new year’s eve
hot with the pleasure
Whatever your plans for 2013, carry them out with an open heart… especially when it comes to the little things. Much love to you all; step safely into the new year.
Christmas delivered some truly amazing artefacts and experiences, the most incredible of which is a fully paid week at Varuna, The Writers House in The Blue Mountains, gifted by my lovely wife and son. The magnitude of it hasn’t really settled as yet, but it is giving the new year a mighty bright glow. Here’s a pic of the house and its surrounds.
The thought of a week with nothing to do but write has got my insides simmering.
Two other incredible gifts I received were, Cut-Ups, Cut-Ins, Cut-Outs: The Art of William S. Burroughs and The ABC of Reading by Ezra Pound. I have been busily reading ‘Cut-Ups’ and have fallen in love with Burroughs all over again. His intellect and fervor for experimentation produced some of the most groundbreaking work we are ever likely to see.
Reading an essay by Barry Miles, The Future Leaks Out: A Very Magical and Highly Charged Interludes I was energised by the idea that all writing is a ‘cut-up’ and that the cut-up technique lets the future leak out. After reading, I put the technique (or a permutation of it) to work using two poems by Ezra Pound – The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter and The Return – and two poems by Robert Adamson – Letter to Joanne Kyger and Bolinas Bay, An Ode to see what happened when these minds met. Why these minds, you may ask? Well, when I had the privilege of spending some time with Robert Adamson at this year’s QLD Poetry Festival, he spoke at length about Pound’s book, The ABC of Reading and how it is was his poetry education (and now, it will now add to mine).
With this knowledge, I was excited to bring the two poets together and see what leaked out. Here’s one result.
You came by on bamboo stilts;
the monkeys made sorrowful
noise overhead, sniffing the tide of air.
I looked up at the dome of your sky
as half-awakened; an animal spirit
called to a thousand times.
I desired my dust to be mingled
with yours, leaving traces of
silver powder on the globe.
The two of us walking through
a future we’d not actually lived
forever and forever and forever.
Let me first extend a thank you to Ashley Capes, who tapped me on the shoulder to take part in this self-interview thread, started by Ivy Alvarez. I am not sure that my next project, ‘I, Land’ will be a ‘big thing’, but I am excited about it, so thought I would take a swing at the questions.
What is the title of your book?
What genre does your book fall under?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A long poem that explores the idea of escapism and ‘the island’s’ liminal zones.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was going through a particularly uncertain period in my work life (people losing jobs, having to reapply for my own position), so to deal with this, I took myself to ‘the island’.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I wrote the original 10 parts of the poem in just two weeks at the end of 2010. Since that time I have revisited the poem on many occasions and it is now a poem in 15 parts… many of the original parts have either been completely deleted or so significantly rewritten that they bare little resemblance to the original work. There are however, some parts that remain untouched.
So in short, it has been simmering for about 2 years.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Discomfort was the spark for this poem… For me, this is where most ideas come from. The idea that discomfort leads to new learning is at the heart of much of what I do in life.
My wife (unbeknownst to her) was also my spiritual companion on ‘the island’.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I know it’s not what the question asks, but I have a serious quibble with the term, ‘self-published’ as no-one ever truly ‘self-publishes’, by which I mean, does absoluteluy everything themselves… there are always other people involved which is why I prefer the term, ‘independently published’. I, Land will be published by Another Lost Shark Publications (an independent publisher).
What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?
Somewhere in these words, there are echoes of Adamson, Oliver, Kerouac and Issa. These are the poets I was reading during the time of writing this poem.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
One thing I know, it wouldn’t be Tom Hanks!
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
A performance of the work will be developed in collaboration with some exciting Brisbane artists. I will be sure to announce more details when they are finalised.
It’s now my job to tap five other poets on the shoulder, so keep your eyes on this site for their responses!
breaking bread with
We had a blessed Christmas… family, friends, food and of course, backyard cricket! Seeing the spark in t.h.e.’s eyes as he woke Christmas morning made life magical. I even found a quiet moment to share with the much maligned crows that frequent our neighbourhood, as it is at times like this we must spread the love to all living things around us. Wherever you are, I hope that you too were surrounded by love. It is, after all, what keeps us afloat.
Christmas is all about the gathering of loved ones in our home; about sharing and reveling in the joy we bring each other. One thing that has brought me great joy for much of my adult life is the music of Vic Chesnutt. Sadly, Vic took his life on Christmas day 2009, and since that time I have made it a tradition to share Vic’s music here on Christmas eve. This year, I have chosen the track Granny from his last studio album, At The Cut. This is a live version from his final Canadian tour, and it captures all the things I love about Vic… his openness, his wit and his ocean-sized heart.
Thank you Vic… and thank you to everyone who has been a part of this increasingly extended blog family. 2012 has been a year of wonder and growth and 2013 has already got excitement written all over it.
We took t.h.e. nunn for his annual Christmas photo the other day and like so many wee ones, it took some convincing to get him to sit on the knee of the ‘bearded one’. There was however an enormous bear that he took a shine too, so with that moved over into the camera’s focus, we got a really beautiful shot of him cuddling said bear. But even so, you could see the trepidation in the corner of his smile… so we then went for the ‘knee shot’ and you guessed it, there were tears, but only briefly. All in all, it was a successful mission and it even inspired a poem.
in his smile
a fear of santa
And while we didn’t go with the ‘after tears’ shot, the above photo captures the essence of what I am talking about. I took it from the Elite Daily website where they have a showreel of some other classic shots!
It’s Friday night… time to chase the light and what better soundtrack for light-chasing than The Necks. This band is like no other… the silences they create, equally important as the sound; their improvised minimalism ebbing and flowing with the power of an ocean. I experienced their sonic majesty on March 29 this year and am happy to say they are back again for their annual run on February 7, 2013. Here is a complete live set from the band… all 45mins of it, so be prepared to fully immerse yourself, to let the music find its pulse inside you.
I learned today of the recent life sentence handed down to Qatari poet, Mohamed Ibn Al Ajami for reading a poem extolling the courage and values of the popular uprisings in Tunisia. The sentencing took place after Ajami was jailed in November last year and spent one year in solitary confinement. As an advocate for free speech, I urge you all to speak up! Human Rights Organisation, Roots Action have started a petition to free Ajami and in their words, allow him to follow in
the footsteps of such great poets as Pablo Neruda, Majakovski, Nazim Hikmet, Mahmoud Darwish, Faraj Bayraqdar and innumerable others throughout the world today, such as Colombia’s poet Angye Gaona, Mohamed Ibn Al Ajami placed his poetic talent to the service of a movement for change.
Here’s an excerpt from the poem he recited:
Oh revolutionary, sing the praises of the struggle with the blood of the people
in the soul of the free carve the values of revolt
and to those holding the shroud of the dead tell
that every victory also bears its ordeals.
To sign the petition and be a voice for change visit Roots Action and please spread the word to other like minded people.
The discussion generated by the two ‘starless sky’ haiku I posted on Monday has in turn generated a handful of new haiku… and funnily enough, many of them have featured fishing and stars. Thank you again to all who shared their wisdom.
spotlighting for squid
i ask the stars
not to shine
the mullet school
one flash at a time
If you are looking for ways to make 2013 sound magnificent, then look no further than the Joyful Noise 2013 Flexi-Disc Series. The selection in 2012 has been inspired – Lou Barlow, Tortoise, Of Montreal, Richard Swift, Deerhoof – each song produced exclusively for the flexi release, for the ears of subscribers only. Pretty special don’t you think!
Just yesterday, the 2013 line up was announced. There are only 1000 subscriptions available for the low, low price of $5 a month, so if you want to become part of the Joyful Noise family and be one of the few to hear brand new tracks by Birthmark, Built To Spill & Helvetia, Here We Go Magic, Hella, Melvins, Mike Adams At His Honest Weight, Monotonix, Rob Crow, Son Lux, The Sea And Cake, Sufjan Stevens & Cat Martino, Why? then this is what you need to do.
So many names there press the excitement button, but none more so than the pulverising might of Melvins and the floating synth of The Sea And Cake, so here’s a track from both of these (incredibly different) bands to send you off on your day.