Tag Archives: Ko Un

To a Stone

[for Ko Un]

You were thrown from a bridge
left to drown
in what remains of the drought-
stricken river.

Today I find your body
caked in mud
unaware of the violent days ahead:

the tens
hundreds, no thousands of beatings
that reduce
everything we know to sand.


[This is another poem I wrote during my weekend in Blackall… it is a hard land, and the people working it are currently doing it very tough. These are the words I found to try and tell a little of their story.]


Filed under poetry

A World Poetry Day Feast

Tomorrow, March 21 is World Poetry Day. One of the driving ideas of the day is to share poetry with the world, so here’s a handful of readings / films from three of my all time favourite poets. So either dive in early, or hang back and savour it in the morning… but do open your ears and let these poems in.

First up is a set from New Zealand icon, the first poet I ever saw read live, Sam Hunt. This is Hunt at his wildly unpredictable best… and he reads two poems that will always be close to me, Wave Song and Naming the Gods.

Next, a reading from Korea’s spiritual force of nature, Ko Un. He will always be a guiding light…

And finally, let William S. Burroughs enter your head and open fire… no one messed with language more than WSB and this short film by Anthony Balch, showcases Burroughs’ early work at its mind-bending best.

Happy World Poetry Day to you all! Feel free to drop me a link to something you feel I should be watching.


Filed under who listens to the radio?

Another Lost Shark joins the Authors for Peace Reading

Tuesday September 21 is the International Day of Peace and to celebrate the International Literature Festival Berlin is putting on a day of readings that will be broadcast across the globe.

Priya Basil, one of the key organsiers of the event has this to say about Authors for Peace:

“Art cannot stop wars, but great literature – more than any other art – has the power to help people understand one another better. If we can do this, there’s a chance for conflict resolution and even harmony. The goal of all writers – whatever the causes they support, whatever the themes that preoccupy them, whatever the form or language in which they express themselves – is to negotiate the unmapped territory between us and the other: to conquer, word by word, the distances that seem too vast, too daunting, too unknowable. When writers succeed, readers too are able to bridge differences they previously conceived impossible.”

And I have to say, I am feeling really honoured to have been invited to be one of the readers on the day, I mean, I will be reading on the same bill as one of my all time poetry heroes, Ko Un. You can check out the full list of authors here.

So why not, clear the decks on Tuesday September 21, make yourself comfortable in front of your computer and help map the distance between one another. I will be reading from my latest collection Ocean Hearted as well as a selection of some of my favourite poets at 11:30am (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Links to the live video stream will be available here (late) on Monday September 20.


Filed under events & opportunities

The Poetry of Ko Un


The whole Banned Books thing sent me to my bookshelf and one of the spines that spoke to me straight away was Three Way Tavern by the incredible Ko Un. Korea’s greatest living poet and humanitarian, Ko Un was jailed four times for his political activities against an authoritarian government. His work is revolutionary. He describes his poetry as:

“… flow. That flow will at times produce rhythms as it strikes against the riverbanks or frolics, speckled by light and shade. Thus my poetry is resonance. In an interview with the New York Times in the late 1980s, I said that `poetry is the music of history,’ stressing the music no less than the history.”


Here are five short poems:

Two beggars
sharing a meal of the food they’ve been given

The new moon shines intensely


In a poor family’s yard
the moon’s so bright it could beat out rice-cakes


Get yourself a friend
come to know a foe
Get yourself a foe
come to know a friend

What kind of game is this?


A thousand drops
hanging from a dead branch

The rain did not fall for nothing


Without a sound

resin buried underground is turning into amber
while above the first snow is falling

Translated from the Korean by Brother Anthony of Taizé, Young-moo Kim and Gary Gac (taken from The Nation)

You can also read more of Ko Un’s work in issue #34 of Jacket.

Ko Un’s work sings of freedom, sings of tomorrow… perfect for this Spring day.


Filed under poetry & publishing

(Near) Perfect Books of Poetry

The good folks over at Lilliput Review have been compiling a list of perfect or near perfect books of poetry and it has now reached the 200 mark.

You can check out the list here: http://lilliputreview.googlepages.com/nearperfectbooksofpoems

Many of the books on the list are books that have had a huge influence on me: Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Collected Greed Parts 1 – 13 by Diane Wakoski, 100 Poems from the Chinese tr. by Kenneth Rexroth and Poet in New York by Federico Garcia Lorca to name a few.

There are many books on the list I have never read (aaahhh to have the time to read everything I want) and there are of course many titles that I feel should be listed. After all, it wouldn’t be a list if you didn’t want to add to it!

So here are 5 suggestions from me…

On Love and Barley by Basho tr. by Lucien Stryk

The Best of Henri by Adrian Henri

The Clean Dark by Robert Adamson

Radiant Silhouette by John Yau; and

The Three Way Tavern by Ko Un


Each of these collections has had a profound impact on me and I could go on and list more, but I would love to hear which books of poetry you feel deserve to be on the list. So, please add your list of titles in the comments section and feel free to tell us why.

Look forward to hearing from you…


Filed under poetry & publishing