Monthly Archives: November 2009

Mr. November

This year has been a good one musically, so many good releases, one of which was the double album, Dark Was the Night, featuring the Dessner brothers from The National. While I was hoping for a new album from the band this year, their contribution to the project, So Far Around the Bend has certainly been on high rotation. And anyway, great things don’t need to be rushed…

So, with the final month of the year hurtling toward us, the last weekend of Spring opening it’s skies, don’t be careful anymore…  fall in love with Mr. November.

Mr. November

Used as the unofficial anthem for Obama’s election campaign, this song, from their 2005 album, Alligator opens me up like a tin of fish each time I hear it. The lush, chiming guitars, crisp snare sound and vocalist Matt Berninger’s deadpan, rising to a full-throated roar, careens on the edge of losing control. It has a wildness, a sense of abandonment. It is driving with the windows down, turn it up loud and sing till your throat hurts good.

I wish that I believed in fate
I wish I didn’t sleep so late
I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders

Check out this great live version


Apartment Story

Wind the clock forward to 2007 and the band release Boxer, a brooding masterpiece. It is an album of dark, asymmetrical rhythms scoring Berninger’s collage of poetry, dialogue and imagistic brush strokes. Apartment Story has an agoraphobic feel, something the band do quite well, but ironically, it sends you out into the world, wanting to share it with everyone you meet.

Oh we’re so disarming darling, everything we did believe
is diving diving diving diving off the balcony
Tired and wired we ruin too easy
sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave



And this, from their 2003 album, Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers. This is jagged, angular rock. A caustic tale, which ends with Berninger exploding into the question, ‘why did you dress me down and liquor me up?’ Where Mr. November careens on the edge of abandonment, Available plunges headlong into it. The climax steamrolls… but leaves you ready to do it all again.

Did you dress me down and liquor me up
To make me last for the minute
When the red comes over you
Like it does when you’re filled with love
Or whatever you call it

More from the band at their homepage:

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Rewrite your mind

The weekend is nearly here… time to give the mind back to the body. And what better way to begin the process, than dipping into the Mind Writing Slogans of Allen Ginsberg. So if you are in need of rebalancing the engine, here’s a few words to live by:

Notice what you notice

Catch yourself thinking 

Observe what’s vivid

Vividness is self-selecting

                                                              — Allen Ginsberg


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Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen

I was looking around over at Pitchfork this evening and discovered, much to my joy that for this week only, you can watch, in full, the 1965 film, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen. The film takes us into the world of Cohen the poet and novellist and provides some extraordinary footage of Cohen reading from his early work and discussing the art of poetry. He is elegant and captivating.



So without any further ramblings… Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen. 

And if you can’t find the time to watch it this week, I also discovered you can watch the complete film here.


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Brisbane New Voices: Fiona Privitera

Today I am holding a copy of my latest publishing venture Brisbane New Voices, featuring two brand new micro-poetry-collections by Jonathan Hadwen and Fiona Privitera. It looks rather stunning and is putting a very large smile on my face! So to celebrate, here is a look at one of the poems from Fiona Privitera’s micro-collection, Peep Show.



                                                    Love cannot be measured
                                                    nor measured out like
                                                    caught breath or
                                                    dead weight; open cadaver
                                                    silk viscera as

                                                    lengths of rope knotted
                                                    in the Quipu language
                                                    of the Incas
                                                    the different colours
                                                    of my insides bright

                                                    as a rug woven
                                                    with a back-strap loom
                                                    one end tied to a tree
                                                    another to a strap around
                                                    my tensioning hips
                                                    threads from fingertips
                                                    spun floss pulled from body
                                                    I move my open mouth
                                                    from his shoulder
                                                    and a long line of spittle follows


Brisbane New Voices will be launched early in 2010, so keep your eye out for details in the new year. And don’t forget to check out the sample from Jonathan Hadwen’s micro-collection, Night Swim.


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Coming Through Storm Clouds


gulls kiss the clouds
and we walk the beach
afraid of the tide

the sky over
Point Danger sinks
into purple and black


we drift apart
wet skin and sunscreen
coming through our storm


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Free Tom Waits Downloads

Now I am sure that will get plenty of people’s attention…

For a limited time, you can head on over to the official Tom Waits website to download an 8-track preview of the new Glitter and Doom live album, due for release on November 24. Glitter and Doom collects the best of Waits’ 2008 tour of the same name and as a bonus, the release will also feature a second disc collecting the best between song banter from the tour, edited together into a 35min continuous monologue. Now there aren’t many artists who could even contemplate releasing a CD of their stage banter, but for an artist like Waits, this is often where the real magic is captured. So while the downloads are free (and approved by the artist) head on over for your slice of Glitter and Doom.

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long roads

This morning I took a trip over to the soon to be defunct 3lightsgallery. My mind has been craving haiku these last few days; their brevity, their clarity, their transformative power. And while haiku as a form is growing in popularity (if that is the right word?), the art still remains misunderstood by many and in terms of education, haiku is widely taught as little more than a counting excercise… as long as its 3 lines – 5 syllables then 7 syllables then 5 syllables – it’s a haiku. Not only is this a turn off for young writers, but nothing, and I mean nothing, could be further from the truth.

So what is the truth in haiku? John Bird’s work for Haiku Oz earlier this year is definitely worth reading when contemplating this question, but for me, the truth lies in discovering haiku that hit hard, stay with you and reveal themselves slowly, becoming part of your world.

Looking through Ron Moss’s gallery over at 3lights provided several of these moments. One such moment came when I discovered Moss’s poem and accompanying image:



deep into the mountains the road  I’m lost on


We have all travelled such roads – both literally and figuratively. Moss’s ability to illuminate the inner and outer journey with just a handful of words is a great example of the power of haiku. And there are many more transformative moments that await in Ron’s gallery. I hope you carry some of these moments away with you…

And my own offering:


playing with matches in the long grass      red moon



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Sweet Come Down Saturday

Saturday is here in all its glory… gentle breeze, the old dog sleeping at my feet and a handful of quiet hours stretching out before me. And here are a few of the songs that will carry me through. Saturday morning come downs never sounded so sweet…


Sweet Come Down – The Black Ryder

The Black Ryder blend fuzzed out noise, hypnotic rhythms and a sweet country twang to create a sound all of their own. Sweet Come Down showcases the vocal interplay of Aimee Nash and Scott Von Ryper – Nash’s voice floating and ethereal, Ryper’s cracked and earthy. It burns slowly and then it is gone… crawling into a corner of your consciousness and asking to be played again. Don’t expect any hooks from this band… just settle in for the ride.


Soon It Will Be Fire – Richard Youngs

Richard Youngs is one of those incredibly prolific talents, recording more than 50 albums as collaborator or solo artist. And there is no sign of slowing down, his latest release Under Stellar Stream released this week through Jagjaguwar. Youngs hyopnotic folk sits deep in your belly, his at times fragile voice, and deeply meditative playing draw you deeper into the silences so carefully left. This is music to slow time and drift toward vanishing point. Soon It Will Be Fire is from his 1998 release Sapphie.


Minor Careers – Spokane

Spokane create music that reflect the moments in between events. Each song exquisitely crafted, achingly subtle yet strangely brimming with emotion. Rick Alverson’s murmuring voice hovers in the at times barely there instrumentation and loving stretches of ambience. Nothing is rushed. Like a sparsely furnished room, Spokane provide the necessary space for you to enter into their soundscapes. A fine place to inhabit in those increasingly rare, quiet hours.

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small words

Today I came home to the pleasure of the two latest copies of The Lilliput Review, one of the coolest little magazines you could ever set your hands on and if you need proof, check out this gem from an earlier issue, currently posted on Issa’s Untidy Hut (the blog of The Lilliput Review)



that heavy breath
against smeared glass

the poet rubbing

for the world to
peep through

          Melissa Cannon


The magazine features haiku, artwork and other short poems from around the world and has already helped ease me into the weekend groove, with its many wisdoms.

So here’s a selection of my own haiku… I hope they help lead you into your own weekend space.


                                                                        in the bamboo grove
                                                                        August wind


                                             turning my back
                                             you can make love now


                                                                        sun in the west
                                                                        between us
                                                                        not a word


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Cool Man, In A Golden Age

For film buffs and lovers of Beat Culture, this release of legendary American independent filmmaker, Alfred Leslie’s work is long overdue. I was first switched on to Leslie’s work, through the Kerouac narrated, Pull My Daisy, which features Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky. Pull My Daisy is a ramshackled retelling of an incident in the lives of Neal and Carolyn Cassady, and charts the weirdness that ensues when a Bishop is invited over for dinner, crashed by a bunch of bohemians. The film captures the heady Beat life and has the same improvised feel that much of the great literature from this time embraced.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s a few links to the making of the film (interviews with David Amram & Alfred Leslie) including excerpts from the original.


Pull My Daisy pt. 1

Pull My Daisy pt. 2

Pull My Daisy pt. 3

Alongside Pull My Daisy this release also features, Birth of a Nation, A Stranger Calls at Midnight and Leslie’s visionary collaboration with Frank O’Hara, The Last Clean Shirt. Olivier Brossard has written a stunning essay (published in Jacket) on The Last Clean Shirt that is well worth the read.



The final film included as part of the release is USA: Poetry – Frank O’Hara. USA Poetry was a 12-part series produced in 1965-66, showcasing the works of Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Philip Whalen, Ed Sanders and many others. You can view clips from Frank O’Hara’s segment of the release on his website.

And if that’s not quite enough to peak your interest, head on over to Alfred Leslie’s homepage where you can read his textual exploration of Cool Man in a Golden Age.

Painter, Filmmaker, Photographer, Writer… most definitely a Cool Man in any age.


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