Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Yesterday I returned from this:

to this:

Here are a few notes made along the way:

20/12 Amid the Xmas muzak in Hong Kong airport, a tepid version of ‘The Red Flag’ [I’m later informed that it was probably ‘O Tannenbaum’ which spoils the story a little but it’s still a small epiphany at the intersection of Marx and Mammon].

24/12 Wattle birds barking in Williamstown.
A crested pigeon.

The newsagent sells bait.

26/12 The question of how I relate to Australia, not in any nostalgic sense (missing the weather, the beach &c) but in the sense of what I intellectually take from (t)here. Is it a kind of grounding that makes everything I write relate back? If so, it means that my work may be ‘exotic’ in the UK, that people may like it even, but that it can never really be ‘essential’ for anyone else.

27/12 A new anthology of Australian poetry (in which I appear) must be one of the ugliest books Penguin have produced. And is there really any need for us to trudge through 19th century colonial poetry anymore? As a child I was punished by these endless ballads and clanky verses. I didn’t get an inkling of what poetry was until years later with Keats and TS Eliot. Lawson was a good prose writer, but I can’t see how he, ‘Banjo’ Patterson and the rest of the poets can be resuscitated, ever. I would much rather read the diaries of the 19th century colonies than I would the poets.

All week, no movement
in the army depot.
Exotic birds over khaki trucks,
yellow boats on their trailers
ready for what?

The containers have left the Bay.
The Bellarine’s a smudge, past the
wartime bunkers.

Ships move through the trees


A further week in Sydney was no less eventful but I gave the notebook a rest.

A couple of those days were spent up in the Blue Mountains:

Here’s a snap taken at Mt Blackheath with Pam Brown:

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