TO STEPHEN ELLIS
"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...
THE MELBOURNE CUP, 2017
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-
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 &
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]