Thursday, December 8, 2016


A great pleasure to have met Mark Olival-Bartley over the last week. Could hardly not feel well-disposed to a man who makes the following observation, "Collected Works Bookshop, a literary haven and quite possibility the best antiquarian poetry bookshop in the world." I dont know about that; if it's anywhere near so then my world is reducing. English-speaking world one wld have to qualify.
From Hawaii & living in Munich ("presently reappraising the sonnets of E A Robinson for his dissertation at Amerika-Institut of Ludwing-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen"), Mark was poet-in-residence at the recent international Eco-Health Alliance conference in Melbourne.
First question he asked when he walked into the Shop was whether we had any Edgar Arlington Robinson. Turns out he might be our time's expert on Robinson! We did of course have Robinson in the Boydell series of Arthurian poets, also Yvor Winters' little guide and a 1st edition Robinson, Matthias at the Door. Proves that every book has its reader and obscurity a relative concept.
We've talked long & variously about poets & poetry, including the scene in Hawaii which I experienced in 1990 for a week when I was there as a guest of Kiki Davis & EWEB/University of Hawaii Press.
We bandy about the word 'form' in Melbourne, but chatting with Mark it's obvious we're largely on a different page. In my own case, the forms were available once free verse ceased to be the exciting adventure of my beginnings. Late 80s early 90s I was extricating from avant garde cul-de-sac. Not a formalist but happy to experiment with the forms. Sonnet sequences, for example, and latterly syllable counts. Not a formalist but happy as poet to restore to my reading what free verse had junked.
We spent a little while on Wednesday a/noon reading & discussing Mark's possibly favourite poem of all, Robinson's "Eros Turannos". It aroused a thought in my mind about the relationship of the form & the story --seemed to me, on the spur, that a couple of verses stood alone as beautiful constructions whereas the form felt a little strained as the story pushed through in the poem. I'll be rereading it of course. (Mark points us to Robert Pinsky's discussion of the poem available on the web in Harriet, the Poetry Foundation's blog.)
And thanks to the web we'll stay in touch!

[Melbourne, 8th December, '16]


Listening to the British Library's British Poets CD, which Robert Mitchell kindly gave me the other day because, disappointingly, it was a dud: his expectations of disc 3's WS Graham, Amis, Edwin Morgan, G. Mackay Brown et al, dashed upon the rock'n'roll of Ferlinghetti, Bukowski, Ginsberg, --the American disc slipped incorrectly into the British box-set. And it is a shock on the ear let alone sensibility; the speak easy vs the elocution lesson… The contrast's the greater because one's probably missing Whitman's introduction, from whence the long century of a determined modern cultivation, mostly all free one imagines, even as Ashbery's sestina or Sexton's parables, the colloquial messing up the old poetical.

On the 2nd English disc, Dylan Thomas follows George Barker, and it's his dramatic  diddledy-di which upsets the decorous continuum, as far as annunciation's concerned, from C Day-Lewis through John Betjeman (full of fun, a poetry that sticks in the ear, history recorded via nostalgia and as true as comedy allows), Spender, Auden. Sorley MacLean is different & not only due to the Gaelic (that is, the Gaelic's thoroughly not-Englishness); and R S Thomas in another way. But Dylan Thomas is something else, the strong & continuous flowing, the rhymes & rhythms, the repetitious or better said, the apparent circularity of image & rhyme; in the spirit of Hopkins & Yeats, accessible to their great spirits.

The British disc is an entire lesson, whether or not in the largely bypassed diction --a lesson in the old craft by its late practitioners, the mid 20th Century's sages & stars who were the main men on the shelf when I was beginning, hardly beginning, early '60s ℅ Southampton's public libraries. I got into my own stride by rejecting the lot of them. I was looking for W C Williams not Charles on the poetry shelf!

Listening to the American disc, I can imagine the converse surprise of the American poetry buff, the  horror listening to Larkin or Hughes instead of John Ashbery or Le Roi Jones… And I can hear how Adrienne Rich connects with Anne Sexton & I'm sure Sylvia Plath too. Incantation by which didactic is kept sweet to the lyric. Question : How remain individual (retain eccentric personality) in the vortex of the topical (perhaps the involuntary generality)? How save individual in the maelstrom of the everyday (one's 'particular narrowness' as per Celan)? How prevent the signature American poetry (the declasse vernacular to which all accents adhere, Walt's 'democratic idiom') convoluting to artless prose? My questions, only mine, never finally put away…

(December, 8th, '16)

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Barry Humphries enters the Shop through the bead curtain. 'ello, I say, casual London style I've taken on this morning. He knows the Shop of course, began visiting during our Flinders Way Arcade years. His friend Neil Munro introduced him. Every year or so he pops in. One time in the Nicholas Building he was accompanied by a film-crew; photos & article duly appeared in the paper. He sat in the black painted bamboo chair, fitted with Cathy O'Brien's embroidered green cushions (--the chair the late Dr Norman Saffin always sat in, commandeered it --one time totally put out when, as a joke, Kris Coad saw him coming up the corridor & beat him to it! --poor Dr Saffin stood at the door non-plussed, had to be convinced to enter & take up his usual position), --the famous chair, therefore, which Barry pulled away from the eccentric & eclectic 'Shire' shelf over to the Irish section that suited the photographer far better. Next visit he enquired whether we'd benefited from his plug for the Shop, and we had. Funnily enough, on this occasion I'm not entirely sure it is him! As he shuffles the chapbooks in front of me at the counter, I formulate a comment which'll confirm one way or t'other : I saw you recently in Ballarat, I say. Oh? he says, what was I doing? You were hanging, I said (Louise Hearman's 2016 winning Archibald Prize portrait).  Oh yes, and he chuckles, they're touring me around now!
He asks for William Plomer. Would I have anything? I look; we have Celebrations, a first edition. South African you know, he says. Yes, I enjoyed his memoir… I had a South African friend too, I say, the poet Frank Prince, lived in Southampton… Don't know him, Barry says. Died a few years ago, aged 92. Everyone's dying, he said. Frank's famous WW2 poem was Soldiers Bathing… Oh yes, I know, he says --speculatively…
Taking the Plomer down from its high shelf I also remove Ruth Pitter. Ah, he says, Ruth Pitter --I spoke to her on the phone just before she died… Flicking through the Plomer he says, read The Planes of Bedford Square --beautiful poem --note the internal rhymes, brilliant. "Never were the plane trees loftier, leafier, / the planes of Bedford Square, / and of all that summer foliage motionless / not one leaf / had fallen yet, one afternoon / warm in the last world-peace before / the First World War."
Anna Wickham, he plucks out of the air… Same generation I say (Prince, Plomer, Pitter, Ridler et al)… Do you have any? No, but you know there's a collected Wickham due next year from the University of West Australia Press… young chap Nathaniel O'Reilly's scholarship. Because of the Australian connection, Barry muses, she published two collections in Australia you know… He wonders whether any of these older poets is remembered now? What can one say? To oneself, "that's our job".
At the counter again, before leaving, he looks around him. It's good to be back, he says, back in an older Melbourne… I like old, he says. We're not really a part of that, I say, not historically --the Shop's only existed since 1984 though I personally remember mid '60s Melbourne.... but temperamentally of course... How old were you when you arrived? 19 as a sailor in '65, 20 as a migrant the next year…
A couple of times you've been here & I've had English classics on the stereo, and I've asked you to guess who… one time not Rubbra or Bax or Howells or Finzi… Finzi, Barry echoes… none of them --it was E G Moeran! Oh yes, he says, smiling. Glazed look, peering through the maze of memory? We shake hands, say goodbye till next time. His companion has the Plomer in a paper bag. Their voices trail away en route the lifts.

[from Journal, 19th November, '16]


Sunday, October 30, 2016

ADDITIONAL to "On this day..."

K H :
Hi Tim, I posted some thoughts about John Thorpe & others on my blog y'day, usual memoir/intersection style of thang...

Cheers for now,


 I hadn't heard of John Thorpe - but will remember the name now. The
quotes were interesting to me - particularly that connection between
what Pound was getting at with the ideogram and that ease that kids
have in writing (painting) and later generally lose - "the language of
changing yr mind" I like.  You lost me a bit on the opposition between
history -> present/present -> history but maybe I need to read some of
Thorpe's writing to catch your drift here.


K H :

Now then, re- the history thing. Me too have to get head back into whatever it was, out of Thorpe and then my own riff...
Maybe I mean that the --rephrase, maybe I meant back in 1985! --maybe in the context where the value is in the 'making it historical', because obviously history such a loaded category, such a phenomenal vector. But to fall out of history into the local, the local as all-that-we-have, I mean the 'that's all folks!' versus endless semantic aggregation (data, symbolism et al) , maybe that's the difference I was feeling... And because I was tapping "being here" at that time and, I recall, distinguishing between 'here' & Heideggerian 'there"... Any lack of clarity is because of that focus, an ecstasy of thinking & feeling & writing I remember inhabiting at that time!

Re- John Thorpe himself, several books of poems, proses, commentary. In my piece I refer to his booklet, MATTER, or giving, wch was part of the inspiring series published by the late John Clarke, out of Buffalo. I was in touch with those people once upon a time, a brilliant time, and  actually to an extent recovered by meetings in February & March '16 in Melbourne, separately, with our two North American visitors, Sharon Thesen & Stephen Ellis...


I guess my comment was just an inclination
or tendency to think (or try to think) of those two ..vectors.. as
somehow the same, if oppositional, which may or may not be different
to your take - I'll have to read over your email below again. Reading the
blog again I also like his 'I make space-time. IT is not making it (….)
If i describe a condition, it changes
' which seems a completely sensible
position, in that any poem will articulate a time-sense of some kind,
when heard/read by others...

[Email conversation, Sunday, 30th October, '16]

Saturday, October 29, 2016

21st October: On this day in 1969, Jack Kerouac died...

"21st October: On this day in 1969 Jack Kerouac died. The Lonesome Traveller. Among friends & allies here in Heaven." Our notice up on the wall at Collected Works Bookshop, 21-X-16.

[Facebook post: On that day, the day after, the morning after? the Hemensleys were visiting George Dowden in Brighton, up from Southampton for a couple of days. I'd begun corresponding with George as editor of little mag, Our Glass, in Melbourne, '69. Found his Letters to English Poets in Mike Dugan's collection in '68, which gave me a postal address. What more does a boy in the sticks require?! Anyway, cut to the chase Hemensley! George took us around the corner from his fine apartment to meet Bill Butler, fellow American, at Bill's Unicorn Bookshop. Bill was fetching us a cuppa or finding a book to show, something like that, but he returned with the newspaper, New York Times, the Herald Tribune? Oh my, he was saying, have you seen this, Jack Kerouac died. Took the wind out of our sails.
George burrowed into his shoulder bag, fetched out a note book. Ive got a new notebook, he said. This'll be the first entry I make in it. Bill Butler kind of drew himself even taller than us and said, cuttingly, I always thought one only wrote small things in small notebooks.
Ye-es. Hmmm.
On the subject of Kerouac... infinite. On the subject of Bill Butler, great little shop, nice catalogues, central to the Brighton scene. I liked him, his Americana poems. Not everyone did. I recall Andrew Crozier generally congratulating the particular issue of my English mag. Earth Ship, in '70 or so, but particularly objecting to Bill's poems. (I'll take this opportunity to reread him now; I mean Bill. Andrew's a constant though wasnt always for me...) And on the subject of George... what happened to George? Bibliographer of Allen Ginsberg in the 70s, prolific on the little mag scene. I shared poems he sent to Melbourne with other little mags. He corresponded with Charley Buckmaster; Charles hoped to get across to England.  I have some poetry on this in the book Kent MacCarter's publishing soon...
Yep! This has to be Heaven!


re- John Thorpe

John Thorpe is always ''descending from history''. He brings one back --to Pound (Canto II, "…Ear, ear for the sea-surge, murmur of old men's voices: "), that is to say, to the poetry able to listen &, whatismore, hear. He brings one back to the instant which is always local --to logography ("is the language of changing yr mind. It was not discovered by Pound (who called it ideogram) or Olson, etc it's so primary only kids & a very few writers have been able to equal -- 'english' being full of alphabetic, syllabic & prosodic reflexes."), that is to say, to writing as a way of being human, which realises & manifests nature, extending the possibility of life, enhancing the precondition, never setting out to be 'literary'.

John Thorpe is always descending from history into the present, the instant, the local, which really is the opposite of making the local etc. historical. What does he mean, "changing yr mind"? : "I make space-time. IT is not making it. (….) If i describe a condition, it changes. Or i hope to hell it does. If it didn't I'd be in trouble & I have been."


re- George Dowden

From This Is the Land of the Dead, The island of the Blessed, published by Hapt (Bournemouth, UK), 1970,

This is the Land of the Dead, the Island
of the Blessed

There is no Ship of Death - no where
to go but here

Here are the sweet-smelling trees, the gems
of the Earth are flowers, stones, a palace
is in the center - it is you, it is I,
that's all to know for beginning


Dowden's Ship of Death is a companion of John Thorpe's "Stranger in Paradise" --from Matter, or giving (Institute of Further Studies, Buffalo, N.Y., '75), "we came here on the 'Stranger in Paradise.' These were americans searching ease in the orient, never leaving Paradise, their ideological capitol, to look at the earth."

Literature is their prehistory. They swear that no more will they be led astray. (Though one wonders what's happened to that resolution in Dowden's most recent publication (three works by Kaviraj [George Dowden], published as loot 1 : 3, 1979, UK), praise poems for Muktananda, which are sopping wet with sub-Beat adoration.)


At the beginning, Dowden was one of the poets I found in Michael Dugan's treasure-trove of English little magazines. Or, at the beginning, in Melbourne, there was Michael Dugan, with his treasure-trove of English little-magazines, through which I rummaged at his home in Canterbury… Or, at the beginning, I was in Melbourne, putting my first little mag, Our Glass, together, when Ken Taylor, in some excitement, told me about & then showed me another little magazine, Crosscurrents, emanating from completely outside of our La Mama cafe-theatre circuitry. It was produced by Michael Dugan from his home in Wentworth Street, Canterbury. For at the beginning I was an English poet in Melbourne, who reconnected with the English scene through fortuitous meeting with Michael Dugan, whose treasure-trove of English little-magazines had inspired him to publish his own, Crosscurrents, & confirmed me in my own Roneo style direction!
George Dowden's poems in an issue of Ambit had caught my eye. I found his address somewhere amongst Michael's things. I wrote to him (& to Jeff Nuttall, & Simon Cutts). He replied, with poems, "(…) from my current 'set' called EARTH INCANTATIONS (Body Chants) - Blake, "O Earth, O Earth, return!" Etc. These have been my work through 1968-69, and are proving of interest to editors in a number of countries, underground papers as well as poetry magazines. I hope you will be able to get them into papers or mags or your own roneo series there. (….) Hope this catches you before you sail [back to England via French Polynesia, the Panama, Martinique, Madeira, Marseilles, departing Sydney August, '69]. Good luck to your group, and on your trip…" (27,VII.69)

At my farewell party, given by Betty Burstall, July '69, I distributed poems by George Dowden, & Michael, similarly, poems by Jim Burns. We were four La Mama poet-editors, Michael Dugan, Charles Buckmaster, Ian Robertson & myself. Buckmaster corresponded then with Dowden. Dowden negotiated an Australian issue of the English magazine, The Curiously Strong, to be edited by Buckmaster. Dowden sent copies of his books to Ken Taylor (at the ABC, the 'safest' address!) for distribution 'for everybody'. And so on…

It seemed to me, in '69, '70, that Dowden's poetry, his Blake/Ginsberg epistles, could be a stimulus & elevation in the level of political-poetic address then being attempted in Melbourne by such poets as Charles Buckmaster, Paul Adler, & Geoff Eggleston. Both Ian Robertson & Buckmaster were enthusiastic to publish him. Dowden (an American living in England, teaching, writing Ginsberg's bibliography for New Directions) was closer to the Melbourne aspiration, was more accessible than Michael McClure for example.


George Dowden to K.H., "Had weird letter from GREAT AUK Chas. Buckmaster. I got Fred Buck to do an Aussie issue of THE CURIOUSLY STRONG, sent a couple of samples to Chas, told him choose 3 or 4 poets there and make up (edit) the whole thing as per the way it's laid out. Said a few words I thought were encouraging, like poetry should be really strong, dangerous, etc., things I thought they were after and were finding in my poems they were praising -- he took it all wrong, thought I was trying to tell him what to write, but was only trying to impress on him the idea of making a really strong issue in his editing (what else?). It must have been that I honestly told him I didn't care for a few little poems he included in letter, wanting me to get published for him --I told him to make them better in THE CUR. STRONG. Oh, well, sensitivity and all that. I explained that 'known' poets when asked for criticism/opinion can only give it from what they want and are doing -- the younger takes it or leaves it (same as in my LETTERS TO ENGLISH POETS, 1967, where I say that they are firstly for me, and only secondly for anyone else who wants to listen). Forget it. Nothing serious. But must be understood: when one is asked for opinion, he does the younger poet no good by lying…." (30. I. 70)

"Yes, overemphasis on description in aussies -- must be a nice place to describe, physically, Pacific, the sun, greenery. But hoping that can be fused with saying something vital -- will be in best, always is (where Pound is so good so often)…." (7. II. 70)


Quoted from Being Here, the draft of its first part, Interference, published in the Being Here issue of H/EAR #7, 1985.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

THIS WRITING LIFE : James Liddy & et cetera

From Journal,
[Saturday, 8 Oct. ‘16]

Ive been reading James Liddy’s It Swings from Side to Side (Arlen House, 2011), poems written in 2008 during his illness, a knowingly posthumous collection? Again I’m struck by the exultant writing which is the timbre of thinking aloud/talking/singing in the moment, receptive, responsible indeed, to the frame, the field delineated by the moment. Nothing to do with style, everything to do with being present. Paradoxically such a writer is historically fluent, for the history that flows in the poetry is ultimately opportunity for his own song, that is his own compounded phrasing, intent for his own sound, intensely himself.

[Tuesday, 11 Oct. ‘16]

This kind of historical man --history not incorporated as Whitman, Pound, but constituent of the flow, perhaps even constituting it --for which “song of myself” the intensity of presence is what one reads & hears.

P.S. (2)
[from Facebook post, 13 Oct. 16]

Suddenly realized that the author of the article "A note on the legacy of Patrick Kavanagh" in the splendid Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice : A Tribute to James Liddy (ed Michael Begnal, Arlen House, Galway, 2006), is the same Emily Cullen met here in Melbourne couple of years or so ago! Dropped her a line, described current reading around George Stanley, James Liddy & other Irish & American poets. She confirmed, mentioned the introduction to Libby Hart, a continuing connection she says. Likes my description of Liddy's poetry as 'powerful & poignant'...

Meanwhile Ive read Brendan Kennelly's essay on Patrick Kavanagh (in Journey into Joy, Bloodaxe, '94), excellent in itself, in which Liddy is described as a 'loner'. Kennelly, "I'm thinking of poets who, instead of becoming embroiled in Ireland's local squabbles, write and work in different parts of the world. Bernard O'Donoghue, Eamon Grennan, Peter McDonald, Greg Delanty, James Liddy, Matthew Sweeney are, literally, outsiders whose work reflects that fact. Ireland is an island washed, in the eyes of many exiles, by nostalgic seas. None of the poets I've mentioned has been a victim of this nostalgia." Whilst holding up as & within an Irish literary-political perspective, Liddy's hardly a loner in the psychological sense, and in America was a San Franciscan at an important time for the New Poetry, and later in Wisconsin, pivotal to Irish & American cross-currents.

Regarding the Kavanagh/Liddy correlation Emily writes, "In the same way that James Liddy is uniquely James Liddy, Patrick Kavanagh was Patrick Kavanagh alone --his own man, true to himself --ultimately inscrutable, but wonderfully original in every way. It is one of the tragedies of Irish literature that the gift of Patrick Kavanagh was not more widely appreciated during his lifetime. Without the recognition Kavanagh received from a core group of the upcoming generation of poets, including Liddy, Eavan Boland, Brendan Kennelly, Leland Bardwell, Paul Durcan, etc., there would be a palpable gap in the acknowledgement and passing on of the poet's work..."

Sunday, September 4, 2016


May 8th

Friday the 29th April '16 was the last possible day to receive mail in Weymouth, eve of the early drive up to Heathrow, with Robin H, and the long flight back to Melbourne. Great pleasure & surprise, then, when package from Kelvin Bowers & Dooze Storey in St Ives was delivered : their gift of David Whittaker's book, Give Me Your Painting Hand : W.S. Graham & Cornwall, published by his own Wavestone Press []. Everywhere I went this English Journey '16, conversation ensued in which Sydney Graham's name came up. Kel, Dooze & I talked about him when we looked at the Tate's St Ives book of 1985, in which Graham's poems for painter friends appear within the illustrated text about that golden period of Cornish abstraction (Graham's more or less the poet of that practice I'd like to say). And again, just around the corner from Kel's place, with poet John Phillips, which I worked into my (compulsory) Lighthouse poem soon after. And continued in Weymouth with Lucas Weschke, and then in the New Forest with Tony & Sonia Green (whose new book on Sven Berlin is also recently published), and in Blandford Forum with David Caddy. W.S.Graham was the common un-common element in all my meetings!

Curious to read the headline in the Cornish Review, "neglected giant of Cornish literature"... In our neck of the woods, Sidney Graham is celebrated not neglected. I guess that's the disparity between mainstream & whatever our community of reading & writing is called! Certainly since Faber's whopper of a collected, Graham's been front & centre... And didnt I meself attempt a critique of WSG at the Melbourne Poets Union event at the VWC when it was next door to ‪Collected Works Bookshop‬ in the Nicholas Building ten or so years ago? Rhetorical question! I did! With a little bottle of whiskey beside me --I was sitting on panel with Jordie Albiston & ‪Susan Kruss‬-- the whiskey was the ghost of St Ives you could say, and I was talking about Sven Berlin and other friends of our poet, imbibing as I delivered. It's on film, incidentally, but i think I'm too embarrassed to view it again! 'My Life in Theatre' indeed!


I should have shared David Caddy's review in the TEARS IN THE FENCE blog a month ago of Sonia Green's biography of Sven Berlin, but my trip to England & not always having access to a  computer got in the way... Better late than never... I've mentioned Sonia Green [Aarons] below in the note on David Whittaker's book on Sydney Graham... suffice to say I met her in 2015 through my woodworker youngest brother Robin, whose art-work relocation had led him to the Greens & their incredible archive of Sven's work... When he was introduced to the Greens he suddenly remembered my own story of meeting Sven in 1963 at Home Farm, Emery Down, in the New Forest, via college friend Billy (Will) Fisher. Robin told the Greens about the elder brother & arranged a meeting. A year on I've met them again, this time via my sister Monique who, remarkably, was able to tell Sonia her memory of Billy at our home in Thornhill, Southampton, on one or two occasions, recalling his vivid blue eyes, his beard, and long locks! Bethatasitmay, in the meantime Robin & his crew moved Sven's major sculpture, The Stag of the Forest, from the Fawley industrial complex (where our father worked for decades, at the Esso oil refinery) to the Greens' garden; and Robin built the protective shelter which has survived the long English winter Tony told & showed me. There's a photo of Robin & crew beside the shelter at the end of Sonia's book, Timeless Man (Millersford Press) and very proud of him we are too! Ah, such legacy mounted on serendipity : the figure Sven became for me, and Billy (Will) too; my life as a poet especially amidst painting & painters; the importance to me of the St Ives scene... such circles, spirals, of significance...I almost swoon!


May 11th

Re Sharon Thesen F/b post about the Hammer Museum's Black Mountain exhibit at UCLA….
To a certain inner circle of that Melbourne incarnation, 1967-70, namely the La Mama cafe-theatre, established by the late Betty Burstall, with poetry centre stage (--"Tuesday Nights Forever!" : recall when I returned from England, late '72, young poet Pi O visited me in Kerr Street, Fitzroy, quizzed me about that claim... "So what happened?" he demanded! That's history though isnt it! --what happened...? --well, I said, I went back to England for 3 years!), --myself coordinating from start of the year, '68, after Betty's & Glen Thomasetti's Sunday salons from Winter to Summer, '67 --and this Melbourne new poetry platform arguably an outpost of the Black Mountain College we conjured from various sources... The "we" was mainly Bill Beard, Ian Robertson, Paul Adler, Geoff Eggleston, Garrie Hutchinson, Charles Buckmaster, Allison Hill, John Jenkins, Mike Dugan, Mal Morgan, ambivalently Ken Taylor, detachedly Sid Clayton, James Crouch ... I was saying to Aidan Coleman just the other day, --interviewed for his Oz Po research, especially on John Forbes --that Melbourne was Black Mountain (include a couple of Sydney poets in that, Nigel Roberts, Terry Gillmore, the poets around Free Poetry magazine, Johnny Goodall another) whilst Sydney was New York (I'm thinking of John Tranter especially) --I characterised it at the time as Melbourne/Black Mountain 'Honest Joe' vs Sydney/New York 'City Slicker'... In '73 I met Robert Kenny & Walter Billeter and that Black Mountain discussion was on again! Colin & Frances Symes came out from England (Colin's Poetree wall map, an insert in Earth Ship #1 in Southampton, 1970, already a cult reference for our group regarding the Anglo-American, especially Pound/Olson, legacy). Clive Faust returned to Melbourne from Japan & met us via the Cid Corman connection. Bernie O'Regan & Judy Telford came to Melbourne from London and were part of the enthusiasm. Met Finola Moorhead at Adelaide Festival '74 and she joined the parlez (included in the Rushall Crescent Avant Garde meetings). We met the Cantrills who touched similar base via experimental filmmaking (Stan Brakhage to Charles Olson e.g.). Same early '70s add Laurie Duggan, John Anderson, Alexandra Seddon, Ian Reid (with his Levertov, Duncan, Blaser connections)... yes, quite a crew, and my mag of that time, The Ear in a Wheatfield, our international transport... There were of course Black Mountain enthusiasts in Sydney, for example Carl Harrison-Ford, & Bob Adamson, either holus-bolus or for particular poets, Robert Duncan for example... In the early '80s add Pete Spence, Des Cowley, Jurate Sasnaitis...This aint nothing more than thinking aloud folks! Not a thesis so plenty of holes I'm sure! Also to say from the late 60s I'd been aware of New Zealand/Black Mountain connections (Freed magazine), and was in touch with Alan Loney mid-70s... Yep, it's a LARGE subject!


May 13th

Regarding Hugh Tolhurst's memo about the POW! issue of Meanjin Quarterly... and cryptic comment, "happens to all no (A.D.) Hopers, eh Kris Hemensley"...
Not sure if we're on same page here, Hugh... Glancing at the Meanjin Quarterly preview/editorial it looked a bit 'same old' as they say, that is same-old newbies, new-old same-old & the other 57 varieties... I was there once myself, and folks like Ken Bolton quite rightly wondered how it had happened : editor of The Ear in a Wheatfield also poetry editor at Meanjin? People on t'other side asked same question, Dracula at the blood-bank... Hmmm... At that time, 1975, Jim Davidson wanted to make his own mark & to align with 'the new', so his opening salvo including me as poetry ed, Terry Smith sniffin out the art, who else? Finola Moorhead who'd been reading fiction with A A Phillips, and had pushed for me to come on board, was charged with wimmins business...
A D Hope, yes... I once declined a poem or two from him... a discussion around that could have been interesting re- old & new, laying out attitudes... it actually wasnt the poem per se but that it appeared to me to be his patter, --as I said, poetry couldnt be reproduction of one's patter... it had to be addressing the poem's possibility always anew... Ah well... a long way from POW!!!!


May 28th

Susan Fealy commented on Iggy McGovern, "He held the room with his poetry and his storytelling. A really lovely evening that opened up into great chats about poetry. Thanks Kris and Retta for such a warm, relaxed and stimulating evening. So good to be at a Collected Works event again." 'Great chats' indeed, Susan... George Genovese enquired as to the choice of sonnet for Iggy's William Hamilton book. Iggy discussed Petrarchan & Shakespearian --"And plenty more beside" he said, which gave me an opportunity to describe the 'mirror sonnet' I've been writing for 20/25 years! After the free verse adventure the 'return of/to form(s)' is similarly experimental, I said. And then Patricia Sykes opened up deliciously, instructively, on EE Cummings' sonnets.... Now that was but one portion of the session!

[Patricia Sykes‬ : I second that about the "lovely evening"; such a pleasure to have time to chat at some length about and with a visiting poet in such a welcoming and convivial setting: thanks indeed Kris and Retta. Keen to read one of your latest "mirror" sonnets Kris. Must correct one comment though: It wasn't sonnets I was discussing in relation to eec but the spin-off about form and song the sonnet discussion generated. Lovely way to spend a couple of hours on a damp and cold Melbourne night.]

As ‪Susan Fealy‬ says above, Iggy held the room or at least our circle in the middle, and his storytelling (explications of the poems & their form) took us right into mathematics, poetics, history... By the way, the book is A MYSTIC DREAM OF 4 : A sonnet sequence based on the life of William Rowan Hamilton (Quaternia Press, '14). The book's 64 sonnets are arranged in 4 parts entitled 1805-1820, Geometry; 1820-1835, Algebra; 1835-1850, Metaphysics; 1850-1865, Poetry... What with Jessica Wilkinson's non-fiction (& specifically biography) poetry project via her Rabbit magazine, Iggy's presentation was timely!


June 5th

Two wonderful meetings last summer in & around Melbourne, the first with Sharon Thesen, the second with Stephen Ellis; two North American poets & scholars, serendipitously in Oz, with Olson & co at centre of their conversation... A propos her article in Dispatches ["Charles, Frances, Ralph, and me"], our summertime tete a tete meant that I was already across the issues; laudable that Sharon's described here candidly, & so generously, what went down in making the important volumes of the Olson/Boldereff correspondence. She is beautifully found in this comment from the article : "[Which is why] we need artists, poets, and visionaries; philosophers, mystics, and geniuses; autodidacts, elders, and scholars: for the sake of joy. For the sake of the everything that is the world and the everything that is poetry.. "


June 12th

Have begun visiting artists who exhibited in the recent Dorset Art Weeks exhibition, that is via the fabulous catalogue!
As you know, Dorset is where I've been visiting family ever since life-changing 1987 trip. Weymouth in Dorset's become my English HQ & prism. Happy to be a poet amidst painting & painters, especially the West Country section.
 I'll not launch into vast essay here, about home making & self defining, --suffice to say this late March + April 2016 visit, which included St Ives for first time in years, fell just short of the annual Arts Weeks, but had I been there I would have tried to get around the galleries & studios. 
So far Ive loved the web sites &/or Facebook pages of Peter Ursem [], Colin Moore (& the Chaldon Studios)[], Caz Scott [] & Carolyn Lyness [].
Charmed, to say the least, by the stylization of their landscapes (oh yes, I should say that representing landscape, abstracting landscape, is my continuing & sustaining concern). 
Needless to say, this will become a larger reconnoitre and find it's way to ye olde blog. In the meantime, Good Morning Dorset from your Melbourne friend!


From the Journal,
DREAM, 13-07-16

Discussing Brexit with Cathy O'Brien & other friends in the conference room I recognize from other dreams, --sunlight through large glass windows, different shades of brown-stained wooden furniture, walls, floor. [Possibly regurgitation of  conversation about Brexit with Rob Kenny, his colleague Carol, Loretta, Richard Mudford, previous Sunday afternoon at the Kelvin Bar in Westgarth...] So what about Quebec? I say, and also enter Macdiarmid's defence ("you gotta have some nationalism to be 'inter' with")? Rising from low table I cross the room to where Sharon Thesen in rolled-up shirt-sleeves stands smiling, the sunlight catching her arms. I'm wondering how Durham got on in the Referendum. Basil Bunting's great isnt he? she says. Oh yes, I agree --how I wish I could have visited him in Durham… But you can now, she laughs, now you're free… But I'm 75, I say, how can I at 75? How old would you like to be? she jokes. Well, forty, forty-five… She brushes then holds my arm --let's ask this man, she says… Michael Farrell's been standing near us, listening in… I introduce them --Sharon Thesen, Michael Farrell… He's smiling. Dont ask him, I say, he's only 10!
I wake from warm, affectionate dream, telling myself to write to George Stanley to thank him for copy of his book, North of California St., received a couple of weeks ago --initially believing Sharon sent it but George's name is on sender (New Star Books, Vancouver)'s label. Also write to Sharon, so bonny in the dream.
Time flies. Eeek! Write tonight.

P.S. [7th August,'16]
Eeek indeed! Almost a month passed. Distractions, diversions. George Stanley's book is a selected poems, 1975-99, published by New Star in 2014. I think Sharon told me last Summer here that he has another in the making. Or maybe this is that volume. I've read Sharon's introduction a couple of times. So nice to know & here to say, we're on the same page. She refers to his "aboutism" wch has theoretical/political implication but also the straightforward concerns with "ideas, thoughts, locales, occasions, persons, and words…" She says that "aboutism and transportation are natural companions"; hear hear I say often enough myself in train-carriage or tram with notebook!
"Stanley's airplane poems are almost always about mortality and fatality. Flight is a subject that creates opportunities for fear of the loss of "plain reality", of losing touch with the earth, which Stanley likens to 'the truth'". Sharon Thesen continues, "The sense of loss, inspired by flight, of the world, the person, the real, and the familiar, is not a backward-glancing nostalgia for a 'golden' past, which we know, or are told we know, is a fiction; but rather derives from a sensed absence or emptiness in the present…"
Having just handed over my own mss to Kent MacCarter which means having been deeply immersed in it, in its 'vision & process' modus operandi as it may well be, I'm more than a little sensitive to the adjacency I pick up from my Vancouver correspondence…
Now it's 5-02pm!
Time still flying!
A wine date in the offing!


August 6th

Regarding the  event on the 21st July arranged by Lisa Gorton... good readings by Lisa (--quite a contrast to the park/topographical poems she read at the Devin Johnston event) & Chris Wallace-Crabbe ("the Puckish chap beside me" she introduced --and his John Keats meets Robert Burns poem, published in the latest ABR, lived up to that) in support of Paul Kane's Welcome Light poems... Ive been thinking about American & British English since the night, including Australian English's situation... Broad-brush as annunciated here of course, but... And though I offered Paul probability of such concern being passe from his point of view he felt it wasnt, still an interesting thought he said... I wondered if inflection within the plain speaking American line (the conversational syntax) might dummy for my sense of British 'music'? And et cetera...