Monday, March 25, 2013


Poems & pieces gathered by Pete Spence including collaborations with Cornelis Vleeskens & reminiscences from Hendrik Kolenberg & Rob Kars.

Edited by Kris Hemensley, 2012/2013.



Cornelis Vleeskens.

Curvature of the mind
Ornate beyond straight thought
Rallies over a Dutch mass like
Noctiluca  effervescing over an
Evening beverage that would spoil
Latte specialists or transient
Inertia plagued by
Solar encroachment

Verily the candescence
Leans like an oblique sheen
Emerging at pace without
Effort or so it
Seems as you take another
Keen lope into the marbled
Entropic margin
New each moment
Sails brightly aloft


Cornelis Vleeskens : list of publications

This list is not in order of publication its in the order i
picked each title up from the pile some chapbooks
have no publishing name noted in list as "no publishing
title" the rest are by EarthDance Cornelis'
publishing title after Fling there are some by DnD
done in Fitzroy around the early to mid 90's dates of
publication only where it is stated on the publication
and i have rarely described any book they take
up 3 main styles Poetry/Visual Poetry/Ink Brush works.
all books by Cornelis Vleeskens any collaborations will
be noted as "with". and finally this list is surely not complete

pete spence

The Departure Lounge. Post Neo Publications. Melbourne. 1987.
Set Pieces. Mighty Thin Books. Ocean Grove. 1998.
Foreshore. Mighty Thin Books. Ocean Grove. 1998.
50/50. Mighty Thin Books. Ocean Grove.1998.
Garween Heron Songs. Mighty Thin Books. O.G. 1998.
Summer House. Mighty Thin Books. O.G. 1999.
Homage. Mighty Thin Books. O.G. 1998.
Catch. Mighty Thin Books. O.G. 1998.
Salmon Wind. with pete spence. Mighty Thin BOOKS. O.G.  1999.
Big Jolt Funk. Mighty Thin Books. 1998.
Manifesto. Mighty Thin Books. 1999.
A HA. Red Fox Press. Ireland. 2011.
Divertimenti. EarthDance. 2010. Glen Innes.
Sand and Sun Waking. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Gedraag je als een aap in het landschap. with Paul Ritt. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Poissons Savages. with Tim Gaze. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
4 GE( )ICHTEN. No Publishing Title. c. late 1980's.
INKT. No Publishing Title. Cape Paterson.
Candied Eye. with pete spence. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Four Winds. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Naked Dreams. Dutch Poetry in Translation. Post Neo. St.Kilda. 1980's.
Fragments. Earthdance. Glen Innes.
"On the Street Where you Live"/"Rondom de Straten waer ick Liep". No Publishing Title.
De Noorder Wind. (In Dutch) No Publishing Title.
Point Blank. with pete spence. EarthDance.
No Holds Barred. Dutch Poetry. EarthDance. Glen Innes. 2009.
Suite 4 pete. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Field(Flide). EarthDance. 1999?
Ten Years After. CV 23 Nov. 98.
Four Short Fictions. Fling Poetry 1988.
Oblad. with Dirk de Bruyn. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
For a Song. No Publishing Title.
(2X4) Poems (Visual Poems). EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Earth my Faith. EarthDance. Melbourne. 1993.
1970-1980. Open Hand Press. Geelong.
(S)HIVER. 1999.
Papercut. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Stinging Nettles. EarthDance. Glen Innes. 2011.
Improper Sonnets. for Paul Burns. EarthDance. Glen Innes. 2011.
Tete a Tete. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Alpha-Cartography, South by South. with pete spence. Runnawayspoon Press. USA. 2001.
Portal. (Vis/Po). EarthDance. Cape Paterson 1998.
De Ontdekking van Niew Holland. No Publishing Title.
Beyond the Frame. EarthDance. Melbourne. 1993.
Het Gedrang van de Leegte/ The Overwhelming Emptiness. Fling. Melbourne. 1987.
Double Dutch. with Paul Ritt. Fling Poetry. (Edition of 25 copies.)
Night After Night. (Edition of 25.) 1991.
Talen Vervallen. Fling. Edition of 50. 1991.
Ochre Dancer. EarthDance. Cape Paterson. 1999.
Rembrandt's Windmill. EarthDance. Glen Innes. 2011.
"A". EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Please Add Too!!!. Various Collaborators. Open Hand Press. Geelong. 1999.
Echos. No Publishing Title. Cape Paterson.
Score. DnD Press. 2001.
Collapoems. EarthDance.
No Synchro in First. No Publishing Title.
MarketPlace. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Eftal. Artist Book. Edition of 25.
HeatWave. Cape Paterson.
The Sense we Have Left
. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Sketches. with Jenni Mitchell. Fling. 1982.
The Final Chapter. Fling Poetry. Melbourne. 1988.
The Huntsman. Joker Press. Cape Paterson (?)
Iommer. Oerdans. (Earthdance)
Cubist Cigars. Cape Paterson.
Triple Bypass. with Tim Gaze & John Crouse. Annabasis/EarthDance. 2003.
Descending a Staircase. No Publishing Title.
Soiled Litigants. with Tim Gaze. DnD Press. 2002.
Musee. No Publishing Title.
Haiku (calligraphy) No Publishing Title.
Tien Gedichen/Ten Poems (Dutch/English) Fling. 1984/5.
PostDuiven. No Publishing Title.
Senses Ajar (Pamphlet) No Publishing Title.
JJA. EarthDance.
Red Dust. No Publishing Title.
Klad-Werk (corrections copy) No Publishing Title.
Spring Rains. EarthDance.
For Love. (Typographic Poem). EarthDance.
+ A.   No Publishing Title.
These Text(D)ualities. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Fancy Free Flight. with Tim Gaze. EarthDance.
Cape Haiku. EarthDance. Cape Paterson. 1997.
Snakes of Fire Rivers of Sand. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
SWASH. No Publishing Title.
Brush Poems. EarthDance.
Utterances. EarthDance. Glen Innes. 2011.
Reindeer Dreaming. EarthDance. 1994.
The EarthDance Summer Collaborations. with Greg Stephens/
      Pul Ritt/ Suzy Kepert/Dirk de Bruyn/ Sharon Hodgson/
      Patrick Alexander/ pete spence.  EarthDance. 1999.
Another Slim Volume. Fling. 1984.
Eagles Nest. with Sharon Hodgson. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
(Narration) for Henri M. & Chr. D.  EarthDance. Glen Innes.
Pause and Effect. with Sharon Hodgson. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
East-SouthEast.  Ars Publications.
Des Formes. No Publishing Title.
Triplets. with Tim Gaze & John Crouse. Telepathine Press. 2004.
Mon.07.08.00. with Tim Gaze. No Publishing Title.
L'Espirit. EarthDance.
10. A selection of Artist Books by Cornelis Vleeskens. Curated by pete spence.
Orange Blizzard. QLD. Community Press. 1981.
Orange Blizzard. (reprint) EarthDance. Glen Innes. 2005.
Air Conditioned Gypsy. (The Tokyo Notebooks). Fling Poetry. 1992.
Salted Herring. Fling Poetry. 1980.
HongKong Suicide. Gargoyle Poets 20. Makar Press. 1976.
CV. PressPress. 2009.
Tree Frog Dreaming. Fling Poetry. 1990.
Een Oogopslag. (handmade hand written) Edition of 1 (?).
Broken Lines. (Images by Paul Ritt) Fling Poetry. Edition of 50.
Through the Eye of the Scissors. J. Elberg. (Translation). Open Hand Press. Geelong. 1999.
Fine White Lines. with Tim Gaze & Michael Basinski. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
Unconscious at Cape Paterson. with Tim Gaze. Annabasis/Xtant. 2002.
On 2 Walkabout. EarthDance.
Learc. No Press Title.
I  E  A  O  U. EarthDance. Cape Paterson.
X<>Bar Gazing. Open Hand Press. Geelong. 1999.
Whoroo-Turn. Cape Paterson.
Olympiad. Cape Paterson. 2000. Edition of 1 (?) Signed.
Jia. (Loose Folder) Issue No. 3 of 5.
Unconscious at Cape Paterson. (2nd printing) Coromandel Valley Books.
T( )T. (Handmade) No.15 of 24. Signed. 1998.
Images. (Handmade) (penciled in in colour) No. 13 of 15. 1991. signed.
Meridies. with pete spence. Look!! Poetry!! Ocean Grove 1998.
Dutch- Australian Broadsheets No.4 Fling Poetry. 1989. Nos. 1/2/3
    in print ready form in pete spence's Archive.
The Wider Canvas. EarthDance. 1996.
Nothing Kept. Brunswick Hill Press. 1986.
The Day The River. UQP.
Sittings For a Family Portrait. Post Neo 1988
15 Various handmade with hand painted covers (1 offs)
Silent Music. A Suite for Theo Kuijpers. EarthDance.
      hand painted covers in Dutch & English. Glen Innes.
South Africa. for Rob Kars. hand painted front cover. Glen Innes.
The Exotic Other. The Portrayal of Aboriginal Culture on
      Australian Postage Stamps & related Philatelic products
      EarthDance. Cape Paterson. 1999.
INKT. (Set of Artist proofs in covers for the chapbook INKT listed earlier.
Full Moon Over Lumpine Park. Fling Poets 2. 1982.
Sweet Penguin- Linked Verse by Catherine Mair & Patricia Prime
   ink brush work throughout the publication by Cornelis Vleeskens
   chapbook printed August 2000 unknown publisher.




The last time I saw him was October 2011. He was thinner than when I had seen him previously, two years earlier – he seemed somewhat fragile, but looked well enough to me. He made the long journey to Sydney with 2 bars of silver, payment for some of his tachist-calligraphic drawings and collages. He cashed them in with a dealer in the city and came away with about twelve hundred dollars. So Cornelis, a friend of mine Rob Kars and I spent that day, a Friday, in the city.

We walked to the AGNSW where we looked at Bram Bogart’s Day-break together, had a late takeaway lunch/early dinner at Circular Quay and watched Werner Herzog’s Cave of forgotten dreams in a cinema nearby. He noted that Rob and I fell asleep every so often, even though we were both otherwise absorbed by the film. Afterwards we walked from Circular Quay to Central, where Cornelis was staying in a hotel overnight. That evening George Street was like Mammon’s feast with nubile barely dressed young women dashing about. All three of us, well into our 60s, took note of that!

Cornelis had come to Sydney at my suggestion to meet Rob, my closest Dutch friend. Rob had come to stay for about 4 weeks. I had introduced them on the telephone three years before – Cornelis from my place in Sydney, Rob Kars from his in Weert in the southern province of Limburg, Netherlands. It worked a treat. They got on well by phone and soon after were sending one another hand-made cards by post. Meeting up was the next step. Rob had come halfway round the world via China, so it seemed fair to ask Cornelis to make the journey to Sydney. Glen Innes seems further than Holland to me, though Rob would have been up for it, especially after the journey he’d just made.

The next day Cornelis joined us for lunch at home on our back verandah, with my wife and a couple of other friends  – John Philippides and Willemina Villari, both artists. John is a masterly draughtsman, an Alexandrian Greek, who divides his time between his home/studio in the Blue Mountains and his home/studio in his birthplace, Alexandria. Willemina is a sculptor and painter/draughtswoman, born in Holland and married to an Italian. I think he felt at home.

Cornelis had a particular way of looking at you, or so it seemed to me – around rather than through or over his glasses and almost shyly, or was it slyly, with a hint of a smile – amusement, contentment perhaps, or was it his undoubted but idiosyncratic wisdom? That hint of a smile remained somewhat unnervingly in place, whether he was talking or not. He wasn’t given to babbling. It was as if he waited for the right moment to speak, or catch you out. He smoked, drank red wine, took part in conversation, made a number of drawings he gave to everyone and left before dark to catch the train to Central and early next morning, back to Glen Innes.

We again reverted to emailing. His were from Glen Innes public library, a good half hour walk from his small weatherboard house on the outskirts of town. His email address was cvphobia, which suited him perfectly. His letters or emails were distilled and ordered into poems, short and to the point.

Our first contact had also been by telephone, early in 2008. There were numerous telephone conversations before we met some months later in October at his house in Glen Innes. Our friendship grew out of his translations of Dutch poetry – Jan Elburg, Koos Schuur, Bert Schierbeek, Lucebert, Simon Vinkenoog, Karel Appel and others, all major figures in the renewal of Dutch culture post World War 2 – for the catalogue to an exhibition of post-war Dutch art at the AGNSW, Intensely Dutch. His translations seemed effortless, almost spontaneous and entirely convincing. I soon admired him for more than his translations. He was singular in person and poetry. Often his poetry is autobiographical. At times details about his life – words, phrases, entire poems – are in Dutch (his first language and mine) flowing freely into and around his use of English. I have collected whatever I can find of what he has written and he sent me whatever he could spare, including anything new. Before he left that Saturday evening last October, he typed all of Trivial pursuits into my computer, his parting gift, something I value even more now.

[26 May 2012]



The three of us, “young” men of precariously advanced age, are walking through East Sydney. It is our fate to be immigrant offspring to the end of our days. We are at peace with that. Better still, for years now, we have worn the label “Dutchy” as an honorary nickname. HK, who is an excellent painter, curator, and writer, walks ahead of us. He has to do that. Everywhere and always he is going at his own stiff unbeatable pace to work, even when on holiday. CV and I, RK, lag way behind him. CV, the handicapped beatnik, “excellent retired poet/dadaist from up north”, despite the fact that he left Holland at the tender age of ten, is smoking a dutch style selfrolled fag. He drags his feet a little. His shoes are too big, worn out. But he is a happy man these days. An old lady-friend has bought five of his collage works and paid him in silver bars (which she had unexpectedly inherited). And the first thing he will do once the silver has been cashed, is buy a new decent pair of boots. Me, reasonably capable, lyrical abstract painter from Weert, Netherlands, look at the ground. I like doing that in places I do not visit often. Actually, I do that everywhere, all the time. The most beautiful things, in fact, are mostly just lying around for the taking. Meanwhile CV and I are having a discussion. About zen. Of which we don’t know very much.

“All creatures are as they are, and find their mutual connection” (Zhuang Zi)

I linger to take a photograph of a traffic sign painted on the pavement. It is the internationally renowned man-with-a-hat holding the little pig-tailed girl by the hand. CV waits patiently. H is
higher up the road at the crossroads, also waiting. He looks a little guilty, one hand above his eyes, against the fierce sun. We notice a brightly coloured piece of paper lying on the ground, a magnificent street jewel. “Yes, that’s beautiful, says CV. And then, when I have picked it up and put it in my bag, “but not anymore now. Now we shall have to wait and see what comes of it...”.

Rob Kars 13/6/2012



Days and Nights in Glen Innes for Cornelis Vleeskens.

is Glen Innes Time really recyclable?
you wake up and its morning again
the same clouds nested at the compass points
a platter of blue overhead that sometimes lasts
even though you wake at any part of the morning
even after noon has trotted by apace with the wind
you wake nonetheless and don't look at the clock

should we have concern for clocks?
how are they fed? are they too wound up by our noise?
they're everywhere! no matter how many none will
ever make time! its never on hand when you want it
its unknown if it even heeds itself!

and if we saved them from the rust of laziness
in this damp mobile air would we save time
or waste time? there's no time to save i think
i think you should let it go






Salmon Wind

sounds Cyrillic!
            even at this hour!
your overspeak
is a plague!
yet nature is my period!
as if the 80's
was like making
a herbal tea
among the plankton
and the RUSH!
or were we both
RUSHing somewhere else!
an else like pursed lips!
can you excuse me
if i throw a forest
a kiss!    even
from the distance
you proffer
given now
it is further
than it now
might be!

[from an issue of  Mighty Thin Books]


Everyone's Biro.

everyone's biro
has a point!
how else explain
this enormous
amount of exclamation
marking the decease
of "plain song"?

i've just
been isolated
by a plinth!

here a bit of coral
might interfere
but walking into
a bit of marble

sure bruises


For Guido.

i'd die willingly
for an avacado!
mango mango
ah! a guitarist
without a jube!
a tube minus a tub
a tub without water
and these strings
these strings
are untuned
sing sweetly low chariot
this ride this peace
is everlasting


If This.

if this is how
our treatment
is metered out
in the broad nuance
of a block of ice
under the weather
like a cloud
hailing a taxi
in a Bangkok breeze
then the Yangtze
Bridge Club begs
for Jenni to add
a line! where's
Jenni? what good year
was that? iced over
with coffee grounds
trimmed by
a caring gardener
and a wayward
shard on an English
crisis amid
the fair mud

flapping like a stiff...
o! just like Jenni (in brief!)

and bulging eyed eyeing
the distant horizontal clouds
eyeing full eyed
in a bloated distance
mister potato stuck
with pin pricks eyes
the colloidal musk


[notes :
On Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm
Kris : i found these 3 today from the Cape Paterson days

Guido is Guido Vermeulin a dude we both knew in Brussels
when i went into his flat the first thing i saw was
a flyer for a reading in Amsterdam by Cornelis!!]


Kris Hemensley note :

A few years ago the artist Kevin Lincoln asked me if I knew of any Dutch speakers &/or poets he might be able to suggest to his curator/art historian friend, Hendrik Kolenberg, who was both generally interested but specifically hoping for assistance with translation. I offered the name of Cornelis Vleeskens; Kevin bought a couple of his collections to send to Hendrik. The rest is history : Cornelis worked on the translation of texts & poems by the COBRA poets & artists which are included in Hendrik Kolenberg's catalogue for that major exhibition. He self-published a chapbook with some of the translations; NO HOLDS BARRED (2009). 


--Westgarth, Oz, March 24th, 2013.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


ON THE RUN : as though a journal : posts retrieved from Facebook

   December 2, 2012

    I.M. Charles Buckmaster, 40th anniversary of that terrible day, 26th November, 1972. Tonight i share a paragraph from my December 1972 journal, a page following report on Gough Whitlam's momentous federal election victory :

    "[3rd December,'72] The suicide of Charles Buckmaster was the sad news forwarded to us from 2 different sources last week. Michael Dugan phoned one evening --& Margaret Taylor on the Thursday evening we were out (visiting Betty Burstall & later Paul Adler & Ena in Carlton). It was not unexpected. Margaret sd that he had seen 'top consultants' & that he was 'doomed'. We are told that there is a family history of this... Charles was 21. So young. & yet --the poem he published in The Age 2 years ago --which i hadnt seen until Judy Duffy [Loretta's sister] showed it to us a couple of weeks or so ago-- was astonishingly authoritative & mature. [The Age poem was 'Starting Out', beginning, "That the changes have been swift / and uninvited. // That their year tore by, your holy face / matures like the dawn: centering / on some great simplicity / of right living. // I can't know you at all..."]] In retrospect all the poems appear to be suicide notes (Mark Hyatt [English poet] was another such case) --but 2 poems in particular --The Age poem, & 'Seed' which i published in Earth Ship #7 --the most moving epistles. i wrote a piece of prose for/to Charles three evenings ago....


January 7th, 2013

Turn on the telly and who should be on the screen but Silka Genovese being interviewed by Jane Edmondson (from Gardening Australia and 3AW's Big Back Yard) about the w/ful horticultural history of an Italian family's hectare in Brunswick, ultimately gifted to CERES (for whom Silka works). If that wasnt sufficient fame to absorb, turn the telly back on for the doco on Twiggy (England in the 60s via Carnaby Street, King's Road, Chelsea et al) and there's Jeremy Reed, sociologically erudite, sharp as a pin and dressed to the nines (as befitted the subject).
 It was nice to catch up with Silka at George G's book launching at Collected Works late November, but havent seen Jeremy for ten years? Last time was with John Robinson driving us to & fro Marc Almond's book launch at Borders in Brighton; stuck in central London grid lock (wch we werent to know was consequence of Brixton bombing), and then all that tea at the Grand Hotel finally catching up with us : hilarious attempt to relieve bladders in a side street wch John brilliantly discovered but only to be lit up like rabbits when the apartment block's security lights turned night into day! I'll be tuning in for tonight's trysting with celebrities with baited breath!


  January 17th, 2013

    A great night, kicking off our Summer in the City series (next is the Yeats Poetry Prize committee's lunchtime session to celebrate another Yeats anniversary, 29th January --cdnt have it on the official date, wch is Australia Day & a holiday) : Pam Brown lead in by Corey Wakeling, Duncan Hose & Ann Vickery. A full house --thanks everyone for turning out.
    A distinctive feature of the reading was its curator's introduction & mini-critique of each of her guests, ie, what & why Gig Ryan [poet & poetry editor at The Age, Melbourne] appreciated in their poetry & poetics. I think that was valuable in itself. The 'proof of the pudding' beside the point...
    During the a/noon had another conversation with Alan Pose abt the way we think of & listen to contemporary (any) music --i've been enjoying Chris Dench & Diana Burrell CDs, recent purchases. But i was unaware of any connection between the two until Alan told me of Chris Dench appreciation of her. Excuse the long-windedness of this comment but to an extent the conversation [in my mind, that is : Alan is hereby excused any responsibility!] turned upon the adequacy or validity of the pictorial/representational vs abstract categorisations often fielded. All too obvious that there's no clear or absolute distinction : envisaged space (landscape eg) & aural or phonic space (music) occupy a continuum. I could say that it's governed by perception rather than description (seen/scene/seen)...Listening to the reading i felt beautifully prepared by that discussion (as well as the music)! Pam Brown (& what a great long last poem she read --vernacular's sleight-of-hand, the diary meta-poem) described the Melbourne posse as fellow experimenters --i guess she meant poets who're seriously engaged with the late modernist english-language poetry, all new yorky even when it aint!
It is invidious here to call preferences because the reading was very much a conversation or collective demonstration of shared mode at the heart of wch was a 'golden laughter'...

[January 21, 2013
By MelbourneArtNetwork
Lecture | ‘Broken Pastoral and the English Folk’ Professor Tim Barringer
 Paul Mellon Professor of Art History, Yale University

This paper examines the revived interest in folk culture in late-Victorian and Edwardian Britain, exploring the relationships between ethnography, musicology and the study of historical arts and crafts.

It places within this matrix the work of photographers, painters and composers, who derived both motifs and models for avant-garde artistic identity from the study of the rural poor. Professor Tim Barringer contends that the aesthetic potency of visual and musical compositions drawing on folk sources lay in the widespread acknowledgement of the imminent disappearance of folk culture in the face of modernity and mechanized warfare.

Under consideration are the photographer P.H. Emerson, painters George Clausen, Henry Herbert La Thangue and Augustus John, the gardener and writer Gertrude Jekyll, ethnographer E.B. Tylor, and composers Sir Hubert Parry, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Percy Grainger.]

The art & music we've come to know, love, and fundamentally refer to, elicited by yesteryear's avant-garde from "the rural poor" (according to the abstract above) has surely became an optic for the general culture's celebration of the non-metropolitan, sourced in the country & ex-urban environments. What did i see on F/book the other day? : oh yes, a lovely painting by Eric Ravilious matched to a photograph of the actual village & landscape... nothing earth-shattering abt that but simply a tiny example of the way art reflects life reflects art : creativity's essential dynamic! What i dont want to hear at the lecture is cliches abt elitist exploitation, wayward nostalgia & etc! But, yes, sounds good!


Furthermore (yes! ive been sitting in the front room/library, thinking), a great resource for this discussion is Alexandra Harris's brilliantly researched & exceptionally readable book, Romantic Moderns : English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper (T&H, 2010). Reflecting upon Benjamin Britten's cynicism abt the relationship of the folk movement to the English Musical Renaissance, she says, "He was certainly right(...) : folk song had not played much part in musical life for centuries. [But] The point of the revival was to close over the gap, asserting by sheer force of will that the vital rhythms of English music had been continuous across the ages. Where the folk revival was potentially limiting, the closely related return to Renaissance court music offered both patriotic appeal and more scope for complex experiment. Britten turned to the 'discordant harmonies' of Purcell, taking inspiration from his fusion of the familiar and the strange. Extensive scholarship on 16th & 17th C music, pioneered by Arnold Dolmetsch and gathering momentum all through the 1920s and 1930s, opened new possibilities for composition. Just as medieval stained glass suggested to John Piper ways of understanding the abstractions of Leger, early music offered English composers new perspectives on the modern. it is characteristic of this generation that Peter Warlock, whose 1926 book The English Ayre recovered a whole corpus of early songs, was also the first Englishman to write a substantial appreciation of Arnold Schoenberg." I doffs me cap and rests me case!!!


    January 28th, 2013

    Hemensleys down to the sea again this morning, and once on the beach, altho no one else in the water, just had to go in! Coldish but quickly adapted. Beach & Bay report classified Elwood as Good and believe me the sea was clear, gentle waves, no burning sun, totally acceptable. Float on back, dog paddle, stick head under water & look around, the whole biz! (No, didnt actually swim hard or far!) How many more beach days does this summer hold? After drying/changing on the grass banking, breakfasted at the little kiosque and once more made short work of the toasted cheese & tomato s/wiches! Washed down with tea/coffee. Continued my latest note on Ivor Gurney in notebook. Dawned on me i was sitting in the particular way with the very expression Dad adopted when the aggregate of an occasion's pleasure suffused like a blush. He'd have liked this, i said. In his prime. Hopefully i'm still in mine!

January 30th, 2013

 One can but note & mourn the passing of the men & women of one's time. Anselm Hollo (1934-2013) a little older than us lot. His UK class would include Edwin Brock (1927-97), Tarn (b.'28), Alan Brownjohn (b.'31), Geoffrey Hill (b.'32), Jeff Nuttall (1933-04), B S Johnson (1933-73), Harry Fainlight (1935-82), Michael Horowitz (b '35)... Come to think of it, same era as Peter Porter & Chris Wallace-Crabbe... Different kinds of poets, all mortal... I think Hollo went to the US ahead of Tarn, had only been in London a few years. I loved the image of him as per a review in the English papers ca '65/66, the Venusian from Helsinki or was it the Finn from Venus?!! RIP, indeed.
 Of course, most of the above well behind him as he became an American poet. Many lives indeed. An interesting paper wld be abt those who left the UK for the US & other places. Whether they commuted (like many of the Irish, feet firmly in both) or cast off old world like previous skin. You hear my own song in that, hopefully not a wail!


February 9th, 2013

Tim Barringer's lecture last night worth its weight in gold if only for the audio-visual illustrations, the singing of the great Joseph Taylor for example. I suppose the prof was running the gauntlet between latterday 'everything's a construct' cynicism & erstwhile 'the real thing' nostalgia. Like the good thing he evidently is, Barringer resolved the 'argument' with that hybrid which close-reading encourages. The extension of his presentation would, I hope, throw it all into another spin as 'tradition' & 'avant garde' exchange positions through the years! I'm on the run this morning so more later! Excellent support for the lecture.


 I wish you'd all been there! I wonder if papers from the conference (Tim B's talk was a keynote) are up on the web anywhere? Naturally one brings one's own box & dice to any such presentation, for example my long standing belief that the sincere response (in this case to the pastoral) is a meeting with and extension of that source. It is manipulation on technical/techique level but not distortion or falsification in ethical or moral sense --Vaughn Williams, Delius, Percy Grainger were surely proceeding from the folk songs, riffing in favour of their own music. In the case of the Joseph Taylor recording which the prof played, the singer's distinctive trill in Brig Fair is actually quoted or retained in the modern version. Pure magic to my ears! So yes, i had a number of "yes but"s in my notebook at lecture's end, which didnt in any way diminish my respect for the presentation & quality of research & suggestive insight. The William Barnes example was one such. I loved his reference to Barnes but disagreed totally that V Williams' Linden Lea sanitized the dialect, as if (my point) Barnes were some peasant-innocent and not the grammarian & linguist he was, who wrote in Standard English as well as Dialect. Etc etc etc Most stimulating as i hope you appreciate. Washed down with a pint of cider at Percy's (most appropriate) in company of Alan Pose!
(Tim B told us at the start that he'd spent the day at the Grainger Museum in Parkville and what he'd gleaned had affected his own thesis! Local boy makes good on one level ('we love you Melbourne') but pretty interesting...)


February 12th, 2013

Letter to Ted Reilly, re- 50th Anniversary of Sylvia Plath's death

 Hi Ted, wish i had been given Plath at school but it was all too new then! I loved Lawrence, disliked Hardy, got Spender but struggled with Hopkins & McNiece. That was in 1963, unaware of contemporary poets, wch also might mean the teacher was too; or she stuck to the GCE syllabus so as not to distract us. Southampton Tech College, 1962-64. I was writing vastly more prose than poems, dropped out the next year, didnt really encounter Plath (& it was Plath & co, that is Lowell & co) til Xmas '66, in Oz by now, when i was given the The New Poetry anthology, edited by Alvarez, masquerading beneath Jackson Pollock cover. I say 'masquerading' deliberately because i didnt find the "new" i desperately wanted to encounter... I'd taken to Williams in '65, and Ginsberg, Snyder, Levertov & the Beats followed. Not much room for Plath... I recall hating Lowell in that anthology, but liking Berryman (still a poet i read)! And Nat Tarn's essay World Wide Open, published in International Times in '67, gave me the excuse for my avoidance & ideological repudiations : Tarn's quip, 'we cannot afford madness' (that is in this politically apocalyptic time)... as though it were a choice... I preferred Bly, & older poets like Jeffers, and Pound NOT Eliot... you get the picture Ted!!! I guess it wasnt really until i was a (still) young poet & teaching at the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne, mid '70s, through the '80s, that i allowed myself to read the other side (as it felt), if only to join my students in their reading tastes. So Hopkins, Eliot, & Plath... The teacher taught by his students! That is, the openness i was encouraging (Olson & Duncan my mentors) opened my ears & eyes to the poems themselves, free from partisan distraction & fashion! Letting the words (the poems) enflame, not the lives of the poets! Or, not merely the misleading lives...Thanks for yr words Ted... Are you still teaching?


February 14th, 2013

 My best sense of Robert Bly admittedly from a long time ago, 60s, The Light Around the Body etc I wrote to him ca 1967 when he donated his Pulitzer (or Nat Bk Award?) money to a draft resister. Also sent him copy of my little mag, Our Glass, wch had published translations from contemporary Swedish poets by Peter Adams (student of Marianne Berregren in Swedish Dept at Melb University). Mr Bly endorsed them!
 His 'Leaping Poetry' essay was important i think. And 'Deep Image' out of Lorca, Rilke et al brilliant contradiction to A-A-A-American localism (itself attractive --WCW, Olson etc)... Iron John was fun but so too the Great Mother he thought to supplant... His Mirabai wonderful... CONGRATULATIONS!


February 21st, 2013

I hadnt thought too much abt Richard Alpert (+ Timothy Leary) after the '60s, but mid '80s when i began re-thinking & rereading philosophical, political & literary positions, i came upon Baba Ram Dass --probably via Transpersonal Psychology journal, and that via wonderful lecture at the 1984 Deep Ecology conference in Melbourne given by Warwick Fox. And then, Cathy O'Brien said she'd always had this copy of Be Here Now by Ram Dass, since the 70s at least...!


February 21st, 2013

To Pamela Robertson-Pearce re- Graeme Miles' Recurrence (John Leonard Press, Melbourne,2012)

Graeme Miles' Recurrence is one of the best of the recent crop (and it's a veritable Aussie harvest these days)... Elizabeth Campbell's discussion could have been described as "the status of myth in post-modernity"!  Naturally her respect & enthusiasm for the poems ultimately had Graeme's unique collection centre stage. I wonder if there's a discussion to be had around the highly individual accomplishment of a number of ex-West Australian poets in recent times? Michael Heald, Phil Salom, Mal McKimmie, & Marion May Campbell also spring to mind. By individual i mean determinedly out-of-left-field works... and heady without sacrificing the palpable. Something like that!


March 6th, 2013

Thinking y'day about my own change of mind re- Thos Hardy, wrote in my journal : "When Eric Mottram described my poems [Poem of the Clear Eye?] as the opposite of 'Hardyesque modesties', i felt vindicated --ambition in terms of subject & form being my register --& for many years -- Ah well, the wheel turns -- Ancient Chinese & medieval Japanese (current reading) hardly modest in the way i was opposing when i was younger --but if Hardy has a place for me now it's within the equanimity established by them (the T'ang ancients)..."
This still in my mind as i listened to Lyn McCredden's brilliant encapsulation of Chris Wallace-Crabbe's body of work, that (if i remember correctly) despite the 'thing itself' yielding to the facts of the day (& everyday), his doggedness & stoicism, his wit to see & respond, there were the darker edges, deep sadnesses...
Not sure as i write this how the two states of mind coalesce! Still thinking this through...
Maybe it's the Hardy of "he was a man who remembered such things" (--the poem i'd disliked when young but came around to understanding later) i'm relating to CWC...


March 9th, 2013

Preparing for my next trip to England. Consult Vivienne Light's great compendium, Circles & Tangents : Art in the shadow of Cranbourne Chase (Canterton Books, 2011). I remember conversation with Bernard H years ago : he'd written his Cemetery Lodge Poems and we envisaged ever widening circle, thus the Thomas Hardy Poems, and further, further... Vivienne Light explains, "The 'circles' of the title are of interconnected artists, though 'loose networks' might describe them better, for they are rarely neat or circular. The 'tangents' of the title are those in which I, as author, have spun off in pursuit of some theme or connection in the life or work of an artist, often travelling far beyond the bounds of Cranbourne Chase. As Virginia Woolf once put it: 'smooth narrative can't be right. Things don't happen like that'."
She describes Cranbourne Chase, "a landscape of bare-bone beauty and for many has offered a place of retreat. Its dramatic landscape and sense of remoteness (though now under two hours from london), have been its foremost attractions. Spanning Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire, it was originally established by William the Conqueror as a royal hunting ground, with the rivers Avon, Allen, Stout, Fontnell and Nadder as its boundaries. Its physical geography is both demanding and spectacular, nurturing and isolating, consisting of high, exposed rolling downland, steep escarpments, winterbourne chalk streams and vertiginous valleys, as well as old broad-leaf woodland, shadow-flickering coppices, junipers, hedgerow yews, and bird-nesting hawthorn thickets. The Chase is an ancient landscape."
And then Vivienne Light quotes H J Massingham. My Massingham! Wow! That was an obsession late 80s, 90s, Must look at him again too.