tim Hemensley's name after him, Timothy Michael Hemensley --dreamt of him last night --he'd borrowed my computer wch Loretta didn't immediately tell me as i sat at desk trying to understand how the ridiculous machine before me actually worked --what is this? i demanded --it'll work she says --but this isn't my machine?!! --no, Tim's got it --whaaaaaat? --I go out to the back, shout up to him, upstairs in the loft, where he's sitting having breakfast with friends including Joel & a Matthew who i don't think is Matty Whittle --and i say to him, you could have asked! --and a bit more kindness & grace wouldn't go astray etc --ah well --but Tim would be with us on those Melbourne Cups, 80s? certainly through the 90s, --Robert K, Stella Glorie, Gay Hawkes once or twice, Frank Bren, other visitors, --we'd have lunch, snacks, wine, then all haul up the road to the nearest pub with betting facilities --the Normandy on Queens Parade? --place our bets, then hurry back to watch the race on telly --quite a crowd of us --the beginning of our tradition…
Last several years it's been at the Stingo on Hoddle in Colingwood, where we'll be again in a couple of hours! --with John, Heather Mac, and now Ray, Ken, other friends --up for it whatever it is! Here's a shaft of sun again -- Better get myself together! Ring Clementa O'Brien in Bendigo, ask her for a tip, the best tipster she is --we'll exchange news abt Catherine far far away in Vientiane but i'll have pen & paper ready for Clementa's race wisdom! --and so --Tally Ho! see youse all there!


[from Sharon Thesen : Hi Chris, Was reading some Jack Collom (Collum?) poems today online and thought of your work...very sim'lar, in deep ways!]

Kris Hemensley‬ Me darlin ‪Sharon‬ (irish) (double take-- german?) Just back from the Melbourne Cup session at the Great Yorkshire Stingo in Collingwood, melb'n... real punters, us poets, and other bibs & bobs turning up including brilliant natural girl called Trish who'd seen Midnight Oil gig last night somewhere in town, the Myer Music Bowl? but i spun silly irriot story that Peter Garrett wld do his discombobulated dance at cabinet meetings, when he was the minister in the Labor govt..,etc... i did apologise to her later... just a joke i said... she'd won pretty big i think, had shouted (aussie parlance) a plate of this & that on adjacent table... Anyway--- Jack Collom : i have on loan RED CAR GOES BY  from ‪Pete Spence‬ Jack's big selected (1955-2000) and am jumping in & out of it... What can i say, and on such (Melbourne Cup) on such a day! Love youse all, especially you xxx K

Stephen Ellis‬ I love Jack Collom. There's an interesting interview with him in that anthology Anselm Berrigan edited, called, 'What is poetry? (Just kidding, I know you know). And then, of course, there's one of my all-time favorite poems dedicated to Collom, by Duncan McNaughton, 'Little A and the Imperials' . . .

  K H :Hi Stephen , thanks for that... and parallel to the poetry i'm forever moved by the relations of poets, like here you refer me to Duncan McNaughton and i begin imagining a world spinning about him & Jack Collom... i'll look through his collections later today when i get back from the Shop, will be propitious to reread even if i dont have the actual poem... I dont know about the Anselm Berrigan anthology, have just looked it up on the Ingram catalogue and it's there from Wave Books, so i'll immediately order! Sounds excellent. Ta for the tip.


Nov 9, '17

[from Topography, 'Levertov', 3rd section]

preceding Rexroth & Williams in 1967

Penguin Modern Poets number 9 --
whom historically she followed --

forever that troika proclaimed

on Alan Spain's photogram sun-bloodied-
fired cover-design

as if feather trees & grasses back-lit by sunrise

sunset green-flecked in world's black

vortex or aflame (Creeley flits in-between

fitful as theirs must be 
poets at world's behest

fists full of world emptying like dust in

wind's rush everything falling away day in

day out but

is not the end-
product (pace Olson

to be found with Eliot &
Pound hob-nailed

to ground relentlessly digging

down down down

to the centre of the truth

the before & before & before

whose after's ever now! (Duncan

jumping at shadows as though natural

positives & negatives

were the shades


Back from the Delphi, clean up the typos of the 3rd part (above), continue on the 4th (relating Levertov & ‪Joanne Kyger‬).... Beautiful day... wash clothes & hang out to dry i think! --rather like poetry on Timeline! Thanks friends for liking the 3rd --it's another of the "---> going nowhere" Topographies, what i've been doing when i'm not on an actual journey somewhere!

Philip Harvey‬ : Recent piece on Denise Levertov by ‪Carol O'Connor‬ given last year at the ‪The Carmelite Library‬ in Middle Park; ‪http://thecarmelitelibrary.blogspot.com.au/.../Denise...‬

K H : Thanks for sending me Carol's paper --ive read through it but will require another slow digest! Hah! Yes --it's all there, so many formal contradictions to 'play' with through a long life, wch Carol describes... Needless to say D L was a favourite when i was a young poet... my 'Levertov' deals with that --deals with it as a piece of bioboplicity (as Mike Castro described a previous rave, on ‪Lew Welch‬)... so my vanity is part of the arraignment! Thanks again!

Carol O'Connor‬ : Levertov is one of the very few women poets to make it into those early Penguin Modern Poets, I think.

Kris Hemensley‬ : Hi Carol, just to say In those days it wasnt an issue or not the issue as can be perceived today --ie we were interested in the New Poetry per se, 'gender' was to be, in hindsight, another generation's issue... a political generation's issue ... the "rights" generation... What did Denise think? Aware of being one of the few women or what? Statistically your point obviously accurate, but only later (the particular PMP vol is 1967) that the general political consciousness inflects/affects the discussion... The women of all the days up to Womens Liberation were first & foremost writers on par with the men of the PARTICULAR writing... the big fight was for the distinctively NEW WRITING.. i remember writing to Germaine for recommendations of new women poets for my magazine Earth Ship, 1970-72, in UK -- she was teaching at Warwick Univ then, -- i had her address from new writer friend, Martin Wright, very interesting prose writer, --she said there were too many to name... etc etc What happened afterwards --W L onwards i mean -- is most definitely within women's ambition & projection, and precisely where it has to be... self determination not 'positive discrimination' & etc , i mean art & literature arent departments of the public service, or what?!


Nov 5th, '17

Best day for a train trip, Geelong, almost scuttled before we began, had to transfer to another train because of 'police operation', but resettle with coffee, escargot, notebook (for the Topography of course, & going somewhere instead of the bioboplicities -thanks Mike Castro for that title a few weeks ago!- my "going nowhere" sub series riffing the great Americans)... After the buzz of the packed-out Archibald exhibition + considerably quieter Fred Williams You Yangs mostly plein airs --i mean the crowds not the art! --walked around looking for a watering hole and finally --last chance-- found the Workers Club in a lane off Little Mallop --a live music venue with a bar! At last! sat down at bench facing through window large b&w spray painted portrait of androgynous long-hair wearing graffiti addition of green pellet hanging out of left nostril --nice touch! Coopers appeared to young barman to be off, flat as a tack he said, but the club's own Workers Draft was good he said --like a Carlton. Basket of chips with choice of three sauces. 80s bands piped into the bar. Steve Kilby. Other mildly interesting music (no wonder the harder rock returned just then, including our God boys, & Bored! et al). And then it's the Saints, bagpipes & all, Doc Neeson, "will I ever see your face again?". Now here's the thing : my pick for the Archibald is Jun Chen's portrait of Ray Hughes beaten by the Matisse-like Mitch Cairns famously criticised by John Olsen in the press, and John's own portrait by Nicholas Harding a pretty good one too --and Pru Flint's pastel beauty similarly memorable... Back home casually listening to a radio show on 3AW, singer Christa Hughes interview, closes with her "slowed down version" of the Saints song, Will I Ever See Your Face Again --Loretta says, you know that Christa Hughes is art dealer Ray Hughes' daughter? niece? granddaughter? Amazing! I'm the biggest investor in synchronicity but this takes the biscuit! What's going on?


November 3, '17 at 7:59am ·

A great way into the new day : Denis Smith's cat (--& ive been wondering about the apparent different look of his Japanese cats and whether [if that was so] it rubs off on the style of his Melbourne cats?!) and Norman Finkelstein's lecture (on Vimeo) on the serial poem via Jack Spicer, wch in other words is about narrative or narrating (well, it is & it isnt, for me 'problematising' this & that not the issue it must be elsewhere, 'defusing or decentering the self eg) telling, wherever it may go --an invitation to expanse not really available locally? but ah, much of one's reading has been there, how one gets to here (hear!)... Ive left off listening to the lecture at the point Norman Finkelstein refers to Jerome Rothenberg's Poland 1931 (hello Mark Olival-Bartley, forgive my inconstant correspondence!)... and now gotta get on...

Norman Finkelstein‬ : Amazing that the video is still available. How did you come upon it, ‪Kris‬? What isn't indicated in the video is that it was a job talk--I was applying for an endowed chair at ASU (which I didn't get, but that turned out just fine). So interesting that it turns up after all these years...


28th October, 17
20th anniversary of our friend John Anderson's death... Liz Anderson reminded us mid-winter when she was looking for the recent Puncher & Wattmann anthology which includes her brother... he's also in the Gray/Lehmann book... Twenty years... Often thinking of him, remembering him today... thought of him yday when Melbourne history tour guide & author Meyer Eidelson popped in & was reminiscing about walks & digs on the Merri Creek with Bernie O'Regan (d 1996)... John accompanied Bernie sometimes, tho mostly a solitary walker... walker, dreamer, the poet of the Merri Creek...


21 October, 17

After the big Ashbery Tribute night, sleeping with it, waking on it, but also the Kerouac anniversary today, and up to the writing desk to begin to type the piece ive been writing around & about Desolation Angels (isnt that funny : cover of my Andre Deutsch 1st ed, '66, by Michael Farrell! --the late Irish artist? i wonder --not our poet tho!) --as i have it in first paragraph/stanza (a la 'Desolation Angels') :---
July August September Melbourne winter spring 1966 spotted DESOLATION ANGELS the silver-covered whopper Andre Deutsch hardback 1st British edition --just published --had to get it, my name on it! --no name in it now as i hold it, first end-papers gone, blotched & stained, damaged survivor of a book --but that's the story to tell
saw it in South Yarra bookshop --often looking in the window, not window-shopping but life-saving --penniless often as not --living off the titles, name of author, sight of the book, imagining the contents --KEROUAC! --but a little while before had entered the bookshop, browsed, put aside Lin Yutang volume purchased not long afterwards --the bookshop closer to South Yarra station on Toorak Road than to Punt Road? though image in my mind is more-or-less around the corner from terrace house in Park Street where i boarded, itself a hop & skip from the Botanical gardens, my 'Gardens of Sunlight', refuge from the slings & etc, where i'd lie out all day with inspirational reading & the notebook, writing, drawing, dreaming, longing

I'll type up tonight, several pages, post on blog & link on Timeline.
Yes, thoughts of Kerouac, --& i'm always disagreeing with Dorn's judgement an eternity ago that nothing more to be done in/with that mode, the proto anti-lyric i guess, mid 60s.


Confirming & reminding : Friday, 20th October, JOHN ASHBERY TRIBUTE, 6 for 6-30 at Collected Works!
Up late last night looking for books & quotes & etc to take with me today so that I can sit pretty polly this evening as one of the panel assembled by Peter Rose for the John Ashbery Tribute at Collected Works Bookshop! In my head the beginning looms large, as beginnings always do! So out of that melange of first reading, and the wonderful coincidence of Ken Taylor (just met Winter 67 at Betty Burstall's La Mama cafe-theatre) he also enthusing abt Ashbery, a particular poem & aspects of wch i'd found and revelled in, relished, --and then the Southampton,UK connections via Lee Harwood, & especially F T Prince's take,1970-72, but with FTP thru to the 90s and the years passing, the years the years, attrition, & the luminosity that dearests deaths bestows, --often the aching pleasure of life understood as on-the-run, grabbing what we can (deKooning's 'glimpse' --'glance' as opposed to full frontal model), all along till now : our Ashbery reading & talking tonight...


Oct 20, '17

Another poignant intriguing prose-piece post from Stephen Spooner on his Timeline today, on Kerouac, see my share below... --my reply, "Thank you Stephen.... approaching that same "death afternoon" with you, 'Desolation Angels' my ride... I'll post on Saturday, finished it today at the Delphi (Greek) cafe my Thursday rostered-day-off pied-a-terre! Like very much your inside-out evocation-intersection with this hero... "The beat bop of phrenology not prediction or predestination" , yes, something to chew on tonight... Fraternally, Kris H"

--Also found this by Stephen D Edington on the Jack Kerouac Group site :--
"For those of you within hailing distance of Lowell (however you may define "hailing distance"), Lowell Celebrates Kerouac is sponsoring a Jack Kerouac Memorial Walk and Gathering this Saturday, October 21. [Jack died on October 21, 1969.] We'll meet at the Lowell Grotto at 6:00 p.m., proceed over to the site of the Moody Street "Watermelon Man" Bridge, and then go down Merrimack Street, making a stop at the St. Jeanne Baptiste Church where JK's funeral was held. We'll end up at The Old Worthen, where we'll toast Jack's memory, share thoughts on his life, etc. LCK will supply food--you purchase your own drinks. The Grotto is on Pawtucket Street just beyond the Archambault Funeral Home where Jack was waked. Hope to see some of you there!"
Thanking Mr Edington for the atmospheric itinerary. Feels like we could be there even from this far away!


Today, Sunday 15th October, '17
 from the Cathedral to Irish Murphy's Sturt St, Ballarat, en route the Gallery... settle at table in the beautiful public bar, wall notice beside us, "Live Craic, This Weekend, Irish Folk & More! The O'Dowds 2-30 / 5-30"... Must be them by the stage... abandon their grub, begin tuning up, pipe & guitar, hybrid Celtic & country... "Bewitched" on the bar's high on the wall t.v., and then "Little Big Shots" --would the O'Dowds qualify? Big Little Shots? Little Bog Shites? Biggles Short Legs? ...First Guinness for an eternity, maybe not since previous visit to Ballarat --the huge Kevin Lincoln retrospective, winter, 2015? No, dont be daft... last Bloomsday of course! The O'Dowds, she's on piano now, Conway Twitty, belt out a Ballarat version of 'Dirty Old Town', where he met his missus... Nathan Curnow photo on poster in town for November poetry reading (N C + Geoffrey Williams)... Nathan's familiar face like the Pogues' Christmas song the O'Dowds may be ending their sound-check with. Nope --a little thing by Cindy Lauper, he announces. Yep! "Time After (bloody) Time"! Guinness drank, garlic bread eaten, time to go...


October 10, '17 ·

Giona B. reminds us last day or so that it wld have been Franco's 80th b/day... yes... the usual exclamations, happy/sad amazement etc (And Giona Beltramettis own birthday on his dad's heels...) Saw this morning comment from Louise Landes Levi, with whom briefly corresponded some years ago, --"I think same as ever miss him, of course, reread Han Shan, brought up his name at a Beat Conference in Paris, his brilliant translation of Gary's work, then reread the whole, translator named RED PINE......x" --beautiful connection, so apt for Franco...


October 4, '17 ·

For all of bookselling's rubs there's always the good chance of very special meetings with readers, authors, fellow poets, publishers et al... Yesterday met Jim McCue at the Shop, & quickly found out he's the coeditor, with Christopher Ricks, of the Annotated Eliot currently winning praises & prizes! Didnt know him from Adam of course so first words were his enquiring what music i was playing on poor old stereo --Hayden or late Mozart? he asked. The 'Surprise', i said. Next he said something abt the Faber edition of Eliot and we were in! into it! Wonderful crisscrossing : the Laurence Whistler glass engravings at Salisbury Cathedral --i knew the beautiful illustrations of the Eliot, but cdnt recall the etched globe he described. I'd picked up a couple of L Whistler poems along the way, also taken by Rex Whistler's paintings. L W the inventor of glass engraving as we know it, Jim enthused. I accept that completely! Enthusing about the Whistlers in a Melbourne bookshop? How good is that?!!! He mentioned Bernard Stone's bookshop in Kensington, the late Bernard Stone he said. Ah yes. My walk around town with Andrew Crozier one time, Jeremy Prynne's Brass had just been published, Andrew was 'distributing'! Talk then about the recent late poets, & Cambridge. Prynne my teacher at Cambridge he said; also Christopher Rix. But, the changing shape of universities... Hmmm... And the changing shape of cities, his London, our Melbourne (my rhetorical question --"when is enough enough?"-- gaining sympathetic hearing). I'm rarely in London these years, prefer the country for all the obvious reasons. For work, galleries, the theatre it's still his abode but less & less liveable. Hmmm. Melbourne world's most liveable city? The Metro Tunnel building site continues to grow around us, though in comparison Melbourne by far the better bet Jim reckoned. I mentioned my friendship with Frank Prince in Southampton, active from 1970 to the 90s, and Frank a protege of TS Eliot. Quoted Frank's comment, "Eliot was the better poet, what? but Pound made one want to be a poet!" wch Jim took up; the mad passions of poets, mad poets & their politics --communism, fascism, 'social credit' (--'universal wage' Jim added) etc etc. Nowt to do with left or right, i offered, --it's any & all alternative in time of crisis, all & anything imagined... I say, Henry Williamson walks from Dover to to Devon on WW1 demob, "never again" not just a slogan, it's in his bones, is compelled to alternatives (how not?)... R Jeffers, 'try all ways, dont go down the dinosaur's way... He asked after New Zealand poets, & New Zealand a place i'd like to visit, --you must he said, South Island is beautiful... If it werent for the awful price of the Eliot of course we'd be stocking it... but that's another story. He had to go to Kay Craddock's up Collins Street then. I guess if this had been earlier era Charring Cross Road then i could have closed up for half an hour and gone for a sandwich... Ah & ah....

Jim McCue‬ : Thanks Kris: it was great to meet you and to see such an amazing stock of poetry from all over and from so many small presses. I haven't figured out the Aussie poetry scene, but it was good to see this shop-window. I went on to check out the stock at Kay Craddock, Douglas Stewart and Peter Arnold, and the (rather disappointing) *Art on the Page* exhibition at Melb U., so it was a busy day -- but I'm sorry you weren't free for that lunch.


October 1, '17 ·

Great time this morning with the two big NGV print shows, the Jim Dine yet again and the Hokusai (wch finishes soon, --Simon Schiavoni told me y'day he'd just seen it & that was the hury-up we required). Simply want to say that Hokusai's wood block the Red Fuji had me scurrying in two directions. The first, Jim Dine's Untersberger series ----i literally mean that i could go up three flights & look at Dine's print to confirm my intuition --in particular the second of the triptych with the disembodied red beard glowing, palpitating like a sacred heart in the body of the mountain --and, simultaneously, Paul Nash's Summer Solstice there on the 2nd floor, and the Nash recalling Spencer Gore's magnificent Icknield Way painting (viewed many times during the Modern Britain show at the NGV in 2007) --Gore's sky-full-heart of sun, blood radiant over quintessential English countryside… Hokusai's picture infusing the factual mountain, albeit physically imposing, with the mystical inheritance of mythical Mt Horai…

A week or so ago at the bookshop i took advantage of Pete Spence's chatting on phone long-distance to Alan Wearne to write down the poem by Jim Dine found as i flicked through the large Collected Poems of Jim Dine --the beautiful book published by Cuneiform Press, 2015, ed by Vincent Katz, Spence had recently acquired-- poem called The Untersberger Gift, as follows :

I had spoken 
to the emperor many times,

before I saw Untersberg

Untersberg seemed to me to be the body

waiting to be opened to reveal the self


'Are you courageous?' asked the Emperor.

'No, ' I said, 'but I am dazzled by beauty.'

Nature gives me the courage to persist

in my quest for the fabulous treasure inside.

Barbarossa asks me to sing for him.

The mountain opens.

His long red beard encircles me.

I have returned to silver.

I touch the red stone.

Superb, shimmering poem! In turn dazzled by beauty! (Interesting to think on that equation, courage, nature, persistence, beauty... Ah, Nash, Hokusai, Dine… Add to this our following on Facebook of Denis Smith's Japanese journey, loving his daily drawings of cats of course but also that set of photos of the little harbour overlooked by mountain…! As exhilarating as it is ominous…



I imagined introducing our Rothenberg Meet & Greet with definition of Jerome the original ethnopoetics anthologist (a move joined by Tedlock, & Tarn, & Antin & many others) , & presently the exemplary figure of the non-exclusive, --as he's observed somewhere or other that for better or for worse we're all in it together now… I interpolate : all part of global, human material; and one's ethics & politics must follow the fact of historical connection & dispersal, grievous or not, & we all have to make the best of it… Simultaneously there's Jerome the poet as well who insists a particular personal, ancestral, cultural story wch may well beg the question of same…?  But i didn't take the opportunity! John Hawke was the man for that moment… In his totally reliable account, Hawke has Rothenberg updating Pound's prospectus, & reconfiguring the modernist canon… an inspiration… yes!

Ah, Rothenberg, Rothenberg, Rothenberg, Rothenberg : a Miracle…!
As Pete Spence remarked, an historic event --most unlikely it'll be repeated, Jerome aged 85 now & Australia a long way from home, --Dianne told me she was same age (a few months difference) --i told her i knew her name well from the co-editing of Symposium of the Whole --other things as well, she said, the Picasso translation…

Collected Works bookshop a good room for the poet who made the most of it in obviously practiced way. A chronological reading, poems from the 50s,60s through the decades to now, but same template… i heard elements of Ginsberg's Howl & Kaddish in Rothenberg's Poland 1931 --that repetition, invocation, chant, emphatic intonation. Major difference would be Rothenberg's explicit humour --Rabelaisian could say, the grotesque & the absurd, so not the ironic humour around social issues which is Ginsberg's marriage of  personal & public in essentially political story, ditto Ferlinghetti & others. DADA obviously dear to Rothenberg even apart from his wonderful performance of the Hugo Ball classic sound poem, "Karawane", and the whistling whirring orange-tube number.

Stand outs of the reading were Poland 1931, the Hugo Ball, the late 80s Holocaust poems. His Beaver poem, after the Native-American, recalled Jack Collom's Blue Heron poem recently reread… He read a poem carrying dedication to Collom (if only i had the reference) at mention of wch i didn't restrain "oh dear" recognition which he immediately picked up on --who's just died, he said looking sideways to me & raised his glass which i followed, "to Jack",  --i looked  behind me where Spence was standing, caught his eye, a fan too… Jack was much more involved in ecology, said Rothenberg. --in fact i'm hardly at all, --city life not Nature --almost goes without saying, Rothenberg urban, historical, a different place to erstwhile comrades Snyder, McClure et al. He & Pierre Joris, therefore, explicating contemporary modernist practice (the post & the neo --hi there Pete!) & not principally the Ancient & the Traditional per se, honoured of course within the vis-a-vis, which i described to him as some of the big difference of opinion with Eric Mottram & English friends (Allen Fisher, Pierre…) in London, i think it was '75, after the Cambridge Poetry Festival… Two-fold disagreement : my quoting Frank Prince's "who's doing anything now [1970s] aside of John Ashbery?" wch had Eric spluttering angrily, proof (he declared) of FTP's marginality now! 'Out of touch' & 'say no more' the better version of 'moronic' & 'idiotic' which the temper of the New would naturally inveigh & construe. I spoke as square peg in round hole, still do, --experimenter as of Field, the Open, the Projective, yet couldn't & wouldn't block my ear to older music & the consequence of such sympathy, --shape, therefore, syntax, sound…
Rothenberg nodded from some way away from such recherche argument, called elsewhere then by his chaperones & new friends, --time for dinner with Australian supporters not for reprising the 60s & 70s with some Pommy bastard!
[Melbourne, 29/30-July, 2017]


Hm, yes, --Alan Wearne circling the subject (Jerome Rothenberg's reading, Collected Works Bookshop, 28 July, '17). Not exactly where he's at he suggests, but, ah, yes, any number of them (the New Americans) he didn't mind, could take or leave, --except, probably, Duncan, found him unapproachable… Duncan could certainly talk, i said, --talked all day when he came for lunch in Westgarth in '76 (--point out the photograph taken by the late Bernie O'Regan [d 1996], wch hangs to the side of the American shelves top my left where i'm invariably standing at the counter…Alan says he heard Rothenberg in London in 1973 --ah, the American conference there, convened by Eric Mottram --i was back in Oz by then, was it '73 or '74, --or both? two conferences? --Bernie O'Regan sent me cassette-tapes of the sessions he attended, recorded on his lap from where he was sitting, London Polytechnic? Particularly interesting to me the conversation between Duncan & George Oppen, parts of wch i transcribed for my own use, --for example, Oppen's distinguishing between political, therapeutic writing & poetry, "I do not write what I know…", how better beg the fundamental question --another line wch stuck, "I believe in consciousness, but consciousness of what?"

Alan said he recalls Robert Bly 'gatecrashing' the readings, they put him on the programme because he was there. Alan said Bly was wearing --a dress>-- no, a kaftan kind of thing! Ah, he would have, yes. Beautiful poem on or after Mirabai --but also recall Berrigan, probably following Bly to the stage, gagging to the audience, about Bly --and all in casual, first-name mode --that is, i didn't detect electricity of malice in the air --ah, says Alan, hmm, --well, i add, obviously the ideological lines were clearly known, drawn, understood, but… Ted says of Robert, man with big head hangs hat in small closet…! something like that! --maybe, man hangs big hat in small closet… I forget… and the audience laughs good naturedly. It's all on the tape. Bernie sent them from London, i played them to our old & new friends --Robert Kenny, Mike Dugan, Phil Edmonds, John Jenkins, Jim Duke, Walter Billeter, others… Other tapes i had too --Ed Dorn, Larry Eigner (he'd made for me, as a letter, reading & commenting on some of mine, his own…), Ulli McCarthy, Tim Longville ("this is fast poetry reading, folks!") --&, wch is entirely a propos, the wonderful multi-media version of Poland 1931 by Jerome Rothenberg, on the cassette-tape Black Box magazine, sound & text montage, a la John Cage's Roarotorio (after Joyce's Finnegans Wake), wch Walter Billeter copied for me, a favourite for us both --but haunted forever after by Rothenberg's rabbi-radio-klezma-muzak accompaniment of his reading --to the line & its turning, a la Olson, Duncan, Kelly et al, -- impressing his own story the while, the embellishment & run-on, all to the poem's glory! And Chris Mann asked for a lend & gave me tape of Sun Ra as insurance, but i never got my Rothenberg back! And years later Tim Hemensley stole the Sun Ra, when he was in his teens, making his own music by then! Hah!

I told this to Jerome as he stood at the counter at end of the Meet & Greet event --Chris Mann? Ah, yes, he said, remembering something, smiling.
The Shop, house of spirits as it is, as every house is, when truly lived in, concentration of living, like a poem's energies inhering after the intense deposit that writing is, available therefore to similarly intense excavation, exhumation, that is reading, --writing written into & across time by sheer intensity… --"this fabled place" Jerome said when he rose to speak after John Hawke's talk & Joan Fleming's poems, --'fabled' because fellow poets know the Shop & mention it, like Mark Olival-Bartley in the American Poetry Institute in Munich, who urged Rothenberg to visit if ever he came to Melbourne --maybe others, ---Joris? --if they're still connected (after the Millennium anthologies why wouldn't they be?) --Joris reminded of us here by English friends Paul Buck, Glenda George?

[August 1st, 2017, Melbourne]

Monday, February 12, 2018


"…because like Jonas himself I find myself travelling towards my destiny in the belly of a paradox."
Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas (Hollis & Carter, London, 1953), © By the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemane


Trimble : Here's to IMPERMANENCE!
Hemensley : Cheers! And Happy Birthday Bernard!
Trimble : Happy Birthday!
Hemensley : And to Thomas Merton!
Trimble : Cheers!


Sat in the garden of the Peacock Hotel, down from the peak of Ruckers' Hill, opposite to what'll always be the Town Hall despite 'Northcote Council' no more, subsumed within Darebin (impermanence). I'm keeping the dizzies at bay, enjoying a pot of the local cider, Ken's on the Cooper's Pale. Barman asks me where the burr in my accent's from --Bristol? Hah, no! But it is West Country, i say. He lived in a village just outside of Bristol once, he says (impermanence). A lovely day for it today, he says. Twenty-two degrees, blue sky, sun, a breeze. Tell him i've just received email from Weymouth artist friend, Lucas Weschke, call him Cornishman, who imagined i'd be "reading this in a land of blue honey --here it is fucking miserable and my heart feels like January." I respond that i'll send him last vestiges of our 40 degrees with which to flay his winter miseries --tho’ neither of us exclusive of either's nadir...

Hemensley : MERT (--Ken noted the birthdate yesterday, 31st January, on Facebook. He asked Bernard, in passing, what he thought of The Seven Storey Mountain --B. replied he had the books but doesn't read very much of anything in recent years --I suggest a New Year's resolution for necessary rectification! Ken says Seven Storey not his favourite --like me enjoyed Asian Journal more--Ten years ago, en route London, I was in Bangkok with Cathy and went to the King's Palace and felt i'd been walking in Merton's footsteps when i read B's copy --disagreed with Merton’s disdain of the magnificent Hindu murals which he called Disneyland kitsch! --But before I can show Ken the Merton volume ive brought in my shoulder-bag, a loan if he wants it, he's offering me J P Seaton's translation of Han Shan --i love this one, he says (--Han Shan probably many poets, he says, --Shih Te also --people added to the poem through the years --like the Homer? i say) : "Here's a word for rich folks with cauldrons & bells / Fame's empty, no good, that's for sure"

I brought this, i say, first edition, The Sign of Jonas, Merton's journal, 1946-51. Ken reads a page, --he's a great writer, he says eventually… People forget Thomas Merton's a Christian, always a Christian, a monk --it was a hard life, --he wasn't a hippy! Laugh. Look at a passage in the introduction ---such clarity, says Ken (--what is clarity but a profound embrace of reality, and such an embrace charity? --brings to mind etymology encountered in the late 80s, that reading time's flurry of Heideggerrian language, Jan Gonda's Sanskrit commentaries, continuing elaborations from 60s/70s Anglo-American poetics featuring Olson, Duncan, Blaser, Kelly & co's Henri Corbin, MacNaughton, Thorpe, Prynne et cetera --but perception defined as "being rightly taken" which completely displaces any personal standard, relegates it to the casual lexicon --"being rightly taken" suggesting that what's NOT isn't 'perception' at all but another flake of illusion fomented both by the poetic & the everyday, --from "philosophy'''s perspective, --language & life floating between the inane & the banal) --prologue, p8 : "Stability becomes difficult for a man whose monastic ideal contains some note, some element of the extraordinary. All monasteries are more or less ordinary.The monastic life is by its very nature 'ordinary.' Its ordinariness is one of its greatest blessings. The exterior monotony of regular observance delivers us from useless concern with the details of daily life, absolves us from the tedious necessity of making plans and of coming to many personal decisions. It sets us free to pray all day, and to live alone with God. But for me, the vow of stability has been the belly of the whale…"


Bernard & i call him “Mert”, which familiarity probably reflects the Counter Culture's wish to recruit him to the most agreeable aspect of his ecumenism, this time's hybridity always preferred to orthodoxy & tradition (until & unless of course the latter's deemed to be the hipper) --perhaps, tho, he always came across as 'human', responsible to the problematics of practice, therefore never prim or artificially pious --a poet, a writer, editor of famous little mag (Monk's Pond), artist, --a parallel life the which he ameliorated to his monasticism… As Ken said, Thomas Merton never not a Catholic --and the straying in Ken's case is Bukowskian, as reflection of daily circumstance, rather than the Buddhist temptation, pagan as far as old fashioned church would be concerned, the Buddhism of which Ken's a novice, our Brother Pots & Pans albeit issue of traditional Catholicism & later tuned-on by India including Bede Griffiths' spiritual common cause…


That's why we honour & admire you, i say --because you do it! One has to acknowledge the actual experience --in all things. Ken deflects my honorific with chapter & verse about his constant straying, 'playing up' --but even this has a Beat Zen status --would you agree? he says (about the Beat Buddhists, which recalls Dave Ellison's & my DESPERATE MYSTICISM hilarity, serious all the same) --Some (Phil Whalen, Gary Snyder, Lew Welch, Joanne Kyger) walk the walk, but all of the others, in & out of formal practice, are touched by it forever --they live in its language, persuaded by it psychologically, aesthetically, poetically, practically --this domain of the post- & neo- religions, politics, poetics. And Kerouac's closest to that spiritual, psychological oscillation --high on the way of The Way, then strayed, fallen over --contradictory thus fallible, exemplarily contemporary, but not the career-success contemporaneity from which hype & glister our Jack ran. Ken says Big Sur's Kerouac’s best book, wouldn't you say? First Kerouac i read, at sea in 1965, i chime --but Big Sur, Dharma Bums, Desolation Angels, similar confrontation, collision, alternation of the dream & the drear, the dread, the 'slough of despond' . On same page Ken & i --not like some, --i mean, he says, the Buddhist thing is for the ordinary, for ordinariness…

(--begs question, i say: for us the daily ordinariness is where it's ALL to be found --for example, Ginsberg's beautiful Sunflower Sutra, that heightened & luminous experience in the railyard shared with Kerouac, --"i walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shape of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry. // Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees and machinery// (…)Look at the sunflower, he said, (…)" --Whitmanian this is, such retro-riff brilliant in & for the demand of 1955's NOW!)


--some people don't get that, Ken says --they get it all wrong, they don't think they're ordinary, they want to be famous (--but finding their own difference & exploring it, as in Paul Celan's "each man's particular narrowness", dramatically opposes the inflation which characterises this time's 'celebrity culture' --ah yes, we agree about that)! --another cider, another Coopers, perfect little bowl of chippies & mayo --and present him with Jill Kamil's guide book to St Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai, and also Patrick McCauley's collaboration with Raffaella Torresan, The Sea Palace Hotel, his poems & photos, her paintings (--Raoul Duffy? says Denis Smith at the Shop next day --i can see, i say, --and Marquet?  --the little boats in the harbour...) [Later Ken messages me on Facebook regarding Pat & Raffy’s book, “Did I tell you I stayed in India at The Seaweed Hotel, on the beach at Kerala, at a place called Kovalam a sort of hippie paradise before I went to Bede Griffiths place...” Small world!]


--Albert Marquet & i --exhibit 1: some poems in A Mile from Poetry (1973-4), after his Honfleur Harbour paintings --number 12 for instance, "at that sitting no yacht club though plenty / of tinsel & flag. generation or two & it owns one / sure enough (see the photo by any jack with guile / enough to cover his head with a cloth) // the little boats / the little boats / dead still" --initially welcomed by Adders but then used as cipher for my own sinking --"your little boats wont save you" he shot across the bows --Thank Heaven i knew where the life jacket was --swam with my little illustrated book of Albert Marquet into the international waters of which the Merri Creek was a vital tributary, --as far as the Oz Po salts would know i'd been lost at sea or like Robinson, shipwrecked! --twenty years, more? --hardly recognised when i returned! --exhibit 2: Marquet's erotic paintings which Paul Buck showed me in Maidstone in '87, --an immense compendium with the unlikeliest contributors such as Marquet --middle of the afternoon, balancing teacup & slice of cake, after walk around the partly flooded town, not only sightseeing the swollen Medway but the hotel where Jean Rhys once lived --you like her don't you? Paul remembered --portrayed, if nowhere else, in my book, Montale's Typos, in the prose-piece "England, River & So On (in the mood of Jean Rhys, after a theme of hers)" --for example, "I dreamt of being there again, & of looking thru the window, outside looking in, at her dresses on the bed, & her bib-&-braces. And the river just outside the hedge, the rushes, the submerged & sprouting stalks of this & that, greens, browns, greys, & rainbows there & gone, glints of red & turquoise; mud & shadows…" --brother B. published it, the first of his Stingy Artist editions, 1978 --quite a publisher, i impress upon Ken --
-- To Bernard! in unison salute --on eve of Ken's joining the Theravadans --
K H : And Mert!
K T : Mert!


[February 1-11, 2018]

Friday, January 5, 2018


[---> Elwood

10.05's allowed to  be late any time missus
if it means ma & pa kettle
can stumble up to Clifton Hill terminus
from the 'Garth
& catch it at ten past ten --
long runs of clear traffic on New Year's Day
deserted roads no one aboard the bus --
after first fusillade of midnight fireworks
hit the hay (a la Heaney "I dreamt we slept in a moss
in Donegal / On turf banks under blankets
misremembered always from P. Gebhardt's
rare edition of Glanmore Sonnet number ten
"laid down my head on a square of turf"  --Peter ay?
last post cuts through all the crap right here --as Retta
in '73 upon waking --of Buckmaster
"the dead come back to us / like clear water
in a dream
" --how to deal with this
unannounced convocation
Seamus --Peter -- Charles?)
slept like a --like the proverbial --

cop cars & ambulance pass bus unhurriedly --
dance of cirrus across pure azure --
down Punt Road's gentle hill & icons
Bill Nuttall's Niagara Gallery the cricket ground & no parking
park --the Cricketers pub & the topless barmaids other one --
thirty years since "The Last Gardens" preoccupied me --
Judith Rodriguez at Penguin Books when was that?
late '80s '90? wrote despite this or that part
it was "intractable" ( i.e. didn't give a shit
for 'readers'?) --both Nick Johnson & John Kinsella
read & liked it but it got lost
& then i lost the yen for publishing it!
mystical milieu of my poem all around the Royal Botanical --
& the river --
South Yarra's posh European tone --
like Gauloises wafting Italian equivalent --
tonal mist the gist of it --
scuffing past the fine houses --
does periphery qualify as stuff of history?
invisible at the edges Poet's remit
though Poetry itself another element
amidst the powers that be!

down down now into the hip hop of St Kilda Junction
the massive dial --
fifty years ago another configuration
pre-motorway historic shops & housing
old world's demolition --
ritzy then as now --Kings Cross's little Melbourne
cousin --same vibe now as before on
Fitzroy Street --recognize the "bums
beatniks & bastards"from pre-Oz Emigration manuscript --
anticipated in Southampton
holding out for another world --
after library & gallery the general cemetery
far preferable for mooning teenage artist
to our village bloated by housing boom
into anonymous nowhere's-ville

every summer's destination ELWOOD --hollowed from
sea's reverberation heard on late afternoon's approach
escaped from City "Gone Fishing" the notice
pinned on bookshop door --
a sense of pre-fabs among the grand olds
extending from St Kilda --the ephemeral straggle
DHL identified Sydney to Thirroul
that "next wind might blow away" --
Elwood's beach house encampment
emigres' struggles resolved within cooee
of beach & water --pre-de luxe marina
& walking paths era --
rough & ready 'off the rocks'
at year's turn 1966 --
closest ever came to Greece --Miller's Colossus 
fomented idée fixe --free at last
& subject only to sand & sea & wave-slapped rocks
beneath great southern sun --
Greek idyll dreamt of in
Southampton parks laid in
fully clothed in summer
huddled in winter
Old Dart's natural season --

ten minutes stroll from Thackeray Street
over the Beach Road & rugged landfill to the sea --
lodging with Penny Poynton in her little house
whose mercy delivered me from the calamity
across town in Ascot Vale --
how could love come undone so?
not love but its ambivalent rhetoric --
young & old tied in knots by it --
much vaunted home of free-spirits
free-love FREEDOM contorted into haunted house --
ghosts of suicide & murder spooking art-of-life's
studio --as tho (& no flippant reference
as my ideal reader could guess)
Dostoevsky's darkest direst testament
had obliterated Khalil Gibran's enlightenment --
overnight! --
curses threats desperate sex --
death's door off the latch & not the half of it!

last January fifty years ago
took new met girl there to greet
could say fellow exiles part-
Bohemian part-suburban
in the almost sweet Peace of Penny's house
by the sea ("the sea! the sea!") --
after Ascot Vale such equanimity
a kind of blasphemy they might have said --
and the Peace lasted --
for a while --
and can only smile now
by the sea
the sea

[1-5 January, 2018]

Monday, October 23, 2017



---> going nowhere



background dream (21st October):
visiting Aunt Lydia at her bungalow
(Penselwood) main road end of Gosling's farm
from which cruelly evicted (compulsory acquisition)
another chapter of tears in her heart-aching story
reversed in dream's current-age rendezvous
bent over her walking-frame
encouraging reconnoitre garden
kitchen dining-room bedroom
where brother & i slept-over
next door to hers & Uncle Jim's --here's
what i wanted to show you she says
encyclopaedia of world poetry
where's your name my dear?
peer together --not there! --chuckle
knowingly to myself --how could & why
have been included? --only
four 'h' surnames anyway


1957 pretend today's the 60th anniversary
dream-like coincidence --meant to be! -- Kerouac
in London collecting royalties then onto boat-train
at Waterloo to same Southampton as our own
little family live & play in --despite father's simmering
opposition Aunt Lydia's become our second mother


Lonesome Traveller bought & read two weeks
before fatal voyage April '66
England to Australia
outa jail! --bewailing
misfortune waste of time! --
in ch 7 K's smitten
at St Paul's Cathedral
a "heavenly performance of the St Matthew Passion (…)
saw a vision of an angel in my mother's kitchen
and longed to get home to sweet America again" --
forgives his father --researches family name
at British Museum "'Lebris de Keroack.
Canada, originally from Brittany.
Blue on a stripe of gold with three silver nails.
Motto: Love, work and suffer.'
I could have known." --
blown down like the proverbial
each time i read the chapter's last lines
"On the train en route to Southampton, brain trees
growing out of Shakespeare's fields, and the dreaming
meadows full of lamb dots." --couldnt say better
having seen it with own eyes now for decades --
epiphanic long before'd earned the right
to know it --hah!
as tho' my poems'd coined it --
belated poet's vanity --
'belated' as in "poetry-after-death of" --


Sunday, April 9, 2017


Around & about Matt Hall's FALSE FRUITS (Cordite Books, Castlemaine, '17)
[salvaged from Facebook]

I hope this aint talking out of school, but a month ago in 'chat' with Kent MacCarter i said how i was reading Matthew Hall's book, False Fruits. "I need to get my teeth into it but at first blush the language sings, in my sense, but i dont think that's how it's supposed to rest... i need to get with the argument or dialectic..." Well, thanks to John Hawke's words at last night's launch, April 7th, '17,  we got it! Look forward to reading the speech, what amounted to a short history of the po-mo everywhichway of the lyric, the pastoral, Romanticism, etc --that is, as per Matt's project, lyric that aint lyric, pastoral that aint that kind of pastoral nor that, missus, and aint all parody since, as per Schuyler on NY poetry ca 50s (i'm throwing that in, begging yr pardon) gallons of [paint] true feeling courses it, suffuses it. And so on. Hmm. I confess the radical battle cry that poetry is violence upon language, and that all poetry shares the perspective, except of course that of the unmentionables, poetry's deplorables? --a claim i lived with myself through the 70s & 80s-- doesnt work for me in the way John announced it last night... Eeek! It's Saturday morning i think! Stuck in the middle of another dense & ingenious proposition for the Eco-poetic! Lots to think about, and the book itself to read! Congratulations everyone! It was a stimulating night!


‪Nice memory you recalled in yr remarks last night, Matt, regarding that conference you attended several years ago and the afterparty reading at Collected Works Bookshop, at wch i particularly recall your good self and David Herd's distinctive readings...

RE- violence, and of course your book, On Violence in the Work of J. H. Prynne (Cambridge Scholars, 2015) (--just reminded myself via the abstract up on the Web, and nice to see longtime-nosee ‪Michael Tencer‬'s name there), --the violence John Hawke indicated as a general condition of the practice is NOT, i think, the point of your submission on Prynne (or, indeed, the British poetry in the vicinity of that influence or out of similar Traditional & Modernist extrapolation as the man's), wch is a very particular project... or was --i'm sure by now it's widened to the air that's breathed there, almost commonplace assumptions & similar formal expressions.

(At the beginning of your V., am reminded of Olson, ye olde Projective Verse (how sprightly they read, all these assayes of the Big O even now) --our poet, "How he conceives his relation to nature, that force to which he owes his somewhat small existence. (.....) For a man's problem (...) to give his work his seriousness, a seriousness sufficient to cause the thing he makes to try to take its place alongside the things of nature..." --reminded by your quotation from JHP that, like O, his poetry is another kind of human manifestation, and an imp is tickling me to suggest meta-literary, metaphysical, even of Platonism! --like for ex., Korean poet Ko Un adamant that his poetry's not to do with literature but "the universe!" --away with thee, imp!) --

I wish right here i could jump into statement of what i'm feeling (and to include something on feeling, on wch last night i thought John Hawke very good)... something about the relation to this being here, this relation to nature (and the nature of things), which is rather more interesting than literary cleaving (i mean grading) right & left & all about one! (--that vivacious intellectuality, --importunate mind, promiscuously vital --and dont i recognize that myself)...

My sentence runs away! I shall return after another helping of Fresh Fruits...!

[April 8/9, 17]

Sunday, February 12, 2017

THE BEACH REPORT, February 4th, '17

High temperature returns and the little beach becomes the most popular strip on the Bay --well, not the most, that being St Kilda & all along the watch-tower, Port Melbourne, South Melbourne, Albert Park, Middle Park & further, oh yes, further --Brighton, Sandringham, Black Rock --one end's big by dint of punter volume, the other by head of wealth, --but Elwood resembles these bigger brothers on such a day as this. Find a space to drop sandals, bag, towel, then straight into the clear sea, shallow for yards tho' discover raised shelf suddenly runs out & midriff's depth leaps to armpits. Hot sun, cool water & clearest sea yet yours truly's blind to a submerged slab of rock, --like the ditched trunk of one fallen on the proverbial hard times, everything he could hock done so including --if this were my story, say Melbourne in Winter,'66 --the wristwatch given me by my Aunt, the charcoal-grey John Collier suit, souvenir of my work voyage on the Fairstar, good now I thought for white-collar job-interviews in Oz, & the best black shoes to match --inevitably tripped & stumbled in avoidance of the barnacled rock and concerned not to fall, trying to maintain balance, smashed my heels into the end of it --heftier bash to left heel than right. Hauled grazes & bruises up the sand --hardly an accident compared to the cut feet & knees swimming "off the rocks" years ago, the beginning times, remembered but borne by hardly changing shoreline --is that true?-- the land-fill further submerged below the hardly new Marina, through which one'd walk, --strange landscape, spongy, compost-warm, broken down waste, broken up building materials. If nothing else the walking-path & the Marina have reconfigured the landscape, but the context, the sight & sound of it, the feel of it, is eternal --each intersection, each trajectory, eternal too. 

I sound like Kerouac or how Kerouac might sound to the uninitiated, as tho' Little Golden Book religiosity or --only talking about it on the bus this day, Loretta's Aunty Laurie, on our wedding day for Heaven's sake, April '68, describing new book she'd been reading, The Dharma Bums! --much she could endorse, she said, funny word? reveals quite another attitude, but said she was disappointed by the characters' apoliticism --well of course, Loretta says (--is Laurie short for Loretta? & Loretta named after her aunt? --hasnt this come up before? --growing up within the figure of the aunt & not the mother? --not on account of the name but the apparent personality or character, --as i wondered then although a stranger to the family, but encouraged too by the girlfriend's declarations about her relatives --phew!) --politics, the correct politics, the Party's line, "politics" was everything! --in the understanding of which, i interpolate, everything else is missed! Whatever K said later or in contradistinction to Gary Snyder/Japhy Ryder's "ruck-sack revolution", the prophecy of thousands, millions, of said 'revolutionaries', the young --young men in Kerouac's mind --but of course young women, understood though not yet written (--Of the Beautiful Young, poem i'm writing in 1971, "neither Men nor Women", "who cannot tell yachts from tears", "my beautiful young cannot sail or cry / they are magnificent in their captivity / they drown tearlessly almost i think fearlessly / whilst we walk dry bottom / full of the knowing / of yachts & tears / the years of the beautiful young") --within the enormous suggestivity of the conflation, and i guess ambiguity could retrospectively be claimed, that is author distinguishing between self & character even though the genre being conjured overrides the conventional literary theorem, -- Kerouac's being acclaimed by my time's envoy, Ed Sanders, on telly, on Mr Buckley's show, on behalf of our Hippy generation, "we come to praise you Mr K…", which Jack brushes off peremptorily, no time for hippies since even the shine of his beats had long dissolved, --but hey! the damage was done! --i mean, the history a done deal, all around & everywhere to be seen, --but fancy Aunty Laurie reading The Dharma Bums, evidently containing sufficient pieces of her own life's jig-saw, not least the encounter with nature, ancient Taoist/Buddhist accented appreciation of trails & peaks, eternal corollary ancient or modern, --Laurie at the helm, as she believed, of the modern, Communism's fail-safe schema, to which every particle of existing & potential being was subservient… I wrote about this in 1968, still going on about it! --but the times repeat, similar dynamic excite similar psychologies, and who remembers anything anyway (Santayana)?


Back on the sand, towel around shoulders looking like a Bedouin, surveying the beach & the tribe thereon, sunbathers & tanners of the cliche one thought surpassed, --casually return to the water's edge, the shells there glinting like coins, ingots, treasures from the deep, & the seaweed, the green & brown, the stars & urchins, -- not a prospector now but Doc Ricketts found to have migrated from Canary Row & Sweet Thursday to his own book, The Log from the Sea of Cortez, --brother Bernard's book, recall his Steinbeck collection of paperbacks, read or not i don't know --I'd handled & sampled & taken away with me in my imagination to Australia in '66 --recognised on every beach in every rock-pool thereafter…



It begins with Ed Ricketts' death --Steinbeck's straightforward prose protects the event from sentimentality; it owns no greater tragedy than its matter-of-course, its dailiness. The writer celebrates his friend, brings him back to the world, --the world in memorium for every lived, loved & gone day; each lived, loved & gone person & place. For sure, the Doc doesn't die every day, but every day any one of us might. And not going out into the world is the kind of death one's loathe to contemplate. Such is the adventure of  each day set against the everyday's incremental dulling. The Doc's surely not a dull man but a daily one, given over to the day's exigencies, as defined by these as by his eccentricities & prejudices which his friend details without the judgements informing them. Steinbeck's Doc is an unruffled man about a small town, except when he isn't. And he & his is the form i now adopt looking into a rock pool, hat on pate, looking & seeing despite, whatismore, his own understanding of the world, especially in its immediacy, as much further & deeper than the 'particular segment' in view --thus ecology, myth, genetics, poetry & philosophy, Ancient & Modern of East & West. Now he is bending to his work, poking through the water, lifting shell or seaweed. He is poking & peering as in the painting of him on the cover of the Corgi paperback, collecting bucket in hand, backpack of implements over his shoulder. First sun or last, sun up or sun down, unambiguously there, as we are here, eternal antidote to the drear & the fear. Clear.


Thursday, January 26, 2017


from Journal,

At the Shop talking to a man looking for a couple of volumes of the Complete Shelley. He's been a celebrant for 22 years. I referred to Jurate's mother's funeral & their celebrant from Alison Monkhouse, a friend of Jurate's. He said you stand up there & face the family & friends of, let's say, an 85 or 90 year-old, but what on earth do you know? what do you say? Described himself as a bookaholic. (Hah! You're in the right place then, my man!) I mentioned Des Cowley's reading of Little Gidding in the service. Obviously he knew it personally, big fan of Eliot, perhaps the later Eliot more so he said. But many of my 'customers' are from the Western Suburbs, he explained: "T.S. Eliot? wasnt he a cricketer?" But poetry of all kinds, he said, the words & music, touches & informs where the facts of a life might not…

Having utilised what could be called experimental writing's template when I began teaching at the Council of Adult Education in the 1970s --believing that contemporary poetry's adventures were far more efficacious for my liberation seeking, mind expanding classes than an historical examination of form --I  was redirected by later & perhaps somewhat older students into the classics. I dont mean Greek & Latin or Shakespeare, the Romantics, but the tradition as it ran through the late 19th & 20th Centuries. I had derived exercises from Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Fielding Dawson, Joe Brainard, Dadaists & Surrealists --the tradition of the New but nothing of the Tradition per se. For example, a particular gentleman tested me with his enthusiasm for G M Hopkins. For modern classics I had Robert Browning, Pound, DH Lawrence & a small amount of Eliot but now took on the Hopkins, which had probably defeated me at Tech College in the early '60s, if only to keep the discussion going at the next session! So my reeducation commenced. Similarly, I was asked for both Virginia Woolf & Sylvia Plath, for gender reasons, and investigating them anew realized their abiding value. (All true but this broad brush omits such correctives as, via a lesson Eric Rolls gave to a workshop class we shared in Bathurst,NSW in 1974, De Quincey's marvelous word music in a looping passage of The English Mailcoach --19th century? My hitherto indubitable historical aesthetics could now only unravel! Perhaps on a par with my Cambridge pal John Hall's 1969 lesson --no university in me you see-- making a relation for Robert Herrick, say, & our new British & Americans, Williams to Creeley & Oppen, including Crozier & Prynne...) When I think of it, despite one's wide-ranging reading in the new poetries, mutual exclusivity was rampant & profound. An abiding avant garde bridge should have been Zukofsky's A Test of Poetry --his blind selection (that is, unattributed selection of authors) which could often find one preferring the classic to the contemporary! Now I understood Zukofsky's test of ear, by ear, begging questions of sound & sense…

A resume might run like this : In lieu of traditional form one has a syntax informed by conversation & 'utterance' (from natural strong expression to cultivated Expressionism). Conversation (good hearing / scoring by ear) might have become decoration --the decoration of the ghost of form such that it is seen or hinted at, but without the erstwhile style or gravitas. I mean, of course, the sonority --but without one, none of the other? What is said --what & how --is the priority which required poesy's junking, 19th into 20th Century… the force of saying, of telling --testimony as the new eloquence. And maximum attention to what was previously marginal --poetics of  interpolation & interjection on the rebound from the excess of the literary. And so it is --1970s "literature after…", "poetry after death of…", the "belated", the "posthumous"… But, swings & roundabouts --& the gift of a slightly longer life than youth's Lyricism predicted --here one is again in & with 21st Century's "whole house of poetry" (my proposition in the mid 90s, argued in Ivor Indyk's Heat magazine)... For years now literary & anti-literary/post-literary on the same or at least facing pages... the same & not the same... Tis all good my friends... [Available for painting & renovation, local tradesman, CV on request…]