If you are looking for poetry that reimagines this land we call Australia, poetry that experiments with landscape and geopolitics, then look no further than Outcrop, the latest release from Black Rider Press. There’s 60 hours left to secure a copy at the pre-release price of $20. There are also some other great packages from Black Rider Press on offer. Click here to find out more.
Tag Archives: Black Rider Press
Part i of my interview with SPM, left us talking about images of letters being posted around hoon-ridden Newcastle… so where to from here? Read on tricksters, read on!
I would love to see a photo or two! And I love the idea of gaps; the holes and silences in this world are so often overlooked. What role do these gaps play in your creative process? What is at the heart of invention for SPM?
the heart of invention is a brooding mass of potential. but in order to access that mass, and bridge the gaps, i find my creative process – and sometimes my life at large – is defined by rule-sets.
now, these are by no means definitive rule-sets, such as if A occurs then B is most likely to be followed by C, but only if the outcome is D. rather, they are a lot faster and loose, the most essential rule that i abide by at all times, and have done since i started writing poetry, being the simplest golden rule of all: be the experiment.
there is no point wondering what will happen if 1ne were to do something. wondering is akin to wandering, yes, but if you wander too far will you remember where you started from, accurately? therefore, 1ne should commit to making a thing happen if there is a wonderment about it, and the only that can occur is by giving yourself over – entirely – to the creative process. this rule has seen me spend my entire undergrad course reading no poetry written prior to the 20th century, to see what effect the cannon would have if it were relieved of its need to influence – to see if what its absence would yield and how my poetry would differ as a result. this rule is also responsible for me listening only to music exclusively from northern europe for the last half of 2006ix, plus spending a year inside a living art project called The Chaochamber, at which point i lived with a chaos magician while he attempted to make the southern hemisphere’s largest attractor of chaos. needless to say, when the imaginary pet black cat we pretended to have actually became a real black cat, which was followed by a string of black cats coming into our thereafter, you begin to see the wonder and excitement of giving yourself over to the experiment, irrespective of how crazy that experiment may appear from the outside. life is far too dull otherwise not to live it with a sense of giddy abandon, don’t you think? and i gladly give art and poetry and fashion and film as much room as it needs in my world in the hope that i can be transported, often. and i am (plus i always find my way home).
but this rule, this be the experiment, is also responsible for all 3hree of my major collections to date, plus many others still being finely tuned. other rules, similar to this rule, are more instinctive than anything and include such rules as when in doubt, give (which is actually a lyric from a bjork song) or strive to be unique, never modern (because modern is common in this modern age) or you’ll know when it is wrong and my current favourite, the success of a day is measured in poetry.
the punctuated enjambment is also a result of this rule. as are all the other elements i construct inside my poems. my poetry, as a result, has developed an acoustical ecology of its own. by being, by making myself consciously present, consciously part of the poetry and the experiments it yields, i find the dark mass of potential defines its self more and more. the gaps between it and the pages on which it appears are spanned with more rules as they make themselves apparent. and it’s interesting, because while people typically find that rules box something in, ebb the potential of it growing, i am finding that the complete opposite is occurring – the rules provide more opportunities to escape the heart of invention. it’s not something i am trying to access after all… it’s something i’m trying to escape, it seems, or slip away from in the hope of providing those on the other side of the gaps with as many routes by which to access it.
which leads us back, again, to cartography.
the need to map is a need to remember. yes, we plot as we progress. but the map only makes sense when we have reached the destination. it’s only in ending that we appreciate the path back to the beginning. and since we constantly feel a need to begin something, we instinctively know that in doing so, we will end somewhere. i am 1ne of those people for whom the ending of a project – but not always a poem – has a definition even before it has begun. i begin with the end in mind. i know what shape it should take. it’s then a process of plotting a path in 2wo parts, 1ne that simultaneously begins from the start and moves back from the end. the convergence of these 2wo parts of the same path occurs in the middleground, the largest gap of all – that which is unknown, unheard, unseen until you arrive there. this is what the heart of invention yields – a structure across the space.
and the view from such a space is breathtaking, like poetry – it takes the breath and runs away with it.
or at least that’s what The Trickster has taught me. 1ne should always let oneself escape or runaway from oneself. it’s that sense of losing yourself to the process, to the act, to the experiment, to the project, that is the most satisfying of what we do – yes, it yields poetry and other people’s reactions. yes, it yields books and publicity. yes, it causes us to exert ourselves and use effort in the process. yes, it can exhaust us. yes, it pushes us on to create and take leaps of faith. but nothing is more exciting than being in the actual midst of it, of living it. after all, it’s why we always ask someone why they made something, what caused their act of creation – we want to move along their converging paths and catch a glimpse of that exhilarating middleground, the largest gap of all, and experience that rush of stepping out into the unknown and watching it define itself, materialise, actualise, provide a parkour for the soul, letting us leap and clamber over the landscape we discover there, just like the person who created it did when they first discovered it themselves.
spm, . the tricking post . blows up the idea of the love letter. what is it about this form that drew you in and when did you realise you were on to something truly amazing?
i’ve always adored the love letter, or rather it’s modern counterpart, the love text. there’s something so highly personable about them. and yes, i have gone through entire relationships saving every text message in an effort to map the trajectory of the relationship. but there’s the rub right there – people don’t write letters anymore. we text. we tweet. we status update. at the most we email. but we don’t actually write. not letters. and not by longhand it seems.
so the idea of writing letters for the public space seemed appropriate. but no-one wants to read about a normal life – we have twitter and facebook for that. no, they want to read about the car crash that is your life. and better slow motion car crash than the break up of a relationship.
i wouldn’t say i knew i was on to anything truly amazing either. well… not until the letters were written and posted up in public spaces. that’s when people started addressing them to other people. to be honest i never expected people to do that. there was a certain thrill when they did though. so i’d say it was people’s reactions that amazed me, not the letters themselves… which is kinda how i live my life: i’m constantly amazed by the people who surround me and whom find themselves attracted to what i do.
so people have actually addressed these letters to other people and sent them off? that is wild. are there any specific stories you can tell about that? how did you first find out?
addressed is the right term, yes, but the letters were already posted, as it were. i lugged 36ix plus A0 print outs through the midnight streets of post-industrial hoon ridden newcastle, indisputably our nation’s most cultural city. i posted the letters at intervals, already determined by a map i had developed back home. i love maps you see. jung always told me that in order to achieve happiness in adulthood, you should mimic that which brought you the greatest joy as a child. as a child, i loved drawing maps. i would have married a map if marriage had (& now was/is/ever when) been something i had thought about it. but it wasn’t. cartography was, however. i obsessed over imaginary maps of imaginary worlds. so armed with my own i ventured forth to complete what was then known as The Trickster’s Bible, The Trickster’s mask you see on the cover here a marker as to where to post a poem as act of vandalism. all predetermined. a bad move, considering how hillock newcastle wills it.
elaboration is a friend here.
i obsess over street art more than maps. although the 2wo are the same. i had recently discovered a performative form of street art: parkour. the parkour logic was simple – let us travel through the city in the least moves possible, even if that means we flip & climb & sidewind over the pedestrians & furniture. the leader of parkour path is called a traceur, or tracer in olde mOther tongue. they trace the path of least resistance. to travel, 1ne must know how to compile tricks. tricks build up into moves. a move can comprise of many tricks, a trick evolving in difficulty & stratagem from A to B to C, naturally. the traceur learns their tricks from the holy tome of parkour, The Tricking Bible.
can you begin to see how the horizon arrived here now?
so… what would happen if instead of travelling through the city with ease, you were travelling with disease, a septic heart, a stalker’s want & need for that which is imaginary. what if The Trickster, the loveable loki, that dear old poe crow, mr miserable with being a god with only the power to cause mayhem & not thunderbolts, gotta hold of The Tricking Bible. what if they used it to clamber & stumble faster after you. what if in their wake they ached their bleeding heart across the landscape. what if every secret you had forged together suddenly spilt out & became public.
notice the lack of rhetoric. this wasn’t a hypothetical. it was hyper unethical.
the bible remained. it was holy then. now, it’s for the masses. the gods are all dying anyway.
so yes… the letters were posted that night. the following morning they addressing had occurred. i first found out by retracing my own traceur but in reverse. comrade in crime, foreword writer & the most feared man in electrocabaret, mr tomás ford accompanied both at night & the following day. by this point – & a near fatal arrest by the fuzz on the very last poem posted – he hated my guts. which was understandable. i hated me too by this point – exertion & effort are my least favourite things you see. but when we saw the blue texta scrawl of some poor unfortunate souls name after the dear ________, mr ford’s life lit back up. he gushed all over the pavement & my shoes. as mentioned before, this is what i strive for more than anything: the reactions people have to what i do.
no, i did not expect these people to address the post & resend it, i suppose, but i was glad they did. i have photos somewhere i can dig out for you if you so like.
does that make sense? i’m sure there are gaps – there should always be gaps. that’s why we write poetry… to give the gaps something to say.
. the tricking post . is available now at Black Rider Press
Black Rider Press have just launched Scott-Patrick Mitchell’s latest collection, his debut ebook, . the tricking post . I was one of the fortunate ones to be sent a copy of this important new work, and this is what I had to say:
This is a warning: scott-patrick mitchell’s . the tricking post . shows us directions the letter can take. the letters within rupture the limitations of the eye and the strictures of the poetic form. whether it be the voice of the trickster, the voice of shakespeare, poe or god, the words that spill forth are infinitely figurative. his dancing syllables resound far beyond the pages that contain them.
There have been many other fine people offer their words, including John Kinsella:
“SPM’s . the tricking post . outrages the private space of the love-letter by making it street art, and street art as poetry of the page. Why outrage? Try out rage. It is a rage of address. To whom does one address one’s desire, one’s need, one’s love? He reinvests the love-letter, making the message a connection that ravages textuality and renders it intimate, sassy, and a truly direct line of address. The ‘recipient’ becomes active by implication. Though he has moments that bring to mind Gertrude Stein’s Lifting Belly with its ‘fierce and tender’ arousal of language and passion, more often SPM deploys contrary words that seem to protest too much, that struggle with the depth of feeling that possibly lost love induces. At a time when language travels in so many ways, adapting and reconfiguring with different modes of communication, SPM catches the zeitgeist crisply and ironically. The essentials remain eternally the same, though, and that’s the key to this poem of sex that ‘fell into love’, of the letter tricking its format and becoming poetry, of the suitor becoming the subject as much as his lover, by the inevitable twisting of words dealing with the self vis-à-vis another, and with the simultaneously collapsing and expanding ‘history’ of artistic expression. This is new ahead of the new.” – John Kinsella
So to get yourself a copy, head to Black Rider Press, then it’s only $1.99 and a click away.
Keep your eyes on this site for my forthcoming interview with SPM. Should be live in just a few days…
Apples with Human Skin, Nathan Shepherdson (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2009)
No Australian poet has had a greater impact on my word-scribbles this year than Nathan Shepherdson. Apples with Human Skin was the catalyst.
This is a fierce book, a tesseract of tumult and brittle nettles, tagged and numbered and sent back out to pierce the forest floor.
See, understand this: Apples with Human Skin was my guidebook this year – a map for a Gieβen raised, Los Angeles educated, Berlin survived, Fremantle located cat.
In ‘einunzwanzig’ of the trakl (27×1) sequence (dedicated to Bruce Heiser, by the way), Nathan writes:
he had invented a blunt machine
for replacing umlauts in a poet’s brain
how to remember how to remember how to forget
Do you know the story of Austrian Expressionist poet Georg Trakl? Go look him up. This is important. Nathan’s book is named after Trakl’s ein Apfel mit menschlicher Haut.
To end, a snippet of ‘to find what is not there’, one of Nathan’s longer pieces in the volume.
so if you can see to the end of this sentence
you are either lying or you are blind
even the most basic words in repetition
make their own time one time in all time
The concept of beloved left-behinds being an index of those who’ve passed on is poignancy through and through. Comprising three sequences, the title sequence of Indexical Elegies is in memoriam of Canadian Jon Paul Fiorentino’s late mentor Robert Allen.
It points to two aptly summarising epigraphs:
There is no truth
but in dead event, shaken, stunned
I miss everybody.
– Gilbert Sorrentino
The index is physically connected with its object; they make an organic pair.
– Charles Sanders Peirce
Deep into a Brisbane night, Jon Paul told me to get hooked on Sorrentino. I got hooked.
@JonPaul, icons bore me too. Am falling too far; weary. Upheaval. #chloroformedideas
Pay attention readers of the Lost Shark, when Jon Paul writes:
The word ‘I’ is apparently
an essential indexical unit
I lost you in November
and if time isn’t subjective
it’s November again and I am
appalled I grieve
Time is subjunctive
I am your index now
…I inhale that ish because I’ve lived that. I still live that. I inhale it and exhale only the ink.
High wit and dark humour oscillate despair, fury, loneliness, sadness and clang the drainpipes of Fiorentino’s hometowns of Winnipeg and Montreal. Sometimes it’s the smile hiding the clenched jaw. Sometimes it’s the flurry of word movement distracting from the bleary-eyed sleep deprivation.
Actually, scratch all that glib; forget everything in my note thus far.
Remember only this: Indexical Elegies is profound. I am deeply moved.
I hadn’t had much to do with German poetics since regal 8 // shelf 8 was inducted into the Deutsches Literaturarchiv. Thankfully Marcus Roloff had a hand in making it an obsession again.
I met Marcus through Black Rider Press when we translated some of his work for The Diamond & the Thief. We later translated more of his work for Berlin’s no man’s land, partner to the infamous lauter niemand magazine. And we’ve got more we’re sitting on.
im toten winkel des goldenen schnitts (this roughly means in the blind spot of the golden ratio – if you don’t catch the various references and entendres in that, I’m not going to tell you) just came out recently and it’s the linguistic cartography, both of physical and metaphysical, that amazes. And also the typography – this book feels alive with its cover that folds out to reveal the entirety of the watercolour painting Dead Philosophers by Trevor Gould.
Marcus’ bio isn’t even in the book; it’s hidden on the back of the cover’s painting. I didn’t even notice it for ages. This aptly summarises his approach.
Marcus writes the way I’d imagine Pantha du Prince songs circa 2004 would read if all the notes were words. I see Marcus as the kind of poet who went out into the desert and came back to the city of Frankfurt am Main with a more expansive Truth and a de-centred self, clandestine urban operettas and a big ole bassline.
This is historiography for the deep-house kids. This is philosophy for the hopeful and bright-eyed kids. This is what it is for the introspective and fearless kids.
the long holidays beforehand & now / the neither-nor-
light at six a.m. // on the 1st of september a night-
shirt all tangled up / a nightmare jammed in the folds
of the cushion // from the cabinet a tumbling swift
or rather a jump / (a re-pre-metaphor) like the dusk under
the bedcover // & behind the window of the children’s room
the heimat of school full of empty idols and water
pistols / begins on the day of the attack on Poland //
(first published in no man’s land, issue 5)
Master of Disguises by Charles Simic
Every poet has a list of all time favourites. You know, those guys that made you want to write poetry in the first place. There are names like T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence and e. e. cummings (incidentally the reasons I chose to write under my initials when I started out) and there are other giants like Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens that came a little later and confirm how crucial poetry can be to us and why it’s worth all the difficult devotion poetry asks of those that want to write it.
Charles Simic is a poet of this order but it still amazes me that he’s actually a contemporary poet. Of course he’s been a Poet Laureate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and an Editor of the Paris Review, so I don’t mean to say he’s some hip, obscure dude tearing up the world of poetry as we know it (though he’s relatively unknown in Australia) but it really does blow my mind, that not only is he still writing but that in October of this year, he may have just released his best collection of poetry, Master of Disguises. Which for me feels like T. S. Eliot coming out with a collection that betters The Waste Land.
What Simic does so well is balance a vast, breathing world, on very delicate and defined particulars. In a poem like ‘Nineteen Thirty-Eight’ he juxtaposes Nazis marching into Vienna with the debut of Superman in Action Comics, the first Dairy Queen opening in Kankakee with himself in Belgrade, peeing in his diapers. A lesser poet might list the events of a given year but there are choices made that open the world up for its absurdity, monstrosity, beauty and deformity, poignant nostalgia and a kind of sadness that feels redeeming to those that can share it.
In another poem, ‘Our Salvation’, Charles Simic finishes a profound but impressionistic meditation on Winter with the stanza:
‘It breaks my heart to go to bed
Every night in a room without heat
With the one who still has strength
To Pray to God for Salvation.’
The reader is left to imagine those cold nights in a New York winter, where the soulless poet is forced to move his body closer to that one source of heat as it mumbles prayers to the falling snow. It rewards the reader but it also inspires the writer finding these spaces opening up on a page, curiously filled with both an intimate salvation and an insistent hope.
In the poem, ‘Dead Season,’ Simic writes about how a landscape must have fallen in love with Edgar Allen Poe, which is just a stunningly good line, but he doesn’t leave it at that. He’s able to return to that somewhat sombre evocation of a landscape shaped by merciless fear and ruthless death, and finish the poem with:
‘For Poe — Beauty could be the cause of sudden death.’
What marks out these kinds of poets, whether we’re talking about T. S. Eliot, Walt Whitman, or indeed, Charles Simic, is not a genius for language (and it’s simply mind-boggling to note that Simic moved from Serbia to the United States when he was sixteen) not only a mastery of craft, insight into the human condition or a unique feeling for a ragged beauty, but it’s actually the long investment of poetry in a man’s soul that has made him as vast and fragmented as the world he’s describing and as delicately poised on such sublime particulars as these poems.
A. S. Patric is featured in Best Australian Stories 2010 and has published widely, in magazines such as Overland, Blue Dog, Going Down Swinging, Wet Ink, The Lifted Brow, and in The Australian Poetry Centre’s publication, Dear Dad. He’s co-editor of Verity La and has a collection of poetry published by Black Rider Press called, Music For Broken Instruments. You can read more of A.S. Patric’s work at his blog and you can check out his prose picks of the year at Laurie Steed’s blog, Gum Wall.
For those who have yet to discover the joys of The Black Rider, there is reason to rejoice. This Lost Shark had a poem published in issue #1 of their minizine The Diamond and the Thief so I thought I would throw a few questions at main man, Jeremy Balius to get the lowdown on what The Black Rider is all about.
The Black Rider has some big plans, kicking off with the publication of The Diamond & the Thief mini-zine. As the new (hep)cats on the indie publishing scene, fill us in on how you plan to deliver stories and dreams into our lives.
There’s already an endless amount of publishers out there putting out a bazillion books a year. Does Australia really need one more publisher? Aren’t the shelves already full?
I was out looking for a fiction and poetry publisher who was inextricably bound with its authors and readers, a publisher who was committed to a particular vibe and feel, a publisher who acted like an indie record label, a publisher who loved music as much as it loved books, a publisher who was all about the conversation.
There weren’t any in my neighbourhood, so I started Black Rider.
The Diamond & the Thief is our monthly minizine with a couple poems and short stories by Australian and international authors and poets. We’re about to put out the first digital chapbook in our Black Rider presents Lyrics series. These e-chapbooks give us the means of supporting some up’n’coming poets who are pretty special. Then there are the printed books of course. Our stories & tales. But more on those next year.
If you subscribe to our website via RSS or email, you’ll not only be informed when The Diamond & the Thief publishes each month, you’ll also receive our soon to launch Black Rider lines.
‘Cause our writers do knowledge like rodeo clowns – they seem out of control with faces painted silly and big ole floppy shoes, but they’re actually the hardest cats out on the sawdust. We’ve asked them to teach us about books and writing and other stuff, so they’re penning some shorts for us all to learn from in the lines.
Anyways, maybe we’re not so new – have you seen how old and shabby our website is? (Yeah, I see you chuckling, Beaudrillard!)
What are you looking for in a poem, in a story? How hard do you want the words to kick?
It’s all about the people, the Black Rider community. The kind of people who might be coming from a similar starting point, or who might be on a similar road, or heading in the same general direction. The unabashed ones. The burning brightly ones. The wild bleary-eyed ones.
The words are just ink on the page, pixels on the screen – signifiers and symbols. The hard kick is what these cats write in-between the lines, in the spaces between the words. Showing us a wider horizon. Verbalising the sounds of the cosmos.
The hard kick is in the conversation we’ll have after we take a heartfelt sip of dark-felt Truth from these poets and writers. Climbing a mountain and then climbing higher.
I love the concept of the Last Hurrah. Tell me more…
We’re going to be throwing some shindigs and concerts. Each of these hootenannies is a Last Hurrah. They’re holler-a-longs with feet-stamping and hand-clapping. At first they’ll be in Perth, but we might take them on tour eventually.
The Last Hurrahs will help raise funds to put out books. By coming out and singing along to bands that you love, you’re not only supporting local Aussie music, you’re helping fund Australian art and literature.
Homer summed it up best in The Odyssey: “So saying this, Proteus plunged beneath the surging sea, but I went to my ships with my godlike comrades, and many things did my heart darkly ponder as I went.”
Assuming success is not a dirty word, where does The Black Rider want to be in 12-24 months time and how will you know you arrived?
Where’s the assumption? It’s semantics. Success only gets as down and dirty as you want it to – depends on which road you’re on. What if the measure of success was compassion? Or humility?
If the tales and lyrics written by Black Rider authors and poets get you to talk to your friends and family about how to deal with everything around us, we’re getting somewhere. The conversation is where it’s at.
There’s no arriving, only walking onward down the road. Picking the right guide books. The right walking sticks.
The journey’s the destination.
From The Diamond & the Thief October edition:
by Amanda Joy
I am the house and the hut with chicken legs that turns to face us.
I am the sea cave speared through by the foundations of skyscrapers.
The glitter and shine of bare bones,
the scaffolding and crane, the tented buildings,
the outskirts of the forest with trees bent like ribs.
Strange enough without shadows.
Here I am, one hand in yours, the other searching for skeleton keys
in the soft cloth of her unwritten pocket. Private finger cave
of receipts, crumbs, stones and small change. Here is the dull-eyed doll
who comes to life at night, feeding my cheeks of milk and blood
as my hair grows down to my waist.
I like to tell you this story, you, keeper of water and all
the paths it makes when trapped, bent forward in your chair
like the red rider, have asked me to close my eyes and feel
the quiver, Saraha haha.
I laugh, I know you’re winging it.
This is grown in the dark too, in the chambers of involuntary muscle
and it will go one way or another. I am picking
the black grains from the wheat.
When you tap me on the shoulder I turn