Monday, 31 December 2012

Sunday, 30 December 2012

three from Sydney

air guitar

John Tranter took the top photo of me and John Scott a few decades back. He also fished out from the archives an image of Marcel Proust in a similar pose (Marcel Proust et ses amis au tennis du boulevard Bineau, au centre Jeanne Pouquet, 1892, photographie anonyme) sent to him by Pam Brown. John also took a number of photos of Australian poets and their friends from the Puncher and Wattmann Xmas party, in the Annandale Town Hall in Sydney on 15 December 2012, at which The Collected Blue Hills was launched. These may be viewed on his homepage here:

Brisbane, December

Adelaide in late November

These three shots were taken at the Australian Experimental Art Foundation bookshop in Adelaide where I gave a reading. Maestro Ken Bolton appears at the top, then the gallery an hour before the reading, then myself figuring out what to read (photo Cath Kenneally).

two new books

Leaving Here: poems by me, artwork by Angela Gardner, Brisbane, Light-Trap Press (limited edition), 2012.

The Collected Blue Hills, Sydney, Puncher & Wattman, 2012.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Dorn's Collected

At long last Carcanet’s collected Edward Dorn is out with a terrific portrait by Philip Behymer on the cover. It’s substantial – nearly 1000 pages – and it contains, aside from the texts of all of Dorns’s books a considerable number of uncollected pieces. There’s an introduction by Jennifer Dunbar Dorn (who edited the volume with Justin Katko, Reitha Pattison and Kyle Waugh) and generous afterwords by Amiri Baraka and JH Prynne. Dorn’s exactitudes are well in evidence here though he wasn’t always on top of things. Back in the late eighties he published a Martial translation of mine in Rolling Stock attributing it to Catullus. This all came about because I visited him in Boulder in 1987. He and Jenny were more than hospitable and would have put me up if I hadn’t already booked myself into a nearby motel. He drove me up to the foothills of the Rockies and over a couple of evenings there was much talk of poems and poetics. The next year he got me to write a piece on the Australian Bicentennial celebrations for the magazine. As I did so I found myself absorbing his style though this was as much to fit into the journalistic style of the mag. Later, travelling and working in Europe he dropped me a line noting that: ‘In my advanced 20th C PO course at the Paul Valery universitĂ© I reproduced your Montsegur poem . . . which I admired very much for its cool efficiency. I think some of them saw it - they were mostly girls named Michelle’.

Friday, 16 November 2012

a seminar, two readings, and a book

First off three fine poets performed at Swedenborg Hall on Wednesday night: Andrew Jordan, Michael Zand and John Welch. Jordan, up from Portsmouth, read from Hegemonick, a book of uncommon power and resourcefulness, released a few months back.  Then yesterday I attended the second half of a day-long seminar with Denise Riley at the University of Kent in which Riley opened up to all comers.  This was followed by a brief reading in the evening at the Veg Box CafĂ© in Canterbury. Finally I wanted to mention Cusp, a collective memoir edited by Geraldine Monk and focussed on linguistically innovative poetry, neo-modernism or whatever you want to call it in the period between the early fifties and the advent of the World Wide Web. I will be writing about this timely and fascinating book elsewhere.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Alchemist's Mind

The Alchemist’s Mind, subtitled ‘a book of narrative prose by poets’ published by Reality Street was launched last night at The Lamb. It contains an astonishing variety of work by twenty-eight poets, five of whom read in the evening.  These were editor David Miller, Paul Buck, Brian Marley, Stephen Watts and MJ Weller. The other poets featured are Guy Birchard, Vahni Capildeo, Johan de Wit, Lawrence Fixel, Giles Goodland, Barbara Guest, Paul Haines, Lee Harwood, Lyn Hejinian, Fanny Howe, Robert Lax, John Levy, Tom Lowenstein, Daphne Marlatt, Bernadette Mayer, bpNichol, Will Petersen, Kristin Prevallet, David Rattray, Ian Robinson, Robert Sheppard, Keith Waldrop and Rosemarie Waldrop. David Miller’s introduction is a substantial essay on kinds of prose that, unlike standard modern fiction, are informed by classic modernism. It is an exciting and timely volume. Pictured below are Paul Buck, Brian Marley, Stephen Watts and MJ Weller (who would have been, as ever, a hard act to follow).

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Ambassador From Venus

This must be Robert Duncan’s year. A volume of interviews has come out with North Atlantic Books and the first volume of the Collected Poems is to appear before the end of the year. Meanwhile I’ve just finished reading Lisa Jarnot’s biography (University of California). It’s a very good book, up there with the Killian/Ellingham biography of Jack Spicer, though not entirely without fault. There’s much detail on Duncan’s Bay Area heritage while his connection with Black Mountain College is less clearly discussed. Certainly his relationships with Robert Creeley and Charles Olson are detailed but you sense that the College itself isn’t deemed so important. Duncan’s poetic was mostly formed by the time Olson took over at Black Mountain (and his relationship with the older poet was not always an easy one). After the publication of Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry Duncan’s life became increasingly more hectic as he made appearances and taught for longer periods at numerous American institutions. These travels and his longer ones to Europe and Australia are recorded here at times somewhat breathlessly though there are still omissions here and there. Duncan’s friendships were varied and crossed boundaries. He got along very well with Elizabeth Bishop, for instance, though they didn’t dwell on each other’s writings or poetics. There is some detail on Duncan’s visit to Australia in the mid-seventies though it mostly focusses on the Sydney connection (Robert Adamson and Chris Edwards in particular). I met him briefly myself in Melbourne at Bernie O’Regan’s house with a group of poets including Kris Hemensley and Walter Billeter. We all read from our work, Duncan characteristically conducting his own reading with waving arm. He was most taken with the work of Walter Billeter, a writer of Swiss/German background living in Australia and working as a poet and translator (Breath Crystal, his version of Celan, published by Robert Kenny’s Rigmarole Press, is very good). Not long after this Billeter stopped writing and disappeared from the scene.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Coney Island, 1992

a week of readings

From the top: Katherine Gallagher at King's College, London; Lisa Samuels and Robert Saxton at Swedenborg Hall; Lee Harwood and Maurice Scully at The Lamb.

Faversham, October

Friday, 5 October 2012

Sunday, 30 September 2012

radio city

Basil's Arc

Saturday 22's afternoon of film, papers, notes and readings on and of the work of Basil King held at Anthology Film Archives in the Bowery was a triumph exceeding the expectations of the organisers. People were turned away from the auditorium (one unfortunate speaker was unable to get back in after a visit to the John). The varied presentations and the perspectives the participants offered came together wonderfully. The six hours were not a minute too long and at the B Bar & Grill where we convened for drinks and dinner the event continued into the evening. I didn’t take any shots during proceedings in the auditorium itself but believe me the place was packed. This wasn't any kind of premature obituary but a celebration of ongoing work. What the presentations revealed was the impossibility of pinning down their subject.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

four shots

after Pete Brown

I stumbled into the john
in the John Curtin
and saw, written
on the tiles ‘John
Forbes is fucking awesome’


Barcode             for Alan Halsey

it’s not a free country
but at least it’s a free house


The Ghost of WCW in a Faversham Pub

‘I’d love to go back
to Acapulco

it was so different
and so easy’


A Jonathan Williams moment in Hay-on-Wye

at Three Cocks