Tag Archives: Gabrielle Bryden

A Thousand Men

After reading Gabrielle Bryden’s recent blog post Costs of War and watching the great Charlie Chaplin in his only ever speaking role (The Great Dictator), I was inspired to post the lyrics of American singer-songwriter Joe Pug’s song, A Thousand Men.The song hangs around the line:

Every good idea kills at least a thousand men.

If that doesn’t set the mind firing, then…

Here’s Joe singing his heart out with some fine accompaniment:

And here’s the full lyrics:

A Thousand Men

See Thomas Jefferson
On the eve of Bunker Hill
Writing words to die for
Writing sentences to kill

They’ve come to paint his portrait
So he grabs a chair and sits
As the surgeon orders cotton
For a thousand tourniquets

For God and country
For us and them
Every good idea
Kills at least a thousand men
At least a thousand men

See the able-bodied Christian
In a dark and savage land
Turn all those who will listen
That God was once a man

Through needles eye so narrow
He will lead them four by four
He’s got nine hundred shackles
He needs at least a hundred more

A thousand men
A thousand men
Every good idea
Kills at least a thousand men
At least a thousand men

See the able-bodied student
In his laboratory coat
Whispering calculations
Like prayers stuck in his throat

Soon he will discover
Some flawless medicine
But right now he needs an oven
That holds at least a thousand men

Some are the means
Some are the ends
Every good idea
Kills at least a thousand men
At least a thousand men

One thousand one
One thousand one
Every man I know
Thinks that he’s one thousand one

Nine hundred nine
His day is done
Every man I know
Thinks that he’s one thousand one
I know I’m one thousand one


If you want a little more, you can download five free songs from Joe’s website. Enjoy!


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QLD Writers Week Feature #5: Gabrielle Bryden

Day #5 of QLD Writers Week, and this time we are pulled from the big sky country of the west by the current of the mighty Brisbane River… Gabrielle Bryden reflects on her lifelong love hate relationship with our city’s river.

The Picnic at Hanging Rock Effect

Place has its place in my poetry. The observation and description of places, the creation of images, the use of references to places, similes and metaphors utilising places, sensory exploration of places – all of these things are important in my poetry.

However, to be honest, my poems are more about the inner space between my two ears (concepts and issues), people and the person, than particular places. This is not surprising given my background as a psychologist. On the other hand, grounding a poem in a real space is an effective way to concretise a conceptual idea and often I will find a specific place for the idea or issue to sit. In other words, the place is the setting to make the idea blossom into life.

This is not to say that place is not important to me. I feel a strong relationship, bordering on the spiritual, with the Australian landscape. I have an intense love of this ancient, worn down land – the bald hills, the volcanic remnants, the wallum, desert lands, rainforest and the list goes on. I have lived overseas several times and each time, after a few months, I felt a great longing to return home – I really missed the natural landscape, particularly the Eucalypt trees.

I can’t explain it very well but I have sometimes felt overpowered by my surroundings out in the bush; insignificant, in awe and in danger – I call it the Picnic at Hanging Rock effect – an eerie feeling that I could simply disappear into the landscape, swallowed up by the spirit of the rock. I like to recreate that feeling in my poems and to highlight the insignificance of the human race, in their place, within the universe.

The Brisbane River would be one specific ‘place’ which has strongly influenced my poetry. I have a love hate relationship with that brown, strong river, which has permeated my dreams for as long as I can remember. I literally dream about the river all the time – flying over the river (hands flapping), swimming in the river, clear water, muddy water – it changes depending on the subliminal message of the day.

I grew up in Indooroopilly and the Brisbane River flows along the border of that suburb. I grew up with stories of the river leaking into my subconscious:

‘Your brother nearly drowned in the Brisbane River when he was four’;
‘It’s impossible to swim across the Brisbane River – you’ll drown trying; the currents are too strong’;
‘John’s sister killed herself, jumping off the Walter Taylor bridge, when she was twenty’;
‘The river water came right up to the Jindalee Bridge in 1974’
‘They found his body on the edge of the Brisbane River’.

The river looks beautiful and powerful and I admire and respect the river but I have never trusted him.

Gabrielle Bryden


Brisbane River

Brisbane River isn’t petite and pretty
like the Cam of Cambridge

he won’t invite you
to gondola

won’t even tell you to take a hike
you are the clichéd flea on bear

he’s got the monumental on his mind
how to shoulder bash Moreton Bay
day after day

how to carve out a name for himself
in ancient sediment
with no sentiment

he won’t care if you
go under.


Gabrielle Bryden is an Australian poet published in a range of books, print and online journals including: Short & Twisted 2010 and Mystic Signals; Ripples, Aspects, Speedpoets, and Extempore magazines; Cherry Blossom Review, Red Poppy Review, Verity La, Asphodel Madness, Sorcerous Signals, Lunarosity, Bolts of Silk, Third Eye, Specusphere, and Poetry24 ezines; and on local and national ABC Radio. In 2009 she won first prize in Ripples magazine’s poetry competition.



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Two new poems

The sharing spirit of National Poetry Week has continued…

The delightful Gabrielle Bryden has featured my poem, Empty Creel on her site today and my poem, Bali Sunrise, is currently featured on the SPUNC site as part of their Spring 2011 Poetry Feature alongside Robert Adamson, Paul Hardacre, Michael Farrell, Anna Kerdijk-Nicholson and Luke Beesley. Now that is fine company!

Happy reading,


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Just before I go…

If you are anywhere near Brisbane next Wednesday night, The Back Room at Confit Bistro is keeping the QLD Poetry Festival love flowing with a showcase of artists from the 2011 program.

The night will feature Sheish Money, Jane Sheehy and Nick Powell premiering work from their new show, Shift; Jeremy Thompson, who’s poem, First City Christmas at Grandmas was shortlisted in the recent, 2010 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize; and readings from three members of the QPF Committee, Jonathan Hadwen, Lee-Anne Davie and Zenobia Frost. Each will read a selection of their own poems as well as a poem from one of the international/interstate artists on the QPF Program.

Confit Bistro is located at 4/9 Doggett St, Fortitude Valley and has a sensational tapas style menu and wine list. Entry is free!

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The Church Rock for Autism Awareness

The Church have long been an important part of the Australian music (and my own personal) landscape. For 30 years they have remained vital, creative and original, which is something to be celebrated in this fleeting digital age. One of the things that keeps this band vital is their social conscience, and tomorrow night, three key members of The Church – Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes & Tim Powles play The Red Rattler in Marrickville to raise money for Autism Spectrum Australia. All money raised will go toward funding the education of young people with autism, a truly worthy cause. If you are not aware of autism, I can highly recommend reading Gabrielle Bryden’s ‘The Autism Files‘. These posts are from the heart, and highly informative.

So, if you are in or around Marrickville tomorrow night, get along and support a great Australian independent band and help make a difference in many young people’s lives. And for those of us who can’t be there, here’s a clip of The Church rocking out on KEXP Radio last year:

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Poetry Picks of 2010 – Gabrielle Bryden

My pick of poetry literature for 2010 is The Scrumbler magazine, devoted to publishing the very best poetry for children. This gorgeous print magazine is published in England by Mike Kavanagh and includes poetry and illustrations from the young and not so young, and amateur and professional poets and artists.

I wanted to talk about The Scrumbler magazine for a number of reasons. Firstly, I just love the name – having it roll around on my tongue and in my head. The Scrumbler character starts the magazine with his ‘Oops, I’ve fallen asleep on top of a poem. I’ve scrumbled it to bits.” You get the picture.

Another reason is that high quality poetry magazines or journals for children appear to me to be a rarity. Encouraging children to love and play with words, including poetry, is the first step in increasing the popularity of poetry. Poetry should be something that everyone can engage in (listening, reading or creating) and this type of magazine is the bee’s knees in that regard.

The Scrumbler is ideal for children, with its colourful glossy front cover, appealing black and white pencil illustrations, compact format, and short, simple, well written poems (often laugh out loud funny).

My children were delighted with the magazine and loved the wicked humour of ‘A Shark in Kensington Park’ (you’ll have to read it yourself to find out what happens) and other poems. They were particularly taken with the illustration of a young Orang-Utan (and poem of the same name) by Liz Brownlee, famous for her animal poetry for children.

Another thing I just love about The Scrumbler is the inclusion of writing games to assist children (and adults) with their very own poems. There are questions/prompts and space in the magazine to write down your lines. What a great way to stimulate the creative juices.

This is only the 2nd edition of The Scrumbler but they plan to print three times a year. You can subscribe or find out more information in their website at www.thescrumbler.com


 Gabrielle Bryden is an Australian writer and poet published in Ripples, Aspects, Speedpoets, Extempore magazines; the Cherry Blossom Review, Lunarosity, Divan, Bolts of Silk, Third Eye, Specusphere ezines; and on local and national ABC Radio. In 2009 she won first prize in Ripples magazine’s poetry competition. Her poem ‘Fortune Teller’ is published in the book ‘Short and Twisted 2010′. She blogs regularly at Gabrielle Bryden’s Blog.


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Paul Squires piece in Extempore

There are more than two reasons to go out and pick yourself up a copy of Extempore, but the first two that come to mind are:

1. Paul Squires’ piece, Teardrop Tattoo appears (and an article by Gabrielle Bryden, in memory of Paul); and

2. It is the final issue of the magazine.

It is sad that Squires is not with us to share the joy of seeing his words in print, but I know for sure he is smiling down on us somewhere, wit and pencil, sharp as ever.

Long may the gingatao narrative live!

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